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The best gaming laptop 2022 - all the latest models compared

Razer Blade 15 gaming laptop
(Image credit: Future)

The best gaming laptops pack some serious power these days, with configurations ready to take on their heavy desktop siblings all in that sleek form factor. Finding the right gaming laptop for you can be a bit of a juggling act, though. Spec too high and you'll be left with a hefty bill, sacrifice too much internally and you'll need to refresh your system in just a few years time. We've had our hands on the latest and greatest gaming laptops to hit the market, so whether you're on the hunt for a budget buy that will still go the distance, or the greatest clamshell the industry has ever seen - we've got you covered. 

We've put a wide range of gaming laptops through their paces to find the best rigs in the business, testing performance relative to the specs on offer, efficiency in design and temperature, and the overall value for money on offer. We run each machine through a series of performance benchmarks, and live, play, and work with the models we review for an extended period of time. You'll find all our recommendations for the best gaming laptop on the market just below, and more information on choosing the right configuration for you and your budget as well. 

The world of gaming laptops (and the world of gaming PCs in general) is changing rapidly, with Intel's Alder Lake processors hitting some of the biggest models, and eyes on new GPU options as well. We're keeping this page stocked with all the latest models to make sure you're up to date with all the latest updates. 

The best gaming laptops available now

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Razer Blade 15 lid open

(Image credit: Future)
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Razer Blade 15 gaming laptop

(Image credit: Future)
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Razer Blade 15 closed

(Image credit: Future)
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Razer Blade 15 keyboard

(Image credit: Future)
The best gaming laptop overall

Specifications

CPU: i7-12800H | i9-12900H
GPU: RTX 3060 | RTX 3070 Ti | RTX 3080 Ti
RAM: 16GB | 32GB
Storage: 1TB SSD
Display: FHD at 360Hz | QHD at 240Hz | UHD at 144Hz
Ports: 3x USB-A Gen 2 | 1x USB-C / Thunderbolt 4 | 1x USB-C | 3.5mm audio jack | SD card slot | HDMI

Reasons to buy

+
Cutting edge components
+
Excellent color and contrast
+
Luxury design with solid build quality

Reasons to avoid

-
Proprietary charging connection

Our favorite configuration:

Razer Blade 15 | RTX 3080 Ti | Intel i9-12900H at Razer (opens in new tab)
This is the best gaming laptop on the market right now, but you're going to be spending a lot to get it. If you've got the budget to play with we'd really recommend going to the top of this spec and packing an RTX 3080 Ti GPU with an i9-12900H processor and helping it all shine with a 144Hz 4K display. Of course, there are cheaper models out there, but if we're really talking about the best of the best, this is where you should start your benchmarks.

We got our hands on a beast of a Razer Blade 15, but it showed us just how powerful gaming laptops can be these days. The RTX 3080 Ti / i9-12900H configuration I had on my desk was a true monster in its performance. However, this rig's ability to offer such performance while keeping the slimline chassis we've all come to know and love really cemented its top spot among the best gaming laptops on the market. 

Of course, this is no cheap machine. The 2022 Razer Blade 15 starts at $2,499.99 for an RTX 3060 configuration. You're certainly paying for this luxury name here, but if you're on the hunt for one of the most technically capable machines in one of the most portable form factors, the cash is well invested. 

That does mean this isn't necessarily the best gaming laptop for everyone - those playing lighter games won't need the horsepower on offer here, and if you're just after a machine you can sign into every now and then you won't get solid value by going all out. However, if you're interested in a top of the range rig (and have the budget to throw at it), our testing speaks for itself. 

"In 2022, the Razer Blade 15 is still doing exactly what its ancestors did - leading in high-end components and luxury performance."

Razer Blade 15 review

I managed to run Shadow of the Tomb Raider at 74fps in 4K with everything turned up to 11 here. While more demanding titles still struggled in that UHD resolution, though, I was still impressed with the 60+ fps in 1440p on Red Dead Redemption 2 as well as the 78fps in the same resolution on The Division 2. I only needed to drop some more taxing visual effects to hit higher framerates in 4K, and everything looked incredible while doing so.

You can't beat the Razer Blade 15 for performance, component horsepower, and portability. After all, the only other machines offering RTX 3080 Ti graphics cards at the time of writing still can't compete with that 4K 144Hz display for the price.

