Finding the best gaming laptops can be a pain if you’re not familiar with the underlying hardware. A search on Amazon can conjure up a multitude of overwhelming options from both familiar and unfamiliar laptop manufacturers. Which is the best you can buy? What can this laptop do that the other doesn’t? We trim the fat.
Everything you will find here is based on a 17.3-inch display, Intel processors and Nvidia-based discrete graphics. While the list appears anti-AMD, that’s not the case. In reality, you will rarely find a gaming laptop based on AMD’s processors and graphics chips. Dell and HP have a few, but they’re more suited for low-budget gaming and business applications.
With our list of the best gaming laptops, the bling level is rather low as we focus on the hardware that provides the best performance. These laptops aren’t cheap – that’s why we have our list of the best budget gaming laptops – but they’re also not crazy expensive if you don’t load them down with everything made available on the menu.
Also check out: best laptops of 2018
Acer Predator 17 X
Acer’s Predator 17 X ships in two flavors, both of which currently rely on high-end seventh-generation Intel processors. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with using these CPUs, and this is still one of the best gaming laptops on the market. If you’re eager for something newer, then scroll on down our list. The starting price here is $2,500, most of which is eaten up by Intel’s CPUs, the dedicated GTX 1080 discrete graphics chip and the 17.3-inch G-Sync display.
That said, the more expensive model sports the Core i7-7820HK processor, an IPS screen with a 3,840 x 2,160 resolution, 32GB of system memory, a 512GB SSD and a 1TB hard drive. The less expensive model includes the Core i7-7700HQ processor, an IPS screen with a 1,920 x 1,080 resolution, 16GB of system memory, a 256GB SSD and a 1TB hard drive. Both include four speakers, five USB ports and a 330-watt power supply. They measure 1.8 inches thick and weigh 10.03 pounds.
Asus ROG Strix Scar Edition
Here’s a gaming laptop with Intel’s new eight-generation Core i7-8750H six-core CPU with a base speed of 2.2GHz and a maximum speed of 4.1GHz. Compared to Acer’s model, the trade-off here is that the laptop includes a discrete GeForce GTX 1070 graphics chip with 8GB of dedicated video memory. Both power a 17.3-inch “IPS level” G-Sync display with a 144Hz refresh rate and a 3ms response time.
This laptop ships with a locked 32GB of system memory, but you can choose between nine dual storage configurations with an SSD ranging from 256GB to 2TB and a 1TB hybrid drive. For ports you’ll find one USB-C (10Gbps), four USB-A (5Gbps), HDMI output, Mini DisplayPort output, an SD card reader and more. The keyboard includes fully customizable RGB illumination in four zones that supports the company’s Aura platform. This laptop measures 0.9 inches thick and weighs 6.5 pounds.
HP Omen X
For this laptop, HP provides three configurable starting points based on Intel’s seventh-generation Core i7-7700HQ and Core i7-7820HK four-core processors, and Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1070 and GTX 1080 discrete graphics chips. They back a 17.3-inch IPS display with a 1,920 x 1,080 resolution, G-Sync technology and a 144Hz refresh rate, or a 3,840 x 2,160 resolution without G-Sync and the high refresh rate.
For memory, the laptop contains two slots supporting up to 32GB of overclockable DDR4 system memory (2,800MHz). Storage can consist of up to three solutions such as a 1TB hard drive and two 1TB stick-shaped SSDs. The port complement includes two Thunderbolt 3 connectors, HDMI and Mini DisplayPort output, USB-A connectivity, an SD card slot and more. The company also provides a utility to overclock the processor and XMP-based memory sticks.
MSI GT75 Titan 055
MSI’s GT75 Titan relies on Intel’s new Core i7-8750H six-core processor and Nvidia discrete GeForce GTX 1080 graphics chip with 8GB of dedicated video memory. Both back a 17.3-inch screen with a 1,920 x 1,080 resolution, G-Sync technology, a 120Hz refresh rate and a 3ms response time. If the price is too steep, you can option for the older seventh-generation Core i7-7820HK or Core i7-7700 CPUs without sacrificing the GTX 1080 GPU.
