So your parents, boss or school have said they’ll help you pay for a new laptop to kick off the year. Lucky you! If you’re a PC gamer, these powerful desktop replacements -- many with vibrant 17-inch HD screens -- will not only keep you on task, but also let you get your Steam on. Take a look...
These gaming laptops are just some of our favourites right now. We’ve listed them here in no particular order and with a completely non-scholastic disregard for battery life. Pricing is Australian and admittedly often skews on the high side -- but damn, those specs!
Let us know your suggestions in the comments below...
Let’s dive in with Alienware’s redesigned line of gaming beasts, launched mid-last year with 700M series graphics and Intel’s new 4th generation Haswell processors. The Alienware 17 shown here has a 17.3-inch (1920x1080) anti-glare display.
If bigger is better, the Alienware 18 (18.4-inch screen) will be of interest, but for my mind the Alienware 14 (14-inch screen) hits the sweet spot between pixel pushing and portability. Each model has great speakers, viewing angles and anodized aluminium build-quality.
• Min spec: 4th Generation 2.4GHz (Turbo Boost up to 3.4GHz) Intel Core i7-470MQ • Min spec: 8GB memory • Min spec: 2GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 765M • Min spec: 1TB 5400RPM hard disk + 80GB solid state drive • Windows 8.1
• Price: Starting at $2499 • More at: Alienware Australia
Razer Blade Pro
The 17.3-inch Razer Blade Pro also launched mid-2013, along with its surprisingly thin (and thermally-efficient) 14-inch Razer Blade sibling. The larger model’s distinctive feature: the ‘Switchblade’ LCD to the right of the keyboard.
This 4.05-inch (800x480) mini display can be used to browse the web or function as a multi-touch/gesture track pad. There are also 10 dynamic tactile keys, the icons of which are fully customisable.
• 4th Generation 2.4GHz (Turbo Boost up to 3.4GHz) Intel Core i7-4700HQ Quad-Core • 8GB memory • 2GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 765M • 128GB / 256GB / 512GB SATA III solid state drive • Windows 8.1
• Price: Starting at $2499 • More at: Razer Online Store (Australia)
Origin EON Series
Good news: Origin PC (founded by former employees of Alienware) has an Australian online store. The company’s 13.3-, 15.6- and 17.3-inch EON series laptops are where the action is, though it looks like the latter isn’t shipping to Australia just yet.
The EON15-S starts at $2163 and includes 4GB GeForce GTX 780M graphics, while the EON13-S starts at $1876 with Nvidia’s 2GB GeForce GT 765M chip. Both models feature 4th generation Intel Core i7 ‘Haswell’ processors, illuminated keyboards and HD displays.
• Price: Starting at $1876 • More at: Origin PC (Australian Store)
Acer Aspire R7
OK, something a little different here – one of the weirder laptop designs in years. The Aspire R7 has a 15.6-inch multi-touch screen that transforms from normal laptop ‘clamshell’ mode to lie down flat like a gigantic tablet. And in between – the screen sits upright, but slightly tilted – reminiscent of a desktop PC. In this mode the screen covers the touchpad located above the keyboard.
That could be a deal breaker for some, though personally, I’ll always have a fast-tracking laser mouse under my right palm. Elsewhere, you can see the Aspire R7 has pretty decent specs as well.
• 4th Generation 2.4GHz (Turbo Boost up to 3.4GHz) Intel Core i7-4700HQ Quad-Core • 12GB memory • 2GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 750M • 128GB / 256GB / 512GB SATA III solid state drive • Windows 8.1
• Price: Starting at $2499 • More at: Acer Australia
MSI GT70 Dragon Edition 2 Extreme
MSI has a pretty large range of gaming laptops – from the AMD-based GX60/GX70 (15.6- and 17.3-inchers, respectively) to this, the GT70 Dragon Edition 2 Extreme. The dragon red colour scheme, and (WASD-optimised) SteelSeries LED backlit keyboard aren’t exactly subtle, but this machine is all about obnoxious power: i7-4930MX processor/GeForce GTX 780M graphics/RAID storage and Dynaudio stereo speakers.
