Sharp and bright Full HD anti-glare display. Powerful performance. Runs cool under pressure. Customizable RGB LED lighting. Lightweight design and clear audio. Charges quickly.
Its battery life could be better.
Wide and sharp 15.6-inch Full-HD display. Desktop-like performance and runs cool under pressure. Immersive 3D audio. Features a backlit keyboard and large array of ports. Gigabit ethernet port.
Its LED lighting cannot be changed from its default red color.
Features 4K display and 1080p touchscreen. Has tiny bezels and is slim. Simple to upgrade as needed. Smooth and blur-free gameplay. Lightning-fast WiFi. Features crystal-clear audio and backlit keyboard.
Its premium performance comes at the cost of poor battery life.
Desktop-like performance. Vivid and bright 17.3-inch Full HD display. Especially smooth gameplay. Runs cold and has thin bezels. Features Dolby Vision and a rugged design. Keyboard is backlit.
Its 5-hour battery life is only passable.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
If you game at home or on the go, a gaming laptop is a great way to take the latest games anywhere. The specs of gaming laptops vary widely, and not all laptops are as easy to upgrade to maintain top performance.
For playing the latest games at top performance, you need a machine that is powerful enough to meet your needs. The screen size and resolution are important considerations, as is the GPU when it comes to visuals and framerate. The CPU and RAM determine how quickly your computer will perform and how many tasks it can handle at once. You should also find a gaming laptop with a style that suits your taste.
Any gaming laptop is a moderate to major investment and should keep you gaming for years. As a result, it’s important to consider every aspect of your gaming machine, so you can play your favorite games at their highest performance level.
Video games, especially first-person-perspective games, depend on the computer’s graphics processing unit (GPU) to render the images you see while playing. Naturally, the GPU is the single biggest factor when it comes to your ability to play a game on a laptop.
If you think of a GPU as a computer’s video “muscles,” it’s easy to see why gaming laptops need a particularly strong GPU.
We recommend a minimum of 4GB of VRAM. Video cards are often measured by the chipset they use and the amount of built-in memory (VRAM) they have. For example, you may see a video card described as a “GeForce” series with 4GB of VRAM.
As you’re shopping for gaming laptops, pay attention to both the chipset series and the VRAM, and make sure that both are adequate for the games you intend to play most frequently.
A gaming laptop’s second most important component is its central processing unit (CPU), which is responsible for keeping your computer running. It’s the chip that processes all the data and executes all the commands.
While a gaming laptop’s GPU is dedicated to rendering video, the CPU is responsible for everything else, from the operating system to every last game of Solitaire. It can be difficult to keep up with CPU technologies because they evolve rapidly, but in general, consider the following when deciding what type of processor you’ll need.
Brand: Most laptop CPUs are made by Intel, although AMD’s newest processors (dubbed “Ryzen”) are a popular favorite among gamers. Think twice about buying a gaming laptop with a CPU that isn’t made by Intel or AMD. Off-brand CPUs rarely perform as well.
Generation: Most CPU manufacturers release new iterations of their best chips regularly, and each generation of chip is given a code name. For example, Intel replaced their popular “Skylake” CPUs with the “Kaby Lake” generation. When shopping for a gaming laptop, buy one with the most current CPU you can afford.
As with all laptops, when you’re deciding on what size screen is right for you, you’re also deciding what size laptop is right for you, because the screen determines the machine’s footprint. Because gaming laptops are all about displaying eye-popping visuals, it’s especially important to pick a screen that you like and one that adequately renders the games you want to play.
Gaming laptops typically come in three different screen sizes.
14-inch gaming laptops often feature lower resolutions, which can mean a lot of extra scrolling and zooming in or out while playing. Pick a 14-inch model if you’re looking for an entry-level gaming laptop or you mostly play games that are less graphic-intensive.
15-inch gaming laptops are by far the most common because they have screens that are big enough to show off action-packed video games but not so large as to be unwieldy. If you’re looking for a good balance between size, power, and weight, a 15-inch gaming laptop is your best bet.
17-inch gaming laptops are as enormous and awkward as you might expect. While a 17-inch screen will deliver an incredible gaming experience, it will also use up much more of the battery than a smaller screen. Buy this size if you absolutely must see every pixel of your games and don’t expect to have to carry your machine around with you very often.
You're going to need the right peripherals to complete your gaming experience on your laptop. Here are our favorite essentials.
Gaming headset: NUBWO Wired Gaming Headphones with Noise Canceling Mic
If you play a lot of online games, you'll need a headset to chat with other players, and it's best to get one that sounds great without costing a fortune. NUBWO's gaming headset delivers, and then some: they're big, sound incredible, and they've got a noise-canceling mic, so other gamers will hear your voice—and that's it. Don't settle for your laptop's speakers; grab this headset and get completely immersed in your games.
