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Best gaming laptops 2021: top laptops to game on

Best gaming laptops 2021: top laptops to game on
(Image credit: Future)
PRICE
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID

The best gaming laptops are proof of exactly how far we’ve come in the world of mobile hardware. No longer a shadow of the best gaming PCs, these powerful laptops are proving that they can deliver an equally breathtaking performance while also getting thinner every year. And, it’s all thanks to the advances on internal components manufacturers have made in the last few years.

Armed with the latest and most powerful GPUs like Nvidia’s RTX or AMD’s Navi line, the newest processors like Intel Comet Lake, and the speediest RAM, the best gaming laptops to have the power they need to see gamers through even the most demanding PC games while keeping things travel-friendly. Even more impressive, some of these gaming portables boast a svelte body and a battery life worthy of Ultrabooks.

The best gaming laptops are a boon to those who want to tackle the most popular titles on the go or don’t have the desk space for a proper desktop PC. With all the features, portability, and horsepower that they come with, desktop gamers finally have a compelling reason to switch over. Here are our top picks.

Best gaming laptops 2021

Asus Zephyrus G14

The Asus Zephyrus G14 is an absolute beast of a gaming laptop. (Image credit: Asus)

1. Asus ROG Zephyrus G14

The best gaming laptop around

Specifications
CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 4800HS – 9 4900HS
Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060
RAM: Up to 32GB
Screen: 14-inch Non-glare Full HD (1920 x 1080) IPS-level panel, 120Hz – 14-inch Non-glare WQHD (2560 x 1440) IPS-level panel, 60Hz
Storage: 512GB / 1TB M.2 NVMe PCIe 3.0
Reasons to buy
+Best battery life in a gaming laptop+Excellent performance+Thin and light
Reasons to avoid
-No webcam-Fans can get loud

The Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 is not perfect, missing a webcam and a Thunderbolt 3 port. However, it’s damn near close to being one, garnering our coveted yet rarely given five-star rating. We couldn’t resist. This is an absolute beast of a gaming laptop, delivering an incredible performance with its AMD Ryzen 4000 processors and Nvidia RTX 2060 graphics card while touting best-in-class battery life that will last you all day long, a fast display with a 120Hz refresh rate and a lightweight, ultrathin design. The best part is that you’re getting all that without burning a hole in your pocket. Don’t get us wrong; it isn’t cheap. However, for a laptop this impressive, we’re surprised Asus isn’t asking for more.

Read the full review: Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 

ASUS TUF Gaming A15

ASUS TUF Gaming A15 is a great value gaming rig with a long battery life and military-grade durability. (Image credit: ASUS)

2. Asus TUF A15

The new affordable gaming king

Specifications
CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 4600H – 7 4800H
Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660TI – RTX 2060
RAM: up to 32 GB SDRAM
Screen: 15.6" (16:9) FHD (1920x1080) 60Hz Anti-Glare IPS-level Panel – 15.6" (16:9) FHD (1920x1080) 144Hz Anti-Glare IPS-level Panel
Storage: 1TB 5400 rpm SATA HDD – 256GB/512GB/1TB PCIe Gen3 SSD
Reasons to buy
+Great 1080p performance+New AMD processors+Very good battery life
Reasons to avoid
-Noisy fans-Not the most powerful gaming laptop-Design won’t be for everyone

Give us a laptop that touts one of AMD’s stellar Ryzen 400 mobile processors, and we’d be more than happy to try it on for size. What we found in the Asus TUF A15, however, is not just fantastic gaming performance, but a great value gaming rig with a long battery life and military-grade durability as well. With the help of Nvidia’s most powerful 1080p graphics cards, this Ryzen 4000-powered laptop will see you through all your 1080p gaming demands without burning a hole in your pocket. Whether you play a lot of competitive esports, or need a rugged laptop, this one’s a winner.

Read the full review: Asus TUF A15

Alienware M15 R3 (2020)

(Image credit: Alienware)

3. Alienware M15 R3 (2020)

A brilliant gaming beast that just got a little bit better

Specifications
CPU: Up to 10th Generation Intel Core i9-10980HK
Graphics: Up to NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Super
RAM: Up to 32GB DDR4
Display: 15.6" FHD (1920 x 1080) 144Hz 7ms 300-nits 72% NTSC – 15.6" OLED UHD (3840 x 2160) 60Hz 1ms 400-nits DCI-P3
Storage: Up to 4TB RAID0 + 512GB SSD
Reasons to buy
+Great build quality+Sublime all-round performance
Reasons to avoid
-4K OLED panel not optimal for gaming-Nvidia Max-Q GPU a little limited

Dell’s Alienware gaming laptop line has established itself as among the very best on the market. But it’s back and better than ever, rocking the best internals for gaming that money can buy. Of course, that means that its configurations cost a pretty penny, but if you have the money to spare, it’s certainly worth the splurge because of its sublime gaming performance. That’s without factoring in its quirky yet attractive design, excellent build quality and display with fast refresh rates. We’ve been fans of the line since its design overall a couple of years ago, and that hasn’t changed.

