Welcome to LaptopNinja and our pro guide to the best top rated gaming laptops based on user reviews, expert tech coverage and in depth product research.
Through an extensive database of products hand picked by our team of editorial gurus and curated through their hardware power, user and critic reviews and value for money, we are here to set your mind at ease when going for that ever elusive ultimate mobile gaming rig. Many avid gamers once scoffed at the idea of using a computer laptop. Those days are nearing an end. The rapid advance of computer hardware has allowed laptops to catch up with their bloated desktop brethren in hardware power as we push more and more power out of smaller and smaller components. PC Gaming is growing year in and year out as force to be reckoned with and with it come waves on waves of fresh new laptops for gamers to test their mettle in the online arena or at home.
Below you will find our top picks of the moment in their price category. Let your budget be your guide. If you already know what your budget is then head over to either our budget gaming laptops under $500, gaming laptops under $1000, gaming laptops under $1500 or VR-ready high-end laptops guides depending on what your wallet allows. If you are a fan of MSI our best MSI gaming laptops guide also features creme of the crop MSI line laptops. If you are still considering a desktop you may also want to checkout out our best high-end gaming PC’s and best cheap gaming PC’s guides over on our sister site DesktopNinja.
How We Decide
Our weekly updated guides contain hundreds of products across various budgets and price categories designed to provide a one stop resource for those looking to stop wasting precious time on unnecessary product research. Our team work around the clock to understand the market and find the best prices best performing rigs at their lowest possible price. We work with cold, hard data, which is why our laptops are scored using our unique scoring algorithm that takes into account thousands of user reviews and expert critic reviews across the web. Of course, no laptop is perfect, and if you aren’t sold yet on our top picks there are dozens of other excellent options available in our buying guides for your to browse. Let the gaming begin.
Top Budget Gaming Laptop
The Acer Aspire E 15 E5-576G-5762 15.6 is our current top budget gaming laptop pick. It features a modern NVIDIA GeForce MX150 dedicated graphics card and an Intel i5-8250U coupled with 8GB of RAM which will run most heavy tasks with ease. The dedicated MX150 is Nvidias latest generation budget mobile GPU with improved performance over the previous generation 940MX. Multitasking will also not be much of problem, as the RAM will allow you to run quite a few applications and browser windows at once, though an upgrade to 16GB of RAM is also possible. It comes with a somewhat small SSD, affording you only 256GB of storage, but you can always add an additional SSD or HDD if needed. Although the E15 comes with a Full-HD IPS display, some have noted that it is fairly dim compared to higher end displays. Regardless, you will get decent viewing angles and the matte finish will prevent any potential glare. It has a solid battery life of around 8 hours and 30 minutes, with Acer even claiming up to 15 hours of battery life, though heavier applications and games will drain its battery life a lot faster. The NVIDIA GeForce MX150 is by no means a beast compared to higher end cards, and most modern AAA titles will struggle somewhat, but lowering the graphics will afford you some playability even on next-gen titles. Both the keyboard and trackpad have been given a thumbs up from most who own this machine. There was a lot of critical commentary delivered on quality control, with many users receiving defective machines. While this may be only a select few reviewers, it is always worth mentioning to make sure you are eligible for a free return. If you are looking for a budget gaming laptop with a powerful graphics card and rock solid battery life at a great price, the E 15 E5-576G-5762 is one of a kind recommendation.
- Good Intel i5-8250U CPU
- Decent 8GB of RAM
- Full-HD Display
- Dim screen
- Potential quality control issues
- Limited storage capacity
- Nvidia GeForce MX150 2GB GDDR5 [View Framerates]
- 8GB DDR3L RAM
- 256GB SSD
- 15.6 inch, 1920 x 1080 pixels (IPS)
- Windows 10 Home
- 15 hours battery life
- 5.27 lbs
The Acer Aspire E 15 E5-576G-5762 15.6-inch laptop is well priced and comes with a good CPU and fast SSD, but the storage capacity is fairly limited, and the matte Full- HD screen may not be for everyone.
Top Gaming Laptop Under $1000
While it may come in slightly above $1,000, the Acer Predator Helios 300 joins the Predator family as a more budget-friendly gaming solution for those who can’t afford to splurge on machines that cost and arm and a leg. Acer have had to make a few sacrifices in order to offer its attractive price, and the first thing that should be noted is that the display is dimmer than some of its counterparts and it doesn’t reproduce as many colors as the higher-end Predator laptops. However, the display is not all bad news, as you do get a Full-HD display panel which uses IPS technology for far better viewing angles and the quality is not terrible for gaming and streaming media. The Acer Predator Helios 300 is powered by a Kaby Lake Intel Core i7-7700HQ processor and is backed up by 16GB of DDR4 RAM. This will easily allow you to play your favorite games and will ensure that you can run even more intensive applications will little to no lag. While many of its competitors offer the GTX 1050 or GTX 1050 Ti, Acer have gone ahead and fitted the Acer Predator Helios 300 with an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060. This card offers better performance for AAA gaming titles and is more suited for VR gaming than the two entry-level NVIDIA graphics cards. The 256GB M.2 SSD offers fast boot and game loading speeds, however it is a bit small for modern games. Luckily, the Acer Predator Helios 300 ships with the cradle for a SATA based storage drive and you can easily install a 512GB or 1TB SSD at home. While the Acer Predator Helios 300 runs cool during everyday use, it will run hot while gaming or while you run more intensive applications. While this might put off some users, it is not at all uncommon for laptops in its price category and is not a deal breaker for many users.
