When you’re a gamer, you need great equipment to get the best gaming experience. Something you’ll need in your inventory is a gaming laptop. Unlike gaming PCs, you can take your gaming laptops anywhere. What if you want to play your favorite PC games on the go? Maybe you want to play a game in the cafe. Maybe you want to play during your work break. With gaming laptops, you can. In this guide, we’ll show you the best gaming laptop models and specs to get you started.
What are Gaming Laptops
Gaming Laptops are exactly that. Laptops optimized for gaming. They still have the usual advantages of laptops, but now you can play games on them. It’s a combination of computing power of a desktop PC and the portability of a laptop.
What are the best Gaming Laptops Today?
Now, let’s talk about gaming laptops. These are the ones to look out for when you’re going to browse for gaming laptops. So without further ado, here are our list of the best gaming laptops today:
Dell G3 15
One thing to remember is that trying to find a decent gaming laptop on budget can be a bit annoying. After all, one has to make compromises in many areas like design, battery life, and performance. Well, it’s a good thing then that the Dell G3 15 offers decent 1080p gaming graphics and good battery life.
The most noticeable improvement from the previous model is the sleeker design. Along with smaller bezels wrapped around a 144Hz display, the slim design gives a high-end vibe. A welcome toned-down look just in case you’re looking for a gaming laptop that doesn’t scream that you’re a gamer the moment you take it out of the bag. Other than that, the display might be a bit on the small side but it’s a workable laptop all in all.
MSI GS65 Stealth Thin
The GS65 Stealth Thin still remains one of the best gaming laptops that one can buy. A great all-rounder that packs a hefty punch in designs and specs. It’s a versatile addition to this list due to its capabilities, and sense of style. The matte black aluminum body is a sleek design that’s helped by the gold accents. Giving it a sturdy and luxurious feel.
What’s more, the addition of the 4.9mm thin bezels on the 18mm thick screen gives the chassis size an inch smaller than many 15-inch laptops. All this while still giving out the same screen area.
In addition to these are other cool details: A solid and responsive keyboard from SteelSeries that’s also RGB-lit for your preference, a great and responsive touchpad, and lastly, a webcam placed atop the screen. Which is thankfully not the incredibly bad “Nose-cam” found on some thin-bezel laptops.
Razer Blade 15 Advanced
The “Advanced Model” of the Razer Blade 15 is given a similar CNC-milled aluminum chassis as its predecessor. This time however, it contains the latest graphics chips Nvidia has to offer: the RTX family of Turing architecture-based GPUs.
Amongst the improvements are an RTX 2080 model. This has the capability of running the ray-traced games like Metro Exodus at over 50fps with all the visual hoopla turned to max. Despite the power-hungry hardware, it has a 5-hour battery life even with hard gameplay. So even if it’s not the thinnest or the lightest laptop in the list, it’s one of the long-lasting premium gaming laptop you’ll ever see to date.
Lenovo Legion Y740
They might only have started for a couple of years, Lenovo’s Legion-branded laptops made a name for themselves in the industry. if only due to offering great value on top-notch specs.
Rather than making a jack of all trades, the company known mainly for ThinkPads, aims to squeeze as much performance as possible out of the most inexpensive materials without compromising on the product’s quality and design. This principle is especially evident in the Lenovo Legion Y740. A 17.3-inch gaming laptop, which may come equipped with an RTX 2060, 2070 or 2080 in a price lower compared to similar laptops from their competitors.
It is a pretty big laptop: its bezels might be thinner than the previous ones, but they’re still pretty big and a bit more distracting than the norm. The screen itself leverages tech rarely shown elsewhere. Dolby Vision HDR, for example, is in full color on the fluid 144Hz IPS display. And G-Sync crosses out the need for software-based adaptive sync protocols. Like v-sync, which is quite notorious for the amount of input lag and microstuttering it can sometimes get.
But real-time ray tracing is where it shines most, as games with it like Metro Exodus can play at an average of 46fps even on the highest graphics settings. A great laptop all around.
How do you consider a laptop fit for gaming?
The best gaming laptops are not only for getting an immersive gaming experience while being portable as all hell. Now that they’re closing the performance gap between them and the Desktop Gaming PC’s with the latest mobile versions of cutting-edge internals, they’re also capable of giving you an edge over other players in your game and help you get to the scoreboards no. 1.
In actuality, the best gaming laptops are the best way to go about if you want to stay in a competitive gaming mode while also being portable at the same time. There’s no game that any of the best gaming laptops can’t play. This is because the technology for something like this is already far ahead of its time compared to before. With better graphics cards, bigger RAM, and more. All this to increase the maximum performance that you can squeeze out from a small Laptop System.
