If you are looking for the best gaming laptop for either yourself or someone special, you’re probably finding a lot of different information and opinions online. But how much of that information is truly digestible and user-friendly? If you’re in the market for a great gaming laptop but don’t want to dredge through all of the unnecessary fluff, you’re in the right place.
We have put together a fantastic list, populated with some of the very best gaming laptops on the market today. We’ll go over each laptop’s specifications, pros and cons, and overall appeal for serious gamers and casual players alike.
First, however, we’d like to give you a quick and simple break down of what to look for in a gaming laptop setup so that you won’t be distracted by extraneous information while shopping!
How to Choose The Best Gaming Laptop
Before you start looking at specs, you should figure out what type of gamer you are.
Are you all about portability? Or are you a hardcore gamer focused intently on immersion? Maybe your gaming style is casual and you don’t even need all of the bells and whistles?
Each category or style of gaming has totally different system requirements. So, we’ll talk about which category each laptop on our list fits in to as well.
Key things to consider when shopping for the best gaming laptop include:
The majority of gamers go big or go home on this one. Why? Anything under 15” can be a serious hindrance in most gaming scenarios. On the other hand, it might be reasonable to consider something more compact if you’re looking for portability over power.
Screen Resolution & Type
If you’re a gamer you should pay special attention to the quality of a laptop’s screen. Never go less than Full HD (1080) for gaming, it will decrease visibility significantly in darker games like dungeon crawlers or war games.
There are other things to consider as well, such as G-Sync vs Free sync, or IPS vs TN vs OLED. Not sure what the difference is? We’ll make it simple:
G-Sync vs Free Sync
Both G-Sync and Free Sync blow their predecessor, V-Sync, out of the water. Both technologies achieve the same basic end goal – they sync the rate at which your graphics card and your monitor refresh frames. It eliminates tearing, but each technology has its ups and downs.
AMD’s pet project, Free Sync, is a lot friendlier to gamers on a budget. Their adaptive sync technology is cheap and easy to integrate, and as a result, is found in a much wider range of gaming monitors. Overall compatibility is higher as well.
The only real potential downside here is the potential for restrictive frame-rates. Cheaper displays will have lower ranges (ex. 48Hz to 75Hz) and won’t work well for hardcore gamers that are looking for great detail.
NVIDIA’s version of adaptive sync technology is a lot harder on your wallet but they do ensure top-notch quality control in their product line. G-Sync displays sport additional features such as Ultra Low Motion Blur and refresh rate overclocking made simple.
IPS vs TN vs OLED
The technology behind the screen is just as important as the screen itself. Each of these three screen types has its own set of unique benefits which we’ll quickly go over.
IPS, aka In-Plane Switching, displays are notorious for having the very best viewing angles and color accuracy. They’re expensive, but popular nonetheless. However, in comparison to TN it has a slower response time.
TN, aka Twisted Nematic, display panels are by far the most common type found in home computing and gaming today. These are notorious for their lack of tearing and their short panel response time which results in significantly less ghosting. The downside to TN’s is their lack of color accuracy.
OLED displays are considered to be the top of line in today’s market. They aren’t very common, however, due to their price tag. Organic Light-Emitting Diode display panels take on a whole new approach to backlighting technology – in that there is no backlight. Each diode can be individually tweaked to provide the perfect level of light, color hue, saturation, etc.
The only downside to OLED displays is image burn-in; which results from having static imagery on the screen for too long.
Audio seems like a no-brainer at first glance but look again. Audio plays an increasingly large part in game immersion, particularly in VR and AR applications.
Gaming laptop designers have caught on to gamer’s enthusiasm for this feature and are really pulling out all of the stops these days. Before you settle for basic, flat, tinny sounding speakers take a look at what’s available. There isn’t any particular speaker type to keep an eye out for, just double check that it has the adjustability and sound quality and levels that you’re personally looking for.
The “Guts” (CPU, RAM, Storage, Etc.)
While all of these elements are very important, you won’t need to worry too much about the specifics when it comes to this list. Every single laptop mentioned here will be equipped with adequate storage and processing power for your gaming experience. Any exceptions will be mentioned in the pros and cons section. But, if curious, check this guide from TomsHardware.
11 Best Gaming Laptops to Buy in 2018
This One’s Perfect If You Seek the Best Asus Gaming Laptop
ASUS and NVIDIA have been doing some really impressive work together, and here’s the proof. This Scar Edition Gaming Laptop is top of the line when it comes to quality, gaming experience, and delivering overall satisfaction. It has all of the features that a gamer could realistically expect to find for less than $2000.
It is incredibly thin and perfect for travel; at just 0.9″ in profile. However, it’s packed with the latest 7th gen Intel Core i7 and quad-core for top of the line processing power.
It’s also working with 256GB of SSD and 1TB of SSHD. The split storage maximizes your drive speeds while avoiding decreasing your storage capacity.
This particular gaming laptop’s display is an IPS with integrated NVIDIA G-Sync; which we talked about a bit above. There is very little to no ghosting with this display. With 144Hz Full HD panel technology, it can easily keep up with your processor and your graphics card, no matter what you’re playing.
