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Best Gaming Laptop: Top 7 notebooks for gamers

Introduction

Finding the best gaming laptop for your needs is no easy task. They come in an absurd number of different designs these days, from dinky ultra-portable laptops, to monster machines that are so heavy they may as well be a desktop PC. 

That’s why we’ve decided to create this best gaming laptop round-up. Our team of experts have reviewed countless laptops from a variety of manufacturers over the past few years, including Alienware, Asus, Razer, MSI and more. And so we’ve cherry picked the best-in-class options and ranked them below. 

We know that one gaming laptop won’t meet every single person’s requirements, so we’ve made sure to include a variety of different options and cater to as many budgets as possible. 

We’ve developed a thorough and consistent testing process to use with every single gaming laptop. We’ll spend at least a week with each device to get a feel for the design and features, while also using a mixture of both synthetic and in-game benchmarks to see how the performance stacks up against rival systems. Right now, we’re using Horizon Zero Dawn, Dirt Rally and Borderlands 3 as our go-to gaming tests, although we’ll frequently update the testing software to keep up with the times. 

Of course, it’s not all about the performance. We also use colorimeters to test the laptops’ screens. If a display has poor contrast or a sub-par colour coverage, we’ll know about it. And let’s not forget battery life, as we have our own test for that too, using PCMark as well as our own observations. This is important as we know some buyers will want a machine they can use for lightweight gaming on the go, or in lectures as well as their bedroom.

And if you can’t see a gaming laptop you fancy right now, it may be worth bookmarking the page and returning later, as we’ll be updating this list frequently to make sure it has all of the latest and greatest options. 

Or if you can’t stomach the price of a gaming laptop and would like to go with something more affordable, check out our Best Laptop and Best Student Laptop lists instead. We’ve even got a Best Games Console list if you want a more affordable way to play games on the go.

How we test

Learn more about how we test gaming laptops

Every gaming laptop we review goes through a series of uniform checks designed to gauge key things including build quality, performance, screen quality and battery life. 

These include formal synthetic benchmarks and scripted tests, plus a series of real world checks, such as how well it runs when running a AAA game. 

We also make sure to use every gaming laptop we review as our primary gaming laptop for at least a week to ensure our review is as accurate as possible.

Razer Blade 14 (2021)

Best overall gaming laptop
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Pros

  • Slim, smart and robust 14in design
  • Powerful RTX 3070 graphics core
  • Superb AMD processor
  • High-quality 1440p display

Cons

  • Exterior sometimes gets hot
  • Expensive considering the components
  • No numberpad

The Razer Blade 14 is the best overall gaming laptop that we’ve reviewed. It strikes the perfect balance between performance and portability, with the 14-inch screen small enough for us to squeeze inside a rucksack and the 1.78kg heft light enough to take to work without causing us any back pains. We were also seriously impressed with the metal build, which feels classier than the vast majority of other gaming laptops we’ve reviewed. 

The Razer also excelled in our benchmark tests, with the Ryzen chip excelling at both gaming and content creation workloads, while the Nvidia GPU is powerful enough to play games in both Full HD and Quad HD resolutions. 

There aren’t any obvious flaws with the Razer Blade 14, as we found it to perform admirably in every department. The main sticking point is the price, as it’s very expensive. After testing the laptop, we reckon it’s worth the heavy investment, but you can find other superb gaming laptops that are more affordable, including the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14. The only real sacrifices between the two relate to build quality, with the Razer feeling significantly more robust.

And even if you want to stick with Razer, you’ve also got the options of the Razer Blade 15 and Razer Blade 17 laptops, with additional screen space and a higher performance ceiling. They’re both fantastic alternatives, but the Razer Blade 14 still remains our favourite choice since our tests found it to be easier to carry on the commute to work.

Reviewer: Mike Jennings
Full Review: Razer Blade 14 (2021) review

Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 (2021)

Best value gaming laptop
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Pros

  • Excellent CPU and GPU performance
  • Very portable design for a gaming laptop
  • Quad HD screen option now available
  • Great battery life compared to rivals

Cons

  • No webcam
  • Mediocre Quad HD performance
  • Lack of RGB keyboard lighting

Very little separated the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 and the Razer Blade 14 in our tests, but the latter just about edged it since it has more powerful components, and features a webcam and RGB lighting. 

Nevertheless, the ROG Zephyrus G14 is still a fantastic gaming laptop, especially since it’s available at a more affordable price. Our benchmark tests showed it to excel at Full HD gaming, and is even capable of pushing the resolution up to Quad HD if you’re happy to settle for ‘Medium’ graphics quality for the most demanding games. 

It has a starting weight of just 1.6kg, making it even more portable than the Razer Blade 14. We found this to be very beneficial when transporting the laptop around in a rucksack, which is an important consideration since our tests show this to be a great productivity machine for when you’re not gaming – the keyboard feels great to type on and our uniform battery tests saw it last 6 hours and 30 minutes when given office workloads. 

So while you can find more luxurious gaming laptops by spending more, we still think this is the best gaming laptop in terms of pound-for-pound value – just remember to buy an external webcam for Zoom meetings.

