Gaming laptops have evolved through the years, and some of them even have specs that can rival their bigger desktop counterparts. Back in the day, gaming laptops’ performance was mediocre, and gamers did not consider laptops as bona fide gaming systems. However, times have changed, and gaming laptops are as formidable as traditional rigs. What is the best gaming laptop? Keep reading to find out!
ASUS TUF FX504 Laptop
Combines performance with an extended lifespan, thanks to Anti-Dust Cooling.
Comes with high-end components.
Thin and Light
Power and Portability
Made with premium materials for an overall higher quality build.
Can stay cool even under extreme graphics pressure.
Looks the Part
Everything you need to run the most intensive games and programs smoothly.
Without a doubt, the best gaming laptop for the money.
There are many gaming laptops on the market today, and it can be pretty intimidating and confusing for most buyers. In this article, we look at what is the best gaming laptop and what to look for when you’re going to buy one. I will go over the most important things you need to be aware of, and hopefully, this guide will help you get the best gaming laptop for the money that suits your needs.
Things to consider when shopping for a gaming laptop
1. Screen Size
Gaming laptops are a preference for people who want to play games on the go, and portability always comes first. The screen size of the laptop, as well as its other components, will ultimately determine its portability. There are a few popular screen sizes on the market, including:
- 13″ – 14″ – This is considered to be the “bare bones” when it comes to gaming laptops. Don’t get me wrong; 13 to 14-inch laptops are the most portable but at the cost of downgraded specs. Given their small form factor, manufacturers have to make compromises. High-end gaming components produce a lot of heat, and smaller 13 to 14-inch laptops lack enough room to either house good cooling components or to quell the heat that is produced by such powerful gaming innards. If you prefer portability, though, then a 13 to 14-inch gaming laptop is the best choice for you.
- 15-inch Laptop- This is probably the “middle ground” of gaming laptops, if you will. Notably, 15-inch laptops are not only light enough to be carried around, but they can also have mid-range specs on the inside as well. This is the most popular choice for people who are looking for gaming laptops mainly because of its portability and its specs.
- 17″ – 18″- If you value specs more than anything, then the 17 to 18-inch gaming laptop is for you. Given their large size, the 17 to 18-inch gaming laptops can squeeze in some beastly specs, and they offer the best performance among all other laptop sizes but at the expense of weighing more. If you happen to play on the desk quite often, then the 17 18-inch gaming laptop is an ideal choice.
2. Graphics (GPU)
The next important factor to look at when deciding what is the best gaming laptop is, of course, the graphics chip. The graphics chip or GPU is the one responsible for displaying graphics on the screen. It takes care of all of the graphical load, and it will be the one to handle all of the eye candy your games have to offer. If you do not know which ones to choose, I would highly recommend getting gaming laptops that have Nvidia graphics chips.
With that said, which Nvidia GPU should you aim for? Well, it depends on the budget and the portability. As previously mentioned, the beefier the specs, the bigger the laptop will be. For the most part, aim to get at least an Nvidia GTX 960M. 15-inch gaming laptops should have that one, which is more than enough for most tasks.
If price is not a concern for you, you can opt for the newer Pascal graphics chips. Nvidia’s Pascal graphics modules are much more power efficient than their Maxwell counterparts (the 960M is a Maxwell graphics chip). If you want the bare minimum, get the GTX 1060. If you want a midrange graphics module, get the GTX 1070. If you want a beefy graphics chip, then definitely get the gaming laptop with the GTX 1080.
For those of you who do not know, the xx60 graphics modules by Nvidia are their budget offerings; the xx70 is their midrange, and the xx80 is their high-end module (xx indicates the graphics chip generation; the 900 series are the Maxwell graphics modules and the 1000 series are the Pascal graphics chips).
Keep in mind that most gaming laptops that have the GTX 1080 are the ones with at least a 17-inch form factor. The reason is that the GTX 1080 offers the best performance but at the cost of more heat. Laptops need to be big enough to dissipate the heat more efficiently if you are to keep the GPU under control.
Another thing to consider when choosing the GPU of the gaming laptop is how much VRAM it has. VRAM is the GPU’s memory module, and it will handle the textures and lighting, and it will also act as the frame buffer as well. The most common questions asked over the internet are “how much VRAM do you need?” and “what is the best gaming laptop for this?”
Well, modern games have become quite demanding, so I would say that 2GB of VRAM is the bare minimum. If you want a good enough buffer, a GPU with 4GB of VRAM should be fine in most cases. You would need additional VRAM, however, if you’re playing the games at higher resolutions (other than 1080p) and if you’re going to crank all of the game’s settings to their maximum presets.
