Finding the right gaming laptop to buy can be tricky. Do you want something not too expensive? Something on the slimmer side? Or do you want out and out gaming performance under the hood?
From budget barnstormers to hardcore hardware, there’s a bewildering choice of laptops out there for serious gamers.
Whatever you need, we’ve rounded up some of our favourite gaming laptops of the moment. There’s plenty of power for hardcore gamers out there and they’re all (reasonably) portable.
Our pick of the best gaming laptops around
Alienware has long been a big beast in the field of gaming laptops, and that’s set to continue with the x15. It’s a tweaked version of the firm’s m15, and pairs a sleeker design with superb components and top-notch display options.
As usual there’s a wide selection of customisable specs, and this rig is also available in a hefty 17.3in form factor as the x17.
The x15’s updated design is unmistakably Alienware thanks to its honeycomb vents and RGB LEDs. It’s hewn from magnesium, aluminium and plastic, and has near-flawless build quality. It’s also lighter than its predecessor.
Gaming grunt comes from Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 3070 and RTX 3080 cores and you can choose from a trio of displays: combine the RTX 3070 with a 165Hz screen for buttery-smooth mainstream gaming, or opt for the RTX 3080 with 1080p at 360Hz or 2560×1440 at 240Hz if you want esports excellence or high-res visuals. This machine has top 11th-gen Intel processors and lashings of memory, and it’s available with up to 4TB of SSD storage.
The x15 has the pace to tackle any gaming scenario, while the displays have lashings of brightness and huge colour gamuts. Wi-Fi 6 ensures fast networking, the USB-C ports support Thunderbolt 4 and the snappy keyboard has 1.5mm travel and per-key RGB LED backlighting.
Alienware’s latest certainly isn’t cheap, but it is brilliant
Can handle anything
Huge variety of options
Tech spec:Screen: 15.6in 1920×1080 165Hz/ 360Hz / 2560×1440 240Hz • CPU: Intel Core i7/i9 • GPU: GeForce RTX 3070 / 3080 8GB • RAM: 16/32GB • Storage: 512GB-1TB • Battery: 1-5 hours • Dimensions: • 16.3mm thick, 2.36kg
Acer Nitro 5
If you’d like to get your hands on some top gaming power without rinsing your bank account, this Acer is our top budget pick. This machine is available with current-gen Nvidia graphics alongside capable Intel processors and displays with the refresh rates to handle games at decent speeds.
The most powerful Nitro 5 models pair the RTX 3070 GPU with AMD’s Ryzen 7 5800H for £1399. That’s a sensational price, and those components supply enough gaming power to scythe through any title.
More affordable specs rely on RTX 3050 and 3060 graphics cores – the former is ideal for casual games and older titles, while the latter is a rock-solid chip for esports. The Intel options aren’t current-gen and can’t keep up with AMD, but they’re respectable and won’t slow you down… plus they’re getting updated later this year, which bodes well for performance.
The 15.6in displays have a 144Hz refresh rate – fine for most situations – and offer good depth and contrast. You get three full-size USB ports, an HDMI output, dual-band Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth, plus a keyboard with a numberpad and four-zone RGB LED lighting. Those buttons are fast and comfortable, so ideal for long gaming sessions.
The compromises? Build quality is mediocre, so we’d recommend a protective sleeve if you’ll travel with this notebook. Plus it’s heavy, the speakers are tinny and ours only lasted for just over 3hrs during a work benchmark.
Rough around the edges but offers outstanding value
Average build quality
Poor battery life
Tech spec:Screen: 15.6in 1920×1080 144Hz • CPU: Intel Core i5/i7 / AMD Ryzen 5/7 • GPU: GeForce RTX 3050 4GB / 3070 8GB • RAM: 8/16GB • Storage: 512GB SSD • Battery: 1-3 hours • Dimensions: • 24mm thick, 2.3kg
Asus ROG Flow X13
Gaming laptops are usually big lumps that don’t do much travelling, but the Asus ROG Flow X13 flips that convention on its head: it has a 13.4in display inside a body that’s just 16mm thick and weighs 1.3kg.
