The best gaming laptops are varied, ranging from thick machines with the most powerful components to slim, efficient machines to cheaper laptops made of plastic. Sure, a high-end PC over $5,000 might have the highest-end graphics and a great display for a killer gaming experience, but most of us can’t afford a rig like that. Our picks here are often high-end models (we’re an enthusiast site, after all), but most come in various configurations at various price points. For those on a tight gaming budget, we’ve have dedicated pages for the best gaming laptops under $1,500 and the best gaming laptops under $1,000.
Thankfully, there are more gaming laptop options now than ever, from budget-friendly to desktop replacements. Some come with full-size Nvidia GeForce RTX graphics cards, while others go for the more efficient Max-Q designs that enable thinner chassis and (sometimes) quieter fans.
The quick list
The Best Gaming Laptop
MSI may have skipped the jump to an 18-inch display on its flagship laptop, but we were still impressed. Between the powerful performance of its Intel Core i9-13950HX and Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090 and its stunning Mini-LED display, this laptop is one of the most powerful and eye-pleasing performers we’ve seen to date.
Best Thin and Light Gaming Laptop
Razer has moved away from its “Advanced” and “Base” models of the Blade 15. But what’s left is still a stylish and thin gaming notebook that also performs well. Aside from its impressive frame rates, it’s also just 4.4 pounds and 0.57 inches thick.
Best 17-inch Gaming Laptop
With up to an Intel Core i9-12900HK and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Ti, Alienware’s x17 R2 delivers some of the most powerful parts on the market. In our testing, the laptop showed strong performance in both gaming and productivity.
Best Budget Gaming Laptop
Acer’s Nitro 5 has been our favorite budget gaming laptop for a long time. The last model we tested, with a Core i5-12500H from Intel and Nvidia’s RTX 3050 Ti, brings decent performance for the price, as long as you’re OK with turning down the settings on some games.
Another Solid Budget Option
The HP Victus 15 has a lot going for it considering its $799 price. With an i5-12450H CPU and an older GTX 1650 GPU, there are definitely some tradeoffs for the price. But in our testing it could still handle most contemporary titles in 1080p at high or medium settings, though you may need to turn down to low occasionally.
Best All-AMD Gaming Laptop
For on-the-go gamers, thin laptops like Asus’ ROG Zephyrus G14 are particularly appealing. The Zephyrus uses an AMD Ryzen 9 6900HS and an AMD Radeon RX 6800S, as well as the company’s proprietary features like SmartShift and SmartAccess Memory, to deliver the best performance possible from AMD’s hardware.
Best Gaming Laptops 2023
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The Best Gaming Laptop
MSI may not have adopted an 18-inch display on its flagship laptop, but in our testing, we were still enamored. A mix of powerful performance from the Intel Core i9-13950HX and Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090 provided for one of the most powerful gaming laptops we’ve seen to date.
And that 17-inch, 16:9 display is no slouch. MSI has added Mini-LED technology, so the 4K 144 Hz display looks incredible. It’s not OLED, but in our tests, it often looked almost as good, with extremely high scores on both our light meter (511 nits) and our colorimeter (161.6% sRGB, 114.5% DCI-P3).
Add in a Cherry MX mechanical keyboard that’s an absolute pleasure to use (alongside per-key RGB backlighting to keep it looking good), and you get some luxury you don’t see in most gaming laptops (even if MSI doesn’t use the mechanical switches for the number keys or arrow keys).
The battery life, at under 4 hours on our tests, makes the Titan a true desktop replacement. But if you’re willing to bear the expense of these top-end components and don’t plan on unplugging too much, you have one heck of a system in the Titan.
Read: MSI Titan GT77 HX review
Best Thin and Light Gaming Laptop
Razer has simplified its Blade 15 lineup, removing the “Advanced” and “Base” models, but what’s left is still a very good, thin, stylish gaming notebook. The Blade 15 remains a favorite because it has strong performance (with a Core i7-127800H and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 Ti in the model we reviewed) but is just 4.4 pounds and 0.57 inches thick.
You still get a variety of ports, like Thunderbolt 4, both USB Type-C and Type-A as well as an SD card reader, so there’s plenty of expansion for peripherals and extra storage for games. It would even work great for productivity, though we did find some competing gaming laptops were better in non-gaming benchmarks.
To get Razer’s premium look and feel, you do have to pay a premium. This notebook starts at $2,499 and we reviewed it at $2,999. It’s pricey, but it’s also maintained a spot among our favorite gaming notebooks for years for a reason.