Read more: Razer Blade 15 review

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Dell G15 gaming laptop

(Image credit: Dell)
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Dell G15 gaming models

(Image credit: Dell)
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Dell G15 gaming laptop back

(Image credit: Dell)

2. Dell G15

The best gaming laptop under $1,000

Specifications

CPU: Intel i5-12500H / i7-12700H
GPU: up to Nvidia RTX 3070 Ti
RAM: up to 32GB
Storage: up to 1TB SSD
Screen: 15.6-inch FHD (1920 x 1080), up to 240Hz
Ports: 1x RJ45 Ethernet | 3x USB-A 3.2 Gen 1 | 1x USB-C 3.2 Gen 1 / Thunderbolt 4 | HDMI | 3.5mm

Reasons to buy

+
Solid performance
+
Sensibly priced
+
More powerful configurations now available

Reasons to avoid

-
Gets hot under duress
-
Chassis is a bit lacking

Our favorite configuration:

Dell G15 | RTX 3050 | Intel i5-11260H at Dell (opens in new tab)
The Dell G15 works best when it's super cheap, which is why this entry level RTX 3050 configuration is our favorite. Those on the hunt for a rig designed for lighter gaming and the odd Apex Legends session will find great value here, without needing to break the bank on gaming laptops over $800.

The Dell G15 isn’t going to light the world of the best gaming laptops on fire, but it is at least a dependable choice of gaming companion. Performance in both gaming and general tasks is good considering the price point, and all the features we’ve come to expect from gaming laptops are present and accounted for - apart from that bank-busting price tag. You'll often find these models on sale with RTX 3050 / RTX 3050 Ti graphics cards for well under $1,000 - sometimes as low as $699.99.

The appearance of this laptop could be a point of contention, though, as we found the chassis to feel a bit old-fashioned for 2022. A dark iridescent finish and thick central hinge feel like throwbacks to a forgotten age of tech design that should perhaps have stayed in the past.

The G15 also runs fairly hot when playing more graphically demanding titles, although not to a worrying extent; we’ve certainly reviewed laptops with noisier fans than this. As it stands, the G15 is a great all-rounder, ideal as a gift for a kid looking to break into PC gaming or the office employee consigned to remote working - and playing.

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Alienware m15 R5 Ryzen Edition

(Image credit: Alienware/Dell)
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Alienware M15 R5 gaming laptop

(Image credit: Alienware)
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Alienware M15 R5 gaming laptop

(Image credit: Alienware)
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Alienware M15 R5

(Image credit: Alienware)
The best gaming laptop for most

Specifications

CPU: i5-11400H | i7-11800H | i9-11900H
GPU: RTX 3050Ti | RTX 3060 | RTX 3070 | RTX 3080
RAM: up to 32GB
Storage: up to 2TB SSD
Display: FHD at 165Hz / 360Hz | QHD at 240Hz
Ports: 1x RJ-45 Ethernet NIC | 3x USB-A 3.2 Gen 1 | 1x USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 / Thunderbolt 4 | 1x HDMI 2.1 | 1x 3.5mm

Reasons to buy

+
Incredible performance
+
Makes the most of the RTX 3080
+
Amazing 360Hz display

Reasons to avoid

-
Gets extremely hot and loud
-
Heavy for its size

Our favorite configuration:

Alienware M15 R5 | RTX 3060 | Intel i5-11400H at Dell (opens in new tab)
The Alienware M15 line has dropped its price in recent years, appealing more to the mid-range market with its specs. If you're after a solid go-to, then, we'd recommend checking out the RTX 3060 / Intel i5 model. It seems that this model has taken a pretty permanent price drop down to between $1,099 and $1,299 these days. However, keep your eyes peeled for the new R7 model if you're keen to spend a bit more.

While both Intel and AMD models are available, we got our hands on the i7 Alienware M15 R6 (opens in new tab) and were blown away by the way it handled the RTX 3080 GPU sat inside. Not only are you getting premium components under the hood, but this machine knows how to draw out the best of them - even if you opt for a more budget-friendly configuration. That's why this is the best gaming laptop for most people - you won't need to spend too much to pick up some solid mid-range specs, and those cheaper components are still given plenty of room to reach their potential under the hood as well. 

Framerate is prioritized over higher resolutions, as we’re confined to that Full HD (1080p) display, but the compromise is catered for in bombastic 360Hz refresh rate.

Alienware M15 R6 review

Previously Alienware's flagship range, the M15 line has been stripped back a little with the launch of the new X15. However, the price discrepancy between the two (you're paying significantly less for this model) means that this particular gaming laptop can't be beaten for value overall. You could consider the X15 technically the best Alienware gaming laptop on paper alone, but when it comes down to price and the wider market, this is the winner. 

