Best gaming laptops 2021: top budget and premium systems, rated

The best gaming laptops on the market today to play games on

Included in this guide:

The best gaming laptops buying guide hero image showing MSI gaming laptop
(Image credit: MSI)

The T3 best gaming laptops guide for 2021 is constantly updated to bring you the very best laptops for every gamer and every genre. Whether you’re a massive fan of MMORPGs, favour an FPS or immerse yourself in indie games, we can help you find the perfect system for your needs, your budget and your games.

This is a big guide because no two gamers are alike. While every laptop here is a great laptop that’s impressed T3’s team of expert gamers, what’s right for one gamer may be wrong for another. As a result you’ll find a very wide range of gaming laptops here. There are incredibly expensive premium systems boasting spectacular specifications, state-of-the-art graphics cards boasting real-time ray tracing; brilliant all-rounders that can switch seamlessly between work and play; and budget bargains that can still play the latest AAA games, albeit not quite at the maximum possible settings.

This is a really good time to buy your new gaming laptop. Whether it's an Alienware, an Asus, an MSI or a Dell, chances are you'll find it in the best Black Friday deals: the Black Friday period is a brilliant time to buy a new gaming laptop because there are so many brilliant bargains to be found. And because we know that some deals go live long before Black Friday itself, we're already tracking them.

T3's 10 best gaming laptops top picks

While the best gaming laptops come in all shapes and sizes, there’s one thing they all have in common: they deliver the goods. There’s no room for filler here: the gaming systems we’ve included pack Max-Q versions of the very best graphics cards around today, the fastest SSDs and screens that are easily the equal of the best gaming monitors you can buy. If a gaming laptop can’t run the likes of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla or Cyberpunk 2077 without issues, it has no place in our list.

Performance isn’t the only metric here, though. There’s no point blowing your entire budget on a laptop that isn’t going to last. That’s why we’re focusing on manufacturers we know and trust, manufacturers such as Dell, Asus, Acer, Razer, MSI, HP and Alienware who we know make solid products and back them with good customer service. We also have a guide specifically for the best Dell laptops if that’s your preferred brand. And if you’re looking to kit out your entire gaming rig, check out our guides to the best gaming mouse, the best mechanical gaming keyboard and the best gaming headsets too.

Should you buy one of these laptops if you aren’t a gamer? We don’t think so: while every laptop here is a great bit of kit, they’re designed specifically for gaming and there’s no need to pay for so much power if the pixels you’ll be pushing are Netflix streams or Word documents. It’s rather like buying a Ferrari to drive to the shops. For everyday laptops, check out our best laptops guide and our guide to the best budget laptops too.

Oh, and lastly, as gaming laptops tend to focus on gaming hardware over than things like cameras, be sure to check out T3's best webcams buying guide. The Razer Kiyo Pro is well worth checking out as it is a gamer-focussed webcam that also ticks all the boxes for looking professional in business meetings.

The best gaming laptops you can buy today

Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 gaming laptop with open screen on white backgroundT3 Award

The Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 is the best gaming laptop on the market today for most gamers.

(Image credit: Asus)

The best gaming laptop for most people

CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 4800HS – 9 4900HS
GPU: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060
Screen: 14-inch, 120Hz
Storage: 1TB M.2 NVMe PCIe 3.0
Reasons to buy
+Thin and light+Great gaming performance+Battery that runs and runs
Reasons to avoid
-More powerful systems exist

The Asus ROG Zephyrus 14 is a game-changing gaming laptop that delivers buckets of performance despite being compact and light. It does this thanks to its use of AMD's hot new Ryzen 4000 processors and Nvidia's RTX 2060 GPU, which when partnered with plenty of RAM and a quality 120Hz 14-inch display, makes for superb, highly portable gaming results.

The design is also really smart, with a dropped hinge screen and AniME Matrix LED display on the CNC milled, dot matrix lid radiating a futuristic aesthetic. A quad speaker system that is Dolby Atmos enabled also means that, for a laptop, the levels of audio it is capable of are remarkable and the battery life on the system, too, just runs and runs (10.7 hours of video playback). A copy of Windows 10 Pro completes the package.

It's the fact that the Asus Zephyrus 14 delivers such a quality all-round gaming package in such a compact and portable form factor that really sells it, though, making it a system that can be easily used for both work and play. It's only 1.60kg (3.53 pounds), so sliding it in a backpack is no problem at all.

The price, too, while not cheap is nowhere near the levels of what you can spend on a gaming laptop, which all in explains why consider the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 the best gaming laptop on the market today for most people. It simply does it all, and does it all for a great price point.

