When it comes to gaming laptops there’s a lot to choose from that can give you what you need to enjoy gaming to its fullest. And really that’s what it all comes down to when you’re considering a gaming laptop. Will you enjoy playing games on a portable PC? Do you want something powerful enough to play games at the highest settings? These are great questions and whatever you decide the answer is, we’ve got you covered on some excellent gaming laptops that will deliver on the experience.
With the holidays coming up, gaming laptops can make really great gifts and if you’re getting ready to shop for that special person in your life, or maybe just some family or friends (or even yourself!) then this list will help you narrow down your choices. We’ve put together a comprehensive guide on the best gaming laptops out there. While trying to ensure that gamers of every budget have something they can consider. With all of that said, you can find our picks below along with some honorable mentions.
Best Budget Gaming Laptop: Acer Nitro 5 AN515
A price that showcases no gamer should be left behind
Just hearing the words “budget gaming laptop” can make some people’s hairs stand up on end. But I can assure you that a budget gaming laptop is nothing to scoff at. In fact they can be quite nice. It’s really all just about managing expectations and thinking about what you really want out of a gaming laptop experience. Or maybe you just don’t have the means to pick up something pricey and extravagant, filled to the brim with powerful components and extra features.
That’s totally fine! And let me tell you, gaming on a budget gaming laptop is not a bad experience. With that in mind, our pick for the best budget gaming laptop is the Acer Nitro 5 (specifically the AN515-58-57Y8 model). I was lucky enough to test this for a bit to see how things shape up and it reminds me of a much more pleasant experience of my early gaming days.
Back when I was just a wee lad dipping a toe in the waters of PC gaming, I had a pretty inexpensive HP laptop. It was capable of playing games like World of Warcraft and the occasional random title I might pick up on Steam. But by no means could I max out the graphics. And yet, I enjoyed gaming on it all the same. Because at the end of the day I was doing what I enjoyed. With a laptop like the Nitro 5 things are so much better. While admittedly it costs a little bit more than I paid for my laptop in those days, it’s still within that realm of not costing a lot compared to some of the other options on this list.
It’s also much more well equipped to handle today’s demanding games. With an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 Ti GPU inside, plus an Intel Core i5-12500H CPU for most computing processes, the Nitro 5 has been more than capable for gaming at 1080P with decent frame rates. Now let’s be realistic. No, some of today’s modern games won’t look as pretty and glamorous as they would if there were some more powerful components in here. But don’t get hung up on that. Games will still look good and more importantly they’ll run smoothly.
During my testing I quite often noticed that the laptop never really ended up getting too warm to the touch. Which is partly due to Acer’s implementation of thermals here. And partly due to the fact that it isn’t housing a monster of a graphics card and processor that output a ton more heat. And with decent thermal management the Nitro 5 seemed to continuously perform well for longer periods. Granted I still would recommend giving it a break now and then. But that’s the case with any gaming laptop. And even desktops.
Don’t leave it running 24/7. That being said, thermals don’t seem to be an issue here at all. At least they weren’t for me. Thermals aside the Nitro 5 also delivers on having a suitable amount of ports. This includes ethernet should you want to jack into your home internet with a wired connection. As well as multiple USB-A ports, USB Type-C, and even HDMI 2.1 for those sweet gaming moments on a bigger screen. All-in-all this is just a really solid pick for a more affordable gaming laptop. As it’s not going to compromise on quality at this price. And for around $800 (currently $780.99), there’s little to complain about.
Honorable Mention: Gigabyte Aorus 15
For about $200 more you can get a step up to a slightly more premium budget gaming laptop. Gigabyte has been around in the game of gaming laptops for years and they make some excellent machines. And this particular model fits neatly into the budget category at $999. While not as affordable as our main pick for a budget option, it has some really solid components and a quality build. Not to mention an aesthetically pleasing design.
That extra money gets you a bump to an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4050 GPU (which also gets you access to DLSS 3 features), and a newer 13th Gen Intel CPU. You get the same amount of storage at 512GB and a 144Hz display which the Nitro 5 also has. However you do get only 8GB of RAM whereas the Nitro 5 has 16GB. When it comes down to it, both are good choices if you’re looking to get a gaming laptop but spend less money at the same time. But you will spend a significant amount less on the Nitro 5 which could leave you room to throw in a few games for whoever the laptop is a gift for.
