The best gaming laptops come in all shapes and sizes, for different needs and budgets. Because while a tricked out $5,000-plus model with the highest-end graphics and best display might give you the best gaming laptop experience, most of us can't afford a rig like that. Our picks here are often high-end models (we're an enthusiast site, after all), but most come in a variety of configurations at various price points.
Thankfully, there are more gaming laptop options now than ever, from budget-friendly to desktop replacements. Some come with full-size Nvidia GeForce RTX graphics cards, while others go for the more efficient Max-Q designs that enable thinner chassis and (sometimes) quieter fans.
While many of the best gaming laptops come with a 1080p display and high refresh rates, some include 4K screens, so you can pick between fidelity and resolution. Several gaming laptop go as fast as 360 Hz.
There is more choice than ever in components, too. While Intel is still a popular option, AMD's Ryzen processors are becoming more common, though the majority of notebooks in general still use Intel. On the GPU side, Nvidia's RTX GPUs are in far more laptops, though AMD is slowly starting to pair its own graphics cards with hits CPUs for what it calls an "AMD Advantage."
The latest technologies in processors include Intel's 11th Gen "Tiger Lake" processors and AMD's Ryzen 5000 CPUs. Just like desktops, anything with the latest graphics can still be hard to come by right now, thanks to a global components shortage.
To help you find the best gaming laptop today, we've compiled a list of the best models we've tested and reviewed recently. For much more on how to narrow down your list of best gaming laptop considerations, check out our best gaming laptop buyer’s guide. But here are a few quick tips to get you started down the road to the right portable gaming rig for you.
While many gamers may go to desktops to get the most performance for their money, try lugging a tower, monitor and keyboard around in your backpack. When you need a powerful rig you can take with you, there's no substitute for a gaming laptop.
The picks on this list should be ready to run Windows 11, which released this month. Read our impressions of Windows 11.
Quick Gaming Laptop 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.
- You can upgrade some parts later: While the best CPUs for gaming and GPUs are almost always soldered down, most 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.
- Battery life will probably be bad: Very few gaming notebooks get 8 hours or more on a charge, and you need the power supply to get the best gaming performance anyway. However, we've seen some strong times from AMD's Ryzen processors, and Nvidia suggests its improved Optimus technology may help turn the tide.
Best gaming laptops at a glance
- MSI GE76 Raider
- Asus ROG Zephyrus G14
- Razer Blade 15 Advance Model
- Alienware m17 R4
- Acer Nitro 5
- Acer Nitro 5 (Alternate Configuration)
- Asus ROG Strix G15 Advantage Edition
- Asus ROG Strix Scar 17 G733
- Lenovo Legion 5 Pro
- Asus ROG Zephyrus Do 15 SE GX551
Best Gaming Laptops You Can Buy Today
The MSI GE76 Raider is our pick for a gaming laptop that can replace your desktop. And yes, it has a massive RGB light bar. It offers seriously strong performance with components ranging up to an Intel Core i9-11980HK and Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080.
The 17.3-inch display is bright and goes up to 360 Hz, for those who want to play esports titles like Dota 2 or League of Legends as smoothly as possible.
But unlike many of the other laptops on this list, the Raider is not thin. In fact, it's quite large, but you need that for all of the power inside (and for the 17.3-inch build quality). If you want something smaller, the GE66 Raider, our former pick for this spot, which we reviewed last year, has also been updated to more recent parts.
Read: MSI GE76 Raider Review
For enthusiasts who want a gaming laptop to replace a desktop, the MSI GE76 Raider has it all. It's a performance gaming machine with up to an Intel Core i9-11980HK and Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080, with a 360 Hz display that's ready for esports like League of Legends or Dota 2.
For some, the standout feature will be the RGB light bar, which really, well, stands out. If that's a bit much, though, you can turn it off. We're also pleased with its 1080p webcam, which should simply be standard in 2021.
