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Best Gaming Laptop 2017: 5 powerful Nvidia gaming notebooks

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Best gaming laptops to buy in 2017: In this round-up, we'll take you through the best notebooks for gaming and provide up-to-date advice on how to choose a gaming laptop that meets your budget and performance requirements.

Video: How to choose a laptop in 2017

Gaming Laptop Buying Guide – What should you look for?

Gaming laptops are special because of the performance they manage to pack in a small body. You not only have to consider how they perform now, but ensure they’re future-proofed for at least a couple of years. Unlike desktop PCs you can’t easily or cheaply upgrade the specification of a gaming laptop. Paying for that extra performance now is often sensible in the long term.

Right now, Nvidia graphics cards are found on the overwhelming majority of new gaming laptops. You’ll generally find laptop specific parts on machines launched in 2014 and 2015 (such as 950M, 960M etc), but from this year all Nvidia laptops get full desktop-level GPUs. This is because the company’s 'Pascal' architecture is so efficient it can squeeze into the same space as an old-style laptop GPU without needing extra cooling. Look out for 10-series cards such as the GTX 1050, GTX 1060, 1070 and 1080.

Related: Best graphics cards

The choice of CPU is also important. All the laptops on this list come equipped with quad-core Intel Core i5 or i7 processors with 'HQ' or 'HK' at the end of their model names, but you'll find some cheaper models on the market that only have a 'U' suffix. This denotes a much lower-power, dual-core processor that can prove to be a huge bottleneck in games if you have a high-end graphics card.

All gaming laptops come with at least 8GB of RAM and, right now, that's a very happy medium between a paltry 4GB and 16GB, which is overkill for many games. Don't confuse RAM for VRAM used by your graphics card: Lower-end models get 2GB, while the more expensive models will get 4GB, 6GB and 8GB of VRAM for better performance.

The table below shows the most common laptop graphics chips found in 2015, 2016 and 2017 gaming laptops. We've lined them up in order of year, then in order of the sort of performance you can expect from the biggest games of 2016 and 2017 (think Ghost Recon and Watch Dogs 2).

Laptop years Laptop graphics Max Memory 2017 AAA game performance
2014/2015 Nvidia GTX 940M/MX 4GB 720p, low

Nvidia GTX 950M 4GB 720p, medium; Full HD, low

Nvidia GTX 960M 4GB Full HD, low/medium

Nvidia GTX 970M 6GB Full HD, medium

Nvidia GTX 980M 8GB Full HD, medium/high

Nvidia GTX 980 8GB Full HD, high; 1440p, medium
2016/2017 Nvidia GTX 1050 2GB Full HD, low/medium

Nvidia GTX 1050 Ti 4GB Full HD, medium

AMD RX 470 8GB Full HD, high

Nvidia GTX 1060 6GB Full HD, high

Nvidia GTX 1070 8GB Full HD, 1440p, high

Nvidia GTX 1080 8GB Full HD, 1440p, high; 4K medium/high

Related: Intel Core i processors explained

Meet our experts

Mike Jennings: Mike has been reviewing hardware for almost a decade and was the go-to guy for all-things gaming at PC Pro magazine. Mike's reviewed all the biggest (literally) gaming laptops of the last few years and is good at spotting a bargain.

Michael Passingham: Michael is TrustedReviews' Computing Editor. Overseeing the website's laptop and gaming hardware coverage, Michael spends a lot of his spare time downloading mods for Cities Skylines and waiting to respawn in Battlefield 1.

Dell XPS 15
Key features:
  • 15.6-inch 1920 x 1080 pixel display
  • Quad-core Intel Core i7-7700HQ
  • 16GB RAM, 256GB PCI-E SSD
  • 4GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050
  • Weight: 2kg
  • Tested Battery Life: Around 9 hours
  • Review price: £1,499

The best premium laptop

Why buy? The Dell XPS 15 is arguably the best all-round laptop you can buy right now, with the finest build quality, screen and battery life you’ll find on a Windows laptop. Weighing in at under 2kg, it’s also very baggable, which is important if you’ll be using the device for work too.

In terms of gaming performance, the GTX 1050 GPU is a solid choice for Full HD gaming at Medium settings, or higher if you’re just playing eSports games. Although not a laptop primarily built for gaming, as a work machine that can also handle a few games, it’s brilliant.

Why not? It’s more expensive than other cheap GTX 1050 laptops, so it is possible to spend substantially less if you’re prepared to sacrifice build, battery and screen quality.

Michael says: “The Dell XPS 15 is the best Windows laptop, but for gamers there are cheaper options. The Dell Inspiron 15 Gaming and HP Omen 15 are both powered by the GTX 1050, and come in at under £1,000. We’re keenly waiting for review units of both, at which point we’ll hopefully be able to add them to this list.”
Asus ROG Strix GL702VM 4
Key features:
  • 17.3-inch 1920 x 1080 G-Sync IPS screen
  • Quad-core Intel Core i5-6300HQ
  • 6GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060
  • 128GB SSD + 1TB hard disk, 8GB DDR4 memory
  • Weight: 2.7kg
  • Tested battery life: Around 4 hours
  • Review price: £1200

The best mid-range big gaming laptop

Why buy? This is probably the best-value laptop on this list, with powerful GTX 1060 graphics suitable for Full HD gaming on High settings, and a quad-core processor that won’t throttle gaming performance. Covering all the basics for a gaming laptop – and if you don’t mind a 2.7kg, 17.3-inch beast – this is a great buy.

