Holiday 2020: The Best Gaming Laptops

Man Playing Games on Razer Blade Stealth 13
Razer

The world of gaming laptops can be a tricky thing to navigate. With specs that often read like someone smashing their face against a keyboard and tons of different brands competing for your wallet, it can be difficult to choose the right laptop. So, we’ve done the research for you and narrowed down the best of the best gaming laptops out there based on price, features, and performance.

What to Look for in a Gaming Laptop

There can be a lot to look over when it comes to laptops, but these are the mains things to be concerned with.

  • Specs/Performance: When it comes to gaming, specs are key. The reason why “gaming laptops” is a term used today is that, at the very least, you need a decent graphics card (GPU) and processor (CPU) to run modern titles, and a good deal of RAM as well (8 GB of RAM is an absolute minimum, with 16 GB or more typically recommended). It can be difficult to sort through all the specs though if you’re unfamiliar with computer hardware, so you can rest assured that our picks have specs and performance that match their price.
  • Build Quality: Gaming laptops are expensive, so you want to make sure they’re built to last. An easily cracked or damaged outershell simply means a laptop that will stop working sooner.
  • Display: There are three major things to look out for when it comes to laptop displays: size, resolution, and refresh rate. Size is self-explanatory, but it’s important to note that the display size is the main thing that decides how big the laptop is on the whole. All the picks on this list either have 1080p or 4K resolutions, though while 4K is nice to have, running games at that high of a resolution significantly affects performance. The refresh rate is pretty straightforward, it just represents what frame rate the display can, well, display. 60 Hz and 120 Hz are the most common for gaming laptops, displaying 60 FPS and 120 FPS respectively.
  • Storage Options: The two types of storage to look out for are solid-state drives (SSDs) and hard-disk drives (HDDs)—basically just remember that SSDs deliver faster load times while HDDs are cheaper. There are also Non-Volatile Memory Express (NVME) SSDs, which guarantees even faster loading times. The minimum storage you’d want in a gaming laptop is 512 GB, but more is obviously preferred.

Best for Most People: Acer Predator Helios 300

Acer Predator Helios 300
Acer

As a general pick, the Acer Predator Helios 300 is sure to make any gamer happy. The combined power of the Intel i7-1075H CPU, GeForce RTX 2060 GPU, and 16 GB of RAM will run most games with no issues. There’s 512 GB of NVMe storage and a 1080p, 15.3-inch display with a 144 Hz refresh rate. While the Helios 300 doesn’t really offer anything amazing or unique, it’s a solid laptop that’ll handle most if not all games you throw at it.

Another Great Choice: ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14

ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14
Asus

The Zephyrus G14 is another midrange pick that should handle most modern titles. The AMD Ryzen 7 CPU and GeForce GTX 1650 GPU is a good combo here, and there are plenty of storage options fronm which to choose. You also have your choice of how much RAM you want (from 8 to 24 GB), ranging from 8 GB to 24 GB. Throw in the 14-inch 1080p display with a 120 Hz refresh rate, and a sleek aluminum chassis, and this laptop offers some nice upsides for the price.

You can even program the top shell to show custom images or messages with its LED panel. And all of this is wrapped into a slim shell at 0.70 inches thick, so if you’re looking for something more portable-friendly at a decent price, this is it.

Slim but Powerful: Razer Blade Stealth 13

Razer Blade Stealth 13
Razer

Razer’s line of Blade laptops offer some good performance for the price, and the Stealth line introduces a surprisingly thin but sturdy frame to house that impressive hardware. This laptop is only 0.60 inches thick, so it’s ideal for portability. The display is a 1080p 13.3-inch 120 Hz panel that can also be upgraded to 4K if you don’t mind an additional cost, downgrading to 60 Hz, and lowering the battery life.

The hardware inside the Blade Stealth 13 doesn’t disappoint either. The Intel Core i7 CPU combined with the GeForce 1650 Ti Max-Q GPU and 16 GB of RAM should easily handle most modern games with grace. The Blade is also outfitted with a 512 GB SSD and a fully customizable RGB keyboard.

Best Budget Option: Acer Nitro 5

Acer Nitro 5
Acer

At just under $800, the Nitro 5 is the cheapest laptop on this list and is naturally the least powerful as well. While the Intel Core i5 CPU and GTX 1650 GPU won’t blow you away, they’re enough to squeeze some decent performance out of in most games. The 60 Hz, 1080p 15.6-inch display will cover most people’s needs and on the whole, you are getting good specs for the price. Besides all this, the Acer Nitro 5 also packs away 512 GB of SSD storage and 8 GB of RAM.

While this isn’t some amazing deal with specs that punch far above its price range if you can’t afford the more extravagant options, here the Nitro 5 is still a laptop.

A Configurable Beast: Alienware M17 R3

Alienware M17 R3
Dell

The M17 R3 has a few different versions with various levels of specs. And while the base model has the specs to run modern games, it doesn’t have the room to store them with its 256 GB NVMe SSD. So, we linked to the lowest-priced model that has at least 512 GB of storage. That means you’re getting a GeForce GTX 1660 Ti GPU and Intel Core i7 CPU under the hood—more than enough to run practically every game. That model also comes with 16 GB of RAM and a 17-inch 1080p 144 Hz display so it covers all the bases well, but if you want to go more insane, then Alienware definitely lets you go more insane.

The highest spec version of this laptop is top of the line with an Intel Core i9 CPU and a GeForce RTX 2080 Super GPU. That’s complete overkill (and not the last time we’ll see that combination) but if you want to chase the top of the totem pole, then Alienware does provide a path. There’s also the Alienware M15 R3 that provides the same spec options but with a 15-inch screen and a slightly lower price tag.

Overkill: MSI GT76 Titan DT

MSI GT76 Titan DT
MSI

This laptop is the highest price point, the specs on it are top of the line, and it would be difficult for anyone to push it past its limits when it comes to gaming. The GeForce RTX 2080 Super GPU and Intel Core i9 CPU are some of the best around, and that’s not the mention the 64 GB of RAM (which can be upgraded to 128 GB manually) and 2 TB of NVMe SSD storage. The display is also appropriately insane measuring at 17.3 inches and outputting a 4K image at 240 Hz.

MSI calls this laptop its “Desktop Killer” and while that’s just a marketing term, it’s also true. This laptop will easily compete with other high-end gaming desktops. It’s even outfitted with tons of customizable RGB lighting to boot. While most people certainly don’t need a laptop this powerful, hey, it’s always nice to have the option.

Eric Schoon Eric Schoon
Eric Schoon is a writer for Review Geek and has spent most of his life thinking about and analyzing products of all shapes and sizes. From the latest games to the hottest smartphones, he enjoys finding the greatest strengths and weaknesses of everything he gets his hands on and then passing that information on to you. Read Full Bio »

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