Of course, a 17-incher is deskbound, and this one is also very expensive. It's a great pick for serious enthusiasts, but those looking for something smaller may want to opt for the GE66 Raider, which we tested last year with 10th Gen processors, but is also available with updated parts.
Read: MSI GE76 Raider Review
For those looking for something slim and attractive, our pick is the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14. As far as gaming laptops go, the Zephyrus is unassuming in either white or gray with minimalist stylings. But with the AMD Ryzen 4900HS and Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 Max-Q in our review unit, you get strong productivity and gaming performance. It’s not the best performer on the market in terms of graphics, but it’s the best value for most people.
The battery life is also surprisingly long for a gaming notebook and the keyboard is clicky and comfortable. The fan, however, sometimes goes off even when just sitting on the desktop, and this system doesn’t come equipped with a built-in webcam.
If you want higher specs and are willing to pay more for a thin and light gaming laptop, the Razer Blade 15 Advanced Model is a strong choice. It has a sleek design that’s easy to take with you anywhere, and has a nice selection of ports if you also want to plug in a bunch of peripherals.
While the Zephyrus stops at an RTX 2060, the Blade goes up to an Nvidia RTX 2080 Super Max-Q. It also has options for a faster 300 Hz display, which is great for esports.
Instead of a Ryzen chip, Razer has opted for Intel’s 10th Gen H-series processors to power the Blade 15. It’s not as power efficient, but offers strong performance.
A 17-inch gaming notebook gets into the desktop replacement category, and that's exactly what the Alienware m17 R4 is. At its top-end configurations, like how we reviewed it, it can get very pricey, but you also get the top-end Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Laptop GPU with 165W TGP. There are options for 4K or our 1920 x 1080 360Hz option for esports aficionados.
Other RTX laptops we've tested to date haven't touched the m17 on performance, which eschews Max-Q technologies in favor of the most powerful part you can pack in a notebook.
It also has a nice, snappy RGB keyboard and the design, at 0.87 inches, is still fairly stealthy for a notebook packing this much performance.
Read: Alienware m17 R4 review
The Acer Nitro 5 is the best gaming laptop for those on a tight budget. For the price, you’ll get a great value on entry level performance. While you’ll sacrifice a bright display, the keyboard is comfortable and you even get a decent webcam.
Our review unit had an AMD Ryzen 5 4600U paired with an Nvidia GeForce 1650. We’ve seen a few Ryzen-based gaming laptops get better than expected battery life, and the Nitro 5 lasted over 11 hours.
If you’re handy, there’s plenty of room for upgrading (and you’ll want to consider it down the line with just 256GB of storage in our review unit), but for $700, you’re getting a lot for the money.
Since we reviewed the Acer Nitro 5 above, the company has released more models with updated specs. The most recent one we reviewed uses a Ryzen 7 5800U and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070, allowing for stronger performance and ray tracing in select games.
This model also boasts a 1440p display at 165 Hz, far above the 1080p you find in the budget version. This one still looks clunky, however, and you pay for the parts with a $1,699 price tag.
Acer is still selling the Nitro 5 in budget configurations — this is a newer one that adds on to the lineup with a more premium configuration. It falls a bit out of the budget category at this point, but we found that the additions were quite good.
Read: Acer Nitro 5 review
The Asus ROG Strix G15 Advantage Edition is the first laptop under AMD's Advantage program, which pairs the company's CPUs and GPUs in premium designs meant to use solid screens and be built for comfortable gaming. The Strix delivers on several of those points by offering strong performance through the Ryzen 9 5900Hz, Radeon RX 6800M and SmartShift technology to move power between the two.
The laptop also offers powerful audio with Dolby Atmos support, and we found it to be reasonably cool at most touchpoints, even while gaming. It also lasts a long time on battery when you aren't gaming.
There are a few concerns of note, including the complete lack of a webcam, and the display, while decent, could be brighter. But for those all in on AMD and laptops with copious amounts of RGB lighting, this one's worth a look.
