The Best Gaming Laptops For Your Money?

By that, I mean the laptops that offer the best gaming performance at a given price. Because if you’re about to buy a gaming laptop, you want the one that offers the best performance possible for your budget, right?

If you have the time to do research… but who does?

You don’t have the time to read or the knowledge to understand detailed laptop reviews and specifications and just want the answers? In other words, what you want to know is:
What’s the best gaming laptop for my budget?

So if you don’t have the time, don’t worry. We’re here to help you with this article.

The features that we evaluate in order to make our recommendations:

1. Price
2. Performance: CPU, RAM, Storage, Video Card and Wireless Adapter
3. Screen: Size, Resolution, Finish, Panel type, Brightness, Contrast, Viewing Angles and Color Accuracy
4. Portability: Dimensions, Weight, Real-life battery life during average web browsing?
5. Usability: Keyboard: Layout, Key size, Travel/Pressure, Key Shape and any additional Function keys. Touch pad quality, trackpoint, backlit keyboard, numpad, Operating System, which ports are offered, Webcam resolution, sound quality, optical drive, noise levels.
6. Reliability: How solid is the chassis and the screen hinges? Are the temperatures under load reasonable? Is the keyboard spill-resistant? Overall manufacturer long-term reliability? Is it easy to service the laptop?
7. Warranty: Warranty length? What does the warranty cover?

We then recommend laptops that offer the best overall features, at various price points.

Alternatives recommendations:

We also sometime suggest alternative recommendations, with clear explanations as to why they are interesting alternatives. That way, you can easily choose the best laptop to answer YOUR needs and desires.

Put all of this together and you get this article: The Best High-End Gaming Laptops!

A reminder:

My recommendations in this article are based on the prices that I saw on February 12th 2017. Prices and availability change all the time. While I can’t keep up with ever changing prices, I do recommend to you what are in my professional experience the best laptops around a price point.

Leave a comment if you have a question, a suggestion and/or any feedback that you want to share.

Summary

Click on any of these links to jump to the section that interests you, or scroll down to see them all, in this order.

The Best High-End Gaming Laptop:

  1. $1500: 3.78lbs, 13.9″, 1080p, Geforce GTX 1060, Core i7-7700HQ, 128GB m.2 SSD
  2. $1600: Geforce GTX 1070, 1080p IPS G-Sync, Core i7-6700HQ, 16GB RAM, 1TB HDD
  3. $2400: Geforce GTX 1080, 1080p IPS G-Sync, i7-6820HK, 128GB SSD + 1TB HDD, 16GB RAM
  4. $2600: 2x Geforce GTX 1070 SLI, 1080p IPS 120Hz, i7-6820HK, 256GB SSD + 1TB HDD, 32GB RAM
  5. $4200: 2x Geforce GTX 1080 SLI, 4K IPS G-Sync, i7-6700K 4-4.2GHz, 256GB SSD + 1TB HDD, 32GB RAM

Upgrade your laptop:

  1. Upgrade the RAM
  2. Upgrade the hard drive or the SSD
  3. USB DVD and Blu-ray External Burners
  4. The Best WiFi Routers, WiFi Adapters and Bluetooth Adapters

Best Gaming Laptop for $1500

MSI GS43VR Phantom Pro

– Click here to see the price on Amazon
– $1499.00 at B&H (Worldwide shipping)

This model is amazing if you are looking for a powerful and yet highly portable gaming laptop. This laptop has a 14″ screen and only weights 3.75lbs, which is outstanding for a gaming laptop. Its battery life is pretty good for a gaming laptop.

It is equipped with a powerful Intel Core i7-7700HQ CPU, 16GB of RAM and a Nvidia Geforce GTX 1060 graphic card and will be capable of running pretty much all games at a 1920 x 1080 resolution with high or maxed out details.

This laptop has a 128GB M.2 SSD which greatly improves the laptop’s responsiveness, booting speed, reliability and it is more shock resistant than hard drives. It is also equipped with a large 1TB HDD for extra storage.

This model is equipped with Full HD 1920 x 1080 resolution display with a Matte finish so it doesn’t reflect light.

Same model available with an higher capacity SSD and more RAM:
The MSI GS43VR Phantom Pro is also available from XOTIC PC with a larger 256GB, 512GB or 1TB SSD as well as the possibility of getting 32GB of RAM, see the available configurations here from Amazon.