Despite that plastic design we were impressed by the Alienware M15 R6's ability to handle powerful components without breaking a sweat. While by no means a slimline machine, there's certainly enough grunt in here to wonder where all those pieces are hiding. We easily knocked out 100 fps in The Division 2 on Ultra settings with our RTX 3080 rig, climbing up to 132fps in Shadow of the Tomb Raider testing. This is a seriously well-engineered piece of kit, capable of pushing each spec to its limits. 

The good news is that efficiency will last whatever your budget, so we'd recommend budget-buyers in particular pay attention to those falling prices on RTX 3050 and RTX 3060 configurations. You'll find two model names on the shelves right now, the Intel-based R6 and the AMD-based R5. That means you'll find the perfect spec for your library regardless of which camp you find yourself in right now. 

Read more: Alienware M15 R6 / R5 review

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Asus TUF Dash F15

(Image credit: Future)
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Asus TUF Dash F15 lid

(Image credit: Future)
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Asus TUF Dash F15 laptop

(Image credit: Future)
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Asus TUF Dash F15 display

(Image credit: Future)
The best gaming laptop for value hunters

Specifications

CPU: i5-11300H | i7-11370H | i7-11375H
GPU: RTX 3050 | RTX 3050 Ti | RTX 3060 | RTX 3070
RAM: 16GB | 32GB
Storage: 512GB | 1TB
Display: FHD at 60Hz | 144Hz | 240Hz
Ports: 1x 3.5mm | 1x HDMI 2.0 | 3x USB-A 3.2 Gen 1 | 1x RJ45 LAN port | 1x USB-C / 1x Thunderbolt 4

Reasons to buy

+
Great pricing
+
Slimline design 
+
Solid performance

Reasons to avoid

-
Soft membrane keys

Our favorite configuration

Asus TUF Dash F15 | RTX 3070 | Intel i7-11370H at Amazon (opens in new tab)
The Asus TUF Dash F15 manages to pack some incredible graphics into a much smaller MSRP than you'd usually find because it sacrifices a little processing power. That i7-11370H processor will remain whichever configuration you choose, but it chugs along nicely and we never experienced any slowdown during everyday play on medium settings. Not only that, but this spec also sends you home with a 1TB SSD, 16GB RAM, and a 240Hz display to boot.

If you're looking to grab an RTX 30-Series card but don't want to break too far past $1,000 / £1,000, the Asus TUF Dash F15 is going to be your best bet. In our testing, we found this budget-friendly machine to charge through even some of the more demanding titles as if it sat in a much higher price bracket - despite the weaker 4-core i7-11370H processor at the helm. Plus, you're still getting the super slimline form factor that has proven so popular over the last couple of years. 

You'll be hitting 60fps+ in most games as long as you're happy not playing everything maxed out.

Asus TUF Dash F15 review

The key here is that you can outfit it with the full 11th generation i7 / 1TB / 32GB RAM suite of turbo power - or you can pick up a more conservative spec for a little less cash. That means you won't need to spend on high-end gear that you might not even get to use if you're running less demanding titles.

We were particularly impressed by how well those more power-hungry components played together in a cheaper chassis. We didn't notice any over-heating issues here, and while we did have to make some sacrifices to more demanding titles, we still managed to hit 60fps+ on an RTX 3070 with consistency. We also tested an RTX 3060 unit and found similar performance levels when dropping a few sliders down a fraction as well, which means you're sorted at all ends of the budget here. 

As of CES 2022, there is a new Asus TUF Dash F15 on the way, featuring a larger touchpad, 12th generation Alder Lake processor, and a new cooling system. However, pricing and release date information is still unknown. 

Read more: Asus TUF Dash F15 review

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Razer Blade 14 gaming laptop

(Image credit: Razer)
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Razer Blade 14

(Image credit: Razer)
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Razer Blade 14 side

(Image credit: Razer)
The best 14-inch gaming laptop

Specifications

CPU: AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX
GPU: RTX 3060 | RTX 3070 | RTX 3080
RAM: 16GB
Storage: 1TB SSD
Display: FHD at 144Hz | QHD at 165Hz
Ports: 2x USB-A 3.2 | 2x USB-C 3.2 | 1x HDMI 2.1 | 1x 3.5mm

Reasons to buy

+
Great components
+
Tangible benefits of a Ryzen CPU 
+
Excellent compact build quality

Reasons to avoid

-
A little small
-
Temperature can climb

Our favorite configuration:

Razer Blade 14 | RTX 3080 | Ryzen 9 5900HX  at Razer (opens in new tab)
The Razer Blade 14 really needs a GPU that can put that screen to work. This RTX 3080 configuration comes in around $700 cheaper than the RTX 3080 Ti model, and strikes that perfect balance between power and value for money. In our testing, that RTX 3080 / Ryzen 9 5900HX offered an incredible performance in itself, but if you are interested in pushing this thing to the max, it's worth noting that the Ti configuration does also come with a 6900HX processor and DDR5 RAM these days.

