The best gaming laptop

Kyle Schurman

Typically, gaming laptops only can run virtual reality games when you purchase VR-enabled hardware separately.

When compared to an average laptop computer, a gaming laptop needs to deliver extra processing power. For the best gaming experience, the laptop must generate graphics quickly and respond to user input in real time. This requires high-end components.

To deliver the processing requirements for gaming, these laptops will have a higher price point than standard laptops. Select the best components that will fit in your budget to receive a machine that will serve you well for the longest time possible.

The following guide will help you find a gaming laptop that's right for you. Our favorite is the ASUS ROG Strix Hero. It delivers excellent processing power for both running software and rendering graphics, creating a pleasing experience.

Considerations when choosing gaming laptops

Processing power is the key to creating a strong gaming laptop. Gaming software requires high-end processing hardware to achieve the best results.

Even though you can't see these chips inside the case, you'll want to purchase a unit with the best processors you can afford. Upgrading processors down the road in a laptop is nearly impossible, so choose wisely at the time of purchase.

CPU: The central processing unit (CPU) of the gaming laptop processes all of the commands you issue while playing. It keeps the game moving along, handling all aspects of playing, other than graphics rendering. Newer games may not run properly on older CPUs.
GPU: Graphics processor units (GPUs) are more important for gaming than for the majority of other uses for laptops. You want real-time graphics processing so you don't have lags on the screen that will affect game play. To help you decide, GPUs have an operating speed, measured in GHz, just like CPUs.


Beyond the processors, here are a few other features that are important to your enjoyment of a gaming laptop.

RAM: Random access memory (RAM), is the storage area where the laptop places the data and software it's currently using. Laptops with larger amounts of system RAM offer a higher level of performance. The minimum you'll want for gaming is 8GB of system RAM. Systems with 12GB or 16GB of RAM are preferred, but they're also quite a bit pricier.
VRAM: Short for video RAM, this is RAM that's only used by the graphics processor, and it greatly enhances graphics performance. You'll want at least 4GB of VRAM, but 6GB or 8GB will deliver high-quality performance.
Screen size: When you game on a desktop computer or on a gaming console, you typically have a huge screen available. With the laptop gaming computer, though, you're limited to the size of the screen built into the laptop. Typically, gaming laptops range in size from 14 to 17 inches (measured diagonally from one corner of the screen to the opposite corner).
Screen resolution: At a minimum, you will want a full HD (1,080p) maximum screen resolution. For better image quality, a QHD (1,440p) or UHD/4K (2,160p) resolution screen works nicely.

Gaming laptop prices

You'll find the majority of gaming laptops priced between $500 and $1,500, although some cost $2,000 or more. The majority of gamers will be pleased with the performance of a laptop in the $1,000-plus range.


Q. Why does my gaming laptop freeze and crash?

A. Gaming laptops may crash if you don't have the latest software patches installed. A laptop that cannot cool its components properly also may crash. A gaming laptop with older hardware may freeze when playing newer games.

Q. Do gaming laptops have all-day battery life?

A. As a general rule, they do not. Gaming software requires high-end graphics performance and large display screens, both of which drain batteries quickly. Keep your AC adapter handy when gaming.

Gaming laptops we recommend

Best of the best: ASUS ROG Strix Hero Edition 15.6-Inch

Our take: With this model, you'll always feel like you have the computing power needed to run any game you want to play.

What we like: Includes a high-end CPU that delivers outstanding performance. Also has a powerful graphics processor.

What we dislike: Fan sometimes runs noisily, which can detract from the gaming experience.

Best bang for your buck: Acer Predator Helios 300

Our take: Easily outperforms similarly priced gaming laptops, especially in terms of graphics performance.

What we like: Able to cool its components efficiently, which allows you to use the laptop for longer periods of time.

What we dislike: Only has one USB 3.0 port. Screen colors don't maintain accuracy from game to game.

Choice 3: ASUS TUF 15.6-Inch

Our take: Has quite a few high-quality components, which is impressive in this price range.

What we like: Includes two hard-drive technologies, providing both speed and large-capacity storage in one laptop.

What we dislike: Cooling system should be more efficient to avoid system crashes.

Kyle Schurman is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.

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