The best gaming laptops you can buy in 2021
Best gaming laptop overallRead moreClean, consistent 60fps15.6-inch display
Best budget gaming laptopRead moreFrom $1,358.98SSD , WiFi 6 and more
Best high-performance gaming laptopRead moreFantastic performanceSolid cooling system
Best Dell gaming laptopRead moreFrom $1,698Intel Core i7-10750H
Best MSI gaming laptopRead moreFrom $2,199Intel Core i7-10870H
Modern gaming laptops often cost more than their business-grade counterparts but offset that premium with gaming-specific features that boost their performance when it counts most. They aren’t as pretty or light as mainstream notebooks like the Dell XPS or Apple MacBook, but they’re also a lot more powerful. These days, the list of reasons to choose a gaming laptop over the alternatives has never been longer while the caveats continue to shrink.
That’s probably the reason why sales for gaming laptops are at an all-time high. Nowadays, nearly every big name in computers has a gaming sub-brand fighting for consumers’ attention and dollars.
Despite that popularity, manufacturers haven’t made much progress in making the process of finding the best gaming laptop your money can get you any more straightforward. We’re here to help fill in the gaps.
1. ASUS ROG Zephyrus G15
The best gaming laptop overall
|From $2299||Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060||Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060||16GB DDR4-3200 RAM||15.6-inch WQHD display w/ 165Hz refresh rate||512GB M.2 NVMe PCIe 3.0 SSD|
The original ROG Zephyrus was the gaming laptop that put ASUS’s ROG PCs on the map as a serious contender. The Zephyrus G15 lives up to that reputation and then some. Despite a uniquely compact form-factor that sits closer to the cutting edge than most gaming laptops, buyers still get to reap the benefits of both a best-in-class AMD Ryzen 9 5900HS processor and Nvidia’s latest GeForce RTX 3000 Series GPUs.
Beyond these top-of-mind details, the ROG Zephyrus 15 also boasts several everyday quality-of-life improvements such as a larger touch-pad plus ASUS’ typical ergo-lift hinge design that makes it more comfortable to type on. There’s also Dolby Atmos speakers, an intelligent cooling system and a 90Whr battery.
All told, the ROG Zephyrus G15 is leaner, cheaper and provides more bang for your buck than most laptops in its weight class. If you’re serious about getting a gaming laptop but don’t want to break the bank, it’s a standout that you shouldn’t walk past without serious consideration.
2. Dell G5 15 SE
The best budget gaming laptop
|From $1358||AMD Ryzen 5 4600H||AMD Ryzen RX 5600M||8GB DDR4-3200 RAM||5.6-inch FHD w/ 120Hz refresh rate||512GB M.2 NVMe PCIe 3.0 SSD|
The Dell G5 15 SE is one of the best budgets buys out there when it comes to gaming laptops right now, particularly if you opt to grab it through Dell’s online storefront.
You won’t be able to push your in-game settings as high as you would with one of the more expensive gaming laptops out there. Still, the bundling of both AMD’s mobile processing and graphics hardware found inside the Dell G5 15 pays dividends when it comes to performance.
The Dell G5 15 is more than capable of delivering solid frame rates for live service games like Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Siege, Fortnite or League of Legends. Throw in SSD storage, Killer Wi-Fi 6 connectivity, Nahimic 3D Audio and 120Hz screen, plus support for AMD’s FreeSync, and you’ve got a comprehensive gaming-centric package that’s surprisingly lean when it comes to the asking price involved.
If you’re the kind of PC gamer who cares more about how a game plays than how it looks, the Dell G5 15 SE is the best budget-friendly option out there.
Tips to speed up your gaming laptop
3. ASUS ROG Strix Scar 15
Best high-performance gaming laptop
|From $4299||AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX||Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080||32GB DDR4-3200 RAM||15.6-inch FHD w/ 300Hz refresh rate||1TB M.2 NVMe PCIe 3.0 SSD|
ASUS’ ROG Strix Scar 15 might be a little expensive for the enthusiast or everyday consumer. Nevertheless, buying in gets you a Ryzen 9 mobile processor that’s more than a worthy match for Intel’s i9 processors. You also get 1TB of SSD storage, 32GB of RAM, a 300hz display and support for ray-tracing courtesy of Nvidia RTX 3000-Series hardware.
