10 best gaming laptops 2016: top gaming notebook reviews

TechRadar reviews the best gaming laptops

Update: Looking for an OLED gaming laptop with deep blacks and vibrant colors? We've added the Alienware 13 R3 to our list at number 2, the best (and only) option to fit that criteria.

You don't want to build a computer. No matter how much better the value is, the sheer amount of time spent perfecting a build takes away from, frankly already limited, game time. 

Instead, you would rather fast-forward to the fun part: actually playing games. Keep in mind that while there are more than enough gaming laptops on the market to choose from, the convenience of taking your rig on the go, complete with a built-in monitor and keyboard isn't cheap.

On the low end, a decent notebook will set you back around $1,400 (about £900). For the best PC games at a 4K resolution and consistent frame rates, you can expect to hand over significantly more of your savings for sufficient hardware.

That’s assuming, though, that the games themselves are optimized enough to run properly. Fortunately, if you’re in the market for VR, lower system requirements equate to a greater swath of gaming laptops you can choose from – assuming you'd rather not go for a VR backpack from Zotac.

Here we've sampled a number gaming laptops from different manufacturers spanning various budgets, ensuring that there's something in store for everyone to enjoy...

Best gaming laptops

1. Asus ROG Strix GL502

It's hard not to love a gaming laptop this good

CPU: Intel Core i7 | Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 - 1070 | RAM: 16GB DDR4 | Screen: 15.6-inch full HD 1,920 x 1,080 IPS | Storage: 128GB - 256GB SSD, 1TB HDD

Rocks Full HD gaming
Deliciously vibrant screen
Middling battery life

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.

Read the full review: Asus ROG Strix GL502

2. Alienware 13 R3

Gawk at the first-ever OLED gaming laptop

CPU: Intel Core i5 – i7 | Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 | RAM: 8GB – 16GB DDR4 | Screen: 13.3-inch QHD 2,560 x 1440 OLED touchscreen | Storage: 180GB – 512GB SSD

Gorgeous OLED screen
Improved hinge-forward design
Unexpectedly dense
Short battery life

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.

Read the full review: Alienware 13 R3

Best Gaming Laptops

3. Origin EON15-X

A desktop-grade CPU in an unbeatable gaming laptop

CPU: Intel Core i5 - i7 | Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 - 1070 | RAM: 8GB - 64GB | Screen: 15.6-inch, FHD (1,920 x 1,080) - UHD (3840 x 2160) LED Backlit Matte Display | Storage: 120GB - 1TB SSD; 500GB - 2TB HDD; 1TB SSHD

Great value
Desktop-grade performance
Razor thin viewing angles

The Origin EON15-X is a real head turner. Packing a desktop Skylake processor and a full-size Nvidia Pascal-series GPU into a fairly compact 15.6-inch notebook, Origin's greatest offers even more performance than some hardy gaming towers.

The extra CPU power is handy for users who need to edit video and other processor intensive tasks that a mobile chip can't handle. You'll also get an extra kick of performance no matter what game you're running. Combined with a powerful GPU and a not-so-shabby battery life, the Origin EON15-X is definitely worth consideration over all others.

Read the full review: Origin EON15-X

best gaming laptops

4. Lenovo Ideapad Y700 15-inch

An attractive and long lasting 15-inch gaming laptop

CPU: Intel Core i5 - i7 | Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 960M 2GB - 4GB DDR5 VRAM | RAM: 8GB - 16GB DDR4 (2,133MHz) | Screen: 15.6-inch FHD LED AntiGlare Backlit Multitouch (1,920 x 1,080) | Storage: 128GB - 512GB SSD, 1TB HDD (5,400 RPM)

Stylish look
Ample battery life
Gets hot
Terrible trackpad buttons

Entry-level gaming laptops are a great introduction into the glorious world of PC gaming, and from performance to looks, it's hard to beat the Lenovo Ideapad Y700. Considering its modest price-point, the Y700 stands out among the rest, in terms of budget gaming machines, thanks to a metal chassis and included SSD. It even comes packed with enough power to run modern games at decent settings.

Read the full review: Lenovo Ideapad Y700 15-inch

best gaming laptop

5. MSI GS60 Ghost Pro

The best thin-and-light gaming laptop

CPU: Intel Core i7 | Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970M 3GB - 6GB GDDR5 VRAM, Intel HD Graphics 530 | RAM: 16GB DDR4 | Screen: 15.6-inch, FHD (1,920 x 1,080) - UHD (3840 x 2160) eDP Wide View Angle | Storage: 128GB - 256GB SSD; 1TB HDD

Performance pusher
Stupendous keyboard
Fleeting battery life
A bit expensive

With a knack for style and a featherlight exterior, the MSI GS60 Ghost Pro is among the slimmest gaming laptops money can buy. That said, don't confuse thinness with lackluster performance. The Skylake Core i7 CPU featured in the GS60 perfectly marries the still-impressive GTX 970M, so long as you're playing at 1080p on medium to high graphics settings. Sure, it's not a top-end pick, but in the end, your wallet will thank you.