Reviewer: Ryan Jones
Full Review: Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 (2021) review

Gigabyte AORUS 17G (2021)

Best keyboard on a gaming laptop
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Pros

  • Excellent gaming performance
  • Mechanical keyboard feelsfantastic
  • Big and beautiful 17-inch screen

Cons

  • Too large and heavy to be a true portable
  • Webcam is located under the screen
  • Software isn’t as customisable as Razer Synapse

Most gaming laptops feature membrane keyboards, but we find these to have shallow keystrokes and poor tactile feedback. Our testing shows that’s fine for typing out essays, but it pales in comparison to the experience we’ve had with some of the best gaming keyboards with mechanical switches. 

Fortunately, there are a select few gaming laptops that feature mechanical keyboards, including the Gigabyte AORUS 17G. We were really impressed with the keyboard during testing, as we found the crunchy tactile feel to be incredibly helpful for letting the user know when a key has hit its actuation point.

The Gigabyte AORUS 17G is no one-trick pony either, as it posted impressive performance results in our benchmark test. The screen also excelled in our review process, with our colorimeter showing it to have above-average brightness and great colour accuracy. There’s also plenty of screen space thanks to the 17-inch panel, while we found the high 300Hz refresh rate to be great for multiplayer shooters where fast reactions are essential. 

There are a few other superb gaming laptops with mechanical keyboards, including the Asus ROG Strix Scar 15 (2021), so it’s worth looking around if that’s your priority. But after reviewing a number of gaming laptops, we’ve found that mechanical keyboards are generally only found on large and heavy laptops, and so aren’t very portable – so make sure you factor that into your final decision.

Reviewer: Ryan Jones
Full Review: Gigabyte AORUS 17G (2021) review

Asus ROG Flow X13

Best ultra-portable gaming laptop
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Pros

  • Superb, versatile design of laptop and dock
  • RTX 3080 delivers great gaming speed
  • GTX 1650 is a solid eSports chip
  • High-quality display

Cons

  • Laptop and dock design won’t suit everyone
  • Laptop is sometimes too hot
  • Middling battery life
  • Minimal laptop connectivity

One of the biggest issues we’ve found when reviewing the majority of gaming laptops is that they’re substantially larger and heavier than your average notebook. That isn’t the case with the Asus ROG Flow X13, which impressed us during testing thanks to its ultra-portable design, weighing a dainty 1.3kg.

Asus has been forced to make compromises to the power of the laptop to achieve such a portable design, although our benchmarks results showed it can still achieve 30fps and beyond for modern games at a 1080p resolution.

Fortunately, Asus also provides the option of an external RTX 3080, which plugs into both the laptop and a power source simultaneously to provide the GPU with a major performance boost. Our benchmark results saw the gaming performance climb above 90fps for the likes of Horizon Zero Dawn and Borderlands 2, which is remarkable. However, the ROG XG Mobile is extremely expensive and so won’t be worthwhile for everyone. 

Still, we really enjoyed using the Asus ROG Flow X13 (2021) without the external GPU, with the ultra-portable design allowing us to use it for both productivity and gaming workloads. Just be mindful that our benchmark results prove you can find more powerful portables elsewhere.

Reviewer: Mike Jennings
Full review: Asus ROG Flow X13 review

Alienware m17 R4

Best looking gaming laptop
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Pros

  • Brilliant gaming power
  • A fantastic 360Hz display
  • Impressive design and connectivity
  • A versatile, high-quality keyboard

Cons

  • AMD processors are faster
  • No real battery life
  • Very expensive

We genuinely think the Alienware x15 R4 is one of the best looking laptops we’ve ever reviewed, with a lovely silver lid, glow-up Alienware logo, honeycomb vents and per-key RGB LED keyboard backlighting. This all combines for a gaming laptop that we were proud to bring to the office without suffering judgemental looks. 

Our benchmark tests also showed it’s not just a good looker, as it can play games at high frame rates, which is very handy since it has a marvellously high 360Hz refresh rate. We found that having a high refresh rate makes a big difference for multiplayer matches, with more precise aiming so you can shoot down a fast moving target. 

The big sticking point for this laptop is that it’s very heavy at 2.34kg, which we found difficult to carry outside the front door on a regular basis. We found both the Razer Blade 14 and Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 to be better options if you want a laptop you can carry on the commute to work. 

But while the Alienware x15 R1 is a cumbersome portable, we still found it to be a great alternative to a desktop PC, especially if you want a bit of glam to jazz up your gaming desk.

Reviewer: Mike Jennings
Full review: Alienware m17 R4 review

Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 SE

Best dual-screen gaming laptop
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Pros

  • Incredible gaming speed
  • Powerful AMD processor
  • Superb screen quality
  • Second display is potentially useful

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Keyboard and trackpad are cramped
  • GPU can’t always handle 4K gaming
  • Underwhelming battery life

The Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 SE stands out as a unique laptop on this list, as it has not just one, but two screens. We found the second screen to be useful for multitasking, whether that’s using Discord, Spotify or Skype while you game. It’s particularly useful for Twitch streamers, as we were able to make sure the broadcast remained in tip-top shape while also focusing on gunning down enemies. 

