Take Your PC Gaming on the Road With These Powerful Gaming Laptops
Gaming laptops aren’t the neutered boat anchors from the days of yore. Thanks to CPU and GPU advancements, modern day gaming notebooks can be as capable as their gaming PC counterparts. Some even have the capacity to overclock their components, feature desktop-grade gaming keyboards, and employ unique form factors to make them even more effective.These days the best gaming laptops are thin and powerful, whereas not too long ago you could have one or the other, but not both. Although most PC gamers might swear to full-blown desktops, gaming laptops are a darn fine alternative in a much more portable—and sometimes, more affordable—package.
Our choices for the best gaming laptops below are based on our own in-depth testing and expert knowledge, so read on to see our picks!
TL;DR – These are the Best Gaming Laptops:
1. Acer Predator Triton 500
Best Gaming Laptop
Acer Predator Triton 500
Display: 15.6” FHD (1,920 x 1,080) IPS G-Sync 144Hz ● CPU: Intel Core i7-8750H ● GPU: Nvidia RTX 2080 Max-Q (8GB GDDR6 VRAM) ● RAM: 16GB DDR4 (2,666MHz) ● Storage: 512GB NVMe SSD ● Weight: 4.41 pounds ● Size: 14.11″ x 10.04″ x 0.7″
The Acer Predator Triton 500 (read our review) is the shinning beacon of what a modern gaming laptop should be. Equipped with a hexa-core CPU and top-of-the-line graphics, this mobile rig delivers a stunning Full HD gaming experience above 60 frame per second (fps).
Unfortunately, just like all other ultra-modern gaming laptops, battery life is restricted to just two hours it gets fairly warm around the keyboard during prolonged gaming sessions. But these are sacrifices you have to make with a portable and powerful gaming laptop such as this.
2. MSI GF63 Thin
Best Budget Gaming Laptop
MSI GF63 Thin
Display: 15.6” FHD (1,920 x 1,080) IPS 120Hz ● CPU: Intel Core i5-9300H ● GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Max-Q (4GB GDDR5 VRAM) ● RAM: 8GB DDR4 (2,666MHz) ● Storage: 256GB NVMe SSD ● Weight: 4.10 pounds ● Size: 14.13″ x 9.99″ x 0.85″
If you’ve been gritting your teeth at how expensive RTX-powered gaming laptops have been since launch, this extremely cost-effective GTX-powered model should be of great interest. Coming in at well under $1,000 this laptop packs all the power you’ll need to get started with most competitive games like Counter Strike: Global Offensive, Overwatch, and Dota 2.
Thanks to its fairly thin and light form-factor, you’ll be able to bring this machine to ever event with ease. It doesn’t look cheap either between its sleek, black housing, bright red highlights, and illuminated keyboard.
3. Alienware Area-51m
The Most Upgradeable Gaming Laptop
Display: 17.3” FHD (1,920 x 1,080) IPS G-Sync 144Hz ● CPU: Intel Core i9-9900k ● GPU: Nvidia RTX 2080 (8GB GDDR6 VRAM) ● RAM: 32GB DDR4 (2,400MHz) ● Storage: 1TB NVMe SSD, 1TB SSHD ● Weight: 8.54 pounds ● Size: 16.1″ x 15.85″ x 1.7″
Gaming laptops typically aren’t upgradable, but the Alienware Area-51m (read our review) is a whole other beast. The RAM, storage, CPU, and even the GPU are all upgradable on this gaming laptop if you feel brave and wise enough to embark on such an undertaking.
That said, this particular Intel Core i9 and Nvidia RTX 2080 (non-Max-Q) configuration we’ve reviewed and chosen to feature should last you more than a few years for solid PC gaming. Just be aware that battery life is practically non-existent—up to, at most, an hour and a half—and you’ll need two power bricks to power this thing up, so it’s definitely more of a desktop replacement than a portable gaming machine.
4. Asus ROG Zephyrus G GA502
Best Gaming Laptop for Everyday Life
Asus ROG Zephyrus G GA502
On Best Buy
The Asus ROG Zephyrus G GA502 utilizes a rare, but increasingly common, fusion of AMD and Nvidia parts that work beautifully together. Thanks to an efficient AMD Ryzen 7 processor with its own potent Vega integrated-graphics, this machine can actually last long enough to get you through regular tasks.
Then, when you kick on its Nvidia GTX 1660 Ti graphics, suddenly you have a full fledged gaming machine ready to take on any modern PC game your throw at it.
