This content originally appeared on Mashable for a US audience and has been adapted for the UK audience.
Serious gamers know that PC gaming is the real deal. Because high-end gaming computers pack more graphical and processing power than any home console, and offer a level of freedom in terms of customisation and game choice.
But your first foray into PC gaming can be complicated. Unlike consoles, which you can just pick up and play, gaming computers require an intense amount of research into each and every component. GPUs, CPUs, RAM, monitors, keyboards… it’s a lot to take in. And getting it right will almost certainly cost you.
Desktops deliver the best performance, but laptops fit into the modern lifestyle. A laptop allows you to take everything you want with you, and you can find a laptop that suits nearly any and every type of gamer. Whether you’re looking for a powerhouse that can run VR and 4K, or a budget option, there’s a gaming laptop for you. It’s still a head-scratcher if you don’t know what to look for in the first place. But we can help.
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What do you need to know about gaming laptops?As with any computer — gaming or otherwise — there are a lot of components involved. This is what to take into account when shopping for a gaming laptop:
CPU — Also called a processor, your CPU is basically your computer’s brain, and will dictate how speedy your laptop can process inputs, store data, and execute on outputs. Your processor is in constant communication with the other parts of your computer, so it’s important that the device’s central nervous system is a good one.
Display — That nice GPU will go to waste without a nice display to marvel at. Look for three things: resolution, refresh rate, and size. We recommend going for a 1080p resolution with a 60Hz refresh rate (which means you can run up to 60 frames per second on your screen). The size, however, is up to your preference. Gaming laptops usually come in at 15.6-inch and 17.3-inch displays.
GPU — The GPU (or graphics card) does what it sounds like it does: It ensures that your games can run at their intended graphical quality. The better the GPU, the better your laptop can render details like textures, anti-aliasing, ray tracing, and more.
Keyboard — The keyboard is another vital part of your overall experience. Comfort is a factor, but also decide on whether you want full-range RGB backlight settings, and if you like the layout of the keys. If you desperately need a number pad on your keyboard, for instance, double-check it’s got one — not all gaming laptops have one.
Storage — When it comes to storage, you’ll normally find yourself deciding between a hard drive (HDD) and a solid-state drive (SSD). HDDs can have a higher storage capacity than SSDs, but at the cost of lower performance. The good news is that some gaming laptops come with a dual-storage approach, opting for an HDD as the main storage method, with a smaller SSD built-in for performance-demanding games.
System Memory (or RAM) — Your RAM, like your CPU, is also extremely important in determining overall performance. RAM provides short-term memory storage for applications so that they can access data quickly, storing information that your computer is actively using. Don’t settle for less than 8GB.
Keep these points in mind when shopping around for your next gaming laptop.
What are the most important features in a gaming laptop?If all those bulleted points gave you a headache and you want an even more simplified explanation, you’ll want to put most of your focus on the computer’s CPU and GPU — aka the processor and graphics card — respectively.
These are the two things that will make or break your overall experience, as they work in tandem to provide a speedy and smooth performance. If you skimp too much on either the CPU or GPU, you’ll get choppy gameplay and plenty of frustration in return, so make these components the focus of your investment.
What is the best gaming laptop?Whether you’re a budget-focused gamer who just requires the bare minimum, or you’re someone who wants to run your games in 4K with an uncapped frame rate, we’ve highlighted a selection of laptops that will serve you well.
We’ve tracked down the best gaming laptops from top brands, with something for every gamer and budget. We recommend taking your time and considering all of the options, then picking a favourite based on what matters most to you.
These are the best gaming laptops in 2023.
Best For Battery
CPU: AMD Ryzen 9 Display: 15.6 inches, 1080p GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 RAM: 16GB Storage: 1TB SSD For all you AMD devotees out there, the Asus ROG Zephyrus G15(opens in a new tab) is one of the best AMD-powered gaming laptops you’re going to find.
This Asus rig strikes a healthy balance between style and substance. It’s a good-looking chassis — a pleasingly minimalist aesthetic — that plays down the power inside. Indeed, this laptop boasts incredible all-round performance thanks to its AMD Ryzen 9 processor and NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 graphics card.
Also included is a hefty 1TB SSD and a beautifully vibrant display that’ll keep your games looking top-notch (even on such a small screen). It can power through any games, no matter how new or graphics-heavy they are.
The only real downside is the price, though gamers know this stuff doesn’t come cheap. And, actually, it’s great value. Oh, and there’s no number pad or webcam included. Worth noting in case those are important additions for you.
Best For Features
CPU: Intel Core i7-11800H Display: 15.6 inches, 4K GPU: NVIDIA RTX 3070 RAM: 16GB Storage: 1TB SSD Just think of the Razer Blade 15 Advanced(opens in a new tab) as the MacBook Pro of PC gaming laptops. With its sleek design, it’s a nearly edge-to-edge gaming machine inside of a beautiful and durable aluminium unibody chassis and display that’s upgradeable to 4K.
This gaming laptop also has the high-end specs you’d come to expect from Razer, including an 8-Core 11th Gen Intel Core i7-11800H processor, NVIDIA RTX 3070 graphics card, 16GB of memory, and 1TB of SSD storage. This machine is also expandable with an open Razer Core X.