Of course, that restricts what hardware can fit inside, but Asus has thought of that too – because this machine is sold alongside a graphics dock with an RTX 3080. The laptop alone costs £1500, and the dock increases that price to £2600.
The X13 is tiny and impressive. Its RTX 3050 Ti graphics core can handle most games at decent framerates, and it has a brilliant AMD Ryzen 9 processor that slices through work tasks. It’s also got a fantastic display: the 16:10 aspect ratio adds height, it’s a touchscreen, and it has amazing contrast and accurate colours.
Impressively, this is a hybrid, so it can swing into tent and tablet modes. It even has good speakers and a crisp keyboard, and is robust thanks to aluminium and magnesium construction.
There are downsides, though. The X13 doesn’t have many ports, exterior surfaces can get hot, it’s sometimes just as loud as big gaming laptops, and battery life is only mediocre; and while the RTX 3050 Ti offers reasonable pace, it won’t run the top games at high-quality levels.
But that’s where the XG dock comes in. That RTX 3080 has the power to handle any gaming task, even if you output to an external display with a higher resolution or refresh rate. The dock also provides loads of extra connectivity and is nice and easy to use – it just slots into a bespoke port on the laptop’s left-hand edge.
The dock weighs 1kg, so slinging that plus the laptop in a bag means you’ll be carrying as much weight as a conventional gaming notebook – but in a smaller and more versatile package. And that’s really what this combination is all about: flexibility for more than just gaming.
Combines ultraportable computing with high-end gaming power
Tech spec:Screen: 13.4in 1920×1200 120Hz • CPU: AMD Ryzen 9 • GPU: GeForce RTX 1650 / 3050 Ti 4GB • RAM: 8/16GB • Storage: 512GB/1TB SSD • Battery: 1-4 hours • Dimensions: • 16mm thick, 1.3kg
Lenovo Legion 5 Pro
Loads of people buy a gaming laptop and also use it for work, which is no surprise given the ample power available in the latest game-centric portables. If you’re on the hunt for a machine that can straddle work and play, the Lenovo Legion 5 Pro does a tremendous job without costing silly money.
It’s got more screen space than most gaming laptops, and has some surprising features alongside plenty of power. And, crucially, it looks more ‘mature’ than most gaming notebooks so it won’t seem weirdly out of place in the office.
Lenovo’s machine has a load of features that boost its ability in work situations. The display has a 16in diagonal, a 16:10 aspect ratio and a 2560×1600 resolution, which means you get more vertical space and more pixels than most. It renders the sRGB colour gamut accurately, with great contrast, and it’s got awesome brightness levels that mean it works well outdoors.
Elsewhere, the Legion has loads of USB connections and a webcam with a privacy shutter and Windows Hello support. The keyboard is fast and comfy and includes a number pad.
On the inside, it’s available with AMD Ryzen 5 and Ryzen 7 processors, with the former suited to mainstream work and the latter a content-creation powerhouse. These rigs can run with up to 32GB of memory and 1TB of SSD space. It’s an impressive specification, especially when you consider that the Legion’s prices start at close to £1000 – and upgrades later in the year will see some models equipped with better processors, graphics cores and displays.
If you want to run top games without compromise you’ll need to specify an RTX 3080, and esports fans might not be happy with the 165Hz refresh rate. For most people, though, this is the best choice if you need a laptop for gaming and working.
A big-screen experience with the power for games and creative work
Good for work and play
Refresh rate could be better
Tech spec:Screen: 16in 2560×1600 165Hz • CPU: AMD Ryzen 5/7 • GPU: GeForce RTX 3050 Ti 4GB / 3070 8GB • RAM: 8-32GB RAM • Storage: 256GB-1TB SSD • Battery: 1-4 hours • Dimensions: • 22mm thick, 2.54kg
Gigabyte Aorus 15P
The Gigabyte Aorus 15P is a superb laptop that sits right in the middle of the market. Its broad variety of specs, consistent levels of quality and solid prices make it the best choice around if you want to bag a powerful laptop that will last for years… without bankrupting yourself.
