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 December 8th 2016. 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. $1650: Geforce GTX 1070, 1080p IPS G-Sync, Core i7-6700HQ, 16GB RAM, 1TB HDD
  2. $1900: 3.97lbs, 13.9″ 3200 x 1800, Geforce GTX 1060, Core i7-6820HK, 512GB PCI-e SSD
  3. $2600: Geforce GTX 1080, 1080p IPS G-Sync, i7-6820HK, 128GB SSD + 1TB HDD, 16GB RAM
  4. $2900: 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
  6. $1400: 2.65lb Quad-Core i7, 13.3″ 1080p IPS, 16GB RAM, 256GB RAID 0 SSD, with GPU dock

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 $1650

ASUS ROG STRIX GL502VS-DB71

Click here to see the price on Amazon
$1646.99 at B&H (Worldwide shipping)
– $1649.00 at Newegg

With this gaming laptop, you get a powerful Intel Core i7-6700HQ CPU, a Nvidia Geforce GTX 1070 graphic card with 8GB of VRAM graphic card, a 1920 x 1080 screen, 16GB of RAM, and a 1TB hard drive.

You also get a 256 PCIe SSD, which is even faster than SATA III 2.5″ and M.2 SSDs. Don’t worry, you also get a 7200rpm 1TB hard drive, to make sure that you have plenty of storage space for your games.

The best part is getting 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 extremely portable for a gaming laptop as it only weights 4.8 lbs. Anything below 5lbs is light for a gaming laptop. As a matter of a fact, you couldn’t get a gaming laptop that powerful and that lightweight until now, thanks to the new 10xx series Nvidia graphic cards.

Pretty much all games should be playable at a 1920 x 1080 resolution with high or 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 sunlight.
  7. 1920 x 1080 1080p Full HD display
  8. Supports Nvidia’s G-Sync which prevents screen tearing, minimizes stutter and input lag for an improved and smoother gameplay.
  9. 1 TB hard drive so you have plenty of space for your games and all your content.
  10. Hard drive is a 7200rpm model, so it’s not as slow as 5400rpm hard drives.
  11. Pretty light and thin for a gaming laptop : 0.94″ thick and 4.8 lbs
  12. Numpad
  13. HD webcam
  14. Decent keyboard for typing
  15. Bluetooth 4.0
  16. 802.11ac WiFi
  17. HDMI and Mini DisplayPort output.
  18. Windows 10
  19. 4 USB ports: 3 USB 3.0 and 1 USB 3.1 (Type C) ports.
  20. Backlit Keyboard
  21. SD card reader
  22. 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. TN panel: Poor contrast, not accurate color reproduction and poor viewing angles.
  5. No dedicated left and right mouse buttons.

Best Gaming Laptop for $1900

Aorus 13.9″ X3 Plus v6-PC3K4D

Click here to see the price on Amazon
$1899.00 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
$1899.99 at Newegg

This model is amazing if you are looking for a powerful and yet highly portable gaming laptop. It is equipped with a powerful Intel Core i7 6820HK CPU, 16GB of RAM and a Nvidia Geforce GTX 1060 graphic card with 6GB of VRAM.

This model differs from my previous recommendation as it has a less powerful graphic card but the 1060 can still run pretty much all games at a 1920 x 1080 resolution with high or maxed out details so if you want to opt for something more portable, this is a great option. This laptop has a 13.9″ screen and only weights 3.97lbs which is amazing for a gaming laptop. It also has a large 512GB PCIe SSD which greatly improves the laptop’s responsiveness and booting speed.

This model is also equipped with a beautiful Quad-HD+ 3200 x 1800 resolution display with a Matte finish so it doesn’t reflect sunlight.

Pros:

  1. Equipped with the Nvidia Geforce 1060 8GB GDDR5
  2. Intel Core i7 6820HK 6th gen Skylake Quad-Core + Hyper-Threading 2.7-3.6GHz CPU
  3. Backlit keyboard
  4. 16GB of DDR4 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 512GB SSD which improves responsiveness and booting speed.
  7. Screen has a matte finish, so it doesn’t reflect light.
  8. Thin and lightweight for a powerful gaming laptop : 13.0 x 10.4 x 0.9″  and 3.97lbs
  9. HDMI and Mini display port video outputs.
  10. Windows 10
  11. Decent keyboard for typing
  12. Decent speakers
  13. Good build quality
  14. 1080p HD webcam
  15. Quad-HD+ 3200 x 1800 resolution display
  16. 802.11ac WiFI
  17. Blutooth 4.1
  18. SD card reader
  19. Great battery life for a gaming laptop: Up to 13 hours battery life with low brightness and no WiFi. Realistically, expect 7-10 hours for web browsing, 4 hours for gaming
  20. Total of 4 USB ports, including one USB 3.1 Type-C and three USB 3.0 Type A

Cons:

  1. No numpad
  2. No optical drive

Best Gaming Laptop for $2600

MSI GT73VR Titan

Click here to see the price on Amazon
$2599.00 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

If you are looking to bring up the gaming performance the the next level and play any of the lastest games with maxed out graphics at a 1080p resolution, this model is the next logical step. It has a Nvidia Geforce GTX 1080 graphic card which is offers about 20% more performance than the 1070, a powerful Intel Core i7-6820HK Quad-Core CPU, 16GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD paired with a large 1TB HDD.

