Gaming laptops: When its time to save, create the world (or just blast some baddies), accept no substitutes. Thanks to their powerful graphics, gorgeous displays and great audio, gaming laptops provide an immersive entertainment experience in a portable package. Many also offer stylish designs, desktop-quality keyboards and the ability to use high-end VR headsets. Heck, a good gaming laptop can even pull double-duty as a serious work station.
But most of all, gaming laptops are great for dedicated gamers with mobile lifestyles or looking to save more space than a desktop could. The gamut ranges from college students hoping to play anywhere on campus to businesspeople who want to play during a train commute. Whatever uses you have planned for your machine, there are a lot of intricacies to mobile PC gaming, so it helps to do your research. But with so many laptops to choose from, things can get pretty complicated.
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To help you pick your perfect gaming laptop, we've compiled a list of the top gaming laptops, including our top picks from popular brands including Alienware, Acer, Lenovo, MSI, Razer, Dell and more. Over the course of a year, we review over 150 laptops covering every price point and use case. Whether you’re looking for a a badass gaming system with all the bells and whistles, a good mid-tier laptop that can play games at solid frame rates or an inexpensive gaming system that can play most titles, we can help you find your ideal gaming laptop.
But in order to make our top gaming laptops list, the system needs to score at least 4 out of 5 stars on our reviews and deliver on the things shoppers care about most. Over the course of our evaluations, we focus on overall and gaming performance. We're also checking for design, keyboard, audio and display quality and especially value.
Here are the best gaming laptops of 2021 you can buy now.
What are the best gaming laptops right now?
The Alienware m17 R4 is currently our top gaming laptop. A formidable mixed of power, endurance and design, the m17 is a force to be reckoned with. The laptop has recently been refreshed with an overclockable Core i9 10th Gen octa-core Intel processor and Nvidia's new GeForce RTX 3080 GPU, making it an undeniable powerhouse on both the multitasking and gaming fronts
The Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 has achieved rarified air as the latest entrant into the 5-star club. And it more than earned the accolades. Powered by one of AMD's Ryzen CPU and an Nvidia RTX GPU, the notebook delivers formidable results on the gaming and multitasking front. But the laptop's claim to fame is its impressive endurance. With 11 hours of battery life, it’s the longest-lasting gaming laptop ever.
Budget-conscious gamers will want to take a closer look at the new Dell G5 15 SE. The newly refreshed gaming laptop is and all AMD-production, sporting an AMD Ryzen R7 4800H CPU and an AMD Radeon RX 5600M GPU backed the full power of the Alienware Command Center. It's also got a great battery life and a slew of ports. It's a good gaming laptop overall.
If you're looking for a true on-the-go gaming laptop, you have to take a gander at the Asus ROG Flow X13. One of the few convertible gaming laptops out there, the notebook weighs a scant 2.9 pounds, has one of AMD's new Ryzen 9 processors and comes with its own eGPU.
See our picks for best gaming laptops of 2021 below.
The best gaming laptops you can buy today
If power and super high refresh rates are paramount, the Alienware m17 R4 is the laptop for you. The laptop gives you all the bells and whistles: the ray tracing, superior multitasking performance, a light show that would make the aliens in Close Encounters of the Third Kind feel inadequate. Plus, the latest iteration of Alienware’s badass desktop replacement retains that lovely Legend design and brings some new players to its high-powered party.
And if that isn't enough, you have Nvidia’s RTX 3080 GPU, the new king of mobile graphics. And with it comes a whole host of new improvements, including Ray Tracing 2.0 and Advanced Optimus. Alienware’s also improved its Cryo-Tech cooling solution and is one of the first gaming laptops to feature a display with a 360Hz refresh rate. Throw in some updated ports and that overclockable Intel Core i9 and you’ve got a formidable beast of a laptop.
See our full Alienware m17 r4 review.
Dell's cheapest gaming laptop is back and better than ever. The G3 15 offers strong performance with its 9th Gen Core i5 CPU and GTX 1650 GPU backed by the full power of the Alienware Command Center –– all for under $1,000. Combine that with great battery life, with plenty of ports and a relatively comfortable and you have a badass gaming machine. However, the G3's affordable price does come at the cost of a relatively dull 15.6-inch display. Still, the G3 15 is one of the top gaming laptops you can get at its price point.
See our full Dell G3 15 review.
We never thought we'd see the day when a gaming laptop delivered longer battery life than a traditional notebook. The Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 is ushering in a new era of gaming laptops –– one where AMD is a major player. Powered by an AMD Ryzen 9 processor, the ROG Zephyrus emerged as a force to be reckoned with on many of our performance benchmarks. And paired with an Nvidia RTX 2060 Max-Q graphic chip, it's no slouch in the actual gaming department either.
But as great as those specs are, the Zephyrus G14 main claim to fame is its battery life. The gaming laptop lasted over 11 hours on our battery test, the longest ever. A pretty display with a 120Hz refresh rate, comfortable keyboard and excellent audio are just icing on an already fully stacked cake. It's the top gaming laptop for those looking for endurance.
