Laptops

Best Gaming Laptops 2017: Top Gaming Notebooks (High-end And Budget Laptops Reviewed)

Gaming on a laptop was once unheard of. The power of a desktop couldn’t be matched with the smaller laptops, and the size of the laptop generally limited the hardware that could be fitted.

This mean, if you wanted to play the latest games on a laptop, you would either have to turn the settings down to the lowest possible options or enjoy extremely low frame rates – if your machine can run the games you’re trying to play.

Over the last five years, though, large, bulky desktop computers aren’t required to play the latest games.

Best Budget Gaming Laptops Under $1,000

When it comes to balling on a budget, you’re going to find some new faces, along with some smaller brothers and cousins to their larger (read: more expensive) counterparts.

If you’re not necessarily concerned with running your games on ultra settings, or 100 frames per second, the machines below can handle most of what you’re going to throw at them.

Just because they’re priced lower than their high-end brethren doesn’t mean that there are many slouches in this group.

Acer Aspire E 15 E5-575G-53VG

Capable, classic design, with a budget-friendly price tag.

At A Glance

Price: $490 – $570
Video: NVIDIA GeForce 940MX 2GB Dedicated
Processor: Intel Core i5-6200U 2.30GHz Dual Core
Memory: 8GB DDR4 SDRAM (Up to 32GB)
Storage: 256GB SSD
Display: Full HD 1920×1080 16:9 IPS LCD
Battery: 6-Cell 2800mAh Li-ion

Acer is heading off the budget-minded gaming laptops with their Aspire E 15 E5-575G-53VG series. At 15”, the simplistic design of this machine fools the eye by packing in some decent hardware under the hood.

Full HD resolution gaming is supported by the NVIDIA GeForce 940MX dedicated card with 2GB of GDDR4 memory.

The board is pushing data with an Intel Core i5-6200U 2.30GHz dual core processor through 8GB of DDR4 SDRAM that’s upgradeable to 32GB if you ask for it.

Storage is handled by a single 256GB SSD, so you don’t have to manage to install separately on your SSD and HDD.

A 6-cell 2800mAh Li-ion battery provides up to 3 hours of hardcore gaming and 8 hours of light office use before needing a charge.

At the $549 price range, you’re going to have a hard time finding a computer that’s comparable to what Acer delivers in the Aspire E 15 E5-575G-53VG line of laptops.

Even though it’s not built as a “gaming” machine, the hardware under the hood is capable of playing most modern games on medium settings.

Asus K501UW-AB78

Built for everyday use, with gaming capabilities.

At A Glance

Price: $999 – $1,100
Video: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M 2GB/4GB
Processor: Intel Core i5 / i7
Memory: 8GB DDR4 2133MHz SDRAM (Up to 16GB)
Storage: Up to 1TB 5400RPM SATA and 256GB SSD
Display: 15.6” Full HD Anti-Glare Panel
Battery: 3-Cell 45WHr Li-ion

The Asus K501UW-AB78 is a machine that can be built around your budget, taking it from a price friendly range all the way up to the higher-end of the spectrum for our list. Depending on your needs, you can customize it from mild to wild.

The basic model is a 15.6” Full HD display that comes with 8GB of DDR4 memory that can be upgraded to 16GB total, along with either a Core i5 or Core i7 processor for increased speed.

Video is handled by NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 960M mobile series cards, with either 2GB or 4GB of memory, depending on which you choose.

Your storage options range from a 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB HDD, along with a 128GB or 256GB SSD.

With minimal options, the 3-Cell 45WHr battery is good for up to 4 hours of gameplay on medium settings, while increased hardware will quickly dwindle the battery’s life down.

Lenovo Ideapad Y700

Desktop replacing gaming power, on a budget.

At A Glance

Price: $700 – $799
Video: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M 4GB
Processor: Intel Core i5 / i7
Memory: Up to 16GB DDR4 2133MHz
Storage: Up to 1TB 5400RPM HDD and 512GB SSD
Display: 15.6” Full HD IPS Panel with Anti-Glare Backlight
Battery: 4-Cell 60WHr Li-ion Polymer

This is another machine that has an attractive price tag and decent entry-level specs, that can also be upgraded to give you an even more robust platform with beefier hardware.

Starting out, the 15.6” Full HD IPS panel is powered by NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 960M dedicated card with 4GB of GDDR4 memory.

