It used to be that the best gaming laptops were those that had Intel Core i7 processors, 8GB of RAM and any discrete graphics imaginable. Gaming laptops were so few and far between that it wasn’t a matter of whether they were good or not. Instead, the only question that lingered was, “Can it run Crysis?”
These days, the best gaming laptops are entirely different from what they were just a decade ago. There are ultra-thin portable solutions using Nvidia MaxQ technology, but you can still find those clunky, yet powerful behemoths that can power through any game. And, now that Intel has released a wide range of 8th-generation Coffee Lake processors for laptops, including the Core i9-8950HK, there are no limits on what the best gaming laptops can do.
So, whether you’re looking for a laptop that can handle work just as well as gaming, or you want a hulking gaming behemoth, we have the recommendations you’re looking for. And, because we’ve tested, reviewed and ranked all the gaming laptops within, you can be confident that you’ll find the best gaming laptop for your desires right here on this list.
1. MSI GS65 Stealth
Thin. Beautiful. Powerful.
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
Hailing in Coffee Lake to the world of the best gaming laptops, the MSI GS65 packs a ton of power into a very unassuming package. Rocking an 8th-generation Intel Core i7-8750H CPU and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 GPU, there’s nothing that can stand in the way of this laptop. And, what’s better, thanks to its subdued design, you’ll be able to bring this power out wherever you go without having to hide your nerdy pastimes.
Read the full review: MSI GS65 Stealth
2. Asus ROG Zephyrus GX501
Under an inch thick and still kicking ass
CPU: Intel Core i7 | Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 (8GB GDDR5X VRAM) | RAM: 16GB | Screen: 15.6-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080) anti-glare, wide-view 120Hz panel with G-Sync | Storage: 512GB M.2 PCIe x4 SSD
Kicking Nvidia’s Max-Q technology off right, the Asus Zephyrus GX501 combines the heralded thinness of an Ultrabook with the performance of a gaming PC to bring the best of both worlds to your feet. Despite exhibiting subpar times in our battery life benchmarks, this svelte powerhouse of a notebook is one for the books when it comes to both portability and style. Plus, it’s virtually silent if noise is a cause for distraction in your everyday routine.
Read the full review: Asus ROG Zephyrus GX501
3. Razer Blade
A gaming-ready MacBook Pro rival
CPU: 2.6GHz Intel Core i7-6700HQ | Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 (6GB GDDR5 VRAM) | RAM: 16GB | Screen: 14-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080) – QHD+ (3,200 x 1,800) IGZO (LED backlit, multi-touch) | Storage: 256GB – 1TB PCIe SSD
It may have an edgy name, and you may not be able to stick a bigger hard drive in it later, but the Razer Blade is built for stamina and, obviously, high quality graphics. On top of featuring a battery life over 7 hours and 30 minutes, it can handle up to 4K Ultra-HD gaming with the help of a Razer Core V2 external graphics box and a spare monitor. Or, you could opt in for the more recently added integrated 4K display option. However you choose, you’re in for a treat, we promise.
Read the full review: Razer Blade
4. 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
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
5. 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 HD 1,366 x 768 TN – QHD 2,560 x 1440 OLED touchscreen | Storage: 180GB – 512GB SSD
Unlike most laptops its size, the Alienware 13 R3 bears a hinge-forward design. By moving the heat sinks behind the screen, the chassis is allowed to be thinner, at 0.81-inch (0.22cm). Unfortunately, this means you won’t find many 13-inch laptop bags that will actually suit the Alienware 13 R3. 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.