Read: Razer Blade 15 (2022) Review
Best 17-inch Gaming Laptop
The Alienware x17 R2 goes up to an Intel Core i9-12900HK and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Ti, some of the most powerful parts on the market. In our review, the laptop showed strong performance in both gaming and productivity.
Alienware’s design, which debuted last year, is lovely. It’s still clearly a gaming notebook, but it’s futuristic and minimal. That being said, it’s a bit larger than some competitors, and at 6.82 pounds, you probably won’t want to carry this around too often.
If you have a bit of extra cash, we highly recommend the optional $50 Cherry MX mechanical keyboard, which feels excellent, and everyone on our staff who has tried it has enjoyed it.
Read: Alienware x17 R2 Review
The Best Budget Gaming Laptop
The Acer Nitro 5 has long been our favorite gaming laptop for those on a tight budget. The latest model we’ve tested, with an Intel Core i5-12500H and Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti offers decent performance for the price, as long as you’re willing to turn down the settings on some games.
Acer has given the Nitro 5 a new, more adult design. It’s less angular, and with fewer red accents, doesn’t scream as much that it’s a gaming notebook. We’ve seen that aesthetic become popular on expensive notebooks, it’s nice to see a toned-down design on a gaming laptop that’s $899.99. (Don’t worry, there’s still an RGB backlit keyboard for those that are into that sort of thing.
There’s a bit of room to upgrade inside, too. Acer includes a SATA cable in the box for people who want to open the laptop and add a 2.5-inch hard drive or SSD. The RAM, NVMe SSD, and Wi-Fi card are all easily accessible, too.
The big downside for buying on a budget is the amount of bloatware Acer preinstalled on this thing. You may want to spend a bit of time removing some of the extras.
Read: Acer Nitro 5 review
Best Budget Alternative
HP’s Victus 15 secures a slot on this list by deftly balancing what you can get at the extreme low-end of gaming laptops. We tested this laptop near its entry-level configuration, at $799.99 with an Intel Core i5-12450H and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650.
For $800, you can’t expect greatness. Most games will play at at least medium settings, though you’ll have to turn some to low from the day you buy it. But for the games that can push high frame rates with the GTX 1650, you get a 1080p, 144 Hz display. That 12th Gen H-series Intel processor is no slouch when you want to use the Victus for productivity work, perhaps at work or school.
If you’re looking to spend as little as possible, you can squeeze value out of the Victus. You won’t get the best display or webcam around, but you’ll spend well under $1,000. One tip, if you can, is to make sure your purchase includes dual-channel RAM. Some stores, like HP’s, let you configure this, and it should improve performance somewhat. Ours didn’t have this, and we wish it did.
The design, while largely plastic, is actually quite mature. Even on the low-end, your gaming laptop can fit in anywhere.
Read: HP Victus 15 review
Best All-AMD Gaming Laptop
If you’re a PC gamer on the go, a thin PC like the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 may be up your alley. The Zephyrus uses an AMD Ryzen 9 6900HS and an AMD Radeon RX 6800S, as well as the company’s proprietary features like SmartShift (to move power between the CPU and GPU) and SmartAccess Memory.
For the latest update, Asus added a webcam, which was a glaring omission on previous models. The all-AMD model has also moved to a taller, 16:10 aspect ratio.
On our battery test, the Zephyrus ran for over 10 and a half hours, suggesting you could last all day on this notebook when you aren’t gaming.
It is, however, a bit pricey. The Zephyrus starts at $1,599.99, while we reviewed it with the top-tier specs at $2,499.99.
Read: Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 review
Best 18-inch Gaming Laptop
18-inch gaming laptops are in vogue, with tall 16:10 screens mixed with some of the most postful components on the market. The Asus ROG Strix Scar 18 is expensive, but with an Intel Core i9-13980HX and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090, it’s ready for the most intense games with serious graphics.
The 2560 x 1600, 240 Hz display gives you some options, including prioritizing gaming at high resolution, or turning that down and playing esports at high frame rates. Considering how powerful the system is, some games will play at high resolution and high refresh rate.
The Strix looks like a gaming machine, if that’s your aesthetic, with logs of RGB and aggressive logos. While Asus includes a webcam here, it’s only 720p, which is a shame considering how everything else on this system is high-end.
Beyond the performance, we also appreciated this system’s speakers, which are loud and detailed, and the fact that its display was bright at 402 nits on our lightmeter.
Read: Asus ROG Strix Scar 18 review
Best 16-inch Esports Machine
The Lenovo Legion 5i Pro offers strong performance with a screen that lets you switch between high refresh rate gaming meant for esports or high resolution for more cinematic games. It’s a 16-inch, 2560 x 1600 panel that goes up to 165 Hz. That’s not the fastest we’ve seen on a gaming notebook, but it’s a nice balance.
