Take Your PC Gaming on the Road With These Powerful Gaming Laptops | IGN

Gaming laptops aren’t the neutered boat anchors from the days of yore. Thanks to CPU and GPU advancements, modern-day gaming notebooks can be as capable as their gaming PC counterparts. Some even can overclock their components, feature desktop-grade gaming keyboards, high-refresh-rate displays, and employ unique form factors to make them even more effective.

These days the best gaming laptops are thin and powerful, thanks to some of the most powerful mobile processors from Intel’s Core and AMD’s Ryzen series. Don’t think mobile GPUs are a joke either, Nvidia’s Turing line has enabled gaming laptops to play games at 4K with a respectable frame rate for the first time. Our choices for the best gaming laptops below are based on our in-depth testing and expert knowledge, so read on to see our picks!

TL;DR – These are the Best Gaming Laptops:

1. Acer Predator Triton 500

Best Gaming Laptop

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The Acer Predator Triton 500 (read our review) is the shinning beacon of what a modern gaming laptop should be. Equipped with a hexa-core CPU and top-of-the-line graphics, this mobile rig delivers a stunning Full HD gaming experience above 60 frame per second (fps).

Unfortunately, just like all other ultra-modern gaming laptops, battery life is restricted to just two hours it gets fairly warm around the keyboard during prolonged gaming sessions. But these are sacrifices you have to make with a portable and powerful gaming laptop such as this.

2. MSI GF63 Thin

Best Budget Gaming Laptop

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If you’ve been gritting your teeth at how expensive RTX-powered gaming laptops have been since launch, this extremely cost-effective GTX-powered model should be of great interest. Coming in at well under $1,000 this laptop packs all the power you’ll need to get started with most competitive games like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Overwatch, and Dota 2.

Thanks to its fairly thin and light form-factor, you’ll be able to bring this machine to ever event with ease. It doesn’t look cheap either between its sleek, black housing, bright red highlights, and illuminated keyboard.

3. Alienware Area-51m

The Most Upgradeable Gaming Laptop

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Gaming laptops typically aren’t upgradable, but the Alienware Area-51m (read our review) is a whole other beast. The RAM, storage, CPU, and even the GPU are all upgradable on this gaming laptop if you feel brave and wise enough to embark on such an undertaking.

That said, this particular Intel Core i9 and Nvidia RTX 2080 (non-Max-Q) configuration we’ve reviewed and chosen to feature should last you more than a few years for solid PC gaming. Just be aware that battery life is practically non-existent—up to, at most, an hour and a half—and you’ll need two power bricks to power this thing up, so it’s more of a desktop replacement than a portable gaming machine.

4. Asus ROG Zephyrus G GA502

Best Gaming Laptop for Everyday Life

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The Asus ROG Zephyrus G GA502 utilizes a rare, but increasingly common, fusion of AMD and Nvidia parts that work beautifully together. Thanks to an efficient AMD Ryzen 7 processor with its own potent Vega integrated-graphics, this machine can last long enough to get you through regular tasks.

Then, when you kick on its Nvidia GTX 1660 Ti graphics, suddenly you have a full fledged gaming machine ready to take on any modern PC game your throw at it.

5. Razer Blade 15

Best 15-inch Gaming Laptop

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Not only is the Razer Blade 15 (read our review) one of the best gaming laptop this year, it’s one of the best 15-inch laptops we’ve ever seen. Its thin and light build belies an incredibly powerful gaming PC, with an available Nvidia RTX 2060 and 144hz display. You can even get one with a 4K, touch-enabled display, if you’re hungry for more pixels.

The Razer deftly sliced through every benchmark we threw at it, topping the list of its laptop-competitors in 3DMark scores. Unfortunately, the latest Razer Blade 15 doesn’t offer nearly as much battery as its predecessor from 2018, so if longevity is a must, you should get last year’s model.