See our full Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 review.
The Lenovo Legion Y545 is an entry-level gaming laptop that under promises and over-delivers. The laptop’s discrete Nvidia graphics chip serves up a surprising amount of power, with above-average results. And when you’re not gaming, the laptop’s Core i7 processor is more than capable of allowing you to create spreadsheets, do some light video-editing and, of course, watch some movies on that beautiful 1080p display.
With its industrial design accentuated by clean, attractive lines, the Lenovo Legion Y545 presents a nice contrast to many of its flashier counterparts. It's great for gamers looking to eschew all the bells, whistles, pomp and circumstance. And if you're need them, the Y545 has enough ports to support a nice fleet of peripherals. If you’re looking to game on a budget without sacrificing too much performance, the Lenovo Legion Y545 is a great choice.
Read our full Lenovo Legion Y545 review.
The Asus Zephyrus Duo 15 takes all the lessons Asus has learned from previous systems and fine-tuned everything to create the first step towards the ultimate gaming laptop. In addition to the dual 4K displays, you get a system with an overclockable Intel Core i9 processor, an Nvidia RTX Super GPU and a pair of blisteringly-fast SSDs. It’s just an outright beastly machine designed for gaming. But as its svelte, stylish frame reveals, this is still very much a laptop for content creators and productivity users.
And its still got plenty of bells and whistles including the AAS cooling system which has been modified to allow the secondary screen to raise, making it easier for gamers to quickly glance down and keep track of the action. If you’re looking to experience the future of gaming laptops, you can’t beat the Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 15.
Read our full Asus Zephyrus Duo 15 review.
Meet the most powerful gaming laptop we've ever tested. The Alienware Area 51m's stunning, one-of-a-kind design houses a desktop-grade Intel Core i9 CPU and a full Nvidia RTX 2080 GPU, allowing it to tear through demanding games without breaking a sweat while supporting every possible high-powered feature -- including ray tracing -- a technology designed to bring gamers ever closer to photorealism. In short, this gaming laptop is a certifiable beast.
Better yet, the Area 51m's arresting magnesium alloy chassis is fully future-proof, allowing you to swap out key components such as the GPU and CPU to keep the system fresh over time. That's right, you can fully upgrade this bad boy. Factor in a stunning 1080p G-Sync display, customizable RGB lighting, a seriously comfortable and booming front-firing speakers, and you've got the ultimate battlestation for gamers willing to splurge in pursuit of sheer power. It's our top gaming laptop for DIYers and those in search of performance-focused system.
See our full Alienware Area 51m review.
Asus has done it again. They’ve changed the definition of what a gaming laptop is. By itself, the Asus ROG Flow X13 is a compelling laptop. It’s very rare to see a 13-inch gaming system and even rarer for it to be a 2-in-1. But Asus didn’t stop there, they threw a high-powered AMD Ryzen 9 processor into the mix and even outfitted the notebook with its own discrete Nvidia GPU.
It’s when the XG Mobile comes into play where things get interesting. For the life of me, I’m baffled about how they fit an RTX 3080 into such a small enclosure. Even though I wish Asus could have found a more elegant solution than that huge proprietary plug, I can’t argue with results. The XG Mobile is the proverbial trap card, transforming it into the dark magician of gaming laptops. It doesn’t have any right to be as powerful as it is, but here we are, again impressed by Asus’ ingenuity.
See our full Asus ROG Flow X13 review.
It looks like the third time's the charm for Asus. The company is back with the ROG Strix Scar III, and the new version is just as badass as its predecessor. For $1,799, you get a powerful gaming laptop with a RTX 2060 GPU wrapped in a chassis packing a smooth 15.6-inch, 240-Hz panel. In addition, you have a comfortable keyboard and a cool ROG Keystone - a magnetic encrypted key that unlocks custom lighting effects for the laptop as well a piece of storage that's locked on your hard drive. .
The Strix Scar III is quite the impressive gaming laptop, offering strong performance, a 240Hz panel, long battery life, a clicky keyboard and decent speakers. The laptop easily barreled through our battery of tests and even managed to last over 5 hours on our battery test. Overall, the Asus ROG Strix Scar III is one of the top gaming laptops you can buy right now.
Read our Asus ROG Strix Scar III review.
Acer Predator Triton 500 impresses with its slim-and-light (4.8 pounds, 0.7 inches) chassis and packs a serious punch with a slew of powerful components, including an 8th Gen Intel processor and one of Nvidia's new RTX 2080 Max-Q graphics. It offers a great mix of graphics and overall power, something you can't get in every gaming laptop. And thanks to the Turbo option, you can squeeze even more power out of the GPU. It comes in handy for some of the more demanding titles available like Doom Eternal.
The 15.6-inch panel is nice and vivid with a passable audio system and a fullsize keyboard with nice, clicky keys. The gaming laptop also sports a SSD with "blink-and-you'll-miss-it? speed. If you want serious power in a nice portable design, the Acer Predator Triton is a good gaming laptop that should be at the top of your list.
