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How to Choose the Best Gaming Laptop

Choosing hardware is always a complicated task. Once upon a time, you had 3 to 4 options in the market to get a brand new and shiny PC for your living room or office. Long gone are those days in which PCs and Laptops were a rarity and more of a commodity.

Most of our business, study, and even our entertainment, on some occasions, roll around our Laptops, PCs, and mobile devices. This is where choosing new hardware starts to get a little cumbersome and far from stress-free.

When it comes to Laptops, there are tons of available options for a device that would be a centric piece of your every-day productivity and entertainment, and, on top of that; you have this question that needs to answer before you even dare to shell out a buck on new hardware: Will run Crysis on max settings?!

For those who got that meme of a question, you are part of my favorite tech crew: Gamers. Gaming it’s one of those hobbies that has evolved from secluded spaces and a very small niche to being mainstream and basically everywhere, from smartphones to even streaming set-top boxes.

As gaming passion and industry grows, so does the necessity of taking it along with us, due to time constraints and life situations that limit our availability and budget for gaming. This can be achieved with a laptop. A gamer is, most of the times, not only a gamer. A gamer can be a student (from elementary to college), a dad, a mom, a businesswoman, a businessman, an architect, a doctor, or an entrepreneur. Having all that in mind, what would be the best way to choose a laptop?

This train of thought would help you sit, relax, get your priorities straightened out and get the best bang for your buck, while also making sure you are making the right purchase for both your lifestyle and gaming cravings.

When buying out any new Laptop, the smartest approach is to understand what you want to achieve with this new device. We all love gaming, but am I also going to be rendering 4K spots for my marketing class? Am going to load every single mod out there and go crazy playing Fallout 4 in 4K? Or would I also need the best screen with the highest color fidelity to make sure that Illustrator file works marvels for my client once I am done with this LoL match.

Once we know what this laptop is going to be used for, we can start talking about the good ol’ money, cash, bucks, or how kids call it nowadays: V-Bucks. Budgeting is really important; it will help you narrow the options to those you are willing to pay for and will help you identify what features you need the most or which you can cope with in case they are out of financial reach. Smart budgeting makes wise purchases!

Next thing you got to take into consideration is how much you move around, are you a backpack kind of person? Do you go lightweight and prefer the least number of heavy items possible? Portability and ease of use are both important factors you can’t overlook.

Finally, how much horsepower do you require? Is this machine going to let you go 30 FPS? 60 FPS at 1080p? Fancy some 4K? Knowing which games you want to play and at what quality setting level is a key element in this decision. Take also in an account, even if you are a DOTA or LoL fan, but you need to render 4K shots for your clients; processing and graphics power is something you will require anyway.

With all that into account, we broke down this task into several categories that weigh your daily needs and will surely help to balance out your decision on what piece of fresh hardware you’re going to drop your cash on. This list was made, taking into consideration the many facets of a gamer and the variability and budgets that exist!

*All prices are considered at the moment of writing and might change with the course of time.

Gaming on Budget! – Gaming Laptops under $1100

1. Acer Predator Helios 300 ($1099)

Acer Predator Helios 300

Acer isn’t shy with their branding for gaming Laptops, and their Predator line shouts out loud it’s gamer-centric design and core. With a robust design and sharp edges, it sports in its heart a Core i7-8750H, an overclockable GTX 1060, 16 GB of DDR4 RAM, an IPS 15.6” 1080p at 144 Hz screen, and a 256 GB NVMe SSD as a storage solution.

The setup is an amazing value for the price. This machine will surely run most modern games on the high end of quality settings at 60 FPS without a problem. The IPS screen provides crisp colors and benefits greatly from its 144Hz refresh rate.

The exterior is built with some red accents, matching the red backlight of the keyboard. This is a very aggressive look and might not match a meeting room in the VP’s office of the company you work for.             The cooling solution is a custom one, branded as Aeroblade by Acer, and it consists of two twin fans that create the appropriate airflow to keep everything at decent temperatures.

At the moment of writing this article, Amazon is shelling out a Black Ops 4 digital code, which adds even more value to this already excellent package.

PROS

  • Great value for the price.
  • Affordable processing and GPU power.
  • Gaming centric, overclockable GTX 1060 for extra juice.

