Are you fond of unwinding to a good old game that gets your adrenaline racing and your daily stress out of the window? There is something magical about the pulsating rhythm of the arena, the thrill of a foe lurking around the corner, the high you get from emerging a victor — isn’t there? Gaming has become massively popular in recent times, as both a hobby and a passion that makes life worth living.
Some of the top games today like PUBG, Fortnite and Apex Legends have huge fan bases and players regularly competing against each other on virtual battlegrounds. In tune with this sentiment, computer manufacturers have committed to producing machines that elevate your gameplay to divinity.
Not very long ago, it was unthinkable for gaming to be enjoyable or even practical on a laptop. You needed desktops for the kind of raw power and graphics that CPU-intensive games demanded.
But all that has changed and how! Today, you can easily find a 15-inch or a 17-inch laptop that not only lets you play uninterrupted but actually delivers a fantastic overall experience. These notebooks also provide a great degree of mobility—something that comes in handy for people who frequently travel but do not wish to remain bereft of the delight of gaming.
Broadly, there are two buckets as far as gaming audiences are concerned. You could be an entry-level player who enjoys this activity once in a while but is not concerned with getting the optimum.
Low or mid-range settings work just fine for you. So, for instance, a laptop with an Intel Core i5 CPU and an NVIDIA GTX 1650 card is perfect. On the extreme end of the scale are competitive gamers who demand nothing but the finest.
You would like to play at the highest settings and need VR-ready computers (virtual reality) to dive deep into an alternate world. If you belong to this group, you seek RTX cards, Intel Core i9 CPUs, storage space to the tune of 2TB… you get the gist. So, your purchase decision will depend on your side of the equation.
Fortunately, both audiences have plenty of options to choose from. What about the price tag? Yes, the best gaming laptops continue to be expensive, but many brands like Acer and Dell have now come up with sub-$1000 choices.
In this article, we discuss the primary features you should seek in a gaming laptop. We also analyze various brands and their offerings, keeping in mind the newest in gameplay.
Our carefully picked list of the best gaming laptops 2020 offers a good mix of performance, visual glory, terrific sound, and adaptability to modern lifestyles. Plus, several of them can also double up as brilliant multimedia-centric computers for creative professionals like film-makers, editors, and design students.
- Gaming Essentials: A Quick Run-through
- New-Age Gaming Features to Look Out For
- Which Gaming Laptop Brand Should You Choose?
- Our Picks: 10 Best Gaming Laptops 2020
- 1. ASUS ROG Zephyrus S GX701 Gaming Laptop
- 2. Alienware Area-51m Gaming Laptop
- 3. Razer Blade Pro 17 Gaming Laptop
- 4. MSI GS75 Stealth-412 Gaming Laptop
- 5. Acer Predator Helios 300 Gaming Laptop
- 6. ASUS ROG Strix G GL531GT-EB76 15-inch Gaming Laptop
- 7. Acer Predator Triton 500 Thin & Light Gaming Laptop
- 8. ASUS ROG Strix Scar III Gaming Laptop
- 9. MSI GE75 Raider-287 17-inch Gaming Laptop
- 10. Omen by HP 17-Inch Gaming Laptop
- The Long and Short of It
Gaming Essentials: A Quick Run-through
Before you go on to picking a gaming companion, here is a run-through of the features you should look out for.
- Competent processing: This is the single most important aspect of any gaming laptop worth its salt. The strength of the CPU, RAM support, and availability of storage will determine how efficiently your games will run. Look for upwards of an Intel Core i5 processor or an equivalent AMD CPU. (The latter is well-suited to multithreading endeavors and is also considerably cheaper than its Intel counterpart.)
A gaming laptop should also have at least 16GB RAM and 512GB of memory. An SSD (solid state drive) is an excellent option as it provides superior read/write speeds, less heating, and better longevity of use.
While choosing your ideal configuration, you should also check whether the laptop allows you to upgrade these specs. Your needs may magnify in the future, and you might wish to upgrade to, say, 64GB RAM for that lightning-fast game.
In the absence of an upgrade option, you would then have to look for an alternate computer. A future-compatible machine, even if pricier, makes better long-term financial sense.
- Graphics co-processor: Understandably, visual excellence is paramount for any gamer. Look for a laptop that comes with a dedicated graphics co-processor such as an NVIDIA GTX or RTX card.
