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Best gaming laptops 2021 - get a top portable powerhouse into your life

Best gaming laptop: Alienware Area 51m R2
(Image credit: Dell/Alienware)

The best gaming laptop market is as big as it has ever been. It really is bursting at the seams with more and more manufacturers, and more and more models and types, and configurations from said manufacturers. And with those greater numbers come great diversity and technological advancements - gone are the days when the best gaming laptop would cost you an enormous premium, just by the virtue of being portable.

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. We've looked across each of the major manufacturers to help find the best gaming laptops on the market, and the best prices. 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.


US: Amazon | Best Buy | Dell | Newegg | B&H Photo | Adorama
UK:
Amazon UK | Currys | Argos | Overclockers UK | Laptopsdirect

RTX 3060 laptops | RTX 3070 laptops | RTX 3080 laptops


So what's your first step when you start browsing for the best gaming laptop? You can start by having an amount of money 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: the availability, as everyone, knows, of silicon, 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.

Regardless of what you're looking for, we've divided some of the best choices into relevant niches below - and don't forget to give the best antivirus software a looksie just to make sure you're brand new gaming powerhouse is well protected.

Best gaming laptop 2021

Best gaming laptops

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Best gaming laptops: Alienware m15

(Image credit: Alienware/Dell)
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Best gaming laptops: Alienware m15

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Best gaming laptops: Alienware m15

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Best gaming laptops: Alienware m15

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Alienware m15 R4

The best gaming laptop going right now

CPU: Up to Intel 10th gen | Graphics: up to Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 | RAM: Up to 32GB DDR4 | Storage: up to 4TB M.2 PCIe SSD + 512GB M.2 SSD combo | Screen: 15.6-inch, FHD (1920 x 1080) – UHD (3840 x 2160) narrow-border IPS display

Tremendous screens 
Premium component options
Exquisite sci-fi-inspired design language
Expensive

The latest version of the m15 has had a terrific redesign on the outside and reshape on the inside. It retains an excellent, thin, and light frame for a gaming laptop, and comes complete with Nvidia graphics, and up to an i9 intel processor. The m15 will be for you to customize and configure in every way, but the new design means the old 10-series GPUs are out and replaced by the 16-series options. It is still priced more aggressively than some of its biggest competitors; spec-for-spec, you can find the m15 for hundreds of dollars cheaper than other contenders, but the brand is strong, the design is excellent, the performance is top-notch and the keyboard, touchpad, and screen are all near-world beaters.

The new m15 laptops are a joy to use and interact with regardless of the task, but it does a seriously good job with any games that are thrown at it and doesn't even get as loud and hot as others do too; it seems the new design, termed 'legend', really has made an impact on the goings-on of the laptop and isn't just a new frame draped over the old. If you can stomach the premium then this is still one of the best gaming laptops you can get anywhere in the world right now.

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Dell G5 5500 laptop

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Dell G5 5500 laptop

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Dell G5 5500 laptop

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Dell G5 15

A great choice for an affordable gaming laptop

CPU: Intel 10th gen | GPU: up to Nvidia RTX 3060 | RAM: up to 16GB | Storage: up to 1TB SSD | Screen: 15.6-inch FHD (1920 x 1080), up to 165Hz

Solid performance
Sensibly priced
Gets hot under duress
Chassis is a bit lacking

The Dell G5 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.

The appearance of this laptop could be a point of contention, though, as we found the chassis to feel a bit old-fashioned for 2021. 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 G5 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 G5 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.

Note: There are a couple of versions of the G15 now, all with slight variations in configuration and display. The links here will still get you in the right place though, absolutely.

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Best gaming laptop: Razer Blade 15

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Best gaming laptop: Razer Blade 15

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Best gaming laptop: Razer Blade 15

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Best gaming laptop: Razer Blade 15

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Razer Blade 15

A perennially fantastic gaming laptop

CPU: Up to Intel Core 11th-gen | Graphics: Up to Nvidia RTX 3080 | RAM: Up to 32GB | Storage: 512GB or 1TB SSD | Screen: 15.6-inch; FHD (1080p) up to 360Hz, QHD (1440p) up to 240Hz, or 4K (2160p) 60Hz

Contemporary outward design
Specs to devour games
Razer quality
Mediocre battery life

This is our favorite, and the very best gaming laptop you can buy right now. Razer is absolute stalwarts in the gaming laptops business now, offering a refined and powerful selection of gaming-focused Razer laptops. Its sheer excellence is plentiful and comes in many areas, the first and instantly noticeable one is the design. It's a sleek machine, oozing elegance and lacking any garish or questionable design motifs, sporting only some traditional Razer green in its ports and a Razer serpent as the machine's emblem. It's also pretty light and very thin which is astonishing considering the powerful components found within. 

