The best gaming laptops can give you an excellent gaming experience with the best PC games on the road or just from your couch, making them some of the most sought after Black Friday deals year after year – not to mention all the typical Cyber Monday sales we usually see on tech products.
Just because a gaming laptop has all the latest and best hardware like RTX 3080 mobile GPUs, large displays with blazing fast refresh rates, and more doesn’t automatically push aside some of the more lower-specced options though.
Some of the best gaming laptops aren’t the most flashy, but they still offer a great value with solid performance at an unbeatable price. There are also some fantastic slimmer gaming laptops out there that can easily fit in the some of the best backpacks out there without trouble, letting you game away from home while keeping things fashionable – something that their beefier, bigger competitors certainly struggle with.
So no matter your need or budget, you definitely have options when it comes to the best gaming laptops, but it can be tough to sort through all the available options to find the really quality products that will let you game on the go for years to come.
Fortunately, we’re hear to help you sort the good from the bad so that you can find the best gaming laptop for your need and budget.
How to choose the best gaming laptop for you?
Choosing the best gaming laptop is easy when you’ve got deep pockets or have a couple of thousand dollars to spare. It’s when your budget is more limited that getting a great gaming laptop becomes trickier.
Lucky for us, we’re getting plenty of more affordably-priced CPUs and GPUs that don’t compromise on power. The latest internals like the Intel Comet Lake, AMD Big Navi and the Nvidia RTX 3000 series are more capable yet also cheaper than ever. That means that gaming notebooks under $1000 can be just as capable as any gaming PC while keeping things portable and space-saving like the best Ultrabooks.
Still, some components are more powerful or cheaper than others. While it’s no longer a hard and fast rule, AMD’s offerings are generally more affordable, which means that AMD Ryzen-powered laptops tend to be slightly cheaper.
In terms of graphics cards, Nvidia is still king when it comes to performance, although which RTX card you should go for depends on the type of gaming experience you want. The RTX 3060, for example, is a terrific mid-range contender with lots of power for 1080p gaming. However, if you want that 4K goodness, an RTX 3070 or higher is the way to go.
Consider the RAM as well. There are many gaming laptops that start you off with an 8GB DDR4 memory, which is the minimum these days. However, if you play a lot of demanding AAA titles, at least 16GB is recommended for the smoothest experience.
Other things to look at are the amount of storage, type of display, and type and variety of ports. Take a look at the battery life as well, especially if you plan on gaming on the go. Know that just because something is premium doesn’t automatically mean it’ll deliver a long battery life – the Alienware laptops are a cautionary tale. And, of course, since you do have to like how your gaming notebook looks, think about the design and whether or not you want RGB lighting.
Whichever one you pick however, we guarantee one of our picks below will let you dive into your favorite games, from the free PC games, free Steam games, and even the best cheap PC games to the best laptop games and the best PC games – all without tethering you to a desk.
Best gaming laptops 2021
Our favorite Asus ROG Zephyrus G15 config:
The Asus ROG Zephyrus line has produced some of the best gaming laptops out there, and the new ROG Zephyrus G15 is no exception. Fitted with the latest and most powerful AMD Ryzen and Nvidia RTX 3000 series, they’re incredibly powerful and able to see you through the most demanding games. Of course, that legendary battery life has made an appearance, as well as that stylish chassis. If you want a high performing gaming laptop that’s affordably-priced to boot, nothing beats this one.
Read the full review: Asus ROG Zephyrus G15
Our favorite Asus TUF Dash F15 config:
The Asus TUF line is no stranger to affordable great performers. Last year’s Asus TUF A15, for instance, was simply brilliant while keeping things accessible to budget-conscious gamers. The Asus TUF Dash F15 is back to preserve that affordability while also delivering brute strength. It brings in Intel Tiger Lake processors, Nvidia GeForce RTX 3000 mobile GPUs, and up to a 240Hz 1080p display without costing a fortune while also keeping things light, thin, and military-grade durable.
Read the full review: Asus TUF Dash F15
Our favorite Gigabyte Aorus 17G config:
A tactile mechanical keyboard and a 300Hz refresh rate display are just the beginning. The Gigabyte Aorus 17G (2021) touts an incredible gaming performance that might just be worthy of desktop gaming PCs. With one of the RTX 3000 GPUs under the hood, this will see you through the most graphics-intensive games, including competitive ones. And, because of its impressive battery life, you can do so away from a power source.
Read the full review: Gigabyte Aorus 17G (2021)
Our favorite Lenovo Legion 7 (Gen 6) config:
A fantastic laptop that delivered astounding performance across the board, the Lenovo Legion 7 (Gen 6) has proven itself already worth its steep price tag – even if it’s not exactly something most people can afford. This is a pricey behemoth with only about three hours of battery life, but if you’re ok with something you wouldn’t want to travel with, this is a winner. Apart from its unrivalled gaming performance, you’re also getting a bunch of RGB lighting options and a bunch of ports – three USBs, three USB-C, an HDMI 2.1 and two DisplayPort 1.4 ports – so you’ll never need a separate hub for your peripherals.