- Excellent Kaby Lake processor
- Powerful gaming performance
- Lightning quick M.2 SSD
- Great performance
- Easy to upgrade RAM and storage
- Features USB Type-C port
- Runs hot under load
- Small amount of storage space
- Only one USB 3.0 port
- Poor battery life
- Not the loudest audio
- Not the brightest display
- Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 4GB GDDR5 [View Framerates]
- 16GB DDR4 2400MHz RAM
- 256GB SSD
- 15.6 inch, 1920 x 1080 pixels (IPS)
- Windows 10 Home
- 7 hours battery life
- 5.95 lbs
The Acer Predator Helios 300 G3-571-77QK is an affordable Acer Predator laptop which even features a more powerful GTX 1060 compared to its competitors' GTX 1050 offerings. However, the tiny amount of storage space needs addressing if you own a larger game collection.
Top Gaming Laptop Under $1500
The Acer Predator Helios 300 G3-571-77QK 15.6-inch has been a firm under $1500 gaming laptop favorite of ours for quite some time. Its price was unbeatable, especially since it came with fantastic hardware that delivered excellent gaming performance. The ASUS ROG Strix GL702VS-AH73 17.3-inch laptop has emerged out of this highly competitive market, and it offers us a better price-to-performance ratio thanks to the inclusion of the mighty NVIDIA GTX 1070 that tears through games and demanding multimedia editing software, especially since it has been combined with the powerful Kaby Lake i7-7700HQ 2.8 GHz and 12GB of RAM to give you the best possible performance. ASUS have opted for an ultraportable case, and have gone with an aluminium lid and plastic body. The 17.3-inch G-Sync IPS display is stunning, and it has a refresh rate of 75Hz, which will give you a smooth incredibly viewing. It comes with a red-backlit chiclet style keyboard that has minimal flex and the keys are said to have great travel. The touchpad is not great for a laptop of this class, and definitely needs improvement. We have seen that most gaming laptops struggle when it comes with battery life, and the The ASUS ROG Strix GL702VS-AH73 is sadly no different. Most have found that it lasts around 1hour 30minutes when gaming, but this is not surprising considering the all the power hungry muscle it packs. The USB Type C port (with thunderbolt) ensures lightning quick data transmissions and it comes with three USB 3.0 ports and a DisplayPort and HDMI port for those who want to plug in an external monitor. It runs quietly overall, with the fans delivering very little noise, but concerns were raised with its cooling. The Hyper Cool Duo-Copper cooling system is not as efficient as most had thought, as some did note that it runs hot during demanding operations, and this may affect your overall performance.
- Great price for laptop with NVIDIA’s GTX1070
- Lots of muscle
- G-Sync display
- Great construction
- Runs hot
- Slower mechanical HDD
- Small SSD
- Disappointing touchpad
- Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 8GB GDDR5 [View Framerates]
- 12GB DDR4 RAM
- 1000GB 7200 RPM HDD / 128GB SSD
- 17.3 inch, 1920 x 1080 pixels (IPS)
- Windows 10 Home
- 6 hours battery life
- 6.4 lbs
Heating issues are commonplace amongst ultraportable gaming laptop designs, but the included NVIDIA GTX 1070 at this price makes the ASUS ROG Strix GL702VS-AH73 one mean gaming laptop.