The GPUs I’ve mentioned above should be adequate for any gaming scenarios. If you were to ask me what the right gaming laptop for this would be, I would get, at least, a GTX 970M or better yet, the GTX 1070 if you have the money, as either of these will surely be able to handle most of the current games out there.
The CPU is also an essential component of gaming laptops. Although there are only certain games that require the full use of CPUs, having a competent CPU can help increase those framerates. Just like gaming laptops’ GPUs, there are still no new AMD processors inside modern gaming laptops. So, everything I will recommend here is from Intel. To start with, you want at least an Intel Core i5 processor with four cores. In most cases, an i5 is adequate.
However, some games will work better when you have an Intel Core i7 processor. What is the difference between the two? Well, Intel Core i5 processors have four physical cores and four physical threads only. Intel Core i7 processors, on the other hand, have four physical cores coupled with eight threads, thanks to Intel’s “hyperthreading” technology (which boosts the thread count of the CPU).
Now, if you are going for the i5, aim to get an i5 ending with the letter “U” (for example, i5-6200U). The i5s that have the “Y” in the end are those that are low-performance but power saving variants. You don’t want power saving features when you’re gaming because you want to get the most performance out of your components.
If you’re going for Intel i7 processors, get the ones that end in “HQ” as they are the ones that give the most performance. Again, do not get i7 processors ending in “Y” as they are the low-performance variants.
If you are on a budget and you want the best gaming laptop for the money that can play games even at low framerates, then an Intel Core i3 would be good. They are affordable, they are power efficient, and they can play games, albeit in lower settings.
When looking for the best gaming laptop for the money, always look at the processor that is used and also its clock speed. You want a processor with a fast clock speed so you can enjoy playing games without compromises. Modern gaming laptops feature high-performance CPUs. Opt for at least a 3GHz-clocked processor (higher is better). There are also some laptops that give you the ability to overclock the CPU, but these types do not come cheap.
Intel’s Skylake processors are the newest mainstream processors from the company, and they offer 10% faster speeds than the previous Haswell chips, as well as greater power efficiency. So, if you’re asking what the best gaming laptop is when it comes to CPU, I do recommend that you get gaming laptops that have Skylake processors. Their series number start with 6 (like i5-6200U). If you do decide to get gaming laptops with Skylake CPUs, you’re pretty much good to go for two to three years.
For the most part, an i5 processor with four cores should be more than enough. I consider having an Intel Core i7 processor a luxury, but if you can, definitely go for it.
Your screen’s resolution will affect the performance and the price of the best gaming laptop for you. The resolution is, in layman’s terms, the number of horizontal and vertical pixels your laptop’s screen can display. For example, a 1080p resolution monitor has 1920 × 1080, which means it produces 1920 horizontal pixels and 1080 vertical pixels. The higher the resolution, the more taxing it is going to be for the graphics processing unit, and also, it can drain your battery a lot quicker.
In today’s standards, get a gaming laptop that has at least a 1080p resolution. Do not buy a monitor with a 720p resolution! I have to say that in bold text. If you buy a gaming laptop with a 720p resolution screen, you will instantly regret the purchase as you will have to make do with a low-quality display and uninspiring viewability.
The 1080p resolution seems to be the sweet spot. Of course, the higher the resolution, the better the display. However, keep in mind that because higher resolutions mean that there are more pixels on the screen, it can become more taxing on your GPU. We can now see more gaming laptops that have 4K resolution displays, but I don’t recommend them if you’re a gamer.
It is nice to have a 4K display if you’re an editor, but if you’re a gamer? There is no need. Even if the GPU can handle it, it will produce a lot of heat, and it will also suck the life out of your laptop’s battery quickly. So, what is the best gaming laptop to buy when it comes to resolution? We recommend sticking with either a 1080p (1920 × 1080) or 1440p (2560 × 1440) resolution screen.
RAM or “Random Access Memory” is crucial to a gaming laptop, especially if you’re the type of person who wants to run multiple tasks simultaneously. RAM stores data and makes it readily available whenever you want to use it. For example, suppose you fire up your favorite game from a cold boot (first start), and you wait for a couple of seconds (say, 15) to have it wholly loaded, and then you’re on the main screen. What RAM does is it hastens the process of reloading the application because it stores the data right in its reserves.
Furthermore, some applications require a lot of RAM. If you’re like me who plays games and also has the Google Chrome browser opened with a few tabs, I will instantly hit more than 4 to 5GB of RAM usage (this will increase if I play a more graphically intensive games and/or open a lot of tabs on Chrome).