CONS

  • Maybe not the best for a business meeting.
  • Battery life might be an issue for you if productivity is your focus.

2. HP Omen 17t Gaming Laptop ($799)

HP Omen 17t Gaming Laptop

Omen is a brand that has been continuously gaining traction on the gaming scene. HP was a synonym for printers and working machines, but now that’s a distant past. The Omen 17 is a great investment if you want a discrete gaming machine and some productivity along the lines.

It is a well-balanced machine with an Intel Core i7-8750H, a GTX 1050 (2GB GDDR5), 8 GB of DDR4 – 2566 RAM, a WLED backlit 17.3” Full HD IPS anti-glare display, 1 TB 7200 SATA Drive. At the moment of writing, HP is even including an Intel Optane for this model at no additional cost.

Those specs will allow you to run most modern games in the mid and lower quality range at decent 30 FPS. It will depend on a game basis, but this one gets you covered in any moderate gaming or productivity scenario. The aesthetics can be office acceptable and will allow you up to 4 hours of continuous browsing and basic Office tasks.

For gaming, you are looking up to an hour and a half of untethered gaming, depending on the stress the game you are playing puts on both CPU and GPU.

PROS

  • Low price with decent gaming results.
  • Great for everyday usage in the office or college.
  • Quality display.

CONS

  • Lower end graphic chip if you plan to run demanding games.
  • Not the best option editing or demanding 3D Design situations.

3. Dell Inspiron 15 7567 ($766)

Dell Inspiron 15 7567

This one looks as it plays. The design here is very streamlined and shows a balance between professionalism and entertainment. Dell has added a well-balanced hardware combo under an elegantly crafted exterior.

The specs here are a mix that will provide decent overall performance, leaving out a Core i7 and siding with an i5 this time. This is one of the best bang for the buck equipment out there.

The Inspiron 15 7567 sports a Core i5-7300HQ, 8GB of DDR4 RAM at 2400Mhz, a GTX 1050ti with 4GB of dedicated video memory, and a 15.6” Full HD WLED backlit display. This setup can get you to 3FPS on mid-range quality settings for most games, even 60 FPS for some less demanding titles.

Power is great, too, allowing up to 8 hours of less demanding tasks such as internet browsing and text editing and giving you some good 2 hours of non-stop gaming. Fans might get a bit loud with this one though, it will definitely won’t be something to worry about during a presentation, but gaming will give audible feedback from the onboard cooling solution for sure.

PROS

  • Well balanced for everyday usage on gaming and in the office.
  • 4GB of video RAM allows much more productivity in gaming, rendering, and design.
  • Battery life.

CONS

  • Loud fans might be annoying sometimes.
  • CPU demanding applications will certainly miss a Core i7.

Gaming on the GO! – Gaming as portable as it can get!

1. GIGABYTE Aero 15W v8-BK4 ($1849)

GIGABYTE Aero 15W v8-BK4

Gigabyte has aimed at portability and cramming as much power as possible in this 0.78” thick ultra-portable gaming Laptop. The Aero 15 is by far one of the least flashy gaming laptops out there, it comes in with sharp edges, no over the top exterior decorations. The only thing that will hint on the gaming design is a V-shaped stripe design on its top and its backlit keyboard. It is simple but classy and elegant.

On the interior of this slim casing we can find an Intel Core i7-8750H a GTX 1060 with 6GB of dedicated GDDR5 memory, a 5mm slim X-Rite Pantone certified FHD IPS panel design with 144hz refresh rate, 16GB of DDR4 RAM at 2666Mhz, Dolby Atmos sound support, full RGB keyboard and a 7-hour average battery life expectancy on mixed usage.

For gaming, these specs will get you mid to high-quality settings easily, with FPS ranging from 60 solid FPS to lower 30s depending on resolution, quality, and game.

The Aero 15W is surely not a cheap piece of hardware, but it manages to pack a strong punch in the power department in a very slim form factor and a less than 5 pounds weight. Its keyboard and trackpad are not stellar, and the cooling fan solution might get loud when under load.

The display is the crown jewel here, the Aero 15W has a certified display that provides accurate colors necessary for splendid graphic design tasks, so if you’re a designer, this display will allow the accuracy needed while sporting decently long portable designing sessions.

