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The Best Gaming laptops To Buy Right Now Step By Step Complete Guide

The best gaming laptops to buy right now

The Best Gaming laptops to buy right now There are individuals who believe that a PC is necessary for an authentic gaming experience, especially if you enjoy pushing the boundaries of graphics quality beyond what a gaming console can offer. In order to achieve this, a gaming desktop remains the superior choice, particularly when it comes to having the necessary components and power to smoothly run 4K games and support virtual reality (VR) setups. However, if you desire or require a portable option that can be taken around the house or to your friend’s place, we are here to assist you in selecting the appropriate gaming laptop.

Our selection of choices is constantly changing as we conduct tests on new models. We have categorized our recommendations into three groups: budget (priced at approximately $1,200 or less), midrange (ranging from $1,200 to $2,000), and high-end ($2,000 and above). Additionally, we have also included alternative options for each category that are suitable for those who prefer a larger screen experience similar to a desktop computer. Previously, only laptops with 14-, 15.6-, and 17.3-inch screens were available, but now we are also seeing systems with 16- and 18-inch screens. Therefore, it is not practical to group them based on specific sizes. Gaming laptops with smaller 14-inch screens are considered “ultraportable gaming” devices, and we have also chosen a few additional favorites tailored for specific purposes such as content creation and cloud gaming.

In the event that the base model is priced lower, we may categorize a model in a different price range from where we initially tested it. It is important to note that the budget category has experienced price increases throughout 2022 and into 2023 due to silicon shortages and supply-chain issues resulting from the pandemic. In the past, our maximum limit for budget gaming machines was $999, but we have seen prices rise at the lower end of this market. Consequently, we have expanded the price limit for this category of gaming machines. Below, you can find a detailed breakdown of our current recommendations for the best gaming laptops in 2023, followed by an extensive buying guide on how to choose a gaming laptop.

The Best Gaming laptops to buy right now

  • Lenovo Legion Slim 5 Gen 8
  • Gigabyte Aorus 15 BMF
  • MSI Cyborg 15
  • Lenovo Legion Slim 5 Gen 8 (14.5-Inch)
  • Lenovo Legion Pro 7i Gen 8
  • Alienware m18
  • Razer Blade 14
  • Alienware x14 R2
  • Asus ROG Strix Scar 18
  • Gigabyte Aero 16 OLED
  • Acer Chromebook 516 GE
The best gaming laptops to buy right now

Lenovo Legion Slim 5 Gen 8

Reasons Why We Choice Explanation

With its affordable starting price of $1,299, wide range of configuration options, and durable construction, we confidently endorse the Legion Slim 5 Gen 8 for the average gamer. Our custom configuration, priced at $1,549, is slightly more expensive than the base model, indicating its ability to be upgraded without reaching high-end prices. Equipped with an AMD Ryzen 7 7840HS CPU and Nvidia GeForce RTX 4060 GPU for fast midrange gaming performance, as well as a vibrant 165Hz display, comfortable keyboard, and effective cooling system, this Legion model is a worthy choice.

Who Good It’s For

Although the initial cost may be higher than what budget-conscious individuals are seeking (we have alternative options for that specific purpose), the majority of users will find the performance to be more than satisfactory at an affordable price. This particular model features a 16-inch display, and if portability is your main concern, there are numerous other laptops available. However, it is worth noting that 16 inches is increasingly becoming the conventional size for gaming machines. If you have funds to invest but not to the extent of the aforementioned amount, the Legion Slim 5 Gen 8 should be your first choice.

PROS

  • High-TDP GPU
  • Well-cooled for its thickness
  • Sharp and fast display
  • Excellent keyboard layout
  • Sturdy build
  • Cheaper than a lot of competitors

CONS

  • No USB4 or Thunderbolt 4
  • Still fairly long front to back

Specifications

Laptop Class Gaming
Processor AMD Ryzen 7 7840HS
Processor Speed 3.8 GHz
RAM (as Tested) 16 GB
Boot Drive Type SSD
Boot Drive Capacity (as Tested) 512 GB
Screen Size 16 inches
Native Display Resolution 2560 by 1600
Touch Screen
Panel Technology IPS
Variable Refresh Support G-Sync
Screen Refresh Rate 165 Hz
Graphics Processor Nvidia GeForce RTX 4060 Laptop GPU
Graphics Memory 8 GB
Wireless Networking 802.11ax, Bluetooth 5.1
Dimensions (HWD) 0.92 by 14.16 by 10.25 inches
Weight 5.17 lbs
Operating System Windows 11 Home
Tested Battery Life (Hours:Minutes) 6:20

Gigabyte Aorus 15 BMF

Reasons Why We Choice Explanation

Our list includes a variety of high-performance and expensive systems, but we understand that many shoppers have limited budgets. For those looking for a gaming machine at an affordable price, the Gigabyte Aorus 15 BMF is the ideal choice. Priced at $999, it may not be the most powerful option available, but it utilizes sensible entry-level components from the latest generation of CPUs and GPUs while keeping costs down. We particularly value its partially metal construction, comfortable keyboard, sharp 1080p webcam, and wide range of ports given its price.

Who Good It’s For

If your budget is set at approximately $1,000, the Aorus 15 BMF is the ideal choice for you. When it comes to parents shopping for their kids, there’s no need to consider pricier alternatives on our list as this model is more than sufficient. This laptop has the capability to run all popular games, including graphically demanding big-budget ones, at 1080p without any problems. Additionally, you won’t have to compromise on visual settings while gaming at that resolution, resulting in a convenient plug-and-play experience overall.