Read the full review: Lenovo Legion 7 (Gen 6)
Our favorite Alienware m17 R4 config:
It’s not always going to be substance over style. The Alienware m17 series continues to prove this with the new Alienware m17 R4, an extremely powerful gaming laptop with plenty of ports and an extremely stylish chassis that lights up like a Christmas tree. That way, you can play all the latest AAA games smoothing and in style. Of course, this being one of the fastest gaming laptops in 2021, it won’t be cheap. However, if you have the money, you’ll be glad you chose this.
Read the full review: Alienware m17 R4 (2021)
Our favorite Asus ROG Strix G15 Advantage Edition config
Powerful great-value laptops aren’t exactly a dime a dozen, so when one does come out every now and then, we’re only too happy to test it out. The Asus ROG Strix G15 AMD Advantage Edition, one of the latest best value laptops to hit the streets, is AMD’s successful swing at the high-end, boasting AMD’s top processor and GPU. But, it isn’t just its performance that takes center stage here. That battery life is astounding as well, especially considering those powerful specs.
Read the full review: Asus ROG Strix G15 AMD Advantage Edition
Our favorite Razer Blade Pro 17 config
The 2021 follow-up to the Razer Blade 15 line doesn’t fall far from the tree. It’s just as gorgeous and glamorous as ever, wearing its luxurious, thin and light design like its reputation depends on it. But, it isn’t just a beautiful piece of kit; it’s a powerful one too. Its 11th-gen chips and Series 3000 GPUs ensure that it delivers an excellent performance worthy of gamers. Razer then rounds it all out with a comfortable keyboard and among the best trackpad in a Windows laptop. If you’re looking for a gaming laptop that’s just as powerful as it is beautiful, this one’s a win.
Read the full review: Razer Blade 15 (2021)
Our favorite Asus ROG Strix SCAR 17 G733 config
One of the most powerful gaming laptops that money can buy in 2021, the Asus ROG Strix SCAR 17 G733 barely breaks a sweat. That excellent performance is due to the impressive specs it’s kitted out with, which also sadly put out of most people’s reach, price-wise. If you can afford it, however, there are a few other things you’ll love about it, including that unapologetic design that lights up like Christmas due to its resplendent RGB lighting and that optical mechanical keyboard that’s simply one of the best we’ve experienced on a laptop. This is among the best of the best out there, and a worthy consideration if you’re not limited by your budget.
Read the full review: Asus ROG Strix SCAR 17 G733
Our favorite Lenovo Legion 5 Pro config
Hands down one of the best gaming laptops we’ve tested, the Lenovo Legion 5 Pro comes with all the makings of a nearly perfect portable for gaming. Its incredible performance is matched only by that gorgeous QHD IPS screen with up to 500 nits of brightness, Dolby Vision, and up to a 165Hz refresh rate. It also boasts excellent hardware controls, admirable battery life, and a full-sized keyboard. Budget-minded gamers will also appreciate the fact that while it’s among the best in its class, it’s also reasonably priced, making it a better value than its peers.
Read the full review: Lenovo Legion 5 Pro
Our favorite Razer Blade 14 config
A luxurious portable option comes in the form of a Razer, naturally. The manufacturer’s latest gaming laptop release, the Razer Blade 14, comes with lots of power with a Ryzen 9 from the 5000 series as well as the most powerful Nvidia 3000 graphics. That means you can pretty much play the latest AAA game on it without lugging around a heavy device around with you. At 0.66 inches thick and just under 4lb, that thin and light chassis is definitely a boon to gamers who often travel. Luckily, it also boasts a luxe design so you won’t hesitate to pull it out at a cafe or on a train. Of course, things are still solid, from performance to build.
Read the full review: Razer Blade 14
How we test gaming laptops
Testing a gaming laptop isn’t as easy as you might think. But, then again, neither is narrowing down your options and choosing the best one for you, which is why we take our job seriously. Even if that means gaming for hours on end – hey, someone’s gotta make the sacrifice, right?
In all seriousness, we put every gaming laptop we test through its paces to make sure it delivers as promised and is worth your hard-earned case. That means that on top of playing the latest and hottest games on it, noting things like gaming and thermal performance, we also run synthetic benchmarks like PCMark 10, 3DMark and Geekbench 5 as well as battery tests.
Because a gaming laptop is only as good as its peripherals, we take a look at how smooth and fast the display is, how comfortable and responsive its keyboard is, whether or not there are enough ports on hand, and how good its overall design is. We also test its webcam, in case users want to utilize it for game streaming.
We then take everything we’ve learned about the gaming laptop and compare it to its price – whether or not it’s performance and features are worth that price tag, and whether or not it offers the best value to customers.