Laptops have come a long way over the last decade. Gaming laptops existed in the past, but they were nothing like we have today. In the olden days, they were big hunks of plastic and metal that could barely play solitaire, let alone something advanced like Elden Ring or Halo Infinite. Luckily, gaming laptops have moved on since then, and even budget gaming laptops can do a good job of playing modern AAA games, although you’ll certainly have to compromise with graphics.
The best part is that at any given time, there are quite a few excellent laptop deals going on, or if you want to splurge some well-priced Gaming PC deals too. Either way, if you’re not very familiar with how to buy a gaming laptop, we’ve collected a range of great options, from budget-oriented laptops with an RTX 3050 to high-end ones with an RTX 3080.
HP Victus 15z-fb000 — $600, was $800
- Lightweight and functional
- Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650
- Windows 11
- Audio by Bang and Olufsen
This HP laptop throws in Windows 11 home, and a decent amount of power for gaming, video editing, graphic design, or whatever you think you’ll need to do. The processor is an AMD Ryzen 5 5600H with six cores and 12 threads, while the GPU is an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 with 4GB of dedicated VRAM. You also get 8GB of DDR4 system memory running at 3200MHz. For storage, there is a 256GB NVMe solid-state drive. No, those specs aren’t the most impressive we’ve ever seen but for a laptop of this caliber, they will do. You won’t be playing most newer games on Ultra, but if you lower the settings, or have a preference for older titles anyway, you’ll be just fine.
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The 15.6-inch full-HD micro-edge and the anti-glare display are no slouch either, offering 250 nits of brightness and a maximum resolution of 1920 by 1080. Audio by Bang and Olufsen means punchy bass, clear treble, and lots of fun and immersive sound. Meanwhile, you also get a 720p HD webcam, plenty of USB ports, a decent battery, and a great little system.
Dell G15 gaming laptop — $650, was $850
- Excellent power for the price
- Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050
- 15.6-inch non-touch 120Hz display
- Dell Game Shift technology
Dell’s foray into the modern yet portable gaming world leaves us with one of the best graphics cards that balance performance with value, the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050. You’ll also find a 12th Gen Intel Core i5 12-core and 16-thread processor, 8GB of DDR5 system memory, and a 256GB NVMe solid-state drive.
The 15.6-inch full-HD 120Hz display is as beautiful as ever, with an anti-glare system so you can use it even in bright settings. It’s non-touch but has a narrow border and LED backlighting. The entire system is backed by Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX201 for excellent wireless signal and reliability, plus Bluetooth for wireless peripherals, like a gaming headset to talk to the squad.
There are stylish color options available for the case and Dell’s Game Shift technology makes activating a turbo-boost power mode a breeze — it can be called on with the quick push of hotkeys.
HP Victus 16z-e100 — $750, was $1,000
- Sleek and stylish design
- Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050
- 16.1-inch WLED backlight display
- Fast-charge battery support
Cutting out some of the nonsense here, this machine features an AMD Ryzen 5 6600H six-core and 12-thread processor, which pairs nicely with the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 and 4GB of dedicated VRAM. It also helps that you get 8GBs of DDR5 RAM, the fastest on the market, and a 256GB NVMe solid-state drive for your games, files, and more. It’s a decent performer, of that there’s no question, although it might still be worth looking into a cloud storage service for a little bit of help if you want to run some of the newest titles at max settings.
The sleek design of the laptop is always a welcome sight, with a 16.1-inch IPS full-HD display that has WLED backlighting and a brightness rating of 250 nits. Additional features include a multi-format SD card reader for external media, multiple USB ports including USB-C, WiFi 6 wireless connectivity, Bluetooth 5.3, and fast-charge support for the battery — it comes with a 200-watt smart AC power adapter.
ASUS ROG Zephyrus 14 — $1,000, was $1,400
- Has a 144Hz 14-inch display
- Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060
- Lots of system memory and storage space
- Fully backlit keyboard
The Asus ROG Zephyrus has a lot in common with the ASUS ROG Strix series; while the Strix may be slightly better if you want a gaming laptop on a budget if you have a bit more cash on hand, the Zephyrus is the ace choice. So why is that the case? Well, for starters it comes with a 14-inch display and has a 144Hz refresh rate for fluid motion and onscreen action. The 16GB of DDR4 dual-channel system memory doesn’t hurt either and allows you to multi-task freely while chatting on Discord, streaming, playing some games, and even listening to some music in the background.
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What’s better is that the Zephyrus comes with an RTX 3060 with 6GB of dedicated GDDR6 VRAM, which means it’s more likely to hit higher resolutions with no slowdowns. This is no potato. As for the processor, the AMD Ryzen 7 5800HS 8-core and 16-thread processor delivers clock speeds up to 1,382MHz at 60 watts. If you’re not well-versed in the specs or numbers, just know this beast of a machine can handle pretty much everything you throw at it — which is impressive for any computer let alone a laptop. It might not have made it onto the list of the best gaming laptops on the market, but it offers incredible value.
Alienware m15 R7 — $1,700, was $2,150
- Gorgeous 4K-ready 240Hz display
- Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 Ti
- 16GB of DDR5 system memory
- 1TB solid-state drive
If you want a gaming laptop that stands out in specs, the Alienware m15 R7 will do it for you, especially since it has an impressive RTX 3070 Ti under the hood. Being one of the best GPUs on the market besides the RTX 3090 and RTX 40 series, it can handle 4k gaming. That’s great because the m15 R7 only comes with a QHD monitor with a whopping 240Hz refresh rate, and given that the RTX 3070 Ti is so capable, you’ll likely be able to hit both high resolutions and high frame rates. Granted, there might be a bit of compromise in some settings here and there, but you have a lot of leeways to play around with what’s most important to you.