It is equipped with a Full HD 1920 x 1080 resolution display with an IPS panel, which brings out accurate colors, great contrasts and large view angles and G-Sync, which prevents screen tearing, minimizes stutter and input lag for an improved and smoother gameplay.

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. 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. 128GB m.2 SATA SSD speeds up boot times, games launch faster and makes the system much more responsive.
  9. 1TB 7200rpm HDD which adds plenty of storage space.
  10. Matte screen that doesn’t reflect sunlight.
  11. Numpad
  12. 1080p Full HD webcam
  13. 802.11ac WiFi
  14. Bluetooth 4.1
  15. Great keyboard for typing
  16. Dedicated left and right trackpad buttons
  17. HDMI, Thunderbolt and Mini DisplayPort output.
  18. Windows 10
  19. 5 USB 3.0 ports!
  20. 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.
  21. Great sound quality.
  22. 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

Alternative

Razer Blade Pro

Click here to see the price on Amazon

If you are looking for a thin alternative with a Geforce 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 4K 3840 x 2160 resolution display with an IPS panel which makes it able to use the full power of the Geforce 1080, it is also touchscreen and is ultra thin for a gaming laptop with it being just 0.88″ thick. 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.

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

Best Gaming Laptop for $2900

MSI 17.3″ GT73VR Titan SLI-212

– $2899.99 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 graphic card which are the fatest 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 sunlight.
  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. 1 HDMI, 1 thunderbolt and 1 mini display port to connect your display on a external source.
  11. 5 USB 3.0 ports.
  12. Dedicated left and right click buttons
  13. Great keyboard for typing
  14. 1080p HD webcam
  15. Keyboard backlight that can be set to different color patterns.
  16. SD card reader
  17. Numpad
  18. 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.

Best Gaming Laptop for $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 sunlight.
  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

Laptops with GPU docks

MSI GS30 SHADOW-001

Click here to see the price on Amazon

This is the laptop that I own and use daily, for my work on Hardware Revolution, to do photo editing, watch movies, listen to music, etc.

This is a great choice if you want a powerful (Intel Core i7 Quad-Core, 16GB RAM, 2x SSD RAID 0) and yet very lightweight (2.65lbs) laptop to carry all day, that you can plug into a GPU dock to play video games.

This allows you to upgrade the graphic card in the future and when you don’t game, you don’t have the extra weight to carry around.

Pros:

  1. Outstanding performance in such a lightweight and thin laptop, ideal for a power user on the go.
  2. Equipped with a Intel Core i7-4870HQ Quad-Core + Hyper-Threading 2.5-3.7GHz CPU 128MB eDRAM
  3. 16 GB of RAM, can be upgraded to 32GB (2x16GB DDR3)
  4. 2 x 128GB SSDs for improved responsiveness and booting speed.
  5. Full HD 1920 x 1080 display resolution
  6. Screen is equipped with an IPS Panel which means greater viewing angles, better contrast and more accurate colors.
  7. Matte display, so it doesn’t reflect light, ideal for outdoor usage
  8. Dual m.2 slots
  9. 3.5″ drive support on the dock
  10. Solid magnesium-aluminum alloy chassis
  11. Good keyboard
  12. Good trackpad overall
  13. Keyboard backlight
  14. 1 HDMI output to connect your display on a external screen.
  15. Extremely lightweight for a laptop with an Intel quad-core CPU: 2.65lbs
  16. PCI-Express 16x connection to the GPU dock, not limited to 4x
  17. GPU dock is included
  18. GPU dock makes it easy upgrade your graphic card whenever needed
  19. Easy to remove bottom panel to access the M.2 slots and RAM slots.

Cons:

  1. Windows 8.1 by default, although you can upgrade it to Windows 10.
  2. No optical drive
  3. HDMI version 1.4a, meaning that 4K output, from the laptop port, is limited to 30Hz. That doesn’t apply to the video card that you install in the GPU dock of course.
  4. Limited SSD space by default: 221GB in total (2x128GB SSD), but you can upgrade of course.
  5. Powerful CPU in a small and thin laptop means that the CPU fan is noisy under heavy load.
  6. Only 2 USB ports on the laptop itself, although the dock has more.
  7. Poor battery life: Expect 3-4 hours of web browsing, less when gaming of course.
  8. You must buy a GPU
  9. No numpad
  10. Screen body made of plastic, will flex under pressure
  11. Bottom panel is covered by a warranty sticker: Opening the laptop will void the warranty.
  12. White LED bar on the front of the laptop cannot be disabled.
  13. When plugged into the dock, the screen is deactivated. You’ll need an external monitor, a mouse and keyboard to game with the dock.

It is also possible to get this item refurbished. Refurbished products are restored and cleaned to look and work like new products. The only difference is that you have a 90 days warranty and the battery performance can be different from what you would expect from a new product.

Get the MSI GS30 SHADOW-001 refurbished : $1299.99 at Newegg

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.