Read the full review: Alienware M15 R3 (2020)

MSI GS65 Stealth

MSI GS65 Stealth packs a punch in its very thing package. (Image credit: MSI)

4. MSI GS65 Stealth

Thin. Beautiful. Powerful.

Specifications
CPU: Intel Core i7
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 – Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 (8GB GDDR5X VRAM, Max-Q)
RAM: 16GB – 32GB
Screen: 15.6-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080) anti-glare, wide-view 144Hz panel
Storage: 256GB SSD – Super RAID 4 1TB SSD
Reasons to buy
+Beautiful, subtle design +Excellent performance 
Reasons to avoid
-Underside gets very hot 

Play some of the best PC games on the move and very discreetly with the MSI GS65 Stealth, which might just be the gaming laptop of your dreams if you’re a traveler. Coming in at just 0.69 inches thick and packing impressive internals like Intel Coffee Lake processors and Nvidia GeForce GTX 10-series – refreshed with RTX 20-series graphics at CES – the MSI GS65 Stealth packs a punch in its very thing package. There’s nothing you won’t be able to throw at this thing that’ll slow it down. And, thanks to the smart aesthetic, you’ll be able to lug this beefy rig everywhere you go, making it among the best gaming laptops to hit the streets. 

Read the full review: MSI GS65 Stealth 

Razer Blade 15 (2020)

(Image credit: Razer)

5. Razer Blade 15 (2020)

Gaming in style

Specifications
CPU: 10th-generation Intel Core i7
Graphics: up to NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Super
RAM: 16GB DDR4
Screen: 144Hz FHD Matte or OLED 4K – 300Hz FHD Matte or OLED 4K Touch
Storage: Up to 1TB PCIe
Reasons to buy
+Powerful+Plenty of ports+Top-mounted speakers
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive-Short battery life

Expensive though it may be – as is usual with the Razer Blade line – last year’s installment of the Razer Blade 15 is staggeringly powerful, more than capable of annihilating any PC game you throw at it. With up to an RTX 2080 Super in the GPU department, there’s no doubt of its extra oomph, which makes it an excellent candidate for creative professionals as well, especially with that design that keeps things classy and a trackpad that’s among the best we’ve tested on a gaming laptop. If you’ve got deep pockets and you like to keep things stylish, this is the best gaming laptop for you.

Read the full review: Razer Blade 15 (2020)

Asus ROG Zephyrus M15 GU502

(Image credit: Asus)

6. Asus ROG Zephyrus M15 GU502

Intel’s latest mobile tech brings its A-game

Specifications
CPU: 10th-generation Intel Core i7
Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660Ti – RTX 2070 Super
RAM: 16GB
Screen: 15.6-inch 4K UHD (3840 x 2160) 16:9 anti-glare display, 60Hz – 15.6-inch Full HD (1,920 x 1,080) IPS, 144Hz
Storage: 1TB M.2 NVMe PCIe 3.0 SSD
Reasons to buy
+Excellent battery life+Good gaming performance+Fast screen
Reasons to avoid
-Not the most powerful-You're paying a lot for the design

Those in the market for a mid-range gaming device might adore the Asus ROG Zephyrus M15 GU502. It’s a great-looking piece of kit, serving as another entry to Asus’ much-vaunted ROG Zephyrus lineup of stylish thin and light gaming laptops. And, that fast screen makes it a joy for gamers with a predilection for fast-paced games. However, does it measure up to the most powerful laptops out there? While not cutting-edge, the Asus ROG Zephyrus M15 GU502’s specs are decent for graphically intensive games and its battery can last a while, which makes it a great candidate if you’re not looking for a maxed out machine.

Read the full review: Asus ROG Zephyrus M15 GU502

Alienware Area-51m

Alienware Area-51m is among best gaming laptops of 2021, packing a hefty punch, gaming-wise. (Image credit: Alienware)

7. Alienware Area-51m

An out-of-this-world gaming laptop

Specifications
CPU: Intel Core i7-9700 – i9-9900K
Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 – 2080
RAM: 16GB – 64GB
Screen: 17.3" FHD (1920 x 1080) 60Hz Anti-Glare IPS – 144Hz IPS NVIDIA G-SYNC
Storage: 1TB SSHD – 2TB RAID0 SSDs + 1TB SSHD
Reasons to buy
+Extremely powerful+Aesthetic+Perfect keyboard
Reasons to avoid
-Very expensive-Gets hot-Loud fans

If you fell head over heels upon seeing the Alienware Area-51m’s stunning yet quirky white chassis, you’re not alone. And, if you happen to shell out that couple of thousand dollars based on looks alone, we’d be the last people to judge. Anyway, you’ll be happy to know that it wasn’t all for naught, as this gaming laptop – or rather, the best among the best gaming laptops of 2021 – packs a hefty punch, gaming-wise. This is so far the most powerful gaming laptop on the market currently, and you won’t be able to help but be impressed. Its comfy keyboard and VR readiness are just cherries on top.

