When it comes to gaming notebooks, faster is always better, which is why a lot of people love SSDs, particularly the new PCIe cards, which deliver blistering file-transfer speed. That extra boost of speed translates to faster game load times, as well as reducing hitching — that annoying pause when your drive can't produce assets fast enough to keep up with the game.
It has an average battery life of around 5 hours, 30 minutes according to reports, and most reviewers have pointed out that the audio quality is good overall. The Intel UHD 620 graphics won’t win any awards for gaming performance, but it will allow you to run some classic titles well, and even some newer titles on low settings (see this video). It also comes with USB 3.1 with a reversible USB C connector for super fast data transfers. ASUS’s new Vivobook F510UA-AH51 15.6-inch laptop offers a great performance for the price, and its portability and solid construction makes it well suited for business people constantly travelling.
The SteelSeries Rival is a very solid mouse, but it's also very specialized: I have a feeling if you need this mouse, you know about it already. The key feature of the Rival 500 is the sheer amount of programmable buttons this thing has. With 15 different buttons in tow, it's basically a keyboard replacement! This is a setup that's ideal for games with lots of macros of cooldown skills—think MMOs or even MOBAs.
Nvidia Max-Q Design - Nvidia has teamed with laptop manufacturers to create Max-Q, a new design specification which focuses on efficiency rather than performance. Essentially downclocking Nvidia GPUs can place a powerful 1080 GPU into the 0.5-inch thick Asus ROG Zephyrus. With less power being consumed, the system is producing less heat, which means the fans aren't being used as much. That means you get a system that's cooler and quieter than your typical gaming laptop and nearly as powerful. Max-Q designed GPUs will include the 1060, 1070 and 1080 GPUs.
The Dell G7 had the loudest fans of the budget gaming laptops we tested (except for the nearly identical Dell G5), and their whooshing drowned out in-game dialogue, forcing me to crank up the volume or put on headphones to hear. But the fan noise was an issue only when I was playing games—the G7 was dead silent when I used it for a full day of work—so it shouldn’t be a problem while you’re taking notes during class or browsing the Web.
So, what’s good about the Chaos Spectrum? Well, there are a lot of things, for starters, you can go from 200 to 12,000 DPI on the fly, and that’s really impressive, do keep in mind that this isn’t just software increase, and the DPI is effectively changed across the board, you get the Spectrum lighting, something that is Logitech’s own version of RGB lighting, and you get the legendary software suite that Logitech is known and loved for. The Chaos Spectrum can be used wirelessly and wired, and just like the Ouroborus, does come with an ambidextrous design.
Alienware is taking up to $760 Off Select Gaming Laptops and Desktops. Excellently priced but with a limited number of units available for a limited time. Free Shipping. Many of these PCs won Editor's choice or are recommended from various publications like PCMag and Computer Shopper. Some desktops feature the new GeForce RTX graphics cards. Some best bets:
Dell has a couple of (more or less) entry-level product lines: the Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming (which is equipped with a GeForce GTX1050 graphics chip) and the more recent G3 (17″) and G5 (15″) which incorporate a GeForce GTX 1050, 1050 Ti or 1060 Max-Q graphics chip. One high-end G5 model is equipped with a 4K display. LaptopMag’s test highlights this computer’s good design, good-quality audio, good upgradability, and good overall performance. However, the poor performance of this computer’s display cast something of a cloud over its positive characteristics.