In terms of CPU, you get the 12th Gen intel i7-12700H, another powerful CPU that will allow you to do anything from video to audio editing and any heavy-duty games like simulation and strategy. RAM is a solid 16GB of DDR5, which is impressive, and is great if you tend to open a lot of tabs and apps at the same time, as well as if you do any CAD work. As for storage, you get an excellent 1TB SSD to work with, so you won’t have many storage issues in the future.
The build of the m15 R7 is also rather excellent, although we will say that the battery life isn’t the best. Unfortunately, gaming laptops always have this issue, and Alienware laptops even more so, which makes sense given they try to squeeze as much performance as possible. Even so, that means you’ll be lugging around the charger wherever you go, but on the upside, it works as a great desktop replacement, so it’s worth checking out these gaming monitor deals if you want to go that route.
Alienware x17 R2 — 3,300, was $4,645
- An incredibly powerful laptop
- Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Ti
- 64GB of dual-channel DDR5 system memory
- Large 17.3-inch full-HD 480Hz display
Larger, faster, and more powerful than its smaller brethren, the Alienware x17 R2 is packed to the brim with exceptional hardware. For starters, you get an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Ti with 16GB of dedicated GDDR6 VRAM — enough to run even the latest games at ultra settings, depending on the resolution. You also get an insane 64GB of dual-channel DDR5 RAM, a 2TB NVMe solid-state drive, and a 12th Gen Intel Core i9 processor with 14 cores and 20 threads. It’s as powerful, if not more so, than your average desktop gaming PC. Everything will look amazing on the extra-large 17.3-inch full-HD non-touch 480Hz display, too.
Other features include Killer WiFi 6 for faster and more reliable wireless connectivity, Bluetooth 5.2 for connecting wireless peripherals, Alienware’s top-notch cooling technology, and Windows 11 right out of the box. It’s ready to start gaming, anything you want, anywhere, and anytime. Start fragging some baddies at a local coffee shop, take a break from studying in the school library, or squeeze in some rounds of your favorite battle royale title in between work.
How to Choose a Gaming Laptop
The two main considerations when choosing a good gaming laptop are naturally going to be what you’re willing to spend and which graphics card you want (considering the GPU is what actually makes a laptop a “gaming laptop”), and these two are closely linked as your budget is going to determine what graphical performance tier you can afford. However, don’t overlook some of the smaller things that you might personally want in a gaming laptop – convenience features such as programmable button macros, customizable RGB keyboard backlighting, and so on – so that you don’t jump on that great deal only to end up with something that doesn’t actually mSo for your needs. For more detailed hardware analysis, read on.
What makes a good gaming laptop?
A good gaming,g laptop should, first and foremost, be affordable, but you don’t want to go for the first deal you find that simply happens to meet your budget. You can expect to pay at least $600 (usually closer to $700) for a gaming laptop with a dedicated graphics card, although you can find a few that have AMD APUs with built-in Vega graphics for less than that. Also bear in mind that Nvidia recently released its new line of 16-series GPUs which have completely replaced the older 10-series graphics cards as the entry-level and midrange GeForce GPUs. In 2020, you’re better off avoiding older laptop models with these 10-series cards and sticking with the best modern GPUs ones, as the price is about the same and they will generally come with more up-to-date CPUs as well.
In the budget-friendly price brackets, the most powerful graphics card you’re likely to find in a gaming laptop right now is arguably the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 or AMD Radeon RX 5600M. However, you can expect to spend nearly your full budget for a laptop with this kind of graphical horsepower. If you’re going cheaper, though, then you’ll see cards in the GTX 16-series and RX 5000-series, pretty much all of which are still very capable of running modern titles at 1080p/60fps at good to high in-game settings.
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For memory, 8GB of RAM should be the bare minimum (unless you’re going really cheap), and 16GB is a better mark to aim for in a modern gaming system. A higher refresh rate of 144Hz on the laptop display will also ensure a smoother experience when playing at higher framerates, but that’s something that you’ll typically find on gaming laptops sporting nicer GPUs like the GTX 1660 Ti or RTX 2060. That’s one of the sacrifices you’ll make with a gaming laptop, but if you know what to expect, you shouldn’t end up disappointed.
Should I get a gaming laptop or a gaming PC?
The primary difference between a gaming laptop and a gaming PC is portability. If you want a gaming computer to set up at a battle station, never to be moved again, then you should probably look at gaming PC deals instead. Since gaming PCs are bigger, they can hold more hardware, use bigger fans, and be easily customized. Laptops have the advantage of moving with you. To that end, a gaming laptop can be more than just a gaming laptop. You can take it to lecture classes for notes or use it as a work computer.
Are gaming laptops good for work?
A gaming laptop is still a laptop and can do everything that a laptop computer can do — that includes work. In fact, even a gaming laptop can offer some advantages: Faster processors and increased RAM will make all of your non-gaming software run noticeably faster, and graphical work such as video editing and rendering will go much more quickly with a dedicated graphics card. Even if you mostly use your PC for work first and only light gaming, it might be worth it to shell out a little more cash for a gaming laptop for the better hardware you’ll be getting.