The optical-mechanical switches in the keyboard keep things feeling tactile. Meanwhile, the liquid metal thermal-management system lets you push the powerful hardware even further and make the most of the laptop’s ROG Boost overclocking capabilities.
By the standards of high-performance gaming laptops, the ASUS ROG Strix Scar 15 delivers a best-in-class experience with few compromises at a price point that gives it a narrow edge over Alienware, Razer and others. While the 300Hz display here falls short of the glitzy 1440p or OLED-enhanced picture quality found in some of the competition, it is about $1500 cheaper, and it hits a level of performance that’s just as good, if not superior.
4. Dell G5 15
Best Dell gaming laptop
|Starts at $1698||Intel Core i7-10750H||Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Ti 1080||16GB DDR4-2933 RAM||15.6-inch FHD display w/ 120Hz refresh rate||512GB M.2 NVMe PCIe 3.0 SSD|
Unless you’re attached to the idea of a larger 17.3-inch display (or looking to save some money by going with the G5 SE), the Dell G5 15 is the obvious highlight of Dell’s G-Series gaming laptops.
The base model doesn’t break the bank but delivers more than enough performance for a decent enthusiast gaming experience. Then, if you do want to pay a little extra, you can bump things up from the baseline Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Ti to an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070. At that point, feats like 4K, VR and ray-tracing become a genuine possibility for the humble Dell G5 15. Whichever way you go, you’ll still end with one of the best Intel Core i7 processors of its generation and a sleek design that’s a little more inconspicuous than other gaming laptops.
Dell’s G5 15 is the gaming laptop that’s light on flair but easy to make your own.
5. MSI GE66 Raider
Best MSI gaming laptop
|Starts at $2199||Intel Core i7-10870H||Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070||16GB DDR4-3200 RAM||15.6-inch FHD w/ 240Hz refresh rate||1TB M.2 NVMe PCIe 3.0 SSD|
MSI has always been great at picking the right parts, but they’ve sometimes struggled to bring things together and make the sum of those parts compelling. The MSI GE66 Raider solves this problem and looks good while doing it. It’s thin, light, and stacked with high-end hardware designed to make gaming that little bit better. Some of these inclusions sound small, like Wi-Fi 6E connectivity and high-speed memory. However, combined with MSI’s house-brand Cooler Boost technology, they help the MSI GE66 Raider make good on its potential as a gaming laptop powerful enough to dethrone your desktop.
Within MSI broader gaming laptop portfolio, the MSI GE66 Raider makes a strong case for itself as the Goldilocks option. It’s not the most powerful nor the most compact machine in MSI’s stable, but it’s going to be ‘just right’ for the price for most consumers.
6. ASUS ROG Strix G15
Best ASUS gaming laptop
|Starts at $2799||AMD Ryzen 7 5800H||Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070||8GB DDR4-2933 RAM||15.6-inch FHD w/ 300Hz refresh rate||512GB M.2 NVMe PCIe 3.0 SSD|
The ASUS ROG Strix G15 isn’t as thin and light as the Zephyrus (nor as beefy as the Strix Scar) is, but it makes up for it by bundling in a higher-refresh-rate display (300Hz), more robust cooling tech and a desktop-inspired keyboard. For just shy of $3000, the ASUS ROG Strix G15 will let you crank the fidelity on pretty much any modern game as high as it can go. Comparable efforts from Razer, Alienware and others either compromise on specs or come in at a significantly higher price.
Accounting for stuff like form-factor, the ROG Zephyrus G15 might be the better buy, but if we’re talking about ASUS’ best gaming laptop, then the ROG Strix G15 is the reigning champ.