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For picking the best gaming laptops, we've split our recommendations into distinct categories based on use case, budget, and form factor, covering the best budget laptops you can still game on, to the absolute monster desktop replacements that will tear through anything you throw at them.
There are plenty of updated models, many packing powerful GeForce RTX 4000-series cards and the latest Intel and AMD CPUs – even the cheaper models.
- Best Value Gaming
- Best Premium Gaming Laptop
- Best Budget Buys
- Best Gaming Ultraportable
- Best Desktop Replacement
Best Value for Gaming
Most people aren't in a hurry to spend over $2,000 on a laptop, but thankfully there are options. For those seeking a reasonably priced laptop that combines good looks, robust performance, and an impressive screen, the Lenovo Legion Slim 5 Gen 8 is an excellent choice.
Typically priced at $1,499 for our favorite model, the Legion Slim 5 can sometimes be found for as low as $1,150 during sales. That's a hell of a price for a stylish laptop equipped with an RTX 4060, Ryzen 7 7840HS, 8GB of DDR5 memory, and a 512GB Gen 4 M.2 SSD.
Lenovo has not compromised on the screen quality either: a 16-inch 2560x1600 IPS display with a 165Hz refresh rate is a significant upgrade for anyone coming from 1080p. Additionally, the RTX 4060 handles most games effortlessly, especially when using DLSS. As with other Lenovo Legion laptops, the keyboard is outstanding. The Slim 5 Gen 8 offers four-zone RGB lighting that's controlled via the Vantage software, a 1080p webcam, dual speakers, and a surprisingly long battery life.
The laptop offers two USB-C ports – one with 140W power delivery – two 2 x USB-A 3.2 Gen 2, HDMI 2.1, and a Gigabit Ethernet input, as well as Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.1.
The speakers are only average, but there's not much that can compete with the Lenovo Legion Slim 5 Gen 8 when it comes to being a great all-rounder, with a solid combination of performance, looks, size, and that price.
Best Premium Gaming Laptop
There are so many great premium gaming laptops available that this proved to be the most difficult category to pick winners. We ended up with two, one from Asus and one from Lenovo.
The Asus ROG Strix Scar 16 (2023) represents a significant leap forward in the realm of high-performance gaming laptops. This model, particularly in its Core i9 and RTX 4080 variant, stands out for a combination of blistering performance, a competitive price point, and an eye-catching mini LED display.
The 16-inch, 16:10 miniLED panel, which Asus likes to call the "ROG Nebula HDR" display, is a highlight. It offers a 240Hz refresh rate on the 2560x1600 screen, fast response times, 100% sRGB and DCI-P3 color gamut coverage, and 1,024 dimming zones. It can also reach over 1,100 nits of peak brightness, ensuring excellent HDR performance. The vivid colors and brightness make it perfect for both gaming and media consumption.
The refreshed semi-transparent design of the Scar 16 is as sturdy as ever, offering something that feels solid and well-built if a little heavier than previous models. The chassis features blunted edges and corners that are user-friendly, and the hinges allow for easy screen adjustments. It's also covered in RGB lighting.
The ROG Strix Scar comes in two versions with the Nebula display: one with the RTX 4090 ($3,699.99) and the other with an RTX 4080 ($2,899.99). Both pack a 13th-Gen Core i9-13980HX, and you can add up to 64GB of RAM, too; the performance on offer here is monstrous. A less expensive version without the miniLED display (FHD 165Hz) is offered with an RTX 4070 for significantly less ($1699), while still keeping the same Core i9 chip.
There are also plenty of connectivity options, including Thunderbolt 4 support, though the ports are only on the sides as the rear is reserved for cooling. Other reasons to buy include a Dolby Atmos quad-speaker system, a virtual numeric keypad on the trackpad, good battery life for a gaming laptop, and a built-in array microphone.
Some less-welcome elements include the Strix getting quite toasty after prolonged use. It also lacks biometrics features like an IR camera or fingerprint sensor, and the 4080/4090-only models are pretty expensive.
However, that breathtaking screen, cool design, top-tier performance, and solid build quality make the Asus ROG Strix Scar 16 an excellent choice for those who want a true gaming laptop.
A Worthy Joint Winner
If you want a 16-inch laptop that offers a similar configuration as the Strix with a less extravagant design and can live without the miniLED screen, check out the Lenovo Legion Pro 7i (Gen 8). Like the Asus, the Legion can be specced with up to an RTX 4090, while all models come with an Intel Core i9-13900HX processor.