There are compromises to having two screens, as Asus has pushed the keyboard down to the bottom of the deck, while also cramming the trackpad into the bottom-right corner. We found this results in an awkward typing experience that cramps your fingers after writing up long essays, but such a compromise may well be worth it if you’ll get a lot of use out of a second screen, 

The Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 SE also scored fantastic results in benchmark tests, seeing over 90fps for modern games in 1080p and also being able to handle 4K resolutions. We also found the AMD processor to excel at content creation, once again reinforcing the idea that this is one of the best gaming laptop options for video game streamers. 

With an eye-watering price, you’ll really have to make the most out of the dual-screen design to make the most out of the Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 SE. But if you fancy the idea of scrolling through social media while playing the likes of Elden Ring, then this is the laptop for you.

Reviewer: Mike Jennings
Full Review: Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 SE (GX551) review

Asus ROG Flow Z13

Best 2-in-1 gaming laptop 
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Pros

  • Extremely portable with hybrid design
  • Great performance for casual gaming
  • Superb screen quality
  • Option to boost performance with eGPU

Cons

  • Poor battery life undermines portability
  • Optional eGPU is very expensive
  • Type cover is a poor gaming keyboard replacement

If you were considering purchasing both a tablet and a gaming laptop, why not merge them together into a single device with the Asus ROG Flow Z13? We found it extremely useful to have a device that fulfils both needs, whether that was playing games on a lunch break or using the tablet to make tweaks to our fantasy football team. 

During testing, we really enjoyed propping it up like a Nintendo Switch in tabletop mode, and using an Xbox controller to play games such as Tunic. At just 1.18kg, it’s the most portable gaming laptop on this list, although it’s important to remember it uses a detachable type cover rather than a proper keyboard. We found this uncomfortable to type on for long periods of time and isn’t ideal for gaming, but it’s still adequate for jotting down notes and browsing the web. 

Of course, since this laptop/tablet hybrid is so portable, it’s not packing the fastest GPU. Our benchmark results showed it was only really capable of playing modern games at 30fps at a 1080p resolution, although that’s perfectly fine for casual players. Just like the Asus ROG Flow X13, you can also boost the performance drastically by buying the ROG XG Mobile accessory, but that will drive up the total cost significantly. 

Still, the Asus ROG Flow Z13 is an excellent gaming laptop with a very unique design. Its poor battery life does admittedly undermine its ultra-portable design, but we still found it useful for quickfire gaming sessions on the go.

Reviewer: Ryan Jones
Full Review: Asus ROG Flow Z13 review

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FAQs

What is a gaming laptop?

A gaming laptop is a portable computer that has been purposefully designed for gaming workloads. This means it should feature a discrete graphics card from either AMD or Nvidia, enabling it to run AAA games with a smooth performance. Gaming laptops are also likely to have RGB lighting on the keyboard, and more overt design choices than conventional notebooks.

What is a good refresh rate on a gaming laptop?

A high refresh rate will ensure your display can keep up with the number of frames generated per second by the GPU. It’s generally recommended to opt for at least a 144Hz refresh rate on a gaming laptop. You’ll probably only need a faster display if you’re sticking to a Full HD resolution and want to play competitive online games such as Apex Legends and Fortnite, which aren’t very taxing on your laptop’s graphics card.

What is ray tracing?

Ray tracing is an advanced graphics technology that can render realistic lighting and shadow effects. Nvidia’s RTX GPUs are currently required for ray tracing in a gaming laptop, but AMD is expected to launch its own mobile GPU rivals.

What is DLSS?

DLSS is a smart feature from Nvidia that can boost the frame rate performance of a game. This is done by rendering a game at a lower resolution, but using upscaling technology so there isn’t a noticeable negative impact to the image quality. AMD is currently working on its own solution to DLSS, but only Nvidia RTX GPUs currently support the technology.

Comparison Specifications

UK RRP
USA RRP
EU RRP
AUD RRP
CPU
Manufacturer
Screen Size
Storage Capacity
Front Camera
Battery
Battery Hours
Size (Dimensions)
Weight
ASIN
Operating System
Release Date
First Reviewed Date
Model Number
Model Variants
Resolution
Refresh Rate
Ports
Audio (Power output)
GPU
RAM
Connectivity
Colours
Display Technology
Screen Technology
Touch Screen
Convertible?

Trusted Reviews Benchmarks

PCMark 10
Geekbench 5 single core
Geekbench 5 multi core
3DMark Time Spy
CrystalDiskMark Read speed
CrystalMarkDisk Write Speed
Brightness
Black level
Contrast
White Visual Colour Temperature
sRGB
Adobe RGB
DCI-P3
PCMark Battery (office)
PCMark Battery (gaming)
Battery Life
Borderlands 3 frame rate (4K)
Borderlands 3 frame rate (Quad HD)
Borderlands 3 frame rate (Full HD)
Horizon Zero Dawn frame rate (4K)
Horizon Zero Dawn frame rate (Quad HD)
Horizon Zero Dawn frame rate (Full HD)
Dirt Rally (Quad HD)
Dirt Rally (Full HD)

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