Pros:

  1. Equipped with the Nvidia Geforce 1060 6GB GDDR5
  2. Intel Core i7 7700HQ 7th gen Skylake Quad-Core + Hyper-Threading 2.8-3.8GHz CPU
  3. Backlit keyboard
  4. 16GB of DDR4 2400MHz RAM (2 x 8GB)
  5. RAM can be upgraded to 32GB (2x16GB DDR4). See our recommended RAM upgrades toward the end of the article
  6. High performance 128GB SSD which improves responsiveness and booting speed.
  7. Large 1TB hard drive for extra storage capacity.
  8. Screen is equipped with an IPS panel: Good contrast, accurate color reproduction and great viewing angles.
  9. Screen has a matte finish, so it doesn’t reflect light.
  10. Thin and lightweight for a powerful gaming laptop : 13.58″ x 9.65″ x 0.87″ and 3.75lbs
  11. HDMI and Mini display port video outputs.
  12. Windows 10
  13. Decent keyboard for typing
  14. 1080p HD webcam
  15. Full HD 1920 x 1080 resolution display
  16. 802.11ac WiFI
  17. Blutooth 4.1
  18. SD card reader
  19. Decent battery life for a gaming laptop: Up to 9.5 hours battery life with low brightness and no WiFi. Realistically, expect 4-5 hours for web browsing, 2 hours for gaming
  20. Total of 3 USB ports, including one USB 3.1 Type-C and two USB 3.0 Type A
  21. USB 3.1 Type-C port support Thunderbolt 3.

Cons:

  1. No numpad
  2. No optical drive
  3. No G-Sync

Best Gaming Laptop for $1600

ASUS ROG STRIX GL502VS-DB71

Click here to see the price on Amazon
$1599.99 at B&H (Worldwide shipping)

With this gaming laptop, you a significantly more powerful video card with the Nvidia Geforce GTX 1070 graphic card, equipped with 8GB of VRAM graphic card.

You also get a powerful Intel Core i7-6700HQ CPU, a 1920 x 1080 screen, 16GB of RAM, a 256GB PCIe SSD and a 1TB hard drive.

One great feature is Nvidia G-Sync, which syncs your display and graphic card, to prevent screen tearing and minimize stutter and input lag. This makes your gaming experience smoother and better.

On top of that this laptop is highly portable for a gaming laptop equipped with such a powerful graphic card, as it only weights 4.8 lbs.

Pretty much all games should be playable at a 1920 x 1080 resolution with maxed out details.

Pros:

  1. Equipped with the Nvidia Geforce 1070 8GB GDDR5
  2. Intel Core i7 6700HQ 6th gen Skylake Dual-Core + Hyper-Threading 2.6-3.5GHz CPU
  3. 16GB of RAM: Two sticks of 8GB (16GB) of DDR4 RAM.
  4. RAM can be upgraded to 32GB (2x16GB DDR4). See our recommended RAM upgrades toward the end of the article
  5. RAM and hard drive are easy to access, if you want to upgrade them.
  6. Matte screen that doesn’t reflect light.
  7. 1920 x 1080 1080p Full HD display
  8. Screen has great viewing angles.
  9. Supports Nvidia’s G-Sync which prevents screen tearing, minimizes stutter and input lag for an improved and smoother gameplay.
  10. 1 TB hard drive so you have plenty of space for your games and all your content.
  11. Hard drive is a 7200rpm model, so it’s not as slow as 5400rpm hard drives.
  12. Pretty light and thin for a gaming laptop : 0.94″ thick and 4.8 lbs
  13. Numpad
  14. HD webcam
  15. Decent keyboard for typing
  16. Bluetooth 4.0
  17. 802.11ac WiFi
  18. HDMI and Mini DisplayPort output.
  19. Windows 10
  20. 4 USB ports: 3 USB 3.0 and 1 USB 3.1 (Type C) ports.
  21. Backlit Keyboard
  22. SD card reader
  23. ASUS covers this model with an accidental damage warranty for a year.

Cons:

  1. Keyboard layout could be better. For example, the right arrow key overlaps with the Numpad on the right. This can be annoying for some people.
  2. No Optical drive
  3. Average battery life : up to 5hrs so expect around 1-2 hours while gaming.
  4. No dedicated left and right mouse buttons.

Alternative

XOTIC Sager NP8157

– Click here to see the price on Amazon
– $1699.00 at Newegg

If you are looking for a more powerful alternative, the XOTIC Sager NP8157 comes with a newest generation Intel Core i7-7700HQ Quad-Core CPU which is a step up compared to the Intel Core i7-6700HQ.

You also get 16GB of higher frequency 2400MHz RAM which offers a slightly better performance. It also comes with an IPS panel instead of a TN display panel; this means that you get more accurate color reproduction and better contrast. You still get G-Sync for a smooth, tear-free game play.