PROS

  • Sturdy, elegant construction
  • On-point performance for the price
  • Commendable keyboard
  • Plenty of ports
  • Rare 1080p webcam
  • Sufficient battery life

CONS

  • Merely average display
  • RTX 4050 is outmatched by the RTX 3060
  • Hit-or-miss touchpad

Specifications

Laptop Class Gaming
Processor Intel Core i5-13500H
Processor Speed
RAM (as Tested) 8 GB
Boot Drive Type SSD
Boot Drive Capacity (as Tested) 512 GB
Screen Size 15.6 inches
Native Display Resolution 1920 by 1080
Touch Screen
Panel Technology IPS
Variable Refresh Support None
Screen Refresh Rate 144 Hz
Graphics Processor Nvidia GeForce RTX 4050 Laptop GPU
Graphics Memory 6 GB
Wireless Networking Bluetooth 5.2, Wi-Fi 6E
Dimensions (HWD) 0.82 by 14.2 by 10.7 inches
Weight 5.25 lbs
Operating System Windows 11 Home
Tested Battery Life (Hours:Minutes) 7:10

MSI Cyborg 15

Reasons Why We Choice Explanation

Similar to the Gigabyte Aorus 15 BMF, this laptop offers an excellent $1,000 deal. Although the entry-level components may not achieve extraordinary benchmarks, the inclusion of an RTX 4050 GPU and a 13th Gen Core i7 processor at this price point is a fair combination. While there are certain compromises to be made (such as a dim display and limited graphics performance), this laptop is highly recommended for budget-conscious mainstream gamers.

Who Good It’s For

If the Aorus 15 BMF is not accessible, then this option is an equally wise choice for shoppers on a budget, young gamers seeking their first gaming laptop, and individuals in these categories who prioritize a high-speed processor. While the Aorus 15 BMF provides a more luxurious experience within this price range, this gaming laptop retains its traditional appeal for those on a limited budget, offering distinct advantages and reasonable compromises to maintain affordability.

PROS

  • $999 price in our Core i7/RTX 4050 test unit
  • Able to play at the highest 1080p settings
  • Peppy processor for the money
  • Decent build for a budget gaming rig

CONS

  • RTX 4050 GPU didn’t wow versus RTX 3060s
  • Display is dim and disappointing
  • Sharp chassis edge can dig into wrists during typing

Specifications

Laptop Class Gaming
Processor Intel Core i7-13620H
Processor Speed
RAM (as Tested) 16 GB
Boot Drive Type SSD
Boot Drive Capacity (as Tested) 512 GB
Screen Size 15.6 inches
Native Display Resolution 1,920 by 1,080
Touch Screen
Panel Technology IPS
Variable Refresh Support None
Screen Refresh Rate 144 Hz
Graphics Processor Nvidia GeForce RTX 4050 Laptop GPU
Graphics Memory 6 GB
Wireless Networking 802.11ax, Bluetooth 5.1
Dimensions (HWD) 0.9 by 14.1 by 9.85 inches
Weight 4.5 lbs
Operating System Windows 11 Home
Tested Battery Life (Hours:Minutes) 7:16

Lenovo Legion Slim 5 Gen 8 (14.5-Inch)

Reasons Why We Choice Explanation

In the realm of midrange and high-end laptops, where 16-inch and 18-inch machines are becoming increasingly common, the Lenovo Legion Slim 5 Gen 8 stands out by measuring 14.5 inches. However, this smaller size does not compromise its performance capabilities. Our review unit, equipped with an AMD Ryzen 7 7840HS processor and Nvidia GeForce RTX 4060 graphics card, is able to compete with larger systems that have similar specifications. Additionally, the laptop offers more than just performance and portability; it also boasts a brilliant OLED screen and impressive battery life. With its durability, longevity, and affordability, the Lenovo Legion Slim 5 Gen 8 proves to be a well-rounded and capable choice.

Who Good It’s For

The target market for this unit consists of gamers who have aspirations. While true high-end systems can be quite expensive, with prices starting at $2,000 and going up, they are not affordable for many. However, the starting price of this unit is more reasonable and is suitable for those who can afford to spend a little more than entry-level. Additionally, its size and portability are advantageous features that are not commonly found. Although there are some 14-inch machines that prioritize mobility, this unit strikes a nice balance between size and portability. Moreover, if you prefer a larger screen, there are plenty of larger machines available as well.

PROS

  • Outstanding performance
  • Well-priced
  • Vivid OLED screen
  • Long battery life
  • Classy aluminum design

CONS

  • RAM isn’t upgradeable
  • Average speakers
  • Audible fans

Specifications

Laptop Class Gaming
Processor AMD Ryzen 7 7840HS
Processor Speed 3.8 GHz
RAM (as Tested) 16 GB
Boot Drive Type SSD
Boot Drive Capacity (as Tested) 1 TB
Screen Size 14.5 inches
Native Display Resolution 2880 by 1800
Touch Screen
Panel Technology OLED
Variable Refresh Support None
Screen Refresh Rate 120 Hz
Graphics Processor Nvidia GeForce RTX 4060
Graphics Memory 8 GB
Wireless Networking 802.11ax, Bluetooth 5.2
Dimensions (HWD) 0.84 by 12.9 by 9.9 inches
Weight 3.85 lbs
Operating System Windows 11 Home
Tested Battery Life (Hours:Minutes) 8:09

Lenovo Legion Pro 7i Gen 8

Reasons Why We Choice Explanation

In simple terms, this laptop offers the perfect combination of performance and price. While the focus is not solely on finding bargains at this price range, it is worth noting that the Legion Pro 7i Gen 8 provides top-notch performance at a lower cost compared to its competitors. Although it may lack some of the fancy features found in other laptops, its understated design may actually be more appealing to many shoppers. With a starting price of $2,299, it is quite attractive, and our test model priced at $2,749 comes equipped with an Intel Core i9-13900HX and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 4080. This configuration delivers performance comparable to more expensive laptops.

Who Good It’s For

If you can shop in this price range, there is plenty to appreciate here. The performance of the Legion Pro is comparable to more expensive and bulkier systems, which is a compelling reason in itself. If you are looking for the best deal in the high-end range, there is no need to search elsewhere.