Data is pushed through the system with either an Intel Core i5 or Core i7 processor, depending on which you choose, with up to 16GB of DDR4 memory. It’s stored on an HDD up to 1TB in size spinning at 5400RPMs, coupled with up to 512GB of SSD space.

The smaller battery is deceiving. Even though it’s only 60WHr, you can get around 5 to 6 hours of gaming on medium settings in, with around 3 to 4 hours as you start upgrading the hardware and requiring more power.

Asus ROG GL552

Full experience gaming on a budget.

At A Glance

Price: $980 – $1000
Video: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M 2GB GDDR5
Processor: Intel Core i7 Quad Core
Memory: 16GB DDR4 2133MHz SDRAM
Storage: 1TB 7200RPM HDD
Display: 15.6” Full HD IPS Panel
Battery: 4-Cell 3200mAh 48WHr

Asus doesn’t just build high-end gaming machines. Their ROG GL552 line of laptops are gamer inspired, providing ample hardware for supporting the latest games while also keeping costs down wherever they can.

At $999, you get a fast Intel Core i7 processor that pushes data through 16GB of DDR4 memory and a single 1TB 7200RPM HDD. We would love to see an SSD on the machine, but at $999, you can’t have it all.

The full HD 15.6” matte anti-glare IPS LCD panel is powered by NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 960M mobile chipset with 2GB of dedicated GDDR5 memory to support medium to high settings in full HD resolution.

The laptop comes with a removable 4-Cell 48WHr battery that provides up to 5 hours of hardcore gaming and up to 10 hours of basic office use. It’s a relatively lightweight system with heavyweight specs that can easily replace your desktop computer and play the latest games without lagging.

Alienware 15

Alienware, on a budget.

At A Glance

Price: $1,249 – $1,449
Video: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 6GB
Processor: Intel Core i5 7300HQ
Memory: 8GB 2400MHz DDR4
Storage: 1TB 7200RPM SATA
Display: 15.6” IPS LCD
Battery: 68WHr Li-ion Polymer

Alienware was once known for their ultra-high-priced machines, but since Dell has acquired the company, prices have begun dropping to keep them competitive — especially in the budget gaming laptop arena.

The 15.6” full HD IPS LCD is driven by NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 1060 card with a dedicated 6GB of memory to handle the most graphic-intensive games without stuttering.

Data is moved through the system with the latest generation Intel Core i5 processor into 8GB of DDR4 2400MHz memory and a 1TB SATA 7200RPM HDD. Sorry folks, no SSD on the lowest priced model, though it is an option as you increase in price.

It also has one of the larger batteries in the budget-minded category, and at 68WHr provides more than 6 hours of hardcore gaming with up to 12 hours of regular office and home desktop replacement use.

The design of the machine is fantastic and lives up to everything that Alienware is known for.

Alienware 13

Micro powerhouse, built specifically with gamers in mind.

At A Glance

Price: $950 – $1000
Video: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 2GB
Processor: Intel Core i5 7300HQ
Memory: 8GB 2400MHz DDR4
Storage: 180GB SATA SSD
Display: 13.3” IPS LCD
Battery: 76WHr Li-ion Polymer

Want something that can be easily toted, with the same power as it’s older brother? The Alienware 13 delivers in every area.

The smaller 13.3” HD Anti-Glare TN panel is driven by the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 dedicated video card with 2GB of total GDDR4 memory, providing smooth gaming at 1366×768 resolution.

Data processing is handled by the same 7th-generation Intel Core i5 7300HQ processor as the Alienware 15 but comes with a smaller (albeit faster) 180GB SATA SSD, and 8GB of 2400MHz DDR4 memory.

At 13.3”, you do get a TN panel instead of an IPS LCD, but a bigger battery that helps provide you with even more gaming time because of the lower power draw and less power-intensive.

The Alienware 13 is an amazing little machine that’s a full-on desktop replacement in a package size that you can toss into your backpack and never realize you’ve been carrying it.

Dell Inspiron i7559-763BLK

Inspiron value with true gaming hardware.

At A Glance

Price: $800 – $900
Video: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M 4GB GDDR5
Processor: 6th Generation Intel Core i5-6300HQ Quad Core
Memory: 8GB DDR3L 1600MHz SDRAM
Storage: 1TB 5400RPM HDD
Display: 15.6” Full HD Anti-Glare LCD
Battery: 6-cell 74WHr Li-ion Polymer

Dell’s Inspiron line of computers are commonly associated with low-budget offices and students trying to get by, but they’ve stepped up their game with the i7559-763BLK line of gaming laptops.