Parts/LaborWeight9.06 lb7.1 lb9.9 lb4.4 lb4.85 lbScreen Size17.3"15.6"18.4"14"15.6"Battery Life (hrs:min at load)3:045:291:234:523:43Price (as configured)$2,499.00$1,619.99$3,099.00$2,699.99$1,449.99Buy NowBuy NowBuy NowBuy NowBuy Now #1 Pick Editor’s Choice/Asus ROG G75 – Best Affordable Gaming LaptopThe Asus G75 ranks #1 and is no exception when it comes to portable gaming.WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: The G75 combines beauty and power unlike any other laptop.When you get an Asus gaming laptop, you know you’re in for a solid piece of gaming hardware thanks to the company’s very own Republic of Gamers seal of approval.Read: ASUS ROG G75VT Gaming Laptop ReviewAll products in the ROG line, laptop or otherwise, maintain Asus’ notorious eye for packing more than enough quality, power, and price breaks into a machine that has no business costing as little as it does for all the extra frills you get on the side.We love the G75 because it encompasses everything we love about gaming in a single system, all without coming off as gaudy or audacious for what it achieves, which is why we name it our best gaming laptop of 2018. View on Amazon – $2999 #2 Pick Alienware 15 – Best Gaming Laptop Under $2,000Ranking #2 is Alienware’s 15 gaming laptop.WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: The Alienware Graphics Amplifier makes true AAA 4K gaming possible.Alienware might be one of the oldest players in the premade PC game, but that doesn’t mean they still aren’t one of the best. With specs like an Nvidia GTX 970M and 1TB of hard drive space, this laptop does everything you need it to.Read: Best Laptop For College StudentsNot only that, but the Alienware 15 is also one of the few models that’s compatible with the company’s Graphics Amplifier box. The Graphics Amplifier is a separate station that users can use to ramp up their gaming power to the max with the help of an external GPU, giving you the option to run medium settings on the road, but crank the volume to ultra once you’re back home and plugged in. View on Amazon – $1899 #3 Pick MSI GT80S 6QE Titan SLI – Best MSI Gaming LaptopBased on pure power alone, MSI GT80S would top our list if it had better battery life and a lighter footprintWHY IT’S A TOP PICK: The MSI GT80S is the most powerful laptop we’ve ever tested.If you need top of the line performance from a gaming laptop that takes no prisoners, the name of MSI’s GT80S 6QE “Titan” gaming laptop should be enough to convince you of what it can do.With a dual GTX 980M SLI set of graphics cards and Intel Core i7-6820HK quad-core processor to boot, the Titan gives you the opportunity to completely demolish, destroy, and conquer any virtual opponent that might come your way, online or otherwise.It may not be the lightest (or prettiest) gaming laptop out there, but what it lacks in polish and battery life it more than makes up for in the power department. View on Amazon – $1500 #4 Pick Razer Blade – Most PortableRazer Blade, a top gaming laptop pick because of its sleek design and power.WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: The sleek and sexy Razer Blade goes anywhere you do.We love the Razer’s gaming laptop because of just how darn thin it is, and equally light to boot. The engineers over at Razer have somehow managed to pack as many specs into the Blade as we’d expect from other contenders twice its size and three times as heavy, all while maintaining a sleek, stylish finish that looks just as great on a counter at the coffee shop as it does tucked away in your side bag.The Blade also includes a gorgeous 3200 x 1800 QHD+ screen that trounces any other laptop in its category, making it one of the slimmest, sexiest gaming laptops we’ve had the pleasure of using in a long, long time. View on Amazon – $2199 #5 Pick ASUS ROG Strix GL502VT – Best Budget Gaming LaptopHow can a 5lb laptop still rock a 6GB video card? The wizards at ASUS, that’s how.WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: The ASUS ROG Strix GL502VT is impossibly light with tons of power to spare.Somehow, someway, ASUS has managed to acheive the impossible with its latest entry into the ROG laptop lineup: the ROG Strix GL502VT. At only 4.85lbs and just short of 1″ thick, the Strix GL502VT still manages to sport an Intel Core i7-6700HQ processor alongside a huge (only in power, not size) Nvidia GTX 970M with 6GB of onboard GDDR5 VRAM.All that extra VRAM means plenty of punch to game with, all on a laptop that easily slides into any sidebag or backpack with ease. Add to this a sleek, anodized aluminum casing and pro-gamer level keyboard trackpad combo, and you’ve got a laptop that’s fast enough to stand up with the big boys, but compact enough to fit on your airplane table tray without a sweat. View on Amazon – $1599 What Features to Look For in a Gaming LaptopProcessor/Graphics CardFirst up, there’s the most obvious indicator of what you should be looking for when shopping for your next laptop: the power.Both the CPU and the graphics card you get with your laptop will be the lynchpin of how much it can get done, and of course in this realm, the best cpu for gaming is always the bigger, or in this case, fastest one.Usually, the higher the number you see next to the graphics card type, the faster it’s going to run, and the more games you can