Top High-End Gaming Laptop under $2000
With the specs that the Acer Predator 17 G9-793-79V5 boasts, you can not go wrong when it comes to running demanding AAA titles and resource hogging applications. The flashy black and red design may not appeal to all, but the first-class performance offered by the Kaby Lake i7-7700HQ processor and 16GB of RAM certainly will. Acer have shoved a GTX 1070 under the hood, which has 8GB of dedicated GDDR5 VRAM, and yes, it is VR-ready. 1080p games will run smoothly, and 4K will be manageable, but at reduced settings. The 1080p 17.3-inch IPS display has received praise all round, and users liked the RGB backlit keyboard that is customizable, allowing you to customize your colors and macro profiles. Some noted that its touchpad sits a bit too deep, but others did not have much of an issue with this. The Predator 17 G9-793-79V5 is bulky however, weighing in at 9.3 pounds, and lugging it to your local coffee shop for a work session is definitely going to prove tiresome. Furthermore, if you do not have a power outlet around, your battery will drain quicker than your coffee if you do not have your power management settings set correctly. Most found that it lasts around 3 hours with the correct settings in place. It has a good port selection and comes with a Thunderbolt 3 port and 4 USB 3.0 ports. The 256GB SSD allows for a responsive overall system and 1TB HDD affords you plenty of storage space. Overall, the Acer Predator 17 G9-793-79V5 is a responsiv
Top High-End Gaming Laptop over $2000
We all know of the mammoth ASUS ROG laptops that have been on sale for a number of years now. However, times are changing at ASUS and the new ROG Zephyrus range is far from what the ROG range used to be. You now get a powerful gaming laptop that is a mere 0.7 inches thin and weighs in at a light 4.9 pounds. However, that is not all that ASUS have redesigned, they have also made major changes to the keyboard and the trackpad. While this might scare off some users, this new layout is far better for gaming than traditional layouts. This new layout better simulates gaming on a desktop PC and you will no longer bump the trackpad while gaming like on traditional laptop layouts. The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 GPU with 8GB of dedicated video memory will run any of the latest gaming titles on the highest settings. The GPU will even allow you to use this ROG as a 4K gaming laptop and play games on a connected 4K monitor. However, the 15.6-inch display of the ROG Zephyrus GX501 offers great image quality and boasts an impressive 120Hz refresh rate, which is rare for most laptops. Not only do you get a higher refresh rate, the display also offers NVIDIA G-SYNC which allows the graphics card to synchronize its frame rates with that of the display. Not only do you get the most powerful mobile GTX 10-series GPU, you also get a powerful Intel Core i7-7700HQ processor and 16GB of DDR4 2400MHz RAM. This combination will not only allow you to play your favorite games, but will also allow you to run even more demanding applications
Top MSI Gaming Laptop
One of the first new laptops from MSI for 2017 is their MSI GT62VR Dominator Pro-238. This new edition sports a new Kaby Lake processor from Intel and one of NVIDIA’s 10-series graphics card for even better gaming performance over last year’s models. The new Dominator Pro for 2017 now features the new NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 and offers far better performance than its predecessor. This will make all the difference when it comes to those AAA gaming titles. The Pascal architecture has been developed for the next generation of VR gaming and will give you the edge over laptops running the older GTX 970M graphics card. A seventh generation Intel Core i7-7700HQ and 16GB of DDR4 RAM will allow you to run the latest AAA gaming titles with no lag and will even run hardware intensive design apps. You can easily upgrade the RAM to a mammoth 32GB or to a higher frequency RAM. The 1TB mechanical hard drive offers ample storage space for older games and multimedia files and the 256GB SSD takes care of those AAA gaming titles that need that extra performance. However, even at double the SSD storage space of some of its competitors, this SSD will fill up extremely quickly as the size of games has increased over the years. Titles such as Battlefield 1, Titanfall 2 and GTA V take up over 40GB each so you might want to consider a larger solid state drive. The superfast M.2 solid state drive can easily be replaced with a Samsung 960 EVO 500GB SSD or if your budget allows, the Samsung 960 Pro 1TB SSD. Like most of the higher-end MSI laptops, you get a Full-HD display. But despite the lack of a 4K display, you still get a display that offers rich colors and great viewing angles. The display also features G-SYNC which matches the display panel’s refresh rate to the frame rate of the graphics card for an impressive gaming experience.
- GTX 1070 graphics
- M.2 SSD + 7200rpm HDD
- Kaby Lake-based processor
- Full-HD display with G-SYNC
- Battery life
- No 4K display
- Average sized SSD
- No optical drive
- Intel GeForce GTX 1070 8GB GDDR5 [View Framerates]
- 16GB DDR4 2400MHz RAM
- 256GB SSD / 1024GB 7200 RPM HDD
- 15.6 inch, 1920 x 1080 pixels (IPS)
- Windows 10 Home
- 4.25 hours battery life
- 6.48 lbs
The MSI GT62VR Dominator Pro-238 offers the latest hardware for the hardcore gamer, however the smaller 256GB SSD will fill up quite quickly with the latest AAA gaming titles.
