Best Gaming Laptops

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Best Overall Gaming Laptop

Alienware 17

Editor's Choice

The Alienware 17 R4 offers a great combination of strong performance, comfortable typing, innovative eye tracking and an attractive design. It's also VR-ready so you can take your gaming to a whole new level. 

Alienware 17 Review

Best Gaming Laptops
Product: Use Case: Rating:
Alienware 17 Best Overall Gaming Laptop 4 out of 5
Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming Laptop Best Gaming Laptop Under $1,000 3.5 out of 5
Acer Predator Helios 300 (17-inch) Best Gaming Laptop Under $1,500 4 out of 5
Razer Blade Pro Best Splurge Gaming 4.5 out of 5

Best Gaming Laptops at Every Size and Budget

Thanks to their powerful graphics, gorgeous displays and great audio, gaming laptops provide an immersive entertainment experience in a portable package. Many portable gaming rigs also offer stylish designs, desktop-quality keyboards and the ability to use high-end VR headsets.

But, like other types of notebooks, not all gaming laptops are created equal. Your budget will determine what you can get. For example, for under $1,000, you can get a solid performer that can play most titles at a good frame rate (on lower settings). If you have more than $2,000 to spend, you can pick up a beast of a machine that can play games in 4K at the highest settings. Based on our extensive testing, which includes playing several top titles, here are the best gaming laptops you can buy.

Best Overall Laptop: Alienware 17

Alienware 17

The Alienware 17 packs impressive raw gaming performance and a big honkin' 17-inch screen into a sexy intergalactic chassis that's perfect for fragging your enemies in virtual reality or watching movies with friends. Just make sure you configure it with the 2560 x 1440 Nvidia G-Sync display and a PCIe SSD to get an optimal gaming experience. And to further enhance your gaming, Alienware has teamed up with Tobii to add integrated eye tracking to the mix so you can control some titles with your gaze. Take your pick from Nvidia GTX 1060, GTX 1070 or GTX 1080 GPUs.

Rating: 4 / 5, Editor's Choice

Pros: Strong gaming performance; Sharp and colorful quad-HD display; Long battery life on cheaper model; Graphics amp support; Plenty of ports

Cons: Bottom gets hot while gaming; Dim display on starting model; Slower SSD than on competing laptops

Key Specs - Display: 17.3 inches, 2560 x 1400 Nvidia G-Sync; CPU: 2.9-GHz Intel Core i7-7820HK; GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 with 8GB of VRAM; RAM: 32GB; Storage: 512GB PCIe SSD/1TB 7,200-rpm HDD; VR-Ready: Yes

Best Under $1,000: Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming

Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming

If you're gaming on a budget, you can't do much better than the Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming laptop. It delivers smooth frame rates on the latest games (at medium settings) thanks to its Nvidia GTX 1060 (Max-Q) GPU, and it lasted more than 7 hours on our web-surfing battery test. The laptop also delivers good productivity and multitasking performance from its Intel Core i5 processor. If you're looking for a gaming laptop that can deliver solid frame rates without blasting a hole in your wallet, the Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming is a great choice.

Rating: 3.5 / 5

Pros: Affordable, especially with a 1060 GPU; Long battery life

Cons: Uncomfortable keyboard; Display isn't vivid

Key Specs - Display: 15.6 inches, 1920 x 1080 IPS; CPU: 2.5-GHz Intel Core i5-7300HQ; GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti with 6GB of VRAM; RAM: 8GB; Storage: 256GB SSD; VR-Ready: Yes

Best Under $1,500: Acer Predator Helios 300 (17-inch)

Acer Predator Helios 300

For the price, the Acer Predator Helios 300 (17-inch) is one heck of a performer. It offers a large 1080p display that's bright enough to make you want to ditch your desktop monitor. The laptop also has a powerful Core i7 processor and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 GPU that can easily support the Oculus Rift or the HTC Vive. Plus, this is one of the few systems that allow you to upgrade your hard drive and RAM. According to our tests, the Helios 300 offers over 5 hours of battery life, which is rather impressive for a gaming laptop.

