If you don't fancy having a monster of a gaming PC next to an equally large monitor, you don't have to give up on PC gaming full stop. Gaming laptops are perfect for playing away the hours before shutting the lid and storing them away ready for another session. You can even plug one into your TV via HDMI and have all the benefits of a gaming PC with none of the space issues.
There's also the convenience of portability. Not only have gaming laptops now reached the point where you can happily play VR on a train if you have a plug point and aren't worried about looking like an ass, they've also got far lighter and slicker since those days of carrying around a brick in your backpack. But which is the best gaming laptop for you?
Whether it's battery life, graphical prowess, or weight, it's time to work out what you actually need. This list includes the very best of what's out there. From laptops aware of your budget to serious graphical beasts ready to eat your VR games for breakfast. The gaming laptop demographic is so well-served right now that even the most staunch brand loyalists should be able to find a great computer from their PC manufacturer of choice.
So long as the laptop you’re buying has, at minimum, an Intel Core i7 processor, a GeForce GTX 960 (or higher) graphics card, and 8GB or more of RAM, it’ll be competitive with what’s on this list. For those of you who simply want the best available, regardless of who makes it, read on. Here's our definitive list of the best gaming laptops.
1. Asus ROG Zephyrus GX501
Immense power with few compromises
CPU: Intel Core i7 | Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 | RAM: 16GB | Screen: 15.6” | Storage: 512GB M.2 PCIe x4 SSD | Camera: HD Webcam | Weight: 2.2 kg | Dimensions: 14.9" x 10.3" x 0.66-0.7"
If you don’t want to waste a single pixel in your transition to high-end portable gaming, the Asus ROG Zephyrus GX50 provides visual eye candy that’s hard to resist, even if its own physical design isn’t quite as attractive as its competitors. You’re getting a 1080p, 120Hz G-sync display that holds up no matter what kind of program you’re running, and that beefy internal processor maintains a consistently smooth, super high frame-rate the whole while. The battery life isn’t as long as we’d like it to be, lasting only for around two hours before needing a recharge, but you can hardly complain when the performance is this good.
Best for... A purist gaming experience.
2. Razer Blade
The gorgeous Macbook Pro of gaming laptops
CPU: Intel Core i7 7700HQ | Graphics: Nvidia GeForce 1060 6GB | RAM: 16GB | Screen: 14” IPS Display | Storage: 256GB SSDD | Camera: HD Webcam | Weight: 1.86kgs | Dimensions: 0.70" x 13.6" x 9.3"
It's hard to say a negative word about Razer's ultra gorgeous Blade. Somehow managing to fit an Nvidia 1060 into that slick form factor, and boasting an impressive battery life, this 14" aluminium offering is an incredible powerhouse. Cold to the touch in sleek aluminium, the Blade is instant on, thanks to its 256GB SSD (it can go all the way up to 1TB) and has a super crisp IPS screen. Plus, that's not a spello above in the specs. Somehow it weighs only 1.86kg and can happily crank Witcher 3 up to high settings. The GTX 1060 also helpfully means that this is one of the most stylish VR ready laptops you can buy. Add in the incredible twinkling individually backlit Chroma keyboard - complete with the Synapse software of all of Razer's peripherals - and this is one of the best gaming laptops on the market today. Invest in this and you won't regret it.
Best for... Those looking for the ultimate in style and power
3. Alienware 13
A slick little VR powerhouse that won't break the bank
CPU: Intel Core i5 7300HQ | Graphics: Nvidia GeForce 1050 2GB | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 13.3" Display | Storage: 180GB SSD | Camera: HD Webcam | Weight: 2.6kgs | Dimensions: 0.87" x 13" x 10.6"
The Alienware 13 is a slick exercise in smart engineering, with a unique hinge design and an impressively airy weight. The array of ports is excellent and it even comes with Alienware's proprietary Graphics Amplifier Port that'll let you beef up the GPU performance at a later date. You won't have to think about that for a while though. Gaming performance with the 10 series of Nvidia cards is exceptional - you can upgrade from the base 1050 to a 1060 - and this little 13" laptop is VR ready, even if you will have to plug in pretty quickly thanks to the limited battery life of six to seven hours. An ultra fast SDD means everything starts instantly and the base offering of 180GB of storage means plenty of space for your Steam library. Throw in the fully customisable exterior lighting and this is a luxurious piece of tech with an impressive punch.
