Getting the best laptop for gaming is quite fascinating, with the idea that you wouldn’t have to sacrifice performance before you can play any of the best PC games that comes your way.
So, when finding the best gaming laptop, what are the specs and features you should consider? It really boils down to your budget and how far you stretch it. To get a laptop with awesome gaming performance, you want something with a minimum of RTX 2070 or 2060 graphics card, but you might still be able to get one or two laptops with higher-end GTX graphics cards at a cheaper cost.
Just remember that if you feel concerned or interested in ray tracing, you might want to protect your buy from becoming obsolete for a few years to come by investing in a laptop with an RTX graphics card. But if you don’t want to stretch your budget above $1000, we’ve got some nice laptops with GTX 1660 Ti graphics cards for you.
If you have a limited budget you can take a look at our list of best gaming laptops under $1500.
We recommend an i7 processor and an IPS display at 120Hz for the display. We also recommend at least a 256GB SSD and 16GB of RAM if you are more cost conscience as those specs are the areas where cheaper laptops tend to cut corners.
Every other area is up to you. People who travel frequently or are always on the go will require something with excellent battery life. People who plan on editing or watching a lot of videos should go for something with an OLED screen as it is more suitable for that. On gaming laptops, a very nice inbuilt webcam for video calls is not really a necessity.
At the end of it all, consider all the features that are important to you and begin your search from there. Either way, our list of the best gaming laptops is loaded with all kinds of killer laptops that will surely meet your needs.
The best gaming laptops in 2021
1. Razer Blade 15 (Advanced Model) – the overall best gaming laptop
There has not been much improvement since last year when the first-ever Razer 15 arrived in the market. Its refreshed version called the “Advanced Model” features the same CNC-milled aluminum framework just like its forerunner, only that it comes with the RTX GPUs, which is the newest graphics card from Nvidia.
This RTX 2080 graphics card can run the ray-traced Metro Exodus with the highest visual settings at over 50fps. During our test, it impressed us with a remarkable battery life of 5 hours and 1 minute in spite of its power-hungry guts. While this laptop is no longer the lightest or the thinnest in its category, it is the best gaming laptop with the longest battery life that we have ever seen to date. It is also one of the most expensive laptops out there.
You will agree that this is because this gaming laptop does not only aim to replace your desktop but also aim to take the place of your current laptop. After all, the closest trackpad on a Windows notebook to what you’ll find on a MacBook is its touchpad. The laptop feels like a dream in just about every way, thanks to the engineering talent of its producers – the Californian hardware company that gave it all that it needs to become the best gaming laptop available on the market today.
However, we cannot say whether other manufacturing companies will follow suit and take inspiration from this stunning machine. The Razer Blade 15 now makes a lot of sense with its availability in many different flavors – something that is very bad for its competitors. You can choose the RTX 2080 configuration for a 4k OLED display. You can also select one of the FHD 144Hz models with much higher volume to avoid playing at 1440p, thus hindering its true gaming potential.
The fact is that the advanced model of the Razer Blade 15 is the best gaming laptop you can find on the market today, and until another product rise to this occasion to challenge its achievement, it will remain on top of the list.
- Wide range of GPU and CPU options
- Unmatched build quality
- High priced
- No longer the lightest or slimmest
2. MSI GS65 Stealth Thin – last year’s champion is still rocking
Last year, the GS65 Stealth from MSI stood out as the best gaming laptop from numerous brands and models we tested. This fantastic laptop packs a punch in terms of design, specs, and versatility. It is incredibly light and easy to carry and comes with a sleek and sturdy aluminum chassis with gold accents.
Apart from its slim body, its thin 4.9mm screen bezel allows for a general framework size that is smaller than most 15-inch laptops with about an inch, while packing the same screen size.
Although the laptop won’t do raytracing, its features and specs are enough to play most contemporary games in 2021. However, it is difficult to find the 1070 model, which is arguably the best, unless you’re looking for a mind-bending 1TB SSD and 32GB of RAM. You can still find the 1060 build with a 256 GB SSD and 16GB of RAM, which is a lot cheaper but shaves off performance a little.
The newer 2070 versions are also available, but they did not impress us as much during the test and are also on the high side of the price. Other nice features on this laptop that makes it a great and powerful machine are a responsive touchpad, a responsive and solid keyboard (with RGB lit) and a webcam placed above the display, that carefully avoid the awful and unattractive nose cam that comes with most laptops with a thin bezel as this. G-Sync is the only missing gaming feature here, but this allows for longer battery life and a lower price.
- 144Hz screen
- Impressive battery life
- Sleek and powerful
- No G-sync
3. Acer Predator Helios 300 – the best budget gaming laptop
If you want to buy a gaming powerhouse, but you’re on a tight budget, then the Acer Predator Helios 300 is a great choice. The laptop comes with a GTX 1660 6GB GPU from Nvidia that can run almost any 60fps game at max settings. The laptop also features a 144Hz IPS screen, 5.1 lbs, and smaller bezels which makes it lighter, sleeker and thinner than its brethren from the previous generation.