RAM is important because it works in tandem with your CPU. The CPU needs the RAM to store its data, and it will be easier for the CPU to run those applications because the RAM is there to become its buffer. All applications, including your games, will require RAM to operate, and if you’re running higher-end games or AAA titles, you will need lots of RAM.
As a general rule of thumb, 8GB RAM is adequate. However, if you want to use your gaming laptop for a few more years, having a 16GB RAM should be sufficient. If you are going to use your computer for editing purposes (photo and video), the more RAM, the better. I asked a friend of mine who happens to be a photo editor, and he said that 32GB is the minimum when it comes to photo editing. He finds it as the “sweet spot” because you will be dealing with a lot of applications, and most editing programs (ahem, Adobe) are RAM-hungry applications.
If you are going to buy a gaming laptop with the new Skylake processor, you will need a DDR4 RAM module. If you think that speed usually equates to better performance, you are right. However, it is not evident when you use your gaming laptop. In other words, the speed of the RAM doesn’t matter much. Even if you’re going to use the slowest DDR4 RAM speed (which is the JEDEC standard, 2133MHz), it will still be quite fast compared to the DDR3 memory modules of last year.
My point is, do not concern yourself with the RAM speed. What’s more important is the RAM capacity (8GB, 16GB, and so on). I use a gaming system with 16GB of RAM, and it is more than adequate for my gaming needs. Again, 8GB is the minimum, 16GB is good, and 32GB is ideal. So, what is the best gaming laptop when it comes to RAM capacity? Keep reading to find out.
For the storage, you will have two options: an HDD (Hard Disk Drive) or an SSD (Solid State Drive). The former is an inexpensive but slow storage drive. The latter is more expensive, but it is much Given their speed, the SSDs are always the preferred storage option for many gamers. If you want to cut down on the cost, you can opt for an HDD; just make sure to get, at least, a 1TB HDD. Also, make sure to get an HDD with 7200 RPM speed as it gives you a bit of a speed boost compared to the 5400 RPM HDD.
The good thing here is that you are not limited to an either/or option because you can opt for having both of the storage drives inside your gaming laptop. Most, if not all, companies allow you to configure the storage option that you want, which means you can get an SSD and an HDD (of course, the price will be a bit higher).
If you want the budget option, get an SSD with at least 120GB capacity and a 1TB hard disk. I would recommend you get a 240GB SSD and a 2TB HDD. This way, you can put all of your online games and essential applications on the SSD (including the OS), and then store everything else on the massive 2TB HDD.
SSDs have become relatively cheap lately. You can snag a 512GB SSD for as low as $80! If price is never an issue for you, you might want to fit your gaming laptop with either a PCIe or M.2 SSD, which gives you blazing fast speeds. Of course, all of this power does not come cheap, but if you value performance more than anything, these two types of SSDs will give you thunder.
7. Keyboard and Touchpad
Now when it comes to this aspect, what is the best gaming laptop to buy? Most people who buy the best gaming laptops are so engrossed with the specs of the machine, but they often overlook some essential components like the keyboard and touchpad. Both of them are so important because, most of the time, you’ll be using them to not only navigate through the different features of the laptop but also communicate with it as well.
For the keyboard, aim for one that has a travel distance of 2mm and below. This is because you want the keys to be responsive and provide good tactile feedback as well. A lot of experts and gamers alike agree that 2mm is the minimum when it comes to optimal key travel distance. If you’re going to shop for the best gaming laptop for the money, make sure not to overlook the key travel distance of the keyboard.
The next thing you need to look at is the actuation point and actuation force required by the gaming laptop’s keyboard. Actuation point refers to the travel distance required for the key to register on the screen while actuation force is the force that you apply to the key (usually measured in grams). In most cases, you would want an actuation point of about 2mm (or less) and an actuation force of about 60 grams (or less), which allows you to play your games without pressing the keys too hard for it to work.
You also want the keyboard to light up not only because of aesthetics but also because some gamers prefer to play in the dark. Many gaming laptops come with backlit keyboards, and some of them even come with RGB lighting. Always choose a gaming laptop with keyboard illumination.
For the touchpad, you want one that is sensitive enough to detect even light touches. Even though most gamers prefer to use a gaming mouse, having a responsive trackpad can do wonders. There are also touch gestures that you can do when you have a touchpad (which cannot be done by a mouse).
8. Battery Life
A gaming laptop is a portable gaming machine. This means that, most of the time, you’re going to play on it using its onboard battery. Battery life is also another important thing to consider when buying the best gaming laptop for the money. However, it is not that simple. You see, even if companies rate their laptops to last for “more than x hours,” there are so many things to take into account regarding battery life.