Other than that, it comes with the same Nvidia Geforce GTX 1070 graphic card and same storage capacity: a 256GB SSD and a 1TB hard drive.

The only downside of this model is that it is heavier than my previous recommendation which weights 4.8lbs: this model weights 5.8lbs.

If you live outside the U.S.A and are looking for a similar alternative, check out my recommendation below.

Worldwide alternative

MSI 15.6″ GT62VR Dominator Pro Notebook

– $1799.99 at B&H (Worldwide shipping)msi1070ww

When it comes to power and features, this model is quite like the XOTIC Sager NP8157.

You get a Intel Core i7-7700HQ Quad-Core processor, 16GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD combined with a 1TB hard  drive.

It also comes with the same Nvidia Geforce GTX 1070 graphic card and a screen with an IPS display panel with G-Sync.

The only downside of the laptop is that it is even heavier: 6.42lbs.

Best Gaming Laptop for less than $2400

MSI GT73VR Titan

– Click here to see the price on Amazon
-$2349.00 at Newegg

If you are looking to bring up the gaming performance the the next level and play any of the latest games with maxed out graphics at a 1080p resolution, this model is the next logical step.

It is equipped a Nvidia Geforce GTX 1080 graphic card which is offers about 20% more performance than the 1070, an even more powerful CPU with the Intel Core i7-6820HK, 16GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD paired with a large 1TB HDD.

It is equipped with a 17.3″ Full HD 1920 x 1080 resolution display with an IPS panel, which brings out accurate colors, great contrasts and large view angles. You also get G-Sync, which prevents screen tearing, minimizes stutter and input lag for an improved and smoother game play. Finally, it has a response time of 5ms and a refresh rate of 120Hz, better than most laptop screens.

Pros:

  1. Equipped with the Nvidia Geforce GTX 1080 8GB GDDR5
  2. Intel Core i7 6820HK 6th gen Skylake Quad-Core + Hyper-Threading 2.7-3.6GHz CPU
  3. Two sticks of 8GB (16GB) of DDR4 RAM. Easy to upgraded to 32GB (2x8GB) by adding two 8GB RAM stick
  4. Easy maintenance: there is a maintenance hatch in the back where you can access the RAM and storage drive.
  5. Screen is equipped with an IPS Panel which means greater viewing angles, better contrast and more accurate colors.
  6. Large 17.3″ 1920 x 1080 1080p Full HD display
  7. Supports Nvidia’s G-Sync which prevents screen tearing, minimizes stutter and input lag for an improved and smoother gameplay.
  8. Response time of 5ms and a refresh rate of 120Hz.
  9. 128GB m.2 SATA SSD speeds up boot times, games launch faster and makes the system much more responsive.
  10. 1TB 7200rpm HDD which adds plenty of storage space.
  11. Matte screen that doesn’t reflect light.
  12. Numpad
  13. 1080p Full HD webcam
  14. 802.11ac WiFi
  15. Bluetooth 4.1
  16. Great keyboard for typing
  17. Dedicated left and right trackpad buttons
  18. HDMI, Thunderbolt and Mini DisplayPort output.
  19. Windows 10
  20. 5 USB 3.0 ports!
  21. Backlit multicolor keyboard, which allows you to modify the color, macro every key and enhance the way you play with the SteelSeries Engine 2 app.
  22. Great sound quality.
  23. SD card reader

Cons:

  1. Keyboard layout could be better. For example, the right arrow key overlaps with the Numpad on the right. This can be annoying for some people.
  2. Battery life could be better : Around 3 hours when browsing the internet with WiFI, expect around 1 hour when playing games.
  3. No optical drive
  4. Thick and heavy: 1.8″ and 8.59 lb. That’s what you get with a 17.3″ gaming laptop

Worldwide Alternative

MSI GT73VR Titan

– Click here to see the price on Amazon
– $2699.00 at B&H (Worldwide shipping)
– $2699.00 at Newegg

This model is the same model that I recommend above, the only difference is that it has a newest generation and more powerful Intel Core i7-7820HK Quad-Core processor.

It also has a 256GB PCIe SSD which is faster and larger than the model recommended above.

Finally, this model is also available on B&H for people who are looking to buy from outside the U.S.A.

Portable Alternative

Razer Blade Pro

Click here to see the price on Amazon

If you are looking for a thin alternative, with a solid aluminum unibody, with a Geforce GTX 1080, this model is a good choice for you. It has an Intel Core i7-6700HQ CPU, 32 GB of RAM and a large 512GB SSD for a responsive laptop with a quick booting speed.

