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Best Gaming Laptops of 2020

Best Gaming Laptops hero
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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. And even if we could, it wouldn't be the best gaming laptop for those who travel frequently with their PC.

Thankfully, there are  more gaming laptop options now than ever, from budget-friendly to VR-ready. Some come with full-size Nvidia GeForce GTX or 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.

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.

Best gaming laptops at a glance:

1. MSI GE65 Raider
2. Dell G3 15 (2019)
3. Alienware m15 R2
4. Alienware Area-51m
5. Asus ROG Strix Hero II

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 240Hz and 360Hz displays are mostly limited to 1920 x 1080 screens. Just keep in mind that unless you're playing older, non-demanding titles like CS:GO, you'll need a very powerful GPU in your system to run games at high settings and frame rates.
  • You can upgrade some parts later: While CPUs 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.
  • Get a good keyboard: You don’t want to play your games on something mushy or stiff.
  • 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.


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Gaming Laptop Buying Guide

Best Gaming Laptops 2020

MSI's GE65 Raider is our current pick for the best gaming laptop for most people.

1. MSI GE65 Raider

The Best Overall Gaming Laptop

CPU: Intel Core i9-9880H | GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 | Display: 15.6-inch, 1920 x 1080, 240 Hz | Weight: 5 pounds / 2.3 kg

Strong productivity benchmarks
Mature, yet fun design
Per-key RGB keyboard and light-up Type-A ports
Impressive framerates
Speakers could be louder for this price
Competitors have brighter screens

MSI packed a lot of sophistication, power and even some fun into the GE65-Raider’s design, making it an easy pick for the best gaming laptop overall. Our review unit, the most premium version, boasts an i9-9880H CPU and RTX 2070 graphics card and other high-end specs for very impressive results during gaming and productivity tasks.

In the framerate fight, the MSI often came out on top, even beating the Alienware m17 as well as the Gigabyte Aero 15 X9  and Razer for $700, $400 and $300 less, respectively. When it came to productivity, the MSI again stood out, surpassing what’s expected from a gaming laptop in this price tier in all benchmarks.

Read: MSI GE65 Raider Review

MORE: Best Gaming Desktops

Dell's latest 15-inch G3 is the best gaming laptop we've tested to date for those on a tight budget. (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

2. Dell G3 15 (2019)

The Best Budget Gaming Laptop

CPU: Intel Core i5-9300H | GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 | Display: 15.6-inch, 1920 x 1080 | Weight: 5.4 pounds / 2.4 kg

Attractive design
Solid gaming performance for the price
Longer than average battery life
Dull display

The Dell G3 15 is the best gaming laptop for those on a tight budget. It feels solid, the price is right and it will play most games reasonably well. It even looks good. The display is bland, which is a shame, but battery life and keyboard is better than most similarly priced competition.

That makes the Dell a solid choice for anyone who can get over the display as a sacrifice for an otherwise strong machine. Heck, for those times when you don’t need to game on the go, you could plug it into a good budget monitor and get a bigger, prettier screen for your games and media playback at home. If you’re looking to get a machine starting under $1,000, it's an excellent choice.

Read: Dell G3 15 (2019) Review

MORE: Best CPUs

The Alienware m15 R2 is the best gaming laptop for those who want a svelte system that won't be too bulky to fit in your backpack.

3. Alienware m15 R2

The Best Thin Gaming Laptop

CPU: Intel Core i7-9750H | GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Max-Q | Display: 15.6-inch, 1920 x 1080 240Hz | Weight: 4.9 pounds (2.2 kg)

Clean aesthetic
Strong gaming performance
Comfortable keyboard
RAM is soldered down
Display is dimmer than average

The Alienware m15 R2 is the best gaming laptop for those who want something slim, rather than the bulky designs of most powerhouse portables. The m15 R2 looks nice and offers strong performance, thanks to the RTX 2080 Max-Q in our review model, which put up strong numbers. And the comfortable keyboard both for gaming and productivity.

Just note that the RAM is soldered down (a common laptop sacrifice for slimness). And while the display isn't overly dim, it doesn't get as bright as some competitors.

Read: Alienware m15 R2 Review

MORE: Best Graphics Cards

If money isn't much of an object and you want desktop-class performance that you can update down the road, the Alienware Area-51m is the best gaming laptop for you. (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

4. Alienware Area-51m

The Best Splurge Gaming Laptop

CPU: Up to Intel Core i9-9900K | GPU: Up to Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 | Display: Up to 1920 x 1080, 144 Hz with G-Sync | Weight: 8.5 pounds / 3.9 kg

Strong gaming and productivity performance
Beautiful new design
Upgradeable CPU and GPU
Extremely pricey
No 4K options

The Alienware Area-51m, with its desktop-class Core i9-9900K and Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080, is the best gaming laptop for those with a big gaming budget. It offers laptop performance so strong that it will appeal to power users more used to desktops. That's assuming you can afford it without taking out a second mortgage.

