Gaming laptops aren’t cheap. Not only do they need to pack in a bunch of powerful hardware, but they also need to be durable, reliable, and boast a screen that can take a beating after years of unforgiving travel.
However, having the option to play all your favorite games wherever you go can’t be understated—and the convenience of gaming laptops continues to make them one of the most popular products for PC gaming.
Unfortunately, shopping for a gaming laptop isn’t nearly as easy as gaming on one. Hundreds of models have flooded the market over the past few years, and there’s no shortage of marketing jargon to cut through before you can start comparing different models. However, understanding a few key aspects of a good laptop will make finding the perfect gaming laptop a breeze.
Above all else, pay close attention to the graphics processing unit (GPU) on your prospective rig. If it boasts a GeForce RTX 30 series GPU, you’ll likely be purchasing a device that will run popular games for years to come. You’ll also want to look for at least an Intel Core i5 or AMD Ryzen 5 CPU, as these are powerful enough to play just about all of today’s most demanding releases.
Buying a laptop with a high-end GPU and processor doesn’t come cheap, so you’ll need to carefully consider your budget. We wouldn’t recommend spending too much on a gaming laptop, as they often feature components that can’t be upgraded, meaning you’ll be purchasing a whole new rig sooner than you may think. This is wildly different from gaming desktop PCs, which allow you to swap out individual components as needed.
If your game library consists of just a handful of games, you can save a few bucks by opting for a laptop without much internal storage space. Alternatively, you can purchase an external SSD or HDD to house a growing catalog. The best option is always internal storage, as it tends to load games faster than external solutions, but these often carry higher price tags.
In short, pay close attention to the GPU, processor, and SSD of your prospective gaming laptop. Just keep in mind that, unless you’re willing to break the bank, you’ll probably need to make a few compromises.
There are plenty of other aspects to consider when buying a gaming laptop, but the five products below offer the best combination of performance, pricing, and reliability for their respective category.
Best Gaming Laptop Overall: Razer Blade 15
- ✓ GeForce RTX 3070
- ✓ Intel Core i7
- ✓ Crisp QHD display
Razer is consistently churning out high-end gaming products, and the Razer Blade 15 is no exception. A variety of configurations are available, but we’d recommend opting for the GeForce RTX 3070 and Intel Core i7 to get the most out of your money.
As one of the most powerful GPUs money can buy, the RTX 3070 lets this portable behemoth run today’s most demanding games without batting an eye. The action is captured on a 15.6-inch QHD display with a refresh rate of 165Hz, offering buttery smooth performance that wouldn’t be out of place on a bulky desktop rig.
Completing the package is a spec list that never seems to end. Vapor chamber cooling, Wi-Fi 6, 16GB of RAM, and a 1TB SSD are packed inside an intricate aluminum chassis, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a better-looking laptop.
If you don’t mind the price tag, the Razer Blade 15 is close to a perfect gaming rig.
Best Gaming Laptop Overall
Razer Blade 15
The Razer Blade 15 is a premium laptop with premium hardware. An RTX 3070 and Intel Core i7 will serve you well for years to come, although it’s a bit on the pricey side.
Best Budget Gaming Laptop: ASUS ROG Zephyrus
- ✓ GeForce RTX 3070
- ✓ AMD Ryzen 9
- ✓ 1TB SSD
- ✗ Lacks a number pad
There’s a lot to love about the ASUS ROG Zephyrus. The popular laptop is somehow able to pack in a GeForce RTX 3070, AMD Ryzen 9, 1TB SSD, and a 15.6-inch QHD screen without managing to bump its price tag above the $1,900 mark. It’s also equipped with 16GB DDR4 RAM for all your multitasking needs.
Unlike some entries on this list, the Zephyrus is built around an unassuming chassis. You’ll still get backlit keys and a few sharp edges, but its all-black design is surprisingly professional. It clocks in at just 4.21lbs, making it easy to throw into a backpack and lug around without adding too much weight to your inventory.
Its minimalist design, RTX 3070, and Ryzen 9 are the specs that’ll keep you gaming for years to come, and the Zephyrus doesn’t cut any corners to offer a sub $2000 price. Dolby Atmos support, HDMI output, Wi-Fi 6, and even AI noise cancelation for voice chat make the laptop a surprisingly well-rounded purchase.