The 15.6” Full HD LCD is driven by NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 960M 4GB GDDR5 card to maintain high graphics settings without lagging and stuttering.

A 6th Generation Intel Core i5 quad-core processor clocks in at 3.2GHz and pushes data through 8GB of DDR3L 1600MHz SDRAM.

A single 1TB 5400RPM handles your storage and provides plenty of space, even if it’s on the slower end of the spectrum.

With less power-intensive hardware, the 74WHr battery provides up to 8 hours of gaming on medium settings, and more than 15 hours of regular office and home use before needing a fresh charge.

Some corners were cut, but the processor, memory, and graphics card in the Inspiron i7669-763BLK can handle most of the newest games being released and will play future games on low to medium graphics settings without getting bogged down.

Razer Blade Stealth

Our favorite high-end system

At A Glance

Price: $1,299 – $1,399
Video: Intel HD Graphics 620
Processor: 7th Generation Intel Core i5-7200U 2.5GHz / 3.1GHz
Memory: 8GB LPDDR3 SDRAM
Storage: 128GB PCIe SSD
Display: 12.5” IGZO 16:9 LED Quad HD Backlit LCD
Battery: 53.6 WHr

The Razer Blade is one of our favorite high-end gaming systems so it only makes sense that the smaller Razer Blade Stealth made it onto the list, especially for those budget gamers looking for a capable system they can quickly load up and take with them.

Now, while the price tag on this machine is slightly out of the “budget” category, we believe it fits in perfectly because of the hardware you get, the compact size, and the sleek design.

The 12.5” IGZO LCD display features quad HD resolution, and the Intel HD Graphics 620 onboard chip is sufficient for playing most games on medium settings in quad HD, and high settings at full HD resolution.

Data is pushed through 8GB of LPDDR3 SDRAM with the latest generation Intel Core i5 processor clocked at 2.5GHz, and 3.1GHz with Turbo enabled. Storage is handled by a single 128GB PCIe SSD.

Even though we would love to see a dedicated video card on the board, at only 12.5” it’s hard to work one into the system without increasing heat and bulk.

With the 53.6WHr battery you can expect around 10 hours of everyday use, and up to 3 hours of intense gaming before needing to recharge or plug into the wall.

Best High-End Gaming Laptops

When your budget isn’t limited, the options you have for a gaming rig are nearly endless.

High-end gaming laptop manufacturers are all competing for your hard-earned money by building their machines with the latest, greatest hardware and specs to ensure your system can not only play today’s graphic-intensive games, and have the power to play any games that are going to be released in the next few years.

Even though the price tag is substantially higher than some of the budget systems, we’ll feature, buying a high-end machine is going to cost less than the purchase of a budget machine.

You won’t have to replace it within two years because the hardware has become outdated and can’t keep up with the newer games coming out.

With that said, here are 7 of the best high-end gaming laptops that are proving themselves as true powerhouses, and well worth the money you’re going to spend on them.

Asus ROG G752

Perfectly matching high-end hardware specs to an affordable price tag.

At A Glance

Price: $1400-$1700
Video: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970M with 6GB DDR5
Processor: Intel Core i7 6700HQ
Memory: 24GB DDR4 SDRAM (Up to 64GB)
Storage: 1TB 7200RPM + 256GB SSD (PCIEG3x4)
Display: 17.3” 16:9 IPS FHD (1920×1080)
Battery: 66WHrs, 3S2P, Li-ion

For the money, the Asus ROG G752 is a solid machine that’s worthy of one of our top recommendations.

It’s got a dedicated video card with 6GB of DDR5 memory to handle your favorite games on ultra settings, and a 17” full-HD display that produces crystal clear visuals and incredible color reproduction.

With 24GB of DDR4 memory that’s upgradeable to 64GB, this is a system that will never get choked and can be upgraded as your hardware requirements justify the increased specs.

For storage, Asus couples a massive 1TB 7200RPM drive with an ultra-fast 256GB SSD drive to store your game data on to help the Core i7 processor quickly access the needed files.

The battery could be bigger for the larger size of the machine, but at 66WHrs, you can still get a few hours of hardcore gaming in when you’re on the road or away from a power outlet.

When it comes to perfectly pairing hardware specs with an affordable price tag, the competition has to work hard if they want to claim the top spot for best high-end gaming rig.

