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The Dell G7 15 Gaming is the best gaming laptop for people on a budget. It has an excellent price-to-performance ratio, and its Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 Max-Q graphics will play games on high to medium settings for years. The G7 keeps its most-touched surfaces and innards cool enough that the laptop stays comfortable to use during extended gaming sessions, and its screen, keyboard, and trackpad are all solid. It has impressive battery life (for a gaming laptop) too. But the G7 is a bit heavier than the competition, and its fans get distractingly loud during gaming sessions, so plan to use headphones.
The G7—along with the Dell G5, Dell G3, and Lenovo Y530—kept its GPU among the coolest, measuring 162 °F (72 °C) during both our Overwatch test and the more demanding Witcher 3 test. Both Asus TUF Gaming laptops kept their CPUs the coolest at around 183 °F (84 °C), but the Dell G7’s was still on the lower end of the models we tested (and within expected range) at 203 °F (95 °C). The trade-off for these cool temperatures, however, is significantly loud fans. We’ll address this topic more in the following section.
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
Still, unless you're attempting to become a professional gamer or get ranked globally in a particular popular title, a 60Hz screen will suffice. Nearly all gamers are still "stuck" with 60Hz displays, after all. High-refresh panels aren't common in budget machines, but they are worth knowing about, as we expect them to trickle down into under-$1,000 machines soon.
It is powered by an AMD Ryzen 5 quad-core processor clocked at 2.0 GHz and is paired with a 8GB of RAM. Storage department is handled by a massive 1TB of HDD which offers ample space to store all your games and other data. It doesn’t have a backlit enabled keyboard, but it does come with dedicated number pad and generously-spaced keys for comfortable typing experience.
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.
As well as nine programmable buttons, the Corsair Dark Core RGB SE serves up an excellent 16,000 DPI sensor. You have full control over the sensitivity and those funky LEDs via Corsair’s excellent PC software. However, the Dark Core’s heavy and rather bulky design won’t suit all tastes, so you might want to try before you buy. Don’t forget, you’ll need to save some cash for that wireless charging mat too if you don’t want to resort to cables when the battery eventually dies.
But we assume you want to do more than harvest potato mines and pea-shooters—you have a Steam account, and you ache to play some of the latest AAA titles: the newest rev of the Battlefield series, the latest Tom Clancy-fest, the newest iteration of Tomb Raider or Far Cry. That's where a dedicated graphics chip comes in. It's the starting point for getting serious about gaming on a notebook.
After picking our hardware criteria (see above), we scoured the websites of major gaming-laptop manufacturers like Alienware, MSI, Asus, Razer, Samsung, Acer, HP, and Lenovo, and we browsed boutiques like Xotic PC, iBuyPower, Clevo, iBuypower, Origin PC, Digital Storm, and others. Then we put together a list of the laptops that fit our requirements and have positive reviews from trusted sources like CNET, AnandTech, Engadget, Laptop Mag, PCMag, and Notebookcheck, and eliminated those that didn’t.
The central processing unit or CPU contributes to being the most crucial part of the gaming laptop. This is due to the fact that games such as watchdogs, battlefields, make use of a high amount of horsepower as compared to the previous generation of the games for running the different functions of the games. This holds good for the multiplayer especially, as the CPU keeps track of the several players which need abundant processing. It is recommended to choose Intel core i7 quad core processor for playing intensive games. You can go for the dual-core i5, but they may reduce the speed of the game. Avoid AMD APU quad core as the cores are weak in comparison to the quad-core processors of Intel.
The laptop features a powerful combination of an Intel Core i5 processor and a NVIDIA GeForce GTX 950M GPU. It's a great hardware combination which ensures that you can play most games on medium to high settings. These specs also offer great online multimedia performance. We also really liked the high-quality, secondary features of the laptop: It has a backlit keyboard, very good built-in speakers, and fast 802.11ac WiFi.
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.
If you're shopping for a gaming system on a limited budget (in this case, between roughly $800 and $1,200), you're going to need to make some sacrifices. Maximizing power while staying within a limited price range is the goal, but you'll have to accept that some of the components won't be comparable with the more expensive laptops you'll see while browsing. That said, $1,200 is a reasonable ceiling for what some buyers are ready to spend on a gaming laptop, and you can still get a solid system for that much or less.
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.
Nvidia's G-Sync and AMD's FreeSync technologies are more down-to-earth. They help increase the quality of the gaming experience and smooth out frame rates by letting the laptop screen refresh at a variable rate that depends on the output of the GPU. Look for support for one of those technologies if you're a stickler for perfectly rendered visuals. They tend to be in pricier machines, though, and G-Sync is far more common.
Matt Clark of IGN reviewed the Logitech G305 LIGHTSPEED Wireless Gaming Mouse, awarding it an “amazing” 9.2 out of 10 star rating. Overall, he concluded that “while the Logitech G305 won’t win any awards for being the flashiest, most extreme gamer mouse, it does its job amazingly well. Perfect response times, flawless connectivity, extreme accuracy, and all of that for about half the price of other wireless gaming mice. If you’ve been on the fence about a wireless mouse, this is the mouse that'll make you want to join the club.”
$3,000 or more: This is where things get crazy. With this kind of budget you can get a high-res display, custom paint job, up to four SSDs in RAID configuration and a maximum of 64GB of RAM from manufacturers like OriginPC and Maingear. Depending on the notebook, you can get two 1080 GPUs in SLI configuration with each card sporting 8GB of VRAM. Not only can you play any game without worry of low frame rates, you can use VR headsets like the Oculus Rift or the HTC Vive.