What should you look out for when you’re buying a gaming laptop?
When you’re buying a gaming laptop, one should remember the three Ps to look out for: power, portability, and price. Cheesy slogans aside, the best gaming laptops, much like your gaming PC, is a reflection of yourself, you’re going to want a laptop that reflects YOU as a gamer. Thus, with most of us stuck at home, why not get something that can not only play games, but ALSO fix spreadsheets?
Well, you’ll need to consider your own budget. That and which features you’re going to prioritize for your laptop. Some people want an ultraportable gaming laptop with an extensive battery duration for traveling, others however, are comfortable enough to sacrifice portability for enough horsepower comparable to a massive gaming rig.
In addition to this however, buying a gaming laptop means not only looking at the specs, you’re looking at the whole shebang. And thus, here’s some things you need to consider when you’re buying your gaming laptop:
Look for a Laptop that allows you to upgrade it
There are laptops out there that allows you to upgrade them to your own specifications. Those laptops are great for personalizing your laptop to your own benefit, and allows you to increase RAM, VRAM, and Storage however you want.
Look for a Laptop with a good keyboard
Laptop Keyboards are sometimes a hit or miss. You’ll want to get a strong keyboard that’s not stiff or mushy, you don’t want to play on a stiff keyboard after all (inputs might get messed up on stiff keyboards and on hard play. Especially on Shooters).
You have to choose between Resolution or Speed
Unfortunately, you can’t have both. So you have to choose between either or. The quickest 144Hz displays are only on the 1920 x 1080 resolution range currently. So don’t expect 4K laptop screens to be able to handle top speeds.
Expect a pretty short battery life
Another unfortunate circumstance is that you’re gonna have a REALLY low battery time. Playing games on even a fully charged laptop will drain it faster than water in a desert. Most laptops boast around 16 hours of battery time but you’re lucky if you can get 8 when playing a video game. This is because the power’s going on the parts of the laptop that boosts it’s performance on the game you’re playing. So expect frequent charging times in the middle of your playthrough.
Get a Good GPU
A lot of games today are dependent on a PC’s GPU. Unfortunately, you can’t upgrade the GPU on most laptops today. This makes looking for a laptop with good GPU ESSENTIAL if you want to play games on your laptop at high settings at LEAST for a few years.
While there are games today that use the CPU, most games are still GPU-bound. This means that this is by far the biggest decision and something you’ll have to think about when buying a gaming laptop. As of this moment, most gaming laptops are fitted with Nvidia GeForce GTX or RTX GPUs. So these GPU’s are going to be more prominent here.
For entry-level gaming
If you’re not the kind of guy who cares about graphics, go for a GTX 1650. This allows you to play most games on middling settings. The GTX 1660 Ti would give you a bit more power. Such as it would be noticeable, and thus worth the purchase.
For mainstream Gaming
For a midway type of GPU, you can’t go wrong with Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 2060. The GPU allows you to play a lot of games on their medium to high settings. In addition to this, It’s considered the bare minimum for virtual reality. This means it’s the lowest you should go if you want to use your HTC Vive or Oculus Rift.
For VR (and the Highest Settings)
Going for an RTX 2070 will grant the capability to play just about anything on high settings. Meanwhile, the RTX 2080 or RTX 2080 Ti are some of the most powerful 20-series cards you can get. In addition to allowing for smoother VR and special effects. These are the cards that lets you begin to use effects like Nvidia Gameworks. With the RTX series however, you can now play ray-traced video games, and can even get faster frames on your games. Going for an RTX 2070 or RTX 2080 may be good enough for you to play games in your laptop on 4K.
Other specs to look out for in a Gaming Laptop
Now, other than your GPU, there’s also some other things you should look for in your laptop. Which we’re going to be discussing now.
A lot of games are RAM intensive these days. Most of the time though? 8GB of RAM is the recommended for even average productivity tasks. If you can, go for 16GB on your gaming Laptop. A laptop that has GTX 1650 or 1660 Ti would come with 8GB RAM usually. If you eventually get to GTX 2060 or higher, those come with 16GB of RAM. If your income can’t get you a laptop that has 16GB of RAM now, you may try to consider getting upgrades in the future.
The question here is which should you get, Hard Drive, or SSD?
Well, the short answer would be: why not get both? There are budget gaming laptops that come with just a hard drive (usually 1TB). But the most of the gaming laptops today now includes an SSD for the purpose of a boot drive. It’s no longer uncommon to see 128GB SSD and a 1TB HDD working in unison. If you can obtain an SSD with more memory you might see lesser loading time, Do note that this will also cost a bit more money than you’re willing to shell out.
