Update, 01/17/2023: We’ve reviewed our recommendations and have updated many of our recommendations with new and improved gaming laptops. Take a look!
Gaming laptops aren’t cheap, even if they are a great deal. Not only do they need to pack in a bunch of powerful hardware, but they also need to be durable, reliable, and boast a screen that can take a beating after years of unforgiving travel.
However, having the option to play all your favorite games wherever you go can’t be understated—and the convenience of gaming laptops continues to make them one of the most popular products for PC gaming.
Unfortunately, shopping for a gaming laptop isn’t nearly as easy as gaming on one. Hundreds of models have flooded the market over the past few years, and there’s no shortage of marketing jargon to cut through before you can compare different models. However, understanding a few key aspects of a good laptop will make finding the perfect gaming laptop a breeze.
Above all else, pay close attention to the graphics processing unit (GPU) on your prospective rig. If it boasts a GeForce RTX 30 series GPU, you’ll likely have a device running popular games for years to come. You’ll also want to look for at least an Intel Core i5 or AMD Ryzen 5 CPU, as these are powerful enough to play just about all of today’s most demanding releases.
Keep in mind that mobile versions of GPUs are not the same as their desktop counterparts, even if the name is identical. For example, a mobile RTX 3070 Ti has performance closer to a desktop RTX 3060 Ti. While the difference isn’t huge, it is there if you compare your gaming rig directly to a gaming laptop.
Buying a laptop with a high-end GPU and processor doesn’t come cheap, so you’ll need to carefully consider your budget. We wouldn’t recommend spending too much on a gaming laptop, as they often feature components that can’t be upgraded, meaning you’ll be purchasing a new rig sooner than you think. This is wildly different from gaming desktop PCs, which allow you to swap out individual components as needed.
Another important factor with modern gaming laptops is the GPU’s TDP (Thermal Design Power) rating. Two laptops may have the same GPU on paper, but the one with higher TDP will perform better. So be sure to look for benchmarks for any laptop you’re considering, to ensure it plays your favorite games adequately.
If your game library consists of just a handful of games, you can save a few bucks by opting for a laptop without much internal storage space. Alternatively, you can purchase an external SSD or HDD to house a growing catalog. The best option is always internal storage, as it loads games faster than external solutions, but these often carry higher price tags.
In short, pay close attention to your prospective gaming laptop’s GPU, processor, and SSD. Remember that you’ll probably need to make a few compromises unless you’re willing to break the bank.
There are plenty of other aspects to consider when buying a gaming laptop, but the five products below offer the best combination of performance, pricing, and reliability for their respective category.
Yes, they are. Gaming laptops come with powerful CPUs and GPUs, with many models packing at least 16GB of memory. This is More than enough for most school and work assignments. With that said, almost every budget gaming laptop features a screen with slightly washed-out colors, making them less than ideal for color-critical work such as photo or video editing.
It all depends on what you’re playing, and your visual settings and performance demands. You shouldn’t replace your gaming notebook as long as it’s giving you a good enough gaming experience in the games you play.
Once you start noticing choppy performance, even with low settings, it’s time to consider an upgrade.
Yes, you can, but only some components. For instance, most gaming laptops support replacing the default SSD or adding one or more extra storage drives. Further, most gaming laptops come with two memory slots, so you can add another RAM stick or upgrade the memory altogether. Newer laptops can also come with removable Wi-Fi cards.
However, you cannot normally upgrade other components, including the processor and the GPU.
The easiest way is to ramp up fans to their maximum RPM. If your device lacks manual fan speed settings, you can prop the laptop up with a book to improve its airflow. Just ensure you don’t cover the holes on the bottom used for air intake. Another way to cool your laptop down is to use a laptop stand or a cooling pad. Finally, most laptops come with different performance modes—also called thermal modes.
Best Gaming Laptop Overall: Lenovo Legion 7i
- ✓ Fantastic gaming performance
- ✓ Tons of ports including multiple Thunderbolt 4 ports
- ✓ Superb build quality
- ✓ Wi-Fi 6E
- ✓ MUX Switch with Advanced Optimus
- ✓ Excellent screen with fast response times
- ✗ Expensive
- ✗ The screen's not great for color-critical work
The Lenovo Legion 7i is a brilliant gaming laptop that packs some of the best CPU and GPU combos you can get now. You can go up to the Intel Core i9-12900HX CPU (a beast of a mobile CPU), a 175W version of the Nvidia RTX 3080Ti, and 32GB of DDR5 memory.
Note that the model linked above is the base version equipped with an Intel Core i7-12800HX, the Nvidia RTX 3070Ti, and 16GB of RAM. On the Lenovo site, you can customize the laptop to the specs that you need.
