Best Gaming Laptops of 2018

Sure, gaming desktops tend to offer more performance for the money, but just try fitting your mini tower, monitor and keyboard on the airplane tray table. When you need a powerful rig you can take with you, there's no substitute for a gaming laptop.

Gaming laptops come in all shapes and sizes, for different needs and budgets. Some come with full-size Nvidia GeForce GTX graphics cards, while others go for the more efficient Max-Q designs that enable thinner chassis and quieter fans. While many gaming laptops come with 1080p display, some opt for 4K models.

This holiday season there are a number of sales which we're covering on our best gaming laptop deals page. Below, you'll find our list of the best gaming laptops (sale or no sale). For a primer on how to pick one, check out our gaming laptop buyer’s guide.

News and Updates

Why Trust Us

Tom’s Hardware has been on the PC beat for more than two decades.We run a comprehensive suite of benchmarks that run though storage, displays, CPUs, GPUs and more. We'll also rely on real-world usage to put together a complete picture of what it’s like to play on every gaming notebook we test so that you can find the best gaming laptop.

Quick Shopping Tips

  • Focus on the GPU: Most games are dependent on the GPU, and those aren’t upgradeable. If you splurge on a powerful GPU now, you’ll be gaming comfortably for a few years.
  • Choose higher resolution or faster speeds: 4K displays are pretty, but the fastest 144Hz displays are only on 1920 x 1080 screens right now.
  • You can upgrade some parts later: While CPUs and GPUs are almost always soldered down, most of the best gaming laptops let you replace the RAM and storage, so you can buy cheaper now and add more memory and a bigger hard drive or SSD down the road.

Best Overall

Best Budget

Best Thin and Light

Best Splurge

Best for eSports

MORE: Best Deals

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  • brandonjclark
    Good kist, but by years end the Acer Helios 300 (2018) by Acer will be the top seller on Amazon, proving it should be on this list somewhere.
  • keith12
    The Dell highlighted is the $3599.99 model (with the GTX1080, i9, and 32gbs Ram). The price quoted is for the base model, with bog standard components.
  • darkomaledictus
    Sounds like this is missing the best one this year: Gigabyte Aero 15X-BK4 15.6"

    Intel Core i7-8750H (2.2GHz-4.1GHz) - 6 cores
    NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 GDDR5 8GB Max Q
    16 GB DDR4 2666MHz Memory
    512GB M.2 NVME PCIe Gen3 x4 SSD
    94.24Wh 10hrs Long Battery

    Light, powerful, upgradable and long battery. Wonder why its not listed here...
  • xcaliber501
    So the best "Under $1,000" laptop is price at $1,049?? I guess math is hard at Tom's Hardware
  • xcaliber501
    sigh, and if you go to Dell's web site the price is actually $1179...
  • badbob001
    What's the recommendation for a laptop with 17" inch screen, 1080p ips g-sync 60hz+, gtx 1070, and i7 8th gen? I prefer FHD since it's possible for higher refresh rates than 60hz. QHD is ok but looks bad if you have to scale something down to 1080p. 4K is more than even a gtx 1080 can handle, is limited to 60hz but I guess it scales down perfectly to 1080p.

    The acer predator helios 500 seems to fit the bill, but it's not on this list.
  • Ninjawithagun
    Also not listed is IMHO the best thin gaming laptop option:

    ASUS ROG Zephyrus M Ultra Slim Gaming Laptop
    15.6” IPS 144Hz G-Sync FHD Display
    Intel i7-8750H
    GeForce GTX 1070 (not the crappy Max Q version)
    16GB DDR4
    256 NVMe SSD (OS)
    1TB FireCuda (Storage)

    MSRP $2199 (got mine for $1760 open-box on Amazon)

    NOTE: Asus released the newer "S" version which has a lower MSRP of $1999, but comes with a slower/weaker 1070 "Max Q" GPU, and doesn't come with the capability for a 2.5 inch drive bay. Also, there are a lot of complaints about the new hinge design which allows for a thinner display bezel at the expense of not being able to tilt the display back further.
  • 30188wcp
    I need to purchase a touch screen laptop. 15 inch, 16-32 gb ram, 6 -8 Gb dedicated Graphic card, backlit keyboard. Any recommendations? Use will be for REVIT, AutoCad, etc.