Oh, and the Asus ROG Zephyrus 14 has impressed so many people that it has just bagged the much-wanted Best Gaming Laptop award at the T3 Awards 2020.

Want to see how this system stacks up to our top premium choice? Then scope out T3's Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 vs Asus Zephyrus S GX701 comparison guide.

MSI GS66 Stealth gaming laptop facing forward with screen open on white backgroundT3 Award

The MSI G66 Stealth looks like a stealth bomber. It's a flying machine (metaphorically, not literally).

(Image credit: MSI)

2. MSI GS66 Stealth

The best premium ultra portable gaming laptop

CPU: Up to 10th generation Intel Core i9
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 / 3070 / 3080
Display: 15.6” FHD up to 300Hz or 60Hz UHD
RAM: 8GB to 32GB DDR4-3200
Storage: 1TB to 2TB SSD
Reasons to buy
+Astonishing performance+Huge battery+Up to 300Hz refresh rate
Reasons to avoid
-Very expensive

The GS66 Stealth doesn’t like to shout, but you may well shout excitedly when you use it: this is an astonishingly powerful gaming laptop with up to a 10th-generation Intel Core i9 and Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 graphics. The i9 is capable of up to 5.3GHz in single-core Turbo mode. There’s a new cooling system and a massive 99.9Whr battery, and the display options include a silky-smooth 300Hz refresh rate. All models have Wi-Fi 6E, aka Killer Wi-Fi, for fast and stable network performance. 

The GS66 has plenty of Nvidia gaming laptop features which all work towards making it powerful, thin, quiet and light. One of those features is Nvidia’s Resizable Bar, an advanced PCI Express feature that enables the CPU to access the entire GPU frame buffer at once instead of performing multiple small CPU to GPU transfers. According to Nvidia, that means a 9.5% performance increase in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, 5.9% in Cyberpunk and a whopping 11.9% in F1 2020, taking the Stealth’s already impressive performance up an extra level. 

This is not a cheap laptop by any means, but it’s an astonishing one delivering truly incredible performance. 

Acer Nitro 5T3 Award

If you have a very tight budget, then the Acer Nitro 5 is definitely worth checking out.

(Image credit: Acer)

The best budget gaming laptop

CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 5800H
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060
Screen: 15.6-inch, Full HD (1,920x1,080)
Storage: 1TB
Reasons to buy
+Solid all-round hardware spec+Low price point+RGB backlit keyboard
Reasons to avoid
-Screen is average

The Acer Nitro 5 manages to hit that sweet spot of price versus performance, and is going to appeal to anyone looking to run the latest games without paying too much –and the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 installed here ensures any title will run comfortably, even if you might have to dial down the graphics settings on some of the most demanding ones.

The rest of the spec isn't too shabby either, with our review model boasting an AMD Ryzen 7 5800H processor (a variety of other CPU and GPU options are available, which affects the price). In both benchmarks and real games, the Acer Nitro 5 logs some impressive frame rates considering its price.

There are some corners cut of course, to make the machine more affordable. The screen isn't the brightest or the most vibrant, and has fairly thick bezels around it, while the trackpad and keyboard could use some work as well. However, all things considered, this is one of the best value gaming laptops you'll come across on the market right now.

Asus ROG Zephyrus M16 (GU603) gaming laptop with screen open on angle on white backgroundT3 Approved badge

(Image credit: Future)

The best gaming laptop to use for work as well

CPU: Up to Intel Core i9-11900H
Graphics: Up to Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 MaxQ
RAM: Up to 32GB
Screen: 16-inch WQXGA (2560 x 1600) 16:10 anti-glare display
Storage: Up to 2TB SSD
Reasons to buy
+Nvidia RTX 30-series graphics+Smart, modern-looking laptop +Large, crisp screen 
Reasons to avoid
-Fans can sometimes be loud-Disappointing battery life 

A premium gaming laptop in every sense, the Asus ROG Zephyrus M16 (GU603) packs in some serious specs, including the most powerful 11th Generation Intel Core processors and Nvidia’s RTX 30-series GPUs. Without a shadow of a doubt, you'll be impressed by its speedy performance and smooth graphics.

You get all of that in a laptop that weighs less than 2kg, so it’s actually a very portable PC unlike some of the others on this list. It doesn’t have over-the-top RGB lighting features either, instead opting for a classy, smart matte black design which alongside the screen's 16:10 aspect ratio makes it well suited to professionals and creatives who want to switch between work and play. 

