Super-fast gaming performance doesn't mean sacrificing space to a giant desktop computer and monitor. The most powerful laptops available today pack incredible performance into a surprisingly neat package.
Many of these super-powerful laptops are designed for gamers, but they’re also ideal for creatives whose work requires some serious horsepower. Any of these portables will make light work of video editing, 3D rendering, and other demanding tasks. They're a great choice for VR too, with enough grunt to power the latest virtual reality headsets.
It's worth bearing in mind that the fastest laptops around aren’t always the lightest – powerful processors and graphics cards require serious cooling, which adds weight and bulk – but it’s possible to strike a healthy balance between the two if you need a laptop that’s portable enough to carry every day.
1. Alienware 17 R5
Enormous power courtesy of an 8th-gen Intel i9 processor
CPU: Intel Core i9-8950HK | Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 (8GB GDDR5X VRAM) | RAM: 32GB | Screen: 17.3-inch QHD (2,560 x 1,440)144Hz | Storage: 246GB PCIe M.2 SSD, 1TB 7,200RPM HDD
This monster of a laptop is designed to deliver blistering performance. It’s equipped with an Intel i9-8950HK processor, plus an overclocked GeForce GTX1080 graphics card to ensure games run smooth as silk.
The Alienware 17 R5 is also a great choice for designers, though not if you’re planning to work on the train between client meetings; it weighs a mighty 4.42kg, making it an unwieldy travelling companion.
2. MSI GS65 Stealth
Enjoy blistering speed without compromising on looks
CPU: Intel Core i7 | Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 (8GB GDDR5X VRAM, Max-Q) | RAM: 16GB | Screen: 15.6-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080) anti-glare, wide-view 144Hz panel | Storage: 512GB M.2 SSD
The MSI GS65 Stealth isn't just astonishingly fast - it also looks amazing, with much more subtle styling than most high-end gaming laptops. It's razor-thin too, which is unusual for a machine sporting such powerful components.
Its screen is incredibly bright and vivid, with support for 100% of Adobe RGB standards; ideal for graphic designers. The GS65 Stealth's somewhat tinny internal speakers don't do games justice, but add a decent set of headphones and you'll enjoy audio to match the stunning visuals.
3. Acer Predator Helios 300
A powerful, fast gaming laptop that's surprisingly affordable
CPU: Intel Core i7-8750H (hexa core 2.2GHz) | Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 + Intel UHD Graphics 630 | RAM: 16GB DDR4 | Screen: 15.6-inch, Full HD | Storage: 256GB SSD, 1TB HDD
There's no escaping the fact that super fast laptops don't come cheap, but the Acer Predator Helios 300 is surprisingly affordable for such a powerful device. Its six-core Intel Core i7 processor will handle games and creative tasks with ease
Its 256GB SSD is supplemented by a 1TB HDD, which is ideal if you're planning to download your whole Steam library. Acer's Aeroblade 3D fans are a little on the noisy side and the sound from the built-in speakers isn't the best, but again, these are issues that can be remedied by the right gaming headset. This is a superb laptop for the price.
4. Dell XPS 13
Fast and powerful, but light enough to carry every day
CPU: 8th generation Intel Core i5 – i7 | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620 | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Screen: 13.3-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080) – 4k (3840 x 2160) | Storage: 256GB – 1TB SSD
If you're looking for a super fast laptop that's light enough to carry every day, the Dell XPS 13 is our top choice. It might not have quite the same raw power as a top-end gaming laptop, but it still delivers extremely impressive performance while maintaining a more practical size and weight.
The Dell XPS 13 is available with up to 1TB of storage for hefty media files, though the lack of a discrete graphics card means it's not the best choice if you're looking for a laptop primarily for games.
5. Apple Macbook Pro with Touch Bar 13-inch 2018
A stunning laptop that's perfect for video editing and design work
CPU: Quad-core Intel Core i5 – i7 | Graphics: Intel Iris Plus Graphics 655 | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Screen: 13.3-inch, (2,560 x 1,600) IPS | Storage: 128GB – 2TB PCIe 3.0 SSD
Apple's hardware is a top choice for designers the world over, and this year's Macbook Pro is its fastest, most powerful laptop to date. It looks stunning as ever, and is specced for even the most demanding tasks, including resource-intensive HEVC video encoding, which would take lesser laptops all day.
It's not a great choice for gamers – Steam is available for macOS, but the selection of titles is far more limited than on Windows – but the Macbook Pro remains to go-to choice for anyone working in the creative industries.
- Check out our list of the best laptops of 2018