Best Gaming Laptops Windows Central 2021
The Razer Blade 15 Advanced has the right combination of power, style, and display to make it our top pick over an impressive range of gaming laptops on the market today. If the Blade isn't quite what you're looking for, there are plenty of other options available that should suit your needs.
- Best Overall: Razer Blade 15 Advanced
- Best Value: Acer Nitro 5
- Aggressive style: Alienware m15
- Best Versatility: MSI PS63 Modern
- Unique Touchpad: ASUS ROG Zephyrus S GX701
- Thin Performance: Acer Predator Triton 500
Best Overall: Razer Blade 15 Advanced
With up to a NVIDIA RTX 2080 Max-Q graphics card (GPU), 15.6-inch FHD display with 240Hz refresh rate, 9th Gen Intel Core i7-9750H processor (CPU), 16GB of dual-channel DDR4 RAM, and a 512GB PCIe solid-state drive (SSD), you won't have any issues getting a fantastic gaming experience from the Razer Blade 15 Advanced. It might run hot, but that's expected from something this thin (0.70 inches!) with this much power.
There are likewise 4K touch display options — you can go with OLED for a stunning picture — with a 60Hz refresh rate if you'd like a higher resolution, and no matter what you choose, you get the same attractive slim bezel and perfect colour reproduction. The RGB keyboard doesn't have great key travel, but it can be customized for extra style. And the laptop has an enormous Precision touchpad for use when you don't have an external gaming mouse connected.
Ports include Mini DisplayPort 1.4, HDMI 2.0, Thunderbolt 3, and three USB-A 3.2, allowing you to quickly hook up an external display and a few other accessories if you'd like to use the Blade 15 Advanced as the centrepiece to a gaming battle station.
- Gorgeous 4K and FHD display options
- Insane gaming performance
- Slim, premium build
- Decent port selection
- Enormous Precision touchpad
- Very expensive
- Keyboard is lacklustre
The ultimate gaming Ultrabook
If you're looking for the best combination of style, design, and performance, the Razer Blade 15 Advanced is your best bet.
Best Value: Acer Nitro 5
Gaming laptops get expensive fast, but Acer's Nitro 5 manages to remain well within the budget range while still offering an FHD gaming experience. The black plastic chassis has some red accents and a red backlight for the keyboard. While it's relatively heavy at about 5.51 pounds (2.5kg), it feels sturdy and has a decent port selection, including two USB-A 2.0, USB-A 3.0, USB-C 3.1, HDMI 2.0, RJ45 Ethernet, an SD card reader, and a 3.5mm audio jack.
This is a laptop cut out for 1080p gaming thanks to an AMD Ryzen 5 2500U CPU, 8GB of DDR4 RAM, and AMD Radeon RX 560X GPU with 4GB of GDDR5 VRAM. The 15.6-inch display does not hit the 144Hz refresh rate like many other gaming laptops, but its hardware is better suited for a smooth 60Hz.
The bottom of the laptop includes two easy-access panels for DIY RAM and HDD upgrades, allowing you to keep the laptop relevant longer and allowing you to swap out the slow storage that comes stock with the laptop.
- Affordable price
- Easy-access RAM and storage upgrades
- Generous port selection
- Performance for 1080p gaming
- Slow HDD
- Maximum 60Hz refresh rate
Some flaws but a great price
If you're a casual PC gamer who wants to stay mobile, the Acer Nitro 5 is a cheap way to get your hands on 1080p performance.
Aggressive style: Alienware m15
Dell's refreshed Alienware m15 comes at you with a bold, mature new look that's undeniably aggressive, and it can be had in either Dark Side of the Moon or Lunar Light colours for the magnesium alloy body. The chassis measures 0.77 inches at its thinnest point, and it's stocked with ports, including RJ45 Ethernet, three USB-A 3.1, Thunderbolt 3, HDMI 2.0, Mini DisplayPort, Alienware Graphics Amplifier port, and 3.5mm audio.
They 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. There are multiple 15.6-inch displays to choose from, including FHD with perfect sRGB colour and 240Hz refresh rate or 4K OLED with 1ms response time and 60Hz refresh rate.
Add up to an NVIDIA RTX 2080 Max-Q GPU, 9th Gen Intel Core i9-9980HK CPU, 16GB of DDR4 RAM, and 4TB of M.2 PCIe SSD storage space for outstanding performance. If you love what Alienware is up to with its gaming lineup, the m15 is sure to be a winner.
- 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
The Alienware m15 has an aggressive style many people will love, and it has hardware and display options sure to please gamers.