That said, notebooks aren't upgradable, apart from their primary system memory (RAM, not to be confused with the graphics memory) and in some cases, the storage. You're going to be stuck with the screen, the graphics chip, and the processor you buy now, so evaluate these parts wisely. If you can stretch your budget a bit to get the next-tier-higher component, it can pay dividends in terms of usable life.
But what seals the "best value" award for the G502 is that it includes a series of 3.6-gram weights to be added or removed from the body of the mouse, allowing users to increase/decrease the weight to find an optimal fit. While I love that the Mamba Tournament Edition is already weighted from the get-go, the option to add weight to the Proteus Spectrum—combined with its multiple buttons and adjustable wheel/DPI settings—grant it a very desirable amount of flexibility.
MSI's GT75 Titan is one of the best gaming laptops available. Offering up to a an Intel Core i9-8950HK CPU, an NVIDIA GTX 1080 GPU, and up to 64 GB of RAM, this laptop packs some serious performance. The 17.3-inch display is either a 120 Hz 1920x1080 TN panel, or an optional 3840x2160 60 Hz IPS display. The GT75 Titan features a SteelSeries mechanical keyboard which is a step above most other gaming laptops. The starting price is hefty, but the GT75 Titan is a heavyweight gaming system.
Some features that are must-haves in non-gaming laptops aren’t quite as important here. Poor speakers can be bypassed with a good pair of headphones, and most people use a mouse instead of the trackpad while gaming. Battery life and portability have never been the strong suits of gaming laptops, which spend most of their lives plugged in and stationary.
You'll see both ordinary hard drives and swifter (but lesser-capacity) solid-state drives (SSDs) in under-$1,000 laptops. The occasional 15.6-inch-screen model might offer a small-capacity SSD boot drive alongside a secondary-storage platter hard drive, though this is more common with 17-inch laptops. Opt for this dual-drive approach if you can find it and afford it. The smaller SSD would be home to the operating system and a few favorite games, and the larger, more economical hard drive would host the rest of your games and other programs that don't need quick loading times. (It's indeed possible to split your Steam game library across drives.)
I’m not a gamer, so I’ve always managed to get by very well with basic rodents that have each kept the treadmill turning smoothly for many pleasingly uneventful years; but I did find the review refreshingly informative – which is a light-year from the response to my very first mousey inquiry. Way back in 1994 when I was researching to buy my first Pentium P series computer, I phoned a well known (in those days) computer dealer to find out which mouse they would recommend. The sales person was evidently dumbfounded – I could visualize her raising her eyes to the heavens as she said, with affected patience, “A mouse is a mouse, isn’t it?”. It’s the kind of remark that has you promptly closing their showroom door behind you, never to return, and seeking out a more inspiring vendor.
If you'd rather spend your money on Humble Bundles than hardware, then you don't actually need a hardcore gaming laptop. Along the same lines, if you're looking for a Minecraft box for the kids, you don't need to spend the money attached to the phrase "gaming laptop." A machine with a discrete graphics card, an SSD, and 8GB of RAM should take care of you.
If you're truly serious, and insist on playing all your games at very high detail settings and the highest possible screen resolution (for most laptops, that's 1,920 by 1,080 pixels, assuming you're playing on the laptop's screen and not an external display), you're just going to have to shell out some bucks, especially if you want that laptop to stay game-viable at those settings for more than a couple of years. Future-proofing like that demands top-end graphics silicon: Nvidia's GeForce GTX 1070 or GTX 1080. And that means spending, at current prices, $1,500 or more on your laptop.
Lenovo dialed back the design on its latest gaming laptops to help them compete with Razer, but without the higher prices. The Legion Y530 starts at $750 with a GTX 1050 or $840 with a 1050Ti. Unfortunately, there currently isn't an option for a 6GB GeForce GTX 1060 GPU, but if you're willing to step back to its Y520 predecessor you can get one in that model for $1,099.
Ranging at a price just round $1200, the ASUS FX502VM 15.6″ Gaming Laptop is so far our best choice, if you are looking for a high powered, yet not very costly gaming machine. Besides, you cannot find many laptops made for the gaming community at its price range. Not being as high-powered as the ASUS’s prime ROG series, or the MSI’s dominators, this laptop offers efficiency, reliability and full round performances.
In our tests, the Legion Y530 kept its WASD keys on the cooler side at 101 °F (38 °C) after half an hour of Overwatch. The Asus TUF Gaming FX504GE-ES72 kept its WASD keys coolest at 94°F (34 °C), but the Y530’s keys didn’t feel uncomfortable for long gaming sessions, just a bit warm. The area where my palm rested near the trackpad reached 105 °F (41 °C); that’s a bit warmer than we’d like, but it wasn’t uncomfortable.
Graphics: You can’t upgrade your laptop’s graphics processor, and if you cut corners you’ll have to shell out for a new computer sooner to keep playing new games. (Trust me, I’ve made this mistake.) Notebookcheck’s tests show the GTX 1060 and the GTX 1060 Max-Q near the 60 fps threshold in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey and Shadow of the Tomb Raider on high settings, while the GTX 1050 Ti barely scrapes by at 31 fps. But all three GPUs hit at least 60 fps in Overwatch on “epic” settings at 1080p. The GTX 1060 and its Max-Q counterpart support VR, while the GTX 1050 Ti has extremely limited VR support.
"Love it!...Good Mouse...I'm sure the mouse is built quite well, but my Logitech MX Anywhere 2 (a portable laptop mouse) feels more solid than the G305....The up to 12,000 dpi sensor technology in the G series optical mice is impressive, and honestly I would recommend anyone who spends a decent amount of time in spreadsheets or especially diagramming using a mouse purchase a gaming mouse for those uses as well - the high quality sensors make those jobs much easier."