Best for... Those who want to balance style with performance
4. Lenovo Legion Y520
Solid performance in a slick shell
CPU: 2.8GHz Intel Core i7-7700HQ | Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti | RAM: 16GB | Screen: 15.6” FHD | Storage: 256GB SSD & 2TB HDD (5,400 rpm) | Camera: HD Webcam | Weight: 2.4kgs | Dimensions: 14.96" x 10.43" x 1.09"
One for the budget hunters, the Lenovo Legion Y520 can be counted on for a stellar gaming experience on an impressive machine, especially when you consider its lower end price tag. Yes, you can find better display and internal performance elsewhere, but the Legion Y520 stays cool under pressure, and allows you to store loads of games with its large HDD space. Its equally decent SDD size also allows programs to run fast and steady, and maintains 30fps on most high-end games with acceptable graphics settings. Its nifty looking design isn't just for show, either; that keyboard is ridiculously comfortable.
Best for... Reliable quality at an affordable price.
5. Asus ROG Strix GL502VT
Great graphics in a solid form factor
CPU: Intel Core i7-6700HQ 2.6-3.6Ghz | Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 970M 3GB | RAM: 16GB | Screen: 15.6” IPS display | Storage: 128GB - 256GB SSD & 1TB HDD | Camera: HD Webcam | Weight: 2.2kgs | Dimensions: 15.35" x 10.47" x 0.92"
It's Asus' second entry on this list but the ROG Strix is another brilliant all rounder and is definitely one of the best gaming laptops for 2016. The battery life isn't great but it's got everything else going for it with a great graphics card (the 6GB version of the 970), a slick form factor and brilliant IPS display for multi-angle viewing. There's also a USB Type C to keep you suitably future proofed for fast transfer and all your standard ports, including three USB 3.0s. Plus, as usual, Asus has handily marked our your WASD keys in red if you've not got the muscle memory built in.
Best for... Gaming on high settings with a mid-range budget
6. Dell XPS 15 9560
An all-round, modern experience
CPU: Intel Core i7-7700HQ | Graphics: 4GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 | RAM: 16GB | Screen: 15.6” | Storage: 256GB SSD & 1TB HDD | Camera: HD Webcam | Weight: 2kgs | Dimensions: 9.3" x 14" x 0.6"
If you're a Windows diehard, the Dell XPS 15 is the cream of the crop. Conceived as a premium, highly versatile laptop, perfect for work and web browsing as much as gaming, this is still a beast of a machine for tackling your Steam library, with a performance and build quality that plays as good as it looks. It's true that the XPS 15 doesn't excel over its competitors in any particular aspect, but it instead runs reliably as an all-rounder of a gaming machine. That means it notably lacks any of the bells and whistles of, say, an Alienware rig, but this only make it more accessible to newcomers to the world of PC gaming.
Best for... All purpose usage, gaming and otherwise.
7. Acer Predator Helios 300
Superb value for money
CPU: Intel Core i7-7700HQ | Graphics: GeForce GTX 1060 6GB | RAM: 16GB | Screen: 15.6” | Storage: 256GB M.2 SATA SSD | Camera: HD Webcam | Weight: 2.6kgs | Dimensions: 15.4" x 10.5" x 1.5"
Another valuable option for those with a smaller budget, the Acer Predator Helios 300 is a fairly powerful machine that only significantly falls short in visuals compared to other laptops with a higher price tag. In fact, when it comes to battery life, it's one of the best of the bunch, with around four to six hours outside of a plug socket depending on which settings you're on. The performance is impressive too, though the lack of a G-Sync feature for the Predator's display means that there's the danger of screen tearing should the frame-rate start struggling on certain games. You can always tweak the settings though, making it only a minor drawback for an otherwise nifty little machine.
Best for... High-end gaming on the go
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