PROS

  • Bright and colorful 240Hz display
  • Comfortable keyboard with RGB extras
  • Generous port selection
  • Full HD webcam with extra features
  • Relatively affordable in its category
  • Subtle design avoids gamer stereotypes

CONS

  • Noisy fans under heavy load
  • Lacking in battery life

Specifications

Laptop Class Gaming
Processor Intel Core i9-13900HX
Processor Speed
RAM (as Tested) 32 GB
Boot Drive Type SSD
Boot Drive Capacity (as Tested) 1 TB
Screen Size 16 inches
Native Display Resolution 2560 by 1600
Touch Screen
Panel Technology IPS
Variable Refresh Support G-Sync
Screen Refresh Rate 240 Hz
Graphics Processor Nvidia GeForce RTX 4080 Laptop GPU
Graphics Memory 12 GB
Wireless Networking Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.1
Dimensions (HWD) 1 by 14.3 by 10.3 inches
Weight 6.1 pounds
Operating System Windows 11 Home
Tested Battery Life (Hours:Minutes) 6:13

Alienware m18

Reasons Why We Choice Explanation

The growing market for 18-inch laptops is home to some of the most impressive gaming laptops on the market. Manufacturers are able to fit top-of-the-line components and ample cooling systems into larger laptop chassis. Dell’s Alienware m18 offers all of this and more, boasting powerful hardware, a sleek design, and premium features such as an advanced display. You have the option to choose between a 1600p 165Hz or 1080p 480Hz panel, and our review unit came equipped with an Intel Core i9-13980HX processor and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090 GPU. As expected, this configuration delivered outstanding performance, and additional features like a Cherry MX mechanical keyboard enhanced the overall experience even further.

Who Good It’s For

Without a doubt, this system is large and heavy. However, if you are in the market for an 18-inch laptop, your primary focus should be on finding a powerful desktop replacement rather than a highly portable option. It’s not just the size that sets this system apart – we truly mean it when we say it is our top-tier option in terms of cost. With a starting price of $1,899.99, it is actually quite reasonable considering its category. However, our review configuration comes with a price tag of $3,199.99, so it may not be suitable for those on a tight budget.

PROS

  • Blistering performance as configured
  • Sturdy build with metal lid, customizable lighting
  • Superior Cherry MX mechanical keyboard option
  • Sharp 1600p/165Hz display, with 1080p/480Hz option
  • Reasonable starting price with lots of configuration

CONS

  • Rear-facing ports are awkward to reach
  • Short battery life
  • Big and heavy

Specifications

Laptop Class Gaming
Processor Intel Core i9-13980HX
Processor Speed
RAM (as Tested) 32 GB
Boot Drive Type SSD
Boot Drive Capacity (as Tested) 1 TB
Screen Size 18 inches
Native Display Resolution 2560 by 1600
Touch Screen
Panel Technology IPS
Variable Refresh Support G-Sync
Screen Refresh Rate 165 Hz
Graphics Processor Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090 Laptop GPU
Graphics Memory 16 GB
Wireless Networking Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth
Dimensions (HWD) 1.05 by 16.15 by 12.59 inches
Weight 8.9 lbs
Operating System Windows 11
Tested Battery Life (Hours:Minutes) 5:36

Razer Blade 14

Reasons Why We Choice Explanation

Razer’s Blade 14 stands out as one of the leading examples of the relatively recent trend towards 14-inch gaming laptops. While some may be concerned about potential performance limitations due to its smaller size, the Blade 14 impresses with both its power and aesthetic appeal.

Creating compact and portable high-performance gaming systems is never an inexpensive endeavor. The starting price of this machine is $2,399, and our review unit came in at $2,699. However, for that price, you get a combination of portability, performance, and build quality that is truly impressive. The all-metal Blade line has always been known for its premium appearance and feel, which is even more noticeable in this smaller size. In addition to its aesthetics, this system also offers the latest components. Our review model is equipped with an AMD Ryzen 9 7940HS CPU and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070 GPU (which provides ample power despite the system’s compactness), ensuring exceptional gaming performance regardless of its size.

Who Good It’s For

If you’re a PC gamer with a generous budget and in need of a portable gaming device for traveling, then make sure to consider the Blade 14. It is currently our top choice for a 14-inch option, excelling in both style and performance. While there are other viable alternatives available and the Blade 14 is undoubtedly costly, it’s important to note that this is generally an expensive market. Taking all of this into account, if portability is your main priority, the Blade 14 is the perfect gaming companion for on-the-go gamers.

PROS

  • Exemplary 14-inch gaming performance
  • QHD+ 240Hz display
  • Long battery life
  • Quiet fans
  • All-aluminum build

CONS

  • Shallow keyboard
  • Much higher starting price than the original

Specifications

Laptop Class Gaming
Processor AMD Ryzen 9 7940HS
Processor Speed 4 GHz
RAM (as Tested) 16 GB
Boot Drive Type SSD
Boot Drive Capacity (as Tested) 1 TB
Screen Size 14 inches
Native Display Resolution 2560 by 1600
Touch Screen
Panel Technology IPS
Variable Refresh Support FreeSync
Screen Refresh Rate 240 Hz
Graphics Processor Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070 Laptop GPU
Graphics Memory 8 GB
Wireless Networking 802.11ax, Bluetooth 5.2
Dimensions (HWD) 0.7 by 12.2 by 9 inches
Weight 4 lbs
Operating System Windows 11 Home
Tested Battery Life (Hours:Minutes) 10:35

Alienware x14 R2

Reasons Why We Choice Explanation

Although the Razer Blade 14 is our top choice for the best ultraportable system without any exceptions, the Dell Alienware x14 R2 can be equally appealing if the Blade is not available. If your main priority is to have a gaming laptop that you can take on the go, then the x14 R2 performs just as well. It is more than capable of delivering 60fps gaming, fast processing, and a long-lasting battery life — all in a sleek and slim design. While the x14 R2’s performance doesn’t quite match up to the Blade 14, and the Blade’s all-metal build remains superior, this option is a close second for mobile gamers.

Who Good It’s For

The primary factor that makes this the top choice over Razer’s impressive machine is the price. The x14 R2 has a starting price of $1,499.99, and even our higher-end test model was only $1,899.99. Both prices are considerably lower than the Blade 14’s starting price of $2,399, making them more accessible to a larger group of gamers. It is important to note that if power is more important to you than portability, there are gaming laptops available that are larger than both of these machines. However, when it comes to a 14-inch system that is reasonably priced, this is the best option available.

