The 11 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

Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.

The Rundown
"A no-compromise laptop without a premium price tag...can easily handle today's toughest games without comprising in performance."
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 Budget:
Acer Aspire VX 15 at Amazon
"A refreshing reminder that being on a budget doesn’t always mean making major sacrifices."
"HP loaded this machine with a ton of features for a pretty great price."
"A 4.1-pound dream machine for gamers who aren’t on a budget."
"An advanced fan system includes 70 individual blades in a dual-fan array."
Best Lightweight:
ASUS FX502VM-AS73 at Amazon
"The lightweight gaming laptop...1TB of SATA hard drive storage with a 128 SATA3 solid state, so you’ll have enough room for big file-sized games."
"In the laptop world, the closest Windows equivalent to Apple’s Macbook Pro is the 14-inch Razer Blade."

Take your gaming wherever you go with our collection of the best gaming laptops. Gaming laptops take all the raw power of a gaming desktop and compress it into a form factor that can fit into just about any backpack.

When you're looking for a gaming laptop you'll want to pay close attention to the CPU and GPU which generally dictate the overall performance of your machine. While not many gaming laptops have 4K screens, there are several that support refresh rates up to 144Hz which can make all the difference in your gaming experience.

Best Overall: ASUS ROG Strix Hero II

What We Like
  • 144Hz refresh rate

  • Compact

  • Excellent performance

What We Don't Like
  • Awkward camera placement

  • Loud fans

Gamers searching for a no-compromise laptop without a premium price tag should look first at the ASUS ROG Strix Hero II. It’s easy to tell right away why the ASUS is a smart choice. The 5mm thin bezel around the screen leaves plenty of room for gaming, and with its 144Hz refresh rate and 3ms response time, the ASUS sets the bar for a true 144-FPS experience. Powering gameplay is an 8th generation Intel Core i7 processor, a 256GB SSD for fast application loading and a 1TB hard drive for storing a wide selection of downloadable games. Operating smoothly with 16GB of RAM, the Strix Hero II can easily handle today's toughest games without comprising in performance.

ASUS has also optimized the keyboard for gaming with a desktop-like layout that adds a larger space bar and four hotkeys for total system control. And thanks to its 802.11ac Wave 2 Gigabit Wi-Fi plus RangeBoost technology (which adds four internal antennas for 30 percent more range), the ROG Strix Hero II handles online gaming like a pro.

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 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 Budget: Acer Aspire VX 15 Gaming Laptop

What We Like
  • Excellent 1080p performance

  • Inexpensive

  • Responsive keyboard

What We Don't Like
  • Lots of bloatware

  • Sound quality could be better

There’s no mistaking this 15.6-inch Acer Aspire VX 15 for anything but a gaming machine; it has two large fan vents in the back and bold red details on its chassis. The spacious keyboard has iron-red backlighting to let you play all through the night.

But this computer also walks the walk: It has a 7th generation Intel Core i7-7700HQ processor and GeForce GTX 1050 Ti graphics with 4GB of GDDR5 Video Memory to back up its powerful look. The GPUs can’t handle VR, but can run a modern game at 60 frames per second at full HD, which is conveniently the max resolution for the VX 15's IPS display. It runs Windows 10 and supports all of the multi-touch gestures. For a budget laptop, its audio is surprisingly good, thanks to Acer TrueHarmony and Dolby Audio Premium. And its battery lasts a commendable six hours. At the end of the day, the VX 15 is a refreshing reminder that being on a budget doesn’t always mean making major sacrifices.

Best Value: HP Omen 15.6-inch Gaming Laptop

What We Like
  • Thin and lightweight

  • USB-C Thunderbolt support

What We Don't Like
  • Short battery life

  • Keyboard is a bit awkward

HP is a decent brand for laptops in general, but it isn’t often gamers' first choice. Oddly enough, that's what makes the Omen 15.6-inch laptop such a great value — to try to secure market share, HP loaded this machine with a ton of features for a pretty great price.

As for the Omen's insides: The 8th gen Intel Core i7 processor is the latest in the line and manages to optimize efficiency in a super small package. This computer also has 16GB of DDR4 SDRAM right on-board to ensure plenty of headroom when the laptop starts cooking, plus two internal hard drives — a 1TB SATA drive for larger stocks of files and a 256GB SSD for maximum transfer speeds (crucial when gaming). Then, of course, there's the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 graphics card with its own 6GB of RAM for when you’re playing more demanding games.

HP has even tapped Bang and Olufsen to give you a premium audio experience right from the laptop itself, and the 15.6-inch Full HD IPS, anti-glare screen will give you a great visual experience to back it up. As if all those premium features weren’t enough, this gaming package sweetens the pot with Final Fantasy XV and more included in the price.

Best Splurge: MSI GS65 Stealth THIN

What We Like
  • Amazing display

  • Excellent battery life

  • Strong performance

What We Don't Like
  • Chassis feels a bit flexible

  • Gets a bit hot under load

As one of the thinnest and lightest gaming laptops in the space, the MSI GS65 Stealth THIN is a 4.1-pound dream machine for gamers who aren’t on a budget. At only 0.69 inches thick, the MSI could almost be called an Ultrabook if it were any smaller, and it slips into backpacks or messenger bags with ease.

