Update: More concerned with power and festive lights than portability? Read on to number 9 to find out why the Alienware 15 R3 is one of the best gaming laptops around despite its excessive weight!
Gaming desktops aren’t mobile, and “normal” laptops don’t have the horsepower to run the best PC games at 60 frames per second with the graphics settings cranked up. Luckily, the best gaming laptops mitigate these concerns by offering top-notch performance along with lasting battery life and designs suited for on-the-go action.
Today the breadth of options in the gaming laptop space is unprecedented. Thanks to Nvidia’s Max Q technology, these machines are getting thinner and lighter without compromising on efficiency. The Asus ROG Zephyrus, for example, measures in at under an inch thick and still somehow manages to be 60% more powerful than a PS4 Pro, an impressive feat for a laptop.
Whether you need a gaming laptop that runs everything in 4K or just anything you can use to run Prey at a stable frame rate, we’ve gathered the top gaming laptops in every category to help you determine your next big purchase. In an order based on our review ratings and awards, these are the best gaming laptops of 2017.
For many gamers, Ultrabook is a four-letter word, but it doesn't have to be. The first time you get your hands on a Razer Blade, you'll be looking at a battery life of 4 hours and 8 minutes during everyday productivity tasks (or 7 hours and 29 minutes of non-stop video). While you could argue it does skimp as far as graphics are concerned, with the help of a Razer Core external GPU enclosure, you can strap an Nvidia GTX 1080 Ti to this thing down the road if you want. Plus, with the newly added 4K screen option, you may actually need it.
Read the full review: Razer Blade
The Asus Strix GL502 may not boast the most innovative design, swapping out the usual black and red color scheme for one that makes it feel like Halloween year-round. But, it's undoubtedly one of the best when it comes to gaming in 1080p. In fact, we were able to crank the settings all the way up in Overwatch without taking a hit below 60fps. The battery life is janky, sure, but the screen, performance and onboard sound system more than make up for it.
Read the full review: Asus ROG Strix GL502
Unlike most laptops its size, the Alienware 13 R3 bears a hinge-forward design. By moving the heatsinks usually located beneath the keyboard to a distinct bulge that projects outward behind the screen, it allows for a thinner, 0.81-inch (0.22cm) chassis. Unfortunately, this means you won’t find many 13-inch laptop bags that will actually suit the Alienware 13 R3; rather you’ll likely have to opt for a 15-inch carrier. The real draw, however, isn’t the Alienware 13 R3’s protruding appendage or even its impressive quad-core, H-class CPU. While you may be tempted by the inclusion of a full-size Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060, it’s the OLED touch display that caught our attention. The flavorful color gamut puts practically every other laptop on the market to shame.
Read the full review: Alienware 13 R3
At long last, Razer has introduced a laptop that can not only replace your desktop, but do so without packing on more weight than most large laptops. It’s expensive, yes – it certainly won’t save you money when compared to building your own PC. On the other hand, it measures in at only 0.88-inches thick with an onboard 17-inch, 4K multi-touch display and a built-in Wi-Fi card. If that’s not enough to sell you on it already, the Razer Blade Pro also introduces the company’s Ultra-Low-Profile Mechanical switches to a notebook for the first time ever. These keys bear an appearance similar to your run-of-the-mill chiclet keyboards, but press down on them yourself and you’ll feel (and hear) the authentic click of a mechanical keyswitch. It’s an experience bettered only by its unusual trackpad placement, which feels so natural for gaming that you’ll wonder why it wasn’t there to begin with.
Read the full review: Razer Blade Pro
Donning a 7th-generation Intel Core i7 processor, Nvidia Pascal-series GPU and a screen resolution that soars above 1080p, this laptop is more affordable than a comparably specced Razer Blade or Alienware 13 R3. At the same time, it neglects to compromise in terms of portability and performance. This is a laptop, for instance, that weighs a mere 4.17 pounds (1.89kg) and measures in at 0.78 inches thin, undeniably a feat for a gaming machine. Factor in the 3 hour and 38 minute PCMark 8 battery test and 190-degree hinge, and it’s easy to see why the Gigabyte Aero 14 made the cut.
Read the full review: Gigabyte Aero 14
In a world full of overpriced gaming laptops with internals that overcompensate for their underqualified screen resolutions and short-lived batteries, the Dell Inspiron 15 Gaming is a breath of fresh air. Ditching the Alienware moniker for something a little more mainstream, Dell has crafted yet another gaming PC masked as a productivity machine. Following in the footsteps of the Dell XPS Tower Special Edition, the Inspiron 15 is a gaming computer you wouldn’t be embarrassed to use in public. From the outside looking in, the Dell Inspiron 15 Gaming is a class act. Better yet, it’s relatively powerful, long-lasting and, come to think of it, pretty damn affordable too.
Read the full review: Dell Inspiron 15 Gaming
Like the GameCube of laptops, the HP Omen 17 has the build quality of a children’s toy. However, when you see what it can do, you’ll wonder why it didn’t cost more. At 7 pounds, you’ll have to forgive the weight of the HP Omen 17 if you want to benefit from its 17-inch Quad-HD display. Of course, although the GTX 1070 is more of a 1440p performer than a 4K one, you can still expect a consistent 30 fps in games like The Division at the highest graphical settings. Overall, the HP Omen 17 is HP’s Gigabyte P57X equivalent, but with Bang & Olufsen speakers that might tip you over the edge.
Read the full review: HP Omen 17
In case you don’t need the intense graphics hardware of the MSI Omen 17, but you still want the massive, 17-inch display, the MSI GP72VRX is exactly the gaming laptop for you. This notebook comes tricked out in only one configuration, but it’s a very good one meant for mid-range gaming and especially VR support. Fans of subtly will appreciate the minimalism of the GP72VRX. While it does bear the trademark MSI dragon shield branding and an RGB keyboard, everything else is kept relatively low-profile. The 120Hz refresh rate on its 4K display would be a handy additive but alas, the GTX 1060 isn’t quite up to snuff.
Read the full review: MSI GP72VRX Leopard Pro
When it comes to gaming laptops, Alienware is the name brand that everyone recognizes, and the Alienware 15 R3 makes it not so hard to see why. This hardy mobile rig is all about performance and cosmetic appeal, bedecked from head to toe in RGB lighting. Unusually, everything from the logo opposite of the display to the trackpad can be customized with your own preferred arrangement of color choices. But with this level of allure comes a weight of 7.69 pounds (3.49kg) that could break your scale. Still, the Alienware 15 R3 more than makes up for this with a full array of ports, stellar thermal performance and a 120Hz G-Sync screen that will make you blush.
Read the full review: Alienware 15 R3
Although its gaudy looks work against Gigabyte’s “For Work/For Game” marketing strategy of the Aero 15, being available in such vibrant colors as bright orange and lime green, the laptop still pulls its weight as a competent rival to the Origin EVO15-S and the Razer Blade. The full, per-key backlighting of the RGB keyboard is a rare feat not to mention the option of a 4K screen is a nice touch even if the Gigabyte Aero 15 is locked to a 1080p-privy Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060. While its marketing would suggest it’s targeting business users (who, mind you, are already clinging to their MacBooks and ThinkPads), the Gigabyte is more suited for teens, what with its loud appearance. Still, even they might be offended by the ill-fated glass trackpad.
Read the full review: Gigabyte Aero 15
- Only interested in light gaming? Try a Surface Book on for size
Gabe Carey has also contributed to this article
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