I’ve been a technology journalist for well over a decade. And one of the things that always brings a big smile to my face are gaming laptops. They come in a multitude of sizes with a range of designs that go from understated to over the top. And speaking of over the top, many gaming laptops allow you to adjust the lighting, create macros and overclock the CPU and GPU.
But like other laptops, consumers are spoiled for choice. Do you go for broke with a $3,000 RTX 4090 rig with all the bells and whistles, or do you want something a bit more tame and cost effective? What about screen size and resolution? Never fear dear reader, I’m here to walk you through the ins and outs of gaming laptops and have a list of some of my favorites.
We have added new models to our best gaming laptop list as a result of our testing. This includes the Asus ROG Strix Scar 18 and the MSI Titan GT77 HX, both of which feature the latest Nvidia RTX 4090 graphics.
You might be asking how I narrowed down our best gaming laptop list. A lot of testing. Over the course of a year the Laptop Mag staff reviews over 100 laptops covering every budget and use case. Each system undergoes rigorous benchmarking, testing everything from overall performance to battery life. Gaming laptops undergo an extra set of tests designed to test gaming performance, heat (or lack thereof) and endurance.
Once all the testing is done, the actual reviewing begins, where the staff adds their anecdotal experience. If the system is indeed exceptional, earning four stars or higher or our Editors’ Choice award, the system will then earn a spot in this guide. Here are the best gaming laptops right now.
The best gaming laptops you can buy today
Why you can trust Laptop Mag Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.
The Asus ROG Strix Scar 18 is my first taste of the new chips from Intel and Nvidia and I’ve got to say, it’s absolutely delicious. The Strix Scar 18 is an unmitigated beast, running with Intel’s 13th Gen Core i9-13900HX processor and Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 4090 GPU. Both are uber-powerful and highly overclockable so you can squeeze every bit of power out of the system. Plus, the notebook has this Blade Runner vibe that I’m very much into along with its 18-inch, QHD+ (2560 x 1600), 240Hz display that serves up a beautiful picture with buttery smooth rendering.
So onto the tests. There were very few places the ROG Strix Scar 18 missed the mark. The laptop easily trounced everything we threw at it. During gaming tests, it was rare the Strix Scar 18 fell below a three-digit result. We saw a scorching 154 fps on the Assassin’s Creed Valhalla benchmark while it reached 181 and 152 fps on Rise of the Tomb Raider and Grand Theft Auto V. How about overall performance?
The 13th Gen CPU smoked the competition, scoring 19,233 on Geekbench 5.4; that’s more than double the premium gaming laptop overall performance average. This system completed our video transcoding test in just 2 minutes and 49 seconds (more than a minute faster than the MacBook Pro 16-inch M2 Pro Max, while its pair of 1TB SSDs dominated our file transfer tests.
However, all that power comes at a cost. The Scar 18’s battery life is on the short side at 4 hours and 26 minutes. Another con is the 720p webcam; we would expect 1080p at this eye-watering price. . But overall, the Asus ROG Strix Scar 18 is the gaming laptop to beat and has also earned its way onto our Best Asus Laptops page.
Read our full Asus ROG Strix Scar 18 review
The HP Victus 15 has a lot to like for a gaming laptop under $1,000. For starters, the notebook has an urbane look despite its all-plastic frame. We’re also a fan of the 15.6-inch, 1080p display’s 144Hz refresh rate, even though the panel could be brighter.
Targeting casual or entry-level gamers, the HP Victus 15 is equipped with an Nvidia GeForce 1650 GPU with 4GB of VRAM. More of an entry-level discrete graphics card, you’re not going to play most games above medium settings.. That translates to relatively low scores such as reaching 27, 26 and 23 fps, respectively on Assassin's Creed Valhalla,, Metro: Exodus and Red Dead Redemption 2. But keep in mind this testing was on very high settings. are on Very High. Dropping the settings to medium should provide a noticeable frame rate bump.
The Victus 15 relies on a 12th Gen Intel Core i5-12450H CPU to do the heavy lifting for productivity and for a mid-tier chip, it does a pretty good job, beating the category average on Geekbench 5.4.