The Zephyrus is only lacking a ten-key number pad, but that’s a small price to pay for such a powerful, portable, and well-priced gaming laptop.
Best Gaming Laptop Under $1,000: Acer Nitro 5
- ✓ Affordable
- ✓ AMD Ryzen 5
- ✓ Reliable and durable construction
- ✗ GTX 1650 might leave you wanting more
- ✗ Underwhelming 256GB SSD
Often available well below the $1000 price point, Acer has managed to pack a ridiculous amount of firepower into a budget-friendly package. A few shortcuts had to be made to stay below that price mark (such as a meager 256GB SSD), but you won’t find a better product than the Acer Nitro 5 in this price range.
The Nitro 5 won’t get you a coveted RTX 30 series GPU, but it does come with a GTX 1650. This highly rated last-gen graphics card should be more than capable of handling today’s most popular games with settings turned to medium or high, and it does it with style on a 15.6-inch FHD display.
Acer continues its tradition of making reliable products with the Nitro 5, although you’ll have to get used to its ultra-aggressive “gamer” design. Its all-black design is accented by red, backlit keys, and there’s no doubt it’ll draw attention if you open it at the library or coffee shop.
Best Gaming Laptop Under $1000
Acer Nitro 5
It only includes 256GB of internal storage, but a GTX 1650 and Ryzen 5 should give you enough firepower for today’s most demanding titles.
Best Gaming Laptop Under $500: Acer Aspire 5 Slim
- ✓ Affordable
- ✓ AMD Ryzen 3
- ✓ 10-key number pad
- ✗ Underpowered Vega 3 GPU
- ✗ Won’t run today’s most popular games
Finding a gaming laptop under $500 isn’t easy. And even though the Acer Aspire 5 Slim checks a lot of boxes, there’s still a lot of limitations to a product in this price range.
The most noticeable sacrifice is the Vega 3 GPU, which won’t let you run anything above low settings. In fact, most of today’s most popular games probably won’t even be playable with the GPU—although you can probably get away with a few last-gen games with the settings turned down. If you mostly play indie games with lower graphical loads, though, the Aspire 5 Slim will be a worthwhile purchase.
If you can look past the Vega 3, the Acer Aspire 5 is a solid laptop. The Ryzen 3 CPU continues to be an affordable solution for low-end gaming, the 4GB DDR4 lets you pull off a bit of multitasking, and it’s all wrapped up with a premium design and full HD display.
We’d highly recommend saving up a bit longer to pick up another gaming laptop on this list if you want modern gaming, but if you don’t mind being relegated to games from another era, the Aspire 5 might be a perfect fit.
Best Gaming Laptop Under $500
Acer Aspire 5 Slim
It’s not quite a bonafide gaming laptop, but it’s slim pickings at this price range. You might be better off saving for a more expensive rig, but the Aspire 5 Slim can at least handle a bit of light gaming.
Best 17-inch Gaming Laptop: Razer Blade Pro 17
- ✓ GeForce RTX 3070
- ✓ Intel Core i7
- ✓ Brilliant 17.3-inch display
Gaming on a laptop often means missing out on those small details you’d only catch on a larger display. And while it certainly can’t replace an ultrawide monitor or 75-inch QLED TV, the Razer Blade Pro 17 might be the next best thing for your gaming experience.
Razer’s expensive gaming laptop comes in a variety of builds, but one of our favorites combines the RTX 3070 with an FHD display with a 360Hz refresh rate. This gives you the best combination of price, power, and a vivid screen that will easily immerse you in the action. You can also bump up to a 4K monitor with a 120Hz refresh rate, but that might be a bit overkill—and it’s often out of stock.
Gaming on the Blade Pro 17 offers more than a buttery smooth experience, as the vapor chamber cooling technology helps keep things from overheating without sounding like a jet engine. This model even includes a 1TB SSD to easily store a massive library of games and the option to customize your keyboard backlight with a variety of adjustable zones and hundreds of selectable colors.
All of this is pulled together with an aluminum body that offers reliability and durability that will have the Razer Blade Pro 17 last you for years.
Best 17-inch Gaming Laptop
Razer Blade Pro 17
It’s one of the most expensive laptops on our list, but there’s no denying the Blade Pro 17’s appeal. Available with a variety of display options and a powerful RTX 3070, this is the ultimate 17-inch laptop.