What’s the best gaming laptop?
Picking the best gaming laptop has become harder in recently.
That’s because chipmaker Nvidia confirmed the arrival of GTX 16-Series gaming laptops, which are ideally suited for solid Full HD FPS gaming.
These portables host mobile versions of the super-affordable GTX 1660 Ti and GTX 1650 graphics cards, which offer solid Full HD performances. The cheapest gaming laptop with a 16 Series GPU is available for as little as £699.
If you’re after a cheap machine primarily for playing Apex Legends, Fortnite, PUBG, and Overwatch, you’re spoiled for choice.
At the other end of the spectrum, high-performance machines are experiencing a shake-up, too. On the one hand, gaming laptops are slimming down. Models like the Razer Blade 15 (2019), the Alienware m15, and the Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX502 (pictured below) all offer great performance, but are slender and light enough to also be carried around and used as regular office laptops.
On the other hand, gaming laptops are evolving in the other direction, become even bigger and more specialised. The Acer Predator Helios 700 features a retractable keyboard and a fan system which directly cools the CPU and GPU, while the upgradeable Alienware Area 51m offers a similar advances in cooling performance. The Asus ROG Mothership takes things to the next level, by moving the heat generating components away from the deck and behind the screen.
Looking ahead to the future, gaming laptops rocking an Intel 10th Gen CPU will also arrive before Christmas 2019, giving an added boost for titles that are a particular drain on the processor such as Civilization 6 and Total War: Three Kingdoms. Intel claims its new CPU will even be able to play select games in Full HD without the need of a dedicated graphics card, so you won’t need a certified gaming laptop to play the likes of Fortnite.
If you want to play more demanding triple-A video games though, the Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX502 is the best overall gaming laptop. If money is an issue, then the HP Omen 15 is the best value gaming laptop we’ve reviewed recently.
Scroll down to see our pick of the four best gaming laptops currently available, and scroll on further for more detailed breakdowns of the full list of 10, as well as links to our full reviews:
- Best all-round gaming laptop: Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX502
- Best value gaming laptop for around £1000: HP Omen 15
- Best desktop replacement gaming laptop: Acer Predator Helios 700
- Best budget gaming laptop: Dell G3 15
Related: Best laptop 2020
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 PC Mark 8, looping 10 minutes of web browsing and five minutes of video to check battery life, heat and noise, and measure display brightness and colour space coverage with a DisplayPro colorimeter and DisplayCAL 3 software.
1. Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX502
Our favourite gaming laptop currently available
- Excellent gaming performance
- Lightweight and compact
- Clever design
- Plenty of ports
- Subtle, subdued RGB lights
- Noisy, even in ‘silent’ mode
- Display doesn’t give you the promised sRGB coverage
The Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX502 aims to straddle two worlds – by packing powerful gaming chops into a (relatively) slim and lightweight chassis that’s not quite as outlandishly decorated or heavy with the glowing LEDs as some gaming machines.
The idea is that you can take the GX502 with you to a meeting or client presentation, do some photo work in the office and when you get home, dive back into some Metro Exodus, Battlefield 5, or Total War: Three Kingdoms.
For gaming, the GX502 offers some of the best gaming laptop performance we’ve seen recently, with modern titles playing nicely and older games like Dirt Rally easily clearing 100fps when played in Full HD, with the more modern Shadow of the Tomb Raider inching above 80fps on the highest settings.
Nvidia G-Sync technology means that the refresh rate of the up to 144Hz display can be synced with the top frame rate the graphics card (a GeForce RTX 2070) for smoother visuals.
Combined with the display, which is well suited to basic photo work and a keyboard and trackpad that are nicely sized and positioned, and the 2kg weight – versus, say, the 4.7kg Asus ROG G703GX and the 4.9kg Acer Predator Helios 700 – means that the Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX502 is light and capable enough to function as a high-end office worker. Just make sure that your colleagues are OK with some mild fan noise.
- Read our full Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX502 review
2. HP Omen 15
The best value gaming laptop for around £1000
- Super-speedy performance
- Stylish and bang-up-to-date design
- Loads of features including G-Sync and 144Hz display
- Performance doesn’t take advantage of 144Hz display
- Disappointing battery life
- Fans get irritatingly noisy
The HP Omen 15 is currently our choice for best value gaming laptop. The 15.6-inch Full HD display features fantastic viewing angles and a refresh rate of 144Hz. Nvidia’s G-Sync tech also means that refresh rates will be synced with a game’s frame rates. And while the HP Omen 15 isn’t powerful enough to touch 144Hz, the overall experience, considering the price of the HP Omen 15, is ridiculously good, far better than you might expect.
The HP Omen 15 isn’t without its flaws, but the biggest problems – loud fans and a puny battery – are typical of gaming laptops. Other than that, the trackpad isn’t fantastic, but if you’re serious about gaming, you’ll want to pair the HP Omen 15 with a gaming mouse anyway.
The model we tested (15-dc0030na) features an Nvidia GTX 1060 graphics card and costs £1099 on HP’s store. There’s a GTX 1050 Ti version with the same processor available for people on a smaller budget, and also a GTX 1070 available for about £500 more. Whichever way you slice it, the current HP Omen 15 range offers considerable power for very reasonable prices.
- Read our full HP Omen 15 review
3. Acer Predator Helios 700
The best desktop replacement gaming laptop option
- Exceptional gaming performance
- Innovative design
- Overclocking and fan boost modes allow for real gains
- Middling display
- Heavier than a concrete milkshake
- Louder than 30-50 feral hogs
The heavyweight class of gaming laptops is changing, and the Acer Predator Helios 700 is one of the first new evolutions to hit the shelves. Featuring a fan system which directly cools the processor and GPU, the Helios 700 has been designed to be safely overclocked out of the box, with no specialist PC building or tweaking knowledge required.