Just like memory, your storage is most of the time upgradeable in gaming laptops. So if you’re finding the need for more space, try to put in a 2TB or larger HDD or SSD.
Now this one’s more dependent on your budget. It’s very probable to gain a powerful Core i7 CPU or one that’s capable of overclocking like the Intel Core i9-9980HK on any budget. There’s also laptops that have desktop CPUs. But, most games gain more from a great GPU than a CPU so you can get by with just a Core i5 processor.
What should I look for in a display?
Displays are often overlooked but are VERY important. If you’re not going to connect your laptop to a gaming monitor, that built-in screen in there will be how you’ll see the games you’re playing.
A lot of gaming laptops have 15 to 17-inch screens. Although there are others that get 18-inch panels and some that have 14-inch systems. Screen size is usually a matter of personal preference. But don’t forget that the bigger the screen, the heavier the laptop will be as it adds to the weight
Don’t even try to get a screen that’s less than a1920 x 1080 display. It’s quite rare to see one with lesser resolutions, but if there is one? Don’t even bother with it. If you got an RTX 2070 /RTX 2080, you may try consider a 2560 x 1440 Monitor display. 4K (3840 x 2160) screens are a possible option on various gaming laptops, but there’s a possibility that you might need to lower some settings, notably if you turn on ray tracing.
A lot of laptops you’ll see have 1080p resolutions and most of the time, a 60Hz display. And for a lot of gamers, that’s good enough. Resolution displays higher than that (2560 x 1440, 3840 x 2160) are good looking, but mostly top at around 60Hz. That’s the reason why some gamers look at 1080p as the best option for them. There are some stores that offer FHD displays with faster, 144Hz or 240Hz refresh rates for a smooth gaming experience. Of course, you’re gonna need a great GPU to play on settings that puts emphasis on frame rates over graphical fidelity to take advantage of the hardware.
Nvidia G-Sync and AMD FreeSync
Some gaming notebooks, particularly on the high-end, support technologies that sync the display with the graphics cards, which eliminates screen tearing and ghosting.
Stay away from touch screens
While not inherently bad, touch screens are unnecessary on gaming notebooks (some 2-in-1 models notwithstanding). They will kill it’s battery life and has the tendency to make the display too glossy.
What should I look for in a keyboard?
If you’re get an entry-level gaming keyboard and not the one on your laptop, you’re gonna want to get chiclet keys that have LED backlighting. But, you might want to hold your horses as there’s a lot more to consider:
This is how far down you can press a key. Most of the time, you’re gonna prefer keys that has over 1.5 millimeters of key travel. if the key travel hits 2mm, even better. This has the ability to keep you from “bottoming out,”. AKA hitting the keyboard’s frame. IF you’re planning on buying the expensive laptops, there’s a chance that you can get mechanical keys Which is even better.
This is how much you force you’ll need to apply to a keyboard’s key to press it down. Try to get between 65 and 70 grams. This is enough to allow resistance without feeling soft to the fingers or the other way around.
It’s a wee bit difficult to get macro keys on gaming laptops than on desktop PC keyboards, but it isn’t impossible. A great set of programmable macro keys will allow you to easily finish most common tasks you have to complete in games. Usually, there’s custom software made by the laptop manufacturer for this situation.
Anti-ghosting and n-key rollover
These are two features that allow you to keep performing your best in games. Anti-ghosting means that when you button mash on several keys for a fighting game combo or do several actions at near exact timings, they will register. All of them In addition to this, the n-key rollover means that every key is independent of the others that have been pressed and will be registered no matter what keys are being inputted.
While budget gaming laptops usually provide backlighting, it’s either just red or white. The best keyboards have RGB backlighting. Some Laptops do this by zone (or section of the keyboard). Meanwhile others give the user the ability to customize on per key basis. Others let you change the lighting of the keys depending on the game. Which is a nice addition.
What should I look for in battery life?
Well… the long and short of this discussion? Don’t count on your gaming laptop on being reliable in terms of battery life.
If you’re using your laptop to play games, you need to keep your laptop plugged in to get the full performance out of your GPU. If you don’t do this, you’re lucky if you can get an hour of gaming time on any laptop you’re gonna get. In many cases, most gaming laptops only have a few hours on a charge when performing other tasks, but they will never have a length as long as ultraportables without discrete GPUs. If you need a laptop to last 8 hours while you work, Don’t get a gaming laptop
There are laptops that do last long. But oftentimes at the expense of its display, and we’re pretty sure you don’t want to play your games on a dim, inaccurate or dark screen.