PROS

  • Impressive super-slim build
  • Brisk gaming and processing speeds as configured
  • Appealing starting and configuration prices
  • Long battery life
  • Wide range of ports for a small laptop

CONS

  • QHD+ screen resolution challenges the GeForce RTX 4060 at max settings
  • Ports being all on the back edge can be awkward

Specifications

Laptop Class Gaming
Processor Intel Core i7-13620H
Processor Speed
RAM (as Tested) 32 GB
Boot Drive Type SSD
Boot Drive Capacity (as Tested) 1 TB
Screen Size 14 inches
Native Display Resolution 2560 by 1600
Touch Screen
Panel Technology IPS
Variable Refresh Support G-Sync
Screen Refresh Rate 165 Hz
Graphics Processor Nvidia GeForce RTX 4060 Laptop GPU
Graphics Memory 8 GB
Wireless Networking Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth
Dimensions (HWD) 0.57 by 12.6 by 10.2 inches
Weight 4.2 lbs
Operating System Windows 11
Tested Battery Life (Hours:Minutes) 9:38

Asus ROG Strix Scar 18

Reasons Why We Choice Explanation

While certain choices cater to specific requirements such as size or budget, this particular assortment goes all out. If monetary constraints are of no concern, the Asus ROG Strix Scar 18 is your top choice. This laptop prioritizes power over cost, as implied by its name. Being an 18-inch device from the initial wave of laptops with this screen size, it offers an impressive combination of the latest Intel and Nvidia components that excel in gaming performance. Additionally, its extensive set of features will surely satisfy any shopper with a generous budget.

With a spacious QHD 240Hz display, the device offers a desktop-like experience. However, it is not designed to be portable due to its thickness of 1.21 inches and weight of 6.77 pounds (although it could be heavier). The advantage of its size goes beyond the large screen as our review configuration boasts an Intel Core i9-13980HX CPU and Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090 GPU, which effortlessly outperformed our benchmark tests with exceptional 3D and gaming results that were unmatched.

Who Good It’s For

If you are a wealthy gamer who values speed and desires the most powerful components, then you should definitely take a look at this incredible device. This gaming laptop is one of the top performers available on the market, especially if your main focus is achieving high frame rates and optimal performance in the latest games. It may not be suitable for travel, so potential buyers should view it as a direct substitute for a desktop computer that can be easily carried with its adapter when necessary. However, in exchange for this compromise, you will enjoy performance that rivals that of a desktop computer.

PROS

  • Extreme performance
  • Excellent gaming display
  • Semi-reasonable size and weight
  • Decent battery on iGPU

CONS

  • Plastic construction
  • Expensive
  • Can become loud under intense work loads

Specifications

Laptop Class Gaming
Processor Intel Core i9-13980HX
Processor Speed
RAM (as Tested) 32 GB
Boot Drive Type SSD
Boot Drive Capacity (as Tested) 2 TB
Screen Size 18 inches
Native Display Resolution 2560 by 1600
Touch Screen
Panel Technology IPS
Variable Refresh Support G-Sync
Screen Refresh Rate 240 Hz
Graphics Processor Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090
Graphics Memory 16 GB
Wireless Networking 802.11ax, Bluetooth 5.2
Dimensions (HWD) 1.21 by 15.71 by 11.57 inches
Weight 6.77 lbs
Operating System Windows 11 Pro
Tested Battery Life (Hours:Minutes) 8:14

Gigabyte Aero 16 OLED

Reasons Why We Choice Explanation

While shopping, you will come across distinct gaming laptops and obvious content-creation machines like Acer’s ConceptD or Asus’ ProArt notebooks. Subsequently, the introduction of crossovers occurred, similar to automobiles with the same name. The 2023 Gigabyte Aero 16 is one of the top hybrids in this category, surpassing previous versions in terms of power. It offers options for a 4K OLED screen, a high-performance Nvidia RTX 4070 GPU, and the latest Intel Core i9 CPU—all packaged in a slim design. Although primarily designed for content creation tasks such as graphic design, video editing, and animation, its GPU is also well-suited for high-end gaming. What truly distinguishes it from bulkier models is the exceptional OLED panel; however, the 60Hz refresh rate is not ideal for gaming purposes.

Who Good It’s For

The panel will attract video editors and graphic designers, who will finish their workday and stay for the gaming-ready GPU (although they may not play many esports games). While it may not be suitable for every creator or gamer, if you are looking for one of the top laptops for video editing or media work with a side of gaming, this powerful (albeit expensive) option is highly desirable among most media makers.

PROS

  • Impressive OLED screen returns
  • Satisfying TKL keyboard
  • Sturdy aluminum body
  • MicroSD card slot
  • Decently priced

CONS

  • Short battery life
  • Single, rear-mounted USB-A port

Specifications

Laptop Class Desktop Replacement
Processor Intel Core i9-13900H
Processor Speed
RAM (as Tested) 32 GB
Boot Drive Type SSD
Boot Drive Capacity (as Tested) 1 TB
Screen Size 16 inches
Native Display Resolution 3840 by 2400
Touch Screen
Panel Technology OLED
Variable Refresh Support None
Screen Refresh Rate 60 Hz
Graphics Processor Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070 Laptop GPU
Graphics Memory 8 GB
Wireless Networking Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth
Dimensions (HWD) 0.87 by 13.9 by 10.1 inches
Weight 4.6 lbs
Operating System Windows 11
Tested Battery Life (Hours:Minutes) 8:09

Acer Chromebook 516 GE

Reasons Why We Choice Explanation

Introducing a groundbreaking gaming laptop category that is just starting to gain momentum. Numerous companies have made attempts to capitalize on the concept of cloud gaming, and now we are witnessing the convergence of hardware and infrastructure in a wave of cloud-streaming Chromebook machines. These devices have been specifically designed with gamer-friendly features that distinguish them from conventional Chromebooks. Among the pioneers in this field is the Acer Chromebook 516 GE, which has already gained our top recommendation. This device offers consistent performance for both gaming and general usage, boasts a top-quality build relative to its price, features a sharp screen with a maximum refresh rate of 120Hz, and even includes RGB lighting on its keys. While it remains uncertain whether this trend will endure, the presence of such an impressive machine suggests that there is immense potential here.

Who Good It’s For

For gamers who cannot afford an expensive dedicated laptop, this system provides a viable alternative. The laptop does not require a separate GPU, significantly reducing its cost. This Chromebook is more affordable than the average gaming laptop because it relies on cloud streaming services for gaming. However, this does necessitate a stable or fast internet connection and a subscription to a cloud gaming service, which may not be feasible for those on a tight budget. Nevertheless, if you can manage with a Chromebook for your regular computing needs and the price is below $700, this solution is suitable.