The Razer Blade 14 sold the idea of smaller, 14-inch gaming powerhouses to us in our testing last year. With some of the most powerful components on the market and an almost impossibly slim form factor, this is a rig to be reckoned with, and the best 14-inch gaming laptop on the market right now. That's because you're blending the best of both worlds here, with an AMD CPU and Nvidia GPU playing nicely together to create an incredible final experience. 

It's incredible to think that there's so much oomph and beastly power in this tiny thing.

Razer Blade 14 review

The 1440p display and RTX 3080 GPU sung in our testing, blowing us away with impressive handling of High and Ultra settings across a range of games. We were especially impressed by just how much power was up for grabs considering the lightweight, slimline chassis. 

The 14-inch form factor makes the power on offer all the more impressive, but we did notice ourselves wanting a slightly larger screen during certain moments, and having all that gear packed in did get a little warm at times. Still, we loved the 1440p / 165Hz pairing on the display - this machine doesn't feel like it would benefit from a costly 300Hz panel and, considering the size, it's easy to be blown away by the quality overall. 

We managed to push Red Dead Redemption 2 to near-consistent 60fps on maximum settings in 1440p resolution - astounding considering the form factor here. While Metro Exodus did present more of a challenge (generally hitting 48fps with RTX Ultra settings), a few tweaks still saw us through to 66fps on High. 

All of that means you'll easily get a better response from the Razer Blade 14 than you would the similarly designed Asus ROG Zephyrus G14. However, this is certainly a model reserved for those willing to pay for that premium quality. If you don't want to break $2,000 we'd recommend you head a little further down the page.

Read more: Razer Blade 14 review

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Acer Nitro 5

(Image credit: Future/Christian Guyton)
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Acer Nitro 5

(Image credit: Future/Christian Guyton)
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Acer Nitro 5

(Image credit: Future/Christian Guyton)
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Acer Nitro 5

(Image credit: Future/Christian Guyton)
The best gaming laptop for component value over aesthetics

Specifications

CPU: Up to AMD Ryzen 7 5800H / Intel i7-11800H
GPU: RTX 3060 | RTX 3070 Ti | RTX 3080 Ti
RAM: 16GB | 32GB
Storage: up to 1TB SSD
Display: FHD at 360Hz | QHD at 240Hz | UHD at 144Hz
Ports: 1x 3.5mm Combo Audio Jack, 1x HDMI, 2x USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A, 1x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A, 1x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C, 1x RJ45

Reasons to buy

+
Good gaming performance at 1080p
+
Solid chassis and keyboard

Reasons to avoid

-
Battery life is quite poor
-
Display is unexciting

Our favorite configuration:

Acer Nitro 5 | AMD Ryzen 7 5800H | RTX 3060 at Amazon (opens in new tab)
The Acer Nitro 5 provides plenty of balance in this configuration, and the best part is we often see this model on sale at Amazon as well. Balancing some solid components under the hood, and a 144Hz display up top, there's some nice horsepower for your cash here. We often see it at between $1,049 and $1,329.

It’s not about to blow anyone away with flashy features or top-tier performance, but the Acer Nitro 5 is a very respectable choice of gaming laptop for the busy gamer who doesn’t want to break the bank. A good full-scale keyboard with numpad makes this laptop appropriate for both work and play. That means it's a great replacement for a full-tower desktop PC at home that also offers portability thanks to its relatively low weight as gaming laptops go.

All but the most demanding games should run comfortably above 60fps at maximum graphical settings

Acer Nitro 5 review

The RTX 3060 GPU paired with a Ryzen 5800H processor offered up strong performance in our testing, hitting 86fps in High settings on The Division 2, and only dropping to 77fps in Ultra. While the SSD could be a bit speedier, it’s not going to cause any major headaches. Most games will run above 60fps at maximum settings, and ray-tracing is also an option, though it does come with an associated performance hit.

We found the screen to be somewhat dull compared to other laptops in the same price range, and the battery life is decidedly unimpressive, but given the budget cost, these do feel like fair tradeoffs. Especially since the display does retain an excellent 144Hz refresh rate. At $1,129 (with other models varying from $700 to $2,100), the RTX 3060 Nitro 5 manages to pack some impressive components into a budget price tag by dropping nice-to-have features. That makes it perfect for anyone after raw power without all the fancy extras that can sometimes bloat gaming laptop costs.