Best Versatility: MSI PS63 Modern
The other laptops in this list have a solid focus on gaming, but some people require a laptop that can fill multiple roles and look good doing it. MSI's PS63 Modern is exactly this laptop. It has up to an NVIDIA GTX 1050 Ti GPU and Intel Core i7-8565U CPU for solid 1080p gaming performance, and the 82Wh battery pushes more than 10 hours of life for regular productivity tasks.
The 15.6-inch FHD display has precise sRGB colour accuracy to make your games look great, and the bezel is ultrathin to go along with the rest of the lightweight chassis. The keyboard, while not having flashy RGB lighting or mechanical keys, is comfortable for long periods of use.
There are plenty of ports for connecting peripherals, including two USB-A 3.1 (Gen 2), two USB-A 3.1 (Gen 1), USB-C 3.1, HDMI, a microSD card reader, and a 3.5mm audio jack. This laptop won't compete performance-wise with the beefier options with RTX graphics and 45-watt CPUs. But it's capable of offering a solid gaming experience along with having the design and features to be your daily driver for work or casual use.
- Excellent FHD display
- Light and thin
- Performance for gaming and productivity
- Outstanding battery life
- Great keyboard and Precision touchpad
- No Thunderbolt 3
- Not as powerful as other options
Combination of power and battery life
MSI created a laptop for creatives and gamers that brings a dedicated GPU and a power-efficient processor into one laptop with a substantial battery.
Unique Touchpad: ASUS ROG Zephyrus S GX701
Unlike the other laptops in this list, the ASUS ROG Zephyrus S GX701 places its touchpad to the right of the RGB keyboard, with the entire combo moved down to run along the bottom edge. This leaves the upper portion of the deck free to house up to an NVIDIA RTX 2080 GPU and cooling system that delivers unreal gaming performance. The touchpad has an alternate mode that turns it into a number pad, just in case you're looking to do some accounting between gaming sessions.
The 17.3-inch FHD display hits a 144Hz refresh rate and 3ms response time for smooth visuals, and there's hardly any bezel to get in the way. Along with powerful GPU options, the Zephyrus S includes up to a 9th Gen Intel Core i7-9750H CPU, up to 32GB of DDR4 RAM, and up to a 1TB PCIe SSD. All this delivers all-around power no matter what game you want to tackle.
This laptop is just 0.74 inches thick, yet it keeps a decent range of ports, including two USB-C 3.1, three USB-A 3.0, and HDMI. There's no Ethernet port, but that can be alleviated with a proper USB-C adapter.
- Powerful configuration options
- Touchpad doubles as Numpad
- Thin bezel around 144Hz display
- Just 0.74 inches thick
- Decent port selection
- Short battery life
- No Ethernet
Power and unique design
With up to an NVIDIA RTX 2080 GPU and 9th Gen Intel Core i7-9750H, the ASUS ROG Zephyrus S brings power and a unique keyboard and touchpad setup.
Thin Performance: Acer Predator Triton 500
Acer's Predator Triton 500 contains inside its 0.7-inch chassis an NVIDIA RTX 2060 GPU, 9th Gen Intel Core i7-9750H CPU, 16GB of DDR4 RAM, and a 512GB PCIe SSD. That's quite impressive, and it's enough power to keep you from running into any issues when playing modern games on high settings. Battery life is understandably not great considering all the hardware on offer, but that's the performance tradeoff.
The 15.6-inch display has a 1920x1080 resolution, 144Hz refresh rate, 3ms response time, and G-Sync compatibility for a smooth, tear-free experience. There's hardly any bezel around the screen which only adds to the thin look. The RGB keyboard and touchpad are both comfortable to use, and there are plenty of ports for hooking up external accessories, including Thunderbolt 3, three USB-A 3.1, Mini DisplayPort, HDMI, and Ethernet.
- Outstanding performance for the price
- G-Sync display with 144Hz refresh rate
- Thin, premium design
- RGB keyboard
- Tons of ports
- Battery life could be better
Lean machine with superb power
Acer's Predator lineup is undeniably thin and powerful, with an NVIDIA RTX 2060 GPU and 9th Gen Intel Core i7 CPU.
The Razer Blade 15 Advanced 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, with up to an NVIDIA RTX 2080 Max-Q for extreme performance. 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 with a 144Hz refresh rate to 4K OLED for a stunning picture.
Generous port selection, including Mini DisplayPort 1.4, HDMI 2.0, Thunderbolt 3, and three USB-A 3.2, allow you to connect external monitors and accessories, and the 80Wh battery gives you hours of playtime before needing to plug it in.
The keyboard holds it just short of being perfect. If you love something with plenty of key travel, you might want to opt for one of the other options in the roundup. However, the rest of the laptop is virtually perfect, and you're going to love what it can do for you.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Kennedy Maring is a freelancer who loves playing games and telling you about ways to cut out cable. Although she is a nerd through and through, she is looking to complete her cosmetology certificate in the next year.
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.
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