See our full Acer Predator Triton 500 review.
Razer still believes in going big or going home. The latest Razer Blade Pro 17 seeks to wrap the functionality of a gaming laptop and a workstation in a nice slim CNC aluminum bow. It's the latest to incorporate Intel’s 10th Gen octa-core H-series processor into the mix along with Nvidia’s new RTX Super GPUs. And if that isn’t enough, Razer has upgraded its always lovely displays to a 300Hz refresh rate, which should be music to the ears of gamers in pursuit of buttery smooth graphics for serious accuracy.
Those powerful specs allow the laptop to go toe-to-toe with its main competitors on both the gaming and multitasking fronts. The Blade Pro 17 also manages to deliver great endurance on our battery test lasting nearly 5 hours. And it also has a great webcam, which is somewhat of an anomaly in laptops in general.
See our full Razer Blade Pro 17 review.
The MSI GS66 Stealth is a bubbling font of awesome. From its stellar graphics and overall performance, lightning-fast transfer speeds and surprising endurance, there’s just a whole lot of win underneath that 0.7-inch chassis. And I didn’t even mention the lovely display and cushy, customizable keyboard. Hands down, it a great gaming laptop that looks good and plays hard.
What makes the Stealth stand out is its battery life. The notebook has a 99.9 watt hour battery, which is the largest battery the TSA will allow aboard a plane. The laptop lasted over 6 hours on our battery test. The laptop also dominated on our gaming and overall performance thanks to the system's 10th Gen Intel Core i7 processor and an Nvidia GeForce 2080 Super Max-Q GPU.
See our full MSI GS66 Stealth review.
Starting at $1,599, the Blade is one of the lightest gaming laptops around, delivering strong performance and over 6 hours of battery life. This is also the first system in the Blade line to offer dual storage. And if that's not enough for you, Razer's also offering the notebook in a stunning Mercury White aluminum chassis that's sure to have all eyes on you when you make the winning play.
But where Razer really apes other 15-inch gaming systems is in its size. The 4.7-pound, 14 x 9.3 x 0.7-inch Blade 15 is one the smallest 15-inch gaming systems you can get on the market. But don't sleep on its performance, with an Nvidia RTX graphics card, the Blade 15 is here it comes bearing gifts of ray tracing and artificial intelligence. This top gaming laptop is ready to game, video edit, crunch numbers and more at the drop of a hat.
Read our full Razer Blade 15 review.
The Gigabyte Aero 15 slid into 2021 with guns ablazin’. It’s updated with Nvidia’s new 30-series chipset, a gorgeous 4K OLED display and a lightly tweaked design that says, “I’m a gaming laptop, but I don’t need to scream it to the mountaintops.”
Gigabyte got a lot of things right with the Aero 15, including its sturdy, all-aluminum, jet-black chassis, gorgeous OLED panel and satisfying, clicky keyboard. Its gaming and performance benchmarks are decent, too. However, Gigabyte gets it all wrong with that awful nosecam. The Aero 15 is an excellent choice for content creators. Photo and video editors will benefit from the Aero 15’s color-accurate 4K panel, but they’ll also enjoy the pleasures of diving into one of their favorite triple-A titles after a long day of work.
See our full Gigabyte Aero 15 (2021) review.
Ditching the tired black-and-red gamer aesthetic, the MSI GT76 Titan is stepping out in all its silver, foxy glory. The new look is nothing short of stunning, and when paired with MSI's custom of employing the most powerful components available, the Titan is a force to be reckoned with, performance-wise and financially. This laptop has just about everything, including an Intel desktop processor and a full Nvidia RTX 2080 GPU, which means it's plenty powerful for gaming and productivity.
The GT76 is mixing old and new in a great way. The new is the lovely new silver design that's Camelot-meets-the-racetrack. It's a bold departure from the tired gamer motif. The old is the company's kitchen-sink approach to gaming laptops which never fails to disappoint. As expected with its hefty price tag, this laptop has just about everything, which is why its one of our favorite desktop-replacement gaming laptops.
See our full MSI GT76 Titan review.
The HP Omen 15 is a well-built gaming laptop that reminds us why we like gaming so much. The 15-inch, 4K panel is absolutely gorgeous; it’s bright, colorful, has nice black levels and the excellent contrast really pulled us in. On the inside its Omen heart is powered by a powerful Intel Core i7-10750H CPU and capable Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 Super with Max-Q 8GB VRAM.
The Omen either matched or surpassed its competition in our benchmarks with its Intel Core i7-10750H CPU and Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 Super Max Q GPU. With its simple yet sexy styling, the Omen 15 is an attractive option you should take a serious look at.
See our full HP Omen 15 (2021) review.
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.
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.
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.
Not to be outdone, Intel's 10th Gen chips are nothing to sneeze at. The company has its 10th Gen Intel Comet Lake H-series chips. The 14-nanometer chips are extremely powerful and if you go for an HK CPU, you can overclock it to squeeze out even more performance.
Battery Life: At least 4.5 hours
Unless it's plugged in, gaming laptop battery 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.