If you like to game on the move then check out this little lot.
What keen gamers look for in a laptop differs greatly from what a business user or frequent traveller might look for. Slim and light generally leave the table in favor of raw processing power. Laptops are kind of like cars in that regard: more horsepower means a bigger engine, which needs a bigger fuel tank and more capable heat management. Just replace engine with processor and fuel tank with battery and you've got a laptop.
It's the horsepower that matters most when gaming on a laptop. And while gaming notebooks still can't fully match up to a tricked-out desktop rig, there's a ton of choice out there and you won't necessarily have to part with all your money in the process, either.
These machines cover the whole spectrum of gaming laptops, with something for everyone. As such these aren't necessarily the most powerful gaming laptops, they're what we consider the best, and we're also taking into account how portable these machines are. After all, you do need to be able to take it with you.
Let's get to it.
For May 2016 we're holding steady with our list of recommendations. But with releases due from Acer soon alongside the big Computex event going down in Taipei at the end of the month, June might well herald a few changes.
Join the Republic of Gamers
- Thunderbolt 3 USB-C support
- NVIDIA G Sync display
- Offers substantial bang for your buck
- Battery life isn't very good
- Bezels are pretty thick around the display
- Aggressive design won't suit everyone
ASUS knows laptops and they know gaming, so it should be no surprise that the ASUS G752 is widely regarded as one of the finest gaming laptops money can buy. And the styling is wild.
Inside we're up to an Intel Skylake Core i7 processor, specifically the 6820HK or 6700HQ, up to 64GB of DDR4 RAM, NVIDIA GTX 980M graphics, up to 2TB of HDD storage or 512GB of NVMe SSD, a Blu Ray optical drive, Thunderbolt 3 USB-C and a Full HD matte display with G Sync.
You also get a backlit keyboard and some pretty interesting cooling, with ASUS' own 3D mobile Vapor Chamber keeping the temperature down.
With all of this remarkable hardware on offer, you'd be thinking that the price might be pretty high. Except it's not; at least not in the grand scheme of the gaming laptop landscape. Prices start around $1,500, which is very reasonable for what you're getting here... so long as you're happy with a 17.3-inch laptop that weighs 8.8lbs.
Dell Inspiron 15 7559
Gaming on a budget
- Affordable price
- Optional 4K display
- Incredibly easy to upgrade RAM and storage
- Slow HDD included as standard
- Trackpad isn't very good
- Build quality doesn't match some of Dell's best
If you like Dell and you like gaming you'll usually find yourself looking at the Alienware collection. But if you want to play some of the latest titles on a tighter budget you may want to check out the Inspiron 15 7559, which starts at just $799.
And it's not as if you don't get good hardware for that, either. The base model comes with an Intel Skylake Core i5 processor and an NVIDIA 960M 4GB graphics card. Pair that with 8GB of RAM, and a 1080p non-touch, matte IPS display, you've got a decently capable machine.
Dig a little deeper into your budget and you can go up to a Core i7 processor, 16GB of RAM, a stunning 4K touch display and a combination of speedy SSD and capacious hard drive storage. But it's so easy to upgrade the RAM and storage you're probably better off springing for a less expensive configuration and doing the upgrades yourself on the cheap.
It's good that the upgrades are so straightforward, because you'll probably want to swap out the HDD. On the cheaper models you get a 5,200 RPM drive which is pretty poor, so either adding an SSD alongside to boot Windows and key apps from or just replacing it altogether would be a good call. But for $799 you're getting a great package that can be built into an awesome package.
Razer Blade 14
Gaming hardware goes on a diet
- Slim and light form factor
- Powerful internals
- Optional Core adds desktop graphics and connectivity
- Battery life on the low side
- Chroma a little gimmicky for some tastes
Razer's latest Blade remains the closest thing to a serious gaming ultrabook, as well as making a serious claim to be the ultimate portable for the serious gamer.
The new Razer Blade packs some impressive gaming specs, including a 14-inch QHD screen, a 6th gen Quad Core i7 processor, 16 GB of RAM, an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970M GPU with 6GB VRAM, In addition, the latest version includes Razer's Chroma lighting system on its keyboard, giving you literally millions of color combinations to choose from to light up with.
It's the additional Razer Core which gives the Blade a performance edge. The specs in the laptop aren't exactly weak, but dock it into the Core when you're at home and you add the power of desktop class graphics for an even more serious experience. Not just graphics, either, with the Core adding desktop-esque connectivity to your laptop, too. So, with the Blade you have the option to have a top class gaming experience on the go, and a serious desktop class machine at home. It isn't cheap, but it's a lot of laptop for it.
