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Last Update: Apr 23, 2019

Top 6 Gaming Laptops

Published 14:42 PM
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You know, I wish I was a kid these days, so that when my parents told me to ‘go play outside’, I’d stick it to the man by grabbing my gaming laptop on the way out. Alas, my childhood is now set in stone, and all I can remember is being bored out in the sunlight, in between bouts of looking at a monstrous monitor (yes ladies and gentlemen, I have a big one).

Thankfully, you probably won’t have that issue. In the last couple of years, gaming laptops have really started to shine, and what used to be a nascent field, has now started to bloom. Unfortunately, battery life still remains an issue, but hey, if you’re anything like me you’re likely to be safely nestled within the confine of four walls and several power ports…

Anyway, what was I saying? Oh right, gaming laptops are awesome, especially if you’re the kind of person who moves around a lot, or doesn’t have space for a desktop, even though they still have a couple of issues.

1

Best Choice: MSI GS65 Stealth

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Specifications:

  • CPU: Intel Core i7-8750H 2.20 GHz
  • GPU: GTX 1070 Max-Q 6GB
  • RAM: 16 GB DDR4 2666
  • Screen: 15.6″, Full HD, 144 Hz
  • Storage: 256 GB NVMe
  • Battery: 82 Whr

MSI GS65 Stealth  Review

When it comes to gaming laptops, it’s incredibly hard to balance hardware with size and power consumption. That’s what makes the MSI GS65 one of the best MSI gaming laptops available – it handles all three categories very well.

Starting with hardware, you get a GTX 1070 Max-Q. If you aren’t familiar with the Max-Q designation, it basically just means that the GPU is slightly undervolted. So while it’s not as powerful as a desktop GTX 1070, it’s still really effective.

In terms of size, it’s excellent. As thin as the Razer Blade, a laptop known for its thin size (ergo the name), the MSI GS65 is probably one of the most portable gaming laptops around. The exterior is sleek, matted and gold trimmed, a departure from MSI’s usual steel finish with red trim.

What’s great about its portability, is that the CPU can be used for editing work, with a 6-core 8th gen i7. Combine that with the 1080p, 144Hz refresh rate, and you can already tell that this laptop is here to do business. So, whether you’re editing, gaming or just watching stuff, you’re all set.

Of course, the one big disclaimer in any laptop is the battery life, and the MSI GS65 does a good job of it. With battery saver, you can get it to 8 hours, 5-6 hours for web browsing, and around 1.5-2.5 hours if you’re gaming. That may not sound like much, but it’s actually pretty standard in terms of gaming laptop battery life.

Another couple of niggles is that there’s a bit of giving in the speaker area and the mousepad is not the best. Also, this is a very love/hate thing, but there’s no numpad so that the keyboard centers your hands to the screen. Finally, the internal’s are a bit hard to get to, and if you want to do any upgrades, it’s going to be difficult.

+Pros
  • Sleek and small
  • One of the best graphics cards on the market
  • Good battery life
  • 144Hz refresh rate
-Cons
  • No G-sync
2

Premium Pick: Asus ROG G703GI

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Specifications:

  • CPU: Intel Core i7-8750H 2.20 GHz
  • GPU: GTX 1080 8GB
  • RAM: 16 GB DDR4
  • Screen: 17.3″, Full HD, 144 Hz
  • Storage: 2 TB SSHD, 256 GB PCIe NVMe SSD
  • Battery: 71 Whr

Asus ROG G703GI Review

Now, if you’re looking for what amounts to a desktop replacement, and have the thousands of dollars to spare, you can’t go wrong with this baby.

As you may have noticed, the GPU is not a Max-Q variant, which means you are getting a desktop level GTX 1080, and all the associated performance that comes with it. That’s not all though, since the ROG G703GI comes with a whopping 8-core i9, and one of the first mobile CPUs that Intel has released. Tack on 16 gigs of DDR4 ram, a 17.3”, 1080p, a 144Hz screen with G-sync, and you might as well throw out your desktop.

And if that wasn’t enough, you could also put the fans into turbo mode, which jumps your performance up massively. In that mode, fans spin like crazy though, and it will legitimately sound like you’re about to take off. That being said, if you have a pair of headphones for your laptop (which you should), it’s a great way to get a little bit of extra performance.

Of course, all that awesome nice comes at a price, and not only a financial one. As you’ll see from the images, this is quite a big laptop which also happens to weigh 4.7kgs. Not only that, but you actually need two power bricks to charge it, although it can run without charging on just one.

Otherwise, it’s a sleek and pretty laptop, with a straitlaced metal finish. The Keyboard is fully RGB lit, and there is a numpad on here, so those of you who need that, you’re in luck. The trackpad is also excellent, and happily includes both right and left click buttons, something you don’t always tend to see.