But strangely enough, Lenovo doesn’t list the i9 version on the website. You have to manually select the i9 CPU in the configurator, which also automatically upgrades the specs to the RTX 3080Ti and 32GB of memory.
With that said, you can opt for the i7 processor and RTX 3070Ti version if you want to save cash—just remember to select 32GB of memory. With the RTX 3070Ti, you’ll get around 10 percent fewer frames in games, which is pretty good considering that this model costs almost $1000 less.
Aside from the excellent hardware, the Legion 7i also features impressive build quality, one of the best keyboards on the market, Wi-Fi 6E, a plethora of connection options including multiple Thunderbolt 4 ports, a secondary M.2 slot for adding another SSD, and tons of RGB—which you can turn off completely. We also like Legion 7i’s pragmatic yet highly attractive design and the presence of a MUX switch with Advanced Optimus.
The screen is a 16-inch, 16:10, 165Hz, QHD IPS panel with superb response times, excellent brightness, and good color coverage. Aside from the high price, the only dent we’ve noticed is the screen’s 70 percent coverage of the DCI-P3 color gamut, making the Legion 7i less than ideal for color-critical work.
Lenovo Legion 7i
Monstrous hardware, bright and fast screen, tons of ports, attractive industrial design, Wi-Fi 6E, MUX switch, excellent keyboard, the list of pros just goes on. The Lenovo Legion 7i is hands-down the best gaming laptop you can get right now.
Best Budget Gaming Laptop: ASUS TUF Dash 15
- ✓ Superb gaming performance for the price
- ✓ 512GB SSD
- ✓ MUX switch
- ✓ Thunderbolt 4 support
- ✓ Decent upgradability
- ✗ Disappointing screen
If you’re looking for the best budget laptop and aren’t limited to $1,000 or less, get the ASUS TUF Dash 15. The Intel Core i7-12650H and Nvidia RTX 3060 combo can run any modern AAA game with high settings and 60fps at 1080p resolution.
Other goodies in the TUF Dash 15 include a MUX switch, a 512GB NVMe SSD, 16GB of DDR5 memory, and a Thunderbolt 4 port. You’ve also got Wi-Fi 6 support, a solid keyboard, a decent trackpad, and many ports, including Thunderbolt 4.
As for the screen, it’s a 15-inch, 1080p, 144Hz IPS panel that’s quite fast but also a bit dim and with slightly washed colors. Not a huge disappointment and a regular sight in the budget gaming laptop market.
The TUF Dash 15 is one of the most affordable gaming laptops packing the RTX 3060, which is worth the upgrade over the RTX 3050Ti. If you cannot stretch your budget to afford the TUF Dash 15, the RTX 3050Ti-equipped Nitro 5 from Acer is more than a decent alternative.
ASUS TUF Dash 15
If you're after the best possible gaming performance in a budget gaming laptop look no further. The ASUS TUF Dash 15 packs a 12th-gen Core i7 CPU, an RTX 3060 GPU, and 16GB of DDR5 memory; enough to run the latest AAA games with high details and at 60 frames per second.
Best Gaming Laptop Under $1,000: Acer Nitro 5
- ✓ Lots of gaming horsepower for less than $1000
- ✓ Fast, 512GB SSD
- ✓ Thunderbolt 4 support
- ✓ MUX switch
- ✗ Dim screen with anemic colors
- ✗ Screen hinge could've been sturdier
Acer is constantly improving its budget-focused Nitro 5 gaming notebook, and this year’s model is one of the best budget gaming laptops around. You’re looking at the Core i5-12500H processor and RTX 3050Ti graphics card combo capable of running most modern AAA games with medium to high visual settings.
The only negative here is only 4GB of video memory on the RTX 3050Ti. While that’s enough for most titles, you’ll have to lower textures to medium in newer AAA blockbusters to achieve optimal performance.
The rest of the hardware specs are pretty good for the price: a 512GB PCIe Gen4 NVMe SSD, 16GB of DDR4 memory, a full-sized keyboard that’s decent, a MUX switch, more than a decent selection of ports including one Thunderbolt 4 port, and a 15.6-inch 1080p 144Hz IPS screen.
Altogether, you’re looking at a pretty capable portable gaming machine. The dim screen with slightly anemic colors is the most notable downside, as is the case with most other budget gaming laptops. Also, the hinge holding the display isn’t very sturdy, resulting in noticeable screen wobble while vigorously typing or when bumping the laptop’s desk.
