Your desktop just might get jealous.
Updated: October 2017
Just a few years ago buying a laptop for gaming was a foolish endeavor, with outrageous prices for computers that fell far behind their desktop counterparts. But in 2017 a gaming notebook makes a lot more sense for some gamers. Advances in technology have allowed gaming laptops to include desktop-grade graphics cards and processors, with fewer compromises.
These days laptops have near-desktop performance, adaptive refresh rate displays, comfortable and satisfying keyboards, and prices that are in the realm of “reasonable.” For pure, unadulterated power and bang-for-your-buck you still can’t beat the raw horsepower of a desktop gaming PC, but if you value portability, the performance gap between a laptop and desktop is growing ever smaller, making the proposition of switching from a desktop to a gaming laptop more attractive than ever and without much of a penalty.
We recently sampled five midrange (ish) gaming laptops from popular manufacturers including Asus, Alienware, Acer, Razer, and MSI to see what you can get these days and came away quite impressed. Based on our testing, here are five of the best gaming notebooks for 2017 so far.
The Best Gaming Laptop
Asus Republic of Gamers Strix GL702VM
When it comes to bang for your buck, the Asus ROG Strix GL702VM is tough to beat. It’s loaded with enticing features, including a colorful 17.3-inch G-Sync enabled display, letting you tear through your favorite games without actual tearing on the screen. On top of that, its large size affords it a full-sized keyboard with great feel and satisfying key travel. There’s plenty of power, too, with an NVIDIA GTX 1060 handling the graphics and an Intel Core i7-6700HQ processor helping move everything along swimmingly. Sure, it’s not the latest Intel processor since it’s a Skylake chip, but the hit to performance compared to the newer Kaby Lake Core i7-7700HQ is nominal, and we’re not too bothered given this laptop’s affordable (for a gaming laptop) price tag.
On top of solid computational muscle, the GL702VM has plenty of storage with a 256GB SSD and a 7,200 RPM 1TB HDD. Oh, and did we mention it’s VR-ready? Because it is. The Asus ROG Strix GL702VM is a great 17-inch laptop with plenty of power for just $1,299 as tested. A version with the newer Intel Core i7 7700HQ is available for $200 more, but if you can get this load-out, it has better storage options.
More Great Options
A Thing of Beauty – Razer Blade
The newest version of the Razer Blade is absolutely gorgeous, with a solid aluminum chassis and customizable RGB keyboard that uses Razer’s Chroma software. It’s easily the most attractive gaming laptop on this list, and not surprisingly it’s a bit more expensive than the rest with similar specs due to its, pardon the pun, sharp design.
The Blade puts up some great numbers, keeping pace with similarly equipped – and much larger – laptops with its Intel Core i7-7700HQ CPU and NVIDIA GTX 1060 6GB GPU. Those specs make it VR-ready, too, but there are a few trade-offs including just 256GB of storage in the base model and loud fans when gaming. It’s also lacking an Ethernet port due to its slim profile. It’s truly in a class of its own though with its sophisticated design and super-thin profile.
A Gorgeous Screen – Alienware 13
The Alienware 13 may look small, but it has so much to offer it’s nearly overwhelming. Configuration options on the computer’s official website are rich and varied, meaning you can get yourself one to fit almost any need or budget ranging from $999 to beyond $3,000. The version we tested includes a 13-inch touch-sensitive 2560×1440 OLED panel and it’s so choice. If you have the means, we highly recommend picking one up. The screen is almost indescribable in its beauty.
There’s plenty of power to push those pixels, too. The version we tested had an Intel Core i7-7700HQ CPU and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 6GB inside and 16GB of DDR4 RAM. At the extreme end of things, Alienware offers a version with a truly ridiculous 32GB of DDR4 and dual 1TB PCIe SSDs for an astonishing $3,249. As tested, the Alienware 13 will set you back $2,049. It’s built like a dream though, with expandable desktop-grade power thanks to Alienware’s graphics amplifier, and we cannot stress enough how absolutely lovely the OLED screen looks. It’s beautiful, powerful, and portable, and easily one of the best available, if you can afford it.
A Great Value – Acer Aspire VX 15
Acer has introduced a new line of budget laptops that eschew some of the more expensive features of its Predator line but still deliver a quality gaming experience. The Aspire VX 15 is lacks the high-quality materials found in boutique gaming laptops and has a low-end NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti 4GB GPU, but also has an Intel Core i7-7700HQ 2.8GHz processor, a 1080p display and available 512GB SSD. It’s not going to game at 4K or run VR, but it can run modern games at medium to high settings. And even though it’s made of plastic, it feels rugged and the red highlights and plastic on the lid cops the look of brushed metal. But the best part of the Acer Aspire VX 15 is its $1099 price tag.
Affordable Horsepower – Acer Predator 17
The Acer Predator is a laptop that needs no introduction in the gaming world, as it’s a well-known beast seen lurking at LAN parties and gaming cafes the world over. This previous-gen model sports a Skylake CPU and a GTX 1070, making it a potent portable that’s available for about $1,500 online. That’s a sweet deal for a laptop that’s more powerful than most desktops, and though its 9lb. curb weight might put a dent in your spine if you’re college-bound, the upside is it runs cool and quiet thanks to all those fans and room for them to spin.