- IPS Displays are notoriously good for viewing angles and color accuracy
- NVIDIA’s G-Sync tech makes for ghost and tear-free gaming that isn’t laggy or choppy
- Perfect for the traveling gamer
- Comprehensively compatible ports
- Unique and impressive color spectrum in the keyboard
- Pricier than many other models
- No unique or impressive audio features
This Just Might Be the Best 15 Inch Gaming Laptop Out There
Yet another great option for gamer’s focused primarily on portability. The GIGABYTE Aeromeasures at exactly 15.6″, placing it on the medium end of the gaming laptop spectrum. Like most good portable gaming setups, however, it makes up for the smaller display panel with other neat features.
The tech behind the display is awesome, for instance. The Full HD 144Hz Pantone X-Rite IPS display panel provides an incredible and accurate range of colors. You won’t experience any angle viewing issues with a quality IPS panel like this one either. It’s just beautiful, really.
The GIGABYTE Aero is, of course, equipped with all of the latest ‘gotta have it’ features including the Intel Core i7-8750H processor, GeForce GTX 1070, 16G RAM and 512GB PCIe SSD.
- Metal Chassis
- RGB Keys
- 2 years global warranty
The Best Portable Gaming Laptop of 2018
If ultrabooks are what has been grabbing your attention lately, look no further than the Razer Blade Stealth. This is the cutting edge of technology for portable gaming laptops. It’s under 3 lbs. and just over 0.5”!
An 8th gen Intel Quad Core i7, 16GB regular RAM and 512GB SSD, and an Intel UHD Graphics 620 are contained within its travel-ready 13.3” frame which is constructed from a single, solid piece of aircraft grade aluminum. It doesn’t get any more durable than this.
If you’re concerned about the screen size, resolution, etc. let us put your mind at ease. Unlike most 13” class laptops or tablets, it is equipped with full QHD (3200 x 1800 pixels) which is incredible for this screen size. And, of course, it is touchscreen capable.
It also boasts clear visibility with angle views up to 178 degrees.
- Incredible resolution and color for its screen size
- Equipped with the Thunderbolt 3 (AKA USB-C) which can connect to essentially any port
- Highly customizable keyboard (16.8 million color choices & integrated hot keys)
- Very small screen for a gaming laptop
- As with any of the portable models, it isn’t the best for hardcore gaming
Powerful Yet Slim Gaming Laptop
This is a great laptop for those looking for something extremely sleek and streamlined to play around on. The ASUS ROG Zephyrus M is one of ASUS best-rated gaming laptops of all time.
Another 15″ option, this laptop is great for portability. It is, however, considerably pricier than any of the other portability focused laptops currently available.
If you have the money, we say it’s worth it. It weighs just a bit over 5 lbs. and is still packed with all of the essentials for speedy, quality gaming, like an Intel Core i7-8750H Processor, ROG Aurodynamic System (amazing airflow and cooling potential), 256GB PCIe SSD + 1TB FireCuda Hard Drive, GTX 1070 and a 16GB DDR4.
The ROG Zephyrus M has a particularly good refresh rate of 144Hz with NVIDIA G-SYNC and 3ms response time. If you prefer to play on a large screen TV, you’ll be able to connect with 4K TVs at a max rate of 60Hz. That seems low, however, it’s actually a pretty impressive transition for screen size.
- Wide viewing angles and perfect color accuracy
- Quieter than a lot of laptops that are capable of similar speeds
- Minimal lag, stuttering, tearing, or ghosting
VR Ready and Easily One of the Best 15 Inch Gaming Laptops
One of the best 15″ gaming laptops out there. We actually recommend the Alienware 15R3 to gamers of all levels. Just like the majority of the laptops we’ve covered so far, this one is equipped with a 7th gen Intel Core i7 processor, an IPS full HD display (1920 x 1080) and enough storage to optimize your gameplay.
NVIDIA G-Sync tech makes for an incredibly clean and clear playing experience. The color accuracy and vibrancy are sure to impress casual gamers and hardcore gamers as well.
- This laptop is VR ready
- The most weather resistant model on our list
- At 7.69 lbs. it is a bit heavier than more expensive, sleek models
Dell’s 2018 Flagship is the Best Cheap Gaming Laptop
If you’re a bit stunned by some of the prices that are being thrown around, don’t despair. Dell has always been known for making ridiculously cheap but relatively high-quality computers and laptops alike.
Their 2018 Flagship model is no exception. At under $1200 it is easily one of the cheapest gaming laptops on the market. Compared to other models in its price range, the tech is ridiculously good.
Integrated G-Sync tech keeps your gaming experience smooth and tear-free. It comes with the current standard in gaming, an Intel Quad Core i7 Processor and very reasonable storage space.
The big things to look out for on cheaper gaming laptops like this are usually fan problems or inadequate setup of CPU and GPU paste(s). In other words, you may have to get your hands dirty and switch out a fan or some paste, if you’re using a lower end gaming system like this.
