Until recently gaming was considered something people mostly did on their desktop PCs and consoles. Now, the ever-growing trend is for games to spread across multiple platforms so that people can enjoy them anywhere at any time. Laptops have been on the forefront of that new wave of gaming because they are practical, easy to carry around, and in most cases – powerful enough to give PCs a run for their money. That is why we decided to review some of the best gaming laptops on today’s market and give you the ultimate guide to buying the perfect one for
Before we dive deep into this topic, though, we want to showcase some of our handpicked models, as well as a brief comparison between them. Let’s start with the comparison chart.
Best Gaming Laptops - Comparison Chart:
Best Gaming Laptops
When picking each of the leading laptops for our 5 individual categories, we took a handful of things into consideration, such as:
- The CPU potential
- RAM memory
- Storage capacity and type
- Design & additional features
To cover all price brackets, we’ve picked a winner for each category from the top models under 400 dollars to the best ones for under 800. First on our list is the one meant for budget gaming.
Best Under 400$ – Dell Inspiron 15.6″ Core i3 Gaming Laptop
For this price, there is no other laptop that can come near the gaming performance this Dell Inspiron offers you. It has a 7th gen Kaby Lake core i3-7100U, 8GB of DDR4 RAM, a sharp and vivid LED display, and a fast SSD to boot up your whole system. It lacks a proprietary graphics card but the intel core HD620 drivers more than make up for that. That combination of specs is carefully made by Dell and works flawlessly when put together, giving you enough performance to run most modern multiplayer games such as League Of Legends, Dota, and others. That lack of GPU will restrict your pixel shading capabilities restricting you from playing certain games that are more visually demanding such as the newest Call Of Duty games, Battlefield, newest Need For Speed titles, and others. If you want to learn more about the quirks and features of this laptop, head over to our full review of it by clicking the button bellow.
Best Under 500$ – Lenovo IdeaPad High Performance 15.6 inch HD Laptop
There is no better laptop that you can get for under 500 bucks. This Lenovo IdeaPad features a LED screen, potent CPU, a separate graphics card (AMD Radeon R7), and enough RAM memory to handle most modern games. The keyboard is ideal for typing but not so much for gaming. The same goes for the track pad – it is precise but useless when it comes to shooters or other games that require the use of a mouse. All that means is that the money you save from this laptop should be invested in a good gaming keyboard and mouse combo. Other than that, the laptop is sturdy enough and comes with a pre-installed windows 10 Home Edition (64bit) which is a great attention to detail by Lenovo. As a whole, this model is starting to feel outdated as most of its parts were good for around 2016-2017 but it still is one of the best gaming deals you can get if you want to be flexible with where you play games. Check out the full review to find out more about this model!
Best Under 600$ – ASUS TUF Gaming Laptop FX504
Everything less than 5 stars will be taking away what this laptop deserves. The FX504 by Asus ROG features a very solid and gorgeous looking construction, combined with some of the most high-performance tech on the inside. It packs a core i3-8300H, a high-frequency DDR4 RAM memory, and an actual GTX1050 on the inside. That combination is powerful enough to run anything you want to run at almost any graphics settings you want, except maybe some of the heaviest games, where you will have to settle with Normal graphics if you want to play at around 40-50fps. The free Windows 10, 2 free games, backlit keyboard, and superior cooling fans are just the cherry at the top of the cake for most people, considering that this laptop’s price tag. Truly, if you want to get your money’s worth, then this is a good model to consider. Check out our full review by clicking the button below.
Best Under 700$ – Acer Nitro 5 Gaming Laptop
Being one of the two most expensive gaming laptops we’ve reviewed here, this Acer Nitro 5 really stands out a lot. It packs a powerful i5-7300 HQ processor which is capable of running at speeds of up to 3.5GHz when pushed. That, combined with the ultra fast DDR4 8GB of RAM and the GTX1050 Titan series video card with 4GB of GDDR5 VRAM makes a complete beast of a laptop. It is not only powerful enough to handle most games you throw at it at higher than “normal” settings but is also a great workstation for other programs such as studio recording software, video editing programs, and other similar demanding applications. It has a sharp bright screen which is LED backlit but the bezels around it are super huge, which can feel outdated in a period where bezels are getting thinner and thinner. It is also a bit bulkier than regular gaming laptops but it still isn’t that hard to carry around. We only wished they’ve used the internal space better and packed a bigger battery, as this one won’t last you more than a couple of hours when gaming. Go to the full review of the Nitro 5 to find out more about it.