All in all, this is a powerful laptop, and if you prefer a mobile desktop, this might be the option for you.

+Pros
  • Big screen with great quality
  • Amazing performance and hardware
-Cons
  • Super expensive
  • Big and chunky
3

Best Value: MSI GV62 8RD-200

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Specifications:

  • CPU: i5-8300H 2.3Ghz
  • GPU: GTX 1050Ti 4GB
  • RAM: 8GB DDR4 2400MHz
  • Screen: 15.6″, Full HD, 60Hz
  • Storage: 16GB Intel Optane Memory + 1TB HDD
  • Battery: 41 Whr

MSI GV62 8RD-200 Review

You might be wondering what the difference between entry-level and budget gaming laptops are, and primarily it’s the type of games you can run.

The MSI GV62 features a non-Max-Q GTX 1050Ti, which isn’t really powerful enough to run the latest AAA games. Of course, if you generally prefer to play e-sport type games like CS:GO, Fortnight, and LoL, this graphics card should run them just fine.

Unfortunately, though, this laptop’s screen can only hit 60hz and it doesn’t have G-sync, so the value proposition of playing e-sport FPS games might not be great.

Fortunately, it is pretty good for other uses, as the 8th gen i5 is reasonably powerful, and should be able to handle most tasks fairly well. Similarly, the screen is reasonably good, even for a TN panel, although you won’t find the same color gamut and accuracy as you will on more expensive gaming laptops.

Battery life isn’t that great though, since you won’t get more than three to three and a half hours for general use, and probably not more than 45 mins or so for gaming.

Otherwise, the overall build is good, with very little twisting on the screen. There is a little bit of give in the keyboard area, with the most pronounced bit being in the lower quadrants. That shouldn’t be an issue for most people unless they’re very heavy handed.

Fan noise is probably one of the bigger issues with the MSI GV62, especially considering how thin it is. Thankfully, it’s not too bad compared to more expensive gaming laptops, and you can certainly handle it even on boost. You’ll also be happy to know that the laptop is quite light, coming in at 2.8kgs, so no worries there.

When push comes to shove though, this is the best gaming laptop under $1000 and a good first step into the gaming laptop world.

+Pros
  • Generally Lighter than other laptops
  • Non-Max-Q GTX 1050Ti
-Cons
  • No SSD
4

Best Mid-Tier: Razer Blade 15 Advanced Model

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Specifications:

  • CPU: Intel Core i7-8750H 6 Core
  • GPU: GeForce RTX 2060 6GB Max-Q
  • RAM: 8 GB DDR4 2667
  • Screen: 15.6″, Full HD, 144 Hz
  • Storage: 512GB SSD
  • Battery: 80 Whr

Razer Blade 15 Advanced Model Review

If you’ve been following the gaming tech industry, you’ll probably be familiar with the name Razer. In-fact, even we’ve featured some of their products (such as their mice) on some of our other articles. As such, you know that what you’re getting is pretty good quality.

Since this is a Razer product, the build is absolutely great and feels firm all around, with very little to no flexing. Similarly, the keys feel absolutely great to press with very little travel, and the mousepad is excellent, although there aren’t independent left and right buttons (which kinda sucks). As for the screen, it’s flagship, so you’re getting top-notch color gamut, quality and accuracy.

Razer’s design philosophy when it comes to their laptops has always been about going thinner, and this version of the Razer Blade 15 is no different. Of course, the problem is that the smaller you make the laptop, the harder it is to get rid of the heat, and all the Razer Blades, including this one, have this issue. That being said, it still runs pretty great, even compared to other laptops, and the fans don’t get as loud compared to something like the Asus ROG G703GI.

Battery life is good, clocking in at 3-5 hours depending on your use, which is really decent. Connectivity is also really decent with three USB 3.1s, one Thunderbolt 3, one HDMI 2.0, a mini-DisplayPort 1.4 and of course one audio and one mic jacks.

Now, there is one thing we’ve omitted talking about so far, and that’s the GPU. As you may have noticed the Razer Blade 15 runs an RTX 2060, which includes Nvidia’s new ray-tracing tech. While there’s quite a bit of controversy over RTX, if you’re looking for that, this is probably your best option.

Overall though, the Blade 15 is an excellent laptop for both gaming and general use, including editing if that’s something you do often.

+Pros
  • Thin and portable
  • Amazing performance
-Cons
  • Runs really hot
5

Best Entry Level: Acer Predator Helios 300

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Specifications:

  • CPU: Intel Core i7-7700HQ 2.8Ghz
  • GPU: GTX 1060 6GB
  • RAM: 8 GB DDR4 2667
  • Screen: 15.6″, Full HD, 144 Hz, IPS
  • Storage: 2TB HDD+ 256GB SSD
  • Battery: 48 Whr

Acer Predator Helios 300 Review

If you really want to maximize the bang for your buck, this is absolutely the laptop for you, featuring some of the best hardware at the most affordable price.