Top Razer Gaming Laptop
The Razer Blade has been CNC milled out of high-grade aluminum to offer you a thin and light laptop that has been filled with some great gaming hardware. Razer have done away with the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970M from their last generation Razer Blade and have gone for the newer and more powerful NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 laptop edition GPU. The newer GTX 1060 is based off of NVIDIA’s Pascal architecture and with 6GB of GDDR5, it offers far better graphics performance than the older GTX 970M. While VR gaming is still in a development phase for most of us, the GTX 1060 has been designed to perform far better than the GTX 900-series cards, giving it an advantage for future gaming experiences. However, if you really want to push the performance, then you can connect the Razer Core external GPU enclosure via the superfast USB 3.1 Type-C port. The Razer Core currently sells for $499, which is fairly steep as you will still need to purchase a more powerful card than the installed GTX 1060. We recommend looking at the EVGA GeForce GTX 1070 SC GAMING ACX 3.0 Black Edition or the ASUS GeForce GTX 1080 8GB ROG STRIX as great options to pair with the Razer Core GPU dock. Being a premium gaming laptop, it features the latest 7th generation Intel Core i7-7700HQ processor, which will make light work of most games or intensive apps. The newer i7-7700HQ boasts a performance increase of 9% over its predecessor, giving it the edge when it comes to more demanding applications. Backing up the Core i7-6700HQ processor is 16GB of DDR4 2133MHz RAM, which combined will allow for lag free gaming or intensive multitasking. While all this hardware is quite powerful, the thin design means that it can heat up quickly, causing the fans to run most of the time. This might put off some users who are looking for a quieter machine for everyday use. While there is a 1TB version of the Razer Blade, the Razer Blade RZ09-01953E72-R3U1 features a decently sized 512GB SSD, which helps bring down the cost by a few hundred dollars. This will give you enough space to install some of your favorite AAA gaming titles, however some recent titles require over 50GB and will fill up your SSD quite quickly. Like the previous range, you get Razer Chroma which is Razer’s individually lit backlit keyboard. This will allow you to set three different color zones so that you can truly customize your Razer Blade. The brilliant 14-inch 1920 x 1080 pixel multi-touch display offers rich colors, wide viewing angles and is great for gaming or for media editing on the go. However, the display is a bit small for hardcore gamers, we recommend connecting the Razer Blade RZ09-01953E72-R3U1 to a decent size monitor for the best gaming experience.
- Kaby Lake i7 processor
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060
- Thin and light
- USB Type-C
- 512GB M.2 SSD
- Heats up under load
- No Ethernet
- No optical drive
- Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 6GB GDDR5 [View Framerates]
- 16GB DDR4 2133MHz RAM
- 512GB SSD
- 14 inch, 1920 x 1080 pixels (IPS)
- Windows 10 Home
- 4.5 hours battery life
- 4.10 lbs
The Razer Blade RZ09-01953E72-R3U1 is a new an improved version of the Razer Blade which offers a powerful NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 graphics card and a 512GB SSD.
Our Gaming Laptop Guides
Feel free to browse the guides below for more of our top picks. You can use this page and our extensive notes beliw as reference when comparing specs and other features or drop us a line if you have any specific questions.
Welcome to our regularly updated guide to the best gaming laptops under $1500 based on countless hours of research, current critic and user reviews and raw hardware performance. In the past, a good gaming laptop would set you back at least $2000, though the times have changed and more and more manufacturers are offering great… Read more »
Welcome to our weekly updated pro guide to the best gaming laptops under $300 based on reviews, specs, retail sales volume and retail discounts. The gaming industry has grown exponentially in the last 2 decades and is now an over $40 billion a year industry with PC gaming being responsible for a large part of that. The problem is… Read more »
Welcome to our weekly updated pro guide to the best cheap gaming laptops available for under $500 based on sales, pure hardware power, retailer discounts, professional reviews, and benchmarks. Cheap gaming laptops are as mythical as unicorns in the eyes of most gamers and finding them online can be a real chore. We spend hours of research… Read more »
Welcome to our current guide to the finest deals on gaming laptops under $1000 based on critic reviews, consumer feedback and hardware power. These mid-range gaming giants will pack enough punch to play modern titles on reasonable settings without leaving a hole in your pocket and can play graphics intensive games on medium to high settings… Read more »
Welcome to our guide to the best VR-Ready laptops and high-end gaming laptops based on raw hardware performance, critic and user reviews, design and general pure gaming pedigree. Getting one of these epic gaming rigs will ensure everybody knows you mean serious business. They offer extremely competitive hardware and high framerates for modern titles featuring the latest Intel and… Read more »
Before We Begin
Before we can even begin to look at each of the individual hardware components that you must consider, we need to address a few issues that will impact your entire search for the perfect laptop. First, you must determine the budget for your new laptop. Remember, laptops that are powerful enough to run video games are more expensive than just an every day laptop that runs Word and Excel, so keep that in mind when you are creating your budget.
Second, you must look at your gaming needs. If you only play one particular style of game, you may not need certain types of hardware. For example, if all you enjoy playing are games on Facebook or maybe even a basic turn-based strategy game, then you won’t need the most powerful laptop on the market. If, however, you prefer to play the latest Call of Duty or maybe even Grand Theft Auto, then you will definitely want to look into hardware that is more powerful in order to guarantee a seamless and smooth experience while you play.
In the end, a good part of the selection process comes down to your habits, what you like to play and how much you spend. So before you start examining the internal components of one single laptop, take a few minutes to determine these factors as they can help guide you through the entire process as you take an in depth look at what is inside the gaming laptops you are considering purchasing.