Yes, the Pro 17 model will bag you some extra screen space and a slightly heftier machine, but, on balance, this is probably the best laptop you could buy right now for gaming. Team this with a Razer headset, Razer controller, or some of the best Razer streaming gear going and you'll be racing toward an ideal gaming setup based on performance - but built around a machine that still offers portability.

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Best gaming laptop: ASUS TUF A15

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Best gaming laptop: ASUS TUF A15

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Best gaming laptop: ASUS TUF A15

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Best gaming laptop: ASUS TUF A15

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ASUS TUF A15

The best mid-range gaming laptop

CPU: Up to AMD Ryzen 9 4800H | GPU: Up to Nvidia RTX 2060 | RAM: 8GB or 16GB | Storage: up to 512GB SSD + 1TB HDD combo | Screen: 15.6-inch FHD (1080p), up to 144Hz

New 8-core AMD processor and Nvidia RTX combo
90Wh battery
Cool yet strong design
A bit pricey
Very loud fans

We are really impressed with the new ASUS TUF A15 machine. We've been using it for a little while and it's one of the best gaming laptops we've had in recent times, and certainly one of the top laptops of 2020. It harnesses great capability and performance through a great AMD and Nvidia combo: a new  8-core APU teamed with an Nvidia RTX 2060 graphics card, supported by a 1TB NVMe SSD. It's a great gaming laptop that munches through anything you throw at it, and it offers that sneak into ray-tracing.

Its price tag is pretty good too but the only reason for pause here is the value on offer given that we may well be getting a whole host of sub-$1000 RTX gaming laptops in the near future. 

However, the TUF A15's sheer gaming chops offered by the graphics card and processor, teamed with impressive battery life, still make it a great option and one that you won't look back on.

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Best gaming laptops: Alienware Area51m

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Alienware Area-51m

A bombastic and premium beast

CPU: Intel Core 10th gen | Graphics: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 Super | RAM: 16GB – 64GB | Storage: 512GB SSD - 4TB SSD (2 x 2TB) | Screen: 17.3" FHD - 144Hz 9ms or 300Hz 3ms

Extremely powerful
Cool design
Great keyboard
Incredibly expensive
Loud fans

This is the laptop that really manifests and demonstrates the often mental approach to gaming laptops that Alienware machines often exude. It's a bit of a honk, but the design of this machine is seriously cool and out of this world. It's a stunner to have around but it's a big boy nonetheless. And that chassis has got to be robust and spacious to fit all the awesomeness inside it and to keep it all cool.

It's one of the best gaming laptops of 2020 in terms of raw power and sheer gaming chops. And that's because, when you turn this up to 11, a 9th-generation i9 processor, with a 2080 graphics card and up to 64GB of RAM can devour any game or task that's thrown at it. Even the 'toned down' variants featuring i7 processors or 2060 graphics cards will have you gaming away the hours with ease and incredibly smoothly. Whatever the configuration, it'll look great on that 17.3-inch screen too.

Yes, it'll be a bit loud at times in the fan department, and it really does demand a high price tag but if we want something that's a bit mental, a bit mad, and can reach dizzying heights of performance and design style, then the Area 51m is the machine for you.

Note: The available configurations for this machine are changing with the wind a bit recently. This could be due to Alienware's new X-series of laptops which we will have in for review soon, but also the worldwide shortage of silicon. Nonetheless, a 2070 Super card in this machine will beast every game still. 

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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

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Best gaming laptops: ASUS Zephyrus G14

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Best gaming laptops: ASUS Zephyrus G14

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ASUS Zephyrus G14

The best 14-inch gaming-focused laptop

CPU: Up to AMD Ryzen 9 4900HS | Graphics: Up to Nvidia RTX 2060 | RAM: Up to 32GB | Storage: Up to 1TB NVMe SSD | Screen: 14-inc; Full HD (1080p) or QHD (1440p), 60Hz or 120Hz

Excellent performance
Thin and light
Decent battery life
Loud fans
No webcam

For those looking to wield genuine power - of the ray-tracing kind - with genuine portability, with a splash of style then the Asus Zephyrus G14 is for you. This blends components from the two major players and implements them excellently to offer balanced performance without totally destroying the wallet and bank balance. It's excellent value.

