Gaming laptops aren’t the expensive, cumbersome beasts they once were. These days there are plenty of options that don’t break the bank, or your back when carrying them around. But which is the best gaming laptop for you? We’ve tested all the models we could find to offer you a concrete list.
best overall gaming laptop
Our overall pick for best gaming laptop goes to the Gigabyte Aero 14. It's a surprisingly powerful beast of a thin and light gaming laptop. Yet, for its diminutive (for a gaming laptop) size, it has a surprisingly big battery. The QHD screen is excellent and the GTX 1060 provides enough gaming grunt,
The Gigabyte Aero 15, our previous winner for best overall gaming laptop, is also worthy of your consideration, as is the Acer Predator Helios 500.
A wave of impressive new gaming notebooks were shown off at Computex in Taipei. Highlights include the mid-range Asus ROG Strix Scar 2 and affordable Gigabyte Sabre and MSI G63. The Acer Predator Triton 900, meanwhile, got our tongues wagging at IFA 2018, but we don’t know when this odd-looking concept will materialise on shelves.
There’s likely to be even more powerful gaming laptops released in the near-future too with the updated 8th Gen Intel Whiskey Lake CPUs heading to portable machines very soon, future portable gaming machines will soon be even better equipped to handle the vigour of your Steam library.
And if rumours are to be believed, we’ll also see a Mobile variant of NVIDIA’s upcoming RTX 2080 graphics card heading to future laptops. Since there’s no confirmation from NVIDIA just yet about this, there aren’t any release date or price details just yet, but we’ll be sure to keep you updated once there’s confirmation.
If you simply can’t wait, though, we’ve compiled a list of the current best gaming laptops below.
Related: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Mobile GPU
How we test laptops
We put every gaming laptop we test through a repeatable series of synthetic benchmarks, before seeing how they perform with real-life gaming on the biggest triple-A games. We also run synthetic battery tests in Powermark, looping 10 minutes of web browsing and five minutes of video to check battery life, heat and noise.
Razer Blade 15
- 144Hz display is perfect for competitive gamers
- Beautiful design
- Solid 1080p gaming performance
- Light enough to double as a regular laptop
- 1080p version not great for creatives
- Trackpad isn’t the best around
Laptops from Razer’s Blade 15 range boast high performance, with games loading near-instantly. The 1080p 144Hz version will be of particular interest to those who want to be able to get the edge on opponents in multiplayer sessions – response times are your friend and you definitely get a boost here thanks to the faster refresh rate.
The Razer Blade 15 looks good on the outside too – as well with the attendant boy racer lights ‘neath the keys, the metal cases are sturdy super-slim. Razer’s somehow crammed a webcam in there while keeping the bezel more or less invisible.
It’s not perfect. It can get uncomfortably hot after long stretches of play, but in terms of performance and design, the Razer Blade 15 is easily the best gaming laptop in our opinion.
Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming
- Superb processing performance
- Capable Full HD gaming machine
- Great battery life
- Poor screen
Of the GTX 1050 or 1050 Ti-powered laptops, the Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming 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.
Gigabyte Aero 15
- Slim and light
- GeForce 1070 graphics
- Silent and effective fans
- No garish design features
- Ropey touchpad
- Awkward webcam
- Occasional stammer
If you’re you’re after a super lightweight gaming laptop that doesn’t scrimp on specs then the Gigabyte Aero 15 is the notebook for you.
Despite weighing a modest 2.1kg the Gigabyte Aero 15 features an Intel 8th Gen CPU and powerhouse GeForce 1070 GPU. The end result is a laptop that’s more than powerful enough for 1080p gaming but light enough to comfortably carry while out and about.
The only downside is that it’s keyboard and trackpad aren’t the best around, so you may want to invest in a proper gaming mouse when you pick up a Gigabyte Aero 15.
Acer Predator Helios 500
- Effortless overclocking
- Stays reassuringly cool
- 144Hz screen
- Huge and heavy
- Poor battery life
The Acer Predator Helios 500 is literally heavy duty stuff – you get excellent overall performance and, if your budget can stretch to accommodate, there’s a 4K option, alongside the Full HD model. In our tests Rise of the Tomb Raider looked particularly stunning.