Origin PC EVO15-S

Slim design with desktop replacing performance.

At A Glance

Price: $1900-$2,000
Video: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 (VR Ready)
Processor: Intel Core i7 (HM175 Chipset)
Memory: 16GB DDR4
Storage: 2TB 7200RPM, 512GB PCIe SSD
Display: 15” IPS Panel with 1080p HD
Battery: 44WHrs Li-ion

With all of the power and none of the bulk, the Origin PC EVO15-S is a great machine, even if the price tag is a little higher than most people would expect for these hardware specs.

There’s no mistaking that the visual design of the machine is beautiful. Coupled with a 15” IPS display panel, you will get compliments on it when you leave the house.

Under the hood, Origin PC packs in a Core i7 processor and a beefy NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 video card that delivers stunning color reproduction and amazing visuals at the highest graphics settings.

16GB of DDR4 memory gives you plenty of free memory, but you cannot upgrade to higher capacity, so the system is somewhat limited in that area.

You’ve got more than enough storage capacity, with a 2TB 7200RPM drive to store your operating system and other lower-requirement files, and a 512GB SSD to store your game files and stuff that need to be quickly accessed.

Even with all of the hardware that Origin PC has included, their battery is no slouch. It’s smaller than some other competitors, but still, provides you with enough capacity to play graphics-intensive games for up to 4 hours without needing to plug into the wall.

At $2,000+, the Origin PC EVO-15S is slightly more expensive than some other high-end rigs on this list, but the styling that goes into the system, along with the best-of-the-best NVIDIA GeForce 1060 card makes it a machine that will be around for a few years to come.

Maingear Nomad VR

Desktop-grade hardware in a slim package.

At A Glance

Price: $2200 – $2,500
Video: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080
Processor: Intel Core i7 7700K 4.20GHz
Memory: 64GB DDR4-2400
Storage: 2x 2TB SSDs and 2x 2TB HDDs
Display: 17” 4K IPS Panel
Battery: Removable 8-cell 82Wh Li-ion

We try not to label many machines as a “beast,” but if there is one time we’ll break our rules, it’s for the hardware-packed Maingear Nomad VR gaming laptop.

As the name implies, the machine is setup and ready to go for the latest VR technology and has more than enough hardware to back it up. Even with all of the power-consuming hardware in it, the 8-cell battery still provides up to 5 hours of uninterrupted gameplay.

Video is provided by a 17” true 4K HD panel, boasting 3840×2160 resolution with NVIDIA G-Sync and NVIDIA’s latest GeForce GTX 1080 card with 8GB of GDDR5X memory.

A high-speed Core i7 processor clocks in at 4.20GHz with 4.50GHz Turbo capabilities, pushing data through up to 64GB of DDR4-2400MHz memory and up to 8TBs of storage space split between dual 2TB SSDs coupled with dual 2TB HDDs.

Even though this is one of the more expensive rigs on our list, the money you spend on it will be the last money you spend on a gaming rig for a long time.

MSI GT80S Titan

Dual video cards in a compact 18” form factor.

At A Glance

Price: $2300 – $2,600
Video: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M 16GB GDDR5 (8GB Each)
Processor: Intel Core i7 6820HK 2.7GHz to 3.6GHz
Memory: 16GB DDR4 2133MHz
Storage: 256GB SSD and 1TB SATA 7200RPM HDD
Display: 18.4” Full HD Wide View IPS Panel
Battery: 8-Cell 66WHr Removable Li-ion

From first glance, it may be hard for you to justify the huge price tag that MSI is asking for their GT80S Titan series gaming rig until you dig under the hood and realize that no expenses were spared during the build.

MSI didn’t cut any corners and put only the best of the best inside the system, so don’t let the initial specs throw you off.

Their full HD 18” panel is crystal clear IPS display with wide angle viewing, and powered by NVIDIA GeForce GTX980M’s dual video cards, sporting 8GB of GDDR5 each, for a total of 16GB total dedicated video memory.

On the board, you’ve got an Intel Core i7 processor clocked at 2.7GHz and capable of 3.6GHz with Turbo enabled. Data is pushed through a single 1TB SATA 7200RPM HDD and a secondary 256GB SSD for quick access during gaming.

The 8-cell 66WHr battery is smaller than some other competitors, but still, delivers a solid 4 hours of uninterrupted gameplay for times when you can’t plug in.