6. MSI GT76 Titan DT

Best 17-inch Gaming Laptop

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The gaming laptop market is full of thin-and-powerful options, but if you’re going for something as big as a 17-inch notebook, you’re probably going to want something about all-out power rather than portability. The MSI GT76 Titan doesn’t just promise to be a desktop replacement but a desktop killer. This incredibly thick machine comes packing a desktop-grade Intel Core i9-9900K processor paired with a mobile RTX 2080 for the best performance you can get out of a gaming laptop today.

As for screen options, you have a choice between either a 1080p 240Hz display (as we’ve selected above) or a 4K panel with 100% Adobe RBG colors. Memory maxes out to a wicked 64GB and the model featured above even comes with 2TB of both NVMe and HDD storage stock. Since this “desktop killer” isn’t interested in portability, it weighs in at 9.92 pounds and measures 1.65-inches thick. But all that added bulk has allowed MSI to fit its machine with more heat pipes and massive cooling fans that keep this machine running at peak condition without making nearly as much of a racket as the other thinner options.

7. Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX701

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Best Gaming Laptop for Esports

The Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX701 was one of the first 300Hz gaming laptops we saw and we were blown away. A 300Hz refresh rate might sound ridiculously unnecessary, especially on a gaming laptop, but it really makes a world of difference for competitive online games like CS:GO and Rainbow Six: Siege. There’s nothing like moving your gaming mouse and watching every frame of the resulting action being rendered as completely crisp and individual frames. When you’re lining up a perfect headshot, a 300Hz display also comes in handy for completely removing any potential motion blur on your crosshairs.

To keep up with such a high refresh rate display, the Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX701 is an amazingly capable machine thanks to its Intel Core i7-9750H processor and Nvidia RTX 2080 graphics. And yet surprisingly slim machine that measures three-fourths of an inch thick. It’s even light enough at 5.73 pounds to lug around as an everyday machine and you power it with a simple USB-C adapter while doing non-gaming related tasks.

8. Origin EVO16-S

Most Customizable Gaming Laptop

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There are 15- and 17-inch laptops, but have you ever seen a 16-inch laptop? Origin has beaten Apple to the punch and introduced the world’s first 16-inch laptop in the Origin EVO16-S (read our review). The slightly larger display makes a lot of sense as you get more screen real-estate without any noticeable added bulk.

The Origin EVO16-S is also notable for being one of the world’s most customizable gaming laptops. Our review configuration is built out as a high-end gaming machine, but if you want more memory, bigger storage, better graphics, all the add-on options are only a click away. You could even submit custom artwork to have it printed or laser etched onto the screen lid to make this gaming laptop your own.

9. Alienware m15 R2

Sleek and Powerful

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If you like the styling of the Alienware Area-51m, but wanted in a thinner and almost equally powerful package, the Alienware m15 R2 is what you should get. This machine is an absolute stunner when it comes to performance thanks to its Intel Core i7 processor and Nvidia RTX 2070 graphics. Beyond the new styling and one generation fresher processor, this latest Alienware gaming laptop features a much better cooling system while squashing some old software bugs.

The Alienware m15, and its bigger Alienware m17 sibling, are also two of the few gaming laptops that feature an OLED screen and it’s only a $150 upgrade, so I’d highly recommend taking it. Picking the OLED display upgrade also means bumping up the screen resolution to 4K, but this system should have no problem keeping up.

10. HP Omen X 2S

Best Dual-Screen Gaming Laptop

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Dual-screen laptops are a burgeoning class of notebooks and the HP Omen X 2S (read our review) is one of the first gaming laptops to tackle this new concept. Just under its 15-inch Full HD display, there’s a second 6-inch screen sitting above the keyboard. It might sound gimmicky, but this second screen is helpful for chatting with friends, controlling your music, or watching Twitch streams while you game.

Aside from the second display, the HP Omen X 2S is a fully loaded gaming laptop that features a top-shelf Intel Core i9 processor and Nvidia RTX 2080 graphics chip. This top-notch system goes for almost $2,100, but you’ll also find lower-end SKUs that go for closer to $1,800.