PROS

  • Great CPU and GPU combo.
  • Display ready for both gaming and design tasks.
  • Great for both productivity and gaming.
  • Battery life.

CONS

  • Average keyboard and trackpad.
  • Temperatures might elevate a bit sometimes on load, and fans may crank up in volume.

2. Razer Blade 15 ($1599)

Razer Blade 15

Razer has refreshed its Blade line-up, and they are still as thin and powerful as always. The Blade 15 comes at a thickness of 0.49” and weight of fewer than 5 pounds. The screen here follows the trend of small as possible bezels, with only 4.9 mm bezels around the display.

Even though it comes in a small package, even the basic model of the Razer Blade isn’t shy at all in performance. This iteration of the Blade comes with an Intel Core i7-8750H, a GTX 1060 Max-Q 6GB of VRAM, a 15.6” Full HD 60Hz display, 128GB SSD plus an additional 1TB HDD in the storage department, 16GB Dual Channel DDR4 (expandable to 32GB), a 65W battery with an expected life of 5 hours in mixed usage and a single-zone RGB keyboard.

At this specs, games should run smoothly at 60 FPS on mid to high-quality settings, and you could also encounter steady 30FPS depending on resolution, quality set up, and game. Gaming experience should be nothing less than great in both portability and gaming quality.

Due to the reduced size, there are some questionable key placement decisions, especially around the arrow keys; it’s an easy learning curve nonetheless. Temperatures can rise to a noticeable point when under load and fans are constantly going on, this comes at no surprise due to the small area and the processing power-packed, but it is something to take into account for.

The battery is not the best if we compare to other light gaming machines, and there have been several complaints that the included power brick is not of the best quality.

PROS

  • Incredibly slim and portable.
  • Elegant design and sturdy built.
  • Great for gaming and decent in productivity.

CONS

  • The temperature might escalate quickly.
  • The power brick is flimsy.

3. MSI GS65 Stealth Thin ($1769)

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

MSI gaming components are generally an RGB fest with flashy accents and very gaming-centric tones all around. This is not the case. The MSI GS65 does have an RGB keyboard, but its exterior looks very elegant and even professional with its black and gold color scheme. Portability is a focus here with its 0.70” thickness and 4.2 pounds weight.

This classy MSI hardware delivers great performance with its Intel Core i7-8750H CPU, GTX 1060 6GB VRAM graphic processor, 16GB DDR4 RAM, 256GB SSD, 15.6” display with a 4.9mm bezel at a 1080p resolution with a 144Hz refresh rate and 7ms response time, and last but not least, an RGB Keyboard.

Battery life in this laptop is very good if we take size into account, with an approximate of 1 and a half to two hours of AAA gaming or around 5 to 7 hours of basic everyday office tasks

Gaming performance is top-notch in the lightweight realm of laptops, with AAA games running at 1080p at mid-high settings without a problem at 60 FPS, in the majority of the cases that is. In most demanding games that have just released, you can expect at least 30 FPS locked in decent settings.

Office usage with this one is superb; the keyboard is great, and long sessions of typing won’t be a problem. Design tasks are swiftly and accurately completed due to these laptops GTX 1060 and close to 100% sRGB display.

There’re few downsides on going with this MSI design, one we could mention is that the metal chassis transfers the heat from the interior a bit too well, making the laptop a bit hot to the touch. Fans have several profiles, but to keep the interior at decent temperatures, you need to set them to the highest RPM possible, which makes it a little loud.

PROS

  • A great solution for both gaming and working.
  • Design is truly elegant and premium.
  • The display is one of the best out there for gaming.

CONS

  • Fans might get loud.
  • It might get a bit hot to touch due to metal chassis.

Power is POWER! – Raw power for unlimited FPS, anytime, anywhere!

1. MSI GT75 TITAN ($2479)

When MSI was designing this one, they thought, wither we go big or go home. This isn’t at all a small or portability focused product. What it truly is, a powerful beast that can easily put most commercial PCs to their knees.

The design is gamer bulky and gamer-centric with red accents on its chassis and a mechanical full RGB keyboard. This supermassive hardware powerhouse houses an Intel Core i7-8750H 3.9GHz, a GTX 1080 with 8GB of VRAM, 16 GB of DDR4 RAM, one 1TB HDD and a 256 SDD, and a 17.3” FHD display with a 120 Hz refresh rate and 3ms response time.