Razer Blade

Compact quad HD display in a minimalist package.

At A Glance

Price: $1900 – $2,200
Video: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 (6GB GDDR5)
Processor: Intel Core i7-6700HQ 2.6GHz / 3.5GHz
Memory: 16GB DDR4 2133MHz
Storage: 512GB HDD and 1TB SSD
Display: 14” QHD+ 3200×1800 Panel
Battery: 70WHr Li-ion Polymer

Coming in with one of the smallest form factors in the high-end gaming rig category, the Razer Blade is fetching a premium price tag, and justifying it with the options available. Even though this is a pricey machine, when you look at the hardware included, you start to see how they can get away with asking for it.

The laptop is a 14” form factor with a vivid Quad HD panel, boasting 3200×1800 resolution that’s powered by NVIDIA’s high-powered GeForce GTX1060 with 6GB of GDDR5 memory.

Preventing bottlenecks is an Intel Core i7-6700HQ processor at 2.6GHz and 3.5GHz with Turbo enabled. 16GB of DDR4 memory provides quick memory access and minimizes memory related issues.

A single 512GB HDD stores your OS files, while a massive 1TB SSD gives you plenty of room to install your games and files that need to be regularly accessed, and quickly.

The 70WHr battery gives you between 3 and 4 hours of actual gaming time without needing a charge and can be swapped out if you pack multiple batteries while you’re on the go.

Asus ROG GL502VS-DB71

Gamer inspired, budget-friendly.

At A Glance

Price: $1600 – $1,800
Video: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070
Processor: Intel Core i7-6700HQ 2.6GHz / 3.5GHz
Memory: 16GB DDR4
Storage: 1TB 7200RPM HDD and 256GB SATA3 SSD
Display: 15.6” Full HD Wide Angle Viewing
Battery: 62WHr 4-Cell Li-ion Polymer

One of the cheaper “high-end” gaming machines we’ve featured, the Asus ROG GL502VS-DB71 foregoes some of the more higher-end options that aren’t always necessary to keep the price tag down.

The machine is built with a 15.6” Full HD (1080p) display that’s powered by NVIDIA’s powerhouse GTX 1070 video card with 8GB GDDR5 memory and G-Sync technology.

On the board is an Intel Core i7-6700HQ processor that clocks in at 2.6GHz with 3.5GHz Turbo, pushing data through 16GB DDR4 memory to the 1TB 7200RPM HDD and 256GB SATA3 SSD.

A 62WHr battery provides up to 3 hours of uninterrupted gaming with this hardware, and is easily removable, allowing you to carry multiple battery packs on longer trips.

The design is stylish, and the 15” form factor is easy to pack and stow, making this one of the more “budget-friendly” gaming rigs for people that aren’t necessarily concerned with the latest and greatest hardware but want a machine that can handle their favorite games in full HD resolutions.

Asus ROG G752VS-XB72K OC

Overclocked from the factory and VR capable.

At A Glance

Price: $2100 – $2,400
Video: NVIDIA GTX 1070 8GB
Processor: Intel Core i7-6820
Memory: 32GB DDR4 RAM
Storage: 1TB 7200RPM HDD and 256GB PCIe SSD
Display: 17.3” Full HD G-SYNC Enabled
Battery: 88WHr 8-Cell Li-ion

Asus took their already high-end specs and hardware and overclocked each of them to deliver even more performance that other competitors will have a hard time keeping up with.

Their 17.3” panel is powered by NVIDIA’s GTX 1070 8GB chipset that’s overclocked to avoid lag, minimize stutter, and eliminate visual tearing. The panel itself is a wide-angle display with G-SYNC technology enabled.

On the board, the 6th-gen Intel Skylake-K Core i7 processor is overclocked to a blazing fast 4GHz and pushes through the 12.5% overclocked 32GB of DDR4 memory, a single 1TB 7200RPM HDD, and a 256GB SSD.

An 88WHr 8-Cell battery helps supply the overclocked hardware for up to 5 hours of uninterrupted gaming, even on games running at maximum settings on the highest resolution.

At the $2,299 price tag, Asus is asking for the ROG G752VS-XB72K OC; you’re going to have a hard time finding a machine that is faster than this, and looks just as good while doing it.

In Summary

Technology has moved forward, and high powered CPUs, video cards, audio cards, and motherboards capable of running them have gotten smaller and smaller, making gaming laptops a reality instead of just another pipe dream.