Integrated graphics are unlikely to suffice for AAA games as they are unable to offer the fluidity that these titles mandate. Note that a GTX card is perfectly capable of supporting even the most intensive games. However, an RTX card comes with some stellar, unparalleled features like real-time ray tracing and artificial intelligence for image enhancement.
Check if your computer also supports the G-SYNC technology (or FreeSync in an AMD machine). This technology syncs your display with the graphics card, thereby minimizing ghosting and screen tearing. It can bring a significant upswing to your gaming satisfaction.
- Display: The monitor of your gaming laptop must be capable of making the most of that top-of-the-rung CPU and GPU. An ideal configuration is an FHD screen with an anti-glare panel and support for IPS (In-Plane Switching).
IPS ensures that you can game on from different viewing angles without experiencing distortion or pixelation. Depending upon your budget, you can scale up on the screen: a UHD, 4K, or OLED display.
The monitor should also support a wide color gamut to do justice to the nuances of your content. Look for a color spectrum of 100% sRGB.
Closely woven into the realm of display is the overall design of the laptop. Gaming works best when you can dive into the proceedings, and that is possible with a narrow-bezel design. Aim to get a computer with a high screen-to-body ratio (upwards of 80%) to enjoy your play sessions with minimal external interference.
Finally, you need a refresh rate of (at least) 144Hz to enjoy a smooth gaming experience. Some machines offer a lower rate of 60Hz, and this might be suitable to play at low settings if you are comfortable with cutting some corners.
If you can afford a laptop with a refresh rate of 240Hz, prepare to be spellbound. Along with this, it is also critical to check the response time setting; a metric of 3ms is a good standard. (Note that the two are very different parameters.
The refresh rate is the number of times a screen displays a fresh image every second. Response time, on the other hand, is the time the monitor takes to shift across colors.)
- The sound department: Sound effects and background scores hold significant meaning in the gaming world. It would be good to verify that the laptop delivers clear and engaging sound with negligible distortion.
Some computers provide larger speakers with resonant chambers to ensure better audio. Auditory technologies like Dolby and Waves MaxxAudio can also elevate a regular system into an acoustic wonder.
It is also vital to remember here that mobility in a laptop should not come at the cost of great sound. The right designers can deliver a package that blends the sleek with the acoustically perfect.
- Build and portability: It is a misconception that gaming laptops cannot be portable. Many modern laptop makers have excelled at producing powerful but mobile gaming computers that can be easily carried around without developing a backache.
You should explore these machines if you lead a travel-intensive lifestyle or need a portable computer for outdoor gaming events, marathons, etc. A weight range of 4–6lbs and a profile thickness of around 1” is a good ballpark estimate.
You can find notebooks in various sizes and form factors, though most gamers prefer a 17-inch or a 15-inch laptop. The former is a more desktop-grade computer with an immersive screen that lets you totally engage in the proceedings.
But a 15” computer can be a close second, delivering on the additional advantage of being reasonably easy to lug along.
Besides the chassis weight and thickness, some computers also offer other portability features such as an ergonomic keyboard, hinge-based design, damage protection for the screen, etc.
Keep the overall build in mind while exploring this bucket; the construction should be durable and resilient. You can ask for military-grade durability if you want a particularly robust laptop.
- Gaming keyboard: It is the keyboard that faces the bulk of the brunt when it comes to gaming. Pro-game keyboards need to be specially designed for the task, with features such as n-key rollover, anti-ghosting, gesture support, a comfortable key-travel distance, and programmable macro keys. (A good key-travel distance is 1.5mm or 2mm. This will prevent your fingers from feeling cramped or striking the frame of the keyboard.) These traits are essential to keep your fingers rested during long gaming sessions.
Backlighting is yet another essential for gameplay since the aura it lends to the proceedings is unparalleled. You can look for per-key backlighting, support for a wide color range, and compatibility with other peripherals attached to the computer. An interesting innovation to keyboards is a larger touchpad with a glossier build. It can make things more comfortable for both gaming and regular computing activities.
- Device support: Gamers frequently need to plug into devices such as external displays, mice, keyboards, SD cards, etc. Gaming can be expansive and require a lot of paraphernalia to be stocked on external devices.
Plus, who can resist the thrill of a large external display to project the proceedings for groups? Ensure that the laptop you pick has a wide array of USB ports, preferably including a Type-C. The Type-C port is ideal for rapid data transfer and quick charging. Also, you should look for an HDMI port, an SD card reader, and regular USB ports.