The Bottom Line
When you’re going to buy a gaming laptop, try and get a rig that lasts you for a few years. If you have the dough for it? Try and obtain a mid to high-end GPU. Although a better card will give you better performance overall. That choice is incredibly important compared to RAM and the CPU, though you should also take note of those as well. The most likely part to be upgradeable is the storage, more is better is the maxim here as games ESPECIALLY the newer ones take up quite a bit of space. Lastly, choose if you like high resolutions or quicker displays and remember to consider what software is most useful to you, do note that you won’t get great battery life however.
How do you compare a gaming laptop to a desktop PC?
Well, in terms of specs, the gaming laptops are indeed catching up to even the best gaming PCs. But, there’s still a pretty big gap in some cases. The most apparent being on the types of GPU’s both can use. Gaming Laptops do have versions of GPU’s by AMD and Intel, but compared to their PC counterparts? Well, it’s still a far off thing as of now.
However, gaming laptops do have the edge in portability. Which is pretty obvious since you can carry around a laptop in your bag more than you can carry the parts of your gaming rig with you. Above all else, a gaming laptop’s portability is their greatest strength. It’s what gives them the edge over the Desktop Gaming PC’s. After all, the ability to game anytime, anywhere is a pretty huge boon. With the tiny downside that you have to take note of how many peripherals and wires you have to juggle with.
Customization wise, none may deny that PC’s have laptops beat in this regard. There’s no end on how much you can customize your Gaming Rig. True, you need to do your research and maybe have some basic understanding of PC systems, but anyone that knows how to operate a screwdriver can mod their PC, even with a bit of effort. After that though? You can adjust, tweak and modify your Rig to your preference.
A Gaming Laptop is a different story. They were meant to be compact. This results in their components being specially made to fit the laptop. Due to this, there’s no additional space to install new components. And because of them being fixed in place inside of the laptop, taking them out is a pretty unadvisable thing to do.
This is the biggest disadvantage that laptops in general have compared to a gaming PC. Due to each component being built in, this means you don’t have any room for customization. Even if the tradeoff is that it saves you the trouble and cost of buying and assembling computer parts.
In terms of performance, even the most powerful gaming laptop is a downsized version of a gaming rig. Due to laptops being smaller and more portable, they only have mobile versions of desktop hardware. Add that with the fact that due to the compact space the parts are in and a general lack of acceptable airflow, laptops are pretty prone to overheating in moments of intense gaming runs. Which is bad for the hardware inside.
On the flipside, gaming PC’s always have more space. Space to add new components, maybe add more storage, add a cooling fan or three. Maybe a radiator for good measure. This is due to how much space they have for these customizations. And due to this, their performance is usually top notch at the best of days
How to take care of a Gaming Laptop
One of the things that can’t be denied is that Gaming Laptops are an innovation in the right direction. There’s already a lot of people that prefer them as the portability allows you to play wherever you like. And if you want to keep your laptop running for a good long while, you’re gonna need to know how to maintain it. Here’s 5 tips on how to do so:
Keep your laptop cool
Heat is something that you can’t escape when you’re using tons of electricity in the machine. In addition to this, the more intensive the task, the more electricity consumed. This is more apparent in laptops. Basically, doing anything intensive in your gaming laptop will put a strain on it’s CPU. A strain that’s translated to heat. Due to this, it’s important to keep your laptop cool in any way you can. Either through playing in a cool room, getting a laptop cooler/cooling pad, etc.
Monitor the system
When you’re first starting your gaming laptop, you’ll see some pretty unnecessary startup programs and utilities that you don’t really need that much. After all, you’re using the laptop for gaming. Try and configure the programs to run when needed, close unnecessary background apps, and in general, try to ensure that the system’s running in tip top shape. In addition to this, monitor the laptop’s performance and general status, ESPECIALLY if you’re overclocking.
Shut down when not in use
A big mistake that anyone can do is to leave your laptop on when not in use. Don’t do this as it builds up heat. All things need downtime. Especially gaming laptops that are used for a long day of gaming.
Perform routine cleanups
One of the things that people don’t know can affect performance are files that they don’t use anymore. Be they word documents or browser cookies, you have to do routine cleanups in order to maintain any PC’s speed. Besides this, always clean your computer hardware of dust. As this can impact their performance.
Run Diagnostic Scans
All PC’s including laptops are vulnerable to things like adware, malware and all types of computer viruses. These can take up precious RAM and memory, or even tank your OS. Take EVERY measure to remove those things ASAP to keep your OS Safe and secure.