Today, we’re going to help you jump into the water with both feet by breaking down some of the best gaming laptops that are currently available.

There are three main categories for gaming laptops.

When you’re thinking about buying a new laptop, particularly in gaming in mind, there are considerations and tradeoffs that you’re going to have to make, depending on your budget.

The biggest factor you’ll need to consider is your framerates or FPS.

That means you’re going to need to think about the type of games that you’re going to play, and the hardware that those games require to operate smoothly and not drop frames.

Your budget plays a significant role in the hardware that you’re going to get, and how well you’re going to be able to run the graphic intensive games now, and into the next few years.

Here’s what you can expect to get at each level, depending on the budget you have available.

Budget Gamers

Budget gamers and those with less than $500 to spend are going to have a hard time finding a machine that can handle the latest games without causing more frustration than necessary.

If you’re happy playing games from 2013 or before, you can find a decent laptop in the $500 range that will happily play the games without having too many audio hiccups or dropping framerates. Games like Dota 2, League of Legends, World of Warcraft, and Minecraft can all be played on most budget machines.

What that being said, if you want to turn up the graphics settings or enjoy any games newer than those, you will want to save a bit more money and purchase a machine that has some beefier hardware in it.

In general, at less than $600, you’re going to find machines with the GeForce 940M, Radeon HD 8650G, and GeForce GT 820M video cards that are capable of playing the previously mentioned games at higher frame rates.

Mid-Range Gamers

Mid-range gamers and those with a budget of up to $1,000 are going to have an easier time finding a machine that’s capable of handling older games with ease, while still maintaining decent framerates on the new graphic-intensive titles.

In the $1,000 range, you can find machines that contain the Geforce GTX 860M and GeForce GTX 960M video cards that can handle 30 to 40 FPS on most new games at medium settings.

You may not be able to play the games at the highest settings, but at under and around $1,000, you can easily find a machine that will let you play the games without always lagging and closing because the hardware can’t keep up.

High-End Gamers

When a budget is no option, and you refuse to turn down your graphics settings or compromise your gaming experience, you have a huge range of choices available. Machines under and around $2,000 are the creme of the crop and will easily provide 45 to 60 FPS in most new games.

The GeForce GTX 970M is quite capable of delivering a smooth gaming experience on high settings, but if you want to turn them up to the ultra range, you will want a machine that has a GeForce GTX 980M can handle just about whatever you throw at it.

If you’re one of those gamers that will settle for nothing but the best, gaming laptops at $3,000 and below are typically built with the GeForce GTX 980M SLI dual setup, that is capable of delivering 100+ FPS.

Not to be outdone, though, some machines in this price range are also being built with the GeForce GTX 1070 and GTX 1080 cards that are currently the top of the line, and perform up to 10% better than the GTX 980M SLI dual card setup.

How we tested them

It’s not enough just to give you some recommendations and expect you to take our word and spend your hard-earned money on a new gaming machine.

Each of the gaming laptops that we recommend were put through rigorous testing to ensure they’re up to the task, and worthy of our recommendation.

During testing, we looked at each different category of their hardware to make sure that they’re not only good now, but that they will last a few years (at least), so you’re not stuck searching for a new laptop after a couple of short years, and new games start getting released that tax the system into oblivion.

Graphics

Your graphics card is the backbone of your gaming rig.

While most games will let you get away with a less powerful processor, you can’t skimp out on the graphics card.

For most gaming systems, AMD and NVIDIA are the two biggest competitors in the graphics card department, with AMD generally taking over the budget boards and NVIDIA dominating the high-end systems.

AMD works more with integrated graphics chips while NVIDIA tends to focus more on standalone graphics cards, which is why they provide a better, smoother, and higher-end experience than AMD can.

You want to get the most memory you can for the budget you have available, with 2GB of memory being the ultimate end-game card.

If you’re curious about the specs on the graphics card in a machine that you’re thinking about buying, you can view a full list of graphics cards and compare them against each other using this chart on Notebookchecks.

Processor

The processor should be the second criteria you consider when you’re looking at the perfect gaming rig for your budget.

A fast processor coupled with a beefy video card is one of the best ways to ensure that your gaming experience is as smooth as possible.

In the processor category, Intel and AMD reign supreme.

RAM

The RAM in your system plays a huge role in making sure you get the optimum performance out of the CPU and GPU and acts as a massive bottleneck if it’s not up to speed with the processor or graphics card.