expect to run on it at a higher graphical fidelity. I.e – an Nvidia 860M will run slower than a 980M, because the former is one grade down from the latter.That said, there are still some unique cases as far as processors go. For example, if you’re looking at an Intel i5-5500u processor compared to an i7-4710HQ, you would think the 5500 is the better pick, right? Well, not exactly.When shopping for your laptop, you’ll want to pay attention to the “i” rating, either i3, i5, or i7 that comes before the processor type. i7s are generally considered the best for multi-tasking, while i5s are known more for offering the best balance of budget and gaming performance together. RAMAlmost just as important as the processor and graphics card, the amount of RAM you get with your gaming laptop should be a paramount concern.In any laptop that takes itself seriously, you shouldn’t be shopping for anything less than 8GB of DDR3 RAM at 1600MHz. Most of the recommendations we have listed here hit that mark, if not go well over it (16GB DDR4 2133MHz in the case of the MSI Dominator GT72)ScreenIt’s important to remember that although this is a gaming laptop, it’s also a laptop laptop.A good screen can make all the difference between getting eye strain after an hour or 24 hours of continuous use.As far as resolution goes, the absolute minimum display you should accept is 1920 x 1080.The best gaming laptops these days come equipped with a screen that’s at least capable of full HD, while a whole new breed of premium laptops are beginning to roll out screens that quadruple that up to 3200 x 1800 resolution, otherwise known as “4K”.Finally, when it comes to the whole “glossy vs. matte” debate, it’s pretty much a non-issue in the gaming world. No respectable laptop maker worth their salt would be caught dead putting a glossy finish on their machine’s screen, as the gloss creates far too much glare in ambient light which can make it harder to see where the enemies are hiding.Keyboard/TrackpadBut all the power in the world won’t do you much good if you don’t have a solid keyboard to slam commands into or a trackpad that can keep up with even the most clickiest Starcraft commanders.A solid keyboard can make or break the difference between getting a kill streak or getting yourself killed on the virtual battlefield. And although there aren’t many gaming purists out there who would be caught dead gaming on a trackpad, you’ll still want to keep an eye on this for purposes of general browsing and internet usage in the off hours.On the whole, the only two stats you’ll really want to pay attention to when choosing your next laptop are the spacing between the keys (how comfortable it is to type for different hand sizes), and how much diagonal width you’re going to get with the trackpad. These two numbers will indicate how you can expect the laptop to “fit” while you’re using it, whether you buy your gloves in extra large or fit just fine in a small.Cooling/Fan NoisePlan to get a little gaming done on a long-distance flight? If your gaming laptop sounds like an air raid siren every time you turn on anti-aliasing, there are probably going to be a few people in coach that take offense while you’re fragging away at half-past midnight.None of the laptops we’ve selected here are absolutely silent when the graphics card ramps up and really starts pumping out the pixels, but most can still keep their components cool without raising their decibel profile too high above a low hum in the process.Build QualityNext there’s the overall build quality of the laptop, which at least in the tiers we’ll be talking about, shouldn’t be much of an issue.While you might run into a low-end Windows laptop feeling a bit plasticy around the edges or cheap on the inside, when it comes to gaming laptops you can be sure that almost every pick we’ve listed here backs up their serious specs with an even greater dedication to design quality.This also includes the weight of the laptop, which in our collection can range from a feather light four pounds all the way up to a lap-crunching nine pounds. If you plan on taking your gaming show on the road often, even though you might have to sacrifice a little power, a lighter laptop will usually pay off in spades for the long haul.Overall, you want to be sure that the laptop has a strong enough build quality that it will be able to stand the impact of a drop from a counter or tabletop, but not so much that the heft of the case adds too much extra weight or width to the overall profile of the system.Hard DriveWhen checking out the hard drive configuration of your laptop, there are two main indicators you’re going to want to keep an eye on. The first is whether it offers an SSD (solid-state drive), an HDD (hard disk drive), or some hybrid combination of both.SSDs are faster, lighter, and more reliable than their HDD cousins, but also come at a much higher price to compensate. In general, it’s a good idea to have your operating system and vital programs installed on an SSD for fast access, while loading your gaming library onto an HDD that’s got plenty of extra space to spare. Anything that comes in a 120GB/1TB configuration or higher is usually enough to handle anything you might be able to throw at it.Mistakes to Avoid When Buying a New Gaming LaptopThe biggest mistake the average