Best Gaming Laptops Windows Central 2021
The Razer Blade 15 has the right combination of power, style, and display to make it our top pick for the best gaming laptops on the market today. Available in Base and Advanced models depending on the performance you're looking to achieve, anyone with the budget should be able to find a Blade 15 that suits their needs. If the Blade isn't quite what you're looking for, there are plenty of other best gaming laptops available, which we've collected here.
- Our Pick: Razer Blade 15
- AMD Power: ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14
- Great Performance, Great Price: HP OMEN 15
- Aggressive Style: Alienware m15 R4
- Best Value: Acer Nitro 5
- Deep Customization: Origin EVO15-S
Best Overall: Razer Blade 15
With up to an NVIDIA RTX 3080 Max-Q graphics card (GPU), 10th Gen Intel Core i7-10875H eight-core processor (CPU), 32GB of dual-channel DDR4-2933MHz RAM, and a 1TB M.2 PCIe solid-state drive (SSD) with an open M.2 slot for extra storage, you won't have any issues getting a fantastic gaming experience from the Razer Blade 15.
The laptop comes in Base and Advanced models depending on the performance hardware you're looking at. Our Razer Blade 15 Advanced review has a lot more information.
Razer upgraded the Blade 15 at CES 2021, adding a QHD display option with a 240Hz refresh rate. There's also now an FHD display with a whopping 360Hz refresh rate. NVIDIA's RTX 30-series GPUs will push frame rates in modern games, no doubt accommodating the esports crowd that relies on smooth gameplay. If you'd like to move up to 4K, there's also an OLED display available in the Blade 15 Advanced Edition.
Wi-Fi 6 connectivity is included for high-performance wireless networking, and Bluetooth 5.1 is included for connecting wireless peripherals. Despite the thin size (0.70 inches on the Advanced model and 0.78 inches on the Base model), the Blade 15 holds onto a decent port selection.
The RGB keyboard doesn't have great key travel, but it can be customized for extra style. The Base model has single-zone RGB lighting (meaning you can't customize different parts of the keyboard), while Advanced models offer per-key RGB lighting for much deeper customization. And the laptop has an enormous Precision touchpad for use when you don't have an external gaming mouse connected.
- Gorgeous 4K, QHD, and FHD display options
- Insane gaming performance
- Slim, premium build
- Decent port selection
- Enormous Precision touchpad
- Very expensive
- Keyboard is lackluster
Stellar AMD Power: ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14
AMD's eight-core Ryzen 9 4900HS is not the most recent CPU, but it's still incredibly potent. It's available in the 14-inch ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14, a gaming laptop with original style. It weighs 3.52 pounds (1.6kg), making it relatively portable, and at 14 inches, it's an excellent option for anyone who feels 15 inches is just a bit too bulky.
It has a comfortable keyboard and a sizable Precision touchpad, though be warned that some might find the inside aesthetics to be a bit too edgy. It sort of bucks the modern minimalist trend, though some people will love the look. And once you start gaming, you're not going to care.
The AMD Ryzen 9 4900HS has eight cores, 16 threads, and a boost clock up to 4.3GHz, yet it has a TDP of just 35W. It beats out single- and multi-core Intel Core i9-9980HK Geekbench 5 scores, which is quite impressive. Pairing this killer CPU up with an NVIDIA RTX 2060 Max-Q GPU, 16GB of DDR4-3200MHz RAM, and a 1TB M.2 PCIe SSD creates quite a combination. This laptop won't land you the most recent performance hardware, but the price is hard to ignore.
The 14-inch display has a 1920x1080 (FHD) resolution, 120Hz refresh rate, and IPS panel. Those are good mid-range specs, and the performance hardware isn't going to have issues keeping up with the refresh rate. And if you need a larger display, you can always connect to an external monitor with HDMI. There are also two USB-C 3.2, two USB-A 3.2, and a 3.5mm audio jack.
There's no Ethernet port, but a Wi-Fi 6 chip is included for fast, reliable wireless internet. Judging by the price, you might think this laptop is lacking extra features. However, it has a fingerprint reader for Windows Hello, solid audio from dual 2W speakers, and ErgoLift design that raises the chassis off a desk when in use, providing better ventilation.