Shipping begins April 25 2016.
MSI GT72S 6QF Dominator Pro G
A laptop to replace your desktop rig
- Desktop class graphics card
- Thunderbolt 3 USB-C
- Optional 4K display
- Very large and heavy
- Not a great choice for portability
- Cheapest model is over $2,000
This one falls under the desktop replacement category, though you could carry this around with you if you're OK with hauling over eight pounds of laptop in your bag. But what else makes the Dominator Pro a true desktop replacement is its graphics card. There's no mobile GPU in here, oh no — this one packs a full GTX 980. So not just a desktop card, but a high-end one, at that.
There's also very little you could ever say was missing on the Dominator Pro, either. It's got the new, future-proofed USB-C Thunderbolt 3 port, a Skylake Core i7 processor, 16GB of RAM, Steelseries keyboard and even an option for Super RAID 4 storage — all of which together is pretty nuts for a laptop.
It's got a built in DAC for supreme audio, and the display has options for NVIDIA G Sync or an Ultra HD 4K panel. With all this awesomeness comes a pretty steep price, and you're not getting in on the Dominator Pro without going over $2,000. But it's all the PC you could ever want, either on the go or at home on your desk.
Alienware 15 R2
A great all-rounder with extra graphics oomph if you want it
- Unique styling
- Thunderbolt 3 USB-C
- Optional graphics amplifier adds desktop class graphics support
- Pretty chunky
- Lower spec models are disappointing given the price
Alienware is a brand some love to hate, but Dell's gaming arm continues to churn out great machines. While there are choices that are smaller and more portable, or larger and more powerful, the Alienware 15 R2 sits right in the middle, offering the best all-round experience.
It's more portable than the 17-inch, and it's not actually much more expensive than the smaller 13-inch model while offering a better quality base spec. You can pack out an Alienware 15 with up to a Skylake Core i7 processor, 16GB of DDR4 RAM, an NVIDIA GTX980M 8GB graphics card, a combination of PCIe SSD and HDD storage and either a 1080p or 4K display.
The Alienware 15 can also hook into the optional, external Graphics Amplifier that adds additional grunt in the form of full sized, desktop class graphics cards. So at home you get the full power of a desktop gaming rig, but you've still got a competent mobile gaming platform for when you're on the go.
Customize your own dream gaming portable
- Up to 64GB DDR4 RAM
- Top of the line mobile graphics from NVIDIA
- Desktop processors
- Quite large and heavy
- Battery life isn't very good even for a gaming laptop
Origin doesn't think you need to compromise with a gaming laptop and so it puts Intel's desktop class processors into the EON15-X. This may be a contributing factor to pretty bad battery life, but you can't deny the power you're getting.
That Skylake desktop processor is paired with an NVIDIA GTX980M 8GB graphics card and up to 64GB of DDR4 RAM — this laptop won't leave you wanting for much. Add in an optional 4K display and dual m.2 SSD drives and there's not a lot you don't get with this machine.
You can also customize the outward appearance to your liking with a range of designs available for the lid. All this does come at a price, though, and you're looking at $1,674 for a basic system with a 1080p display and GTX 965M graphics. But if you're chasing the gaming notebook of your dreams, Origin will probably put you the closest to that of any other manufacturer.
A more subtle approach
- Available in three sizes
- Subtle styling
- Base price very competitive
- Unusual hotkey placement on keyboard
- Battery life isn't too good
- Something of a fingerprint magnet
Lenovo's latest gaming focused notebook takes a different approach on styling to many others. From the outside it looks pretty bare, almost boring — it doesn't shout at the world that it's a gaming laptop, though there are some nice splashes of red once you open it up.
Looks aside, you get a competent gaming laptop in the Y700 without having to empty out your wallet. And if you're an AMD fan, you're catered for too, with Team Red CPU and graphics options on some models in some markets. You can also get the Y700 in a 14-, 15- and 17-inch form factor, giving you choice on size, spend and spec while getting the same basic experience.
It also means there's something for everyone. The base 14-incher starts at $699, and going up from there you've got options like 16GB of DDR4 RAM, touch or non-touch displays, HDD or SSD storage and, of course, Intel Skylake Core i7 processors. Lenovo's latest push into the gaming space has a lot to offer.