Gaming laptops: When its time to save or 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 workstation.
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 commute. Whatever 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 best 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.
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
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 incredibly portable eGPU. And if you're looking for a full AMD system, take a gander at the Asus ROG Strix G15 Advantage Edition that delivers stellar performance and longevity at a seriously competitive price.
The best gaming laptops you can buy today
If power and super high refresh rates are paramount, the Alienware m17 R4 is the best gaming 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.
Asus has been killing it with its gaming laptops lately, and the Asus ROG Zephyrus M16 is no exception. The Zephyrus M16 provides a powerful Intel Core i9-11900H processor and Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 GPU as well as a bright, 16-inch display, a clicky keyboard and decent battery life. Oh, and this one has a webcam. It's easily one of the best gaming laptops you can buy.
The Asus ROG Zephyrus M16 is a beauty. From its performance and 16-inch display to its battery life and clicky keyboard, this baby is worth considering if you're on the market for a gaming laptop. On the Laptop Mag battery test, the Zephyrus M16 lasted 6 hours and 34 minutes, putting it on a par with competing systems. Overall, the Zephyrus M16 is a truly badass gaming laptop worth your time and money.
Read our full Asus ROG Zephyrus M16 review.
The Lenovo Legion 5 Pro proves what's possible when two opposing forces come together for the greater good. Those forces are AMD and Nvidia, and the greater good is the gaming community. Armed with an AMD Ryzen 7 5800 CPU and Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 graphics, the Legion 5 Pro gives gamers the power they need to run the latest AAA titles at Ultra graphics settings.
The Legion 5 Pro flaunts one of the best keyboards I've ever used. Paired with a comfortable typing experience is a bright and vivid 16-inch display, a generous selection of ports and decent battery life. Best of all, the Legion 5 Pro is priced aggressively. And what it lacks in flashy aesthetics, it makes up for with a gorgeous 16-inch QHD display. And despite harnessing so much power, the Legion 5 Pro delivers respectable battery life.
Read our full Lenovo Legion 5 Pro review.
Asus has been showing us just how far AMD has come in the laptop space, serving up solid power and incredibly long battery life -- and that’s just with the processor. Imagine what an all-AMD system can do. With the Asus ROG Strix G15 Advantage Edition, the company is doing more than wondering “what if,” instead outfitting its latest version the G15 with an AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX CPU, plus a Radeon RX 6800M GPU.
The result? A kick-ass system that serves up heaping amounts of performance, serious longevity and a host of Asus and AMD-branded utilities that really enhance the gaming experience for less than $2,000. You also get a lot of nifty tech focusing on balancing performance and power efficiency, with butter-smooth graphics and over 10 hours of battery life. And the system’s standing toe-to-toe with some of the biggest names in the industry.
Read our full Asus ROG Strix G15 Advantage Edition review.
Alienware continues to raise the bar of what a gaming laptop can and should be. The latest addition to the family is the X17, a beautiful bruiser of a desktop replacement that’s only 0.8-inches thick. The ultra-premium system comes with all the fixings including an Intel Core i7 processor, Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 GPU and dual SSDs. Need more? How’s a 17.3-inch, 4K display, powerful speakers and a Cherry MX keyboard sound?
The svelte powerhouse also boasts a revamped cooling system to keep things running at optimum performance and powerful speakers. It also lasted over four hours on our battery test, which is pretty good for a gaming laptop of this caliber.
See our full Alienware X1 review.
Asus has done it again. They’ve changed the definition of what a best 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 SE is a gaming laptop that's easy to carry and a serious looker to boot. It brings to the table an increasingly common 16-inch frame with a 16:10 aspect ratio display housed in a relatively compact package. Better yet, the keyboard is comfortable to use during long gaming sessions despite the laptop's thin frame. Under the hood, this gaming rig brings the latest Nvidia RTX graphics and Intel Core 11th Gen processors, a combo that helps it punch well above its weight.
The Predator Triton 500 SE gets enough of the basics right to make it a compelling laptop for those who want a gaming system with a large display in a relatively portable chassis. And if you’re a stickler for aesthetics, this Triton brings some beauty to the brawn.
See our full Acer Predator Triton 500 SE (2021) 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.
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.
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.