The games you play, the programs you have running, the graphics settings of the games you’re currently playing, and the specs of the best gaming laptops are just some of the things that will suck the life out of your laptop’s battery. Take what the company says as a baseline but not an actual representation of real-world usage.
If you want to maximize your gaming laptop’s battery life, it would be wise to tone down some settings. For example, if you can play with only 50% screen brightness and probably the volume set to just 40, then it can help in prolonging the laptop’s battery.
So, when it comes to battery life, what is the best gaming laptop? We don’t know yet, but as much as possible, get a gaming laptop that can last at least 3 hours and 30 minutes. Most people who are looking for gaming laptops say that this is the minimum since you do not want to reach for its charger just after under three hours of gaming. Below are the best gaming laptops for 2019.
Best laptops for 2019
Alienware M15 Thin and Light Gaming Laptop
The Alienware 15 is the perfect balance of power and portability and is made with premium materials for an overall higher quality build. Magnesium alloy ensures structural rigidity, copper allows for optimal thermal management for maximum performance, and reinforced steel contributes to the overall tactile comfort. Designed to Keep Cool Higher maximum thermal design power (TDP) support means that your system can handle a higher total wattage for internal components, enabling a higher level of performance. With the entire ventilation system upgraded, your system can stay cool even under extreme graphics pressure.
Performance and Specs
The Alienware M5 thin and light gaming laptop features savage performance innards including an 8th Gen Intel Core i7-8750 processor. Add NVIDIA GeForce’s GTX 1070 Max-Q design graphics card, 2666Mhz DDR4 16GB RAM with 8GB on each of the laptop’s two slots, and you have a powerhouse that will boost you past your enemies with ease. For storage, you have a hybrid 1TB (+8GB SSHD) drive and an additional 128GB PCIe M.2 that cuts load times by a mile.
The screen is a 15.6-inch 1920 ×1080p FHD display with anti-glare, and to boost frame rates, it boasts a refresh rate of 60Hz. Thanks to Alienware’s Crya-Tech V2.0 thermal technology, components cool optimally to maximize performance. The laptop has dual intake and exhaust vents with fans built for maximum cooling. Plus, in a neat small package, it is slimmer and lighter than most Alienware gaming laptops and is ideal for those looking to play on the go.
ASUS TUF FX504 Thin and Light Gaming Laptop PC
ASUS TUF Gaming FX504 is a powerful Windows 10 laptop that combines gaming performance with an extended lifespan, thanks to its patented Anti-Dust Cooling (ADC) system. Infused with the spirit of The Ultimate Force (TUF) and designed to strike fear into the heart of the enemy, the durable and lightweight FX504 is the first laptop in the TUF Gaming family. The FX504 comes with high-end components with all the best and whistles necessary to run any games at nippy speeds.
Performance and Specs
The ASUS TUF Gaming FX504 gaming laptop has a decent NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 or GTX 1050 Ti graphics and a powerful 8th-Generation Intel Core i5-8300H processor that enable it to play the latest games and multitask with ease. This gaming laptop features a high-frequency DDR4 2666MHz RAM and a Seagate FireCuda Solid State Hybrid Drive to ensure smooth performance. For connectivity, it features one of the fastest Wi-Fi standards available – the latest Intel 802.11ac Wave 2 boasts data transfer rates of up to an incredible 1.7Gbps.
Additionally, its red backlit gaming keyboard is rated at 20-million keystroke durability, and with the inbuilt aggressive cooling technology featuring anti-dust tunnels, dual fans, and improved airflow, the ASUS TUF gaming laptop will rarely heat up, regardless of what you throw at it. If you are looking for the best gaming laptop for the money and you are on a budget, this laptop should be at the top of your list.
Razer Blade 15 RTX gaming laptop
Away from budget best gaming laptops for the money, you get into the realm of the Razer Blade 15 RTX. While this gaming laptop might be pricier than most, rivals will have a hard time trying to outdo it. The Razer is packed with premium gaming tech and combines a thin and compact profile with the power of a pro gaming rig. It has a top-of-the-line graphics card, and its battery life is unmatched considering the punch it packs. It also supports facial login using the Windows Hello infrared camera, which comes as standard. The laptop’s shell is a seamless aluminum build with only the company’s logo on the back lid.
Performance and Specs
The entry-level spec of this best gaming laptop comes with an RTX 2060 graphics card driving a 144Hz full HD display and 512GB SSD internal storage. For a few more bucks, you have the option of upgrading the graphics card to the potent RTX 2070 Max-Q variant, although this will set you back on storage as it comes with half the storage capacity of its cheaper sibling. If you want the same internal storage capacity of 512GB, you have to top up even more.