The Victus 15 boasts a solid battery life of 4 hours and 47 minutes, it’s good, but not great. Which is great is the thermals, which stayed below our 95-degree Fahrenheit comfort threshold. While it’s not the most powerful gaming laptop on the block, you can also find the Victus 15 on our Best Gaming Laptops under $1,000 page as well as our Best HP Laptops and Best HP Gaming Laptop pages. It’s a great choice for gamers who play a lot of Fortnite, Minecraft or Overwatch 2.
See our full HP Victus 15 (2022) review.
Once upon a time, I would roll my eyes if I saw an AMD gaming laptop. Not anymore. The Alienware m17 R5 (AMD Advantage) brings serious power and endurance, and I couldn’t be more ecstatic because competition is good for both the industry and for you.
The m17 R5 delivered blow after crushing blow on our benchmarks. The AMD Radeon RX 6850 XT GPU with its 12GB of VRAM came out the door swinging, scoring 112 frames per second on Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. It was the same story with Metro Exodus, Borderlands 3 where the notebook delivered 84 and 112 fps, respectively. When we turned up the settings to 4K, the Alienware m17 R5 stayed well above our 30-fps playabilty threshold.
Powered by a 3.3-GHz AMD Ryzen 9 6900HX processor with 32GB of RAM, the m17 R5 showed it’s a beast whether it’s work or play. It sailed past the category averages on both Geekbench 5.4t and our Handbrake video transcoding benchmark. On top of that, gamers can look forward to the laptop’s sleek futuristic aesthetic, beautiful RGB lighting and a captivating TK-inch display. Plus, it lasted over six hours during our battery test.
Unfortunately, something this epic demands an equally epic price, which means those of us on as budget will have to sit this one out. The 720p webcam is also lower res than we’d like to see. Still, the Alienware m17 R5 is without a doubt a champ and the No. 1 pick on our best Alienware laptops page.
See our full Alienware m17 R5 (AMD Advantage) review.
Need a gaming laptop that’s affordable without making too many sacrifices? Then the Lenovo Legion 5i Pro is just the system for you. Beneath its understated yet elegant design is a laptop that’s chomping at the bit to lay waste to the big bad in whatever game you’re playing and their minion horde. Despite its office-ready appearance, the Lenovo still has some gamer cred thanks to its vibrant RGB backlighting. And it’s got plenty of ports to create a formidable battlestation.
The Legion 5i Pro marches onto our Best Lenovo Laptops and Best Lenovo Gaming Laptop pages with its last-gen RTX 3070 Ti GPU. While it’s not the latest 4000 series GPU, the Legion 5i Pro shows that the 3000 series still has plenty of punch, delivering an impressive 81 fps on Red Dead Redemption 2 and 132 fps on Grand Theft Auto V. The notebook’s 12th Gen Intel processor is also not to be underestimated as it crushed on both Geekbench 5.4 and our video transcoding tests.
As good as the Legion 5i Pro is, there are a few hiccups, namely a lackluster webcam and a sluggish SSD. However, the gorgeous 16-inch, QHD display with its 165Hz refresh rate coupled with everything I mentioned above makes the Lenovo Legion 5i Pro an absolute win of a value buy.
Read our full Lenovo Legion i5 Pro review
MSI has always taken a kitchen sink approach to its flagship gaming laptops, and we’re not complaining when you get something as powerful as the MSI Titan GT77 HX. This is an exorbitantly priced system even for a top-tier gaming laptop. But for that arm, leg and vestigial organ you’re contemplating selling, you get an absolute powerhouse that shrugs off almost everything you can possibly throw at it.
The Titan’s Nvidia RTX 4090 with 16GB of VRAM cut through frame rates like a hot knife through ice cold butter, smoothly and immensely satisfying. With the exception of Metro Exodus, the Titan’s frame rates stayed in the triple digits at 1080p and at 4K. And with its Intel Core i9-13980HX CPU with 16GB of RAM, the notebook decimated our overall performance tests. Its dual SSDs in RAID 0 configuration posted a blistering 2,299.3 megabytes per second in our file transfer test.
The thorn in this mighty beast’s paw is the 3 hours and 24 minutes of battery life. Our reviewer also wasn’t a fan of the notebook’s design, calling it dated, and the webcam could be better. But if you’re looking for the most powerful gaming laptop on the block, you’d be hard pressed to find one better. But if the MSI Titan GT77 HX isn’t your speed but you still want an MSI notebook, check out our Best MSI laptops page.