Read the full review: Alienware Area-51m

Gigabyte Aorus 17G

(Image credit: Gigabyte)

8. Gigabyte Aorus 17G

Big, powerful, industrial

Specifications
CPU: 10th-generation Intel Core i7 – i9
Graphics: up to NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Super with Max-Q
RAM: Up to 64GB DDR4
Screen: 17.3-inch Thin Bezel 240Hz FHD 1920x1080 anti-glare display LCD
Storage: 2x M.2 SSD
Reasons to buy
+Excellent performance+Top-shelf build quality+Fast and color accurate display
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive-Heavy

If you want an absolute beast of a gaming laptop, Gigabyte’s Aorus 17G is a worthy candidate both inside and out. While this megalithic portable has a substantial weight of 5.95Ib to match, it’s a small price to pay for such power inside – namely, 10th-generation processors and up to 64GB of memory, as well as Nvidia’s most powerful RTX and Super RTX cards. There’s nothing this laptop can handle (or annihilate), making it a prime example of what a next-generation desktop replacement can be. And, that’s without mentioning its 1080p display touting a whopping 240Hz refresh rate and its solid build. Just be ready to break that piggy bank, as this won’t be cheap.

Read the full review: Gigabyte Aorus 17G

Dell G5 15 SE (2020)

The Dell G5 15 SE (2020) boasts impressive AMD specs, especially in the CPU department. (Image credit: Dell)

9. Dell G5 15 SE (2020)

A fantastic value

Specifications
CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 4600H – 7 4800H
Graphics: AMD Radeon RX 5600M
RAM: 8GB – 16GB
Screen: 15.6-inch FHD (1920 x 1080) Anti-Glare LED Backlight Non-Touch Narrow Border WVA Display – 15.6 inch FHD(1920x1080) 300nits WVA Anti-Glare LED Backlit Display(non-touch), 144Hz refresh rate
Storage: 256GB – 1TB SSD
Reasons to buy
+Excellent CPU performance+Very affordable for a gaming laptop+Quick and vibrant display
Reasons to avoid
-Gets pretty hot under strain-Plastic build feels flimsy

Though Dell has its premium lines, it’s also been very good at building excellent budget machines. The Dell G5 15 SE (2020) is a very good example of that, touting impressive AMD specs, especially in the CPU department, to keep cost down without compromising performance. This is among the very few gaming laptops out there that are affordable and also deliver a staggering performance for the price, with a stunning display to boot. Of course, being a budget laptop, some sacrifices have been made – namely, its build and heat management. However, for the budget-minded, this is certainly among the best gaming laptops out there for gaming.

Read the full review: Dell G5 15 SE (2020)

Razer Blade Stealth 13 (Late 2020)

(Image credit: Razer)

10. Razer Blade Stealth 13 (Late 2020)

The gaming Ultrabook returns

Specifications
CPU: 11th-generation Intel Core i5 – i7
Graphics: Intel Iris Xe Graphics – Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Ti
RAM: Up to 16GB
Screen: 13.4" 60Hz Full HD – 13.3" 120Hz Full HD
Storage: Up to 512GB SSD
Reasons to buy
+Sleek and quality design+Solid gaming performance+THX Spatial Audio
Reasons to avoid
-Average battery life-Mediocre speakers

The world’s first gaming ultrabook is back with updated internals. Unlike most gaming laptops out there, this offering from Razer is incredibly thin – so thin, in fact, it’s thinner than a MacBook Pro 16-inch. While that forces it to sacrifice a bit of power, it still delivers a solid gaming performance that’s good enough if you want to play or game competitively while traveling or on the go. The fact that it offers a 1080p display with 120GHz refresh rate and four stereo speakers capable of delivering 7.1 surround sound using THX Spatial Audio helps as well.

Read the full review: Razer Blade Stealth 13 (Late 2020)

Choosing the best gaming laptop

When choosing the best gaming laptop for you, there are a few things you must take into account.

First and foremost, the most crucial thing to consider in the best gaming laptops is how well they play the latest games. When creating this list, not only do we delve deep into the specifications of each gaming laptop to see if they are up to snuff, but we also run benchmarks on each one to check out the raw performance.

Benchmarks only tell part of the story however. So, we also make sure we play a number of the latest games on each laptop to see just how well they perform. It's a tough job, but someone's gotta do it.

Display, sound quality, keyboard, trackpad and the overall design of the laptop matter as well, so these are definitely things you’d want to check out before hitting that buy button.

In fact, if the device scores highly in all these areas, it has a good chance of making it to our best gaming laptops 2021 list. That means you can buy any of the best gaming laptops in this list in full confidence that you're getting a killer gaming device that will last you for years to come.