Best Small Gaming Laptop: ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14
Small but mighty, the ROG Zephyrus G14 is a gamer on the go’s dream
You might think of a smaller gaming laptop as something you should avoid. Perhaps because the fact they’re smaller means there’s less room for powerful components. And thus you will get lower performance in your games, and overall enjoy them less. If that was ever a worry for you it’s time to put that worry to rest. Small gaming laptops can be equally as powerful as those with bigger screens. And the ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14 is our pick for the best small form factor gaming laptop.
It’s 14-inch screen makes it incredibly portable as it can fit in almost any backpack and many other types of bags. And because it only weighs around 3.6 pounds it won’t feel too heavy if you cart it around all day. It’s by no means the lightest gaming laptop in its size category. But it’s not too far off and is arguably going to offer better options for components that will result in better performance.
In the time I had to briefly check out ASUS’s ROG Zephyrus G14 it was considerably powerful for its size. I surprisingly had less issues with heat dissipation than I had expected. Another testament to ASUS’s mastery of cooling engineering when it comes to gaming laptops. You might also be hard-pressed to find many gaming laptops in the 14-inch display category that are as thin as the ROG Zephyrus G14.
And that will ultimately play well with anyone who needs a laptop that is easy to carry around. Whether it be for school, work, or both. Personally I used it when traveling back home to visit family and it was a godsend. Taking up almost no space in my travel backpack and being relatively light when moving around with it.
This particular model runs on an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4060 GPU. Though it is possible to get it with other GPUs in the 40-series. This enables the access to DLSS 3 for much better performance boosts in terms of frame rates without degrading the graphics too much. Allowing you to run games at higher settings and still getting decent frame rates and overall performance. It’s also worth mentioning that the display comes with a 165Hz display so it’s well equipped to handle high frame rates where available. Now the model with the RTX 4060 inside will run you about $1,599.99. So this is by no means a budget laptop. But it is packed with powerful specs.
For the money you also get a QHD screen with 512GB of PCIe Gen4 SSD storage and 16GB of DDR5 RAM. Compare that to the Razer Blade Blade 14 with the RTX 4060 in it and you’re spending considerably more. So ASUS is really offering a bargain here. At the end of the day if you’re looking to spend this much money you want something that will perform well and that is something the ROG Zephyrus G14 definitely does.
Honorable Mention: Razer Blade 14
This would honestly be our pick for best small gaming laptop but when you compare the price of this laptop with what ASUS offers, it’s a no-brainer. The ROG Zephyrus G14 is just too good and offers too much for less money. Ultimately it’s the better laptop. But that doesn’t mean the Razer Blade 14 is bad. On the contrary it’s quite good and when I used one for testing it was just as good as I remember a Blade laptop being.
You’ll spend a little more money with the Blade 14 as it’s set at a price of $2,399.99 for the same GPU but with the same RAM and more SSD storage capacity. You do also get that sleek matte black chassis that generally only Razer can give you. And if you’re a Razer fan already you might as well spend the extra money. It’ll still be a good gaming laptop.
Best high-end gaming laptop: Acer Predator Triton 17 X
What a gaming laptop looks like when it has the power of a god
When you think about a high-end gaming PC you probably aren’t necessarily thinking about a gaming laptop. But let me assure you if you want a high-end gaming PC that’s also a laptop, the Predator Triton 17 X from Acer is that laptop. This thing is so packed to the gills with performance specs you’ll start to wonder if there’s a game out there that will ever live up to its prowess. That is to say Acer built a gaming laptop that has absolutely zero trouble playing any game you can throw its way. Even Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty. With max settings, and with 4K resolution on a large external monitor. While getting frame rates of 60 frames per second pretty consistently.
I’ve been spending some time testing this laptop out for some of today’s most demanding games including Starfield, Diablo IV, and the Cyberpunk 2077 expansion. The short takeaway is that I was able to crank the graphics on each of these games and turning on everything imaginable. Leaving no stone unturned when it comes to visual enhancement features. And I experienced nothing more than the slightest hitch in any of those titles. Really the only time I ever noticed any sort of issue at all was after those games had been running on the laptop for most of the day.
Even then, several hours of high-activity and high-heat barely made a difference to the Triton 17 X. The one side effect of this is the laptop subsequently turns into a mini jet engine from the fans whirring at full blast. They’re so loud you’d be forgiven for thinking the laptop might just take off and break the sound barrier. I’m not kidding either. The fans are so loud you’ll need to wear headphones if you want to hear the game audio to the point where you can really enjoy it. That’s the trade-off. Those fans need to run at that capacity to ensure the system can stay cool enough to prevent performance dips.