Read more: Acer Nitro 5 review

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Alienware X17 gaming laptop

(Image credit: Dell)
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Alienware X17 top down

(Image credit: Dell)
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Alienware X17 laptop

(Image credit: Dell)
The best 17.3-inch gaming laptop

Specifications

CPU: i7-11800H | i9-11980HK
GPU: RTX 3060 | RTX 3070 | RTX 3080
RAM: up to 64GB
Storage: up to 4TB SSD (2x2TB)
Display: FHD at 165Hz / 360Hz | UHD at 120Hz
Ports: 1x HDMI | 2x USB-A 3.2 Gen 1 | 1x USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 | 1x USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 / Thunderbolt 4 | Micro SD | Mini Display Port | 1x RJ45 Ethernet | 3.5mm

Reasons to buy

+
Fantastic gaming performance
+
Good keyboard and trackpad
+
Mechanical Cherry MX keyboard

Reasons to avoid

-
More expensive than most
-
Gets hot

Our favorite configuration:

Alienware X17 R2 | RTX 3070 Ti | Intel i7-12700H at Dell (opens in new tab)
The X17 is a beast, so you might as well push your investment. This RTX 3070 Ti configuration nestles itself neatly between the extraordinarily expensive RTX 3080 Ti model and the only slightly cheaper RTX 3060. With 16GB of DDR5 4800 MHz RAM as a baseline, there's plenty of room to customize here, but that i7-12700H processor will see you through heavy releases all the same.

If you're after a larger display panel, the merits of the 17.3-inch Alienware X17 are obvious, but under the surface there's plenty more going on here.  Although it might start at an already-whopping price and comes in models that go above the $3,000 / £3,000 mark, the Alienware x17 R1 works hard to earn its price tag and is one of the best gaming laptops to come out of 2021. The X-Series is Alienware's latest and greatest selection of laptops, designed to appeal to the brand's more premium customers looking for the very best gaming laptop money can buy. 

Despite its noisy fans, the Alienware x17 R1 is a beast of a gaming laptop that will serve as an ideal desktop replacement for any serious gamer.

Alienware X17 review

A choice of 1080p or 4K display, a variety of RAM and storage specs, and either a membrane or compact mechanical keyboard makes it easy to tailor this laptop to your personal needs. One of the best things about larger 17.3-inch devices is that they can pack considerably more power under the hood, without overheating. While we did experience some considerable warmth (and noise in performance mode) in our testing, but we never neared dangerous temperatures. 

With the ability to move up to an Intel i9 processor, 64GB RAM, 4TB of SSD storage and a 120Hz 4K display, it's possible to create a real beast out of this machine. We tested an i7-11800H configuration packed with an RTX 3080 GPU and 16GB RAM, and even this more conservative spec managed to push 99fps on Shadow of the Tomb Raider's Ultra settings, and 112fps with the same settings on The Division 2. Even more entry level configurations will still set you back a bit of cash, but that's because of the premium additional features that make this one of the best rigs on the market.

A slimline design works nicely in this size, especially considering the additional bulk that a larger display usually brings with it. However, you're also picking up a mechanical keyboard, plenty of ports, and a gorgeous display panel up top. If you're looking to splash the cash on something that's truly going to make a statement, the Alienware X17 is an excellent option. 

Read more: Alienware X17 review

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Best gaming laptops: ASUS Zephyrus G14

(Image credit: ASUS)
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Best gaming laptops: ASUS Zephyrus G14

(Image credit: ASUS)
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Best gaming laptops: ASUS Zephyrus G14

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Best gaming laptops: ASUS Zephyrus G14

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Best gaming laptops: ASUS Zephyrus G14

(Image credit: ASUS)

8. ASUS Zephyrus G14

The best 14-inch gaming laptop for most

Specifications

CPU: Up to AMD Ryzen 9 5900HS
Graphics: Up to Nvidia RTX 3060
RAM: Up to 32GB
Storage: Up to 1TB NVMe SSD
Resolution: Full HD (1080p) or WQHD (1440p)
Refresh rate: 120Hz or 144Hz
Ports: 2x USB-A 3.2 Gen 1 | 2x USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 (one with PD / DisplayPort / G-Sync) | 1x HDMI 2.0 | 1x 3.5mm

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent performance
+
Thin and light
+
Decent battery life

Reasons to avoid

-
No webcam
-
Limited to RTX 3060 cards

Our favorite configuration:

Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 | RTX 3060 | Ryzen 9 5900HS at Amazon (opens in new tab)
Packing a Ryzen 9 5900HS processor and a 1TB SSD into a sub $1,500 price tag is no mean feat, but the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 has consistently been offering this spec for some time now. It's the top end of this lower-mid range machine, packing a more than capable RTX 3060 GPU and all the grunt you need to push it to the max.

The Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 long reigned over the slimline gaming laptop world. It was one of the first easily portable machines, built with a form factor that respected your backpack and your desk top. The 2021 release is a little graphically limited compared to its peers - offering a maximum RTX 3060 GPU - but if you don't want to break the bank on a top-tier graphics card there's plenty of power and efficiency under the hood here. 

With the step to a Ryzen 500-series chip and Nvidia's 3000-series GPUs also comes the jump to WQHD resolution, so 2021's G14 will also give you access to a super clear display running at a max 144Hz refresh rate. Again, this isn't a spec designed to compete with the top dogs like the Alienware x-series or the Razer Blade but for the cash - and the fact that you're getting everything in a dinky 14-inch case - there's plenty of value under the hood. 

Things can get a little hot under here, as is the case with many compact machines, but all in there's little out there that can compete with this 14-inch price point. The Razer Blade 14 would be the obvious comparison, but it's clear that the Asus G14 is taking aim at a different kind of player. If you have the budget for it, Razer's 14-incher is going to offer you far more sophisticated configuration options. However, those shopping under $2,000 will have a far easier time scouting Asus's instalment into the slimline market. 

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Alienware x14 gaming laptop

(Image credit: Future)
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Alienware x14 ports

(Image credit: Future)
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Alienware x14 thin

(Image credit: Future)
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Alienware x14 keyboard

(Image credit: Future)
The best slimline gaming laptop

Specifications

CPU: i5-12500H / i7-12700H
Graphics: RTX 3050 / RTX 3050 Ti / RTX 3060
RAM: 16GB - 32GB DDR5
Storage: : 512GB - 2TB SSD
Screen:: 14-inch, 1080p, 144Hz
Ports: 1x USB Type-A | 1x USB Type-C | 2x USB Type-C / Thunderbolt | 1x 3.5mm | microSD

Reasons to buy

+
Super slimline form factor
+
Impressive performance
+
More affordable than other Alienware rigs
+
Sleek aesthetic

Reasons to avoid

-
Limited configurations available
-
Increased depth leaves larger footprint
-
Matte display can dull colors

Our favorite configuration:

Alienware x14 | RTX 3050 | Intel i5-12500H at Dell (opens in new tab)
The Alienware x14 holds most of its value in its super slimline form factor and flexible (though still incredibly luxurious) design. While cheap by Alienware's standards, though, it's still a costly affair. If you're looking for that super thin profile above all else, we'd recommend taking a look at the base RTX 3050 configuration. You're getting that luxury chassis with Intel's latest processing chip and DDR5 RAM for $1,499.99 here, the best value out of all the options.

The Alienware x14 is the thinnest laptop we've had on our desks, and it delights in its performance relative to the lower mid-range components under the hood. Of course, Intel's latest 12th generation processors are helping those RTX 3050 / RTX 3060 graphics cards (as is that DDR5 RAM), but all together these specs are working particularly hard to offer silky smooth framerates in even more demanding titles.

We found that the overall build quality was particularly impressive here, with the x14 shrinking exactly what makes the Alienware x17 feel so solid and premium down into a super flexible form factor. This thing is only 14.4mm thick, and if it weren't for the glowing RGB alien head on the top panel you'd be forgiven for thinking it was a slick business ultrabook.

The Alienware X14 earns its place on the mid-range shelf but will appeal more to those after a premium feel than those chasing framerates.

Alienware x14 review

In fact, there's some serious gaming chops under the hood. Of course, we didn't get numbers to threaten RTX 3070 or RTX 3080-toting machines in our testing, but with the Nvidia optimised Shadow of the Tomb Raider hitting an average of 108fps on Highest settings, there's plenty we shouldn't take for granted here. The Alienware x14 did struggle under heavier titles like Red Dead Redemption 2, but we could still draw 55fps in High settings. With a little tweaking, these more humble configurations can easily soar thanks to the engineering under the hood. 

During our testing, though, it quickly became obvious that the RTX 3050 / RTX 3050 Ti configurations would offer the best value for money here. We were a little disappointed by the 1080p 144Hz display considering the fact that our test unit was just knocking on the $2,000 price point. By contrast, this is a more than passable screen when placed on a $1,499 RTX 3050 rig. It feels like there's diminishing returns heading up the price scale here. 