Just tell your oldies that the 17.3-inch display improves your productivity. At this price, you’ll need to think of something to say – though you do get what you pay for when it comes to them specs.
• 4th Generation 2.4GHz (Turbo Boost up to 3.9GHz) Intel Core i7-4930MX • 32GB memory • 4GB GeForce GTX 780M • 3x 128GB solid state drives • Windows 8.1 Price: From around $4600 street price. More at: MSI Gaming Laptops
ASUS ROG G750JX
The ASUS ROG is an extreme gaming machine. Although it launched late last year, it’s no slouch. With RAM expandable up to 32GB ad a weaponised 3GB of video RAM coming from the discrete Nvidia GeForce GTX 770M, it’s power on the go at its best.
It also supports a range of hybrid storage options with bundled hard-disk drives and solid-state disks for faster boot and load times.
• 4th Generation 2.4GHz (Turbo Boost up to 3.4GHz) Intel Core i7-4700HQ Quad-Core • 8GB memory • 3GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 770M • 500GB HDD stand-alone / 500GB HDD w/ 8GB SSD / 750GB w/ 256GB SSD / 1TB HDD w/ 256GB SSD • Windows 8 / Windows 8 Pro
• Price: Starting at $2999 RRP • More at: Asus Australia
The P35K is a discreet-looking laptop released last year with tonnes of power for you to game on without drawing too much attention to yourself. It also has comparable specs to the Asus ROG, but at $1000 cheaper.
• 4th Generation 2.4GHz (Turbo Boost up to 3.4GHz) Intel Core i7-4700HQ Quad-Core • 16GB memory • 2GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 765M • 1TB HDD w/ 256GB SSD • Windows 8.1 / Windows 8.1 Pro
Samsung ATIV 8
The Samsung ATIV 8 might have a stupid name, but this 15.6-inch laptop is potentially the best computer ever to come out of the South Korean manufacturer’s front doors.
With a gorgeous 1080p panel, AMD Radeon graphics, a high-powered Core i7 processor and beautiful design, this laptop is the perfect balance of school- and work-safe design with hidden gaming power. Unfortunately, the svelte ATIV 9 series uses integrated graphics.
• 4th Generation 2.4GHz (Turbo Boost up to 3.4GHz) Intel Core i7-4700QM Quad-Core • 8GB memory • 2GB AMD Radeon HD8870M • 1TB HDD • Windows 8.1 Pro
• Price: Starting at $1274 RRP • More at: Samsung
Toshiba Qosmio X70
The Qosmio is bulky, but it’s certainly got power where it counts.
With up to 32GB of RAM, a 17.3-inch widescreen, Intel Core i7 processors and 3GB of video RAM from the NVIDIA GeForce 770M, it's It also has Harman Kardon speakers and a subwoofer built into the base for when you’re gaming your face off in your dorm instead of writing that 3500-word assignment on the history of who-cares.
• 4th Generation 2.4GHz (Turbo Boost up to 3.4GHz) Intel Core i7-4700MQ Quad-Core • 16GB RAM / 32GB RAM (8GB x 4) • 3GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 770M • 2TB (2x 1TB + 8GB SSD) / 2.2TB (2x 1TB + 256GB SSD) • Windows 8 / Windows 8 Pro
• Price: Starting at $3499 RRP • More at: Toshiba Australia
Apple MacBook Pro With Retina Display
It’s weird to think that Apple makes a laptop that could be great for gaming, but there’s still one left in the range that’s perfect for those who want the best of both worlds.
The 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display packs in a beautiful panel with the ability to run Mac OS X 10.9 and and Windows 8.1 through a nifty little feature called Boot Camp, which basically sections off part of your hard disk to run the laptop as a Windows machine for all your games.
It isn’t cheap for the specs, however, coming in at $3199 compared to other laptops on this list. It is, however, the best way to get two laptops in one.
• 4th Generation 2.3GHz (Turbo Boost up to 3.5GHz) Intel Core i7 Quad Core processor • 16GB RAM • 2GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 750M • 512GB PCIe SSD • Mac OS X 10.9 w/ ability to Boot Camp Windows 8.1 Pro
•Price: Starting at $3199 RRP •More at: Apple