TL;DR – These are the Best Gaming Laptops:
1. MSI GE66 Raider
Best Gaming Laptop
The MSI GE66 Raider (see our review) is a formidable laptop. While staying under $2,000, it packs in some serious gaming firepower and rocks a display that’s ready to take full advantage of it. Inside the GE66 Raider, you’ll find an Intel Core i7-10875H processor. That’s an 8-core/16-thread processor that can zoom along with boost speeds up to 5.1GHz. Pairing that with an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 and 16GB of fast DDR4 memory makes this a worthy gaming machine. So, it’s a good thing the Full HD display offers up a 240Hz refresh rate for ultra-smooth gaming.
Just a few years ago, all that muscle would have only fit inside a chunky device. But, the MSI GE66 Raider is only 5.25 pounds and less than an inch thick. With the exception of its thickness, it almost has the dimensions of an ultrabook thanks to the slim bezels around the top and sides of the display. Even then, MSI found space to fit a 99.9 watt-hour battery. And all this is just a starting point, as you can customize it to include even more powerful components.
2. Asus ROG Zephyrus M15
Best Budget Gaming Laptop
If you’re willing to skip some of the eye-catching extras and highest-end components, you can still snag a perfectly respectable gaming laptop at a good price. The Asus ROG Zephyrus M15 (read our review) is just that at a price point a little over $1,000 (or right at $1,000 with a current deal from Best Buy).
Our selected build of the Asus ROG Zephyrus M15 has everything you need to get a solid experience in most games. The pairing of an Intel Core i7-10750H processor with an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti is more than enough for gaming at 1080p, and this gaming laptop comes kitted with a 144Hz display to let you take full advantage of the possible speeds. 16GB of RAM should still be enough memory for gaming for the next few years, though there is a user-accessible DIMM slot for future upgrades. Best of all, Asus managed to pack all of this gaming potential into a chassis that’s less than an inch thick and less than 4.5 pounds.
3. Acer Nitro 5
Best Ultra Cheap Gaming Laptop
If you just need the most affordable option that can get you solidly in the game, then the Acer Nitro 5 (read our review) is an excellent pick. It doesn’t go into the high-end with a high refresh rate or bonkers graphics processor, but it has just what you need to get gaming at 1080p.
The AMD Ryzen 5 4600H is more than enough CPU muscle to handle the games you throw at it, and the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 is just about the perfect graphics processor to pair with a 1080p/60Hz display like that found here. The two bigger shortcomings of this laptop are its 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, but you can add more of each if you find yourself running out of either.
4. Alienware Area-51m R2
The Most Upgradeable Gaming Laptop
Alienware’s Area-51m R2 is a gaming monstrosity, and you can actually make it just about as monstrous as you like. The laptop is bordering on a compact desktop in size, and that leaves room for some serious customization options. The model we’ve selected includes a 17.3-inch, 4K display that can hit 500 nits as well as a 10-core Intel Core i9-10900K, Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Super, 32GB of RAM, and 2TB of NVMe SSD storage in a RAID 0 configuration.
That’s already one of the highest-end configurations, but there’s even more room for RAM and storage to boost the potential of this laptop. And, the Alienware Area-51m R2 supports the Alienware Graphics Amplifier, so you can run it with a future, desktop graphics card to drive even more gaming performance.
5. Asus ROG Zephyrus G15
Best Gaming Laptop for Everyday Life
A lot of gaming laptops sink so deep into their niche that they can forget many of us have more to do with our computers than just game. To that end, the Asus ROG Zephyrus G15 offers a phenomenal balance. That’s driven in large part by its use of the AMD Ryzen 7-4800HS processor. Thanks to the 7nm architecture of this processor, it offers solid eight-core performance but doesn’t burn through the laptop’s battery as quickly as many other gaming laptops.
That balanced performance makes for great everyday computing, but don’t forget this is also ready for gaming. It packs in an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 to take advantage of its 240Hz display. The RTX 2060 won’t be running every game at 240 frames-per-second, but the potential is there in some games, so it doesn’t hurt to have the headroom. What makes this laptop that much better for everyday life is that all that comes into a compact package that weighs well under five pounds.
6. Razer Blade 15
Best 15-inch Gaming Laptop
Razer has truly cemented its place as a leading manufacturer when it comes to 15-inch gaming laptops. The frequent iterations of the Razer Blade 15 have regularly demonstrated serious gaming chops backed by a high level of polish. There aren’t many powerful gaming laptops that weigh just 4.6 pounds and measure under 0.8-inches thick.
The latest Razer Blade 15 base model packs in serious hardware with an Intel Core i7-10750H, 16GB of RAM, and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060. That’s a fast enough configuration to let the 1080p display make full use of its 144Hz refresh rate. And, if the graphics processor eventually becomes a bottleneck, Razer’s external graphics card dock is still an option for boosting performance.
7. MSI GT76 Titan DT
Best 17-inch Gaming Laptop
If you’re looking to go big with your laptop, the MSI GT76 Titan DT should catch your eyes. This laptop is a bit of a mammoth at almost 10 pounds, but it actually keeps a somewhat sleeker chassis design than you might be used to from 17-inch gaming laptops. That’s thanks to slim bezels around its screen, which happens to be a 4K Ultra HD display with complete coverage of the Adobe RGB color space.
For a laptop of this size, it naturally comes seriously loaded. You’ll get an Intel Core i9-10900K and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Super. The model we’ve selected also packed in 64GB of RAM, so you’ll be able to take on gaming in your free time and heavy workloads that even many office computers would shy away from.