If you love AMD and want a 14-inch gaming laptop, the ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14 is going to blow you away. Battery life is solid, performance is excellent, and the price is hard to beat, considering all you're getting here.
- AMD Ryzen 9 is unbelievable
- Wi-Fi 6 and plenty of ports
- Thin and light 14-inch chassis
- Fingerprint reader for Windows Hello
- Competitive price
- Does get rather hot
- Might prefer full 15-inch display
Great Performance, Great Price: HP OMEN 15
HP's lineup of OMEN 15 gaming laptops was refreshed mid-2020 with a new look and some interesting new features. The laptops look a lot more modern with dual hinges and discrete lines, and OMEN has a new diamond logo. Thermal efficiency is optimized thanks to an IR thermopile sensor and up to a 12V fan with larger vent openings. That's a good thing since this laptop has inside up to an Intel Core i7-10870H or AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX CPU. The Intel model has up to an NVIDIA RTX 3060 GPU for best performance, while the AMD model has up to an NVIDIA RTX 3070.
Yes, there are both AMD and Intel CPU options on offer here to help serve as many gamers as possible. Up to 16GB of DDR4-3200MHz RAM can be added to the AMD laptops, while up to 32GB of DDR4-2933MHz RAM is available in Intel models. Both laptops can be configured with up to 1TB of M.2 PCIe storage.
Display options differ depending on the CPU you choose. AMD models come with up to a 15.6-inch QHD display at a 165Hz refresh rate and 300 nits brightness. Those are decent specs, especially paired with the RTX 3070 GPU. Intel models have an FHD display available with up to a 300Hz refresh rate. Though there is also a 144Hz model, the higher refresh rate makes more sense when paired with RTX 30-series GPUs. All models come with Wi-Fi 6 wireless connectivity, and all models also come with an RJ45 Ethernet port for a reliable wired connection.
Have a look at our HP OMEN 15 (2020) review for a lot more information about this PC.
- AMD and Intel hardware available
- Competitive price
- Up to a 300Hz FHD display
- NVIDIA RTX GPU options
- New modern design
- Can still find cheaper options
- Can find models with better performance
Aggressive Style: Alienware m15 R4
Dell's refreshed Alienware m15 R4 comes at you with a bold, mature look that's undeniably aggressive, and it can be had in either Dark Side of the Moon or Lunar Light colors for the magnesium alloy body. If you want your laptop to stand out at the next LAN party, the m15 R4 is certainly a top option.
The chassis measures 0.70 inches at its thinnest point, and it's stocked with ports, including RJ45 Ethernet, three USB-A 3.1, Thunderbolt 3, HDMI 2.1b, Mini DisplayPort 1.4, Alienware Graphics Amplifier port, and 3.5mm audio. Basic models start at about 4.65 pounds (2.11kg) and go up to about 5.5 pounds (2.5kg), putting it in line with most other gaming laptops out there. The comfy keyboard has per-key RGB customizable lighting to get the look you want, and the large Precision touchpad is useful when you don't have an external mouse connected. Killer Wi-Fi 6 AX1650 is included in all models for fast wireless speeds.
Performance hardware hits the upper limits of what's available in modern gaming laptops, so this is another solid option if you want the best and have the budget to back it up. Add up to a 10th Gen Intel Core i9-10980HK CPU with eight cores and a clock speed up to 5.3GHz, 32GB of DDR4-2666MHz RAM, dual 2TB M.2 PCIe SSDs combined with another 512GB M.2 PCIe SSD, and an NVIDIA RTX 3080 GPU. High-end models are incredibly expensive and are reserved for only the most die-hard gamers, while basic models will suit casual gamers much better.
Display options are varied as well. Basic models start with a 15.6-inch FHD display with a 144Hz refresh rate and NVIDIA G-Sync for less screen tearing. Moving up, there's an FHD option with a whopping 300Hz refresh rate and 100% sRGB color reproduction. This is best reserved for high-end performance hardware to make the most of the high refresh rate. Finally, there's a 4K OLED display option with a 60Hz refresh rate, 1ms response time, and solid coverage of the DCI-P3 color gamut.