The first big standout feature on the Helios 300 is its screen. You don’t generally tend to see IPS screens on even the best budget gaming laptops, so it’s inclusion for the price is certainly impressive. It’s also 144Hz, so you don’t have to sacrifice any framerate. There is a downside though, and that’s the brightness of the screen, which is quite low, and not very visible in brightly lit environments.

If you’re in a darker environment, it’s fine though, especially since you can enjoy the non-Max-Q GTX 1060. Again, you don’t really see 1060 on budget/entry level laptops, with companies preferring to go with a 1050 or a 1050Ti. It does make sense having it though since you need a beefy card to run the screen the Predator Helios 300 comes with.

Aside from that, build quality is generally good, with a very little twist or give and take on the keyboard area. Unfortunately, it does tend to run hot to the touch after some resource intensive work, but that’s a common issue with gaming laptops, so it’s ok. That being said, it is a pain since the laptop will thermally throttle if you let it control the fans automatically, so you’re better of setting them at max and leaving them there as you play.

One final thing we’d like to mention is that battery life is not that great, clocking in at a little over 3 hours for general use. So if you’re taking this laptop somewhere, be sure to have some familiarity with the power outlet locations.

Otherwise, this is a great entry-level gaming laptop, especially if this is your first foray into portable PC gaming.

+Pros
  • 144Hz, IPS display
  • Great component choice
  • Great Storage
-Cons
  • Can get a little too hot
6

Best for General Use: Gigabyte Aero 15-X9-9RT5

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Specifications:

  • CPU: Intel Core i9-8950HK 2.9-4.8 GHz
  • GPU: GeForce RTX 2070 8GB Max-Q
  • RAM: 16 GB DDR4 2666MHz
  • Screen: 15.6″, Full HD, 144Hz, IPS
  • Storage: 512 GB M.2 NVME PCIe SSD
  • Battery: 94.24 Whr

Gigabyte Aero 15-X9-9RT5 Review

While gaming laptops are awesome for gaming, they aren’t generally that great for general use, especially if you do a lot of editing work. This is especially true if you aren’t looking to spend the large amount of money required to get the higher-end gaming laptops that have better CPUs. Thankfully the Aero is a great alternative.

With an i9-890Hk, you’re getting some of the best CPU performance of any laptop. In addition to that, the CPU can be boosted to reach 4.8 GHz, and without much thermal throttling. You’ll also be dealing with a lot of fan noise at full boost, so be prepared for that.

The GPU doesn’t have much effect on general productivity, as is to be expected. If you’re the type of person who doesn’t need to run the latest AAA games at the highest settings, it might be a good idea to go with the GTX 1070 version of this laptop.

Not only will it be cheaper, but it will also tend to run less hot when you’re gaming. 🔥

Another great part of the productivity aspect is the IPS screen, with some of the best color gamut and accuracy you’ll find on a laptop. Brightness is also great, so you should be able to use the Aero 15 X9 in well-lit environments.

We would also suggest you look into getting the 32gig option which runs in dual channel. While it is a bit more expensive, adding around $100-$200, their performance gain is noticeable. That being said, if you don’t have the budget, you could always buy the 16gig version and upgrade it with another 16gig card.

Finally, battery life isn’t that great, not giving you more than 3 hours in general use and 1 hour in productivity/gaming use, so the power brick will be attached to you at the hip.

Overall though, the Aero 15 X9 treads the line between aesthetics, size, and hardware pretty well.

+Pros
  • Has ray tracing
  • Thing and mobile
-Cons
  • Runs pretty hot

How to Choose a Gaming Laptop – Buying Guide

There’s a lot of very modern and complicated tech that goes into gaming laptops, and as with anything that’s still in its infancy, there’s tons of compromise. While there are tons of technical details we could go into, we won’t so as not to exhaust you. Instead, we’ll go over some of the hardware of the laptop, and give you a general idea of what you should be looking for.

CPU/GPU

The CPU/GPUs on laptops are very similar to the ones for desktops, with the main difference is that they tend to be undervolted. Manufacturers do this so they can actually keep up with the cooling requirements of laptop’s small form factor.msi gpu fans displayed By far the largest generator of heat are the GPU and the CPU, and that’s why you’ll see fans spin really fast when you’re gaming or editing.

Now, the interesting thing is that the lower in a GPU/CPU lineup, the cooler they generally run. For example, an i5 will run cooler than an i7, and an i7 will run cooler than an i9. What that means for you, is that you shouldn’t just get the best CPU for gaming (or GPU) you can afford. Instead, pick the one that’s right for your needs, and that way you can save yourself not only your money but also having to deal with a hot laptop.