This balance and performance come from the use of AMD Ryzen 4000 processors and Nvidia graphics card - with the ability to choose a ray-tracing capable 2060 card too. This is a great match and is something ASUS particularly have nailed. Throw in as great battery life that will last you all day long, a speedy display with a 120Hz refresh rate on an IPS-level screen, and a lightweight, ultrathin design and you have one of the best small gaming laptops going right now.

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Acer Nitro

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Acer Nitro 5

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Acer Nitro 5

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Acer Nitro 5

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Acer Nitro 5

An excellent budget option that still offers food performance

CPU: Up to Intel COre 10th Gen; Up to AMD Ryzen 9 5900HZ i7-9750H | GPU: Up to Nvidia RTX 3080 | RAM: Up to 16GB | Storage: Up to 1TB SSD (multiple combos) | Screen: 17.3-inch FHD (1920 x 1080) 120Hz

Good gaming performance
Excellent value
NitroSense software
Poor colour reproduction

At just below the four-figure mark, (or less!), the Acer Nitro 5 has everything the budding gamer needs, working effectively to replace a beefy gaming desktop PC at a fraction of the price. Our particular unit had an Nvidia RTX 2060 GPU and 8GB of RAM that chews up most games at 1080p high graphical settings, with Acer’s nifty NitroSense software allowing for quick system adjustments for improved performance.

The 256GB SSD might be on the small side for some gamers, and the 1080p display suffers from somewhat lacklustre colour reproduction, but the NVMe 3.0 drive loads games quickly and the screen’s 120Hz refresh rate allows for super-fast framerates.

The Nitro 5 is a bit on the hefty side, so it’s not the most portable of gaming machines, but nor are most laptops with 17-inch screens. Overall, this is an excellent choice of entry-level gaming system, with the flexibility needed for work as well (provided your co-workers won’t judge you for that red-and-black paint job…)

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Alienware m15 R5 Ryzen Edition

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Alienware m15 R5 Ryzen Edition

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Alienware m15 R5 Ryzen Edition

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Alienware m15 R5 Ryzen Edition

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Alienware m15 R5 Ryzen Edition

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Alienware m15 R5 Ryzen Edition

A Ryzen-flavoured Alienware beast

CPU: Up to Ryzen 5900HX | Graphics: up to Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 | RAM: Up to 32GB DDR4 | Storage: up to 1TB M.2 PCIe SSD | Screen: 15.6-inch, FHD (1920 x 1080) 360Hz 1ms

Great for gaming
RAM and drive can be upgraded
A little bit overpriced
Gets seriously hot

Dell’s first venture into AMD processor territory in years is something of a mixed bag, but there’s way more to love than hate here. In our test unit, the RTX 3060 GPU and the excellent Ryzen 7 5800H mobile processor make this new m15 R5 a gaming powerhouse, easily capable of keeping performance above 60fps on its 1080p display.

The same clean style seen in previous m15 models remains, subtly tweaked with a new, darker colour scheme. Four-zone RGB lighting beneath the keyboard and additional LEDs on the rear of the chassis make this a very attractive laptop. On the underside, a panel can be removed to swap in new SSDs and RAM, should you want to upgrade further down the line.

It might be expensive and run hot, but plenty of the best gaming laptops fall into those pitfalls, so they’re not major points of contention here. If you’re on the lookout for a new portable gaming machine and you’ve decided against an Intel laptop, the m15 R5 is an excellent choice.

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Best gaming laptop: Lenovo Legion Y740

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Best gaming laptop: Lenovo Legion Y740

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Best gaming laptop: Lenovo Legion Y740

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Best gaming laptop: Lenovo Legion Y740

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Best gaming laptop: Lenovo Legion Y740

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Lenovo Legion Y740

Value proposition characterized by value itself

CPU: Up to Intel Core 9th gen | Graphics: Up to Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 | RAM: Up to 64GB | Storage: Up to 2TB SSD | Screen: 17.3-inch, FHD (1080p), 144Hz

Digestible range of prices
Cutting-edge display tech
Becoming a legacy model
Comically small touchpad
Uninspired design

Lenovo has historically, albeit silently advocated for subtlety when it comes to gaming laptop designs. If you were hoping for a dazzling RGB light show from the Legion Y740, you will be sorely disappointed. While this laptop is blessed with up to an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 graphics card, or at least its downsized Max-Q equivalent, flashy cosmetic trappings are limited to the per-key backlighting of the Corsair iCUE-powered keyboard and a few smaller lighting zones on the sides and back. Otherwise, stylistically, the Lenovo Legion Y740 differs very little from the company's non-gaming products. 