Best Under 800$ – Asus FX53VD 15.6″ FHD Gaming Laptop
Lastly, we have a sub-800 dollars laptop for you that is capable of running any game you can think of. It has the fastest possible Intel core 7th gen processor, and enough RAM to take your gaming to the next level. The Nvidia geforce GTX 1050 graphics card is a good supplement to the overall setup and will keep games at a steady FPS throughout them. The construction is a bit on the cheap-feeling side and the laptop is a bit too bulky but it makes up for that with a good battery and lots of ports on both sides, such as an HDMI, Ethernet, 3 USB As, and one USB C. The trackpad is great and the keyboard is backlit which are both features that we pretty much expect at this price point. To learn more about the Asus FX53VD, go to our full review.
Gaming Laptops Buyer’s Guide
Gaming on a laptop hasn’t yet been fully accepted into the gamers world, as it has a lot of potential downsides to it. Still, there are lot of advantages you gain meaning whether you will like it or not is a matter of perspective. Before we get into the features of modern laptops that are specially designed to play video games in high FPS (frames per second), let’s see which are the upsides and downsides of getting a laptop specifically for gaming…
Advantages Of Gaming Laptops
There are several advantages of these laptops that really make them an appealing purchase for anyone, not just gamers. Here are some of those:
- The are very powerful and can run any type of programs (AutoCAD, Cubase, Sony Vegas, etc.)
- They are often better looking than the normal laptop models and are far more attractive and distinctive
- There is a better cooling system in place optimizing their overall gaming performance
- Their screens work on a higher refresh rates and frames per second.
- The keyboards these laptops have are better for typing and are designed for maximum comfort
- The track pads are using the latest Windows precision drivers and are quite versatile productivity-wise
- They have more USB ports than usual, meaning they are better for USB-heavy productivity, such as music recording, office work, and other similar tasks
Still, there are downsides. Let’s check them out:
Disadvantages Of Gaming Laptops
- The biggest disadvantage is the price. Those laptops are packed with high-end parts and the often have a fitting price tag
- They can sometimes be more bulky due to the bigger ventilation systems
- If pushed too hard they are noisy and can warm up quite a lot
- Due to the bigger components which are sometimes directly borrowed from desktop computer models, these laptops can be heavier (and also bulkier)
- In order to play games, you will most likely always have to bring an additional mouse which is an investment worth mentioning
If you are willing to sacrifice some of the comforts of a normal laptop, such as being extremely thin and light, then all of the above-mentioned cons won’t really change your mind. Let’s take a look at the things you have to pay attention to now.
Features To Look For
When getting your laptop, there are a bunch of things you will have to take into consideration. They are the following:
- What CPU does it have
- What is the GPU
- How much RAM memory is inside
- Screen size & resolution
- Storage space & type
- Additional Features
- The Price
Now, let’s take a look at all of those features one by one, starting with the “heart” of the laptop – the processor.
What Is The CPU
There are a lot of things that we can cover when going through laptop CPUs (processors) but in general there are a few simple rules to follow. The best thing you can do is try to find the perfect price/performance balance.
The two biggest brands out there which are responsible for 99% of the chips on the market are AMD and Intel. A few years ago, Intel were really on top of their game and had no real competition but with the coming of the AMD Ryzen series things changed.
Laptops with AMD Ryzen processors have the advantage of lower costs and slightly longer battery lives. Intel core ones, on the other hand, are more expensive but have a slight edge on the benchmark scores.
When it comes to the model, the best price-to-value CPUs out there are the newest Ryzen 5s and the Intel Core i5 and i7. With Intel, you will have to look at the generation. The 8th gen Coffee Lake ones are very potent and also very economical in terms of wattage and battery draining. One of their current best processors that can be put in a laptop is the intel core i7-8750h.
Aim for processors with more than 2.5Ghz, more than 4MB Cache, and at least two individual cores. The more cores and cache memory, the better.
There is one more advantage Intel core has over AMD and that is their integrated HD graphics. Their most powerful processors can run reasonably demanding games without the need of a dedicated Graphics card which is an incredible feature as it will remove a huge chunk of the price from the final product.
What is the GPU
Graphics cards (or GPUs) are the part of the laptop that is responsible for the quality of your screen’s picture, the refresh rate, and the visual performance of the game you are playing. These GPUs have dedicated memory to them and to be able to play the newest game titles at more than 30 FPS.
Why are those FPS (frames per second) important? Well, imaging you are playing a modern shooter game such as Battlefield. When trying to aim, your brain will only have to manage to work with 30 frames per each passing second at 30FPS, while you will have twice as many frames at 60FPS, resulting in a smoother gameplay and greater detail.
