The 7 Best Gaming Laptops of 2020

Playing the best video games on a laptop just got easier

The Ultimate Laptop Buying Guide
The Ultimate Laptop Buying Guide
Introduction

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The Rundown
"Dell introduced their Alienware subsidiary in 1996, and since then, the brand has established itself as a top-tier gaming laptop choice."
Runner-Up, Best Overall:
Acer Predator Helios 300 at Amazon
"Built with the latest 7th-generation Intel Core processor with a maximum 3.8GHz Turbo Boost and 16GB DDR4 memory."
"A highly customizable option that can be had at a very affordable price, or specced out to be a powerhouse."
Runner-Up, Best Splurge:
ASUS ASUS ROG Zephyrus S17 at Amazon
"Uses the Intel Core i7-10875H CPU and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Super GPU for all the power you need to tackle the latest triple-A titles."
"For gamers who need a lightweight, ultra-portable laptop, the Razer Blade Stealth is an excellent option."
"All the memory you need for large game files."
"The Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 has an integrated battery that can give you up to 11 hours of use on a single charge."

While desktop rigs still dominate gaming spaces, laptops have started to prove that they, too, can boast the power needed to take on the latest triple-A titles. The best gaming laptops give customers a balance between memory storage, processing power, connectivity, and battery life. Many modern gaming laptops feature 1080p FHD displays with impressive refresh rates, though it is possible to configure models with 4K UHD screens like the Razer Blade Stealth 13 at Amazon if you're willing to spend a little more. There is even a model that sports dual screens for more efficient multitasking. 

Solid-state drives or hybrid drives are popular for gaming laptops since they give you plenty of storage without being bulky or heavy. Plenty of gaming laptops have innovative, air-based cooling systems; utilizing multiple fans and exhaust vents as well as heat sinks and copper piping to draw even more heat away from vital components like the Alienware Area-51m at Amazon. But some use vapor chambers and thermal paste to give you the benefits of liquid cooling rigs without the bulk and mess. No matter what games you play, there is a laptop out there to suit.

To help pick the right laptop for you, make sure to head over to our FAQ on how to pick the best laptop for your needs before you settle on one of our picks for the best gaming laptops. Also, be sure to check out our constantly updated guide to the best laptop deals happening right now, for great machines at steep discounts.

Best Overall: Alienware Area-51m R1

What We Like
  • Great battery

  • Great GPU

  • Tons of memory

What We Don't Like
  • Heavy

  • Configurations can by pricey

  • No 4K screen option

Dell introduced their Alienware subsidiary in 1996, and since then, the brand has established itself as a top-tier gaming laptop choice; the Area-51m R1 is no exception, and it's one of the best available on the market. The Dell website lets you configure the laptop to best suit your needs, and you can choose between a 9th generation Intel Core i7-9700K or i9-9900K CPU to power the computer as well as up to 2TB of RAID0 SSD memory for ultra-fast access to your favorite games and a 1TB hybrid drive for even more storage. It uses an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 8GB graphics card for VR ready gaming. 

The 17.3-inch screen has an anti-glare coating as well as EyeSafe to filter harmful blue light and reduce fatigue. With Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.1 connectivity, you'll get blazing fast internet speeds and the ability to wirelessly connect peripherals like headsets and gaming mice. The Area-51m R1 has an HDMI port as well as a mini DisplayPort to let you connect a second display when you need to multitask. The battery gives you an impressive six hours of use, letting you game on-the-go, worry-free.

Runner-Up, Best Overall: Acer Predator Helios 300 Gaming Laptop

What We Like
  • High-end performance

  • Comfortable keyboard

  • Competitive price

What We Don't Like
  • No USB-C support

  • Sub-par cooling

Satisfy your need for speed with the Acer Predator Helios 300. Built with the latest 7th-generation Intel Core processor with a maximum 3.8GHz Turbo Boost and 16GB DDR4 memory, the Helios guarantees accelerated boot-up and in-game loading speeds. The hard drive comes with 256GB SSD, but if you need more storage space, there’s an additional compartment to fit a second 2.5-inch storage drive. It also contains a powerful NVIDIA GeForce GTX graphics card with 6GB of dedicated GDDR5 VRAM for crisper, lag-free processing power.

The Predator Helios 300 is quite the beast, weighing in at a solid six pounds. The 15.6-inch screen features a full HD widescreen display with a black keyboard to complement the iron red LED backlighting. The spacious keys offer a decent amount of travel and comfortable typing feedback. Underneath the laptop, you’ll find a custom-engineered cooling system that keeps your system well-regulated, even during high-intensity gaming sessions. The Helios features a seven-hour battery life and is VR-ready: all you need is a compatible headset to start experimenting with the new medium.