It's pretty bland, sporting a plain gray finish on its all-aluminum chassis. But if you'd rather your laptop not loudly proclaim, "I'm a gamer" every time you enter a room, perhaps this is a good place to start. And that goes without mentioning the primo guts, which you're getting for a bargain here. For nearly 30% less than what you'd pay for a shinier, arguably better looking piece of kit from, say, MSI, the Legion Y740 incorporates Nvidia G-Sync adaptive sync technology and Dolby Vision HDR into the display while integrating Dolby Atmos into the onboard speaker system. In terms of value, so long as you don't mind its so-so looks and inferior touchpad, the Legion Y740 is a mobilized tour de force.

Note: The Lenovo Y740 is 'officially' becoming a discontinued legacy model. However, we are keeping it on the list as it's still available at retailers- and with increasingly attractive price tags.

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Best gaming laptops: ASUS ROG Zephyrus GA502

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Best gaming laptops: ASUS ROG Zephyrus GA502

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Best gaming laptops: ASUS ROG Zephyrus GA502

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Best gaming laptops: ASUS ROG Zephyrus GA502

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Best gaming laptops: ASUS ROG Zephyrus GA502

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Best gaming laptops: ASUS ROG Zephyrus GA502

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ASUS ROG Zephyrus GA502

A well-balanced, budget machine

CPU: Up to AMD Ryzen 9 4900HS | GPU: Up to Nvidia RTX 2060 | RAM: 16GB DDR4 RAM | Storage: 1TB SSD | Screen: 15.6-inch, Full HD (1080p), up to 240Hz

Terrific value
Great design and build
Well-balanced set of components
No built-in camera
Display is a bit dim

This great laptop shows that the best gaming laptops aren't just going to cost you an arm and a leg. The GA502 i s a well-performing entry- to mid-level portable machine that knows what it is and is comfortable in its own limitations and capabilities. 

Under the sleek design - that can hold its own in any new tech sphere - the GA502 teams a Ryzen 7 processor with a GTX 1660Ti graphics card and a healthy 16GB of RAM and two 512GB SSDs - a great bonus. These front line specs are not mind-blowing by any means but the performance they combine to create is incredibly solid and will have you beaming if you're happy to be in the middle of the pack. 

It offers a more affordable, but still quality, way into PC gaming and will have you playing any AAA game you desire (like The Division 2 or Shadow of the Tomb Raider), steadily and confidently, just on graphical settings turned down a notch or two. Turning down the graphics is really no big deal now as today's mediums are still great, matching the highs and ultras of a few years ago. Elsewhere, it will absolutely fly with more 'lightweight' games however, like Rocket League, Fortnite and Overwatch. All in this will play everything you want, bag you a stylish and modern gaming laptop and won't totally ruin your bank balance doing so. 

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MSI Stealth 15M gaming laptop review

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MSI Stealth 15M gaming laptop review

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MSI Stealth 15M review

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MSI Stealth 15M

Powerful, portable, and piping hot

CPU: Up to Intel Core 11th-gen | Graphics: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 | RAM: 16GB - 32GB | Storage: : 512GB - 1TB SSD | Screen:: 15.6-inch 144Hz

Incredibly portable form factor 
Reliable 1080p performance
Excellent everyday experience and connectivity
Cooling suffers from the compact design 

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 incredible performance in the process. You'll be pushing 1080p titles at between 50 and 60fps reliably here, with a little leeway in more and less demanding titles as well. With Nvidia's next-gen GPU at the helm, albeit the entry level model, you're getting buttery smooth gameplay across a range of titles, though those framerates won't quite be pushing the 144Hz display to its full potential. 

All that power must come with a drawback, though, 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 and excellent though don't expect to be hitting Ultra settings with wild abandon.

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ASUS TUF Dash 15

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ASUS TUF Dash 15

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ASUS TUF Dash 15

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ASUS TUF Dash 15

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ASUS TUF Dash 15

Strong gaming performance at a respectable price

CPU: Intel Core 11th-gen | Graphics: Up to Nvidia RTX 3070 | RAM: 8GB | Storage: Up to 1TB SSD | Screen: 15.6", FUll HD (1080p), up to 240Hz

Solid performance from the GPU and CPU
Thin and portable
Black or white and turquoise color scheme is lovely
Soft membrane keys
Needs 16GB RAM ideally

If you're after a middle of the road gaming laptop that oozes portability but manages to be consistent with performance, look no further than the ASUS TUF Dash F15. It's by no means a perfect laptop – only shipping with 8GB of DDR4 memory isn't great, despite having the capacity to upgrade – but it does the job it sets out to, with respectable gaming performance across AAA titles.

