Long gone are the days where a quality PC gaming experience meant you had to anchor yourself to a desktop, forced to watch the world pass day-by-day from your bedroom/office window. Advancements in gaming laptop construction have resulted in devices that punch above their perceived weight, delivering similar technical specs and performance that stands up to their desktop siblings.
But the term “gaming laptop” has also become somewhat of a buzzword among PC developers, with copious laptops on the market attaching the term to its long list of descriptors. Yes, the low-end laptop I’m using to write this article can run a decent amount of games well enough, but watch it chug along through a match of Apex Legends and tell me if it deserves gaming laptop designation.
The devices deserving of the name deliver on their promise, but the customization presented by the ecosystem can inspire intimidation if you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for. Between CPUs, GPUs, casings, screen refresh rates and other options, it is easy to feel overwhelmed. Lucky for you, we’ve got a collection of the best gaming laptops currently available right here.
One of the key hurdles for many who start looking into gaming laptops is the hefty price tag it takes to play in the market. Other devices on this list easily exceed $2000, but the Dell G5 15 definitely eases some of that initial wallet pain. Starting at around $1000, the Dell G5 15 delivers quality gaming performance for the price thanks to its NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 GPU. The device also utilizes the AMD Ryzen CPU series, with the Ryzen 5 available in the base model and more powerful options available at higher price tiers.
There are some sacrifices in going with a device considered on the lower end of the category, though. The 256GB SSD hard drive will likely fill up quickly, the 15-inch display runs at a lower refresh rate compared to other models, and battery life leaves a bit to be desired. But it gets the job done well for those not looking to put major dents in their bank accounts, and many of those issues can be addressed at minimal additional cost.
If you’re looking for something a bit smaller and more discreet in your portable PC gaming apparatus, the ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14 is a wonderful option. Sure, it still has the “Republic of Gamers” branding on the chassis—though more understated than other ROG models—its casing resembles a “work” laptop more so than other gaming laptops. Its smaller size also lightens the load and takes up less space without sacrificing those coveted internals.
Powered by an AMD Ryzen 7 CPU and NVIDIA GeForce GTX1650, the ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14’s performance holds up nicely for its compact package. Even higher end customizations, which include up to 40GB RAM and 2TB SSD storage, still fall under $2000. The base model starts at $1379, making it a great bridge between pricing tiers. The only real drawbacks are the display size (14 inches) and the lack of a webcam, neither of which are deal breakers.
From one end of the price spectrum to another, the Razer Blade Pro 17 represents the cream of the gaming laptop market. This one is defined by two things: speed and performance. The Razer Blade Pro 17 standard model comes with 16GB RAM and a 1TB SSD, meaning games load and run exceptionally fast with plenty of space to house a collection of titles. The device’s 17-inch QHD display boasts a 165hz refresh rate, with options to up it to 360hz (only at HD resolutions, however), which keeps its NVIDIA GTX 3060-rendered graphics looking crispier than crisp.
The Razer Blade Pro 17 puts its Intel i7 CPU to work with its gaming capabilities, but it also stands up to everyday use as well, making it a good (yet expensive) balance between work and play. The $2400 starting price is substantial, but the Razer Blade Pro 17’s offerings meet the expectations for such an asking price. Especially considering its compact, sleek casing.
From its eye-catching chassis to its per-key RGB keyboard, the ASUS ROG Strix G15 Advantage Edition immediately makes a visual statement. But this entry keeps that statement going beyond just curb appeal. Sure, it;s an all-AMD device, so you don’t get the GPU name pedigree that comes with an NVIDIA-powered machine, but that doesn’t mean that performance dips as a result.
Its AMD RX 6800M GPU delivers comparable graphical performance, especially when paired with its AMD Ryzen 9 CPU and 1080p 300hz display. PAck that alongside 512GB of SSD storage, 16GB RAM and exceptional battery life, and you have an impressive device that clocks in at under $2000 ($1800 for the base model).
Brian Bell is a queer freelance writer covering tech, pro wrestling, esports, games, comics and TV. Find and follow him on Twitter @WonderboyOTM.