Power, customization and stellar performance are all the rage when it comes to the best gaming laptops. With the huge leaps in graphics technology during the past few years, gaming is a completely new visual experience. An excellent graphics card will help your laptop stay ahead of the curve, and many units even offer 3D and Blu-ray capabilities for an even more immersive environment.
Instead of gaming on your average laptop, you can upgrade to a more powerful gaming machine and vastly improve your gameplay. The best gaming laptops have extended battery life, multiple hard drive options and lightning fast processors.
The best-rated gaming laptops on are fully customizable, which means they give you the power to assemble a high-end but still affordable gaming laptop. Bigger is better, so the manufacturers let you upgrade and customize any system you pick, which is a perk if you want to install multiple hard drives, more RAM or an upgraded graphics card.
Dell's Alienware series, the Origin Eon series and the MSI GT70 series lead the market as the best gaming laptops. These and the other gaming laptops we reviewed all have at least three USB ports, high-end graphics cards, an HDMI port, webcams and other standard features for stress-free gaming. Before you choose your powerful gaming laptop, read some of our articles about gaming laptops and sink into another world of gaming exploration.
The portability, connectivity and versatility of a laptop, combined with the power of a desktop, allow for a mobile gaming experience every bit as satisfying as what you expect from a full-sized desktop tower at home. In our review of gaming laptops, we evaluate the features and characteristics you need to look for, including performance, design, features and support:
The core of your gaming experience on these laptops will come from the graphics card. Since mobile graphics cards are integrated into the motherboard, low-end cards heat up quickly. Look for components that work specifically for mobile gaming – avoid models that are described as integrated graphics cards.
NVIDIA's GTX modules are specifically meant for mobile computers, as is AMD's Radeon 8000 series. These graphics cards will stay cooler than lesser cards. Also, large amounts of dedicated video memory make all the difference. Having more video memory takes stress off the RAM and CPU, making your system run more smoothly.
You can expect the most powerful gaming laptop to come equipped with a third-generation processor. These quad-core CPUs let you multitask lag free and experience fewer heating issues. In terms of raw power, as you increase your cores, you will see an increase in speed across all applications.
With games taking up large amounts of space (up to 20GB each), the best gaming laptops should have no less than 500GB of hard drive space. Be sure to keep an eye on hard drive speed, as well: 7,200 rpm is a fast and responsive drive speed in a top gaming laptop. Since you'll be opening and closing large programs, look for systems loaded with at least 8GB of RAM.
If you strive for extreme performance, consider solid-state drives – they forgo spinning drives for flash-based technology similar to that found in a USB memory stick. Solid-state drives are gaining popularity because they have no moving parts and are faster than hard disk drives. They also cost substantially more than traditional drives.
When building your dream gaming machine, also keep design in mind. If the weight, keyboard style and screen size fit your personal taste, your gaming laptop will give you a unique edge in your online gaming environment. A fully customizable laptop in the color of your choice can mirror your style, from the shell to the keys.
Look for good gaming laptops with at least a 17-inch display for excellent widescreen viewing. Gaming laptops are made to support intense graphics, and their screens flaunt true 1080p resolution. Such a high resolution means you'll experience familiar and fantastical landscapes and arresting animation.
One thing to expect with these laptops is they won't be as light as traditional laptops. Gaming laptops can be as heavy as 12 pounds, but you can look for lighter models of around 8 pounds for more comfort. The most efficient gaming laptop will have two or more internal fans cooling the CPU and graphics card while you are playing.
Like standard laptops, gaming laptops give you the convenience of being able to attach your peripheral devices even while you're away from home. Most of the laptops we reviewed either include a Blu-ray drive or give you the option to upgrade.
The best gaming laptops have multiple memory card readers, an HDMI port (sometimes two) and four or more USB ports. With more ports you can plug in your own special gaming keyboard and mouse or secondary display for more effective game play.
Gaming systems capable of 3D are becoming commonplace, so if you opt for a 3D-capable system, make sure you match it with the 3D-supported displays to brighten your Blu-ray movies or high speed racing games.
Help & Support
The breathtaking power of a high-end gaming laptop doesn’t come cheap, so you'll want a good warranty to cover your investment. Manufacturers generally offer a one-year warranty that covers any hardware defects. Many allow you to extend your warranty for up to three years as well – and some let you extend it even longer.
Make sure the site you choose to buy your gaming laptop from has all the basic support options, as well. Some of the standard support features are live chat, a community section, phone number, email and driver downloads.
The graphics in the gaming industry are improving quickly, so plan ahead when investing in your gaming laptop to ensure maximum performance. Industry-leading graphics cards can provide detailed images for years to come, and you'll want enough storage space and processing power to handle your existing games and the next wave of innovative gaming. The best gaming laptops supply everything you need to get an edge on your competition.
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