Rating: 4 / 5

Pros: Easily upgradable; Strong performance; Good battery life; Vivid display

Cons: Uncomfortable touchpad; Lid could be sturdier

Key Specs - Display: 17.3 inches, 1920 x 1080; CPU: 2.8-GHz Intel Core i7-7700HQ; GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 with 6GB of VRAM; RAM: 16GB; Storage: 512GB SSD; VR-Ready: Yes

Best Splurge: Razer Blade Pro

Razer Blade Pro

Somehow, Razer manages to cram some of the most powerful specs in the land into razor-thin designs (pun definitely intended). With the latest Razer Blade Pro (starting at $1,999; reviewed at $3,999), the company has added an overclocked Intel i7 processor while keeping the Nvidia GTX 1080 GPU, fantastic 4K Nvidia G-Sync display and proprietary ultra-low-profile mechanical keys. As if that weren't enough, the slim stunner is also the first mobile device to feature THX audio certification. In other words, one of the best in the business just got better.

Rating: 4.5 / 5, Editor's Choice

Pros: Slim, attractive chassis; Choice between a 4K Nvidia G-Sync display and a 1080p panel with 120Hz refresh rate; Great overall and graphics performance; Excellent sound; 1080p version has a super-comfortable, customizable keyboard

Cons: Expensive; SSD is not very fast; Gets hot when gaming

Key Specs - Display: 17.3 inches, 3840 x 2160 Nvidia G-Sync; CPU: 2.9-GHz Intel Core i7-7820HK; GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 with 8GB of VRAM; RAM: 32GB; Storage: Dual 256GB M.2 PCIe SSD/1TB 7,200-rpm HDD; VR-Ready: Yes

Best 17-Inch Laptop: HP Omen 17

HP Omen 17

HP's latest entry in its Omen line of laptops gives the 17-inch gaming machine a drastic yet welcome redesign. Instead of playing it safe, the Omen 17< sports a daring, futuristic look that's sure to turn heads. And the shock and awe don't stop there, as the company has added Nvidia's powerful GTX 1070 GPU and paired it with an equally robust Intel Core i7 processor and a crazy-fast SSD. The laptop also serves up an enticing 4K display with a nice pair of speakers. The result is a laptop capable of delivering showstopping performance, whether you're playing games or crunching numbers.

Rating: 4 / 5, Editor's Choice

Pros: Avant-garde design; Powerful overall and excellent graphics performance; Fast transfer speeds; Vivid display; Upgradable specs

Cons: Below-average battery life; Plastic (instead of aluminum) lid

Key Specs - Display: 17.3 inches, 3840 x 2160; CPU: 2.8-GHz Intel Core i7-7700HQ; GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 with 8GB of VRAM; RAM: 32GB; Storage: 512GB NVMe M.2 PCIe SSD/1TB 7,200-rpm HDD; VR-Ready: Yes

Best 15-Inch Laptop: Gigabyte Aero 15X

Gigabyte Aero 15

The Gigabyte Aero 15X aims to hit the sweet spot between delivering high performance and endurance by offering a slim chassis and a battery that runs for over 7 hours. The Aero 15X is also one of the rare gaming notebooks that stay comfortably cool after long gaming sessions. Pair those features with a bright display and Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 Max-Q graphics, and you have one of the most portable 15-inch gaming laptops on the market. Best of all, with its understated good looks, this system looks just as nice in an office setting as it does in a gaming battlestation setup.

Rating: 4 / 5

Pros: Bright display; Long battery life; Solid performance and transfer speeds

Cons: Stiff keyboard; Touchpad doesn't support all gestures

Key Specs - Display: 15.6 inches, 1920 x 1080; CPU: 2.8-GHz Intel Core i7-7700HQ; GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 (Max-Q) with 6GB of VRAM; RAM: 16GB; Storage: 512GB M.2 PCIe SSD; VR-Ready: Yes

Best 14-Inch Laptop: Razer Blade

Razer Blade

The Razer Blade just got another power-up. This sleek laptop has a powerful Intel Core i7 processor, which promises better performance and power efficiency. Pair that with a VR-ready Nvidia Pascal GPU; a lovely display; a beautiful keyboard; and a sleek, lightweight chassis, and you've got one of the slimmest gaming powerhouses on the market. Whether it's used for work or play, the Blade is ready and able to get the job done.