The RAM speed of this new and improved gaming laptop has been increased to 2666MHz, which is also very impressive. The only downside we can see here is its diminutive 256GB SSD. However, there are larger storage options (all in SSD form) that you can choose from if you’re looking for something with larger storage space.
- Excellent battery life
- Powerful graphics card
- Incredible value
- Diminutive storage
4. Lenovo legion Y740 – An excellent 17.3-inch laptop with RTX capability
The Legion branded laptops from Lenovo have made for themselves a name in the gaming industry with their extraordinary value on excellent specs. Instead of making jacks of all trades, master of none machines, their manufacturing company aims to produce laptops with the cheapest possible material and squeeze out the highest performance without compromising on design and quality.
The 17.3-inch Legion Y740 features powerful graphic cards from Nvidia that ranges from GeForce RTX 2060 to 2080 and are cheaper than its major competitors. The laptop is thinner than its brethren from the previous generation, and its screen features the technology that is rarely seen elsewhere. With its G-Sync, the software-based adaptive sync protocols like the Vsync that reeks infamously of micro stuttering and input lag is eliminated.
The Y740 comes with Atmos – an outstanding Dolby technology that emits crisp highs as well as valuing bass tones and midrange in the right proportion by fine-tuning the onboard soundbar. Integrated with the laptop’s Windows 10 Home install, the Atmos technology from Dolby allow users to customize their EQ profiles, thereby making up for the speakers’ down-firing orientation.
If your endgame is real-time ray tracing, the Legion Y740 won’t let you down. In fact, it managed a remarkable average of 46fps in the benchmark of Metro Exodus RTX, where most of the in-game graphics settings are on the high side. Turn on raytracing and reduce your graphics settings a bit, and you’ll have a buttery smooth 60fps at a cost that is about 30% lesser than its high-end rivals with the same specs.
- The touchpad is small
- The outward design could be better
5. Acer Predator Triton 500 – portable gaming laptop with real-time ray tracing
Not everyone wants the most powerful or the thinnest gaming laptop. Sometimes, still-powerful and still-thin laptops are just okay. The Acer Predator Triton 500 strikes a healthy balance between price, portability, and performance. The model we tested comes with an RTX 2080, and it is priced at $2,499, but you can still find one with an RTX 2060 for something around $1,799.
The laptop is worth the hype, seeing that it can manage an incredible average of 56fps in Metro Exodus RTX benchmark at the highest graphic settings when ray tracing is on. You will also enjoy the luxury of its satisfying Microsoft precision touchpad and its 1.7mm keyboard travel. Despite its horrible boot-up noise, this gaming laptop is one for the books.
- Excellent performance
- Approachable price range
- Horrible boot-up noise
- The battery life is not impressive
6. MSI GL63 8RC – the best gaming laptop for beginners
This laptop has to be our best ultra-budget gaming machine. The laptop features Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 graphics card, 8GB of DDR4 RAM, Intel Core i5-8300H processor, and one of the thinnest bezels within its price range. Its only noticeable weakness is the lack of an SSD storage. It features a 1TB HDD so, you may have to upgrade its storage rather quickly.
With its reasonable price tag and the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 GPU, this is one of the most affordable gaming laptops you can find on the market today. Although the MSI GL63 8RC is a little bit costlier than the Acer Aspire E 15, it offers a better graphics performance and up to 67% higher gaming performance. So, if you have a very tight budget, the GL63 is a great choice.
- RAM and storage are easy to upgrade
- Thin bezels
- No SSD included
7. Gigabyte Aero 15X v8 – high performance with impressive battery life
This laptop was the first thin gaming machine to catch our attention. The laptop fixes most of the issues we found in its predecessor while maintaining the good features that we love about it. The screen has been upgraded to a fast 144Hz panel, and the driver update now makes the keyboard more responsive.
When compared with the Razer Blade 15 and MSI GS65, the Aero 15X’s body is less attractive with sharp edges, but it wins in terms of productivity due to its bigger 94Whr battery. During our video test, it lasts for about 6 hours more than the GS65’s four and a half but has almost the same internals and gaming performance as the GS65. Apart from the battery and body design, their biggest difference is that you can outfit the Aero 15X with a 4K screen.
If gaming is your main concern, I recommend sticking with its 1080p screen at a high refresh rate. However, for productivity power users who want something with extra pixels, 4K screen is a good option.