- Internet connectivity: This one is an absolute must not only for lovers of online, competitive gaming but also for anyone who wishes to stay connected to the world. Ideally, a quality gaming laptop should support an updated Wi-Fi standard such as 802.11ac. It should also be compatible with Ethernet and LAN.
Lately, some machines have incorporated Killer Wi-Fi and the ability to prioritize network traffic. This can be incredibly useful to give you an overall edge on the battlefield since your internet network will prioritize any streaming or data packets required for your game.
New-Age Gaming Features to Look Out For
Besides the above list of essentials, some gaming computers now also offer unique innovations. These features can improve your experience further, so it makes sense to invest in them if your wallet allows it.
- Tobii eye-tracking: Imagine how enthralling it would be if you could interact with your players through your eyes! This eye-tracking technology makes gaming natural and intuitive by allowing you to perform actions like zoom, select, etc., through your eyes. And guess what, it can even adjust the proceedings based on your drowsiness, focus, etc. If that doesn’t give you an edge on the arena, nothing will.
- Color accuracy and detail: In line with the importance of color for gamers, some laptops now provide a display with Pantone validation. Pantone is a globally recognized color system owned by the company X-Rite. It analyzes the accuracy of color swatches and certifies displays accordingly. So, when you have a monitor that passes the Pantone test, you know that the colors in your game will be treated as they should be.
- Detachable webcam: While not directly related to your gaming experience, this is a handy little feature for modern laptops. It can simplify your video-calling experience for work or personal purposes.
- Anti-dust technology: A massive innovation for heat dissipation in laptops, this technology considerably improves the longevity of your machine. Since gaming laptops employ a lot of power, they are also prone to overheating. An ineffective cooling mechanism can slow your computer down. It can also cause a complete breakdown after a considerable period of use. The anti-dust technology works in conjunction with improved fan designs and usage modes to prevent dust particles from settling on internal components.
Which Gaming Laptop Brand Should You Choose?
Not all gaming laptops are alike, and the brand has a lot to do with the overall design, performance and user experience. You can consider the following brands based on your specific requirements:
- Acer: One of Acer’s greatest strengths is its versatility. The brand has budget laptops as well as expensive, top-of-the-rung ones with the latest technologies. Acer prides itself on being updated with innovations in the gaming world. If you need a reasonably priced, portable gaming computer that still runs modern games without glitches, Acer will have several options for you.
- ASUS: ASUS is synonymous with gaming in several circles and for a good reason. These laptops are a balanced mix of performance and design. Asus is also updated with modern technologies in the gaming landscape, such as anti-dust cooling, Pantone-validated displays, and detachable webcams. Well-designed computers that stand out in a crowd are another key strength for this manufacturer.
- Dell: Good old Dell continues to be among the top brands where performance is considered. Its Alienware lineup is a great choice for its capable processing, smooth graphics, and high sustainability. Dell is also a brand you can fall back upon, well admired for its support network. Another bonus feature we love with Alienware? It is extremely customizable. From 4K OLED displays to components you can upgrade when needed, this manufacturer goes out of the way to improve your game.
- HP: While HP may not be a brand that immediately gets associated with gaming, it is getting closer. The Omen series is popular for its stand-out design, high performance, excellent audio, and over-clocking support. HP is also a company that believes in security, so you can rest assured while gaming in shared environments.
- MSI: MSI is a superb choice for ardent gamers since it offers a lineup that is high on performance, design, and even battery backup. Many of its gaming laptops deliver expansive screen real estate due to a narrow-bezel design. Lately, MSI has also focused on building sleeker chassis that lend portability to the laptops. The company’s free accidental-damage protection is another perk that brings significant peace of mind, especially for travel-intensive lifestyles.
- Razer: These laptops are powerful and highly focused on performance. You are looking at a competent CPU, brilliant graphics, efficient cooling, and sturdy design. Razer doesn’t have many sub-$1000 options, so it is a good choice if you have a higher budget. Lately, Razer has also brought out colorful machines that will appeal to anyone looking out for aesthetic value. The brand is well known for extending reliable tech support to its customers.
Other than these leading brands, the marketplace also offers other options like Lenovo, GIGABYTE, Samsung, and ORIGIN.