Where the two machines differ most is the display. The Legion has the same 2560x1600 (WQXGA, 16:10) resolution combined with a 240Hz refresh rate, and it does look nice. But the 500 nits brightness and HDR 400 certification illustrate how it can't compare to the Strix's stunning miniLED display.
At the time of writing, the $2,849 price of the RTX 4080 model has been reduced to $2,249, so it is good value. It also has a more grown-up design, even with enough RGB lighting to satisfy fans.
Other features include the Coldfront 5.0 thermal tech, Lenovo's usual excellent keyboard, and an ability to squeeze so much performance out of the RTX 4080 (150W TGP) that it can match some RTX 4090-powered laptops when it comes to framerates.
The battery life might be on the weaker side, but the power and competitive price of the Legion Pro 7i make it a worthy joint winner.
Best Budget Buys
The $999 gaming laptop has undergone various iterations in recent years. Previously, any laptop priced around or under $1,000 was to be avoided at all costs if you wanted to play anything more than Excel on it.
But these days, the Acer Nitro 5 with an RTX 4060 and a 144Hz display can be grabbed for as little as $999 during a sale. Regular readers will be familiar with the Nitro 5 – it's topped this category on more than one occasion. The various models come with a range of hardware and displays, including 165Hz QHD, a Ryzen 7 5800H, and the RTX 3070. But what they all have in common is the low price.
We like the RTX 4060 model that also features a Core i7-12650H, 16GB of RAM, and a 15.6-inch 1080p display. Moreover, most games can make good use of the 144Hz refresh rate thanks to the Ada Lovelace GPU inside.
The design is pretty average, which is to be expected at this price, but it is sturdy enough with little flexing, and you get four-zone RGB backlighting.
Few gaming laptops have great battery life, and it's one area where the Nitro 5 really struggles, but at least the thermal performance is better than expected. It runs quietly, too. The Nitro 5's display and SSD are far from stellar, but you'll be too happy knowing that you've paid three figures for such a solid gaming machine.
For a gaming laptop that's even cheaper, the MSI Thin GF63 can be found on sale for a low $799. It comes with similar specs as the Acer: Core i7-12650H, 16GB RAM, 144Hz 15.6-inch screen, 512GB SSD – but the GPU drops down the stack, offering an RTX 4050 instead of the 4060.
Cheaper does mean other compromises like all-red backlighting, but the black aluminum chassis itself is pretty stylish. And despite its name, this laptop is more thin-ish than thin, measuring 0.8-inches thick.
Another surprising element for a laptop this cheap is its wide range of ports: two USB-A 3.2 Gen 1, USB-A, HDMI 1.4, a Type-C port that also supports DP Alt Mode, a one gigabit RJ-45 LAN port, and two 3.5mm audio jacks. There's also a 720p webcam that's not garbage.
The keyboard, speakers, and screen aren't great and that RTX 4050 has a max TGP of just 45W. However, getting a serviceable gaming GPU in a $799 laptop is still pretty amazing, the port selection is good, and it offers a decent gaming experience at a low price.
Best Gaming Ultraportable
Razer's Blade laptops have earned a reputation as the MacBooks of the PC world: they're gorgeous, sleek, powerful, and expensive. The latest Blade 14 is no exception. When it comes to sheer style, few laptops can challenge this machine, whose only real drawbacks are the price and, to a lesser extent, the battery.
Razer offers a choice between a Ryzen 9 6900HX or the latest Ryzen 9 7940HS CPU, complemented by options such as an RTX 3060, 3070, 4060, or 4070. Additionally, it features three display options, including a 2560 x 1600 panel with a 240Hz refresh rate.
The Blade remains under one inch thick and weighs just four pounds, even when equipped with the RTX 4070. The CNC-milled aluminum chassis is incredibly sturdy and also exudes style. It's also available in a MacBook-like Mercury finish. Both the keyboard and trackpad are a pleasure to use, offering responsive feedback, and the dual speakers flanking the keyboard deliver clear sound.
Port-wise, it comes with two USB Type-A 3.2 ports, two USB Type-C 3.2 Gen 2 ports, an HDMI port, and an audio jack. No Ethernet, though it does have Wi-Fi 6E (802.11ax) and Bluetooth 5.3. The display offers 100% DCI-P3 color gamut coverage, anti-glare finish, 16:10 aspect ratio, and AMD FreeSync Premium to make the most of the 240Hz refresh rate and 140W-max RTX 4070.