5. Razer Blade 15
Best 15-inch Gaming Laptop
Razer Blade 15 (2019)
Display: 15.6” FHD (1,920 x 1,080) IPS 144Hz ● CPU: Intel Core i7-8750H ● GPU: Nvidia RTX 2060 (6GB GDDR6 VRAM) ● RAM: 16GB DDR4 (2,667MHz) ● Storage: 512GB NVMe SSD ● Weight: 4.56 pounds ● Size: 3.98″ x 9.25″ x 0.68″
Not only is the Razer Blade 15 (read our review) one of the best gaming laptop this year, it’s one of the best 15-inch laptops we’ve ever seen. Its thin and light build belies an incredibly powerful gaming PC, with an available Nvidia RTX 2060 and 144hz display. You can even get one with a 4K, touch-enabled display, if you’re hungry for more pixels.
The Razer deftly sliced through every benchmark we threw at it, topping the list of its laptop-competitors in 3DMark scores. Unfortunately, the latest Razer Blade 15 doesn’t offer nearly as much battery as its predecessor from 2018, so if longevity is a must, you should get last year’s model.
6. Asus ROG Zephyrus S
Best 17-inch Gaming Laptop
Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX701
Display: 17.3” FHD (1,920 x 1,080) IPS G-Sync 144Hz ● CPU: Intel Core i7-8750H ● GPU: Nvidia RTX 2080 Max-Q (8GB GDDR6 VRAM) ● RAM: 24GB DDR4 (2,666MHz) ● Storage: 1TB NVMe SSD ● Weight: 5.96 pounds ● Size: 15.7″ x 10.7″ x 0.74″
The Asus ROG Zephyrus S (read our review) was the first RTX 2080-equipped laptop we tested, and it left quite an impression. First of all, the obvious: this thing absolutely screams when it comes to gaming. Despite having a top-end graphics card under the hood, this is a surprisingly slim machine, and unlike Alienware’s 2080-equipped Area 51m, it doesn’t require a second power supply for gaming. In fact, for regular non-gaming tasks, the Zephyrus can be powered via USB-C.
7. MSI GS65 Stealth
Mobile Intel Core i9 Power
MSI GS65 Stealth Gaming Laptop
Display: 15.6” FHD (1,920 x 1,080) IPS G-Sync 240Hz ● CPU: Intel Core i9-9880H ● GPU: Nvidia RTX 2080 Max-Q (8GB GDDR6 VRAM) ● RAM: 32GB DDR4 (2,666MHz) ● Storage: 1TB NVMe SSD ● Weight: 4.19 pounds ● Size: 15.08″ x 10.24″ x 0.69″
The MSI GS65 Stealth (read our review) is pretty much the most powerful 15-inch laptop on the planet right now. Inside its sleek chassis you can have an octa-core Intel Core i9 processor paired with Nvidia RTX 2080 Max-Q graphics.
All of that processing and graphical strenght goes to good use in powering this machine’s 240Hz display and your ultra-silky smooth gaming experience. If you’re looking for serious gaming performance packed into a gaming laptop that doesn’t doesn’t scream ‘I’m a gamer,’ this is the gaming laptop to get.
8. Origin EVO16-S
Most Customizable Gaming Laptop
Display: 16.1” FHD (1,920 x 1,080) IPS 144Hz ● CPU: Intel Core i7-9750H ● GPU: Nvidia GTX 2070 Max-Q (8GB GDDR6 VRAM) ● RAM: 16GB DDR4 ● Storage: 500GB NVMe SSD, 2TB HDD (128GB cache, 5,400 rpm) ● Weight: 4.5 pounds ● Size: 14.9″ x 9.9″ x 0.78″
There are 15- and 17-inch laptops, but have you ever seen a 16-inch laptop? Origin has beaten Apple to the punch and introduced the world’s first 16-inch laptop in the Origin EVO16-S (read our review). The slighlty larger display makes a lot of sense as you get more screen real-estate without any noticable added bulk.
The Origin EVO16-S is also notable for being one of the world’s most customizable gaming laptops. Our review confiugration is built out as a high-end gaming machine, but if you want more memory, bigger storage, better graphics, all the add-on options are only a click away. You could even submit custom artwork to have it printed or laser etched onto the screen lid to really make this gaming laptop your own.
9. Alienware m15
Sleek and Powerful
Thin, powerful, with a respective battery life, the Alienware m15 is an absolute stunner when it comes to performance. Since it’s an Alienware, you can take your pick of configurations, but this configuration above is a great platform for competitive gaming and streaming thanks to its 1080p 240Hz display, Nvidia RTX 2070 graphics, and i7-9750H processor.