Hardware You Will Need
Unlike basic laptops that are designed to provide users with the tools they need to create documents, send emails and surf the Internet, gaming laptops need much more powerful hardware. That is because the games that run on PC are much more power applications that push high end graphics to provide the realistic and fun experiences that we have all come to know and love. Because of this, a gamer must examine the hardware details of a laptop much more carefully if they hope to make the right decision with their laptop purchase.
Now, let’s examine all the different hardware you will need in order to get the graphical and audio performance you will want and need in your games so each play session runs smoothly.
Hands down this is by far the most important decision you will make when buying a gaming laptop. Currently, I’m a fan of the NVIDIA line of video cards, but AMD isn’t a slouch either with their Radeon lines. What you want to make sure of is that you get the laptop with the highest end video card you can possibly find and afford.
It is the powers of that card that can make or break the gaming performance of your laptop. I have seen many people simply overbuy and pick up a video card when they don’t play any games, and I have seen gamers buy laptops that just wouldn’t work because they weren’t experts in the world of computer hardware.
In most cases, you should seek a card that has a decent amount of memory and speed to back it up. In most cases you will notice that NVIDIA often has a leg up on AMD and their Radeon cards. But the high powered cards made by both these manufacturers often do a very good job of powering games on laptops. Just remember, they won’t be like desktop video cards, so you won’t find any out there with as much power and speed that you can find in the most recent cards built for desktop computers. Still, with a little work, you can find a card that will drive almost every video currently on the market with relative ease.
Make Your CPU Choice
The second most important choice you will make, the CPU is the heart of your computer. While it doesn’t have anything to do with how fast your graphics are processed, it does impact load times and how fast the game will run even while it is processing graphics. So, you shouldn’t really skimp on the processor you choose, assuming you want superb gaming performance.
When choosing a processor for gaming, I would go with either an i5 or i7 from Intel as they are currently the fastest on the market. You will be hard pressed to have a bad experience using one of these processors on your system. While not the most important part of your gaming system, the CPU is still the heart of your computer so the faster the processor, the better your overall experience when you are gaming or even just surfing the net.
A Few Words About RAM
One of the biggest questions I often get from gamers looking to choose a laptop is how much RAM should they buy. While this answer can be a difficult one to answer, I will say that anything over 16 GB is probably overkill these days. What I mean is, you more than likely won’t see that much of a boost in performance based on the cost.
That being said, most gaming laptops today are equipped with somewhere between 8 GB and 16 GB of RAM, although you will see some that double that capacity with 32 GB of RAM. How much you choose is really up to you. The more complex the games you run and the more apps you would like to run alongside your games really is the determining factor. If you want to run more at one time and still maintain your speed, then increase your RAM. If you are shopping on a budget, go with something that has between 8 GB and 16 GB for the best bang for your buck.
What’s in a Hard Drive
With the rise of the SSD, choosing a hard drive has become more difficult for gamers, especially those trying to buy a new laptop on a budget. How big of a drive do you need? How fast do you want it to be? These are all questions that only you can answer. I can say that if you want the fastest speeds, you should choose the solid state (SSD) drives. If you need lots of room to store files and games, go with a traditional hard drive. Just make sure it is the 7200 rpm model.
Personally, I would use two hard drives if it is in your budget. The first drive would be a solid state drive that is around 256 GB. Use this drive to load your operating system, apps and any games that you have. By doing this, you will get all the fastest load streams possible on your computer when you open, close and use apps. For your data, I would use a fast 7200 rpm hard drive that is at least 1 TB in size. This allows you to store virtually as much as you want on that drive without having to worry about losing it to an unexpected hard drive crash.
How’s That Screen
Honestly this one is the least important on this list as you can almost always connect your laptop to your television or a high end monitor at home for an even better gaming experience. But, if you are playing strictly on your laptop, you will want to choose a laptop that comes with a decent screen. When choosing a screen, make sure you find one that is at least Full-HD or one that maybe even has better resolutions available. Check out reviews about the screen and see how crisp and clear it is and double check on the color accuracy as well, as you don’t want a monitor that is fuzzy with colors that don’t match the rest of the world.
Peripherals to Enhance Your Experience
Now that you have selected everything you need on your laptop, you need to take a few minutes to consider the peripherals you will need for your gaming experience. These often include keyboards and mice and even game controllers that you will need to play all of the games in your library well with the best controls. These additions aren’t always necessary, of course, but you may want to consider them while you are shopping so you can pick one that you know is compatible with your laptop as well as the games you play.
All of these choices combine to form the laptop that could be yours for a few years to come, so make sure you buy the hardware that you want. Choose wisely, a you will likely have to live with your choice for quite some time.