It’s awesome that you can upgrade nearly all aspects of the Area-51m, and I hope more desktop replacements go this route. But Alienware still has to release details about how new GPUs will be sold or if and when that replacement program will come to fruition. Then of course there’s the question of how future graphics modules will be priced compared to their standard desktop-card counterparts.

The process to make major upgrades yourself requires some tools and patience, but the ability to replace the CPU, GPU, RAM and storage is truly impressive.

You can also see our complete teardown of the machine.

Read: Alienware Area-51m Review

MORE: Best Gaming Monitors

Asus' ROG Strix Hero II is sleek and powerful, making it the best laptop for those who are serious about esports. (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

5. Asus ROG Strix Hero II

The Best Esports Gaming Laptop

CPU: Intel Core i7-8750H | GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 | Display: Up to 15.6-inch, 3840 x 2160 | Weight: 5.9 pounds / 2.7 kg

Powerful faming performance
Bright visuals
Compact size
Great audio
Hot bottom casing
Loud fans

With a brilliant display, very slick design and powerful graphics and sound, the Strix Hero II is the best gaming laptop for esports enthusiasts. It's also a slim gaming laptop that’s easy to take to tournaments.

While more compact and significantly lighter than the PowerSpec 1510, Lenovo Legion Y720 and Acer Predator Helios 300. However, you’re paying a premium for size here. So if you aren’t worried about bulk, consider the cheaper Powerspec 1510, which can be had for a cool $1,399.

The Strix isn’t just a looker, but a strong performer with a brilliant display. It’s a jack of all trades as long as you can stand the heat.

Read: Asus ROG Strix Hero II Review

MORE: Best Deals

  • abryant
    Archived comments are found here: http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/id-3770613/gaming-laptops.html
    Reply
  • ilikegirls
    Do not buy ASUS! Even if you spend $2,000 on a laptop, you are treated like garbage and they won't fix your issue. I detailed my issues with them on this Reddit Post HERE. TL;DR - Sent laptop for repair twice, but nothing was actually done to fix the issue and they just keep requesting my laptop. Out of the 3 months I've owned this laptop, they have had it for close to 5 weeks
    Reply
  • drawingpin
    I think the amazon links for the Dell G7 15 are broken. When I click on the $800 link it takes me to a different laptop. When I searched on Amazon for the model it is roughly $1000 more expensive.
    Reply
  • prisoner37
    no 17 inch? i bought an ASUS ROG many years ago, still use it, though i have to turn the video quality down on newer titles, but i will not use less than a 17 inch display
    Reply
  • tmryldz
    Where is Origin?
    Reply
  • alsubs
    This is really a good example of why these Gaming Laptop reviews are somewhat worthless.

    I owned 4 high end MSI gaming laptops over the years (each fully outfitted and costing over 4k). The first one worked great and at the time I thought they had awesome support (which is why I gave them so many chances). The other 3 were disasters and kept shutting off from overheating (no warning or nothing, just bam your laptop shuts off). They worked good for the first year but after that something happens and they just start degrading till they just start shutting down (at least one didn't even make it through the first year).

    Nothing screws up PC components worse than overheating and overheating is always going to be an issue with a geared out desktop replacement or gaming laptop since they use desktop components (otherwise you get the bad laptop performance).

    All MSI support did was tell me to send in the laptop, which I couldn't do most of the time since I needed it for work. However, I did send one in and started to see the same problem after a few months after its return. So either way you lose.

    Of course these will review nice since they're brand new. But the real issue with these gaming laptops is how they handle overheating in the long term. 4k is way too much to spend on something that's only good for a year tops.

    Really, considering how expensive these laptops are and the time they are around, it would be nice if a site like Tom's Hardware did do a year long test or something similar to see how it handled running for hours with the graphics being pushed and the fans going full blast, etc. Exactly the kind of usage you'd see playing games on your over-priced gaming laptop. I bet you'd see the findings of these reviews change big time.

    Anyway, I learned my lesson, I'll never buy MSI again. If you don't want to spend a lot of money for a heavy door stop, I would suggest the same.
    Reply
  • alsubs
    tmryldz said:
    Where is Origin?
    Really makes you wonder doesn't it?
    Reply
  • chuck850
    Pricing is misleading. Many links take you to configurations not described in the posting. The MSI GE65 Raider link for Amazon doesn't even take you to a 2070 capable machine...

    In the budget space, the new Walmart EVOO line blows Dell out of the water. I've purchased both the 15' 1660Ti model and the 17" 2060 model and have been very impressed so far with the value out of both of those units (easily surpassing Dell in that space).
    Reply