Today, most of the RAM you’re going to find is standard DDR3 RAM, though you may be able to find even faster specs on the higher end systems.

In general, you’re going to want at least 8GB of RAM, while more is usually better. For most high-end systems, you will want up to 16GB of total available memory to keep your games running smoothly.

You usually aren’t going to notice a huge difference once you get above 16GB, even though some top of the line systems likes to push the limits of ship systems with up to 24GB of total system memory.

Hard Drives

Most laptops come with decent hard drives these days, and the hard drive you choose doesn’t have a huge impact on your gaming experience, as long as you stay away from the slower 5400RPM HDDs.

The laptops we’re featuring here all have 7200RPM HDDs, with some coming with the ideal SSDs – or solid state drives. Solid state drives help lower the chances of bottlenecking your system.

When games attempt to access files stored on your hard disk, the access speed determines how quickly the games can keep moving forward, which means an SSD is preferred.

You’ll need to get a system with at least a 128GB SSD and up to a 512GB SSD to install your game files on. While up to 1TB is preferred for a secondary hard drive that you’ll keep Windows, your media files, and other data stored on that isn’t accessed by the games you’re playing.

Most high-end systems will include large SSDs, which justifies the increased price tag, but it’s an added convenience that guarantees your processor and graphics card can operate freely, without getting bogged down by a drive with slow access speeds.

Display

When it comes to laptops, the quality of the screen you get can vary wildly.

Most budget laptops ship with TN LCD displays (thin-film-transistor liquid crystal) which are inferior to the higher-end IPS displays.

Keeping technical details to a minimum, TN displays generally suffer from poor viewing angles and poor color reproduction, while IPS displays can be viewed from every angle and provide crystal clear, robust and deep color reproduction.

A subpar display can hinder your gaming experience, and some manufacturers tend to drop the price of their machines by using low-quality displays.

It’s fairly common for manufacturers to throw in some of the highest priced graphics cards and CPUs, then keep the pricing of their system competitive by tossing in the cheapest display they can get their hands on.

Another downfall to most laptops is that their resolution is typically limited to 1366×768 – which makes for a poor gaming experience. More pricey machines are going to run full HD 1920×1080 resolution, while some of the mid-range systems ships at 1600×900 resolution.

Something to keep in mind is that higher resolution displays require substantially more hardware to run them properly and maintain high framerates.

New 4K rigs are becoming available, which push the resolution to 3840×2160. Most mobile graphics cards are going to have a hard time keeping up at that resolution while you’re gaming, so if you want to play games on them, you’re going to need to lower the gaming resolution to a more manageable 1080p.

Display size also has a lot to do with the price of your system. Most 15-inch displays are going to be substantially cheaper than their 17-inch counterparts, but 17-inch displays allow you to see more of the screen (obviously) and provide a better gaming experience.

Design & Features

Even though it’s last on our list, when you’re comparing laptops that are so close to each other (for your perspective budget), the design is important.

For the truly nerdy among us, we can talk about the specs and hardware all day long, but if the design, fit, and finish of the laptop doesn’t get our blood flowing, what good is having high-end hardware inside of it?

Since most high-end gaming laptops are designed to replace your desktop computer, you’re going to spend a lot of time working on it and looking at it, which means that it needs to be attractive.

In general, Alienware and Razer lead in the design category, going all out and building systems that can be easily recognized from a distance.

Budget-minded gamers have the edge in the design category because AMD’s integrated graphics chips mean that there is less bulk to the system, and the lower specced hardware provides increased battery life for when you’re gaming on the go.

Some manufacturers are even building their rigs with mechanical keyboards to ensure every keystroke is picked up and audible feedback is given.

While not necessarily going to determine whether or not you buy the computer, the fit, finish, and design of the gaming rig you choose does play a significant role in whether or not you’re going to be happy with it.

If your friends and competitors are going to drool when you pull the machine out of your bag!

So, how do you choose?

With so many systems being laid out in front of you, and such similar hardware and specifications split between them, how do you decide a “best gaming laptop” specifically for you?

Well, you first figure out your budget and the form factor you’re looking for.

Then you figure out exactly how much hardware you can get for your budget, and which system design looks best to you.

It’s that simple.

All of the machines that we’ve listed here for you today are capable of playing modern games without too many issues and should handle most of the games being produced over the next few years.

That means the only decisions you have to make are how much can you spend and whether or not you like the looks and form factor of the gaming laptop.

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