Rating: 4 / 5, Editor's Choice

Pros: Slim and attractive chassis; Great graphics and overall performance; VR-ready GPU; Bright, vivid display; Excellent battery life

Cons: Runs hot when gaming; Speakers could be louder

Key Specs - Display: 14 inch, 1920 x 1080; CPU: 2.8-GHz Intel Core i7-7700HQ; GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 with 6GB of VRAM; RAM: 16GB; Storage: 256GB PCIe SSD; VR-Ready: Yes

Best Display: Alienware 13 (OLED Display)

Alienware 13 (OLED Display)

You won't find a more vibrant screen on any laptop than the OLED panel on the Alienware 13. One of the smallest VR-ready laptops, the Alienware 13 supports Oculus Rift and HTC Vive headsets while also delivering buttery-smooth frame rates, thanks to its Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 GPU and Intel Core i7 CPU. Its small dimensions mean that it's easy to stow the notebook in an awaiting book bag for on-the-go gaming. And just like its bigger brothers, the Alienware 13 has customizable backlighting and supports Alienware's proprietary Graphics Amplifier to help you get even better performance out of the diminutive system.

Rating: 4.5 / 5, Editor's Choice

Pros: Slim, sleek chassis; Gorgeous OLED display; Super comfortable keyboard; Powerful graphics and overall performance; Lightning-fast transfer speeds; Great battery life

Cons: Runs a bit hot; A tad pricey

Key Specs - Display: 13.3 inches, 2560 x 1440 OLED; CPU: 2.8-GHz Intel Core i7-7700HQ; GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 with 6GB of VRAM; RAM: 16GB; Storage: 512GB PCIe SSD; VR-Ready: Yes

Best Performance: MSI GT83VR Titan SLI

MSI GT83VR Titan SLI

The MSI GT83VR Titan SLI has some new tricks up its sleeve. The gaming behemoth is the first in the world to feature Cherry MX Speed Silver switches, so you can spam out special moves that much faster. Even better, the Titan finally got with the program and added customizable RGB backlighting. But this beast's beauty is more than skin-deep; it offers searing transfer speeds, impressive dual-GPU graphics power, a Kaby Lake processor and whisper-quiet fans. In short, the Titan is one of the baddest desktop replacements in the land.

Rating: 4.5 / 5, Editor's Choice

Pros: Impressive gaming and overall performance; Keyboard offers fast, comfortable input; Incredibly fast transfer speeds; Customizable keyboard backlighting; Fans run cool and quiet

Cons: Incredibly expensive

Key Specs - Display: 17.3-inch 1920 x 1080 IPS; CPU: 3.1-GHz Intel Core i7-7920HQ; GPU: Dual Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 in SLI configuration with 8GB of VRAM (each); RAM: 64GB; Storage: Dual 512GB PCIe SSD/1TB 7,200-rpm HDD; VR-Ready: Yes

Best Max-Q Design: Asus ROG Zephyrus

Asus ROG Zephyrus

As one of the first gaming laptops to use Nvidia's new Max-Q design, the Zephyrus bridges the gap between power and portability by squeezing an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 GPU into its beguiling 0.7-inch metallic frame. The Max-Q design essentially clocks down one of Nvidia's most powerful GPUs and focuses on efficiency, turning relatively thin-and-light systems into certified gaming beasts. And if this laptop doesn't captivate with its design, the lovely 1080p Nvidia G-Sync display and strong gaming performance will.