Pro Tips For Making Your Decision
There are various things to lookout for that may influence your purchasing decision when deciding on the ultimate gaming laptop. You have to consider your budget and FPS (frames per second) you will get on your laptop while running various games on different settings. This is key to understanding what kind of machine you’ll need and now is the time to think these things through on top of figuring out what games you intend on playing and what the limitations of your budget are. We have listed some key pointers under our top picks below to help you while browsing our guides. Having adequate power to run the games you want to play at decent framerates is a prerequisite for a quality gaming experience.
Budget laptops tend to have extremely limited gaming performance and get a heavy wrap from serious gamers. That said, don’t be fooled as if you are happy playing older games from 2013 or earlier you’ll generally have no problem if you pick a laptop with the right GPU. For example virtually all of the most popular games in the world, including Dota 2, League of Legends, World of Warcraft and Minecraft, will run perfectly fine on a sub-$500 gaming laptop. That said, if you are a slave to lush next-gen visuals and saving up is an option you might want to go for something under $1000 instead. Our under $500 guide features laptops with the NVIDIA GeForce 940M, AMD Radeon HD 8650G and AMD R6 / R5 integrated graphics. For under $600 you can also find laptops with NVIDIA GeForce GT 820M, which offers a pretty serious boost in performance at the expense of portability and battery life.
Just like the budget market, the mid-range gaming laptop market has also exploded in recent years. Today for under $1000 you can get yourself a laptop capable of running virtually all modern titles at medium settings, a trend that is set to continue as modern hardware overtakes the demands of even the most intense new graphics engines on the market. NVIDIA GeForce GTX 860M based laptops come in comfortably under the $1000 mark and for under $1100 GeForce GTX 960M based laptops offer even better frame rates for next-gen titles. While you won’t quite be able to max out new games like the Witcher 3 on these machines, you will get a comfortable 30-40FPS on medium settings, which is more than playable for most users and with some performance tweaks you can find a nice balance without compromising on eye candy too much. While the next generation of NVIDIA cards are already out on the market, you will struggle to find a gaming laptop that features a GeForce GTX 1060 laptop edition for under $1000. Luckily there are both the GeForce GTX 1050 and the slightly more powerful GeForce GTX 1050 Ti which can now be found in a selection of laptops that are priced under $1000.
If you simply won’t settle with turning down your graphics and compromising on your gaming experience and you have the cash to blow, then it’s probably time to checkout our high-end gaming laptop guide. For under $2000, the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970M is the graphics setup to look out for. It will get a healthy 45 FPS for demanding titles such as the Witcher 3 and Dragon Age Inquisition on high settings. Still want more? The NVIDIA GTX 980M is currently the GPU of choice for $2000+ premium gaming laptops. It will squeeze an immersive 80FPS for the Witcher 3 at high settings. STILL not satisfied? Alright then. If you have $3000+ to spend and you’re ready to YOLO on your mobile gaming rig, the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M SLI dual setup is the way to go. With a double up on the single 980M, this setup is capable of maxing out quite literally any current game on ultra settings at 100FPS+. If you want even more performance, then NVIDIA’s latest GeForce GTX 1070 and GeForce GTX 1080 laptop edition cards are worth looking out for. The GeForce GTX 1070 performs slightly better than the GTX 980M, while still being cheaper than the previous generation’s top of the line card. If you want a laptop that offers true future proofing, then the GeForce GTX 1080 is the graphics card that you want. The GeForce GTX 1080 scores 7% higher on 3DMark’s Fire Strike Graphics benchmark than the GTX 980M SLI setup, making it an extremely powerful card.
Hardware + Benchmarks
As we’ve outlined above hardware of your laptop, specifically the GPU, will make or break your laptop gaming experience. We’ve rounded up the latest contenders from low-end to high-end along with links to relevant benchmarks powered by Notebookcheck and CPUBenchmark so you can check them out yourself.
Graphics power is the backbone of any gaming rig. While you get away with a relatively underpowered processor, there is simply no skimping when it comes to your GPU (graphics processing unit) if you hope to get the most value for money and the best gaming experience possible. AMD and NVIDIA are the two dominating forces currently shaping the market and they compete neck and neck with their technology. In the budget gaming graphics department AMD generally offers superior integrated graphics performance, whereas on higher end machines NVIDIA dedicated cards will usually take preference. The memory of your GPU is also an importer factor – the more memory the better, with higher end GPU’s starting with at least 2GB.
