It wasn’t so long ago that using a gaming laptop to try and play the latest AAA games was an experience that came with a lot of compromises. Sure, you could definitely do it, but it often required you to run the game on lower graphical settings. And on top of that, your laptop was probably weighed five or six pounds and was the size of a coffee table book.
But that is all quickly changing.
Gaming laptops have become more and more capable in recent years thanks to GPU innovations from NVIDIA and ATI which continue to bring mobile GPUs closer to desktop GPUs in performance. This, along with excellent design work from companies such as Razer, Asus and Acer to streamline the size and weight of these laptops, has gone a long way.
And now, the latest bit of promise for gaming laptops came at CES 2021 when NVIDIA announced that more than 70 gaming laptops featuring its latest GeForce RTX 3000 series GPUs are set to be released by the top PC brands in the coming months.
This is huge because these graphics cards will bring technologies such as ray tracing to laptops, which is not something anyone would have guessed possible a few years ago. Already we’ve seen Razer and Alienware deliver their RTX 3080-equipped laptops to retailers, and more are quickly coming.
So keep an eye on this space, because 2021 promises to be a big year for gaming laptops. And in the meantime, take a look at some of the best gaming laptops that are available right now.
1. Razer Blade 15 Advanced
BEST GAMING LAPTOP OVERALL
What makes the Razer Blade 15 Advanced Special is not the uber-capable 10th-generation Intel Core i7 CPU or the state-of-the-art NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 GPU. Nor is it the 240Hz QHD display or 32 GB of RAM. Rather, it’s the fact that they’ve managed to take all of the specs for the most powerful gaming laptop you can buy and fit it into a package that looks almost nothing like a gaming laptop at all. The design is sleek and understated, and if not for the logo or the RGB LED keyboard, you might not guess in a million years that this thing is capable of running with ray tracing turned on.
Sure, there are gaming laptops out there that might have slightly more powerful specs or offer more performance per dollar on the value front. But there aren’t many gaming laptops that work well as normal laptops when you don’t have your Steam library fired up. This laptop is one of them, thanks to size and weight specs that are relatively normal. And at the end of the day, this is a gaming PC, and gaming PCs are a luxury. And for our money, there is no greater luxury than the Razer Blade 15 Advanced when it comes to the best gaming laptops.
2. Alienware M15 R4 Gaming Laptop
Like the Razer Blade 15 Advanced, the Alienware M14 R4 gaming laptop comes equipped with the latest and greatest NVIDIA GeForce 3000 series GPUs, which will give you next-gen effects such as ray tracing. This particular configuration features a 15.6-inch FHD display with a 300Hz refresh rate, an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 GPU and an Intel Core i7 CPU. While you can bump up the specs to an Intel Core i9 and an RTX 3080 to place it in the realm of Razer’s top laptops, we like this configuration because it strikes a nice balance between performance and price.
3. Asus Rog Zephyrus G14
BEST SMALL GAMING LAPTOP
OK, so maybe you want something that speaks to your “core” gamer sensibilities. Maybe you want a laptop that’s better built to handle the heat your processor and GPU will generate as you play Valorant at 200 frames per second. The Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 is that laptop, thanks to its AMD Ryzen 9 CPU, NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 GPU, 16 GB of RAM and 14-inch, 120 Hz display. Despite the powerful internals, this laptop still only weighs 3.5 pounds which is impressively compact and it promises up to nine hours of battery life, which isn’t bad for a gaming laptop.
Courtesy of Best Buy
4. HP Omen 15
Available in a variety of configurations, the HP Omen 15 really hits its stride as a mid-range gaming laptop, complete with a 10th-generation Intel Core i7 CPU, NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 GPU, 8 GB of RAM and a 15.6-inch, 144Hz display that keeps the on-screen action silky smooth. All of this combines to provide you with enough power to handle high-performance, 1080p gaming at a price that won’t demolish your savings account. This is a great option for someone who is into gaming, but maybe not quite obsessed with gaming.
5. Acer Predator Triton 500
Acer has quietly been on a tear when it comes to its gaming products in recent years, rising from releasing products that are good for the price to releasing products that are flat out good, period (but also still a good value). The Acer Predator Triton 500 is one of those products that can go toe to toe with the best gaming laptops on this list thanks to its Intel Core i7 CPU, NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 SUPER GPU, 16 GB of RAM and 15.6-inch FHD display with a 300Hz refresh rate and NVIDIA G-Sync support to ensure fluid gameplay. And while this laptop may command a premium price, the performance promised here is more than enough to justify it.
6. Razer Blade Stealth 13
If you’re someone who has their heart set on a Razer gaming laptop (and who can blame you, the looks alone make them lust-worthy), but the 15-inch screen size is a little too much laptop for you, worry not. Razer also makes a 13-inch version of its Blade laptop, and while it might not have quite the same power as its 15-inch sibling, the Razer Blade Stealth 13 is still a very capable gaming laptop. With the option to kit out this thin-and-light gaming laptop with an Intel Core i7 CPU, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Ti GPU and an FHD display that pushes graphics through at 120Hz, there’s plenty to love about this ultraportable gaming PC, including the fact that you can carry it around with you everywhere and barely notice it.
7. Lenovo Legion 5
BEST BUDGET GAMING LAPTOP
Lenovo’s Legion 5 is a great affordable gaming laptop that pairs an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660Ti GPU with the very underrated AMD Ryzen 7 CPU to provide a 1080p gaming experience that will make your 15.6-inch FHD display sparkle. But perhaps most impressive, given the accessible price point, is that this comes with 16 GB of RAM and a 512 GB SSD, which are specs you typically see on more premium gaming laptops.
8. Acer Nitro 5
Like we mentioned earlier, Acer is making some incredible gaming laptops right now, especially when you factor in bang for the buck. And there is no laptop that encapsulates this more than the Acer Nitro 5. For less than $1000, you get an Intel Core i7 CPU, NVIDIA GeForce 1650 Ti GPU and a 15.6-inch FHD display with a 144Hz refresh rate. Will you be playing Cyberpunk 2077 with maxed-out settings with this thing? Not quite, but you will be able to play many of the top new games on solid graphical settings and not have to worry about the frame rate dipping into oblivion.