It used to be that the best gaming laptops were those that had Intel Core i7 processors, 8GB of RAM and any discrete graphics imaginable. Gaming laptops were so few and far between that it wasn’t a matter of whether they were good or not. Instead, the only question was ‘can it run Crysis?’
These days, though, the best gaming laptops are wholly different from what they looked like in the past. There are ultra-thin portable laptops that use Nvidia’s awesome Max-Q tech, but you can still buy a powerful, but clunky, tank that can plow through any game you can think to throw at it. And, now that Intel has released a variety of 8th-generation Coffee Lake CPUs for laptops, including the Core i9-8950HK, there are no limits on what the best gaming laptops are capable of.
So, whether you’re looking for a laptop that you can use for work as well as play, or you want a traditional gaming behemoth, we have the recommendations you’re looking for. And, because we’ve tested, reviewed and ranked all the best gaming laptops ourselves, you can be sure that you’ll find exactly what you need right here on this list.
Hailing in Coffee Lake to the world of the best gaming laptops, the MSI GS65 packs a ton of power into a very unassuming package. Rocking an 8th-generation Intel Core i7-8750H CPU and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 GPU, there’s nothing that can stand in the way of this laptop. And, what’s better, thanks to its subdued design, you’ll be able to bring this power out wherever you go without having to hide your nerdy pastimes.
Read the full review: MSI GS65 Stealth
Kicking Nvidia’s Max-Q technology off right, the Asus Zephyrus GX501 combines the heralded thinness of an Ultrabook with the performance of a gaming PC to bring the best of both worlds to your feet. Despite exhibiting subpar times in our battery life benchmarks, this svelte powerhouse of a notebook is one for the books when it comes to both portability and style. Plus, it’s virtually silent if noise is a cause for distraction in your everyday routine.
Read the full review: Asus ROG Zephyrus GX501
There’s a trend that’s been dominating the laptop scene in recent years: make laptops as thin and light as possible. The Asus ROG G703GI doesn’t so much ignore that as it breathe fire upon it with Intel Core i9 power. This thing is gigantic. And expensive. But, it backs that up with gaming performance that will rival some of the best gaming PCs. Just don’t expect to bring it to a coffee shop without hauling around two power bricks.
Read the full review: Asus ROG G703GI
It may have an edgy name, and you may not be able to stick a bigger hard drive in it later, but the Razer Blade is built for stamina and, obviously, high quality graphics. On top of featuring a battery life over 7 hours and 30 minutes, it can handle up to 4K Ultra-HD gaming with the help of a Razer Core V2 external graphics box and a spare monitor. Or, you could opt in for the more recently added integrated 4K display option. However you choose, you’re in for a treat, we promise.
Read the full review: Razer Blade
If you want one of the best gaming laptops, but don’t want to miss out on the ultra-portable craze, you need to consider the Dell XPS 15 2-in-1. Packed with an Intel Kaby Lake G-series processor, this gaming laptop can keep up with its competitors rocking a GTX 1050 without featuring truly discrete graphics. And, when you combine that gaming horsepower with a chassis that looks this good, it’s a total win – even if you have to endure some fan noise to get there.
Read the full review: Dell XPS 15 2-in-1
The Asus Strix GL502 may not boast the most innovative design, swapping out the usual black and red color scheme for one that makes it feel like Halloween year-round. But, it's undoubtedly one of the best when it comes to gaming in 1080p. In fact, we were able to crank the settings all the way up in Overwatch without taking a hit below 60fps. The battery life is janky, sure, but the screen, performance and onboard sound system more than make up for it.
Read the full review: Asus ROG Strix GL502
One of the biggest pitfalls when it comes to the best gaming laptops is you’re usually stuck with this huge, bulky device that you’re embarrassed to take out into public. Fortunately the Gigabyte Aero 15 throws that tradition in the garbage. This laptop packs an 6-core 8th-generation Intel I7-8750H and a GTX 1060 into a package that allows it to pass as an Ultrabook. And, thanks to that beefy processor, the Aero 15 is just as good at working as it is at playing.
Read the full review: Gigabyte Aero 15
Unlike most laptops its size, the Alienware 13 R3 bears a hinge-forward design. By moving the heat sinks behind the screen, the chassis is allowed to be thinner, at 0.81-inch (0.22cm). Unfortunately, this means you won’t find many 13-inch laptop bags that will actually suit the Alienware 13 R3. While you may be tempted by the inclusion of a full-size Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060, it’s the OLED touch display that caught our attention.
Read the full review: Alienware 13 R3
At long last, Razer has introduced a true desktop replacement that won’t weigh you down. Measuring in at only 0.88 inches thick with the option between a 17-inch 1080p display running at 120Hz or a G-Sync-laden 4K touchscreen, the Razer Blade Pro also introduces the company’s ultra-low-profile mechanical switches to a notebook for the first time ever. That’s a deal that’s only sweetened by an unusual trackpad placement that makes it comfier to boot.
Read the full review: Razer Blade Pro
To be frank, Alienware hasn’t been a name typically associated with value. That seems to be changing with the Alienware 17 R4, which bears so many different customization options when it comes to specs that you can practically name your own price. Bespeckled with all of the signature elements we’ve come to expect from the brand, such as RGB backlit-accents and tons of ventilation, our only real qualm with the Alienware 17 R4 is a disappointing battery life.
Watch the video below for the top 7 things to consider when buying a laptop.
Gabe Carey and Bill Thomas have also contributed to this article