That HTC Vive sale may be tempting, but it means nothing without a capable enough rig. That’s where the best gaming laptops come in. In 2017, we’re always on the move, though we need our computers to be every bit as powerful as they are portable – you know, so we can take advantage of all these Steam Summer Sale deals.
Even if upgrading to Windows 10 makes you wary, you might enjoy the fact that you’ll soon be able to check up on the status of your graphics card in Task Manager. Not to mention all the latest gaming laptops can take advantage of Game Mode featured in the Windows 10 Creators Update – and who doesn’t want better performance, no matter how modest the gains?
Whether you need a gaming laptop that runs everything in 4K or just anything you can use to run at a stable frame rate, we’ve gathered the top gaming laptops in every category to help you determine your next big purchase. In an order based on our review ratings and awards, these are the best gaming laptops of 2017.
1. Razer Blade
CPU: 2.6GHz Intel Core i7-6700HQ | Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 (6GB GDDR5 VRAM) | RAM: 16GB | Screen: 14-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080) – QHD+ (3,200 x 1,800) IGZO (LED backlit, multi-touch) | Storage: 256GB – 1TB PCIe SSD
Impressive battery life
4K display option
Fans whir loudly under load
Limited upgrade options
For many gamers, Ultrabook is a four-letter word, but it doesn’t have to be. The first time you get your hands on a Razer Blade, you’ll be looking at a battery life of 4 hours and 8 minutes during everyday productivity tasks (or 7 hours and 29 minutes of non-stop video). While you could argue it does skimp as far as graphics are concerned, with the help of a Razer Core external GPU enclosure, you can strap an Nvidia GTX 1080 Ti to this thing down the road if you want. Plus, with the newly added 4K screen option, you may actually need it.
Read the full review: Razer Blade
2. Asus ROG Strix GL502
It’s hard not to love a gaming laptop this good
CPU: Intel Core i7 | Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 – 1070 | RAM: 16GB DDR4 | Screen: 15.6-inch full HD 1,920 x 1,080 IPS | Storage: 128GB – 256GB SSD, 1TB HDD
Rocks Full HD gaming
Deliciously vibrant screen
Middling battery life
The Asus Strix GL502 may not boast the most innovative design, swapping out the usual black and red color scheme for one that makes it feel like Halloween year-round. But, it’s undoubtedly one of the best when it comes to gaming in 1080p. In fact, we were able to crank the settings all the way up in Overwatch without taking a hit below 60fps. The battery life is janky, sure, but the screen, performance and onboard sound system more than make up for it.
Read the full review: Asus ROG Strix GL502
3. Alienware 13 R3
Gawk at the first-ever OLED gaming laptop
CPU: Intel Core i5 – i7 | Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 | RAM: 8GB – 16GB DDR4 | Screen: 13.3-inch HD 1,366 x 768 TN – QHD 2,560 x 1440 OLED touchscreen | Storage: 180GB – 512GB SSD
Gorgeous OLED screen
Improved hinge-forward design
Short battery life
Unlike most laptops its size, the Alienware 13 R3 bears a hinge-forward design. By moving the heatsinks usually located beneath the keyboard to a distinct bulge that projects outward behind the screen, it allows for a thinner, 0.81-inch (0.22cm) chassis. Unfortunately, this means you won’t find many 13-inch laptop bags that will actually suit the Alienware 13 R3; rather you’ll likely have to opt for a 15-inch carrier. The real draw, however, isn’t the Alienware 13 R3’s protruding appendage or even its impressive quad-core, H-class CPU. While you may be tempted by the inclusion of a full-size Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060, it’s the OLED touch display that caught our attention. The flavorful color gamut puts practically every other laptop on the market to shame.
Read the full review: Alienware 13 R3
4. Razer Blade Pro
Finally, a desktop replacement with portability in mind
CPU: Intel Core i7 | Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 (8GB GDDR5) | RAM: 32GB | Screen: 17.3-inch, UHD (3,840 x 2,160) IGZO touchscreen with G-Sync | Storage: 512GB – 2TB PCIe SSD
Starboard trackpad placement
A desktop experience you can finally carry
Less than 5 hours of battery life
At long last, Razer has introduced a laptop that can not only replace your desktop, but do so without packing on more weight than most large laptops. It’s expensive, yes – it certainly won’t save you money when compared to building your own PC. On the other hand, it measures in at only 0.88-inches thick with an onboard 17-inch, 4K multi-touch display and a built-in Wi-Fi card. If that’s not enough to sell you on it already, the Razer Blade Pro also introduces the company’s Ultra-Low-Profile Mechanical switches to a notebook for the first time ever. These keys bear an appearance similar to your run-of-the-mill chiclet keyboards, but press down on them yourself and you’ll feel (and hear) the authentic click of a mechanical keyswitch. It’s an experience bettered only by its unusual trackpad placement, which feels so natural for gaming that you’ll wonder why it wasn’t there to begin with.
Read the full review: Razer Blade Pro
5. Gigabyte Aero 14
An Ultrabook that’s first-rate in performance and value
CPU: Intel Core i7 | Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 (6GB GDDR5) | RAM: 16GB – 32GB | Screen: 14-inch, QHD 2,560 x 1,440 anti-glare IPS | Storage: 512GB – 1TB SSD
Lightweight and thin design
Battery life under-delivers
Loaded with bloatware
Donning a 7th-generation Intel Core i7 processor, Nvidia Pascal-series GPU and a screen resolution that soars above 1080p, this laptop is more affordable than a comparably specced Razer Blade or Alienware 13 R3. At the same time, it neglects to compromise in terms of portability and performance. This is a laptop, for instance, that weighs a mere 4.17 pounds (1.89kg) and measures in at 0.78 inches thin, undeniably a feat for a gaming machine. Factor in the 3 hour and 38 minute PCMark 8 battery test and 190-degree hinge, and it’s easy to see why the Gigabyte Aero 14 made the cut.