Budget GPU’s – Fastest to Slowest
- Intel Iris Pro Graphics 580 [ VIEW FRAMERATES ]
- Intel Iris Plus Graphics 650 [ VIEW FRAMERATES ]
- Intel Iris Graphics 550 [ VIEW FRAMERATES ]
- Intel Iris Plus Graphics 640 [ VIEW FRAMERATES ]
- Intel Iris Graphics 540 [ VIEW FRAMERATES ]
- Intel HD Graphics 630 [ VIEW FRAMERATES ]
- Intel HD Graphics 620 [ VIEW FRAMERATES ]
- AMD Radeon R7 M260X [ VIEW FRAMERATES ]
- NVIDIA GeForce 920MX [ VIEW FRAMERATES ]
- AMD Radeon R7 (Kaveri) [ VIEW FRAMERATES ]
- AMD Radeon R6 (Kaveri) [ VIEW FRAMERATES ]
- Intel HD Graphics 520 [ VIEW FRAMERATES ]
- AMD Radeon R5 M230[ VIEW FRAMERATES ]
- AMD Radeon R5 (Carrizo) [ VIEW FRAMERATES ]
- AMD Radeon R5 (Kaveri) [ VIEW FRAMERATES ]
Mid-Range GPU’s – Fastest to Slowest
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 [ VIEW FRAMERATES ]
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti [ VIEW FRAMERATES ]
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 [ VIEW FRAMERATES ]
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M [ VIEW FRAMERATES ]
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 950M [ VIEW FRAMERATES ]
- NVIDIA GeForce 945M [ VIEW FRAMERATES ]
- Intel Iris Pro Graphics 580 [ VIEW FRAMERATES ]
- AMD Radeon R9 M470X [ VIEW FRAMERATES ]
- AMD Radeon R9 M380 [ VIEW FRAMERATES ]
- NVIDIA GeForce 940M [ VIEW FRAMERATES ]
- AMD Radeon R9 M275 [VIEW FRAMERATES]
High-End GPU’s – Fastest to Slowest
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 [ VIEW FRAMERATES ]
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 [ VIEW FRAMERATES ]
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M SLI [ VIEW FRAMERATES ]
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M [ VIEW FRAMERATES ]
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970M [ VIEW FRAMERATES ]
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 880M [VIEW FRAMERATES]
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 870M [VIEW FRAMERATES]
For graphics processors that aren’t in this list checkout Notebookchecks full laptop graphics card comparison chart for a full list of all available laptop graphics cards on the market.
While not nearly as important for gaming as your GPU, your CPU (central processing unit) can still seriously affect gaming performance and should be your next biggest consideration after your graphics power. As above we have listed all current popular CPU’s in various price brackets to help you easily compare speeds based on available benchmarks. As with GPU’s, Intel and AMD are the big players here.
Budget CPU’s – Fastest to Slowest
- AMD A8-8600P [ VIEW BENCHMARKS ]
- Intel Core i5-4210U [ VIEW BENCHMARKS ]
- AMD A10-5750M [ VIEW BENCHMARKS ]
- Intel Core i3-4000M [ VIEW BENCHMARKS ]
- AMD A10-5757M [ VIEW BENCHMARKS ]
- AMD A10-7300 [ VIEW BENCHMARKS ]
- AMD A8-7100 [ VIEW BENCHMARKS ]
- Intel Core i3-4030U [ VIEW BENCHMARKS ]
- AMD A8-7410 [ VIEW BENCHMARKS ]
- AMD A8-5545M [ VIEW BENCHMARKS ]
- AMD A8-6410 [ VIEW BENCHMARKS ]
- AMD A6-6310 [ VIEW BENCHMARKS
Mid-Range CPU’s – Fastest to Slowest
- Intel Core i5-8350U [ VIEW BENCHMARKS ]
- Intel Core i5-8250U [ VIEW BENCHMARKS ]
- Intel Core i5-7300HQ [ VIEW BENCHMARKS ]
- Intel Core i5-6300HQ [ VIEW BENCHMARKS ]
- Intel Core i7-7500U [ VIEW BENCHMARKS ]
- Intel Core i5-7200U [ VIEW BENCHMARKS ]
- Intel Core i7-6500U [ VIEW BENCHMARKS ]
- Intel Core i5-6300U [ VIEW BENCHMARKS ]
- AMD FX-9800P [ VIEW BENCHMARKS ]
- Intel Core i3-7100U [ VIEW BENCHMARKS ]
- Intel Core i3-6100H [ VIEW BENCHMARKS ]
- AMD A10-9600P [ VIEW BENCHMARKS ]
- AMD A10-8700P [ VIEW BENCHMARKS ]
High-End CPU’s – Fastest to Slowest
- Intel Core i7-8650U [ VIEW BENCHMARKS ]
- Intel Corei7-8550U [ VIEW BENCHMARKS ]
- Intel Core i7-7820HK [ VIEW BENCHMARKS ]
- Intel Core i7-7820HQ [ VIEW BENCHMARKS ]
- Intel Core i7-6920HQ [ VIEW BENCHMARKS ]
- Intel Core i7-6820HK [ VIEW BENCHMARKS ]
- Intel Core i7-7700HQ [ VIEW BENCHMARKS ]
- Intel Core i7-6700HQ [ VIEW BENCHMARKS ]
- Intel Core i7-4800MQ [ VIEW BENCHMARKS ]
- Intel Core i7-4700HQ [ VIEW BENCHMARKS ]
Although we haven’t focused too much on RAM (random access memory) yet, your laptops memory also plays a huge role in ensuring you get the optimal performance out of your CPU and GPU to prevent system bottlenecking. Having less than 8GB on a gaming rig can seriously hamper performance. Most RAM today is standardized DDR3 RAM, although not all RAM is equal and on high-end rigs you will find faster RAM. Although it’s not necessary to include benchmarks here, as a general rule 8GB of RAM is recommended as a minimum for gamers, with 16GB optimal for most high-end machines. Although some machines increase to over 16GB, this won’t necessarily increase performance unless you are doing some serious multitasking. For budget laptops that come with 4GB of RAM we recommend purchasing additional ramming and installing it yourself where possible.