PROS

  • Superb performance in gaming (and everything else)
  • Powerful hardware for a Chromebook, from processing to storage
  • Rich port selection
  • RGB keyboard with anti-ghosting tech
  • Gorgeous 120Hz display

CONS

  • No touch screen
  • USB-C ports aren’t Thunderbolt 4

Specifications

Laptop Class Chromebook
Processor Intel Core i5-1240P
Processor Speed
RAM (as Tested) 8 GB
Boot Drive Type SSD
Boot Drive Capacity (as Tested) 256 GB
Screen Size 16 inches
Native Display Resolution 2560 by 1600
Touch Screen
Panel Technology IPS
Variable Refresh Support None
Screen Refresh Rate 120 Hz
Graphics Processor Intel Iris Xe Graphics
Graphics Memory
Wireless Networking Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.2
Dimensions (HWD) 0.84 by 14 by 9.8 inches
Weight 3.75 lbs
Operating System Chrome OS
Tested Battery Life (Hours:Minutes) 9:41

Buying Guide: The Best Gaming Laptops for 2023

Gaming systems come with higher-end components compared to ordinary consumer laptops, which results in higher prices. However, the price range within this category is extensive, ranging from less than a thousand dollars to $4,000 and beyond. Entry-level gaming laptops typically start at around $800 and can go up to approximately $1,250. With these laptops, you can enjoy gaming at full HD resolution (1080p) by adjusting settings in most games or playing simpler games at maximum quality settings.

These laptops usually have a solid-state drive (SSD) with modest storage capacity, as having a hard drive suggests an older model that is not recommended. It is always preferable to have an SSD as the boot drive, while hard drives are now commonly used as secondary drives in larger laptops.

Best Midrange Price Gaming Laptops Upgradations

Looking for an upgrade? Midrange systems offer improved gameplay with high or maximum settings on a higher quality 1080p screen (which is capable of supporting high refresh rates; more details coming up), and they should also provide compatibility with VR headsets. The price range for these models will typically be between $1,250 and $2,000.

Top-of-the-line systems, on the other hand, should provide you with a seamless gaming experience at 1080p resolution while maximizing graphics details. This is typically done on a high-refresh screen. In some cases, they may even allow you to play games in 4K resolution if your screen is compatible. Additionally, a high-end model should have the capability to support a VR headset and connect to multiple external monitors. These machines usually come equipped with spacious PCI Express SSDs and are priced above $2,000, often reaching closer to $3,000.

Certain laptops in this category have the option to include QHD (2,560-by-1,440-pixel) or 4K screens, an additional hard drive alongside the SSD, and highly efficient cooling fans. Thanks to recent technological advancements, many of these laptops are becoming thinner and more portable. In this tier of laptops, you can choose to either pay extra for top-notch performance in a slim design or opt for maximum power with a bulkier build.

Put the GPU First: Which Gaming Laptop Graphics to Get?

The deciding factor for a gaming laptop’s performance is its graphics processing unit (GPU). A laptop cannot be classified as a gaming laptop unless it is equipped with a separate graphics chip from either Nvidia or, less frequently, AMD. For those who are new to the topic, here’s a brief overview: Generally, the greater the number at the end of a GPU series, the more powerful it is.

For instance, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 typically offers faster frame rates and higher-quality graphics compared to an RTX 3070, and so forth throughout the lineup. The “30” indicates the generation, meaning that the latest GeForce 40 series surpasses the 30 series; for example, the GeForce RTX 4080 succeeds the RTX 3080. At present, Nvidia holds a dominant position in this field and is currently manufacturing discrete mobile GPUs using its “Ampere” (2021) and “Ada Lovelace” (2022) microarchitectures.

Best GPU For High End Gaming Performance

The Ampere GPUs are marketed as part of the GeForce RTX 30 series, such as the RTX 3070 or RTX 3080. However, these will gradually be replaced by the newer GeForce RTX 40-series “Ada Lovelace” GPUs by 2023. The desktop version of the latter was launched in 2022, while the laptop versions started to become available in early 2023. Currently, you may still come across laptops equipped with 30-series GPUs, particularly those that are still in stock at online retailers. However, any new releases this year will likely feature 40-series GPUs.

In this discussion, we will cover both generations. In contrast to previous generations, the latest laptops feature high-end GPUs from the 30-series and 40-series, which are labeled as “RTX” instead of “GTX.” This change acknowledges the inclusion of ray-tracing technology in the platform, which enhances in-game visuals (provided that the games support it). This impressive real-time lighting effect is visually stunning but requires significant computational power to run smoothly.

The high-end GPUs, when combined with a rendering technique known as DLSS, have the capability to enhance ray-tracing at higher resolutions in certain titles. Nvidia is continuously making advancements in this technology, and the enhancements in its latest version, DLSS 3, play a significant role in enhancing the performance of its RTX 40-series GPUs. It may not be possible for more demanding games to achieve a frame rate of 60 frames per second (fps) at 4K resolution, especially with ray-tracing activated, depending on the laptop being used. However, achieving either of these goals individually becomes much more plausible with top-of-the-line RTX 40-series GPUs. The inclusion of DLSS 3 and the “frame generation” feature have greatly contributed to the success of the 40-series GPUs.

Laptop Shopping Important Highlights

The performance of the Ampere and Ada Lovelace laptop GPUs may not be identical to their desktop counterparts, but it is still very impressive. Additionally, these GPUs have better ray-tracing capabilities compared to the 20 series. It has been observed that there can be significant variations in performance between the same GPU in different laptops, depending on the power delivered by the laptop manufacturers. To understand why this happens, you can refer to our article on mobile Ampere testing. This complexity in laptop shopping highlights the importance of conducting individual tests on each system rather than solely relying on the GPU name.

Let’s now explore the lower end of the power hierarchy. Positioned just below the RTX 3070 and 3080, we have the midrange RTX 3060. The GeForce RTX 3050 and RTX 3050 Ti, which were released in spring 2021, can be found at the bottom of the 30-series lineup. In comparison to the high-end RTX 3070 and RTX 3080 (as well as their enhanced versions, the RTX 3070 Ti and RTX 3080 Ti), these GPUs are more affordable and are used in gaming laptops with lower budgets or in the entry-level configurations of premium machines.

