We’ve reviewed a ton of laptops and played around with even more. While we have an entire guide dedicated to laptops, we know some people just want to game and so no matter your budget, we’ve curated some of the best gaming laptops currently on the market too. Many of them are great for other tasks besides gaming, too, like photo and video editing, and even streaming. Yet ultimately these laptops are intended for gaming and making sure you can game whether you have a budget of $6,000 or a more realistic budget of $1,500.
Buying Forecast for Spring 2020: Things are going to be quiet in the gaming laptop arena for a bit. As we’ve noted on our other laptop buying guide, Intel recently launched its 11th-gen mobile processor with Iris Xe Graphics. Laptop manufacturers will start rolling out their productivity models first, so it’s likely that we won’t see any gaming models with the latest processors until next year…assuming we do at all.
We won’t see any gaming laptops with RTX 3070, 3080, or 3090 variants for a while, too. Companies like Asus, MSI, Acer, and others usually wait until CES to announce or start showing off their gaming laptop models with the latest GPUs. Plus we’re still waiting on AMD to officially announce that laptops with its own graphics cards are coming. Perhaps they are waiting until CES as well, or maybe they’re still fine-tuning designs. Covid-19 related production and shipping delays don’t help, either. It’s also possible that we’ll have to wait longer to see them since AMD just announced its new 6000-series of GPUs.
At this point in time, any gaming laptop you’ll be able to find will have a 10th-gen Intel processor (or AMD 4000 series, although some models don’t have that option) and anywhere from a GTX 1650 to a RTX 2080 Super graphics card, depending on what specs are available at what price point. With the holidays around the corner, it might be a good time to pick up something as all or some of these laptops will likely go on sale.
The Best Gaming Laptop for Most People
Who Are You?
You have a decent amount of cash to throw around for a faster processor and graphics card, as well as more storage space. But anything in the high-end range is a little too bananas based on price alone. If you like to play more demanding games and need to get some video editing done, these have the features you’re looking, plus the speed, for a more reasonable price.
Our Pick: MSI GS66 Stealth ($3,500)
Compared to the high-end gaming laptops below, there isn’t much difference between the MSI GS66 Stealth aside from the price. While there are plenty of configurations available depending on your budget, the one we love has an Intel Core i7-10875H, RTX 2070 Super, 32 GB RAM, 1 TB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD, a 15.6-inch 300 Hz display. This laptop is a mash-up of the Blade and Strix below, but for hundreds of dollars less. Not to mention its aesthetics are just as pleasing as Razer’s.
But for $3,500, you have to be giving up something, right? The hardware specs are top-notch, so why is the Stealth in this category other than the price? Well, the GS66 definitely gets loud like the Strix when under load, but it doesn’t stay as cool. It’s display tops out at 317 nits, same as the Strix, but it’s a full pound lighter with similar dimensions. And that’s pretty much it. You’re not giving up much with the Stealth at this price. This laptop has the most reasonable value when taking pricing, features, and specs into consideration, which is why its the one we’d recommend for most people.
Also Consider: Acer Predator Triton 500 ($3,200)
The model we tested has slightly higher specs than the one we recommend here, but this one falls better into the price range most people can afford. This model comes with an Intel Core i7-10750H, RTX 2070 Super, 16 GB RAM, 1 TB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD, and a 15.6-inch 300 Hz display. These specs are the general “sweet spot” as far as value goes.
For $300 less, the main difference between this and the GS66 Stealth is just 16 GB of RAM. Between this Predator Triton model and the one we reviewed, the only difference is our review model had a RTX 2080 Super, which adds another $450 to the overall price. Everything else is the same: lightweight for a gaming laptop, loud fans but everything stays nice and cool. The 300 Hz display is great for first person shooters. The battery life is short, but if you’re primarily going to game on this, it should stay plugged in at all times anyway.
The Best High-End Gaming Laptop
Who Are You?
You’ll pay whatever it costs to get the best of the best. You have to have everything. Per-key RGB lighting. 300 Hz refresh rate. Blazing fast CPU and GPU. Lots of RAM, storage, and ports. But above all, it has to look sleek, modern, and maybe a little aggressive, depending on your personal taste.
Our Pick: Razer Blade 15 Advanced ($4,600)
Or as we like to call it, the MacBook Pro of gaming laptops. Its understated, minimalist design is a force to be reckoned with: RTX 2080 Super Max-Q , Intel Core i7-10875H (8-cores/16-threads, 2.3 GHz base/5.1 GHz boost), 1 TB M.2 NVMe SSD, 16 GB DDR4-2933 MHz RAM, a 15.6-inch 300 Hz display, and to top it all off, per-key RGB. There isn’t much this laptop doesn’t have or can’t do. Along with amazing gaming performance, there’s plenty of connectivity options to set up a quick stream, or download photos and video directly from your camera. Lots of laptops forgo SD card readers these days, but this one does not!
For a fully-loaded laptop, its dimensions are pretty svelte. It weighs 2 kg., its dimensions are just 0.70 inches by 9.25 inches by 13.98 inches, and yet there’s more than enough room for a well-spaced keyboard, a massive touchpad, and speakers the run along the outside of the keyboard. It costs as much as a down payment on a car, but you get so much for the price.
Also Consider: Asus ROG Strix Scar G15 ($2,698+)
It’s just as powerful and tricked out as the Razer Blade 15 Advanced, but will save you a little bit of cash. At 3 kg., it’s not the lightest laptop around, but it packs a full RTX 2070 Super graphics card, Intel Core i9-10980HK, 32 GB DDR4-3200 MHz RAM, 2 TB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD, a 15.6-inch 300 Hz display, and per-key RGB. It also has an Ethernet port and the numberpad is intergrated with the touchpad.
I know, you’d think the ROG Strix Scar and Blade 15 would be flipped based on the price versus the specs. But the Scar doesn’t have nearly the same number and variety of ports as the Blade, and the Blade has a better aesthetic. Each of these laptops targets two different kinds users. The Blade is more obviously designed as a multi-use laptop, while the Scar is very much designed with gaming only in mind.
The Best Budget Gaming Laptop
Who Are You?
Price is the most important consideration when it comes to buying a gaming laptop. You want to pay as little as possible without sacrificing everything, but performance is a close second to price. These laptops are a nice balance between those two requirements, but forgo some of the fancier features.
Our Pick: Acer Nitro 5 ($1,999+)
The Nitro 5 comes in a lot of different configurations, the cheapest being a $1,199 model with an AMD Ryzen 5 3550H and GTX 1650. But the performance jump you get for $500+ more is significant. Also, all the configurations that come with a 10th-gen processor only have either a GTX 1650 or GTX 1650 Ti (same for the current-gen AMD models), whereas more of the 9th-gen models come with a RTX 2060. But the ladder isn’t a disappointing concession at all! For a budget gaming laptop, the Nitro 5 packs a punch and will net you near or over 60 fps on most games.
How has this list changed? Read back through our update history:
10/29/2020: This is a brand new list! – Joanna Nelius