What’s next for gaming laptops

The new biggest component you’ll want in your next gaming laptop is AMD’s new Ryzen 4th Generation mobile processors, which finally bring the company’s 7nm Zen 2 architecture to mobile platforms. These new CPUs bring unprecedented 8-cores and 16-threads chips to notebooks for a boatload of more processing power.

At CES 2020, just about every laptop of note featured AMD’s new Ryzen 4th Generation processors. Our favorite machine from the show was easily the Asus ROG ROG Zephyrus G14 that combined a Ryzen 4th Gen CPU with the power of Nvidia RTX 2060. It looks like the gaming laptop that’ll finally give the Razer Blade Stealth some real competition in not only portable gaming power but also longevity—the G14 is said to have up to 10 hours of battery life.

What to look for in a Gaming Laptop

The best gaming laptops have come a long way in relatively little time. Power, portability, and price have all seen dramatic improvements in just the last 5 years, and somehow gaming laptops are getting thinner and adding even more features.

The newest gaming laptops are cramming RTX 2080 graphics cards inside of them. These ray-tracing capable cards from Nvidia are among our picks for the best graphics cards, at least the desktop versions. Fitting them inside of a gaming laptop, like the Asus ROG Zephyrus S, is no easy feat. Nvidia’s Max-Q tech makes it possible to run a powerhouse GPU inside a thin laptop frame without the whole thing becoming boiling hot.

Choosing the latest processor isn’t quite as necessary, but it’s a nice to have. When shopping for a gaming laptop be sure the Intel processor has a model number of Intel Core ix-9xxxH (i.e. Intel Core i7-9750H or Intel Core i9-9900k), this denotes that it’s one of Team Blue’s latest Coffee Lake H-series processors. If the gaming laptop you’re eying has an AMD processor, ensure it’s model number has a three at the start of it—such as AMD Ryzen 7 3750H—as it lets you know its one of AMD’s latest 3rd Generation processors.

The portability is a huge advantage, as is a ready-to-go display, often equipped with variable refresh rate technology or better-than-HD resolutions. The disadvantage is most gaming laptops are only as portable as the nearest electrical outlet. All that power comes at a price, after all, and while there are a few exceptions, the general rule of gaming laptops is battery life stinks.

Asus-ROG-Mothership-720x405 Take Your PC Gaming on the Road With These Powerful Gaming Laptops | IGN

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Another big disadvantage a gaming laptop has compared to a gaming desktop is price. It costs quite a lot more to stuff all those components (i.e. the built-in trackpad, keyboard, speakers, and display) into an easy-to-carry shell. When considering a gaming laptop over a gaming desktop, ask yourself, is the premium in price worth it over and would it be cheaper to buy these all separately?

From our experience, it’s always better to stick with the least amount of memory and storage on checkout, and then upgrading it yourself with higher capacity components that are much cheaper to buy on their own. A 1TB SSD might sound tempting as it’ll help get your system booted in an instant and store all your games, but a high-end upgrade like that can often cost half or a quarter as much as the whole machine.

However, upgrading leads directly to another consideration, how easy it to swap out components. Whereas it’s usually a snap to add or replace a component in your desktop rig, upgrading anything in your gaming laptop, other than RAM, will often mean having to buy a whole new computer.

Acer_Predator_Helios_700-1-720x540 Take Your PC Gaming on the Road With These Powerful Gaming Laptops | IGN

One thing a powerful gaming laptop has over a comparably equipped desktop is a certain “wow” factor. Since it’s portable, it’s a whole lot easier to show it off. Manufacturers realize how important looking cool is, so gaming laptops are some of the coolest and most aggressively styled computers around. They borrow lines from modern supercars and high-tech jet fighters, and many have flashy LED lights to let everyone around you know how serious you are.

Some gaming laptops like the Asus ROG Mothership and Acer Predator 900 shake up the traditional clamshell laptop formula by introducing innovative 2-in-1 laptop designs. But these gimmick models are rarely worth the extra premium they demand.

For more helpful guides, be sure to check out our guide to the best gaming chairs, gaming desks, and the best gaming headsets.

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Kevin Lee is IGN’s Hardware and Roundups Editor. Follow him on Twitter @baggingspam
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