That might not make it sound exciting, but Gigabyte eschews innovation for excellence and balance. And when you’re spending your hard-earned on a machine that you want to last, that’s important.
The 15P is available with good graphics chips, starting with the RTX 3060 and ramping up to the 3080, which will tackle any high-end gaming scenario without breaking a sweat. These GPUs are paired with superb 240Hz, 300Hz and 360Hz displays. The lowest refresh rate is still well-suited to esports and fast games, while the latter will satisfy the most demanding competitive players.
You also get punchy speakers with good detail, even if they’re a little lacking in bass, and the rest of the components hit the mark: Intel’s Core i7-11800H is a solid chip for everyday work and gaming, while these laptops come with 16 or 32GB of memory and 1TB SSDs.
The 15P has three full-size USB ports alongside Thunderbolt 4, as well as HDMI and Mini DisplayPort plus a card reader. The keyboard is great, with fast, consistent buttons, a number pad and per-key RGB LED lighting.
As ever, there are compromises. The webcam is terrible thanks to its position beneath the display, and fan noise is noticeable if you push the hardware. Battery life is unsurprisingly mediocre, at 1hr for games and 4hrs for work.
Still, it’s sleeker and better-specified than budget gaming notebooks, and it delivers excellent performance and good screen quality. If you want a versatile and reliable mid-ranger, stick with this one.
A capable and aﬀordable mid-range option that nails the basics
Tech spec:Screen: 15.6in 1920×1080 240/300/360Hz • CPU: Intel Core i7 • GPU: GeForce RTX 3060 6GB / 3080 16GB • RAM: 16-32GB • Storage: 1TB SSD • Battery: 1-4 hours • Dimensions: • 27mm thick, 2.2kg
Razer Blade 15 Advanced
Razer makes some of the best gaming laptops on the market, and its latest machines take aim at competitive gamers who want every advantage in top esports titles. That’s no surprise given the firm’s pedigree in peripherals – they’ve spent years building the best gaming mice and keyboards around.
The Razer Blade 15 Advanced uses lightning-fast 360Hz displays with 2ms response times, so there’s hardly any difference in performance between these screens and the best desktop displays.
Those 360Hz panels pair ace performance with excellent visuals, including 100% sRGB reproduction and high contrast – handy for seeing enemies lurking in the darkest corners. Alternative display specs are available: the 1080p, 240Hz variant has Nvidia G-Sync for smooth gaming, and the 4K model is ideal for creative work.
Razer’s machines have the internals to keep up with those displays. They’re bolstered by Nvidia’s latest GeForce RTX 3070 Ti and 3080 Ti GPUs, which deliver extra cores and higher clock speeds than non-Ti models, and they have 12th-gen Intel processors that have proven to be exceptional for gaming and working. There’s a lot to like around the rest of the specs too – like Thunderbolt 4 ports with charging, SD card slots, Killer Wi-Fi 6 and crisp RGB-lit keyboards.
The speakers are high-quality, and the 17mm body and 2.01kg weight mean this is slimmer and lighter than most 15.6in machines. The aluminium exterior does get warm in tough gaming situations, but it doesn’t bring too much fan noise.
The updated Blade 15 Advanced is not cheap: the most affordable model with a 12th-gen CPU costs £2800. There are also 17.3in and 14in variants, but for us that 15.6in model with the 360Hz screen is the esports sweet spot.
Brilliant design meets searing pace in a top-tier esports experience
Good general spec sheet
Not too noisy
Tech spec:Screen: 15.6in 1920×1080 360Hz / 2560×1440 240Hz / 4K 144Hz • CPU: Intel Core i7/i9 • GPU: GeForce RTX 3060 6GB / 3080 Ti 16GB • RAM: 16-32GB • Storage: 1TB SSD • Battery: 1-4 hours • Dimensions: • 17mm thick, 2.01kg