customer makes when purchasing their first gaming laptop is (as we mentioned in the intro) immediately equating better specs with being the best choice. This might be true for most desktops, but when you get a gaming laptop you also want to consider particular factors such as how heavy it is, the form factor, the resolution of the screen and how good the keyboard feels.Read: Best Laptops Under $500I’ve seen an endless amount of high-end, top of the line laptops do everything they can to stuff in the absolute beefiest processor and graphics card into the chassis, only to come up short when it comes to creating a comfortable experience in daily use.Not only that, but many laptops will skimp on things like a solid screen or a buttery smooth trackpad in order to put more money into the power, a grave mistake that can make even the most rudimentary web browsing a trial in patience and personal endurance.Which is the Best Gaming Laptop Right For You?Well, it all depends on what you’re looking for to find the best or most affordable gaming laptop for your needs. From what we’ve found, it’s difficult to name the best gaming laptop under $1000 because it doesn’t exist.Want something slim and light that will follow you wherever you go on the road? The Razer Blade is a perfect combination of power and portability you won’t find in any other laptop like it. Don’t care what you look like at the coffee shop and just want all the raw gaming goodness you can get? The MSI Dominator is more than well-equipped enough to handle any AAA title you might try to throw at it.Just as with gaming desktops and consoles, the manufacturers of these devices have made sure there’s a laptop for every time of gamer, and no matter what you’re in the market for, one of these top five should do everything you need it to to get the job done right. New Alienware 13 Comes with VR Specs - And Means BusinessShare11Pin2Tweet+1Share13 Shares
John is PCMag's executive editor for hardware. A veteran of the popular tech site and magazine Computer Shopper from 1993 to 2017, he has covered just about every kind of computer gear—from the 386SX to 18-core processors—in his long tenure as an editor, a writer, and an advice columnist. He served as Computer Shopper’s editor in chief from 2008 to... See Full Bio
Processors are the next biggest difference. You'll likely get a capable Core i5 instead of a faster Core i7. Still, some of the benefits of an i7 machine aren't a major factor for gaming, but instead benefit video editing and other creative uses, so an i5 will do the job. The newest generation of these chips are fast and efficient at a base level, and won't be too much of a bottleneck for gaming. On the AMD side of the fence, in the rare gaming laptops you'll find based wholly on AMD core technology, gamers will see mostly graphics solutions based on the now-aging Radeon RX 560, RX 570, and RX 580 paired with one of several AMD FX or Ryzen CPUs. Outside of the graphics card and processor, the other components should actually be closer to more expensive machines than you'd expect.
While the Pulsefire FPS's lightweight design is probably great for FPS titles specifically, I prefer a little more weight with my mice, and it felt a bit loose/jittery during a title like StarCraft. Then again, if you're primarily looking for an FPS-focused mouse, the Pulsefire is one of the best options I tested. Just don't expect it to be as good for games across multiple genres.
The Precision Touchpad was responsive and worked well for standard gestures in our tests, but the G7, like its predecessors, lacks an easy way to disable the trackpad. Every other gaming laptop we’ve tested—except for the Dell G5 and Dell G3—has this feature because pressing the trackpad with your palm while gaming can cause accidental clicks and in-game deaths. We spent hours playing games on the G7 and found that the trackpad’s palm rejection was superb and didn’t cause any accidental clicks. (My hands run cold and rarely sweat, though, so your mileage may vary.) It’s possible (but inconvenient) to disable the trackpad by going into the Device Manager, selecting Human Interface Devices, right-clicking HID-compliant touch pad, and selecting Disable. (Dell, please add an easily accessible toggle to the next iteration.)
As far as RAM is concerned, there’s really not all that much to be said. Entry-level laptops generally have 8 GB of RAM which is enough for gaming. More expensive computers are often equipped with 16 GB or 32 GB of RAM which could be useful if you are a frequent user of graphics design or video editing software. With the exception of EVGA models, no laptop is able to adjust its RAM frequency beyond JEDEC certification limits.
And thanks to Nvidia's 1050 Ti GPUs, you can hook up an Oculus Rift and jump into the virtual realm. However, some companies like Dell and Gigabyte are outfitting their rigs with Nvidia GTX 1060 Max-Q GPUs so fans of the HTC Vive can also get in on the fun. Or if you're not ready to make such a big financial or space commitment, you can hook up one of Microsoft's new MR headsets like the Acer Windows Mixed Reality AH101 headset, which has the added bonus of working with either discrete or integrated graphics. Best of all, you can use all that money you just saved to splurge on a top-notching gaming keyboard or mouse.