The Legion Y920 by Lenovo, for instance, is quite a popular choice. The company is now focusing its energies on upping the performance of its gaming lineups.
GIGABYTE laptops are known for their cololrful designs and thin-bezel displays, both of which are impressive features for gamers. (However, many users report a need for improvement when it comes to the audio and the brightness.) ORIGIN, on the other hand, is renowned for its multitude of customization options.
You can fine-tune things immensely, from the CPU and over-clocking to the skin and paint. What about Samsung? The company has released the Odyssey lineup of gaming notebooks. It has yet to become popular, partly because of the pricing.
Our Picks: 10 Best Gaming Laptops 2020
Let’s now dive right into the finest that the gaming marketplace has to offer. If you intend to emerge triumphant on the arena, the laptops below have every intention of assisting you on the journey!
1. ASUS ROG Zephyrus S GX701 Gaming Laptop
Definitely one of the most powerful gaming laptops out there, it boasts of an Intel Core i7-9750H CPU, NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 graphics (with G-SYNC), a Pantone-validated display, and a detachable webcam.
The processor receives good support from the 16GB RAM and the 1TB SSD. On the display front, the FHD monitor offers a refresh rate of 144Hz and compatibility with IPS for optimal gameplay.
The sleek build of this laptop is a victory in itself; the profile is only 0.74” thin and the chassis weighs 5.73lbs. The bezel around the screen is also incredibly thin at 6.9mm or 0.27”, realizing a screen-to-body ratio of 81%. Immersive gaming? Absolutely!
2. Alienware Area-51m Gaming Laptop
The specs are outstanding: an Intel Core i9-9900K CPU, NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 graphics, up to 64GB RAM, and up to 2TB SSD.
The processing chamber is both upgradeable and over-clockable. You can opt for a display with a refresh rate of 144Hz, NVIDIA G-SYNC, and Tobii Eyetracking. The Alienware TactX keyboard is magnificent with per-key lighting and anti-ghosting. The full assortment of USB and display ports and Killer Wi-Fi ensure you stay connected with the world.
Note that such great power comes with a considerable amount of bulk: about 8.54lbs and a peak thickness of 1.7”.
3. Razer Blade Pro 17 Gaming Laptop
The Razer Blade Pro 17 is fueled by an Intel Core i7-9750H processor, up to 64GB RAM, up to 2TB SSD, NVIDIA GeForce RTX graphics, and vapor chamber cooling.
The FHD/UHD display has a refresh rate of 144Hz and a brightness of 400 nits.
Razer has invested heavily in compact design, and this has created a 17.3” laptop that is almost as sleek as a 15” model. The aluminum unibody chassis with anodized matte finish lends the laptop both dependability and style.
Despite the thin frame (0.78”), this laptop comes with a vast array of USB ports and connections, including USB 3.2 Gen 2, 802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6) and Thunderbolt 3. For a 17.3” machine, this computer is fairly lightweight at 6.06lbs.
4. MSI GS75 Stealth-412 Gaming Laptop
The 17.3” MSI GS75 Stealth-4121 is powered by an Intel Core i7-9750H processor, 16GB RAM, and a 1TB SSD. It comes with an NVIDIA GeForce RTX2060 GPU which pairs well with the 144Hz refresh rate of the FHD monitor.
Also, since the bezel is as thin as 5.2mm (0.2”), you get screen real estate of as much as 85%. In the looks department, MSI has several bells and whistles: a gold-hinge accent, a silky glass touchpad, and the quintessential dragon emblem.
At 4.96lbs, it is also an amazingly light machine that you can easily lug along for outdoor gaming events.
Bonus: On a single charge, this laptop can run for about eight hours. This is a tremendous feat in portability for gaming machines in this league.
5. Acer Predator Helios 300 Gaming Laptop
At just over $1000, the 15.6” Acer Predator Helios 300 is an affordable, efficient laptop suitable for mid- to high-end gaming.
Powered by an Intel i7-9750H processor, 16GB RAM, a 256GB SSD, and NVIDIA GTX 1660 Ti graphics, this laptop can comfortably run most AAA games.
Although this is a budget laptop, it offers several premium features including a backlit keyboard, a swift response time of 3ms, and a fast refresh rate of 144Hz.
On the connectivity front, the Acer Predator Helios supports Killer Ethernet E2500 as well as Killer DoubleShot Pro Wireless AC.