The only major downside is that the battery doesn't last the entire day, but that is kind of expected given the amount of power you get. That means you will need to carry the chunky charger with you most of the time, although I’m sure most gamers can look past that. 

When it comes down to it, this portable gaming laptop feels premium to use and has a large ultra-sharp display. Anyone who is power-hungry and willing to splash the cash on it won’t have any regrets about doing so.

Gigabyte Aorus 15G RTX 30 series gaming laptop shown front and back on white backgroundT3 Awards 2021 winner badge

(Image credit: Gigabyte)

The best gaming laptop for high-end Nvidia graphics

CPU: 10th-gen Intel Core i7-10870H
Graphics: Up to Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 MaxQ
RAM: Up to 64GB
Screen: 15.6-inch FHD, 1920 x 1080, 240Hz, IPS LCD
Storage: Up to 512GB SSD
Reasons to buy
+240Hz refresh rate screen+Nvidia RTX 30 series graphics+Customisable RGB lighting
Reasons to avoid
-Odd webcam placement-Weak battery life

The Nvidia GeForce RTX 30 series GPUs have arrived on laptops, and the Aorus 15G model from Gigabyte is one of the first to take advantage: if you want to make sure you've got the very best in terms of graphics capabilities under the hood, then this is very much worth checking out – as always, there are a variety of configurations and spec choices available.

Besides the wealth of power you get inside the laptop – capable of dealing with the best titles on the market right now at impressively high frame rates – you get some very polished styling on the outside too. There are plenty of ports for connecting up peripherals, while the lighting on the keyboard can be customised in all kinds of ways using the supplied software utility.

The 15.6-inch, 240Hz FHD panel looks great in operation, and while there are a few annoyances – such as the limited battery life and the positioning of the webcam – this is a laptop that we're thoroughly happy to recommend. Be sure to also check out the other options in the same Aorus line though.

We're pleased to announce that the Gigabyte Aorus 15G has also won T3's coveted Best Gaming Laptop award at the T3 Awards 2021. Another huge reason to consider this gaming laptop when looking for an upgrade.

Alienware Area-51m R2 gaming laptop shown almost side-on with Cyberpunk 2077 on screenT3 Award

If you want excellent customisation options, then the Alienware Area-51m R2 is a great gaming laptop.

(Image credit: Dell)

6. Alienware Area-51m R2

The best gaming laptop for customisation options

CPU: Intel Core i7 10700
Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 Ti (or better)
RAM: 8-64GB
Storage: From 256GB SSD
Screen: 17.3" FHD or UHD
Reasons to buy
+Very, very fast+Superb display+Great configuration options
Reasons to avoid
-You have to pay for the brand

It isn’t cheap, especially when you max out the configuration options, but this Alienware delivers serious gaming power: the default spec has a GeForce GTX 1660 Ti with 6GB of GDDR 6, and you can specify cards up to the GeForce RTX 2080 with 8GB. You can choose your display, too: base spec gets a 144Hz FHD but you can go for a 60Hz UHD display with eye tracking if you prefer. 

It’s a similar story with RAM and storage: you can up the base 8GB to 64GB and the 256GB SSD to 2TB with up to three additional RAID drives; we clicked all the upgrade options and had to have a lie down when we saw the resulting price tag. But even in base spec this Alienware offers blistering performance and the rock-solid build quality you’d expect from a premium product. 

The only real downside is that it’s pretty hefty: with a weight of between 4.1 and 4.7kg (9.04 to 10.04lbs) depending on configuration, it’s hardly a lightweight.

Overall, though, Area-51m R2 provides one of the most well-built, powerful and customisable gaming laptops on the market today, and is a system all gamers must check out while researching for their next upgrade.

To see how this system stacks up against our top premium gaming laptop recommendation, be sure to check out our Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX701 vs Alienware Area 51M R2 comparison feature.

Dell G5 15 5500 gaming laptop facing forward with screen open on white backgroundT3 Award

The Dell G5 15 5500 isn't flashy, but it is a great all-round mid-range gaming laptop.

(Image credit: Dell)

A strong mid-range gaming laptop

Weight: 5.16 pounds (2.34kg)
Dimensions: W x D x H = 14.4 x 10 x 1 inches (36.6 x 25.4 x 2.5cm)
CPU: 2.6GHz Intel Core i7-10750H (hexa-core)
GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 (6GB GDDR6 VRAM); Intel UHD Graphics 630
Screen: 15.6-inch Full HD 1,920 x 1,080
Reasons to buy
+Stylish design+Solid all-round gaming performance+Fast 144Hz screen+Lots of ports
Reasons to avoid
-Screen colours aren't the best-Somewhat noisy cooling

If you're a gamer looking for a new system that retails at a mid-range price point then the Dell G5 15 5500 is a great option to consider.