Read the full review: MSI GS60 Ghost Pro

best gaming laptops

6. HP Omen 17

A premium desktop replacement sans the premium cost

CPU: 6th gen Intel Core i7 | Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 (8GB GDDR5); Intel HD Graphics 530 | RAM: 16GB DDR4 | Screen: 17.3-inch 4K (3,840 x 2,160) IPS with G-Sync | Storage: 1TB - 2TB HDD, 128GB SSD

Affordable price
4K, G-Sync Display
Plastic-y build
Large physical size

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.

Read the full review: HP Omen 17

Best Gaming Laptops

7. Asus ROG G752

This mobile PC gaming powerhouse throws a hefty punch

CPU: Intel Core i7 | Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 970M - 980M | RAM: 16GB - 64GB DDR4 | Screen: 17.3-inch, full HD 1,920 x 1,080, IPS LCD | Storage: 128GB - 512GB SSD; 1TB HDD (7,200rpm)

Distinguished design
Top-end specs and performance
No 4K screen
Poor battery life

The Asus ROG G752 bears an aggressive design that sets it apart from the many, more sedate gaming laptops that inhabit the world. Instead of donning the black plastic shell typical of hardware in its class, the ROG G752 sports a shell brushed with aluminum panels, angular lines and glowing red segments. On top of its in-your-face styling, this 17-incher delivers tremendous performance, running modern blockbusters at max settings and with ease. The only thing missing is a 4K screen.

Read the full review: Asus ROG G752

best gaming laptop

8. Razer Blade

A gaming-ready MacBook Pro rival

CPU: 2.6GHz Intel Core i7-6700HQ | Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 970M (6GB GDDR5 VRAM) | RAM: 16GB | Screen: 14-inch QHD+ (3,200 x 1,800) IGZO (LED backlit, multi-touch) | Storage: 256GB – 512GB PCIe SSD

Hugely improved battery life
Thunderbolt 3 a smart add
Minor graphical upgrades
Limited part options

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.

Read the full review: Razer Blade

Best gaming laptops

9. Origin EON17-SLX

The ultimate gaming laptop built with desktop-grade power

CPU: Intel Core i5 - i7 | Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 - 1080 | RAM: 8GB - 64GB | Screen: 17.3-inch, FHD (1,920 x 1,080) - UHD (3840 x 2160) IPS Matte Display with G-SYNC | Storage: 120GB - 4TB SSD, 500GB - 1TB HDD, 1TB SSHD

Nearly unrivaled performance
Sharp, aggressive styling
Awful battery life
Astonishingly heavy

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. 

Read the full review: Origin EON17-SLX

best gaming laptops

10. MSI GT80 Titan

An outrageously sized and powerful gaming laptop

CPU: 5th gen Intel Core i7 | Graphics: 2 x Nvidia GTX 980M SLI (16 GB GDDR5); Intel HD Graphics 4600 | RAM: 16GB - 24GB | Screen: 18.4-inch WLED FHD (1920 x 1080) Anti-Glare Display | Storage: 256GB SSD; 1TB HDD (7,200 RPM)

Authentic mechanical keyboard
Easily upgraded
H-E-A-V-Y
Impossible to use on your lap

The MSI GT80 Titan goes above and beyond to give gamers a desktop experience in a notebook with everything from high-performance parts to a built-in mechanical keyboard. Weighing in at nearly 10 pounds and measuring roughly two-inches thick, this machine seriously pushing the limits of what qualifies as portable. For all the strain it'll put on your back and wallet, though, the 18.4-inch GT80 Titan absolutely plows through almost any graphically intense game you try to run. This gaming behemoth proved to be a monster with the best in class mobile GPUs so we can't even fathom what it could do with a more up-to-date graphics card.

Read the full review: MSI GT80 Titan

  • Only interested in light gaming? Try a Surface Book on for size

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kevin has been a writer for the better part of five years covering everything from green energy to high octane cars, videogames and tech, biohacking, and even city politics. At TechRadar he's settled into a life as the Computing Editor while also covering cameras and shooting video. He can be often found in the lab testing a half dozen laptops at a time or deciding which camera bags to carry for the day.