For GPUs, the industry standards are two – Nvidia and AMD. Nvidia GeForce GTX cards are really expensive and will often bulk up the final price of your laptop but they are well worth it if you can spend a few extra bucks. AMD cards are cheaper but are also slightly inferior in terms of productivity and performance. That, however, is about to change, as AMD are narrowing the gap between them and their competitor more and more each year, while remaining the cheaper alternative.
Look for GPUs that have anywhere from 2 to 4 GBs of memory, such as the Nvidia geforce gtx 1060, for instance.
Pro Tip: If your laptop supports thunderbolt connections, you can get one without a designated graphics card and plug in an external one (any model you want).
How much RAM memory is inside
The simple explanation to RAM memory is that this is the memory your laptop uses for instantaneous processes. If something is loaded on your RAM memory then it can be used in any order as fast as possible. That means that the more RAM you have, the more simultaneous processes you will be able to run at once.
Games greatly benefit from a lot of RAM memory as they are very intense on loading information about your surroundings and movements onto the laptop’s system. The greater the details and the bigger the maps are in the game you are playing, the more they will suck on your GPU and RAM.
Operational Systems such as Windows 10 and MacOS also require a base level of RAM which grows with each year thanks to those systems becoming more and more complex. Nowadays, 8GBs of RAM should do the job but aim for laptops that have more than that.
The type of RAM is also of great importance. The old standard was DDR3 and you should try avoiding it. The new one is DDR4 running @2133 or @2400Mhz. That is also the optimum speed for most new i5 and i7 processors.
Screen size & resolution
This feature is kind of subjective, as different people prefer different things. Usually, the bigger the screen of your laptop, the heavier and bulkier it will be, so try to stick to the classic size – 15,6 inches. Most new laptops achieve bigger screen to body ratios by eliminating the thick bezels around the screen.
The resolution is the amount of pixels fitted into your screen. Again – the more, the better. Full HD resolutions are the ones marked as 1920×1080 while just HD ones are 1366×768, for example. There are now models coming out with 2K or 4K panels but those are way above our determined price categories.
Storage space & type
Storage isn’t the most important factor when it comes to choosing your gaming laptop but is still something we should go through. Try to avoid laptops with older and slower Hard Disc Drives (HDDs). The newer Solid State Drives (SSDs) are much faster and if you put your OS on them, they can boot-up in seconds. That principle is also valid for any games you load on your SSD.
For us, a good amount of SSD storage is around 256GBs. If you download a lot of media, games, and other documents, then go for a 512 SSD or a 1TB HDD (or a combination of both).
Ports are only important if you intend to use external devices that rely on high-speed USB connections. For those occasions, we recommend getting a laptop that has at least one USB 3.0 port and/or a thunderbolt.
A 3.5mm headphone jack is something that is more of a dying trend but is also greatly appreciate for those of us who like to play using our headphones.
Another port that people still often use is the SD card slot. If you have a camera that works on SD cars, then try looking for this as well. It won’t hurt for your gaming station to also be able to double as a production studio!
Our list of additional features that you should keep an eye out for in laptops are:
- A Better wireless card
- Gaming-style keyboard
- Good sounding speakers
- A good battery
All of those are important features on their own but aren’t vital to your performance, unless you are playing multiplayer all the time (you will need a fast wireless connection). Battery life is also great if you are constantly on the move and want to score a few frags while travelling.
A great keyboard would usually be a must, but most people opt for an external one when the laptop doesn’t have a good keyboard. It will be harder to carry around but when you are at home, you will be able to fully enjoy the experience.
Lastly, let’s talk about the most important factor.
When it comes to laptops, the price is almost always the deciding factor for most people. This is why we created 5 different price categories ranging from under 400 dollars to under 800 dollars. That way, we will be able to help most people that are looking for their new gaming platform in that price range.
Of course, if you want to go all-in, you can go above the 800 dollar range where laptops like Alienware and ASUS ROG rule. Those are premium machines, though, and come at a premium price. And, honestly, for most games you won’t even need their full power, as games aren’t as demanding (unless you want to set everything on “Ultra graphics”).
In our opinion, spending slightly less on the laptop and more on great peripherals such as a gaming keyboard and mouse is a better investment.
As a conclusion we just want to say that buying the best gaming laptop is supposed to be an easy task made hard by the countless of manufacturers and their new models coming out every year. The safest way you can rely on for knowing whether a laptop is good or not is listen to the people that are using it on a daily basis. See the reviews, check out the ratings, see which are the strong and weak points of each model and decide whether you are willing to overlook some of the bad stuff. This is why we create this whole guide and have reviewed our top 5 models for you, showing you which laptop exceeds where and what every price bracket has to offer you.