The year’s best gaming laptops
If you want to play PC games on the go, gaming laptops are a somewhat portable alternative to the powerful and towering desktop PC. But there’s a lot more you need to know than just the laptop’s raw power. A laptop with the best graphics card, SSD and processor may have the specs to blow your mind, but it could all underperform if the components overheat easily and don’t have proper airflow. Battery life can also impact the stability of your gaming performance. And though you probably don’t want to always use an external mechanical keyboard with per-key RGB backlighting, the system’s WASD keys feel like mashed potatoes under your fingers.
All that doesn’t come cheap, but if you’re on a budget and know where to compromise — such as looking for a model with components you can upgrade later to lower your upfront cost, or opting for a screen that’s lower resolution and slower — you can still get something that’ll ensure a good gaming experience. Here are three of the best gaming laptops.
BEST BUDGET GAMING LAPTOP: HP VICTUS 16
The HP Victus 16 is a strong, affordable option. It offers a respectable balance for people with different needs for play and work. Spending more will likely get you better build quality and more enjoyable audio. But if you can get past the screen wobble, the Victus can hold its own against pricier models.
Prices start at about
$700 for the 15-inch model, but we really recommend avoiding configurations with 8GB RAM; MacOS can get away with that, but Windows has more overhead. For a little
more ($890), you can get a reasonable low-end model that you won’t outgrow quickly with an Intel i5-12450H, 12GB RAM, 512GB PCIe NVMe, a 144Hz 1080p screen and GeForce GTX 1650.
BEST SMALL GAMING LAPTOP: RAZER BLADE 14
A smaller version than
the 15-inch staple, the 14-inch Razer Blade delivers a lot of gaming power for its size without feeling small — an important consideration for a gaming laptop. It also offers decent battery life, a nice size for travel and a subtle design (for a gaming laptop) that’s buttoned up enough for sitting in a meeting with the top brass or clients.
In its ROG Flow X13 With XG Mobile, Asus pairs an ultraportable 13-inch two-in-one that has a relatively powerful AMD CPU with an external GPU dock equipped with a near-topof-the-line Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 mobile processor, and the result is an incredibly flexible system for both work and play that outperforms many bigger, clunkier gaming laptops. Because it’s a two-inone, you can comfortably use an external gaming keyboard without the built-in keyboard getting in the way. The standalone model has gotten an upgrade to an Nvidia RTX 3050 Ti since we reviewed it, but the bundle with the XG Mobile still has a GTX 1650.