So yes, the Razer Blade 14 is a fantastic laptop you can carry around easily and enjoy the latest titles. But thin, light, and powerful means a sub-par battery life, so you won't be gaming on it for long while on the move. There's also the price: $2,700 for the most affordable RTX 4070 configuration is more expensive than the RTX 4080-powered ROG Zephyrus 14 (below).
Just as good
Another Asus entry makes the list in the form of the excellent ROG Zephyrus G14. The latest revision of this laptop can be specced all the way up to an RTX 4090 (125W) and an 8-core/16-thread Ryzen 9 7940HS to push the pixels around its beautiful 2560x1600 screen (mini-LED – if you do opt for the RTX 4090 model).
All that power can be packed into a machine 0.77 inches thick that weighs 3.79 pounds. Like previous generations, there's the option to add 1,215 mini-LEDs to the milled magnesium-aluminium lid via the AniMe Matrix display, allowing owners to show off custom images and animations.
The ROG Nebula HDR display is amazing, and even the non mini-LED options look great. There's a 1080p webcam, a wide port selection that includes USB Type-C and HDMI 2.1, and even a microSD card reader. It also comes with Wi-Fi 6E (802.11ax) (Triple band) 2*2 and a quad-speaker system.
There isn't much to dislike about the Zephyrus G14 except for the slightly disappointing battery life and price. The RTX 4080 model, which lacks a mini-LED screen, is $2,499.99, while the flagship RTX 4090 is $3,299.
Best Desktop Replacement
A laptop that acts as a desktop replacement doesn't care about portability, noise, or battery life; the most important elements are screen size and sheer power. The Dell Alienware m18 knows this, featuring a Core i9-13900HX, up to an RTX 4090, and a massive 18-inch screen. You can also pack it with 8.5TB of NVMe storage and 64GB of RAM!
The Alienware measures 1.05 x 16.15 x 12.59 inches and weighs an arm-aching 8.9 pounds. It's also as sturdy as it is heavy, helped by a metal lid, yet it still looks cool. One of the best elements about this laptop is that it has the option of a full-size RGB keyboard with low-profile Cherry MX mechanical keys, which is as closer as you're going to get to a standard desktop keyboard.
There are several configurations available, from the basic RTX 4060/ Core i7-13700HX to the beastly RTX 4090 with a Core i9-13900HX. You can also opt for three different AMD CPUs going up to the latest AMD Ryzen 9 7945HX.
Display choice is interesting. The 2560x1600 standard option offers a 165Hz refresh, or you can spend $100 more to get a 1080p panel with an impressive 480Hz refresh rate. Both screens also feature a 3ms response time 100% DCI-P3 coverage, as well as an FHD IR camera.
As expected, there's a slew of ports on offer, including three USB 3.2 inputs, Type-C, Thunderbolt 4, Ethernet, headphone jack, HDMI 2.1, and mini-Display. The speakers are very loud, too.
Battery life and the massive weight are obvious drawbacks, but that's why this is a desktop replacement machine. It's also pricey at the high-end; you can spend almost $5,000 on this thing if you max it out. The bottom line, though, is that the Alienware m18 outperforms almost all 18-inch laptops when it comes to gaming.
Another RTX 4090 beast
The Asus ROG Strix Scar 18 is one of the few that can rival the Alienware m18 in raw gaming performance. Specs include the 24-core/32-thread Core i9-13980HX and a GeForce RTX 4090 (175W).
There's no fancy Cherry mechanical keyboard option in the Strix, but it does have a full-size one surrounded by four Dolby Atmos speakers. And at 6.83 pounds and 0.91 inches thick, it's lighter and thinner than the Alienware.
The Pantone Validated, ROG Nebula Display IPS panel comes with a 2560x1600 resolution and a 240Hz refresh rate. It's incredibly vivid and bright even though it isn't mini-LED.
Port selection includes Thunderbolt 4 support and even a 2.5GB LAN port, and both models come with 2TB of PCIe 4.0 storage in RAID 0.
It's surprising that Asus decided to add a plastic body to such a premium laptop, even though it's a pretty solid one, but it presumably helps keeps the weight down. The laptop also packs a high-end cooling system to keep those toasty components cool.
With only two models available, both with an RTX 4090, the Scar doesn't offer the same level of configuration as some rivals, so be prepared to pay $3,899 for the cheapest version.