Traditionally, the best gaming laptops weren’t any different from any of the other best laptops – as long as it had a Core i7 processor, 8GB of RAM and discrete graphics, it was the best gaming laptop. They were so few and far between that it didn’t really matter whether they were good. Luckily, that’s not the case anymore – so, if you’re looking at laptops for the Back to School 2018 season, ask yourself: can it run Crysis?
These days, the best gaming laptops are a far cry from what they looked like even 10 years ago. They may all run Windows 10, but you can pick up a gaming laptop with Nvidia Max-Q tech and you can basically get a MacBook Pro on steroids. If you’re not looking for something light and portable, you can still opt for a thick, heavy gaming behemoth that can replace the best gaming PCs.
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So, whether you’re looking for a laptop that you can use for work as well as play, or you want a traditional gaming behemoth, we have the recommendations you’re looking for. And, because we’ve tested, reviewed and ranked all the best gaming laptops ourselves, you can be sure that you’ll find exactly what you need 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. Asus ROG G703GI
CPU: Intel Core i7-i9 | Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 (8GB GDDR5X VRAM) | RAM: 64GB | Screen: 17.3-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080)144Hz | Storage: 3 x 512GB SSD (M.2, RAID 0), 2TB HDD
Thin and light gaming laptops are kind of in vogue in 2018, but if you reject all that and want to stick with a heavy, monstrous laptop that can demolish any title under the sun, the Asus ROG G703GI is for you. There’s no way around it – this is a massive – and expensive – laptop, but it backs its size and price with gaming performance that can rival some of the best gaming PCs. Just don't expect to be able to bring it to a coffee shop without its two power bricks – or awkward stares.
Read the full review: Asus ROG G703GI
- 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 Razer Blade Pro
4. Razer Blade
A gaming-ready MacBook Pro rival
CPU: Intel Core i7-8750H | Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 (8GB GDDR5 VRAM) | RAM: 16GB | Screen: Up to 15.6-inch UHD (3,840 x 2,160) 60Hz | Storage: 512GB M.2 SSD
The Razer Blade might still have an unbearably edgy name, but now that the 2018 version is here, it’s fitting – it’s still on the cutting edge. Beyond its insanely high-end specs and beautiful chassis, it can fit up to a 4K Ultra-HD display, with the specs to actually back it up. That’s not to mention the expandability that the Razer Core X opens up. It might be expensive, but if you’re a Razer fan looking for the best gaming laptop, it might just be for you.
Read the full review: Razer Blade
5. Dell XPS 15 2-in-1
Making power portable
CPU: Intel Core i5-i7 | Graphics: Radeon RX Vega M GL Graphics with 4GB HMB2 Graphics Memory | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 15.6-inch, 4K Ultra HD (3840 x 2160) InfinityEdge anti-reflective touch display | Storage: 512GB PCIe SSD
If you want one of the best gaming laptops, but don’t want to miss out on the ultra-portable craze, you need to consider the Dell XPS 15 2-in-1. Packed with an Intel Kaby Lake G-series processor, this gaming laptop can keep up with its competitors rocking a GTX 1050 without featuring truly discrete graphics. And, when you combine that gaming horsepower with a chassis that looks this good, it’s a total win – even if you have to endure some fan noise to get there.
Read the full review: Dell XPS 15 2-in-1
6. 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
- 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 R5
7. Acer Predator Helios 300
Great gaming on a budget
CPU: Intel Core i7 | Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 3GB-6GB | RAM: 16GB-32GB DDR4 | Screen: 15.6-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080) ComfyView IPS (144Hz refresh rate) | Storage: 128GB SSD; 1TB HDD
If you’re looking to get some gaming done, but also save some cash while you’re at it, you might want to take a look at the Acer Predator Helios 300. For the price, you’re not going to find much better, thanks to its beefy GTX 1060 graphics and gorgeous 15.6-inch 144Hz 1080p display. You should be able to play basically all the best PC games on this thing, at a fraction of the price that something like the Razer Blade has. Keep in mind though, that you’re going to run into some thermal throttling unless you mess around with the fan settings – once you do that, though, the Acer Predator Helios 300 is one of the best gaming laptops around.
Read the full review: Acer Predator Helios 300
8. Gigabyte Aero 15
Thin. Light. Powerful.
CPU: Intel Core i7 8750H | Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 (6GB GDDR5) | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Screen: 15.6-inch, FHD (1,920 x 1,080) LCD anti-glare | Storage: 512GB SSD
The best gaming laptops used to be these huge, bulky devices that were necessary to experience the best PC games on the go – not anymore. The Gigabyte Aero 15 throws that tradition in the garbage, where it belongs by packing in a 6-core 8th-generation Intel Core i7 CPU and a GTX 1060 into a package that allows it to pass as an Ultrabook. And, thanks to that beefy processor, the Gigabyte Aero 15 isn’t just one of the best gaming laptops – it’s just as good when you need to get some work done.
Read the full review: Gigabyte Aero 15
9. Alienware 17 R5
Using the power of i9 to dominate the competition
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
Ever since Intel unveiled its i9-8950HK, we just knew that it would find its way behind the best gaming laptops of 2018, and not even a full month later, and we’ve been proven right. The Alienware 17 R5 is a beast of a performer with the aforementioned CPU and an overclocked GTX 1080. If you’re willing to get a gigantic tank of a laptop that weighs almost 10 pounds, this hulking computer will absolutely destroy any game you throw at it. Just don’t expect to throw it in a bag without some severe back pain.
Read the full review: Alienware 17 R5
10. 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 of the best 13-inch laptops, 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-inches (0.22cm). Unfortunately, this means you won’t find many 13-inch laptop bags that the Alienware 13 R3 will actually fit in. While you may be tempted by the inclusion of a full-size GTX 1060, it’s the OLED touch display that caught our attention.
Read the full review: Alienware 13 R3
- 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
Watch the video below for the top 7 things to consider when buying a laptop:
Gabe Carey and Bill Thomas have also contributed to this article
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