On the highest spec available, you have the option of adding a 4K display with a refresh rate of a decent 60Hz. That said, each of the above variants come with the same Intel Core i7-8750H processor and 16GB of DDR4 RAM. If you want to, you can upgrade the RAM up to 64GB. Overall, the Razer Blade 15 RTX is easily one of the best gaming laptops, even though it costs significantly more.
MSI GV62 8RD-200 gaming laptop
If you are looking for a mid-level gaming laptop that will offer you everything you need to handle most games, then the MSI GV62 8RD-200 is it. It is arguably one of the best gaming laptops for the money, given that it costs nearly half of what premium gaming laptops cost, and unlike those in the high-end spectrum of the gaming world, it features subtler design cues, although the red MSI logo accent on the back and the crimson red edge glow keys give it away. It’s also one of the thinner laptops out there, making it easily portable. The body is made of matte black plastic.
Performance and Specs
While the looks are subtle, the performance of this gaming laptop is not. It might not be as good as some other best gaming laptops in the market, but for what you pay, it does its job. The GV62 packs an 8th gen Intel Core i7 processor that is 40% faster than the 7th gen siblings, giving you more power to blaze through resource-intensive games and tasks. That it does not support VR is a shame, but other than that, you are bound to have some fun using it. It features a 15.6” Full HD EDP IPS-Level display that is the sweet spot for laptop screens.
It comes with 8GB DDR4 RAM to boost loading times and 1TB of HDD internal storage. In this day and age, MSI could have done better by bundling it with an SSD drive. Instead, they have gone with Intel’s new 16GB Optane memory that improves loading times, much like an SSD would, although an SSD is still superior. With an NVIDIA GTX 1050Ti graphics card, this best gaming laptop will blaze through most tasks effortlessly.
The Lenovo Y700 gaming laptop looks the part for a gaming laptop, and if you are wondering what the best gaming laptop is, the Lenovo sits at the high table with the best. Right off the bat, this best gaming laptop features a sleek chassis that is so subtle, you will be forgiven to mistake it for any regular business PC. The only giveaway is the grille on its back that features red accents. The lid itself is made from brushed black aluminum that gives it a lustrous pattern. The Y700 has 1920 × 1080 15 inches of screen real estate with a respectable 263 nits. Whether you will be gaming on it intensively or switching between video editing and watching 4K videos, the Lenovo Y700 is a great choice.
Performance and Specs
The Lenovo Y700 gaming laptop has a powerful Intel quad-core i7-6700HQ processor, 16GB system memory for intense multitasking and gaming, and 1TB hard drive and 256GB SSD for a blend of storage space and speed. The keyboard is backlit for night usability, and for an added boost, the processor features Turbo Boost that clocks out at 3.5GHz. In addition, this gaming laptop features a dedicated GeForce GTX 960M 4GB graphics card. The Lenovo Y700 also edges out the competition with its audio capability. It packs JBL speakers and Dolby Home Theater, which combine to produce incredibly realistic sounds.
With all these bells and whistles and at this price point, the Y700 is, without a doubt, the best gaming laptop for the money. From the cutting-edge design to the power-packed package under the hood of this gaming laptop, you have everything you need to run the most intensive games and programs smoothly.
OMEN by HP 15-inch Gaming Laptop
The Omen by HP 15-inch gaming laptop affords you the ability to play Fortnite or Overwatch on the go without having to compromise on performance. The design features a dual texture back with the middle housing the Omen logo on a polished surface, while the edges feature a rough texture. With the features it packs, this gaming notebook will easily play the likes of Rocket League at 144 fps. Although it gets hot at the highest settings, you can lower some settings using the Omen Vital Controls on the desktop to avoid overheating.
Performance and Specs
The Omen by HP features an Intel Core i7 8th gen processor with six cores that clocks a standard 2.2GHz and up to 4.1GHz when you push it to the max. That is mated to NVIDIA’s 8GB GDDR5 GeForce GTX 1070 dedicated graphics card. The screen is a 15-inch 1920 × 1080 display with anti-glare. For storage, there is a nippy 512GB SSD and 32 GB DDR4 RAM to keep things running fast and smooth. Its keyboard is backlit in a neat red, and with a variety of connectivity options, the Omen is ideal for any gamer looking for a near-premium gaming laptop.
Gaming laptops are amazing because they are portable, and they can now play even the most demanding games out there. Yes, they are much more expensive compared to desktop gaming rigs, but a lot of people buy them because they can be carried anywhere, which means you can play anywhere.
There you have it! I hope that after reading this article, you are well-equipped with the knowledge that you need to get a great gaming laptop for you!
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