You get a strong all-round spec including an Intel Core i7 CPU, Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 graphics card, 16GB of DDR4 RAM and 512GB of NVMe storage space.

The system also packs a fast 144Hz refresh rate screen (Full HD) and has loads of connectivity ports and some decent RGB lighting, too.

It's design, too, is rather classy (if a little fat compared to some top-end gaming systems) and does not scream gaming laptop – this is a laptop you can use both in the office and at home, something backed up by its solid typing keyboard and built-in webcam and mic.

The real takeaway, though, is that the system is capable of playing today's AAA PC games well, and with fancy lighting effects like real time ray tracing turned on, too. It's not the fastest laptop in this list, but it returns solid benchmark scores and features tech that isn't going to become obsolete in a few months.

A strong all-round laptop with genuine gaming chops.

To compare this mid-range gaming laptop to another well-rated, similarly specced system, then check out T3's Acer Nitro 5 15 vs Dell G5 15 comparison feature.

MSI GE66 Raider gaming laptop with screen open on white backgroundT3 Award

(Image credit: MSI)

A jaw-dropping 240Hz screen and stacks of power

CPU: Intel Core i7-9750H 2.6 GHz
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 with Max-Q Design (8GB GDDR6); Intel UHD Graphics 630
Screen: 15.6" FHD, 1920x1080, 240Hz, IPS-Level
Storage: 1x M.2 SSD slot (SATA) 512GB
Reasons to buy
+Awesome 240Hz screen+Premium build quality+Powerful internal spec
Reasons to avoid
-The fans can get loud-Battery life is only average

MSI continues its superb work in the gaming laptop field here with the 15.6-inch GE66 Raider, a system that packs a remarkable amount of gaming power into a laptop chassis that's not overwhelming in its size, bulk, or lighting system. It's also competitively priced too.

The 240Hz panel meaning that games look fantastic – screen tearing and blurring will soon become a distant memory. No matter what types of games you're wanting to run, the GE66 Raider has enough graphical oomph to handle them, even on the higher settings.

A variety of configurations are available to fit your budget, and the top-tier option – a 10th-gen Intel Comet Lake i9-10980HK processor, 16GB of RAM, 1TB of SSD storage and the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Super Max-Q graphics card – is enough to get any gamer salivating at the prospect of having a go on this.

In our testing we didn't notice any sort of stuttering or slowdown as games raced along. The SteelSeries keyboard is excellent, with a variety of lighting effects available to you, and battery life is decent as well.

Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 gaming laptop with both screens showing on white backgroundT3 Award

(Image credit: Asus)

The best gaming laptop if you want a second screen

CPU: Intel Core i9-10980HK 2.4GHz
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Super Max-Q
Screen: 15.6-inch 4K, 3840 x 2160, 60Hz, IPS LCD
Storage: 2TB SSD
Reasons to buy
+Hi-res 4K main screen+Packed with graphics power+Useful second screen
Reasons to avoid
-Gets loud and hot-No integrated webcam

You can see the unique selling point of the Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 as soon as you take it out of the box (or look at the picture above): it comes with a secondary 11-inch display, one which you can use to show system or gaming stats, or to watch some YouTube while you're gaming, or to do anything else with really.

Besides that second screen, Asus has put together a very impressive package here – an eight-core Intel Core i9-10980HK processor, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Super Max-Q graphics card – and you shouldn't have any problems blasting through the most demanding games of 2021.

The 4K display that our model came with tops out at a refresh rate of 60Hz, which might put some gamers off, but you can swap it for a display with a 300Hz refresh rate, if you're prepared to go down to a 1920 x 1080 resolution. For a lot of potential buyers, that might be the sweet spot.

HP Omen 15 gaming laptop with screen open facing forwards on white backgroundT3 Award

The HP Omen 15 is a great all-round system with genuine gaming power.

(Image credit: HP)

A really popular gaming laptop

CPU: 10th-gen Intel Core i7-10750H
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 GPU
Screen: 15.6-inch, 1920 x 1080 pixel IPS LCD, 144Hz
Storage: 1TB SSD
Reasons to buy
+Clean and striking design+Packed with power+Reasonably priced
Reasons to avoid
-Only 1080p screen-Average battery life

HP might be more often associated with offices and meeting rooms than gaming, but don't let the brand name put you off the Omen 15 – this is undoubtedly one of the best gaming laptops on the market right now, from the polished and bold design to the powerful specs under the hood. It is also one  of the most popular systems in our gaming laptop guide.