- Insane performance options
- Multiple displays to choose from, including 4K OLED
- Per-key RGB keyboard lighting
- Thin, aggressive design
- Plenty of ports
- Prices climb quickly
- Design might be a bit too flashy for some
Best Value: Acer Nitro 5
Due to the high-end hardware inside gaming laptops, most come in well above what most people are willing to pay for a single piece of tech. If you're a gamer who enjoys casual and indie games and doesn't need something that will run AAA games on Ultra settings, the Acer Nitro 5 (AN515-55) is no doubt going to be quite appealing.
Despite the bargain price, the 15.6-inch IPS display has a smooth 144Hz refresh rate with FHD resolution. Combined with this level of performance hardware, it's a great match. Get a 10th Gen Intel Core i5-10300H CPU with four cores, 8GB of DDR4 RAM, a 256GB SSD, and an NVIDIA GTX 1650 Ti GPU with 4GB of GDDR6 VRAM.
The chassis weighs in at 5.07 pounds (2.3kg) and measures 0.94 inches (23.9mm) thin, allowing for plenty of room for ports. There is HDMI, USB-C 3.2, three USB-A 3.2, 3.5mm audio, and Ethernet for a reliable wired connection. However, if you're gaming over Wi-Fi, a Wi-Fi 6 chip is included for faster speeds. Bluetooth 5.0 is included for connecting wireless accessories.
The full keyboard with a number pad has a red backlight to match the Nitro theme, and the touchpad uses Precision drivers for a satisfying typing experience when not using an external mouse. Altogether this laptop isn't going to check as many boxes as the expensive high-end machines we have listed here. However, it is going to save you a ton of money and still deliver a satisfying gaming experience for a lot of people.
- Great price
- Solid mid-range performance
- Decent port selection
- Display with high refresh rate
- Not as powerful or premium as high-end options
Deep Customization: Origin EVO15-S
The Origin EVO15-S is the right laptop for anyone who wants to customize every aspect. It's a 15-inch device with up to a 4K OLED display for the best picture possible, though there are FHD options with up to a 300Hz refresh rate.
As for performance hardware, get up to a 10th Gen Intel Core i7-10870H CPU, 32GB of DDR4-2666MHz RAM, 4TB of storage, and an NVIDIA RTX 3080 Max-Q GPU. Choose installed software, add any accessories, and even add extra security measures like a fingerprint reader.
The understated chassis includes Thunderbolt 3, Mini DisplayPort 1.4, HDMI 2.0, 3.5mm audio, RJ45 Ethernet, and a microSD card reader. The same chassis can be customized with unique print designs. If you want to pick everything inside your laptop, this is the way to go.
- Thorough customization options
- High-end displays for gaming
- Modern GPU options
- Excellent keyboard and trackpad
- No thermal throttling
- Bad audio
- Fans can get loud
When it comes to buying one of the best gaming laptops — as with buying just about any laptop — there's a lot more involved than finding the best deal and pulling the trigger. Laptop manufacturers can easily inflate hardware abilities with fancy speech, and it might not be until you get the laptop home and try to load up your favorite game that you find it lacks in certain vital areas. For example, no gaming laptop is going to deliver excellent battery life when you're actually using it for gaming.
The Razer Blade 15 is our top pick for a gaming laptop in 2021.
That's why we've put together this collection of laptops that range from the top of the high-end spectrum to options that are far more affordable and will still satisfy casual gamers. We've tested many of these laptops ourselves, and each one has a good blend of looks and performance that match up with the asking price. No matter what level you game at or how much you have to spend, you should be able to find something suitable in this collection. However, there is one gaming laptop that continues to impress us year after year.
The Razer Blade 15 is an impressive piece of engineering, and it's our top pick for a gaming laptop. There are plenty of configuration options for CPU, RAM, storage, and GPU, including the best graphics cards from NVIDIA. You're going to be able to enjoy any modern game with a smooth framerate, made better by multiple 15.6-inch display options ranging from FHD to QHD to 4K OLED.
Be sure to have a look at our collection of the overall best Windows laptop options for more great hardware.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Cale Hunt is a staff writer at Windows Central. He focuses mainly on PC, laptop, and accessory coverage, as well as the emerging world of VR. He is an avid PC gamer and multi-platform user and spends most of his time either tinkering with or writing about tech.
Daniel Rubino is the executive editor of Windows Central. He has been covering Microsoft since 2009 back when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Surface, HoloLens, Xbox, and future computing visions. Follow him on Twitter: @daniel_rubino.
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