Best Gaming Laptop 2017: 8 of the best Nvidia gaming notebooks

What’s the best gaming laptop for you? We have a selection of our favourites from £869 to beyond £2000 from Alienware, Gigabyte, Asus and more.

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.

Score

Key features:

  • Quad-core Intel Core i5-7500HQ (i7 available)
  • 4GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 (1050 Ti available)
  • 15.6-inch IPS Full HD display
  • Weight: 2.5kg
  • 128GB SSD + 1TB HDD
  • Tested battery life: Around 5 hours
  • Review price: £869

The best GTX 1050 laptop

Asus’ latest mid-range gaming machine is a triumph, managing to sneak in just ahead of Dell (see below) in the sub-£1000 stakes. It doesn’t beat the Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming in every respect; it doesn’t have as long a battery life, for example, but it matches it almost everywhere else.

The GTX 1050 graphics card is good enough for eSports gaming and AAA gaming in Full HD resolutions at Medium settings, and the processor is fast enough to handle video rendering and loads of browser tabs.

It looks good, too. With an RGB-backlit keyboard and attractive orange highlights, there’s no mistaking the fact that this machine is pitched at gamers, not everyday users. There are more expensive models available, but of the range we reckon this is one of the best value options. If you want to pay more, consider the higher-spec Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming with its 4K , IPS panel.

Read the full Asus ROG STRIX GL553 review

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Key feayires:

  • Quad-core Intel Core i7-7700HQ
  • 4GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti
  • 15.6-inch Full HD display (4K available)
  • Weight: 2.65kg
  • Tested battery life: Around 7 hours
  • Review price: £1100
  • GTX 1050/Core i5 model available for £900

Of the GTX 1050 or 1050 Ti-powered laptops, this is the best-built we’ve seen so far, and it has the best battery life. It stands out in these important areas, and puts in decent gaming performances as well. It’ll manage the latest AAA games at Full HD at Medium settings, and older titles at High. Playing eSports games such as Overwatch? It won’t even break a sweat.

However, continuing an unfortunate trend for cheaper gaming laptops, this laptop has quite a poor screen. The higher-end 4K model is substantially better, and is worth a look if you’re willing to pay more.


Read the full Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming review

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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

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.

It’s admittedly 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.

Read the full Dell XPS 15 9560 review

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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

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.

Its 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.

Read the full Asus ROG Strix GL702VM review

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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

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.

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.

Read the full Gigabyte Aero 14 review

Alienware 13

6 of 7

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Key features:

  • Quad-core Intel Core i7-7700HQ processor
  • 6GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060
  • 13.3-inch 2560×1440 OLED display
  • Up to 1TB SSD
  • Weight: 2.6kg
  • Tested battery life: Around 5 hours
  • Review price: £1850

The best 13-inch gaming laptop

The Alienware 13 is a special laptop for a number of reasons. The model on test here is unique in being the only laptop we’ve tested with an OLED display. It’s a brilliant screen, and there’s lots of other things to like.

Performance is excellent; the quad-core Intel Core i7-7700HQ is a great chip not only for gaming, but for video editing as well, while the GTX 1060 graphics hardware is more than good enough for the latest games at High settings in Full HD. Round that off with a bit of old-school design charm and an excellent keyboard, and you have a very attractive machine.

It’s expensive, even compared to its rivals. This is partly down to Dell’s insistence you upgrade to the OLED screen if you want a GTX 1060. If you want a standard display you have to downgrade to a GTX 1050 Ti, which doesn’t really represent great value. The Alienware 13 is pretty heavy as well, at 2.6kg

Read the full Alienware 13 review

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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

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.

Bear in mind, though: it isn’t classically beautiful and battery life is atrocious

Read the full Scan 3XS LG17 Carbon Extreme review