Power is not an inconvenience here, and due to its bulky dimensions (16.85″ x 12.36″ x 1.22″-2.28″), temperatures will better than most thinner laptops. The battery is average, and you can expect a decent battery life of 3 hours of gaming. All games should run perfectly on ultra-quality settings enabled at 60 FPS without a problem, 4K games might not run at that mark on some instances per title, but you should get solid 30 FPS in most 4K scenarios.

The display is G-Sync capable and close to 100% sRGB, so even if you want to use this top-notch hardware from a professional perspective, you won’t be disappointed. Even for design or computer-assisted design heavy tasks, look no further, MSI can deliver here.

If you are into a PC replacement that allows some mobility and deliver state of the art performance, it is difficult to point out a flaw here. The keyboard might be a little too loud for some, as this is not the typical keyboard packed in laptops. Aside from that, we can only point out that it is well, huge. Oh, it also weighs ten pounds.

Also, if you get it on Newegg (at least at the moment of writing), you get Call of Duty Black Ops IIII free.

PROS

  • State of the art performance.
  • Overall it delivers on both professional and gaming aspects
  • Mechanical keyboard!

CONS

  • Average battery life.
  • Huge.

2. Alienware 17 ($2399)

Alienware 17

Alienware 17 is a beautiful yet powerful piece of tech. Even though this is not a small laptop, the design is well stylized, and it doesn’t look as bulky as other laptops in this range of price and computing power. As much as the design is deceiving, this is, in fact, a heavy laptop reaching a weight of 9.7 pounds and considerable dimensions (Height: 1.181″ (29.9mm) x Width: 16.7″ (424mm) x Depth: 13.1″ (332mm) Average weight: 9.74lbs).

This iteration of the famous brand rises up to their reputation with an Intel Core i7-8750H, 16 GB of DDR4 RAM (expandable to 32GB), a 256GB PCIe M.2 SSD and a 1TB HDD as storage solution, a GTX 1080 OC with 8GB of GDDR5X VRAM, and a 17.3” 300-nits FHD 60Hz NVIDIA G-SYNC enabled display.

The GTX 1080 packed in this Alienware machine should lift any game in the highest settings at 1080p to 60 FPS without complications. As in other models with this graphic card, 4K might vary in results depending on the game, and you can expect at least a solid 30 FPS in 4K in most cases.

The power supply delivered a fast charge and untethered you can expect a three to four-hour battery life, which is above average for other laptops with similar specs. The display is not sRGB certified, neither it sports a higher refresh rate, but the G-Sync technology and 300-nit luminosity make your gaming experience a good one.

The temperature gets hot to touch in longer gaming sessions, and even though the keyboard is not mechanical per se, it is satisfying to use even in long sessions. RGB on the chassis and interior are fully customizable, which is a nice touch for gamers, but it can be kind of distracting for daily office usage.

PROS

  • Streamlined and beautiful gaming-oriented design.
  • Above-average battery life.
  • Overclockable GTX 1080.

CONS

  • The temperature gets high after long gaming sessions.
  • It might not be the best look for an office.
  • The base screen could have a better refresh rate, but you can upgrade for a price.

3. Asus ROG G703GI-XS71 ($2799)

Asus ROG G703GI-XS71

ROG strikes on the gamer marketing immediately, from the name to the design, and finally reflecting specs that are worthy of a high-end pro gamer. Asus packed almost everything needed to make this the go-to dream gaming rig. The design is far from you would expect in a professional environment (unless you are a pro-gamer), but that is part of the appeal. Don’t get me wrong, this laptop surely works great for any high demanding office task, but it surely isn’t the regular show off inside the conference room.

This bulky yet well designed Asus laptop gets an Intel Core i7-8750H, a 17.3” FHD 1080p display with a matte finish 144Hz refresh rate with G-Sync enabled, 16GB of DDR4 RAM, a 512 GB NVMe plus and additional 2TB SSHD, an overclocked GTX 1080 with 8GB of GDDR5X VRAM.