Read the full review: Gigabyte Aero 14
6. Dell Inspiron 15 Gaming
This gaming laptop won’t leave you penniless
CPU: Intel Core i5 – i7 | Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 – 1050 Ti | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Screen: 15.6-inch, FHD 1,920 x 1,080 – UHD 3,840 x 2,160 anti-glare LED backlit | Storage: 1TB SSHD 8GB – 1TB HDD, 128GB SSD
Stellar battery life
Ports for days
Trackpad is touchy
Screen is lacking
In a world full of overpriced gaming laptops with internals that overcompensate for their underqualified screen resolutions and short-lived batteries, the Dell Inspiron 15 Gaming is a breath of fresh air. Ditching the Alienware moniker for something a little more mainstream, Dell has crafted yet another gaming PC masked as a productivity machine. Following in the footsteps of the Dell XPS Tower Special Edition, the Inspiron 15 is a gaming computer you wouldn’t be embarrassed to use in public. From the outside looking in, the Dell Inspiron 15 Gaming is a class act. Better yet, it’s relatively powerful, long-lasting and, come to think of it, pretty damn affordable too.
Read the full review: Dell Inspiron 15 Gaming
7. HP Omen 17
A premium desktop replacement sans the premium cost
CPU: 6th gen Intel Core i7 | Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 (8GB GDDR5); Intel HD Graphics 530 | RAM: 16GB DDR4 | Screen: 17.3-inch 4K (3,840 x 2,160) IPS with G-Sync | Storage: 1TB – 2TB HDD, 128GB SSD
4K, G-Sync Display
Large physical size
Like the GameCube of laptops, the HP Omen 17 has the build quality of a children’s toy. However, when you see what it can do, you’ll wonder why it didn’t cost more. At 7 pounds, you’ll have to forgive the weight of the HP Omen 17 if you want to benefit from its 17-inch Quad-HD display. Of course, although the GTX 1070 is more of a 1440p performer than a 4K one, you can still expect a consistent 30 fps in games like The Division at the highest graphical settings. Overall, the HP Omen 17 is HP’s Gigabyte P57X equivalent, but with Bang & Olufsen speakers that might tip you over the edge.
Read the full review: HP Omen 17
8. MSI GP72VRX Leopard Pro
This VR-ready laptop is too ambitious for its own good
CPU: Intel Core i7 | Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 (6GB GDDR5) | RAM: 16GB | Screen: 17.3-inch FHD screen, 1,920 x 1,080, 120Hz, 5ms, wide viewing angle | Storage: 512GB NVMe M.2 SATA SSD
Responsive 120Hz screen
Loaded with brand-name parts
Short battery life
Noticeably loud fans
In case you don’t need the intense graphics hardware of the MSI Omen 17, but you still want the massive, 17-inch display, the MSI GP72VRX is exactly the gaming laptop for you. This notebook comes tricked out in only one configuration, but it’s a very good one meant for mid-range gaming and especially VR support. Fans of subtly will appreciate the minimalism of the GP72VRX. While it does bear the trademark MSI dragon shield branding and an RGB keyboard, everything else is kept relatively low-profile. The 120Hz refresh rate on its 4K display would be a handy additive but alas, the GTX 1060 isn’t quite up to snuff.
Read the full review: MSI GP72VRX Leopard Pro
9. Alienware 15 R3
A stylish and powerful video gaming gargantuan
CPU: Intel Core i5 – i7 | Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 – 1070 | RAM: 8GB – 32GB DDR4 | Screen: 15.6-inch, FHD (1,920 x 1,080) Anti-Glare G-Sync IPS | Storage: 1TB HDD – 2TB SSD; 1TB HDD
Impeccable build quality and design
Big and heavy for 15 inches
Average battery life
When it comes to gaming laptops, Alienware is the name brand that everyone recognizes, and the Alienware 15 R3 makes it not so hard to see why. This hardy mobile rig is all about performance and cosmetic appeal, bedecked from head to toe in RGB lighting. Unusually, everything from the logo opposite of the display to the trackpad can be customized with your own preferred arrangement of color choices. But with this level of allure comes a weight of 7.69 pounds (3.49kg) that could break your scale. Still, the Alienware 15 R3 more than makes up for this with a full array of ports, stellar thermal performance and a 120Hz G-Sync screen that will make you blush.
Read the full review: Alienware 15 R3
10. Gigabyte Aero 15
A superb gaming laptop that suffers as anything else
CPU: Intel Core i7-7700HQ | Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 (6GB GDDR5 VRAM) | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Screen: 15.6-inch, FHD (1,920 x 1,080) – UHD (3,840 x 2,160) | Storage: 256GB M.2 SATA SSD
Fully programmable RGB keyboard
Noisy fan and keys
Although its gaudy looks work against Gigabyte’s “For Work/For Game” marketing strategy of the Aero 15, being available in such vibrant colors as bright orange and lime green, the laptop still pulls its weight as a competent rival to the Origin EVO15-S and the Razer Blade. The full, per-key backlighting of the RGB keyboard is a rare feat not to mention the option of a 4K screen is a nice touch even if the Gigabyte Aero 15 is locked to a 1080p-privy Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060. While its marketing would suggest it’s targeting business users (who, mind you, are already clinging to their MacBooks and ThinkPads), the Gigabyte is more suited for teens, what with its loud appearance. Still, even they might be offended by the ill-fated glass trackpad.
Read the full review: Gigabyte Aero 15
- Only interested in light gaming? Try a Surface Book on for size
Gabe Carey has also contributed to this article