Read the full review: Alienware 13 R3
6. Razer Blade Pro
Finally, a desktop replacement with portability in mind
CPU: Intel Core i7 | Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 (6GB GDDR5) – 1080 (8GB GDDR5X) | RAM: 16 – 32GB | Screen: 17.3-inch, FHD (1,920 x 1,080) 120Hz matte IPS – UHD (3,840 x 2,160) IGZO touchscreen with G-Sync | Storage: 512GB – 2TB PCIe SSD
At long last, Razer has introduced a true desktop replacement that won’t weigh you down. Measuring in at only 0.88 inches thick with the option between a 17-inch 1080p display running at 120Hz or a G-Sync-laden 4K touchscreen, the Razer Blade Pro also introduces the company’s ultra-low-profile mechanical switches to a notebook for the first time ever. That’s a deal that’s only sweetened by an unusual trackpad placement that makes it comfier to boot.
Read the full review: Razer Blade Pro
7. Gigabyte SabrePro 15
A budget rig that won’t end up in the bargain bin
CPU: Intel Core i7 | Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 | Screen: 15.6-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080) IPS wide-viewing angle display | Storage: 1TB HDD, 256GB SSD
For less than a grand and a half, you might not think it, but the Gigabyte SabrePro 15 is a bargain. In its price range, you won’t find a laptop with this level of performance. Although it’s only available in one configuration, the GTX 1060 is a nice change of pace considering most affordable gaming laptops struggle to run triple-A games beyond medium settings. That goes without mentioning the fantastic RGB keyboard and Microsoft Precision Touchpad.
- This product is only available in the US and UK at the time of this writing. Australian readers: check out a fine alternative in the Asus ROG Strix GL502
8. Alienware 17 R4
Restoring honor to the Alienware name
CPU: Intel Core i7 | Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti (2GB GDDR5) – GTX 1080 (8GB GDDR5X) | RAM: 8GB – 32GB | Screen: 17.3-inch, FHD (1,920 x 1,080) – UHD (3,840 x 2,160) IPS anti-glare 300-nits | Storage: 128GB SSD, 1TB HDD – 2TB SSD, 1TB HDD
To be frank, Alienware hasn’t been a name typically associated with value. That seems to be changing with the Alienware 17 R4, which bears so many different customization options when it comes to specs that you can practically name your own price. Bespeckled with all of the signature elements we’ve come to expect from the brand, such as RGB backlit-accents and tons of ventilation, our only real qualm with the Alienware 17 R4 is a disappointing battery life.
9. Asus ROG G703
Welcome to the big leagues, gamers
CPU: Intel Core i7 | Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 (8GB GDDR5X) | RAM: 32GB DDR4 | Screen: 17.3-inch, FHD (1,920 x 1,080) non-touch IPS | Storage: 512GB SSD, 1TB HDD
If you like your laptop thin, light and affordable with lengthy battery life, you’re going to have to look somewhere else. The Asus ROG G703, a hulking behemoth of a gaming laptop, takes the specs of a desktop PC and only ever so slightly squishes them down into a package that can more or less be taken anywhere. At 10.6lbs (4.8kg) and with a 17.3-inch screen, it won’t fit in your backpack, but with a graphics card and processor this powerful – does it really matter?
Read the full review: Asus ROG G703
- This product is only available in the US and Australia at the time of this writing. UK readers: check out a fine alternative in the Alienware 17 R4
10. Gigabyte Aero 15X
Thin, light and out of sight
CPU: Intel Core i7 | Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 (8GB GDDR5) | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Screen: 15.6-inch, FHD (1,920 x 1,080) LCD anti-glare | Storage: 512GB SSD
For those uninitiated, there are few names in gaming hardware as positively recognized as Gigabyte. The Aero 15X is further proof that all the credit is well deserved. It’s expensive, but no more so than the bulk of gaming laptops we see using Nvidia’s Max-Q design technology today. That means that the Gigabyte Aero 15X packs an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 into a frame that’s under 0.8 inches thick – thin enough to qualify as an Ultrabook.
Read the full review: Gigabyte Aero 15X
- This product is only available in the US and Australia at the time of this writing. UK readers: check out a fine alternative in the Razer Blade
Watch the video below for the top 7 things to consider when buying a laptop.
Gabe Carey has also contributed to this article