Here you’ll find 16GB of system memory although the laptop provides four slots supporting up to 64GB running at 2,133MHz. For storage, you get a 512GB stick-shaped SSD and a 1TB hard drive while the SteelSeries-based keyboard relies on mechanical switches and provides per-key RGB illumination. The laptop includes one Thunderbolt 3 port, five USB-A ports (10Gbps), HDMI and Mini DisplayPort outputs and more. It measures 2.28 inches thick and weighs 9.92 pounds.
You can actually find seven configurations here on MSI’s website with additional memory, Ultra HD resolutions and Intel’s beefy Core i9-8950HK six-core processor if you’re willing to spend more cash.
Razer Blade Pro
With Razer’s laptop, you have limited customization options. For starters, you can get a screen with a 1,920 x 1,080 resolution, Nvidia’s discrete GeForce GTX 1060 graphics chip, a 256GB SSD and a 2TB hard drive. The other configuration is a screen with a 3,840 x 2,160 resolution, Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1080 graphics chip, and an SSD with a 512GB, 1TB or 2GB of storage capacity. Note that the maxed-out laptop can set you back more than $4,500.
Both configurations are based on a 17.3-inch screen. The GTX 1060 configuration relies on an IPS panel with a 120Hz refresh rate, Intel’s seventh-generation Core i7-7700HQ processor and 16GB of system memory. Meanwhile, the GTX 1080 version relies on an IGZO panel supporting Nvidia’s G-Sync technology, Intel’s Core i7-7820HK processor and 32GB of system memory. Both measure a mere 0.88 inches thick while the GTX 1060 model weighs 6.78 pounds and the GTX 1080 model weighs 7.69 pounds.
Best gaming laptops – what to look for
Searching for the best gaming laptops may be difficult if you’re not familiar with the required ingredients. You mostly want to focus on specific components: Processor, graphics, resolution, memory and storage. If you’re on the hunt for a little bling, Alienware, MSI and Asus are notorious for spectacular designs packed with RGB illumination and jaw-dropping designs. But your primary focus should be on the hardware with the bling level serving as your secondary decision-making factor.
Although newer isn’t always better, you certainly don’t want outdated technology powering your games. To determine if a laptop has the latest Intel CPU, focus on the number after the hyphen in the processor’s name. For instance, the Intel Core i5-8300H is an eight-generation chip as shown by the “8” in the label.
On the display front, our list consists of 17.3-inch screens. They’re mostly not going to be thin and light although Razer pushes the envelope with its Blade designs. The Full HD resolution appears to be the current sweet spot, especially if you want high refresh rates. That simply means the display can render an image multiple times each second, with the higher numbers providing fluid motions and visuals.
You’ll notice that our list refers to G-Sync technology. A graphics chip outputs a number of frames per second, such as 60FPS, but that number can fluctuate based on the action on-screen. Because the display renders images a specific number of times each second, that fluctuation can produce screen tearing and stuttering. G-Sync will synchronize the refresh rate of the display with the frame output of a GeForce graphics chip to eliminate those ugly anomalies.
Ultimately, what you want is a newer processor with four cores or more and a GTX 1060 or above. You’ll also want dual storage: An SSD as your boot drive, and a hard drive to store all of your data. Since SSDs are typically faster, it’s the ideal place for Windows 10 and your most demanding games. Other titles and media that don’t require fast data access can reside on that second hard drive. You’ll definitely need two storage devices given many popular PC games consume loads of space.
Finally, given you’re investing in a gaming notebook, you won’t see loads of uptime on a single charge. They also typically ship with bulky power bricks that are required to get the best framerates out of your laptop’s hardware. Still, keep an eye out for battery times for when you simply want to use the laptop to troll Facebook or read our other “best of” articles.
So that’s it for our best gaming laptops guide. What do you think? Let us know down in the comments.