It is equipped with a stunning 17.3″ 4K 3840 x 2160 resolution display with an IGZO panel, allowing you to play video games at a 4K resolution, allowing you to fully take advantage of the Geforce GTX 1080. You also get Nvidia G-Sync, which syncs your display and graphic card, to prevent screen tearing and minimize stutter and input lag. This makes your gaming experience smoother and better.

It is also a touchscreen and the laptop is thin for such a powerful gaming laptop with it being just 0.88″ thick.

You also get a fully backlit, color-customizable LED keyboard. It weights 7.8lbs, partly due to the massive 99WHr rechargeable lithium-ion polymer battery that it’s equipped with.

Best Gaming Laptop for $2600

MSI 17.3″ GT73VR Titan SLI-212

– $2599.99 at Newegg

If you are looking for even more power, this laptop is not equipped with 1 but 2 Geforce 1070 graphic cards in SLI, not all games actually support SLI but you will most likely benefit from it anyways. Depending on what you are playing , you can get in between a 30-70% performance boost from a single 1080.

It is equipped with a powerful Intel Core i7 6820HK CPU, 32GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD PCIe which are the fastest type of SSDs at the moment. They greatly improve the laptop’s responsiveness and booting speed. It also has a 1TB HDD so that you have plenty of storage space for all your games and content.

Pros:

  1. Intel Core i7 6820HK 6th gen Skylake Quad-Core + Hyper-Threading 2.7-3.6GHz CPU
  2. Equipped with 2 Nvidia Geforce GTX 1070 8GB GDDR5 in SLI
  3. 256GB SSD speeds up boot times, games launch faster and makes the system much more responsive.
  4. Windows 10
  5. 1TB HDD for plenty of storage.
  6.  32GB of DDR4 RAM that can be upgraded up to 64GB.
  7. Matte screen that doesn’t reflect light.
  8. Screen is equipped with an IPS Panel which means greater viewing angles, better contrast and more accurate colors.
  9. Full HD 1920 x 1080 resolution display
  10. Response time of 5ms and a refresh rate of 120Hz.
  11. 1 HDMI, 1 thunderbolt and 1 mini display port to connect your display on a external source.
  12. 5 USB 3.0 ports.
  13. Dedicated left and right click buttons
  14. Great keyboard for typing
  15. 1080p HD webcam
  16. Keyboard backlight that can be set to different color patterns.
  17. SD card reader
  18. Numpad
  19. Bluetooth 4.1

Cons:

  1. Keyboard layout could be better : For example, the arrow keys overlap with the numpad.
  2. Not that portable : 1.76″ thick and 8.59 lbs heavy.

Alternative

MSI GT73VR TITAN SLI 4K-423

– Click here to see the price on Amazon
– $3399.00 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

– $3399.00 at Newegg

This is the newest version of the MSI GT73VR TITAN SLI. It has a newest Intel Core i7-7820HK Quad-Core processor and a whooping 32GB of RAM so it can handle multi-tasking and heavy workload without any issues.

It also has 2 x 512GB PCIe SSDs which are some of the fastest SSDs on the market, they greatly improve responsiveness and booting speed.

This model has a 4K resolution and 2 x NVIDIA Geforce GTX 1070 in SLI so you can get a great gaming performance in 4K display resolution.

Best Gaming Laptop under $4200

Prostar Clevo P870DM3

– Click here to see the price on Amazon

Simply put, this laptop is the best high end gaming laptop you can get for your money at the moment. It is equipped with two Geforce 1080 in SLI which is offers about a 30-70% performance boost from the 1080 depending on the game. It has a very powerful desktop-class Intel Core i7-6700K CPU with 32GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD and a 1TB HDD for extra storage.

Note that this is my base recommendation and this model can be upgraded to have an higher capacity SSD and/or a faster PCI-e NVMe SSD.

Pros:

  1. Desktop-class Intel Core i7 6700K 6th gen Skylake Quad-Core + Hyper-Threading 4.0-4.2GHz CPU
  2. Equipped with 2 Nvidia Geforce GTX 1080 8GB GDDR5 in SLI
  3. 256GB SSD speeds up boot times, games launch faster and makes the system much more responsive, other configurations with more larger SSDs are available as well.
  4. Two m.2 and two 2.5″ slots that are easily accessible by removing a panel in the back, allowing you to add more storage drives.
  5. Windows 10
  6. 1TB HDD for plenty of storage.
  7.  32GB of DDR4 RAM
  8. Matte screen that doesn’t reflect light.
  9. Supports Nvidia’s G-Sync which prevents screen tearing, minimizes stutter and input lag for an improved and smoother gameplay.
  10. Screen is equipped with an IPS Panel which means greater viewing angles, better contrast and more accurate colors.
  11. 4K 3840 x 2160 resolution display
  12. 1 HDMI, 1 thunderbolt and 1 mini display port to connect your display on a external source.
  13. 5 USB 3.0 and 2 USB 3.1 (Type C) ports!.
  14. Dedicated left and right click buttons
  15. Keyboard backlight that can be adjusted to different illumination levels.
  16. Great keyboard for typing.
  17. HD webcam
  18. SD card reader
  19. Numpad
  20. Bluetooth 4.1