This allows entry-level devices to benefit from Ampere architecture and, importantly, ray-tracing capabilities. (For more information on ray-tracing on PC, refer to our primer.) The GeForce GTX GPUs mentioned earlier are now mostly obsolete in 2023. If you come across a system with GTX GPUs, it is outdated. The new budget class consists of the RTX 3050, RTX 3050 Ti, and RTX 4050 GPUs.

Higher Resolutions And Performs Gaming Laptops

We have not yet tested a wide range of examples for every GPU in the 40 series, but the same hierarchy still applies. Thus far, we have tested and found impressive results with GPUs such as the RTX 4070 and RTX 4090. It is worth noting that DLSS is essential for running ray-tracing at higher resolutions and performs exceptionally well compared to the 30 series in these scenarios. However, performance improvements are more moderate outside of these situations. In addition, we had the opportunity to observe the RTX 4050 in action on a non-gaming device, specifically the Samsung Galaxy Book3 Ultra. It is likely that many creator laptops requiring entry-level graphics will follow suit.

Nvidia continues to dominate the graphics market, however, its chief competitor AMD is experiencing a surge in popularity. More and more gaming laptops now feature Radeon RX 6000-series GPUs. Similar to Nvidia, AMD has also unveiled its next generation of mobile GPUs (Radeon RX 7000) at CES 2023, which means we can expect to see more instances of these soon as well.

In some cases, AMD GPUs are used alongside Intel processors, although there has been an increase in instances where AMD graphics are being paired with AMD processors. For instance, Dell and MSI have started offering a few machines that come with an AMD CPU/GPU combination. The most recent examples of these GPUs include the Radeon RX 6800M, RX 6700M, and RX 6600M. However, we have only observed and tested them in a limited number of systems so far.

High Rating Laptops For Graphics Performance

Despite the complexity mentioned above, we can still make some basic conclusions regarding graphics performance. By 2023, a single midrange or high-end discrete GPU will be sufficient to play the latest AAA gaming titles on a 1080p screen with most high-quality settings enabled, as well as for VR gaming. The RTX 3070 and 3080 have established smooth 1440p gaming as the standard, particularly the latter GPU which has made 4K gaming on laptops much more feasible than before. The equivalent models in the RTX 40 series, along with DLSS if supported by the game, have further advanced these trends towards high-resolution gaming.

The Panel: How High a Refresh Rate to Get in a Gaming Laptop?

Previously, the performance of an RTX 3070 or RTX 4070 would have been considered excessive for gaming at 1080p. However, there are now various new factors that can make use of this additional potential. Nowadays, having a high-refresh-rate screen is standard in any new gaming laptop. This allows for the smooth display of high frame rates, enhancing the overall gameplay experience. To fully take advantage of a high-refresh panel with demanding games, a powerful graphics chip is necessary. You can identify laptops equipped with these features by looking out for marketing terms like “144Hz,” “240Hz,” or even “300Hz-plus” screens. (Typically, laptops come with a 60Hz panel, but modern gaming models all feature screens with refresh rates exceeding 144Hz.)

The prevalence of 144Hz panels is increasing, although there are also more expensive models available with 240Hz and even 360Hz options. These higher refresh rates allow for displaying more than the standard 60 frames per second, such as up to 144fps on a 144Hz screen. This results in smoother gameplay, but it is worth noting that only high-end GPUs can fully utilize these capabilities in many cases. Furthermore, the resource-intensive ray-tracing techniques, which involve real-time lighting and reflection effects, require significant processing power to run. As video games continue to implement this technology, you may find yourself wishing you could enable these effects.

Powerful GPU Laptop Benifits & Drowbacks

Despite the fact that playing games at a full HD (1080p) resolution may not seem too demanding on paper, there are several reasons why you should consider opting for a high-end GPU. Additionally, even if you have less powerful hardware like the RTX 3050 or 4050, DLSS can assist in running games or enabling ray-tracing with minimal drawbacks. So, if you cannot afford top-end chips, there is still hope. While DLSS support is not yet widespread, it is becoming increasingly available in more titles.

Nvidia’s G-Sync and AMD’s FreeSync technologies offer a more practical approach. They enhance the gaming experience by improving the quality and ensuring smoother frame rates. This is achieved by allowing the laptop screen to dynamically adjust its refresh rate based on the output of the GPU, instead of being fixed. If you prioritize flawlessly rendered visuals, it is advisable to seek laptops that support either of these technologies. Referred to as “adaptive sync,” these technologies are gaining popularity, although they typically appear in higher-priced machines, with G-Sync being more prevalent among laptops.

The Processor: Which CPU to Get in a Gaming Laptop?

The year 2022 witnessed the rise of Intel’s 12th Generation (“Alder Lake H”) chips, which became the preferred choice of processors after a period of AMD dominance. Many of the reviews featured here still utilize these impressive performers, but in 2023, Intel introduced their 13th Generation (“Raptor Lake”) chips alongside AMD’s Ryzen 7000 processors. As the year progresses, you will only find these processors in new laptops. Our initial performance tests of the Core i9 Raptor Lake chips and Ryzen 7000 “Dragon Range” chips yielded impressive results.

Currently, the majority of laptops listed here feature Intel Core i7 processors, including most thin-and-light gaming laptops. On the other hand, the highest-priced hardcore laptops are equipped with Core i9 CPUs. In recent times, numerous budget machines utilize Core i7 chips, although certain exceptionally affordable alternatives may choose to incorporate Core i5 chips instead.

Important For The Laptop Number Of Cores

The Core i5 options of Alder Lake also feature up to 12 cores and 16 threads, although it’s important to note that the number of cores alone doesn’t tell the whole story nowadays. Similar to the popular Alder Lake desktop chips, Intel utilizes its Performance Hybrid architecture in these processors, incorporating both Efficient cores (E-cores) and Performance cores (P-cores). You can find further information about the Alder Lake architecture here, and a comparable structure is employed in Raptor Lake.

