Wirecutter has spent more than 200 hours over the past five years researching and testing dozens of gaming laptops, and our PC team has more than 37 years of combined experience covering laptops. I’ve personally tested, lived with, and reviewed hundreds of laptops, and I’ve spent hands-on time with countless other models while covering the CES trade show, attending events, and visiting stores. I’ve reviewed most gaming laptops—both budget and high-end—released in the past six years, and I’ve spent thousands of hours gaming on laptops since high school.

Computers in the GT series are very high-end; they are also exceedingly expensive, large, and heavy. Some of the computers in this series distinguish themselves from the competition by their mechanical keyboard and the very high quality of their display (120 Hz G-Sync compatible, for example – see LaptopMag’s test of the GT75 Titan). The MSI GT83 Titan features an enormous 18.4-inch display in addition to dual GeForce GTX 1080 graphics chips connected via SLI.
So far, the best Max-Q machines have been slim and much more travel-friendly than the average gaming laptop, while still allowing for gaming at 60fps or higher on high settings. There are, of course, tradeoffs: The Max-Q-tuned graphics cards are a bit less capable than the standard versions, pushing fewer frames per second while gaming. Also, these laptops tend to be a bit pricier. If you value portability and visual appeal, though, Max-Q is the most consistent method so far for relatively thin and light gaming laptops with top-tier power.
The GTX 1050 Ti can turn in more than 60FPS at 1080p with Medium quality settings on demanding games like Gears of War 4, Battlefield 1, Rise of the Tomb Raider and DOOM. For games that don't push the GPU as hard, framerates of 85+ can be achieved, leaving plenty of room to increase quality settings and still stay well above 30FPS. As an example, Rise of the Tomb Raider's Very High setting for the built-in benchmark pushes out around 40FPS.
Clevo is king of the hill in terms of true DTR machines, and the P870TM is their latest incarnation, featuring up to a Core i9-9900K desktop class CPU, and up to SLI GTX 1080 for the ultimate in performance. As a true DTR you can outfit it with 64 GB of DDR4, and basically whatever combination of storage you'd like. The 1920x1080 144 Hz G-SYNC display is on the low-side in terms of resolution, but with the high refresh the gaming will be incredibly smooth, since this is one of the few laptops that can easily drive the maxium refresh rate on this resolution. Being a DTR though, you could also just connect it to a UHD display on your desk as well.
It comes with a dual-core Intel i5-7200U, which is a good CPU, and 8GB of DDR4 RAM. This paves the way for a comfortable user experience, but the slower 5400RPM hard drive means slower load times on programs and boot times will be longer than laptops that come with an SSD. Storage space won’t be much of an issue however, since the HDD has 1TB of space. The Intel HD Graphics 620 handles some newer games fairly well on lower settings, such as GTA 5 and Overwatch (check this video out).
The entry-level Pascal gaming chip is the GeForce GTX 1050, typically found in models starting around $700 to $800. The GTX 1050 is capable of playing most of today's games at 1080p resolution with medium to high settings. Keep in mind that the GTX 1050 may be on the edge of playability at high settings, depending on the game. You may want to opt for the next step up, a GeForce GTX 1050 Ti-based model, for a bit more graphics muscle. The floor on GTX 1050 Ti-based laptops was about $850 at this writing, with models ranging up to about $1,200. These two chips make up the heart of the under-$1,000 budget-laptop market here in late 2018.

The Y530’s keyboard is comfortable to type on and responsive thanks to its deep, snappy keys, and its white backlight and perfectly ordinary font are the most tasteful we’ve seen on a gaming laptop. We also appreciate the inclusion of full-size arrow keys rather than the typical half-size ones manufacturers cram in, as on the Dell G7. This does mean that the number pad is farther back and a bit awkward to reach, but most people who play games will use the arrow keys more frequently.
I just upgraded an older Z170 chipset P870DM3 (which Sager calls the 9873) with 9900K. +100% CPU power upgrade over 6700K. Ran a bench at 4.9ghz allcore this morning. Others have demonstrated the current Z370 P870TM model with >5ghz 9900K. (This same model was DAILYING 8700K at 5Ghz for 6 months before laptop coffeelake came along and boy it was a huge deal when ONE or TWO of the BGA i9's completed a short bench at 5ghz!). Utter beastly pieces of engineering, that make everything BGA else look puny by comparison. For sure they suck at portability, but if you don't place such a high importance on that, and you're talking best performance, this is it
Now we have done all the hard part for the users and have come up with the most powerful and a complete value for money gaming laptops under $500. Each laptop in the list above excels over one another in terms of either one or more specs. However, we suggest our readers to go through the entire list before making their choice to find their perfect next laptop.
The E 15 offers a max resolution of  1920×1080, although this will need to be set to 1366 x 768 to retain a frame rate of over 30fps when playing more demanding games. The NVIDIA GeForce 940MX offers slightly better performance than a 940M card and, unlike some of its competitors, the Aspire E 15 E5-575G-57D4 features faster GDDR5 video memory instead of GDDR3. Acer have also fitted the Aspire E 15 E5-575G-57D4 with the latest generation Intel Core i5-7200U processor, which is powerful enough to handle more hardware intensive apps and games.
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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
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