Acer also makes it really easy to manage the cooling system. You can open up a piece of software that lets you set the fans to different modes. I would typically set it to be managed by the system automatically for general work, browsing, and gaming purposes. But if I knew I was going to go straight to gaming in a title like Cyberpunk 2077 I could swap the mode directly over to turbo and the fans would kick into high gear immediately. It’s actually a very intuitive app. And it’s the first thing I would launch every time I would boot up the laptop.
What’s really great though are the speakers and the collection of ports. While I would almost always plug the laptop into a monitor using the HDMI out, the times I did play using the laptop screen and the fans weren’t going full blast the speakers sound quite good. And honestly they need to in order to compete with the fan noise. As for ports, there’s more than enough to plug in a few devices. When using the laptop with an external monitor I could easily plug in a keyboard, mouse, and a headset if I wanted and still have another USB or USB-C port to spare.
And there’s a port for ethernet and wired headphones too if I wanted it. You could even forgo plugging in a wireless headset adapter if you have a pair that supports Bluetooth. Now the display on the laptop isn’t 4K but that’s perfectly fine. Because without 4K when playing games with higher graphics settings you’ll end up with better frame rates than I did in most cases. Overall this is a beast of a gaming laptop that oozes high-end. It has a price tag to match at $3,799.99. But if you’re looking for something high-end and had planned to spend this amount of money, I’d argue this is the laptop to go for.
Honorable Mention: ASUS ROG Strix Scar 18
The ROG Strix Scar 18 is another high-end gaming laptop that will deliver a similar experience to the Predator Triton 17 X. There are some notable differences though. The most obvious is that it comes with an 18-inch display. So you get more screen real estate to work with when playing games. But it’s also going to be heavier which will make it less portable. It comes with 32GB of RAM instead of 64GB too so there’s less memory.
But even then 32GB is still plenty for any gaming. On this particular model SSD storage capacity and the GPU are the same. Even the CPU is fairly similar as it’s a 13th Gen Core i9 chip from Intel. It features ROG’s intelligent cooling system which is quite good at maintaining lower temperatures for optimal performance. Again, you’ll spend a lot here but it’ll deliver a high-end gaming experience. Keep in mind you will spend about $100 more for this than the Acer laptop though.
Best 4K Gaming Laptop: Razer Blade 16
The dual-mode display sets this apart from other gaming laptops
Lots of laptops can do what the Razer Blade 16 can do with regard to gaming performance as a whole, but what they can’t do is deliver a two-for-one special kind of gaming experience that you get with the Blade 16’s dual-mode display. This unique feature lets you have your cake and eat it too. You want glorious, vibrant 4K games with smooth performance? The Razer Blade 16 can do that. If you want rapid-fire frame rates that are well-suited to first-person and third-person shooters, well… the Razer Blade 16 can do that too.
The beauty, so to speak, is the laptop’s dual-mode display that lets you flip between both a 1080p mode and a 4K mode. Though you can certainly leave it in one or the other all the time if you prefer it. That being said Razer baked this in for a reason. It’s intended to allow for optimal gaming sessions that are more of a fit for one resolution or the other. And it works great if you want to get the most out of your games. The one downside is that you have to reboot the PC in between swaps.
So if you start in 4K mode playing something like, let’s say Ori and the Will of the Wisps, and want to swap to 1080p to play a shooter at a frame rate of 240 frames per second, the PC requires you to restart. It’s minor but will definitely bother some gamers. Though admittedly it’s not as annoying as you might think. And the payoff is certainly worth the time it takes to make this swap.
Aside from the dual-mode display the Razer Blade 16 has that familiar sleek design that you can only get with Razer. The thin, boxy shape of the Blade line’s frame because the chassis is machined from a single piece of aluminum. It help’s Razer’s laptops keep their minimal design that just works so well. And this is only helped by the fact that the Blade 16 only weighs around 5.5 lbs. An impressive accomplishment considering you can get one with a GeForce RTX 4090 GPU inside of it.
This is also a full pound less than something like the Predator Triton 17 X. Which has the same GPU and a slightly larger 17.6-inch display. So all things considered it’s a design that you’ll be fine with carrying around when you have to. You also have a decent amount of ports with three USB-A ports and two USB Type-C ports. As well as a port for wired headphones and an HDMI out port as well. The only thing it’s really missing is a port for ethernet. But you won’t get that until you bump up to the Blade 17 that’s noticeably larger and heftier.