Most budget to mid-range laptops will offer standard HDDs (hard disk drives) with space varying from 500GB to 1TB upwards at a standard speed of 5400RPM. More high-end laptops may come with faster 7200RPM HDD’s and, ideally, SSDs (solid-state drives) which help prevent bottlenecking due to the data transfer speed when accessing your game files on your hard drive. Wherever possible, larger SSD’s are recommended, although SSD’s will only boost performance for files stored on the desk. This means you should install Windows and all of your games files on the SSD and keep media and other files on your regular hard drive. Depending on how many games you have you may need anywhere from a 128GB to a 512GB SSD to store all of your games, though larger SSD’s come with a serious price premium when it comes to laptops. As a general rule, 5400RPM hard drives are the slowest, 7200RPM are ideal for mid-range laptops, and high-end rigs should almost always include an SSD where possible.
Display & Screen Quality
The display quality of laptops vary drastically, with budget laptops generally suffering from inferior TN displays (Thin-film-transistor liquid-crystal) and more pricey machines coming with superior IPS displays (In-plane switching). All your really need to know minus the technical details is that as a rule TN displays suffer from poor viewing angles (when looking at your screen from the side) and inferior color reproduction compared to IPS displays, and in an ideal world all laptops would ship with IPS displays out the box. You will need to check reviews and feedback for each laptops display when doing your research, as not all displays are created equal and a below-par display can seriously hinder your gaming experience even if your hardware is the best there is. Often manufacturers will pack high performing hardware at the expensive of a poor quality screen.
The other coreelement of your display is your screen resolution. Modern budget gaming machines will generally come with a 1366 x 768 resolution, while more pricey alternatives will ship with a ‘full HD’ 1920 x 1080 resolution and a handful of laptops hitting the middle ground with a 1600 x 900 resolution. As always, bigger is generally better, although higher resolutions also require additional graphics power to run which is generally at the expense of your laptops portability and size. As always, some people are simply more-ish, and for these denizens we can now praise the new 4K resolution, which comes in at a whopping 3840 x 2160. While serious users living on the bleeding edge can look out for many new high-end 4K rigs at exorbitant prices, it’s also worth noting that most games are currently not fully optimized for 4k and the higher resolution will also wreak havoc on most mobile graphics cards with framerates suffering badly. At this stage of the game we’d only recommend going 4k if you plan on getting an SLI setup for your laptop, in which case enjoy you lucky bastard.
Although less important, there are also two different kinds of screen finishes – ‘matte’ and ‘gloss’ finishes. Matte screens are designed to provide the best viewing angles and reduce glare, where gloss screens provide much worse glare but generally provide more accurate color reproduction in optimal viewing conditions. For more on matte vs gloss displays checkout this article on HowToGeek.
Most gaming laptops come with screen sizes ranging from 15 inches to 17-inches, with a larger display being preferable for obvious reasons in order to create a more immersive gaming experience.
Design & Features
It’s great to talk about the ins and outs of laptop gaming hardware as if it’s the be all and all, but there is a another key element of the laptop mix that needs to be addressed too – design. As a general rule, most high-end gaming rigs are designed as a desktop replacement and as such are large, bulky, and, unless you are hitting the gym religiously, are bound to feel like a sack of bricks when carried around in your laptop case. Luckily there is still hope for portable users, with many leading manufacturers such as Alienware and Razer coming up with new 13-inch models aimed at striking a decent balance between portability and performance. Budget gamers are also in luck, as the integrated AMD graphics found in low-end gaming rigs means there is no dedicated graphics card to bulk things up. These budget AMD based rigs are general a lot more portable with better battery life’s than their high-end counterparts.
Other features worth noting are mechanical keyboards found in high-end gaming netbooks, such as SteelSeries partnership with MSI in their latest G-Series line-up as well as backlit keyboards and other programmable LED lights for ensuring your opponents are ready to wet themselves if you ever head over to your friends house for a LAN or at your local Esports gaming tournament. While not a prereuqisite for a great gaming experience, these finishing touches can make or break your decision when comparing two similarly specced machines.
The LaptopNinja editorial team
About the author
LaptopNinja Editorial Team
Our dedicated editorial team spend countless hours every week scouring the best deals across the web to help save you time and money.