Best Budget: Lenovo Legion Y540 15"

What We Like
  • Excellent battery life

  • Lightweight

  • Above-average speakers

What We Don't Like
  • Feels a bit flimsy

  • No memory card reader

There’s no shortage of budget-friendly gaming laptops, but few are as capable as the Legion Y540 from Lenovo. The old black and red colorway is gone in favor of a more refined aesthetic. The sleek hardware looks (and feels) more expensive than it’s priced, and the unique hinge is slightly offset from the back of the laptop to allow for a slimmer profile. The body is about as heavy as expected for a gaming laptop, and the five hours of battery life are pretty standard, too.

Powering the Y540 is a highly customizable list of specs, starting with a 9th generation Intel processor alongside a range of GPUs from Nvidia, from a GTX 1650 up to a 1660 Ti (an RTX 2060 is also available if ray tracing is a priority). A 720p HD camera with an integrated microphone makes it easy to play online and stream yourself while gaming, which is aided by an 802.11AC with 2x2 MIMO technology

Runner-Up, Best Splurge: ASUS ROG Zephyrus S17

What We Like
  • Dual power modes

  • Great CPU/GPU

  • 7.1 virtual surround sound

What We Don't Like
  • Very short gaming battery life

  • No 4K screen

  • Only supports 1TB SSD

Another top-tier gaming laptop is the Asus ROG Zephyrus S17. It uses the Intel Core i7-10875H CPU and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Super GPU for all the power you need to tackle the latest triple-A titles. It comes with 32GB of RAM, and it supports up to 48GB for more speed when you need it. With a 1TB SSD, you'll not only get plenty of storage, you'll get faster and more reliable access to all your programs. The 17.3-inch display is Pantone calibrated for excellent color accuracy, and with a refresh rate of 300Hz, screen tearing and stuttering is eliminated. The Zephyrus S17 uses G Sync for optimized gaming graphics and Asus' Optimus mode for enhanced battery life during normal use. With the ROG intelligent cooling system, the laptop uses four heatsinks and six heat pipes to draw excess heat away from vital components; there is also an Active Aerodynamic System that lets you open the area above the keyboard for enhanced air intake. 

The S17 features two USB-C inputs, one of which supports DisplayPort 1.4 output and the other allows for charging via portable battery packs so you don't have to hunt for a wall outlet when you need to recharge. It features Gigabit Ethernet and Wi-Fi 6 connectivity for ultra-fast internet speeds to suit eSports and MMO players as well as Bluetooth 5.1 for wireless peripheral use. The dual, 2 watt speakers use 7.1 channel virtual surround sound for room-filling audio and a more immersive gaming experience. The battery gives you just over two hours of use while gaming, but up to 9.5 hours during general use.

Best Lightweight: Razer Blade Stealth 13

What We Like
  • CNC aluminum body

  • Great battery

  • 4K touchscreen display available

What We Don't Like
  • Weak integrated/discrete GPU

  • Low memory

For gamers who need a lightweight, ultra-portable laptop, the Razer Blade Stealth is an excellent option. This laptop weighs just 2.89 pounds and is just .5-inches thin, making it perfect for slipping into a backpack or tote bag for gaming or work on-the-go. The chassis is made of CNC machined aluminum and an anodized black coating that resists scratches and fingerprints for long-lasting strength and style. It's powered by an 8th generation Intel i7-8565U CPU and you can choose between integrated Intel UHD 620 graphics or a discrete Nvidia GeForce MX150 GPU; the Razer Blade Stealth is compatible with the Razer Core X external graphics unit for more powerful image rendering. 

The 13.3-inch screen is available in both 1080p FHD or a 4K touch screen and is calibrated for 100 percent sRGB calibration to give you more lifelike colors. Four stereo speakers use Dolby Atmos technology to produce virtual surround sound audio for a more immersive gaming experience without a headset. For memory, the Razer Blade Stealth has 16GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD to give you plenty of storage for your most-played games and fast access to your programs and files. The built-in infrared camera is compatible with Windows Hello facial recognition software for password-free log-ins to your laptop and added protection for your computer. The battery gives you up to 11 hours of use on a single charge, so you can work and play all day.