Still, if you're looking for a super slimline, easily portable machine, the Alienware x14 is an excellent premium option. Not only are you getting that backpack-friendly form factor, but the USB-C charging makes it particularly easy to juice up on the go as well. 

Read more: Alienware x14 review

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MSI Stealth 15M gaming laptop

(Image credit: MSI)
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MSI Stealth 15M gaming laptop review

(Image credit: MSI)
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MSI Stealth 15M review

(Image credit: MSI)
The best gaming laptop for budget 1080p performance

Specifications

CPU: Up to Intel Core 11th-gen
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060
RAM: 16GB - 32GB
Storage: : 512GB - 1TB SSD
Screen:: 15.6-inch 144Hz
Ports: 2x USB Type-A 3.2 Gen 1 | 1x Thunderbolt 4 | 1x USB Type-C 3.1 Gen 2 (with DisplayPort) | 1x MicroSD card reader | 1x HDMI 2.0 | 1x 3.5mm

Reasons to buy

+
Incredibly portable form factor 
+
Reliable 1080p performance
+
Excellent everyday experience and connectivity

Reasons to avoid

-
Cooling suffers from the compact design 

Our favorite configuration:

MSI Stealth 15M | RTX 3060 | Intel i7-11375H at Amazon (opens in new tab)
The MSI Stealth 15M sits in the same budget category as the Asus TUF Dash F15, offering a watered down 4-core i7-11375H processor to be able to squeeze an RTX 3060 GPU into its price. We'd recommend that baseline spec for anyone after this slimline rig as it's not too easy to find alternative configurations on the shelves, and this level of power feels just about matched to the capabilities of this chassis.

The latest in a burgeoning line of super-portable best gaming laptop contenders, the MSI Stealth 15M manages to pack some top line specs into a compact chassis and still pulls off some solid performance in the process. 

It’s certainly an impressive machine, with an excellent feel and strong performance to boot, aside from some thermal concerns.

MSI Stealth 15M

The MSI Stealth 15M sits at a more budget-friendly end of the market, but stands tall in its display quality at 1080p. Similar to the Asus TUF Dash F15, this model packs a smaller i7-11375H processor and a slimline build. In our testing, we were able to push 1080p titles at between 50 and 60fps reliably with some tweaking, though there was a little more leeway in results here compared to the Dash F15.  We found that the display itself far outshone that of Asus's similar build, offering a clarity that we can't quite replicate on our own RTX 3060 F15. However, the volume and temperature of MSI's model stops it a little short here.

After all, that power must come with a drawback, and with so much crammed in under the hood here, cooling and battery certainly suffers the consequences. This machine can get particularly hot, especially underneath the main body. If placed on a desktop you won't tend to notice this issue too much - it'll be the constant hum and random whirrs of the fans that will take some getting used to instead.

If you're after a machine that will sit as well in a backpack as it would on a full gaming desk setup this is certainly an interesting choice. Performance remains smooth, though don't expect to be hitting Ultra settings with wild abandon.

Read more: MSI Stealth 15M review


How to find the best gaming laptop for you

Not sure what screen size you'd ideally want and what minimum spec you'd ultimately like to get in your search for the best gaming laptop? If you need help working that out, we're here to help. 

In our opinion, the key is to opt for something with a balance between performance, budget, and components – you want something that will play your favorite games now, but still have enough bandwidth to help you find a new favorite in the future.

So what's your first step when you start browsing for the best gaming laptop? You can start by having a budget or total price ceiling in mind, but generally (and somewhat predictably), you'll want to prioritize the hardware in the machine. As you've made it to this page, you're looking for a gaming-focused portable powerhouse and, as a result, want to aim high in the graphics card department, like a GPU from the RTX family of cards from Nvidia. 

This can be an excellent starting point to refine your search - but don't forget to look at laptops with a 16-series card in too as they offer incredible value when complemented by other, well-balanced components. A quick note on components: availability, as everyone knows, has been incredibly unreliable and volatile in recent months. As a result, it might be that when you visit retailers or makers of these machines, only some configurations are available at the time.

If you're unsure of which components you need, it's wise to consider the CPUs and GPUs on offer in tiers. If you only play lighter games that aren't too demanding, you might fall into the entry level tier, if you're looking to hit High settings with a few tweaks and still hit 60fps, it's worth looking in the mid-range. However, if you're going all-in on Ultra settings for the most demanding titles, the best gaming laptop for you might be a more premium option. 