The Nitro 5 is pretty good, but if you want something more affordable with similar gaming performance, look at this year’s HP Victus 15. You’re looking at almost identical specs but with the RTX 3050 instead of the Ti variant and only 8GB of memory. The good news is that the RTX 3050 is less than 10 percent slower than the RTX 3050Ti on average. Also, the Victus 15 comes with two RAM slots allowing you to upgrade the memory to 16GB if needed.
Acer Nitro 5
The Acer Nitro 5 is a well-rounded budget gaming laptop that can be yours for less than $1,000. It doesn't have the best build quality on the market but the rest of the package more than justifies its price.
Best Gaming Laptop Under $500: HP 14
- ✓ AMD Ryzen 5500U for less than $500
- ✓ Packs one of the best integrated GPUs on the market
- ✓ Capable of running most modern AAA titles
- ✓ Wi-Fi 6
- ✓ Quality keyboard
- ✗ Plastic body with less than stellar build quality
- ✗ Lacks RJ-45 (LAN) port
- ✗ Dim screen with dull colors
The HP 14 is a budget device that isn’t a gaming laptop, per se. But if you don’t want to take the risk with buying a used gaming laptop, this is the best choice for gamers with a $500 budget. For about $420, you’ve got the AMD Ryzen 5500U CPU that packs an AMD Radeon Vega 7 integrated GPU (iGPU), one of the best iGPUs for gaming.
You’re looking at high enough performance to run AAA games at 30fps-60fps and low details or esports titles at 60fps or higher with medium or high settings, depending on the game in question. 8GB of memory is fine, but if you’re a gamer who plays newer AAA titles, we strongly suggest you add another 8GB for an optimal experience.
The 14-inch 60Hz display is nothing to write home about. It’s dim and has dull colors, but that’s something you can’t get away from at this price point. At least the panel used is IPS which guarantees wide viewing angles.
Concerning ports, you’re looking at two USB-A, one USB-C, a headphone and mic combo, an HDMI port, and an SD card reader. The keyboard here is not the best on the market, but it’s alright to type on, with the touchpad being serviceable at best. The build quality’s not the best, but sacrifices must be made somewhere to land under $500.
At least the HP 14 comes with Wi-Fi 6 and a fast 256GB SSD. On the other hand, you won’t find a local area network (LAN) port here, which isn’t perfect for a laptop used for gaming. The hardware here is excellent for the price and powerful enough for an enjoyable budget gaming experience, especially if you only play esports titles. And that’s what matters the most in a budget gaming laptop.
While not a gaming laptop per se, the HP 14 offers the best notebook gaming experience you can get for less than $500. It's got an excellent CPU and an iGPU capable of running most AAA titles at 1080p and with playable frame rates.
Best 17-inch Gaming Laptop: Razer Blade 17
- ✓ Excellent specifications at a reasonable price
- ✓ Large, comfortable monitor
- ✓ Much more power efficient than previous Blade 17s
- ✓ Excellent IO selection
- ✗ The top specification option is not cheap
- ✗ It's portable, but not exactly mobile
In most cases, the best gaming laptops are the ones that blend performance with mobility. The 15.6-inch form factor is almost always the right choice for a balance between system size and performance, but there’s no denying that a 17-inch gaming laptop feels fantastic in comparison.
17-inch laptops are especially good for gamers who don’t connect their gaming laptops to a large external monitor at their desks. The 2022 Razer Blade 17 fits that use case perfectly and it’s priced well enough to make this screen size a matter of personal preference rather than price.
Packing a 12th-gen 14-core i7 CPU (with an i9 option), you also get significant power consumption benefits when not gaming, or when playing lighter titles. The 12th Gen CPUs offer a mix of performance and efficiency cores, so if you’re just browsing the web your battery should last much longer than you’d expect from a machine with these specifications.
Likewise, the 3070 Ti GPU in the new 17 isn’t that much faster than the older mobile 3070, but it uses significantly less power. That translates to a quieter gaming laptop that has longer battery endurance. It’s a win-win situation.
There are various screen options for the Razer Blade 17, including a 144Hz 4K option. On a small17-inch monitor, 4K is not a major upgrade for the price, so our recommendation is the 1440p QHD 240Hz option for a great mix of crisp resolution and high refresh rates.
To round things off, plenty of premium features here elevate the Blade 17 above cheaper laptops with similar core specifications. For example, it has an HDMI 2.1 port, which is rare on PCs. This allows you to get 4K 120hz output to an external monitor or TV.
There are two Thunderbolt 4 ports, and even an SD card slot, making the Razer Blade 17 a great choice for those who also work as content creators.
Razer Blade 17 Gaming Laptop (2022)
The 2022 Razer Blade 17 is a true weapon with few compromises. This is a great desktop replacement system that handles just about everything, but you'll sacrifice some mobility for it.
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