Best Memory Storage: Alienware M17 R3

What We Like
  • 4K UHD display

  • Excellent memory storage

  • Stylish chassis

What We Don't Like
  • Very short battery life

  • RAM can't be expanded

Besides processing power and graphics abilities, memory storage is the most important factor to consider when shopping for a new gaming laptop, and the Alienware M17 R3 has an impressive capacity. It supports a boot drive up to 4TB of RAID0 SSD and a secondary 512GB SSD storage drive to give you all the memory you need for large game files. It's powered by a 10th generation Intel Core i9-10980HK CPU and 32GB of RAM for more than enough power to tackle the latest triple-A game titles, and the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Super graphics card is VR ready to take you into the next level of gaming. The 17.3-inch display is 4K UHD and is calibrated for 100 percent Adobe RGB color ranges for lifelike images and incredible detailing. It also uses Tobii eye tracking technology to bring up in-game UI elements and highlight areas of your map or game screen for Twitch viewers. 

Alienware's Cryo-Tech cooling system uses a vapor chamber to give you the benefits of liquid cooling without bulky equipment as well as copper-core heat pipes and heatsink fins to draw heat away from vital components. The body of this laptop is made from a clear-coated magnesium alloy for style, strength, and durability. With Gigabit Ethernet and Wi-Fi 6 connectivity, you can dominate online games with virtually zero lag. The battery only gives you 2.5 hours of use on a single charge, so you'll need to stay near a wall outlet for all-day gaming.

Best Battery Life: ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14

What We Like
  • Excellent battery

  • USB-C charging

  • Fingerprint reader

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

  • No 4K screen

Gamers on-the-go know that battery life can make or break a decision when shopping for a new gaming laptop. The Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 has an integrated battery that can give you up to 11 hours of use on a single charge, and with both DC 12V and USB-C charging ports, you can choose between traditional wall outlets or portable battery packs to top off your laptop when you need a power boost. You can also use the USB-C port to charge your smartphone or tablet to stay powered up wherever you are.

It's powered by a third-generation AMD Ryzen 9 4900HS CPU, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 Max-Q graphics card, and 16GB of RAM to give you all the power you need to play your favorite games. The 1TB SSD gives you plenty of storage for games, streaming apps, and other programs you need to work and play. The GPU uses Nvidia's Turing Architecture to give you real-time ray tracing capabilities for exceptionally lifelike lighting and detailing. The 14-inch 1080p FHD display is Pandone Validated for incredible color accuracy, and with a refresh rate of 120Hz, you'll get smooth motion even during action sequences. The four speaker array uses Dolby Atmos technology to produce room-filling, virtual surround sound for a more immersive gaming experience without a headset. The chassis is made of CNC machined magnesium alloy and features a precision-cut honeycomb design for long-lasting strength while still being lightweight. You can configure the Zephyrus G14 to have custom LED backlighting for the honeycomb chassis to show off your personal style and stream team loyalty. The power button features a built-in fingerprint reader for one-touch power and secure log-ins.

Final Verdict

The Alienware Area-51m R1 gaming laptop is one of the best available on the market. It features either an Intel Core i7-9700K or Intel Core i9-9900K CPU for awesome processing power. It supports up to 2TB of RAID0 SSD memory and features a 1TB hybrid drive for speed and reliability. The Lenovo Legion Y540 is the perfect budget-friendly option for gamers on-the-go. It retails for just a little over $1,000, but still offers tons of options found in top-tier models.

About our Trusted Experts

Taylor Clemons has over three years of experience writing about games and consumer technology. She has written for Lifewire, Digital Trends, TechRadar and her own publication, Steam Shovelers.

Alice Newcome-Beill is an avid gamer and has reviewed gaming systems for PC gamer and PCMag. She currently uses a Lenovo Y740.

What to Look for in a Gaming Laptop

Video card - The single most important feature of any gaming laptop is its video card. If you want to play games, you absolutely need a discrete video card. Look for a laptop that has an NVIDIA or AMD GPU. If you want to play a specific game, check the recommended and minimum video card specifications and choose a gaming laptop that meets (or exceeds) them.

Memory - If you buy a gaming laptop that doesn’t have a decent amount of RAM, you’re just setting yourself up for disappointment. It’s also important that the video card has its own VRAM.

Processor - The CPU is also an essential consideration in gaming laptops, even if it does take a back seat to the GPU. Most great gaming laptops come with Intel Core i7 processors, but you may be able to get by with less. Just make sure that the processor doesn’t clock in below the recommended specifications for your favorite games.