Entry levelMid-rangePremium
11th generation i5 / Ryzen 5000 Series 11th generation i7 / Ryzen 7000 Series 11th generation i9 / Ryzen 9000 Series
Nvidia GTX 1650Ti - RTX 3050TiRTX 3060 - RTX 3070RTX 3080 - RTX 3090
8GB - 16GB RAM16GB - 32GB RAM32GB - 64GB RAM
256GB - 512GB SSD1TB SSD1TB - 4TB SSD
60-120Hz144-240Hz240Hz - 300Hz
$600 - $1,000$1,000 - $1,800$1,800 - $3,000+

How we test gaming laptops

Every gaming laptop that we review is stress-tested against a series of benchmarking processes and everyday use. We run a standardised series of performance tests on each rig, benchmarking on both High and Ultra / Highest across: 

  • Shadow of the Tomb Raider 
  • Total War: Three Kingdoms (Battle)
  • Metro Exodus
  • The Division 2
  • Red Dead Redemption 2

We carry out these benchmarks at both 1080p and other native resolutions offered by each individual system. 

We then test gaming laptops against 3DMark Firestrike and Firestrike Extreme (for 1440p rigs), using Firestrike Ultra for our 4K machines. We also use PC Mark 10 tests (including battery performance), as well as Sky Diver, Cinebench, and Crystal Disk Mark. 

Of course, we also live with these machines. We find the best gaming laptops by playing, binge-watching, and working with them for as long as we can, using them as we would our own machines (while pushing them a little further for the sake of science). 

Read more about how we find the best tech with our full Hardware Policy and find out exactly how we test gaming laptops.

Which brand is best for gaming laptops?

Overall, the best gaming laptop brands include Razer, Alienware, MSI, Asus and Acer. However, there are a number of companies all competing for the title right now, from budget-oriented developers to high-end industry staples. Finding the best gaming laptop brand, however, may come down to how much you're willing to pay and how much you value extra features like mechanical keyboards and RGB lighting in your chassis. Alienware, for example, produces some incredible machines with these features built in, but at a significant premium - whereas Acer's machines tend to be more conservative in their builds but offer reduced prices. 

Do you need a gaming laptop with an RTX GPU?

Picking up one of the latest Nvidia GPUs in your gaming laptop doesn't need to be a costly affair - RTX 3050 machines have been spotted at prices that would previously have sat on older GTX models. Nvidia's RTX chips are currently in their 30-Series, one up from the 20-Series launched last year, and you'll find the vast majority of gaming laptops on the shelves are sporting them. That doesn't necessarily mean you need one if you're just playing smaller games on a budget, in which case a GTX 1650 is still a worthy consideration. However, the bottom line is if you're buying a gaming laptop today, the choices on offer will revolve around the RTX 30-Series line. 

If you're looking to save some cash, though, you'll find plenty of RTX 3050 laptop deals and RTX 3060 laptop deals if you're looking for something with a little more power. However, if you're going big, it's worth checking out all the RTX 3070 laptops on offer, as well as the serious savings on RTX 3080 laptop deals as well.

Can you use an ultrabook as a gaming laptop?

The term Ultrabook is a tricky one, seeing as it was essentially drawn up by Intel to suggest that any slimline machine running an Intel processor and an SSD should be considered premium. The times have changed since then, and some super cheap machines can technically slide as ultrabooks these days which means the term generally covers expensive laptops running powerful configurations with a small form factor - like the Dell XPS 13 and HP Spectre. 

Unfortunately, these machines do often still ship with standard Intel graphics chips, which means they likely won't be running the Nvidia and AMD GPUs that tend to set gaming laptops apart. An ultrabook gaming laptop can still be built - should you wish to configure an XPS 13 with an RTX graphics card, for example - but it will cost far more than the comparative spec sheet in a purpose built machine.

If you've managed to find the right rig for you, it's worth investing some thought into the best laptop backpacks to get you out and about. Or, check out our guide to the latest cheap gaming laptop deals if you're looking for more savings. Or, check out all the cheap Alienware laptop deals and Razer laptop deals currently on sale for some serious discounts. 

Tabitha Baker
Tabitha Baker

Currently Managing Editor of hardware at GamesRadar+, I originally landed in hardware at our sister site TechRadar before moving over to GamesRadar. In between, I've written for Tom’s Guide, Wireframe, The Indie Game Website and That Video Game Blog, covering everything from the PS5 launch to the Apple Pencil. Now, i'm focused on Nintendo Switch, gaming laptops (and the keyboards and mice that come with them), and tracking everything that suggests VR is about to take over our lives.