- Impressive battery life
- Powerful performance
- Stunning screen
- Has some driver issues
- Rough edges
8. MSI GS75 Stealth – best high-end gaming laptop
With its superior design – obviously inspired by its predecessor – the GS65 Stealth Thin 15-inch, the MSI GS65 Stealth is a perfectly good and handsome 17.3-inch laptop on the outside, aside from its touchpad woes and susceptibility to paint chipping. No matter the configuration you buy, the laptop comes in an aluminum alloy chassis with Core i7-8750H CPU paired with GeForce RTX GPU, which spans almost Nvidia’s whole line of products capable of ray tracing.
Every version of this gaming laptop sits on the high side of the price; this makes the GS75 unsuitable for budget-minded gamers. We reviewed the most expensive model, which comes with 32GB of RAM, 512GB SSD, and RTX 2080. At the highest graphic setting, it ran the Shadow of the Tomb Raider at 87fps in 1080p, thereby decimating the competition.
- Powerful RTX graphics
- Sleek looks
- The touchpad is not so comfortable
- Susceptible to paint chipping
9. Asus ROG Strix GL503VS-DH74 Scar Edition – better performance with a bigger body
Under normal conditions, choosing a gaming laptop means picking two between portability, performance, and price. Where light and thin laptops like the MSI GS65 offer the first two of the three options, the GL503VS-DH74 Scar Edition from Asus checks the last two boxes instead: performance and price.
The laptop comes with a non-Max-Q Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 graphics card that results in a 15% improvement in performance at a slightly lower cost. The laptop offers 144Hz panel with G-Sync, but its lower cost means that you’ll miss out on the Optimus battery tech from Nvidia. With that, you’ll have at least a battery life of two hours so, you should not forget to carry your charger along with you.
- Great SSD
- Powerful GTX 1070 GPU
- Poor battery life
10. Asus ROG Zephyrus GA502 – an excellent budget gaming laptop
The Asus ROG Zephyrus GA502 is a nice entry-to-mid-level gaming laptop that proves that you don’t really have to hemorrhage your bank to get a gaming laptop with a great performance. The laptop has a sleek, attractive and slim design that is not by any means unusual, which means it can function as your day to day machine without raising many eyebrows.
The laptop packs a GTX 1660Ti graphics card from Nvidia with an AMD Ryzen 7 processor, two 512GB SSDs and 16GB of RAM. While these specs are obviously not that of a powerhouse, we already know that the GA502 is in the entry or mid-level zone of the pack. The laptop offers a great PC gaming experience even in more demanding new games like the Shadow of the Tomb Raider and The Division 2. Plus, the fact that the high graphic settings from a few years ago are equivalent to the medium graphic settings in recent games that are still appealing to the eye and is really not a bad compromise.
This laptop would have been a truly amazing machine if not for a few downsides that hold it back. However, you should still remember its place in the market as an entry to mid-level gaming machine, as well as its price tag and build quality. The laptop’s fans are noisy, the touchpad does not offer the best performance, and the 15.6-inch 120Hz Full HD screen is a bit dull. But, generally, the laptop can run any game you want it to and deliver a great gaming experience without breaking the bank if you reduce the settings a little.
- Great build and design
- The set of components used are well-considered
- Great value
- No inbuilt webcam
- Noisy fans
- Dull screen with suboptimal touchpad
How we selected and tested our best gaming laptops
What makes a gaming laptop better than the rest in the eyes of a PC gamer? Is it the lightness of the laptop that allows for portability between Local Area Network parties? Or the sophisticated hardware that allows for the fastest frame rates?
Definitely, laptop connectivity matters. With direct-attached storage, gaming peripherals, and external displays you can forget that you are playing your games with a notebook. Or perhaps what matters most is the laptop’s value.
We are all willing to sacrifice the quality of the graphics for a low-enough price, right? Of course not, that is why the best products pack a lot of processing muscle as much as they can, even when budget is tight. Overall, laptops that pack desktop-class components in their mobile chassis are high performing machines.
We selected several laptops with the specs we mentioned at the beginning of this post and ran the following tests to gauge their productivity and performance to select the best gaming laptops:
- PCMark 10 Express
- 3DMark Fire Strike
- CrystalDisk QD32 Read and Write
- Cinebench 15
We made use of the inbuilt benchmarks on Metro Exodus, Total War Warhammer 2, and Division 2 for gaming. We performed our tests at 1080p using the maximum graphic settings available and disabled the G-Sync and V-Sync unless the laptop we’re testing has a higher screen resolution and the hardware that supports playing of games at higher resolutions.
In such cases, we tested at 4K, and QHD, or QHD, and FHD. We ran all the tests several times to eliminate erroneous/outliers result and to avoid thermal throttling. We used the lower (throttled) scores wherever the scores drop on the subsequent tests that we carried out.
Above are the best gaming laptops in 2021 that we have carefully tested and selected to help narrow down your search and help you parse through the crowded marketplace.
All the laptops on our list do not only have mouth-watering specs, but they also score high marks during our test. That means you can choose any of the laptops on this list with the full confidence that you’re buying a killer gaming machine that not only run the most recent games but also last you for years to come.