This is useful for all online gaming aficionados. Plus, the lightweight construction keeps the overall weight and thickness of this laptop low (5.07lbs, 0.9”), making it quite a good traveler.
6. ASUS ROG Strix G GL531GT-EB76 15-inch Gaming Laptop
It comes with decent specs: an Intel Core i7-9750H processor, 16GB RAM, a 1TB SSD, and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 graphics.
What really stands out is the superb cooling mechanism that employs 12V fans and adjustable fan modes to keep things going.
The heat dissipation system also uses an anti-dust technology to keep your laptop sustainable amidst intense gaming sessions.
We particularly love the keyboard that supports an n-key rollover and has been torture tested for 20 million keypresses. Asus has also ensured mobility for gamers with this laptop—it is about 1” thick and weighs only 5.28lbs.
7. Acer Predator Triton 500 Thin & Light Gaming Laptop
Inside the processing compartment is an Intel Core i7-9750H CPU, 16GB RAM, and a 512GB SSD. An NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 GPU pairs well with the FHD display and the refresh rate of 144Hz.
Keeping the performance ongoing for long hours is the superior cooling system with its metallic AeroBlade 3D fan and copper heat pipes. All this comes in a sleek package that weighs—hold your breath—4.41lbs and is just about 0.7” thick.
Bonus: This laptop employs Waves MAXXAudio technology to deliver clear, compelling sound. That’s a huge perk for passionate gamers who understand the importance of auditory detail.
8. ASUS ROG Strix Scar III Gaming Laptop
It also houses an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 graphics card and is run by a powerful Intel Core i7-9750H processor. The RAM support of 16GB and the memory of 1TB (SSD) make this laptop well-suited for the latest AAA games.
On the display front, the narrow-bezel design (5.26mm or 0.2”) guarantees an immersive gaming experience.
This Asus machine also uses the intelligent cooling system with anti-dust technology. It is quite lightweight too (5.67lbs), which, in addition to its durable construction, makes it high on portability.
9. MSI GE75 Raider-287 17-inch Gaming Laptop
The 17” MSI GE75 Raider-287 is a superb pick for top-notch gaming, with its Intel Core i7-9750H processor, NVIDIA GeForce RTX2060 graphics, and GIANT speaker system for excellent sound.
The RAM support is 16GB while the memory offered is a 512GB SSD. How about the display? Well, the monitor provides a refresh rate of 144Hz and a response time of 3ms.
The color gamut of 100% sRGB (and 72% NTSC) ensures that the imagery is clear and meticulous.
This MSI laptop is also a looker, with its scintillating dragon spine design, red anodized finish, and lightweight build of 5.73lbs.
10. Omen by HP 17-Inch Gaming Laptop
It is driven by a powerful Intel i7-9750H processor, an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 GPU, 16GB RAM, and a 512 GB SSD.
This machine comes with the Omen command center that lets you control over-clocking and prioritize network traffic for your game. Another feather in the cap is the Bios recovery and protection module that keeps your laptop safe in collaborative environments.
The Omen is not too portable, with its weight of 7.09lbs and thickness of 1.06”. However, it offers a reasonably long battery life of 5.5 hours on mixed usage. Plus, the refresh rate of 144Hz and DTS:X Ultra enhanced audio ensure that you can game on with finesse, wherever you are.
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The Long and Short of It
The marketplace is flooded with gaming laptops of various sizes, prices and features. The choice you make will depend upon your specific needs and budget and involve multiple decisions along the way about the manufacturer, upgradability, and long-term usage.
For instance, your focus area could be mobility, and you may tend to participate in lots of outdoor gaming sessions. The Acer Predator Triton 500 (#7) or the MSI GS75 Stealth-412 (#4) will serve you well.
But if your priority is extreme, uncompromised power, you might be better off with a computer such as the Alienware Area-51m (#2).
Similarly, you can consider opting for the MSI GE75 Raider-287 (#9) for excellent audio and the Asus ROG Strix Scar III (#8) for dazzling graphics.
While purchasing a gaming laptop, it is also crucial to consider your non-gaming usage. Will you be employing the laptop for multimedia pursuits like editing, animation, film-making, etc.? What about standard computing tasks like note-taking at school or video calls for business? Many gaming laptops adapt well to all-round usage and make more financial sense.
And then again, if gaming runs in your veins and you have no qualms about going the extra mile, go right ahead. Make the most of the moment.