While the Omen 15 that we reviewed came with a powerful RTX 2070 and Intel i7 combination, there are various different configurations available at various different price points – take a look around and see what suits you best. We reckon that many gamers are going to find something suitable in the range.

Besides the raw power of the HP Omen 15, it also comes with some impressive chassis cooling, a screen with a speedy 144Hz refresh rate, and customisable keyboard backlighting. Add in the very reasonable price (for what you get in return) and it's not difficult to see how the latest incarnation of this series has made its way into our best gaming laptops list.

Asus ROG Strix G15 Advantage Edition gaming laptop facing forwards with RGB lighting on

(Image credit: Asus)

The best gaming laptop for AMD fans

CPU: AMD Ryzen 9 59H00HX
Graphics: AMD Radeon RX 6800M
Screen: 15.6-inch, FHD (1920 x 1080)
Storage: 512GB
Reasons to buy
+Top-notch AMD power+Cool case stylings+Long battery life
Reasons to avoid
-No integrated webcam

The Asus ROG Strix G15 Advantage Edition G513 is a real showcase for how far AMD's mobile components have come in recent times: it's fitted with an AMD Ryzen 9 59H00HX CPU and an AMD Radeon RX 6800M GPU, not to mention 16GB of RAM, so you can fly through even the most demanding AAA games.

Even under pressure, the G513 doesn't get excessively loud or hot, with the extensive cooling vents around the side of the chassis doing a fantastic job. What's more, battery life is very decent for a gaming laptop – if you're just watching video, for example, you can get over 10 hours of use.

All in all a great package then – even if the screen isn't 4K and doesn't have an integrated webcam for some reason. We like the bold design of the G513 as well, with some nice angles and plenty of RGB lighting (check out the translucent WASD keys too).

Two Dell G7 17 gaming laptops shown back to back on a white backgroundT3 Award

In terms of bang for your buck, the Dell G7 17 is T3's top pick as the best gaming laptop you can buy.

(Image credit: Dell)

12. Dell G7 17

One of the best gaming laptops for RTX power at a mid-range price point

CPU: Intel Core i7-8750H
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 (6GB GDDR6 VRAM)
Screen: 17.3-inch, FHD (1920 x 1080)
Storage: 256B
Reasons to buy
+Budget friendly price+GeForce RTX 2060 on board+Thin, understated design
Reasons to avoid
-Plenty of strong competition

The Dell G7 17 is a fantastic gaming laptop choice for those who are, one, shopping on a budget and, two, who need a system that they can use for non-gaming computing tasks on the go, too.

The price tag gets you a sleek, mature chassis design housing enough power to tackle your everyday requirements, as well as comfortably run most AAA games on the market today, and with RTX-powered ray tracing, too.

Indeed, you just can't argue with a 9th-generation Core i7 CPU, Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 and 8GB RAM combo at this price point, and the 256GB SSD and large 17.3-inch FHD 1,920 x 1,080 resolution screen seems perfectly judged for the spec, too.

Dell markets this laptop under the slogan "slim, but savage", and we think that for once the marketing is very accurate. The best price on this system at the time of writing is directly though Dell's official store, where you can also double the system's RAM up to 16GB if you desire for just £100 more.

A great all-rounder gaming laptop at a very competitive price point.

Acer Predator Triton 500 gaming laptop facing forwards with screen open on white backgroundT3 Award

The Acer Predator Triton 500 is the best upper-mid-range gaming laptop in the world.

A superb sweet spot for portability and performance versus price

CPU: Intel Core i7-8750H, 2.20GHz
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 (6GB GDDR6)
Screen: 15.6-inch 1,920 x 1,080, IPS, 144Hz
Storage: 512GB SSD
Reasons to buy
+Ray-tracing capable RTX graphics+Clean, thin and portable design+144Hz screen with 3ms response time
Reasons to avoid
-Slight screen flex-Only FHD screen

Along with the Dell G7 17 listed directly above, if you want to jump onto the RTX bandwagon, so you can bask in the goodness that is real time ray tracing, but don't have super serious money to spend, then the Acer Predator Triton 500 is a great sweet spot.

The model tested by T3 packed in a strong Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 GPU, 8th generation Intel Core i7-8750H, 16GB of DDR4 RAM, and a 512GB SSD. And right now that model is retailing on Amazon at a very approachable price point.