Why not? The aforementioned weight will be an issue if you’re going to carry the laptop around, and the 128GB SSD is only sufficient to install one or two game. The 1TB hard disk is capable of holding more, but it’s slower and will very slightly affect performance and loading times.

Mike says: “This is a classic gaming laptop, for good and for bad. Its low price makes it exceptionally compelling, but if you want better performance in a thinner and lighter chassis then consider the Gigabyte Aero 14.”
Gigabyte Aero 14 2
Key features:
  • 14-inch 2560 x 1440 pixel IPS screen
  • Quad-core Intel Core i7-6700HQ processor
  • 6GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060
  • 512GB M.2 SSD, 16GB DDR4 memory
  • Weight: 1.89kg
  • Tested battery life: Around 8 hours
  • Review price: £1700

The best thin and light gaming laptop

Why buy? Gigabyte’s Aero 14 is our new favourite thin and light gaming laptop, which is something of a surprise given the strength of the competition. It might be more expensive than similarly specified laptops, but its compact size combined with its huge battery makes it a highly desirable machine.

The QHD screen is excellent, and the GTX 1060 GPU provides superb Full HD and QHD gaming performance. The high-end processor, super-fast, high-capacity SSD and great battery life seal the deal.

Why not?
It’s more expensive than laptops with a similar graphical spec, such as the Asus ROG GL702VM, but if you can afford it, it’s worth it.

Michael says: "This is a fantastic thin and light gaming laptop, and easily the best we’ve seen. It goes toe-to-toe with the Razer Blade in terms of specification and price, but I’d still pick the Gigabyte."
XMG P507 8

4 / 5

Our Score:

7

XMG P507

Read full XMG P507 review
Key features:
  • 15.6-inch 1920 x 1080-pixel G-Sync screen
  • Quad-core Intel Core i7-6700HQ processor
  • 8GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070
  • 256GB M.2 SSD, 1TB SSD, 16GB DDR4 memory
  • Tested battery life: Around 4 hours
  • Review price: £1951

The best GTX 1070 laptop

Why buy? It’s big and chunky, but the P507 is decent value for the specification. The GTX 1070 is a great GPU and will handle the latest games in Full HD and QHD without issues. The SSD is of a reasonable size, and it’s packed with connectors to hook up to all your peripherals.

Why not?
We wish the screen was of a higher resolution to make the most of the GTX 1070. Plus, this laptop isn’t particularly pretty.

Mike says
: "XMG quietly makes some decent-value laptops, if you’re prepared to step away from the big brands. This is a well-balanced specification for a decent price."
Scan 3XS LG17 Carbon Extreme
Key features:
  • 17.3-inch 3840 x 2160 G-Sync screen
  • 4GHz Intel Core i7-6700K processor
  • 8GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080
  • 256GB M.2 SSD + 2TB hard disk
  • Weight: 4.3kg
  • Tested battery life: Around 2 hours
  • Review price: £2550

The best desktop replacement laptop

Why buy? This 4.3kg beast has everything you need to replace your desktop. With a proper desktop processor, top-end GTX 1080 GPU and huge 4K, G-Sync screen, it ticks all the boxes for a desktop replacement.

It’s highly configurable, too, with Scan’s 3XS website allowing for numerous tweaks to get the machine set up exactly how you’d like it.

Why not? It isn’t classically beautiful and battery life is atrocious.

Michael says: "Buying a desktop replacement certainly isn’t for everybody, but if you want to take your laptop on the road occasionally and like the versatility, then the Carbon Extreme is a great choice."

David Hollinshead

January 26, 2016, 4:01 pm

Check out the EVGA SC17 Gaming Laptop. Sweet 4K 17" laptop. First one I think.

Mark Stanbrook

March 27, 2016, 9:43 pm

I have a GT80 2QE SLi and it struggles to run games at 1080p that my desktop (R390X X-Fire) can run at 4k with ease. The benchmark figures seem good but actually 1080p basic mode in Unigine Heaven is really really basic. DX9 and no bells and whistles. The real problems with the bottlenecks in laptops only become apparent in real gaming situations. Take a visually challenging encounter in FFXIV for example and my laptop's framerate will totally tank intermittently with anything more than really low settings. Continuous 30fps is better than 100fps with jitters of 5fps here and there. There really needs to be a benchmark for 'how much **** can you suddenly throw at it before it ****s its pants'.

Also G-Sync or Freesync doesn't make a game smooth per se. It eliminates frame-tearing but does nothing for frame-rate which is far more important.

Shane

December 6, 2016, 6:33 am

Great list produced guys. Here I found best configuration laptops for gaming.

Optimaximal

December 6, 2016, 4:58 pm

If you're in the market for the XPS 15 (as I am), wait until CES next year - Dell are supposed to be bringing a revamped version to market with Kaby Lake and (possibly) Nvidia 10xx series graphics.

Christian

December 7, 2016, 4:04 pm

No Alienware, MSI or Razer?

elixer8062

January 7, 2017, 7:55 pm

Agreed. Any list without them is kinda meaningless.

I mean an XPS 15 and no MSIs or Razers? Really?

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