Although its fans spin loudly when working at full capacity, the Razer Blade 15 Advanced features a vapour chamber cooling system that Razer developed for a substantial power boost while you’re playing. This laptop might be on the expensive side, but it’s worth it for this level of performance inside of a sleek design.
Best For Beginners
CPU: Intel Core i5-10300 Display: 15.6 inches, 1080p GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660Ti RAM: 8GB Storage: 512GB SSD The Dell G5(opens in a new tab) is great when it comes tp price-to-performance ratio. It’s at the lower end of the price scale but comes well recommended, which makes it especially good for beginners. Laptop gaming is a world of its own, and we all have to start somewhere.
The G5 15 has a really solid CPU and GPU setup for this price range, prioritising raw performance over fancy bells and whistles that other gaming laptops may opt for. The Dell G-Series laptops definitely don’t reach the heights of their premium Alienware line, but on a budget, the G5 15 is the best of the Dell bunch.
The hardware is a bit chunky and is reported to overheat during those mammoth playing sessions, but if you can handle those issues, the Dell G5 15 is a speedy beginner’s gaming laptop and well worth the money.
Best For Tight Budgets
CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 5600H Display: 15.6-inches, 1080p GPU: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 RAM: 16GB Storage: 512GB SSD Some gamers prefer AMD hardware. That’s just a fact for gaming life. Others prefer to spend as little as possible. Put those two things together and you get the Acer Nitro 5(opens in a new tab), a top budget pick that delivers where it counts.
But a low price wouldn’t mean anything if it wasn’t also, you know, a good laptop. Which the Acer 5 totally is. In fact, it has a lot of the inner components as a few of the more expensive machines out there in the games-verse. The RAM and storage are pretty impressive too. Don’t get hung up on AMD if that’s not your thing. You can also find it configured with Intel CPUs, though availability can be an issue.
The price does come with some downsides, though. The graphical performance can’t match up to the high-end laptops, and the battery will max out after a few hours — so keep that charger nearby! But you can’t have it all at this price.
Best For Customisation
CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 Display: 17.3 inches, 4K GPU: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 Ti RAM: 16GB Storage: 512GB SSD If you’re a bit more familiar with the world of PC gaming and you feel comfortable enough to pick out your own parts to create a laptop that’s tailored to your needs, the Alienware m17 R5(opens in a new tab) will be right up your alley.
Its default version comes chock full of stellar internals, but, if you have extra cash at your disposal, why not customise the machine to your liking? That’s all possible on the Dell website. Want more storage? This baby goes up to 4TB SSD. What about better graphics? Simply bump up to the GeForce RTX 3080 instead.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves because even without the add-ons it’s a premium piece of gaming kit — a slick chassis with a stunning 4K (not to mention Dolby Vision-enhanced) display, and all the power to eat through the games with speed and fluidity. Other nice touches include cooling technology, AI-powered performance, ray tracing and G-SYNC, and Dolby Atmos audio.
Best For Power
CPU: Intel Core i7-12800HX Display: 17.3 inches, 4K GPU: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 Ti RAM: 16GB Storage: 1TB SSD The MSI Titan GT77(opens in a new tab) is for serious gamers only — a ferocious gaming laptop with size, power, and literally game-changing performance.
The first thing to know is this: it’s big. Like, really big — the sort of machine that can take the place of a gaming desktop. And certainly not a laptop you can just throw in your bag and carry around. But with that size comes a 17.3-inch 4K display and spec that more than matches its stature. The internals and memory will tear through the latest, most complex games with ease. The MSI Titan GT77 is a true beast.
It’s also built with a Cooler Boost Titan system, though expect some engine-like noise, and an RGB-lit gamer-style keyboard. But make no mistake, all the spec is going to cost you. It’s an eye-watering, top-of-the-line price that will suit die-hard gamers only.
If you’d prefer MSI craftsmanship in a laptop you can actually carry around without killing your back, the MSI GF63 Thin(opens in a new tab) gaming laptop is your best bet.
Best For Cooling
CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 Display: 15.6 inches, 1080p GPU: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 RAM: 16GB Storage: 1TB SSD If you want the ASUS reliability but you don’t want to pay the big bucks for the ROG Zephyrus G15, check out the Asus TUF Gaming A15(opens in a new tab) instead — among best AMD-powered laptop you’ll find in this lower price range.
It’s actually had a bit of a glow-up from previous-gen versions, as the AMD Ryzen 7 CPU is now paired with an upgraded NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060. In addition to the speedy performance, the A15 is just a well-rounded machine that serves as a great starting point for those new to the PC gaming landscape.
It has a large SSD — 1TB is impressive at any price level — that’ll give an extra power boost to that already decent CPU-and-GPU combo. Plus, a gorgeous 1080p display and a full RGB backlit keyboard for true gamer style. It’s also VR-ready, just in case you’ve been thinking about picking up an Oculus Rift.
Joseph joined Mashable as the UK Shopping Editor in 2018. He worked for a number of print publications before making the switch to the glittery world of digital media, and now writes about everything from coffee machines to VPNs.
Dylan is a reporter for Mashable Shopping. Follow him on Twitter @iamdylanhaas, or send him an email at [email protected]
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