Best gaming laptops: Know what to look for and which models rate highest

Alienware 17 R4

With major advances in laptop CPUs and graphics technologies, you can now get great gaming performance in sizes from slender to huge, and prices from budget to sky-high. That’s where this handy-dandy buyer’s guide come in. We’ll name the best gaming laptops currently available, and we’ll highlight what to look for when buying a gaming laptop. (Check back often, as we’ll update this list as new products arrive.)

Update 9/14/2018: We review Dell’s G7 15, which stuff six cores of CPU power into a budget gaming laptop. It’s our new runner-up for Best 15-inch gaming laptop, because it’s about $600 less than the leader MSI GS65 Stealth Thin 8RE. See below for more details. 

Latest gaming laptop news

alienware m15 gaming laptop

Alienware

Alienware’s m15 is a thinner-and-lighter laptop for gaming.

  • Alienware unveiled the m15, its first thinner-and-lighter gaming laptop. It’s smaller and, at 4.76 pounds, almost three pounds lighter than its current Alienware 15 R4 luggable cousin. It can’t quite pack everything a full-fat gaming laptop can: The fastest CPU available in the Alienware m15 is Intel’s 8th-gen, 6-core Core i7-8750H. The only graphics options are Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1070 Max-Q or a GeForce GTX 1060. Still, it will save the backs of many avid gamers. It goes on sale October 25, and meanwhile, we got a sneak peek so you can read all about it.
  • More AMD Vega graphics chips are on their way to gaming laptops. Last month, the chipmaker listed on its website Ryzen 7 2800H and Ryzen 5 2600H, which are slightly modified versions of their desktop counterparts. One major advantage of the chip is DDR4-3200 memory support.
  • We interviewed AMD about the future of Raven Ridge (aka Ryzen 3 2200G and Ryzen 5 2400G), the APU that delivers surprising performance given its integrated graphics—yes, even in games. The next step: Bring its power consumption down while keeping the performance up.
  • We got our hands on the Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX531, a surprisingly slender gaming laptop that’s the shape of things to come. This is a good trend for gamers tired of lugging around the bulkier laptops still predominant.
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