Rating: 4 / 5

Pros: Sexy, lightweight chassis; Innovative cooling system; Stunning Nvidia G-Sync display; Impressive gaming and overall performance; Runs cool when gaming

Cons: Subpar battery life; Weak audio

Key Specs - Display: 14 inch, 1920 x 1080 Nvidia G-Sync; CPU: 2.8-GHz Intel Core i7-7700HQ; GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 (Max-Q) with 8GB of VRAM; RAM: 24GB; Storage: 512GB M.2 PCIe SSD; VR-Ready: Yes

Quick Tips for Finding the Right Gaming Laptop

Depending on your budget, lifestyle and the games you want to play, you could end up spending anywhere from $800 to $5,000 on a system that's likely to weigh between 4 and 13 pounds. Here are some tips to help you find your ideal gaming rig.

  • Don't buy a gaming laptop for low-end titles like World of Warcraft or Candy Crush. These games can easily be supported by an integrated graphics card.
  • The most powerful GPU is Nvidia's GTX 1080, but you can get good frame rates from the GTX 1050. If you want to do VR, don't settle for less than GTX 1060.
  • Get a laptop with at least an Intel Core i7-6700HQ processor and 8GB of RAM for gaming and multitasking performance.
  • Avoid touch screens. They're more expensive and drain the battery.
  • 17- or 18-inch laptops are typically more powerful, but you can find some 15-inch systems with serious muscle. The more portable 13- and 14-inchers are easier to carry but often lack higher-end components.
  • Make sure the keyboard is comfortable. If you can, take a trip to the store and try out the keyboard before you buy.

Graphics

The graphics card or GPU is the keystone of your gaming laptop. It delivers the images on your display by processing the data and transmitting the signal to the monitor. Because this process can be very stressful when running games, you need a discrete GPU with its own dedicated memory, called VRAM (video memory). Most gaming laptops include Nvidia GPUs, but if you're partial to AMD, you can configure your system accordingly with some laptop brands.

Nvidia's current crop of GPUs are categorized as 10-Series or Pascal chips. The GeForce GTX 1050 GPU is the entry-level chip and allows you to play most popular games at solid frame rates on medium settings. The GTX 1080 is at the top of the ladder and can pump out blistering frame rates at both 1080p and 4K. The company recently added its efficiency-focused Max-Q design GPU. A greater focus on power consumption and efficiency allows Nvidia and laptop manufacturers to squeeze a GTX 1080 Max-Q GPU into thin-and-light laptops like the Asus ROG Zephyrus without overheating the system. For more information about integrated and discrete GPUs, check out our comprehensive guide.

CPU and RAM

Your laptop's processor (CPU) handles everything that doesn't have to do with graphics, such as performing some of a game's physics calculations and controlling its nonplayable characters. It also affects the performance of all of your non-gaming applications, including your browser, OS and productivity apps. And depending on the game, it can help the GPU process all that incoming data.

RAM (random access memory) is hardware that temporarily stores data and serves as the processor's memory. The more RAM your system has, the easier it is for the CPU to process data. Don't settle for any less than 8GB of RAM. Getting 16GB is a plus but isn't as important as having a faster CPU or graphics chip.

Although a Core i5 processor can handle the rigors of gaming and multitasking, for the best results, we recommend a Core i7 chip, like the 2.8-GHz Intel Core i7-7700HQ processor. If the laptop manufacturer offers the option, we'd suggest getting an overclockable processor such as the 2.9-GHz Intel Core i7-7820HK CPU, which lets you boost the clock speed so you can squeeze every bit of performance from the processor. For more in-depth information on processors and RAM, check out our comprehensive CPU Guide and our Gaming Laptop Buying Guide.

How We Test Gaming Laptops

Here at Laptop Mag, we test gaming laptops using a variety of real-world and synthetic tests to give consumers the most complete picture of how a product performs. Our current tests for gaming systems evaluate graphics performance, battery life, virtual-reality compatibility, overall performance, file-transfer speed and heat, to name just a few. We also judge the laptop based on usability criteria, such as keyboard comfort, design language, audio output and screen quality.

Each laptop's results are compared with those of other systems with comparable specs, price and size, as well as the category average (which is calculated by taking the mean score from the previous 12 months of test results). Our graphics tests include running three popular current games at 1920 x 1080 on very high settings, along with three synthetic tests -- 3DMark Unlimited, Fire Strike and Fire Strike Ultra -- which are designed to test the GPU performance.