Cons:

  1. Keyboard layout could be better : For example, the arrow keys overlap with the numpad.
  2. Poor battery runtime : 2 hours WiFi web browsing. Expect less when gaming.
  3. Thick and heavy (12.13lbs)
  4. Two power bricks, making it even less portable.

Powerful Worlwide Alternative

MSI 18.4″ GT83VR Titan SLI

– Click here to see the price on Amazon
– $5099.00 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
– $5099.00 at Newegg

If you are looking to get a model that has 2 x Nvidia GeForce 1080 in SLI with and you live outside the U.S.A, this is a great option.

It has a greatly powerful Intel Core i7-7920HQ Quad-Core processor which is normally used in desktop builds, an insane 64GB of RAM which is more than enough to multi-task and 2 x PCIe 512GB SSD for improved responsiveness and booting speed.

On the downside, this model is thick and heavy weighting 13.13lbs and it also has 2 power bricks which doesn’t help as far as weight goes.

Upgrade your Laptop:

Upgrade your RAM:

RAM can easily be upgraded on most laptops. Do note that some laptops cannot be upgraded at all, due to their unique design. A quick google search should provide that info. Feel free to ask me in the comment section if you aren’t sure and can’t find the info.

Visit The Best Computer Memory (RAM) article for my recommendations. Note that you’ll want SODIMM RAM, either DDR3 or DDR4 depending on your laptop.

Upgrade your hard drive:

You can upgrade your hard drive to a faster and/or a larger hard drive. See our article on The Best Hard Drives (HDD) For Your Money and scroll down to the best 2.5″ hard drives for my recommendations.

Some laptops accept hard drives with a 7mm height, others with a 9.5mm height.

Upgrade to a SSD or upgrade your current SSD to get higher capacity and/or higher performance!

A SSD (Solid State Drive) is far faster than a hard drive (See our SSD FAQ) and it also consumes less power than a hard drive, so replacing a hard drive by a SSD will slightly boost your laptop’s battery life.

If you want to upgrade your hard drive to a SSD, I recommend that you read our ‘The Best SSDs (Solid State Drives) For Your Money‘ article.

I also recommend getting an external hard drive enclosure, so you can put your hard drive in it and use it for additional storage

When you replace the hard drive that your laptop came with, I recommend putting it in the Sabrent USB 3.0 2.5″ SATA Hard Drive Enclosure from Amazon or from B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

This particular enclosure comes with a retractable cable that is connected to the enclosure, so you don’t lose/forget it and it makes the whole package more compact too. It comes with an extension cord if you need it.

Looking for a different external case or need a specific cable? Leave a comment if you need assistance with finding what’s best for your needs.

USB DVD and Blu-Ray Drives

If your laptop doesn’t come with an optical drive and you want one, here are my recommendations for external USB optical drives.

USB DVD Burner

The LG GP60NB50 8x, from Amazon or from B&H (Worldwide Shipping), is the one with the best customer reviews.

USB Blu-Ray Burner

I recommend three USB Blu-Ray burner. Make sure to plug them in an USB 3.0 port to get the maximum speed possible.

In order of price and burning speed:
Pioneer BDR-XD05S 6x, from Amazon or $74.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

– ASUS BW-12D1S-U 12x from Amazon or $99.95 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

OWC Mercury Pro External USB 3.0 16x Blu Ray reader/writer, $129.50 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

WiFi routers, WiFi Adapters and Bluetooth adapter:

Need a WiFi router, an USB WiFi adapter or an USB Bluetooth adapter for your laptop? Check out our recommendations for The Best WiFi Routers, Best WiFi Adapters and Bluetooth Adapter.

Conclusion

I hope that you’ve enjoyed this article on the Best High-End Gaming Laptops!

I invite you to leave a comment, let me know what you thought of this article.

Do you think that I forgot a pro or a con for a laptop?

Perhaps you believe that there’s a better option than my recommendation and want my professional opinion.

A laptop might no longer be available or you may have some questions.

Just leave a comment below now and I’ll get back to you.