MSI has achieved a true luxury look and with the gold-accented metal chassis, but the outer beauty doesn’t distract from what’s inside. The 15.6-inch 1080p display runs with a 144Hz refresh rate. In terms of processing power, the Stealth THIN is equipped with an 8th generation Intel Core i7 4.1GHz processor and NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 1070 graphics card, which has its own 8GB of dedicated RAM that’s VR graphics ready. The MSI adds a 256GB SSD for gaming and document storage while 16GB RAM enables smooth gaming and everyday multitasking. Beyond the hardware, the MSI also stands out for its superb keyboard, internal bass-heavy speakers and cooling system that keeps things running in the midst of deep gameplay.  

Best Design: Lenovo Legion Y740

What We Like
  • Customizable RGB lighting

  • Quiet under load

  • Excellent performance

What We Don't Like
  • Awkward webcam positioning

  • Short battery life

Lenovo’s newest gaming laptop is an absolute powerhouse. That’s almost a given for any gaming laptop, but with an 8th-gen Intel six-core i7 that turbocharges up to 4.10GHz, the speeds this thing is capable of are sure to bolster most gaming sessions. Support that with the option for up to 32GB of DDR4 RAM, and it’s clear that there’s plenty of power under the hood. Graphics are helmed by the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 with 8GB of its own dedicated RAM, too. That power is regulated with an advanced fan system that includes 70 individual blades in a dual-fan array— a factor that is arguably just as important for power as the processor itself.

Though it's designed with the standard Lenovo gray chassis, the 15.6-inch FHD display with 300 nits of brightness and Dolby Vision HDR is virtually bezel-less — a welcome take on the typically boring PC design. There’s also iCUE RGB lighting underneath the keyboard to give this keyboard a truly gamer-friendly look. Round this all out with tactile, 100% anti-ghosting Corsair switches that still afford a surprisingly low profile, and you have a great feeling machine, too. 

Best Lightweight: ASUS FX502VM-AS73

What We Like
  • Solid gaming performance

  • Nice display

What We Don't Like
  • Bland design

Made with “Gaming On-The-Go” in mind, the ASUS FX502VM-AS73 is a 4.9-pound, 15.6-inch full HD gaming laptop that packs a punch. It’s loaded with the latest 7th Generation 2.8 Ghz Intel Core i7-7700HQ processor that can be overclocked to 3.8 Ghz in case you want more speed. The lightweight gaming laptop also uses a powerful NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 with 3GB of discrete graphics that’s capable of running any PC game.

Don’t worry about its size – the ASUS FX502BM-AS73 has 1TB of SATA hard drive storage with a 128 SATA3 solid state, so you’ll have enough room for big file-sized games. It’s cooled by a dual fan system that sucks the heat from both its CPU and GPU independently. Its 16GB of DDR4 RAM assure you that you’ll be able to play the most hardware-demanding PC video games without any stall. The gaming PC is also bundled with a load of ports such as HDMI connectivity, mini Display, USB 3.0, Wi-Fi dual band and even an SD card reader.

"While some gaming laptops can give desktops a run for their money, that doesn't necessarily make them portable. Performance almost always comes at the cost of size when it comes to laptops."Alice Newcome-Beill, Associate Commerce Editor

Best Portable: Razer Blade (GeForce GTX 1060) 14"

What We Like
  • Excellent build quality

  • Premium display

What We Don't Like
  • Keyboard layout is a bit odd

  • Could be lighter

In the laptop world, the closest Windows equivalent to Apple’s Macbook Pro is the 14-inch Razer Blade. Unlike the Macbook Pro, however, the Razer Blade is not just a pretty and portable workhorse – it offers performance for high-end gaming, too. First and foremost, the Razer Blade is .7 inches thin and weighs just 4.16 pounds, which means you can take it just about anywhere. Secondly, it’s extremely powerful. This model features top-of-the-line graphics with an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 GPU and plenty of speed thanks to its 16GB of RAM and 512GB SSD hard drive. And it’s got a 1920 x 1080 resolution screen that can display 4K HD content, too. Oh, and did we mention you can assign each key on the keyboard with its own custom color? How cool is that?

Final Verdict

If you need an amazing gaming laptop, look no further than the ASUS ROG Strix Hero II. Its fans may get a bit loud under load, but its performance and form factor are unparalleled.

How We Tested

Our testers and expert reviewers use a variety of methods and benchmark tests to evaluate gaming laptops. We look at design, weight, screen size and resolution, port placement, and any other special features like mechanical keyboards and RGB lighting. For screens, we also look at the type of screen it is, the refresh rate, and if it's compatible with FreeSync and/or G-Sync. For objective performance measures, we use common tests like PCMark, 3DMark, Cinebench, and others to get scores for CPU and GPU capabilities. We also fire up demanding games, enable an FPS counter, and play the games on high settings to see frame rates.

Additional factors we take under consideration are the strength and quality of wireless connectivity and audio quality. To test battery life, we stream video at maximum brightness to measure runtime, along with general usage over the course of a day. Finally, we look at the value proposition and competition, to see how a gaming laptop stacks up against rivals in a similar price range. Most of the gaming laptops we test are purchased by us; only a few newer models are review units are provided by a manufacturer.

About our Trusted Experts

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.