At 4kg though, it weighs a ton. We weren’t lying when we said ‘heavy duty’. This isn’t something that you’re going to take out the house that much, thanks also to the sub-average battery performance.
Easy overclocking will appeal to the less techy gamers out there who want to push the performance of their machines, but don’t want to get tied up with tinkering.
Gigabyte Aorus X5
- Customisable keyboard
- Speedy drives
- Crisp, colourful visuals
- Lack of 4K support
- Not the most sturdy design
If you’re on the market for a feature-packed gaming laptop that’ll blitz through 1080p gaming, then you’ll want to consider the Aorus X5.
The 15.6-inch notebook features an overclocked Core i7 8850H chipset, GTX 1070 graphics and 16GB of DDR4 memory. With the CPU running at 2.6GHz standard or 4.3GHz overclocked the specs mean the laptop will play pretty much any modern triple-A title with their graphics on high, or in some cases, ultra settings with zero pause.
It’s RGB keyboard will also be a huge hit with gamers that like to map game’s control schemes or celebrate success with a flashy light show.
The only downside is its lack of 4K resolution or GTX 1080 GPU options, which stop it being the ultimate performance laptop. If you want either of these you’ll need to upgrade to one of the X5’s bigger siblings or a different manufacturer entirely.
Asus ROG G703
- Fantastic gaming performance
- Overclocked, fast processor
- Generous memory and storage
- Exceptional build quality
- Bright, accurate 144Hz G-Sync screen
- Heavy, bulky design
- Very high price
If you’re after a large, no-compromise gaming laptop, then the Asus ROG G703 is a fantastic choice.
The G703 is the latest premier device in Asus’ gaming line. It unashamedly puts graphical grunt over portability and daintiness to great effect.
Highlights include a stellar full-size keyboard that’s a cut above most competitors, plus a wealth of ports and surprisingly quiet cooling. This, plus the G703’s above-average 144Hz, G-Sync screen, powerful performance and generous storage capacity, mean you’ll struggle to find a better balanced, more powerful gaming laptop than the G703.
The only downside is that, weighing in at a hefty 4.8kg, the G703 is pretty much a laptop in name only. With pricing starting at over £3000 it’s also seriously expensive. But, as ever, you get what you pay for.
Acer Predator 17
- Scythes through any game at 1080p
- Impressive keyboard and trackpad
- Good screen and speakers
- Surprisingly good battery life
- Rivals offer slightly better screen and sound
- Heavy and bulky build
- Mediocre SSD
- Divisive design
The Acer Predator 17 isn’t subtle, even by gaming laptop standards. The over-the-top red design flourishes and RGB lighting make it one of the most ostentatious gaming notebooks we’ve reviewed since the outright ridiculous MSI Dominator Dragon Edition many moons ago. Its back-breaking 3.5kg weight also means it’s a laptop in name only. But if you’re after a solid workhorse gaming laptop with all the trimmings for 1080p gaming, you won’t find much better.
Featuring a 1080p G-Sync screen and wealth of different configuration options that let you pair an Intel Core i7 with an Nvidia GTX 1060, 1070 or 1080, the mid- and top-specced versions are both more than powerful enough to run triple-A games with their graphics maxed. This, plus an excellent RGB keyboard and a solid set of speakers, make it a great choice for laptop gamers who don’t have the extra cash, or space, to grab a dedicated monitor or sound system.
Asus ROG STRIX GL553
- Good performance
- Attractive design
- Quality screen
- Mediocre battery life
- A little noisy
- So-so build quality
Asus mid-range ROG STRIX GL53 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.
- OLED screen is beautiful
- Solid 1080p performance with GTX 1060
- Great keyboard
- VR ready
- Chunky chassis
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.
Buy now: Alienware 13 for £1,148.99 from Dell
Those are our top picks of the best laptops. If you want to know more about what to look out for when buying a laptop then read on.
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.
Related: Best laptop deals