However, this does not mean that core and thread count are no longer important. For instance, the high-end Core i9-12900HK has a total of 14 cores and can support 20 threads, which is achieved through a combination of six P-cores and eight E-cores. Similarly, the popular gaming laptop chip, Core i7-12800H, also has the same core configuration. On the other hand, the Core i9-13980HX is truly impressive with its 24 cores (eight P-cores and 16 E-cores) and ability to handle 32 threads.

Gaming Laptops For Multitasking Activities

Typically, increased core count and faster clock speeds contribute to enhanced overall efficiency and significantly improved performance when it comes to multitasking activities such as media projects. However, these factors are not as crucial for gaming purposes. Unlike many media-related tasks, gaming doesn’t typically experience a substantial increase in performance with more threads. Nevertheless, having more threads certainly doesn’t have any negative impact either.

If you find yourself in a situation where you need to choose between a high-end CPU and a high-end GPU, it is advisable to prioritize the graphics. To illustrate, we suggest opting for a Core i5 CPU instead of a Core i7 if it allows you to invest in an Nvidia GeForce RTX 4060 GPU rather than an RTX 4050. If your primary focus is gaming, it is more logical to allocate funds towards the GPU rather than the CPU.

Good Budget Gaming Systems

When searching for budget gaming systems, it is recommended to consider Intel Core i5 processors. On the other hand, midrange gaming laptops often come equipped with Core i7 H, HQ, and HK processors. The H-series processors are known for their higher power and are commonly found in more expensive gaming laptops. Conversely, the Core i7 U-series chips are designed for thinner and more portable machines that are not primarily intended for gaming. For those looking for the most powerful gaming laptops on the market, they usually feature Core i9 H-series processors which excel in media-related tasks as well.

The discussion began by mentioning AMD’s side. In the past, AMD’s chips were always considered inferior to Intel’s offerings. However, in 2020, AMD introduced a new generation of mobile processors called “Zen 2” architecture, which changed the game. Since then, there has been a back and forth competition between Intel and AMD for performance superiority. Initially, with Zen 3, AMD gained dominance over Intel on laptops and desktops, but Intel’s Alder Lake later reclaimed its position as the top performer on most types of systems. Currently, AMD’s Ryzen 7000 chips are providing strong competition against Intel’s 13th Gen processors. In most scenarios, any Ryzen 6000, Ryzen 7000, 12th Gen Intel, or 13th Gen Intel H-class chips should be capable gamers.

Display: What Screen Size to Get in a Gaming Laptop?

When it comes to the size of the display, a gaming laptop with a 15.6-inch screen is considered to be the ideal choice. While there are options available with bigger screens, opting for them will inevitably increase the weight significantly, surpassing five pounds and raising concerns about portability.

During CES 2023, various vendors such as Alienware, Asus, and Razer introduced 18-inch laptops. One of these laptops, the Asus ROG Strix Scar 18, was reviewed by us in February 2023. Since then, several other laptops have been released. Now, there are more screen options available than ever before, including popular sizes like 14, 15.6, 16, 17.3, and 18 inches. The 16-inch size is also gaining popularity.

When it comes to resolution, a screen with a native resolution of full HD (1,920-by-1,080 pixels in a 16:9 aspect ratio) is currently the minimum standard, regardless of the size of the screen. It is important to mention that laptop manufacturers are now using 16:10 panels more frequently, which offer slightly more vertical space without significantly altering the overall size.

Required Panel Sizes & Technology

Additionally, it should be observed that panel sizes of 14 inches and slightly larger 16-inch ones, surpassing the traditional 15-inch category, have become a regular presence in the market as of 2023. Prominent manufacturers including Acer, Alienware, Asus, and Razer have introduced 14-inch gaming laptops, while the prevalence of 16-inch models is increasing with the potential to replace the longstanding standard of 15.6 inches.

When selecting a larger display, it is important to make a wise choice as it can offer resolutions higher than 1080p. However, keep in mind that opting for a QHD, QHD+, or 4K resolution will result in the cost being doubled. This is because you will need to invest in both the panel and a higher-quality graphics chip to fully utilize the display’s capabilities. As previously mentioned, if you desire smoother visuals, it is advisable to look for screens with increasingly common G-Sync or high-refresh-rate technology.

Laptops Playable Frame Rates

Gaming laptops equipped with a 4K screen (3,840 by 2,160 pixels in 16:9) are still uncommon and expensive because they require powerful GPUs to ensure smooth gameplay at the screen’s native resolution. It is important to note that only the most robust graphics cards can effectively render intricate game animations at playable frame rates on a full 4K screen. Therefore, if gaming is your primary focus, opting for a 1080p screen may be a more cost-effective choice, especially if you can also obtain a high-refresh-rate display.

Despite the improved 4K gaming capabilities of the RTX 3080 and RTX 4080, we believe that pursuing 4K gaming on laptops may not be worth the cost unless you have a substantial budget. However, it is worth mentioning that the screens, especially when combined with OLED technology, offer excellent visuals. For modern high-end GPUs on laptops, QHD is often a more suitable option.

Gaming Laptop Storage: SSDs Bring the Speed

In today’s world, almost all laptops are equipped with an SSD as the primary drive, completely eliminating the need for traditional spinning hard drives. The utilization of SSDs significantly enhances the speed of booting up, waking from sleep mode, launching games, and loading new levels. It is only in the case of older laptops that a hard drive may still be used as the main boot drive.

Previously, it was typical to find small-capacity (256GB) SSD boot drives combined with spacious (1TB or larger) secondary hard drives in large gaming laptops for storing most of your game library. Although this combination may still be available, SSDs have now become the standard due to the increasing affordability of higher-capacity SSDs. A 512GB SSD is now considered the default, while budget gaming laptops may start at 256GB and high-end systems will feature a 1TB SSD or even more.

Increasing the SSD capacity will undoubtedly result in a higher price, but it may be essential considering the size of modern game installations. Therefore, it is advisable to shop accordingly. Having an insufficiently sized SSD could mean constantly having to transfer games back and forth from the drive.

How Much Memory to Get in a Gaming Laptop?

