You want a powerful computer, but you don’t have the time or means necessary to build your own. On the opposite end of the spectrum, even the best gaming PC doesn’t quite match the portability and all-in-one practicality of a laptop.
A gaming laptop gives you just want you want when you want it. You don’t have to replace parts individually when one is acting up; in fact, you don’t even have to buy a monitor, a mouse or a keyboard. Your entire gaming setup is immediately in front of your face no matter where you go.
For a decent gaming notebook, you’re looking at spending around $1,000 (around £800, AU$1,400) minimum. To experience the best PC games at the highest resolutions and frame rates, you can expect to hand over significantly more. That’s assuming, though, that the games are optimized for the hardware you pick out.
Fortunately, the barrier of entry for high-end gaming is getting lower. The system requirements for VR have dropped significantly since the launch of the Rift while graphics cards, like Zotac’s GTX 1070 Mini, cost but a fraction of their last-gen equivalents.
In this article, we’ve provided our impressions on a number of gaming laptops spanning different brands and budgets, keeping in mind the varied interests of our readers. These are the best gaming laptops. Not one is perfect, but each is graced with its own array of specs, advantages and shortcomings, tidily upheld in an organized list for your convenience.
The Asus Strix GL502 may not boast the most innovative design, swapping out the usual black and red color scheme for one that makes it feel like Halloween year-round. But, it’s undoubtedly one of the best when it comes to gaming in 1080p. In fact, we were able to crank the settings all the way up in Overwatch without taking a hit below 60fps. The battery life is janky, sure, but the screen, performance and onboard sound system more than make up for it.
Unlike most laptops its size, the Alienware 13 R3 bears a hinge-forward design. By moving the heatsinks usually located beneath the keyboard to a distinct bulge that projects outward behind the screen, it allows for a thinner, 0.81-inch (0.22cm) chassis. Unfortunately, this means you won’t find many 13-inch laptop bags that will actually suit the Alienware 13 R3; rather you’ll likely have to opt for a 15-inch carrier. The real draw, however, isn’t the Alienware 13 R3’s protruding appendage or even its impressive quad-core, H-class CPU. While you may be tempted by the inclusion of a full-size Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060, it’s the OLED touch display that caught our attention. The flavorful color gamut puts practically every other laptop on the market to shame.
Like the GameCube of laptops, the HP Omen 17 has the build quality of a children’s toy. However, when you see what it can do, you’ll wonder why it didn’t cost more. At 7 pounds, you’ll have to forgive the weight of the HP Omen 17 if you want to benefit from its 17-inch Quad-HD display. Of course, although the GTX 1070 is more of a 1440p performer than a 4K one, you can still expect a consistent 30 fps in games like The Division at the highest graphical settings. Overall, the HP Omen 17 is HP’s Gigabyte P57X equivalent, but with Bang & Olufsen speakers that might tip you over the edge.
For many gamers, Ultrabook is a four-letter word, but it doesn’t have to be. The first time you get your hands on a Razer Blade, you’ll be looking at a battery life of 3 hours and 35 minutes in-game (or six hours of non-stop video). While you could argue it does skimp as far as graphics are concerned, with the help of a Razer Core external GPU enclosure, you can strap an Nvidia Titan X inside if you want.
You may not be as familiar with Aorus as you are with many of the other contenders on this list. That said, the company makes a damn fine gaming laptop with relatively subdued designs to boot. The Aurorus X5 v6 in particular comes in an all-black finish with a GTX 1070 powerhouse under the hood. Connected to a 144Hz external monitor, the Aorus X5 v6 can handle Overwatch at up to 120 fps on Ultra. When it’s not wowing you with its internal capabilities, it’s doing so with its 15-inch, 3K resolution display. Though its fans make it sound like a helicopter about to depart, and the build quality isn’t exactly ideal, the Aorus X5 v6 averts gaudy color schemes in favor of sheer horsepower.
At long last, Razer has introduced a laptop that can not only replace your desktop, but do so without packing on more weight than most large laptops. It’s expensive, yes – it certainly won’t save you money when compared to building your own PC. On the other hand, it measures in at only 0.88-inches thick with an onboard 17-inch, 4K multi-touch display and a built-in Wi-Fi card. If that’s not enough to sell you on it already, the Razer Blade Pro also introduces the company’s Ultra-Low-Profile Mechanical switches to a notebook for the first time ever. These keys bear an appearance similar to your run-of-the-mill chiclet keyboards, but press down on them yourself and you’ll feel (and hear) the authentic click of a mechanical keyswitch. It’s an experience bettered only by its unusual trackpad placement, which feels so natural for gaming that you’ll wonder why it wasn’t there to begin with.
For quite some time now, 4K gaming laptops have sparked a conundrum. Their impeccably high resolution displays were often met with graphics cards that couldn’t quite match the capabilities of the screen. Serving as a follow-up to the P37X v5 of yesteryear, the Gigabyte P37X v6 houses an Nvidia Pascal-series card, namely the GTX 1070, which can handle many of the latest gaming titles in 4K with ease. What’s more, it can do so on a 17.3-inch screen, making it a significantly more affordable alternative to the Razer Blade Pro. Of course, there’s no G-Sync, the fans are loud and the trackpad is small, but the slim form factor and blistering 4K performance more than make up for any of the Gigabyte P37X v6’s deficiencies.
With the introduction of the Nvidia’s Pascal architecture, we’ve finally seen laptops like the Razer Blade Pro take on doubles lives as desktop PCs. The Origin EON17-X follows suit with a 4K display and a GPU that can handle the heat, all for a significantly lower starting cost. It doesn’t come with the dead silent mechanical keyboard, but it flaunts one that is tactile nonetheless. While it’s undoubtedly the most powerful laptop we’ve used to date, it’s also among the most expensive. Considering the battery life maxes out at a dastardly 1 hour and 54 minutes, according to our own movie test. That’s a far cry from the Razer Blade Pro, which managed close to 4 hours. Otherwise, it’s perfectly outfitted for that place on your desk where your desktop would be – if you had the space.
The Predator 17 X isn’t the kind of laptop you would take to a coffee shop on a Tuesday afternoon to catch up on assignments. Unless you don’t mind lugging around a bulky power brick and a 10.03-pound (4.67kg) computer, this is a notebook best left at home. The Predator 17 X is, however, one of the most well-rounded gaming laptops. A desktop-class Nvidia GeForce GTX 980, for instance, is built into the base of the machine, making it (just barely) capable of gaming in 4K. This is a smart move considering that, if you shell out a bit more cash over the base model, the 17 X boasts an Ultra HD display, complete with G-Sync functionality. Paired with more than enough ports to get the job done, the Acer Predator 17 X is well worth the steep asking price, even if it does take three-and-a-half hours to charge.
The Origin EON17-SLX gives new meaning to portability. This 17-inch notebook combines the power of a desktop-grade Intel processor and an Nvidia GPU, making it one of history’s most powerful mobile machines. Of course, it comes with the sacrifice of portability in both weight and battery life. If these are worthy trade-offs for greater performance, you won’t find a better machine whether you’re a hardcore gamer or a media creator.
Gabe Carey has also contributed to this article