Surprise, surprise, we have another Asus gaming laptop on the list. This time it’s the Asus ROG Zephyrus M16 and it’s just as impressive as its bigger brother. First off, it’s got that attention-grabbing AniMe Matrix Display that lets you create pixelated masterpieces that will scroll across the lid. And when you open the laptop, the 16-inch (2560 x 1600p) ROG Nebula HDR display, which uses Mini LED technology, is rightfully the center of attention. And with its 240Hz refresh rate, you better believe the latency is minimal and the rendering silky smooth.
Flashy light shows aside, the Zephyrus M16 has plenty of substance.. The Nvidia 4090 GPU flexed its mechanical might all over our benchmarks. For example, the Zephyrus M16 produced 30,152 on the 3DMark FireStrike test, which is much better than the 5,643 premium gaming average. When we ran the Cyberpunk 2077 benchmark, the M16 reached an excellent 69 fps at 1080p and 56 fps at 1600p. The Intel Core i9-13900H CPU also served up the wins, sailing past the Geekbench 5.4 category average and its competitors, including one decked out with an Intel Core i9-12900HX processor.
There are a couple of stumbling blocks on the M16’s road to greatness, such as loud fans, a toasty bottom and a hefty price tag. But if you can afford it, the Asus ROG Zephyrus M16 is a heavy duty powerhouse in a lightweight, glittering frame.
See our full Asus ROG Zephyrus M16 (2023) review
Here at Laptop Mag, we stan an affordable king. And that’s exactly what we have in the Dell G16. Alienware’s less flashy cousin, Dell’s G series laptops sit at the intersection of affordability and playability and straddles the fence quite well. It has its quirks, including mediocre battery life, but for everything you’re getting, these are small complaints.
Armed with a mid-tier, last-gen Nvidia RTX 3060 GPU, the Dell G16 allows you to game on higher settings with solid frame rates. The Dell G16 definitely impressed during our testing as it was consistently only several frames behind a notebook with an RTX 3070 Ti. And on games like Borderlands 3, the G16 edged out the rival system by a single frame and 10 frames on Far Cry New Dawn. When we switched over to our overall performance benchmarks, the Dell G16 put up solid numbers that kept it above the category averages.
Other highlights include a sturdy build and a zippy 165Hz refresh rate for the 16-inch display, which is bright but not as colorful as we’d like. Overall, the Dell G16 is a great choice for the more value-conscious gamer who doesn’t want to compromise power in the name of staying on budget.
I’ve spent over a decade reviewing gaming laptops and I’ve become used to relatively short battery life. It’s the price to be paid for powerful specs, right? Wrong. At least, when it comes to the Acer Predator Triton 500 SE. This is one of the few gaming laptops to last over 8 hours on the Laptop Mag battery test. . Now the time was much shorter on our gaming test (1:13), but that’s par for the course.
But the Predator Triton 500 SE is about more than its endurance. It’s got an elegant all-aluminum slate gray chassis with plenty of ports. The notebook sports a bright, vivid display that’s perfect for gaming and a comfortable keyboard with customizable RGB lighting. And unlike other gaming laptops, the Triton 500 SE has a great webcam. And in case you have sensitive information you need to protect, there’s a fingerprint scanner embedded in the touchpad.
So onto the testing. The Predator Triton 500 SE’s RTX 3080 Ti GPU stayed above the category average, posting 79 fps on Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, 71 fps on Red Dead Redemption 2 and 77 on Borderlands 3. On Geekbench 5.4, the Triton 500 SE’s Intel Core i9-12900H processor scored 14,155, which is nearly double the category average. The laptop posted a time of 4 minutes and 32 seconds on the Handbrake video transcoding test, which once again topped the category average.
Another plus? The full HD webcam, which captures crisp images. Overall, the Acer Predator Triton 500 SE is a great choice for gamers who want to work and play unplugged. Want more Acer goodness? Check out our Best Acer Gaming Laptops page.
See our full Acer Predator Triton 500 SE (2022) review.
How we test gaming laptops
When we bring a laptop into our laboratory, our goal is to see how it would work if you brought it into your home or office. While we use a number of industry standard benchmarks such as Geekbench and 3DMark, we focus heavily on real-world tests that we have developed in-house.