When it comes to performance the Blade 16 unsurprisingly shines. And you would expect it to with the kind of specs it offers. Which include the above-mentioned RTX 4090 GPU, a 13th Gen Intel Core i9-13950HX CPU, and 32GB of RAM alongside a 2TB SSD for storage. You can of course get it with different configs there. Performance will vary slightly of course from game to game. Overall it’s a solid laptop that is definitely a great pickup if you can stomach Razer’s high prices. But if you want the best for 4K gaming in a laptop, you really won’t find better than the Blade 16.
Honorable Mention: Razer Blade 17
If you don’t care about the dual-mode display or the 40-series GPU, you can save quite a lot of money by going with something like last year’s Blade 17. It comes with a larger 17-inch display and it’s still 4K resolution. You’ll get bumped down to the RTX 3070 Ti GPU but this is still an excellent graphics card for gaming. You also bump down to a 1TB SSD from 2TB and you get a 12th Gen Intel Core i9 CPU. But like we said, you save a lot. As the price goes down to $2,299.99 whereas the Blade 16 above is $4,299.99. We’d say saving $2,000 is well worth having the slightly lower performance specs.
Best Overall Gaming Laptop: ASUS ROG Strix Scar 16
The most well-rounded experience currently available
Across the board, ASUS has delivered the best overall gaming laptop that you can currently buy with the ROG Strix Scar 16. Whether it’s the NVIDIA Advanced Optimus-enabled display or the excellent keyboard that feels great to type on, this laptop gets high marks for its many wonderful features. What’s most impressive about it is the fact that you can get it with either an RTX 4080 GPU or an RTX 4090 GPU for less than other similar laptops with the same specs.
It’s using Intel’s blazing fast Core i9-13980HX CPU which is the same CPU we’ve been using in Acer’s Predator Triton 17 X. You also get 1TB of SSD storage and 32GB of RAM which could be higher, but then you’d be looking at a higher price tag as well. The bottom line is you can now pick this thing up for around $2,599.99 for the RTX 4080 model. Don’t get me wrong this is by no means inexpensive. But the price is reasonable for what you’re getting. Especially when factoring in other laptops with these specs can cost considerably more.
Ok so it has powerful components. What else makes this the best gaming laptop overall? Well for one the fans are surprisingly quiet when working at full power to keep the laptop cool. Which by the way is another standout trait. You won’t have to worry about this laptop getting uncomfortably warm in certain areas where your hands might accidentally drift over too. Speaking of the fans, the ROG Strix Scar 16 is quieter than most of the competition with a dB of 49.
We’re not saying you won’t hear it. But it’ll be less obtrusive and should make it easier to enjoy the game audio. Without having to wear a pair of headphones mind you. And for some that’s going to make a big difference. Headphones are great. And they can amplify the immersion in a game with stellar audio design. But you don’t always want to wear a pair of headphones.
The display is top notch as well. Featuring support for NVIDIA G-Sync and Dolby Vision. What’s likely going to make the most difference for you though is that the display is made of a Mini-LED panel for really, really, deep contrast and vivid colors. This is going to make your games look amazing and with a peak brightness of 1,100 nits glare should rarely be an issue. If it’s ever an issue at all. Remember how we talked about the 1TB SSD and the 32GB of RAM? Well if that’s not enough you can always swap out those components.
And that’s another reason the ROG Strix Scar 16 pushes ahead of the competition. It has fully upgradeable RAM and Storage. Now you’ll still need to know how to replace those components if you want more storage and more RAM. But not all laptops allow you to swap this stuff out. So this makes the ROG Strix Scar extremely consumer-friendly. That being said ASUS is certainly not the only manufacturer that lets you upgrade these parts. But in conjunction with all the other great features, this is the laptop to beat and for the current sale price of $2,599.99, beating it won’t be easy.
Honorable Mention: Alienware x16 R1
Alienware has come a long way in delivering powerhouse gaming laptops that look just as good as they perform. And the x16 R1 is among the newest offerings from the company. This model has comparable specs to the ROG Strix Scar and offers a good mix of desirable features and great aesthetics. That being said it’s also noticeably more expensive. At $3,099.99 for the x16 R1, the Strix Scar 16 is just the better bang for your buck. But if you prefer Alienware’s design you won’t be disappointed with either the features or performance on this laptop.