Let’s not overlook the importance of memory (RAM). When it comes to a Windows gaming laptop, it is advisable to have a minimum of 8GB of RAM. In reality, any reputable model will not come with anything less than that. This amount of RAM will provide you with sufficient space to switch between your gameplay window and messaging app without any hassle. However, it is recommended to avoid researching game tips while playing, as each additional browser window opened will consume some of your allocated RAM.

If you are looking for a more advanced system, we suggest opting for 16GB of memory. This will allow you to engage in gaming sessions, use messaging apps, browse multiple websites, operate a webcam, and stream videos all at the same time. On the other hand, an average gaming laptop should function adequately with 8GB of memory. However, it is important to note that many new laptops cannot be upgraded. Therefore, you may be stuck with the amount of memory you initially order. For those seeking a top-quality gaming laptop, the minimum target should be 16GB of memory. Unless you are an extreme streamer or frequently multitask, anything more than that would be excessive.

Buying the Best Cheap Gaming Laptop

If you have a limited budget and are looking to purchase a gaming system (specifically between $900 and $1,300), you will have to make compromises. The objective is to maximize performance while staying within your budget, but it’s important to note that some of the components may not be on par with the more expensive laptops you come across during your search. However, spending around $1,200 is considered reasonable for those who are willing to invest in a gaming laptop, and you can still obtain an efficient system for this price. (Take a look at our additional article featuring the top affordable gaming laptops.)

The primary area where you will notice a decrease in quality is the graphics, as the dedicated graphics chip is one of the most costly components in a computer and plays a significant role in determining its gaming performance. The graphics chip essentially determines the category of laptop you are considering, so it is important to pay attention to this aspect. However, it is worth noting that even the less powerful GPU choices available today are still quite capable.

Budget systems Use Last Record

In the past, budget systems primarily used Nvidia GeForce GTX 1600-series GPUs due to their affordable prices. However, laptops now offer the newer and more affordable options of GeForce RTX 3050, RTX 3050 Ti, and RTX 4050, with prices starting as low as $799. These new GPUs are now considered the entry-level choices.

The RTX 4050 is becoming the new standard for budget-friendly options, but you can also search for discounts on previous models from the 30-series laptops if your goal is to save money. Even in the lower price range, most of these GPUs will allow you to play games smoothly at 1080p, although not necessarily at the highest settings in newer games. Additionally, all of these GPUs should provide a satisfactory level of VR gameplay if that’s what you’re interested in.

The main distinction lies in the processors. In lower-priced models, you can expect to find a competent Core i5 instead of a faster Core i7. However, certain advantages of an i7 machine, such as video editing and other creative tasks, aren’t significant factors for gaming, making an i5 sufficient for the job. Despite their inclusion in some higher-end or ultraportable gaming systems, we’ve observed more Ryzen CPUs in affordable, general-purpose laptops over the past year or two compared to budget gaming laptops.

Nvidia GPUs Budget For Gaming Laptops

Nvidia GPUs are more commonly found in budget gaming laptops compared to AMD ones. Although there are now more all-AMD laptops available than before, only a few are considered budget machines. Apart from the graphics card and processor, the other components should resemble those of more expensive machines rather than what you would typically expect.

Even in the most affordable new gaming laptops, SSD boot drives have become the standard, although they may have limited capacity. The display will almost certainly be 1080p, as panels with a resolution of 1,366-by-768 pixels are now exclusively used for inexpensive non-gaming systems. In budget laptops, RAM will likely max out at 8GB; however, you may come across some (more desirable) 16GB laptops within this price range.

What Else Do You Need to Up Your Game?

Due to the fact that premium components have a tendency to consume more battery power, it is advisable not to expect frequent portability from these gaming machines. While advanced ports such as USB Type-C and Thunderbolt 4 are currently advantageous and will continue to be even more valuable in the future, it is recommended to ensure the presence of at least two standard-shaped (referred to as “Type-A”) USB 3.0 ports. These ports will allow you to connect an external mouse and a hard drive for storing your media files.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Which laptop is best for gaming?

To begin with, it is essential to have a gaming laptop that can handle the latest game releases, regardless of whether they are high-end AAA titles or games that demand lower graphics settings. It is advisable to select a gaming laptop with a good graphics card – it doesn’t necessarily have to be as cutting-edge as the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070, which can smoothly run even the most visually demanding games at their maximum settings. However, it should still be capable of playing any game you might choose to play.

Having ample RAM is essential in top-notch gaming laptops as it guarantees smooth performance without any hiccups. It is imperative to avoid situations where your game stutters or freezes during critical action sequences or cutscenes. Hence, investing in a gaming laptop with abundant RAM is highly recommended for handling intense games effectively.

When choosing a gaming laptop, it is important to consider the size of the screen. If you prefer a larger screen that allows you to view more of your game, then ideally you should opt for a screen size between 16 and 17.3 inches. However, if you are content with a standard size screen, you may be able to get by with a gaming laptop that has a screen size ranging from 14 to 15.6 inches.

If you are someone who frequently travels, it is important to take into account the weight of the gaming laptop and any essential accessories that need to be packed. Additionally, having a gaming laptop with a good battery life is crucial to avoid constantly searching for outlets while on your travels.

How much RAM do I need for gaming?

There are numerous gaming laptops available that come equipped with an 8GB DDR4 memory, which is considered the bare minimum in today’s standards. Nevertheless, this may not provide sufficient capacity for optimal speed and performance. For those who frequently engage in playing demanding AAA titles, it is highly recommended to have a minimum of 16GB memory for the most seamless experience. If you have the means to invest more, opting for a 32GB memory will yield the smoothest and most engaging gaming experience possible.

Is it worth it to get a gaming laptop?

Definitely. With the continuous improvement of mobile devices, gaming PCs are no longer unmatched. These smaller yet more potent devices have made it possible to have a space-saving and portable option that is also capable of handling any type of game you enjoy playing, whether they are less demanding or highly graphically-intensive titles. Therefore, it is worth considering investing in one of the top gaming laptops available.

What is a good thin gaming laptop?

Although there is a limited selection of thin and light gaming laptops, it is still possible to find multiple choices. These options excel in portability while maintaining impressive power and battery life. Leading the pack is the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14, closely followed by the MSI GS65 Stealth and the Razer Blade Stealth.

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