The “i” in 5i Pro stands for Intel. We tested with an Intel Core i7-12700H along with Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 3070 Ti. Our system also had 16GB of DDR5 RAM and a 512GB SSD.
We were pleasantly surprised by the Legion’s battery life. The laptop ran for seven and a half hours on our battery test, which is longer than most gaming PCs. That suggests that you could use it for quite a bit as a productivity machine (especially in conjunction with the tall 16:10 screen to see your work).
The audio wasn’t amazing, so you may want a pair of the best gaming headsets. But otherwise, this system is a jack of all gaming trades.
Read: Lenovo Legion 5i Pro (Gen 7) Review
The Best Dual-Screen Gaming Laptop
For when one screen isn’t enough, the Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 16 offers two, powered by AMD’s top-end Ryzen 9 7945HX and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 40890. The second screen, dubbed ScreenPad Plus, provides a bit of extra real estate for chat apps or guides while gaming, and lifts up in order to increase ventilation.
The main mini LED screen, at an incredible 684 nits of brightness on our light meter, looks excellent with HDR games and shows. It’s matte, while the ScreenPad Plus is glossy, but that’s a minor issue.
With shiny purple and blue lines, Asus eschews the standard RGB on the lid, and it looks refined and unique because of it. Now if only Asus could refine the placement of the keyboard and mouse, which have been awkward for a few generations now. You’ll have to decide if that second screen is worth the effort.
Read: Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 16 Review
Gaming Laptop Shopping Tips
Finding the Best Gaming Laptop
While many of the best gaming laptops come with a 1080p display and high refresh rates, some include 4K screens, so you can pick between fidelity and resolution. Several gaming laptop go as fast as 360 Hz. There are also an increasing number of 2560 x 1440 display options, giving you an option other than 1080p or 4K. Additionally, some more expensive, premium options include OLED for deeper blacks and more vivid colors.
There is more choice than ever in components, too. While Intel is still a popular option, AMD’s Ryzen processors are becoming more common. On the GPU side, Nvidia’s RTX GPUs are in most laptops, though AMD is slowly starting to pair its own graphics cards with hits CPUs for what it calls an “AMD Advantage.” (We’re not seeing AMD GPUs with Intel CPUs).
The latest technologies in processors include Intel’s 13th Gen “Raptor Lake” processors, which use a hybrid design with Performance and Efficient cores, and AMD’s Ryzen 7000 CPUs. We should see a bunch of laptops with both of these sets of chips as the year progresses. Other trends we expect to see are more laptops with a 16:10 aspect ratio, which also means larger screens in some cases.
Nvidia’s RTX 40-series has started to hit desktops, and were announced for laptops in January. They’ll range from the RTX 4050 all the way up to the RTX 4090 (the first time a xx90 has been on mobile).
To help you find the best gaming laptop, we’ve compiled a list of the best models we’ve tested and reviewed recently. For much more on how to narrow down your list of best gaming laptop considerations, check out our best gaming laptop buyer’s guide. But here are a few quick tips to get you started down the road to the right portable gaming rig for you.
While many gamers may go to desktops to get the most performance for their money, try lugging a tower, monitor and keyboard around in your backpack. When you need a powerful rig you can take with you, there’s no substitute for a gaming laptop.
The picks on this list should be ready to run Windows 11 if it didn’t come preinstalled already.
- Focus on the GPU: Most games are dependent on the GPU, and those aren’t upgradeable. If you splurge on a powerful GPU now, you’ll be gaming comfortably for a few years.
- You can upgrade some parts later: While the best CPUs for gaming and GPUs are almost always soldered down, most gaming laptops let you replace the RAM and storage, so you can buy cheaper now and add more memory and a bigger hard drive or SSD down the road. Thicker, more powerful laptops are often easier to upgrade than thinner ones, so be sure to do some research before buying. (We include this information in our reviews).
- Battery life will probably be bad: Very few gaming notebooks get 8 hours or more on a charge, and you need the power supply to get the best gaming performance anyway. However, we’ve seen some strong times from AMD’s Ryzen processors, and Nvidia suggests its improved Optimus technology may help turn the tide. For peak gaming performance, however, you’ll want to be sure to be plugged in while playing.
Discounts on the Best Gaming Laptops
Whether you’re shopping for one of the best gaming laptops or another model that didn’t quite make our list, you may find some savings by checking out our lists of Dell coupon codes, HP coupon codes, Lenovo coupon codes, Razer promo codes or Newegg promo codes.
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