However, if you are prepared to take a step down in the CPU and RAM department,  in the UK the line actually starts with a Core i5, 8GB of RAM, 256GB SSD model that rings in for a significantly lower price. 

And with the Triton 500's gamer-calibrated screen (the panel delivers 144Hz and an anti-ghosting approved 3ms response time), AAA gaming and much more is very much delivered as it should be. The three-sided thin-bezel design, while not quite as expansive as the four-sided beauty of the MSI GS75 Stealth, still looks modern too, while the system's overall understated finish make it a genuine work and play option.

Undoubtedly one of the best upper-mid-range gaming laptops on the market today.

Razer Blade 15 gaming laptop facing forward on white background with screen openT3 Award

The power and style on show with the Razer Blade 15 is hard to fault.

(Image credit: Razer)

14. Razer Blade 15

Supreme gaming laptop power in a hyper premium chassis

CPU: Intel Core i7 10750H
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060
RAM: Up to 16GB RAM
Screen: 15.6-inch FHD 144Hz
Storage: Up to 512GB SSD
Reasons to buy
+Incredibly strong hardware+Compact, cool design+144Hz screen refresh rate
Reasons to avoid
-Pricey brand premium to pay

From every angle, the Razer Blade 15 is a fantastic gaming laptop and one of the best in the business, as you would expect from industry veterans Razer – the performance, the build quality, the lighting, the display... it's all here.

You can pick up the Razer Blade 15 in a variety of configurations, including one with a 4K screen rather than the standard Full HD one. With the latest Intel chips inside and up to 16GB of RAM, performance shouldn't be a problem, and you can add to that some of the best Nvidia GPUs in the business.

Any game should soon smoothly on this setup, and Razer has managed to pack everything into a chassis that wouldn't look out of place at a boardroom meeting. Be sure to check out all the available configurations before buying.

MSI Katana GF66 gaming laptop with two warriors fighting on screenT3 Approved badge

(Image credit: MSI)

One of the best budget gaming laptops

CPU: 11th-gen Intel Core i7-11800H
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti
Screen: 15.6-inch, 1,920 x 1,080 pixels, 144Hz
Storage: 512GB SSD
Connectivity: 802.11ax Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.2
Weight: 2.25 kg
Dimensions: 359 mm x 259 mm x 24.9 mm
Reasons to buy
+Gaming on a budget+DLSS and ray tracing+Powerful Intel CPU
Reasons to avoid
-Uninspired design

You don't often get Nvidia goodies such as DLSS and ray tracing for the price that the MSI Katana GF66 is going for, and that makes it an excellent choice for anyone wanting to get into gaming at an affordable price point. Our review model came with an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti inside, but RTX 3050 and RTX 3060 options are also available.

CPU duties are handled by an 11th-gen Intel Core i7-11800H processor by the way, so this is a great laptop for all kinds of other uses too – you're certainly not going to be left lacking in terms of power, and as this is coming from MSI you know that it's a laptop that's going to last.

Of course some corners have been cut to get this laptop as cheap as it is: it's not the fanciest-looking gaming laptop you will have ever come across (there's just one lighting option, which is red), and the screen could be better in terms of brightness and visual impact. Overall though, we'd say this is a top choice that will comfortably run the best games around.

Lenovo Legion Y740 gaming laptop on white backgroundT3 Award

The Lenovo Legion Y740 has a sturdy chassis and a very attractive RBG keyboard for added style points.

(Image credit: Lenovo)

16. Lenovo Legion Y740

Welcome to the high-end. A gaming powerhouse that's not messing around

CPU: Intel Core i7-8750H
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 (Max-Q 8GB)
RAM: 16GB – 32GB
Screen: 15.6-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080) Nvidia G-Sync 144 Hz
Storage: 256GB SSD – 256GB SSD+1TB HDD
Reasons to buy
+2070 RTX is a great GPU from Nvidia+Fantastic chassis+Impressive configuration options
Reasons to avoid
-Uninspiring looks

Lenovo's latest gaming laptop variant, the Legion Y740, is quite simply a powerhouse. With some impressive muscle in the GPU department (a Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 no less), it's ready to run all your favourite PC games at ultra settings with barely a hiccup in sight. That lovely 15.6-inch screen is Full HD and comes with an 144Hz Nvidia G-Sync so your games will look incredible, wherever you're playing.

The only real area where the Legion Y740 struggles is battery life: with its Intel Core i7-8750H and that beefy GPU chugging away, the laptop does struggle to keep going for long enough. It's still very much a portable gaming machine, just make sure you've packed a power cable if you're playing away from home.