RAM

Luckily, RAM for laptops is generally standardized, with most gaming laptops having 16gigs in single-channel mode. Upgrading the ram to 32gigs and running it on duel-channel can legitimately offer a nice little performance bump, just like in the Aero 15 X9.

Furthermore, it’s easy to upgrade your RAM if you don’t like your current setup. We recommend looking at the best RAM for gaming before making this decision.

Screen

If you’re looking for a gaming or productivity laptop, then you should certainly either aim for IPS panel type, 144Hz refresh rate, or both. Of course, the issue now becomes that you have to get a better graphics card, so you can see how the world of gaming laptops is all about compromise144hz 60Hz differenceOne extra tip: If you play a lot of FPS games, the 144hz refresh rate is better, whereas if you play more cinematic games, and do editing, an IPS display is what you should aim for.

Battery

Arguably one of the biggest problems with contemporary laptops, this is more of a warning than a tip. Since you are running high-end hardware in the GPU/CPU, coupled with a high-end screen which most gaming laptops come with, you are drawing an absolute ton of power. As you can imagine, most batteries can’t even begin to hold a long enough charge to run what is essentially a desktop computer.

So, what does this mean for you? Well, you just have to be supremely aware of the fact that you aren’t going to get more than 1-2 hours of battery life when you’re gaming or working. As for general browsing, and light-weight stuff, don’t expect anything more than 3-5hours of battery.laptop battery life saverOne tip that we can give you is to generally avoid G-sync gaming laptop screens unless maybe you’re going for a 60Hz refresh rate. The reason for this is that the G-sync technology doesn’t allow the use of Nvidia Optimus, which switches between the graphics card and the motherboard graphics chip. This switching allows the laptop to save battery by using onboard graphics chips for non-intensive stuff, like watching films or browsing.


Gaming Laptop FAQ

Are gaming laptops good for everyday use?

If you’re every day is gaming, then sure! Otherwise, not so much.

As we mentioned, the big issue with gaming laptops is the battery life, and also the power bricks tend to be quite big. Add to that the weight of the laptop itself, which usually doesn’t go below 2.5kgs (and usually is as high as 4kg), and you see the problem of lugging these things around.

That being said, the technology is advancing rapidly, and hopefully, within the next few years, we’ll have gaming laptops that are lightweight and have a great battery.

Can gaming laptops be used for programming?

Absolutely, although it would be a massive waste of money. Programming does not, in a general sense, rely on GPU performance, which is what gaming laptops excel at.programming on a laptopIf you want a laptop for programming, you’re better off going for something cheaper with a good CPU.

Can gaming laptops be used for graphics design/editing?

Depends on the gaming laptop. What you really want to be looking for is one with a good CPU, but the problem there is that gaming laptops with good CPUs tend to start at $2k. While the GPU will certainly help, the CPU is equally as important, if not more important in some tasks.

Are gaming laptops worth it?

That’s a difficult question to answer. Honestly, if you have a good gaming desktop at home and you don’t spend much time outside or traveling, then no, they aren’t worth it.

On the other hand, if you do travel a lot, or your desktop at home isn’t that good, it absolutely is worth it. There is even a category of laptops called ‘desktop replacement’. The Asus ROG G703GI is a good example of that category and you can certainly use it in lue of a gaming desktop. You can even learn how to play PS4 on laptop! Now, that’s cool.

Are gaming laptops upgradable?man upgrading his laptop

Thankfully, yes!

Although truth be told, the ease of upgrading varies from laptop to laptop. For example, the Helio 300 has easy access for the 2.5” bays and the ram, but not much else, whereas the MSI GS65 Stealth requires you to remove the motherboard to get at anything, and requires more technical skill.


Final Verdict

Gaming laptops have been a gamer’s dream for ages now, and the technology is slowly catching up with expectations. Yes, they are expensive, but the portability they afford you compared to a gaming desktop is not even comparable.

Hopefully, our article has helped make your choice a little bit easier!


Sources:

  1. Cheap or Expensive Laptop, The Digital Guru
  2. How to Increase FPS of Games, MSI Support
  3. Alex Hales, 10 Things to Look for in a Gaming Laptop, Maptia
  4. Tracy V. Wilson & Robert Valdes, How Laptops Work, HowStuffWorks
  5. How to Build a Laptop Computer, WikiHow, March 28th, 2019
  6. How to Turn On Lenovo Keyboard Backlight, Lenovo Support
  7. What Are the Main Differences between Gaming Laptops And Normal Laptops, The Digital Guru
  8. MSI Notebook Best Performance, MSI FAQ
  9. Laptop, Wikipedia
  10. Lenovo Tips for Laptops, Lenovo Support
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