Read: Asus ROG Strix G15 Advantage Edition review
If you want to play esports like a professional, you'll want a laptop with the fastest screen you can find. The Asus ROG Strix Scar G733 offers a 360 Hz refresh rate on its FHD screen and has top-end components to power esports titles to get to frame rates that can actually use it.
The design feels premium but has an interesting mix of dark materials and clear plastic. It's reminiscent of both a hot rod car and a 90's MP3 player, which might turn some people off.
But the comfortable keyboard, strong overall performance and bassy audio all contribute to a strong gaming experience, even if you don't like seeing the inside of your laptop.
If you're willing to sacrifice your refresh rate for higher resolution, the Lenovo Legion 5 Pro is one to check out. While some other gaming notebooks opt for 300 Hz, the Legion's 165 Hz, 2560 x 1600 screen is a stunner in its own right. It also has a 16:10 aspect ratio, which we appreciate for productivity use.
Our review unit came with a Ryzen 7 5800H and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070, which together offered competitive performance across our suite of gaming benchmarks. Our system also included 512GB of storage and 16GB of RAM.
We were also impressed with this laptop's keyboard, which seems to have benefitted from the excellence of Lenovo's business-oriented ThinkPads.
The system is, however, a bit thick. If you don't want to deal with bulk, you may want to consider other options on this list.
Asus' latest ROG Zephyrus Duo uses AMD's top-end RYzen 9 5900HX paired with an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 for powerful results, while using a second screen that lifts up to provide more ventilation to improve cooling.
The two displays are both bright and colorful, and at a bit over 4 hours and 52 minutes on our battery test, it's endurance is good (for a gaming notebook, anyway).
The keyboard and mouse are in an awkward position, like most dual-screen notebooks on the market (most people will likely use an external mouse for gaming). So you'll have to decide if that second screen — which is great for chat programs, gaming guides or music apps — is worth a more difficult typing experience.
Read: Asus ROG Zephyrus Do 15 SE GX551 review
Best Gaming Laptops Compared
|*Up to||CPU||GPU||RAM||Storage||Display (inches)||Weight (Ibs)|
|MSI GE76 Raider||Core i9-11980HK*||RTX 3080||32GB*||1TB*||15.6, 1080p, 300Hz||5.3|
|Asus ROG Zephyrus G14||Ryzen 9 4900HS*||RTX 2060 Max-Q||16GB*||1TB*||14.0, 1080p, 120Hz||3.5|
|Razer Blade 15 Advanced Model||Core i7-10875H*||RTX 2080 Super Max-Q||16GB||1TB*||15.6, 1080p, 300Hz||4.7|
|Alienware m17 R4||Core i9-10980HK*||RTX 3080||32GB||2x 1TB RAID 0||17.3, 2160p, 360Hz||6.6|
|Acer Nitro 5||Ryzen 5 4600U||GTX 1650||8GB||256GB*||15.6, 1080p, 60Hz||5.3|
|Acer Nitro 5 (Alternate Config)||Ryzen 7 5800U||RTX 3070||16GB||1TB||15.6, 1440p, 165Hz||4.9|
|Asus ROG G15 Advantage Edition||Ryzen 9 5900HX||RX 6800M||16GB||512GB||15.6, 1080p, 300Hz||6.6|
|Asus ROG Strix 17 G733||Ryzen 9 5900HX||RTX 3080||32GB||2x 1TB||17.3, 1080p, 360Hz||5.9|
|Lenovo Legion 5 Pro||Ryzen 9 5900HX||RTX 3087||16GB||512GB||15.6,1600p, 165Hz||5.4|
|Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 SE GX551||Ryzen 9 5900HX||RTX 3080||32GB||2x 1TB RAID0||15.6, 2160p, 300Hz||5.3|
Discounts on the Best Gaming Laptops
Whether you're shopping for one of the best gaming laptops or another model that didn't quite make our list, you may find some savings by checking out our lists of Dell coupon codes, HP coupon codes, Lenovo coupon codes, Razer promo codes or Newegg promo codes.
MORE: Best Gaming PCs