Lastly, it would be amiss of us not to mention the quality of the Y740's build quality – the chassis just feels wonderfully premium and dense in the hand. Meanwhile, the RGB backlit keyboard feels fantastic under the fingertips, be that while you're gaming or just typing out an email.

Acer Predator Helios 300 gaming laptop on angle on white backgroundT3 Award

(Image credit: Acer)

17. Acer Predator Helios 300

A great gaming laptop for not much money

CPU: 10th-gen Intel Core i7-10750H
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060
Screen: 15.6-inch, 1,920 x 1,080 pixel, 144Hz refresh rate
Storage: 256GB
Reasons to buy
+Good performance for the price+Sharp 144Hz, 1,920 x 1,080 IPS display
Reasons to avoid
-More powerful systems exist

One of the benefits of gaming on the go in the modern era is that powerful components are now far more affordable – and that means new models with affordable price tags that are still able to run almost any game from your Steam library (and beyond). 

With the latest version of the Acer Predator Helios 300, you're getting a beefy Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 GPU and a lovely 15.6-inch FHD display to keep your PC gaming hunger sated, and yet it won't burn a massive hole in your savings. It's not at the very top end in terms of specs, but it'll have enough oomph for a lot of people.

We particularly like the 144Hz refresh rate panel, the one-button overclocking mode for the most casual of overclockers (it gives you more power in return for extra fan noise), and the extensive set of customisation options when it comes to the RGB lighting. Definitely worth considering.

Gigabyte Aorus 17G gaming laptop on white backgroundT3 Approved badge

(Image credit: Gigabyte)

18. Gigabyte Aorus 17G (2021)

A low-key design hides incredible gaming power

CPU: Intel Core i7 (10th Gen)
GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3000 Series
Display: 17.3-inch FHD 300Hz IPS panel
Storage: 512 GB PCIe SSD
Reasons to buy
+Insane gaming power+Superb 300Hz display+Fantastic mechanical keyboard+Desktop replacement quality
Reasons to avoid
-Bank raiding price point-Design is quite bland-Heavy

If money is no object to you on your quest for the best gaming laptop then your search should almost certainly stop right here. That's because the Gigabyte Aorus 17G is an absolute beast of a gaming laptop. But, what's interesting, is that despite it's god-tier gaming power, it actually looks rather underwhelming and, dare we say it, office ready.

For well-heeled professionals, though, who need a genuine home office replacement as well as portable gaming rig that can crush any game you throw at it, the Gigabyte Aorus 17G is a great fit as it simply doesn't do the word compromise.

RTX 3000 series graphics cards are just the beginning with this system, which also includes 64GB of RAM and supremely immersive 17.3-inch FHD 300Hz IPS panel. Yes, we're not talking 144Hz, or even 165Hz or 240Hz, we're talking 300Hz! For gamers who like playing fast, online shooters this system literally gives you not just a little edge, but a gigantic one.

And, talking of edge, you also get one with this system in terms of keyboard, with the Aorus coming with a fully integrated mechanical gaming keyboard. Accurate, precise, clicky-sound key presses from OMRON mechanical switches are yours if you can drop the cash.

Of course, all this silicon weighs a fair bit, meaning the Aorus 17G isn't the most portable of gaming laptops, and it is let down a bit by things like its webcam, too, but with decent battery life when unplugged (but not gaming, unfortunately), it's not the most normal computing averse gaming laptop we've ever seen.

The biggest barrier of course for most gamers will be the price, but with RTX 30 series graphics on offer, and a system that really does how the stones to replace your gaming desktop as well, it could be an investment that is worth it.

Alienware m15 gaming laptop with open screen showing Alienware logoT3 Award

No one does it quite like Alienware and the m15 is no exception. 

(Image credit: Dell | Alienware)

19. Alienware m15

From the iconic brand comes one of their best gaming laptops yet

CPU: 8th-gen Intel Core i7-8750H (6-core)
Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 6GB GDDR6
Screen: 15.6-inch IPS, Full HD
Storage: 256GB SSD
Reasons to buy
+Oodles of power in a sleek design+Alienware pedigree+Loads of hardware configurations
Reasons to avoid

There's something about Alienware that says gaming; you know the true purpose of the machine is to crank the resolution up as high as possible and watch as the FPS doesn't drop an inch. 

The current Alienware lineup – which includes the m13, m15, and m17 – showcase this philosophy perfectly. Our preference has to be the middle option, however, as it balances having a big screen without also having a laptop that's essentially a desktop. 