To test endurance, the Laptop Mag Battery test surfs the web at 150 nits of brightness until the system runs out of juice. To judge pure processing power, we use a giant spreadsheet macro that matches 65,000 names with their addresses, a video transcoder that converts a 4K video to 1080p and the Geekbench 4 synthetic test. We measure graphics prowess with both 3DMark Ice Storm / Fire Strike and a series of actual game titles.
We use a colorimeter to measure screen brightness and color gamut while other instruments help us determine a laptop's key travel and ambient heat. See this page on How We Test Laptops for more details on our benchmarking procedures.
How to find the right gaming laptop
When shopping for a gaming laptop, there's a lot to consider. To help you choose a system, here are five key points to keep in mind when choosing a system.
Budget: What you get for the money.
You can find good inexpensive gaming laptops for under $1,000. However, more powerful mainstream gaming laptops are often priced between $1,500-$2,000. Premium systems typically cost more than $2,000 and come stacked with a host of high-powered goodies such as high-powered specs and tricked-out software.
Screen Size: 15 inches is the go-to
It's very rare that you'll find a 13 or 14-inch gaming laptops nowadays as smaller bezels and lighter frames have paved the way for seriously thin-and-light gaming laptops. That means the days of chunky 15.6-inch laptops putting a strain on your back are over (almost).
From there, you have the 17.3-inch desktop replacements that like their smaller counterparts are becoming super svelte. But there are still the big behemoths that don't skimp on the specs. However, weighing upwards of 8 pounds, those big boys are made for your home gaming station.
Screen Resolution: 1080p for high refresh rates, 4K for detail
When it comes to gaming laptops displays, you want to strike a balance between frame rates and aesthetics. And in case you're planning to get a truly mobile system battery life is also deserves consideration. We recommend checking out a system with a 1080p resolution. Panel makers are now serving up screens with high refresh rate, topping out at 360Hz with a 3 millisecond response rate. But don't count out 4K screens yet as we're starting to see laptops with 4K displays with 120Hz. Keep in mind that laptops with lower resolutions tend to have longer battery life overall.
Refresh rate: 120Hz is the sweet spot
Depending what kind of games you're playing, particularly first person shooters and MOBA, you'll take anything that will enhance accuracy. Surprisingly, the higher a display's refresh rate is, the more accurate your shot become. It's a phenomenon that we've experienced first hand during many demos. And while 60Hz is passable, right now we recommend investing in a panel with at least a 120Hz refresh rate.
Intel or AMD?
A couple of years ago, the answer to this question would have been undoubtedly Intel. But AMD has made a furious comeback with its new Ryzen CPUs, which are delivering great overall performance. Thanks to the architecture in the new Ryzen chips, they're super power efficient without sacrificing productivity. The Ryzen 5000 series CPUs have consistently impressed with its performance versus battery life.
Not to be outdone, Intel's 11th Gen chips are nothing to sneeze at. Laptop manufacturers have started rolling out systems with the Intel's 11th Gen H-series Tiger Lake chips. The 10-nanometer chips are extremely powerful, but still at the low-end of the spectrum with the overclockable HK-series CPU, due to launch soon. Why do you want to invest in an overclockable processor, because with the touch of a button, you can squeeze even more power out of the system. It comes in handy when you're multitasking or playing a really demanding game.
Battery Life: At least 4.5 hours
Unless it's plugged in, gaming laptop battery life tends to be very short, especially when gaming. However, gaming laptop battery life has gotten increasing longer over the years. So much so, that anything under 4.5 hours is considered below average. But we've just reviewed our first gaming laptop that's lasted into the double digits. With results like that, we expect gaming laptops will match their non-gaming counterparts sooner than later. Our most power efficient gaming laptop ran over 11 hours and sits on our longest-lasting laptops page.
Specs: 1080p / Core i5 / 16GB Are Best Bets
You can spend a lot of time delving into specs, but here are the key components to think about. If you just want really good mainstream performance, go for a Core i5 CPU, 16GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD and a 1080p screen.
Why trust Laptop Mag
Laptop Mag has been testing and reviewing laptops for over two decades. We test over 150 different models per year, subjecting each system to a series of rigorous benchmarks that provides a complete picture of performance, battery life and usability.
Our expert reviewers also use each product to see how it looks and feels in everyday situations. Because we see so many different notebooks, we can compare each to its direct competitors and give you an idea of how it stacks up to the average laptop in its price band.