- Equipped with Type C USB, which can essentially connect to any port type you want
- VERY affordable
- Flagship models like this one typically require a bit of extra attention and care
- Low quality speakers and audio drivers
Factory Overclocking & More Make This One of the Best 17 Inch Gaming Laptops
ASUS has really been on their game this past year or two and more than one of their gaming laptops made our list. The main guts of this laptop model include a 32GB DDR4, 2 X 256GB PCIe SSD + 2TB FireCuda SSHD, and an Intel i9-8950HK Processor.
This laptop’s screen is huge in comparison to those we’ve looked at up to this point. It is ultra-responsive with 144Hz refresh rate and some amazing overclocking capabilities.
The ASUS ROG G703 is a rare beast – a fantastic gaming laptop that can actually keep up with hardcore gamer’s intense, and sometimes lengthy, gameplay. It is highly recommended for both VR and Mixed-Reality media/games as well and is compatible with the latest headsets.
If you aren’t interested in picking up a headset yet, the speakers will actually do an impressive job.
- Very powerful
- Far superior speakers to any other laptop we’ve chosen so far
- i9-8950HK Processor
- Very expensive
Alienware’s Flagship May Be the Best Gaming Laptop for the Money
Gamers like yourself know that it’s hard to go wrong with an Alienware system. Get ready to be surprised by some of the features on this model, however.
The 17R4 has the latest 7th gen Intel i7 processor, 32GB DDR4, 256GB SSD and 1TB of HDD, and is equipped with a truly beautiful TN display. TN displays like this one are great for their short panel response times, and their display quality as far as lack of ghosting or tearing.
Alienware has blown away the competition when it comes to resolution (2560 x 1440). NVIDIA G-Sync tech with Tobii Eye-tracking make for the best viewing experience possible in gaming laptop tech. Viewing angles are wide, and the TN display is anti-glare to boot.
- High quality speakers and compatible with leading headsets
- TN panels are less color accurate than others
- Less keyboard customization options than some other leading brands
Great Gaming Laptop From MSI
MSI is a popular brand in gaming, and have been for quite some time. Their 17.3” performance gaming laptop is not only of exceptional quality, it’s quite cheap at about $1300.
To tell you a bit more about the display, it is a Full HD (1920 x 1080) anti-glare, wide-angle view with an ultra-fast refresh rate of 120Hz. NVIDIA’s G-Sync and GeForce GTX 1060 GPU give players a tear-free, ghost-free, gaming experience that is nice and smooth, even during AAA play.
It is equipped with the i7-7700HQ processor, 16GB DDR4 and 128GB SSD + 1TB HDD.
- An especially good battery life for a 17” gaming laptop thanks to a 6-cell battery
- Impressively lightweight for a large screen model, at just under 6 lbs
- 4 quality NaHimic speakers
- Keyboard is less customizable than many other options
One of the Best Affordable Gaming Laptops
HP occasionally gets a bad rep for producing low-end laptops, much like Dell. However, you shouldn’t believe everything that you hear. The main issues you’ll experience with an HP will be down the road, and easily fixable with some basic technical skills and a screwdriver to open up the case.
The price of these laptops makes them more than worth the possibility that you’ll need to replace a fan or some paste at some point, however. The HP Omen 15 is equipped with most of the same bells and whistles as models that are selling for $200-500 more.
The processor, for instance, is an Intel Core i7-8750H. It’s fitted with a nice 17.3″ WLED lit IPS display panel and has 16GB DDR4, 1TB HDD, GeForce GTX 1060 6 GB, and 128GB SSD. The 144Hz refresh rate is very respectable as well. Overall, more than adequate for the average gaming enthusiast.
The display resolution is 1920 x 1080 and the display is also anti-glare, wide-angle view friendly, and has Type-C USB so that you can connect it to practically anything you wish and still experience very reasonable refresh rates.
- Easy panel access for upgrades and simple fixes/cleaning
- A bit heavy
One of the Best Cheap Laptops Out There
We couldn’t finish our list without one more Acer model in the mix. The Predator Helios 300 is a unique 15.6” Full HD (1920 x 1080) gaming laptop that is highly affordable at just below $1000 (what makes it one of the best gaming laptops under $1000). If you’re in the market for something cheap but chic looking, this could be exactly what you’re looking for.
With a clipped but smooth looking design, red backlit keyboard, and a widescreen IPS display panel; this laptop looks OP and is sure to get second glances from other gamers. It’s easy to travel with too, at just under 6 lbs.
It comes with Intel’s Core i7HQ Quadcore CPU, 6GB dedicated GGDR5 VRAM, 16GB DDR4, 256GB SSD and unique TurboBoost technology up to 3.8GHz. The dedicated audio and Acer TrueHarmony Technology Sound System are considerably better than most other budget gaming laptops, and fairly high quality.
- Dual fan cooling system
- Good speaker system
- PredatorSense technology that allows users to control fan speeds and system temps
- No color options, but keyboard is backlit at least
When choosing a laptop for gaming check its size, screen resolution and type, audio, CPU, RAM, storage and of course graphics card. We have listed for you 11 best gaming laptops of 2018 from different manufacturers with the different price range.