Buying a gaming laptop is challenging as there are many options, with new models released every year sporting increasingly more powerful CPUs and GPUs. When shopping for the best gaming laptop, you'd want to focus on a few aspects, like its CPU and GPU performance, performance over time (thermal throttling), as well as the display's refresh rate, motion performance, and VRR support. A good keyboard helps, too, as you'd want one that can give you clear tactile feedback and won't cause fatigue over long gaming sessions. If you don't plan on using a headset, you might want to look at the fan noise, as most gaming laptops can get pretty loud under load. If you plan on gaming on the go, you'll also want to look at the laptop's portability and battery life.
We've bought and tested over 105 laptops. Below are our recommendations for the best gaming laptops you can buy. You can also see our recommendations for the best laptops, the best budget and cheap gaming laptops, and the best Windows laptops.
The best gaming laptop we've tested is the Dell Alienware m16 R1 (2023). This 16-inch model provides an amazing gaming experience. It's available with fast AMD Ryzen 7000 CPUs and various discrete AMD and NVIDIA GPUs, up to an RTX 4090. Display options include two QHD+ panels (165Hz or 240Hz) and an FHD+ 480Hz panel, so you can choose based on your preference and CPU/GPU configuration. All three panels support variable refresh rate to reduce screen tearing. RAM and storage max out at 64GB and 8.5TB, respectively; both are user-replaceable.
This laptop feels very well-built. However, it isn't the best for portable use because It's bulky and heavy, and you'll need to bring the charger, too, as the battery lasts less than an hour when gaming. The keyboard is configurable; you can get it with scissor or low-profile CherryMX mechanical switches. Online gamers, you'd be happy to hear it has Wi-Fi 6E and an Ethernet port to ensure a reliable internet connection. You can get this laptop directly from Dell if you have trouble finding it elsewhere.
If you only intend to play at home and want a larger, more immersive display, you can go with the 18-inch Dell Alienware m18 (2023). It has near-identical configuration options, performance, and features as its smaller sibling. However, it's more expensive.
Our best mid-range pick is the Lenovo Legion Pro 5 Gen 8 16 (2023), also a 16-inch model available with AMD CPUs and NVIDIA 40-series GPUs. However, it doesn't feel quite as sturdy as the Dell above build-wise, and its GPU configuration tops out at an RTX 4070, which is more of a mid-range graphics processor. Display options are also more limited, as you can only choose between a 165Hz or a 240Hz QHD+ IPS panel. It has a tactile, full-size keyboard, Wi-Fi 6E wireless connectivity, and tons of ports, including an HDMI 2.1 and Ethernet. The fans get pretty loud, but on the upside, neither the CPU nor the GPU throttles under load, so you'll get consistent performance when gaming.
The best budget gaming laptop we've tested is the ASUS TUF Dash F15 (2022). As this is an older model from 2022, you can get a Core i5 or i7 configuration paired with an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 Ti or 3060 GPU for around $1,000 USD. Both GPUs can deliver a solid 60 fps in graphically demanding games, though you may need to tweak the settings a bit to get there, especially with the 3050 Ti. The main drawback is that, unlike the models with NVIDIA 40-series GPUs we recommend above, the 30-series GPUs lack Frame Generation, an AI performance-boosting feature. You still get DLSS and ray tracing, though. Some configurations come with 8GB of RAM, which isn't ideal for gaming, but you can add more yourself since the memory is user-replaceable. The same goes for the storage drive.
Models with an RTX 3050 Ti and 3060 GPU typically come with a 144Hz FHD display. Unfortunately, while this panel's high refresh rate provides a responsive gaming experience, its slow response time causes noticeable ghosting. There's also no VRR support to reduce screen tearing. If you have a better external monitor, you can hook it up via its Thunderbolt 4 or HDMI port. For online gaming, you get a Wi-Fi 6 wireless adapter and an Ethernet port to ensure a fast and reliable internet connection. This laptop is relatively portable since it isn't too bulky, but you'll have to bring the charger for on-the-go use, as the battery lasts around an hour when gaming.
The best laptop for gaming we've tested in the cheap category is the Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3 (2021). Though entirely plastic, this 15.6-inch model feels surprisingly sturdy, especially for a model in its price range. For a little over $800 USD, you can get a configuration with an AMD Ryzen 5 5600H CPU, an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 Ti GPU, 8GB of RAM, and 512GB of storage. This CPU and GPU combination can deliver a solid 60 fps gaming experience at 1080p with most titles. 8GB of RAM isn't ideal for gaming, and you'll quickly run out of space with only 512GB of storage. Thankfully, you can upgrade these components yourself later on.
As for the display, this model sports a 120Hz IPS panel. Its response time is rather slow, but it's still better than a basic 60Hz panel and supports VRR to reduce screen tearing. Unfortunately, this laptop does get hot and loud under load, and the battery lasts less than an hour when gaming, which is normal but still disappointing. One last note: cheaper variants are around $650 USD; however, those models have a GTX 1650 GPU, which doesn't perform quite as well as the RTX 3050 Ti. It may be worth it if you only play lighter, less graphically-intensive games.
The best gaming Chromebook we've tested is the Acer Chromebook 516 GE (2022). Unlike our picks above, this device runs Chrome OS, an operating system that isn't typically associated with gaming, and it runs on its Intel CPU's integrated graphics. It's because it's made for cloud gaming services like NVIDIA GeForce NOW. Cloud gaming means the processing takes place on NVIDIA's server—or whichever company provides the service—and the image is streamed to your device, alleviating the need for powerful hardware. GeForce NOW is a paid subscription service; the laptop comes with a three-month trial.
The overall build quality is good, and while it's on the bulkier side, it isn't too heavy, so it's still portable. Its 16-inch QHD+ display has a 120Hz refresh rate and a good response time, resulting in a clear image with minimal ghosting in fast-moving scenes. You get Wi-Fi 6E wireless connectivity and an Ethernet port, which is great, as cloud gaming performance highly depends on your internet connection. The keyboard feels spacious and tactile, doesn't get hot under load, and has RGB backlighting. Unfortunately, its battery life is very short, at around six hours of light use or an hour of gaming.
Dec 01, 2023: Replaced the Dell Alienware m18 (2023) with the Dell Alienware m16 R1 (2023) because the m16 is more portable and available with the same CPUs and GPUs. Replaced the ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14 (2022) with the ASUS TUF Dash F15 (2022) because the G14 is discontinued and hard to find.
Oct 03, 2023: Replaced the Razer Blade 14 (2022) with the Dell Alienware m18 (2023) because the Dell has faster CPU and GPU options. Added the Lenovo Legion Pro 5 Gen 8 16 (2023) as the 'Best Mid-Range' pick and moved the ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14 (2022) to the 'Best Budget' category since its price dropped. Removed the Lenovo Legion 5 Gen 6 15 (2021) because it's the same price as the ASUS but doesn't perform as well.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best laptops for gaming to buy. We factor in the price (a cheaper laptop wins over a pricier one if the difference isn't worth it), feedback from our visitors, and availability (no laptops that are difficult to find or almost out of stock everywhere).
If you prefer to make your own decision, here's the list of all of our laptop reviews, sorted by price from low to high. Keep in mind that most laptops are available in various configurations, and the table only shows the results of the model we tested, so it's best to see the full review for information about other variants.