Any title of your choosing should hit the 60 FPS mark without a doubt here, yet again, you might get varied results on 4K, assuring most of the times a 30 FPS locked performance. Keyboard has a great feel to it, and the trackpad is on the same quality level. Battery life on full AAA gaming will be limited to 2 to 3 hours, depending on the title.

Overall this is a great machine that has most gaming perks available to it; there’s also a model that sports a Core-i9 if you want some additional processing juice. Also, there is a variant of this model with a 4K screen if 1080p is a downside for you, keep in mind all these upgrades come at considerable cost.

PROS

  • Gamer designed to the core.
  • 144Hz Display.
  • Tons of fast storage.

CONS

  • Not office-oriented might be bulky for some.
  • On the heavy side (10 pounds).

All these devices in each of their categories will deliver excellent performance depending on your routine and expectations of productivity and gaming. We know how horrible it is to be sitting in front of a laptop and get so many frames dropped that all you end up seeing after it finally catches up is a death screen, also, we are aware of how stressing it can be to see a never-ending progress bar while trying to render a project that is supposed to be delivered in the next few hours.

You have all the necessary tips and knowledge for this to be a story of the past. Making the right decision can be the difference between saving that project or getting the top spot on that Battlefield or CoD scoreboard.

As a final tip, never settle with one price. Go on and check as many stores as possible, always keeping it on the safety scope of stores you trust. Be keen on observation and act fast on seasonal sales. Remember that Cyber Monday and Black Friday are really close, and that could be a great way to save a couple of hundred dollars that can be used for even further upgrades or who knows, maybe a couple of solid new AAA titles!

Keep in mind that buying an entry-level high-end laptop is not always a bad idea, especially if they are on sale, just make sure you can upgrade the components that matter to you later down the line. SSDs and RAM are most commonly cheaper if you get them on sale, later on, just double check your laptop can take this upgrade before buying.

We have covered some of the most interesting laptops your hard-earned cash can buy, take in mind that there are a lot of variants for each but you now you know what to look for in your next portable PC. Happy hunting! Go get those FPS through the roof and render at full speed!

Laptop Model

CPU

Graphic Solution

RAM

Screen Size

Screen Resolution

Storage

Battery Life (Gaming)

Price

Acer Predator Helios 300

Core i7-8750H

GTX 1060 6GB

16GB DDR4

15.6”

1080p 144Hz

256GB NVMe SSD

1 Hour 30 Mins

$1099

HP Omen 17t Gaming

Core i7-8750H

GTX 1050 2GB

8GB DDR4

17.3”

1080p IPS

1 TB, 7200 HDD

1 Hour 30 Mins

$799

Dell Inspiron 15 7567

Core i5-7300HQ

GTX 1050ti 4 GB

8GB DDR4

15.6”

1080p WLED

256GB SSD

2 Hours

$766

GIGABYTE Aero 15W v8-BK4

Core i7-8750H

GTX 1060 6GB

16GB DDR4

15”

1080p 144Hz X-Rite Certified

512GB SSD

3 – 4 Hours

$1849

Razer Blade 15

Core i7-8750H

GTX 1060 Max-Q 6GB

 16GB DDR4

15.6”

1080p 60Hz sRGB

128GB SSD + 1TB HDD

2 Hours

$1599

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

Core i7-8750H

GTX 1060 6GB

16GB DDR4

15.6”

1080p 144Hz

256GB SSD

1.5 – 2 Hours

$1769

MSI GT75 TITAN

Core i7-8750H

GTX 1080 8GB

16GB DDR4

17.3”

1080p 120Hz

256GB SSD and 1TB HDD

3 Hours

$2479

Alienware 17

Core i7-8750H

GTX 1080 OC 8GB

16GB DDR4

17.3”

1080p 60Hz

256GB NVMe and 1TB HDD

3 – 4 Hours

$2399

Asus ROG G703GI-XS71

Core i7-8750H

GTX 1080 8GB

16GB DDR4

17.3”

1080p 144Hz

512GB NVMe and 2TB SSHD

2 – 3 Hours

$2799

*Note that many of these prices and configurations might vary depending on the store and availability of certain SKUs. 

*Most SKUs can be upgraded to a higher configuration with additional RAM, Storage, Display Features, and/or graphics processor, most selections on the list are the basic SKU of each product.

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