The Alienware m15, and its bigger Alienware m17 sibling, are two of the few gaming laptops that feature an OLED screen and it’s only an $150 upgrade, so I’d highly recommend taking it. Picking the OLED display upgrade also means bumping up the screen resolution to 4K, but this system should have no problem keeping up.
10. Overpowered 17+ (NA Only)
A Surprising Bargain
Display: 17.3” FHD (1,920 x 1,080) IPS 144Hz ● CPU: Intel Core i7-8750H ● GPU: Nvidia GTX 1060 (6GB GDDR5 VRAM) ● RAM: 32GB DDR4 (2,667MHz) ● Storage: 256GB SSD, 2TB HDD ● Weight: 5.65 pounds ● Size: 15.5″ x 10.25″ x 1″
The bad news is, unless you live in North America, you probably won’t be able to get your hands on the surprisingly excellent Overpowered 17+ (read our review) Walmart. Yes, you read that correctly: the Overpowered brand is a Walmart-exclusive, and the box store giant offers a powerful gaming laptop at a great price point.
In our review, we praised the Overpowered 17+ for its 144Hz display, mechanical keyboard, and a whopping 32GB of RAM standard. The best part? The already low-priced Overpowered 17+ is almost always listed below its MSRP on Walmart’s website.
What’s next for gaming laptops
AMD recently gave us a reason to be excited in the gaming laptop world again with the introduction of the Radeon RX 5500. This new Navi GPU is coming to desktop and mobile, and one of the first gaming laptop to feature the latter version is the MSI Alpha 15. The machine will also come with a Ryzen 7 3750H processor, that should make it a pretty peppy performer. According to PC World, pricing starts at $999 for a model with 8GB of RAM, so it packs a punch when it comes to value as well.
Earlier last month Asus and Acer unleashed the first salvo of 300Hz gaming laptops and we’re excited about the insanely smooth PC gaming they’ll be able to offer. Acer introduced an updated Predator Triton 500 featuring the a new 300Hz Full HD screen as well as the latest 9th Generation H-series processors. Asus arguably one-upped Acer by introducing the Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX701 as the first of the company’s four 300Hz gaming laptops to release later this year.
What to look for in a Gaming Laptop
The best gaming laptops have come a long way in relatively little time. Power, portability, and price have all seen dramatic improvements in just the last 5 years, and somehow gaming laptops are getting thinner and adding even more features.
The newest gaming laptops are cramming RTX 2080 graphics cards inside of them. These ray-tracing capable cards from Nvidia are among our picks for the best graphics cards, at least the desktop versions. Fitting them inside of a gaming laptop, like the Asus ROG Zephyrus S, is no easy feat. Nvidia’s Max-Q tech makes it possible to run a powerhouse GPU inside a thin laptop frame without the whole thing becoming boiling hot.
The portability is a huge advantage, as is a ready-to-go display, often equipped with variable refresh rate technology or better-than-HD resolutions. The disadvantage is most gaming laptops are only as portable as the nearest electrical outlet. All that power comes at a price, after all, and while there are a few exceptions, the general rule of gaming laptops is battery life stinks.
Another big disadvantage a gaming laptop has compared to a gaming desktop is price. It costs quite a lot more to stuff all those components (i.e. the built-in trackpad, keyboard, speakers, and display) into an easy-to-carry shell. When considering a gaming laptop over a gaming desktop, ask yourself, is the premium in price worth it over and would it be cheaper to buy these all separately?
There are other considerations, too. If a component fails on a laptop, it’s nowhere near as easy to swap out. If your desktop gaming rig needs an upgrade, it’s a snap. If your gaming laptop needs an upgrade, other than RAM, that can sometimes mean having to buy a whole new computer.
One thing a powerful gaming laptop has over a comparably equipped desktop is a certain “wow” factor. Since it’s portable, it’s a whole lot easier to show it off. Manufacturers realize how important looking cool is, so gaming laptops are some of the coolest and most aggressively styled computers around. They borrow lines from modern supercars and high-tech jet fighters, and many have flashy LED lights to let everyone around you know how serious you are.
For more helpful guides, be sure to check out our guide to the best gaming chairs, gaming desks, and the best gaming headsets.
Kevin Lee is IGN’s Hardware and Roundups Editor. Follow him on Twitter @baggingspam
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Take Your PC Gaming on the Road With These Powerful Gaming Laptops