In tests, we saw that with the fans turning at full speed and the components boosted as far as they’d go – our review unit packed an Intel Core i9-9980HK and Nvidia RTX 2080 graphics – the Helios 700 would deliver frame rate boosts between 5-10fps on average.
It easily cleared 100fps on every game we tested, with the exception of Battlefield 5 with ray tracing turned on, where the action would sometimes dip to 90fps. These are some of the best frame rate scores we’ve logged on any gaming laptop – only the £4500 Asus ROG G703GX beat it on Shadow of the Tomb Raider.
Weighing 4.9kg and measuring 41.7 x 430 x 299 mm, the Acer Predator Helios 700 is a monster, and its plenty loud to boot. While its performance is fantastic, you’re not going to be hauling the Helios 700 around with you day to day.
- Read our full Acer Predator Helios 700 review
4. Razer Blade 15 (2018)
Our former favourite gaming laptop is still a great value option
- 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 the Razer Blade 15 (2018) 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. And while the Razer Blade 15 (2019) offers a superior performance with ray tracing features, it doesn’t offer the same great value as the 2018 model. Razer is about to send us another Blade 15 that will have a 16 Series card, which could well be the better value buy.
- Read our full Razer Blade 15 (2018) review
5. Alienware m15
A lightweight powerhouse with spades of style
- Excellent performance power
- Sleek and sexy design
- Incredibly light for a gaming laptop
- Top-tier model is very expensive
- No Nvidia G-Sync support
- Underwhelming battery life
The Alienware m15 has a heck of a lot going for it. It boasts a super-smooth 144Hz display, a gorgeous bang-up-to-date design and a GTX 1070 graphics card that’s meaty enough to handle most games in Full HD at 60fps. At 2.16kg, its light for a gaming laptop too, certainly not a back-breaker like other options in this list.
Few other gaming laptops have a better balance of performance power and stylish portability. This winning combination makes the Alineware m15 one of the best portable machines you can buy to satisfy your gaming itch.
The only issue? It’s extremely pricey. With the top-tier model exceeding the £2000 mark, you can find better value elsewhere, especially since the Alienware m15 lacks the sought after Nvidia G-Sync technology.
Saying that, Dell has just revealed there will be an Alienware m15 2019 laptop arriving this year, boasting a design makeover and a boost to performance. If you’re happy to wait, I recommend waiting for the 2019 version rather than plumping for this one.
- Read our full Alienware m15 review
6. Dell G3 15 (2018)
Don’t fancy spending a grand? This is the best no-frills gaming laptop for those on a tight budget
- Astonishing performance considering the price
- Can run almost every PC game in Full HD
- Never gets too hot or loud
- Long-lasting battery life
- Sub-par display
- Dated design
- No Chroma keyboard option
The Dell G3 15 2018 (3579) looks pretty unassuming. Devoid of sharp angled air vents and showy RGB lighting, it doesn’t look like your average gaming laptop. The 15.6-inch backlit LED display is also nothing to write come about, with colours distorting when viewed but a few degrees left or right of straight ahead.
Look a little further and you’ll discover a cheap and cheerful gaming laptop that punches well above its weight.
With options to take 8th gen Core i5 or Core i7 CPUs and GPU options ranging from the Nvidia GTX 1050, 1050 Ti to 1060 Max-Q, and all but the highest-end option costing under £1000, this is one of the best value for money gaming laptops on the market.
If you’re after something which can run some of the best PC games in recent years in 1080p Full HD at a decent pace and you’re not fussed about cranking the settings all the way up, then the Dell G3 15 is a great choice.
This is yet another laptop that has a confirmed 2019 refresh, so we suggest looking the new one up before throwing your cash at the one here.
- Read our full Dell G3 15 2018 review
7. Acer Nitro 5 (AN515-54)
Another solid budget gaming laptop option for under £1000
- Good selection of ports
- Can run the likes of Fortnite and Apex easily
- Great value for money
- Keyboard layout is a little cramped
- Screen quality and brightness is sub-par
The Acer Nitro 5 is more a gaming laptop than a portable aimed at essay-bashing students. That said, students heading off to university who don’t have the space to bring along their games console will find great use in the Acer Nitro 5, as it will not only play the likes of Apex Legends, Fortnite and the like, but also has the processing power to blitz through essays, spreadsheets and even photo editing work.
While there are far more powerful gaming laptops on the market, the Acer Nitro 5 can be bought for under £1000, with certain configurations costing as little as £599. Considering some Chromebooks on this list cost more, that’s a bargain of a deal.
There are drawbacks in picking the Acer Nitro 5 as your study buddy though. At 2.7kg, this is a hefty beast, so you likely won’t want to be lugging it to lectures every day. The display is a bit on the dull side too, while colours aren’t accurate enough to please design and art students – although an external monitor can solve that issue.
If you’re willing to make those compromises though, then the Acer Nitro 5 is a fantastic versatile machine that offers you the capability to switch straight to Fortnite once you’ve hit a wall with your dissertation.
- Read our full Acer Nitro 5 review
8. Gigabyte Aero 15
A fully featured, super-specced portable gaming rig
- 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.
- Read our full Gigabyte Aero 15 review
9. Acer Predator Helios 500
One of the more powerful gaming laptops out there, but it’s not exactly light
- 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.
- Read our full Acer Predator Helios 500 review
10. Gigabyte Aorus X5
A no nonsense gaming laptop that ticks almost every box
- 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 Gigabyte 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.
- Read our full Gigabyte Aorus X5 review
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