This sleek beaut is rocking a 3070 under the hood – hard to get your hands on at the best of times right now – along with an i7-11370H CPU. While these components are by no means the best of the best, the pair can hold a steady 60+ frames-per-second in most top titles, albeit not at ultra settings. Tweak them to your liking or downgrade them to high and you'll see consistency across the board in games like The Division 2, Red Dead Redemption 2, Apex Legends, and Metro Exodus.

This is all displayed on a standard laptop screen, 15.6", 1920x1080, you know the drill, but the IPS panel does a wonderful job of making everything crystal clear. The 240Hz refresh rate is the cherry on top, although most games won't manage to hit that, it's useful if you're playing something like Valorant or Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. You can't really go wrong with this as long as you're not expecting a worldbeater, as it'll serve you well for at least the next few years to come.

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MSI GE66 Raider

Power and performance exemplified in a 2020 gaming laptop

CPU: Up to Inte Core 10th-gen i9 | Graphics: Up to Nvidia RTX 2080 Super | RAM: 16GB or 32GB DDR4 | Storage: 512GB SSD or 1TB SSD | Screen: 15.6-inch, FHD (1080p, up to 300Hz) or 4K (2160p, 60Hz)

Seriously excellent performance
Smart and slick design
Terrific anti-glare screen
Runs a bit loud and hot
Keyboard is just OK

Sporting the brand new hardware combo that comes from blending a 10th-generation Intel processor with one of Nvidia's high-end 20-series graphics cards, the MSI GE66 Raider is one of the best gaming laptops for 2020 when considering power alone. It'll handle anything thrown at it, on the highest settings and if you go for one of the north-of-144Hz screen options it'll all be as smooth as you like too. These headline acts are supported well by very decent RAM and SSD offerings, and it all comes with that MSI-level of quality.

The design is slick and sleek, and very 2020, with a smart RGB band at the front, two solid speakers built into the modern chassis, and an overall weight and size combo that registers very pleasingly too. Elsewhere, the keyboard is a slight weak point and is just OK, but the mouse pad is solid, the camera is good and the 99.9wh battery is a good bit of kit to get bundled within. If you're looking for one of the best of 2020 and don't mind spending handsomely, then this is a great laptop for you.

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Razer Blade Pro 17 (2021)

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Razer Blade Pro 17 (2021)

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Razer Blade Pro 17 (2021)

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Razer Blade Pro 17 (2021)

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Razer Blade Pro 17 (2021)

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Razer Blade Pro 17

A big-boy powerhouse offering a gorgeous display, and the latest chips

CPU: up to Intel 11th-gen | Graphics: up to Nvidia RTX 3080 | RAM: up to 32GB | Storage: up to 1TB SSD | Screen: 17.3” (1920x1080 – 4K-touch)

Spectacular display
Powered by the latest components
Same great design and build

The Razer Blade Pro 17 is the choice for gamers-on-the-go who demand the absolute best from their portable hardware and are looking for a desktop experience they can carry in their bag. The Pro combines the latest in the component department with options on graphics cards going right up to the latest Nvidia RTX 3080, and the newest Intel processors, with a superb 4K touch screen, or 360Hz 1080p screen to create an absolute beast of a gaming laptop - and one that will comfortably replace a creative workstation desktop pc.

It also features one of the best keyboards to be found in gaming laptops that's comfortable and looks and feels great, with Razer’s proprietary ultra-low-profile mechanical switches. In a nod to desktop users, the trackpad is positioned to the right of the keyboard where a mouse might normally sit, and just like the pad on the other models, it’s a very precise and comfortable pointer. 

If you're after the biggest and best Razer gaming laptop where budget is no constraint, then this is it. It’s a beautiful, incredibly powerful piece of portable computing that could easily replace your desktop as your go-to PC for gaming and more mundane applications. 

Gaming laptop retailers

US: Amazon | Best Buy | Dell | Newegg | B&H Photo | Adorama
UK:
Amazon UK | Currys | Argos | Overclockers UK | Laptopsdirect

And if you prefer your gaming machines static then check out the best gaming PC guide we have for the best beastly machines going.

Rob Dwiar

I'm one of the Hardware Editors for GamesRadar+, and have been for nearly three years; I've also been a writer on games - freelancing and the like - for four or so years for the likes of Eurogamer, RPS, PCGN, and more. Day to day, I take care of a whole host of gaming tech reviews, buying guides, and news and deals content that pops up across GamesRadar+. I'm also a qualified landscape and garden designer so do that in my spare time, and use it to write about games' landscapes and environments too, including an upcoming book on the topic!