Gaming mouse: Logitech Hero
If you play a lot of first-person shooters, you know that pixel-perfect accuracy is everything, especially when it comes to landing the perfect shot. Logitech's HERO is the cream of the crop when it comes to the gaming mouse: it's got LED lights, programmable buttons, and a whopping 16,000-DPI sensor for tracking even the tiniest motions. The HERO has the potential to be a competitive advantage, so if you play to win, this is the mouse to get.
Gaming chair: BestOffice Ergonomic PC Gaming Chair
When it comes to marathon gaming sessions, comfort is key—which is why sitting in the right gaming chair is so important. We're big fan's of BestOffice's gaming chair, because it gets the basics right: it's comfortable, it's easy to adjust to multiple positions and angles, and it's incredibly affordable. Save yourself a sore back and make sure you've got a solid gaming chair before you first boot up your gaming laptop.
There are two main price ranges to be aware of when looking at gaming laptops.
$500 to $1,000
In this price range, expect to find budget gaming laptops that use last-generation technology or cut corners by having a smaller screen. If you’re dreaming of playing a first-person shooter at 4K resolution with a chat window open and your favorite tunes playing, you’ll need to spend more to get a more capable laptop.
That said, if you’re merely looking for a competent gaming laptop that will power your Minecraft addiction, there’s no need to spend more than $1,000.
$1,000 to $1,500
In this price range, you’ll find great gaming laptops that pull out all the stops. You’ll see current-generation GPUs and CPUs alongside premium features like bigger batteries, larger screens, and gamer-friendly aesthetics.
If you play video games for more than an hour each day, a gaming laptop in this price range is your best bet.
Carry your gaming laptop’s AC adapter with you. Video games use a higher-than-average amount of power, and you don’t want to run out of battery life in the middle of a gaming session when you’re playing away from home! Most gaming laptop batteries will run out after two to four hours of playing.
Investigate the minimum required hardware for each game you want to play. Every video game lists the technical requirements needed to run the game. Before buying a gaming laptop, verify that the model you want meets the requirements.
Choose a gaming laptop that lets you change the battery. Video games draw a lot of power, so if you expect to keep your laptop for more than a few years, you should plan on replacing the battery at some point. Not all gaming laptops allow users to replace their own batteries, so as you’re shopping, rule out any models that prevent you from doing so.
As you’re deciding what size screen is right for you, pay attention to the maximum supported resolution. For best results when gaming, we recommend a minimum resolution of 1440p.
When a gaming laptop isn’t powerful enough to play a game, it can freeze, stutter, or crash. If you experience odd slowing or random crashes, consider closing all other applications while you play to dedicate all your system resources to the game.
When comparing gaming laptop specs, be careful not to confuse the video card’s memory with the computer’s RAM or hard drive space. All are measured in gigabytes (GB), but each serves a unique purpose.
The most popular screen resolutions are often referred to by their abbreviated names. For example, 1920 x 1080 is often referred to as “FHD,” which stands for “full high definition.” 2560 x 1440 is known as “QHD” (for “quad high definition”), and 3840 x 2160 goes by “UHD” or “ultra high definition.”
Some gaming laptops are designed to allow specific user hardware updates. Many manufacturers sell complementary kits so users can swap in a larger hard drive. If you think you might want to upgrade your laptop in the future, buy one that supports user upgrades.
Q. How much RAM do I need in a gaming laptop?
A. Random access memory (RAM) is the memory a computer uses to store data related to active tasks. While adding more RAM won’t make your computer faster, it will enable it to handle more tasks simultaneously, making your experience smoother and more responsive. While some low-end gaming laptops ship with 4GB or 8GB of RAM, for an optimal gaming experience, we recommend buying one with a minimum of 16GB of RAM.
Q. Can I play virtual reality (VR) games on a gaming laptop?
A. Yes, you can do this with additional hardware. Virtual reality games can be installed and run from any Windows-based machine, and they require special equipment like VR goggles and hand controllers (sold separately). Before investing in a VR kit, make sure your gaming laptop meets the technical requirements of the VR games you want to play.
Q. Does Apple make a gaming laptop?
A. While many video game developers port their most popular titles to Apple’s Mac OS X operating system, Apple does not have a laptop that’s designed specifically for gaming. However, most Apple laptops have competent GPUs that can deliver an average gaming experience. If you’re more than a casual gamer, stick with Windows. Many of the most popular gaming titles are PC exclusives.