8. Acer Predator Triton 500
Best Gaming Laptop for Esports
When it comes to esports, speed is king. You want to be able to see everything that’s happening in your game as clearly as possible, and you get that by going with the fastest screen possible. Acer has made sure gamers can get this in a laptop with the the company’s first gaming laptop with a 300Hz display.
It’s no ordinary gaming PC that can power a 300Hz, 1080p display. So, Acer has packed this beast with an Intel Core i7-10750H and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Super. With some fine-tuning of graphics settings in popular esports games, you’ll be flying at 300 frames-per-second, and you’ll get to see every single one of them.
9. Origin EON15-X
Most Customizable Gaming Laptop
Customization is one of the great loves of PC gamers, but when you turn to the laptop market, you may find yourself disappointed. Many gaming laptops come largely pre-configured. Sometimes you’ll get the option to tweak a few specs, but rarely will you have control over most of the components, especially when it comes to the specific brands. The Origin EON15-X (read our review) gives you much more in the way of customization.
The Origin EON15-X comes with a big trade-off in battery life compared to some more modern gaming laptops, and it’s a bit thicker, but you’ll find it makes up for that in customization and power. That’s all because it’s not exactly coming kitted with your usual laptop parts. You can choose from three Ryzen 3000-series processors, and they’re the full desktop models. The laptop also features either Nvidia RTX 2060 Max-P or 2070 Max-P graphics processors, which run at a higher power level than their Max-Q counterparts, and it shows when it comes to performance. You can also choose a variety of RAM and storage arrangements. And, for a finishing touch, Origin PC lets you customize the finish on the back of the display.
10. Alienware m15 R3
Sleek and Powerful
To get a serious level of performance and a super slick package, check out the latest iteration of Alienware’s m15 series (read our review of the first Alienware m15). The Alienware m15 R3 measures just 0.78 inches at its thickest point and weighs only 4.65 pounds. That makes it among the thinnest and lightest on this list, but you won’t be missing out on much that you’d find in a chunkier laptop.
The Alienware m15 R3 still packs in an Intel Core i7-10750H processor with 32GB of RAM and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Super Max-Q. If you’re wondering what all that performance is good for, you’ll be pleased to hear that this beast features a 300Hz display, letting you put all that power to use for insanely high frame-rates.
11. Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo
Best Dual-Screen Gaming Laptop
There are a lot of gaming laptops that stick to the same old formula but just keep implementing faster and faster components. The Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo (read our review) does things a little differently. Instead of one display, you’ll find two. The primary display is a 15.6-inch, 4K Ultra HD, IPS panel with a 60Hz refresh rate. Below that, there’s a thin, 14″ touchscreen display with a 3,840 x 1,100 resolution.
Make no mistake, this gaming laptop doesn’t forget about fast components. It packs an Intel Core i9-10900HK with 32GB of RAM (clocked at 3,200MHz no less), and it also runs an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Super for excellent gaming performance. Take all that and then factor in the 2TB of NVMe SSD storage in a RAID 0 configuration, and you’ll feel no shortage of speed from this machine.
Where to Get the Best Gaming Laptops in the UK
We’ve managed to find the vast majority of very best gaming laptops available in the UK, with all our favourites including the MSI ME66 Raider ready and available to buy from retailers such as Amazon, while other brands can be found elsewhere such as Dell, Currys PC World, or Scan.
What’s next for gaming laptops
The new biggest component you’ll want in your next gaming laptop is AMD’s new Ryzen 4th Generation mobile processors, which finally bring the company’s 7nm Zen 2 architecture to mobile platforms. These new CPUs bring unprecedented 8-cores and 16-threads chips to notebooks for a boatload of more processing power.
At CES 2020, just about every laptop of note featured AMD’s new Ryzen 4th Generation processors. Our favorite machine from the show was easily the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 that combined a Ryzen 4th Gen CPU with the power of Nvidia RTX 2060. We’ve seen that come to market as well as the impressive Asus ROG Zephyrus G15, and now it’s just a matter of time before even more Ryzen-power gaming laptops show us just how far AMD can go.
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.
Choosing the latest processor isn’t quite as necessary, but it’s a nice to have. When shopping for a gaming laptop be sure the Intel processor has a model number of Intel Core ix-9xxxH (i.e. Intel Core i7-9750H or Intel Core i9-9900k), this denotes that it’s one of Team Blue’s latest Coffee Lake H-series processors. If the gaming laptop you’re eying has an AMD processor, ensure it’s model number has a three at the start of it—such as AMD Ryzen 7 3750H—as it lets you know its one of AMD’s latest 3rd Generation processors.
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?
From our experience, it’s always better to stick with the least amount of memory and storage on checkout, and then upgrading it yourself with higher capacity components that are much cheaper to buy on their own. A 1TB SSD might sound tempting as it’ll help get your system booted in an instant and store all your games, but a high-end upgrade like that can often cost half or a quarter as much as the whole machine.
However, upgrading leads directly to another consideration, how easy it to swap out components. Whereas it’s usually a snap to add or replace a component in your desktop rig, upgrading anything in your gaming laptop, other than RAM, will often 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.
Some gaming laptops like the Asus ROG Mothership and Acer Predator 900 shake up the traditional clamshell laptop formula by introducing innovative 2-in-1 laptop designs. But these gimmick models are rarely worth the extra premium they demand.
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Kevin Lee is IGN’s Hardware and Roundups Editor. Follow him on Twitter @baggingspam
Mark Knapp is a regular contributor to IGN and an irregular Tweeter on Twitter @Techn0Mark