From the huge array of ports – from Ethernet to Thunderbolt to HDMI – to the customisable keyboard and controls, this laptop has you covered, and then some. The cooling system has been specially designed to deal with the most demanding tasks, too, ensuring you get every ounce of performance you need. It really doesn't get much better than this.

Dell G3 15 gaming laptop floating on angle with screen open on white backgroundT3 Award

Understated and affordable, the Dell G3 15 is a great gaming laptop choice for professionals.

(Image credit: Dell)

20. Dell G3 15

An affordable and understated gaming laptop

CPU: Intel Core i5-10300H
GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Ti 4 G
SSD: 512GB
Screen: 15.6-inch Full HD (1920 x 1080p)
Weight: 2.34kg (5.18lb)
Dimensions: 21.6 x 365.5 x 254 (mm, HWD)
Reasons to buy
+Affordable base spec+GPU up to Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060+Spacious SSD storage
Reasons to avoid
-Bland design

Dell's Alienware sub-brand tends to get all the attention when it comes round to the gaming laptops it produces and, while they are undoubtedly quality, Dell's own G-range of gaming laptops are actually really great machines to play on, too.

The more entry-level Dell G3 15 is a great example of this, offering a system that at base spec rings in well under 1k but comes with hardware that can run the game Fortnite at 150fps.

The hardware spec starts at base with a 9th Gen Intel Core i5 CPU, Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 GPU, 8GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD. The system runs a copy of Windows 10 Home and also offers a wide-array of ports including a SD card reader.

Battery life is rated at 6 hours, which isn't the strongest, but at this price point perfectly adequate, and ensures the system can be used on the go for non-gaming applications, too.

The system is also very customisable and is available in a range of models that take the graphics card right up to a ray tracing capable Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060.

Throw in a HD webcam, built-in mic and dual speakers powered by a Nahimic 3D Audio system, and it's easy to see why this is one of Dell's most popular systems – genuine gaming chops and strong work and entertainment features.

ASUS TUF GAMING A15 gaming laptop with screen open on white backgroundT3 Award

(Image credit: Asus)

21. Asus TUF Gaming A15

An excellent mid-range gaming laptop

CPU: Ryzen 7 4800H
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce RTX2060
RAM: up to 16GB DDR4
Storage: up to 1TB SSD M.2 NVMe
Screen: 15.6-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080) IPS 144Hz
Reasons to buy
+144Hz screen refresh rate+Distinctive, rugged design+90Wh battery
Reasons to avoid
-Loud fan noise when pushed

The Asus TUF Gaming A15 is a great mid-range gaming laptop, but it comes with an important caveat: Asus announced a refresh at this year’s CES, so if you’re buying the outgoing model make sure you get it for a really good price.

The incoming model will have a slightly faster Ryzen 7 and a slightly more powerful GeForce GPU, but the existing A15 is no slouch: it has a 2.9GHz, octa-core AMD Ryzen 7 4700H processor, Nvidia RTX 2060 graphics with 6GB of VRAM, 16GB of DDR4-2666 RAM and a 15.6-inch Full HD display with 144Hz refresh rate.

There’s no doubt that this is a gaming laptop: the industrial design and the orange keyboard backlighting with highlighted WASD keys mean this Asus isn’t going to be mistaken for a MacBook Air. Asus makes a great deal of its testing to MIL-STD-810G standards, and while we wouldn’t fancy the A15’s chances against a tank it’s a tough laptop that’s more than a match for everyday knocks and scrapes.

It uses Asus’s own HyperCool technology to deliver effective cooling even during the most intense firefights, although the trade-off is that fan noise can become quite intrusive when you’re really pushing the Asus to its limits.

Nevertheless this is an excellent RTX-powered laptop and deals should make it even more attractive in early 2021.

Acer gaming laptops

Internal components to screen resolution balance is crucial when choosing a gaming laptop.

(Image credit: Acer)

How to choose the best gaming laptop for you

What you're looking for in the best gaming laptop of 2021 is the capability to run the most demanding games of the day – graphically intensive games, throwing up all sorts of shading and effects on screen – without having to make a ton of settings compromises along the way.

Bad gaming laptops advertise themselves on their gaming credentials, but then deliver vastly inferior performance to their desktop counterparts, so it's absolutely crucial that you avoid these clunkers.

High-resolution screens are a nice added bonus on a gaming laptop as well, but it's important to keep in mind that high frame rates are far more important when gaming on the go – so it's pretty pointless plumping for a laptop with a 4K screen if it doesn't have the interior hardware to power games on it.

In other words, a very high quality, Full HD screen can beat a 4K display in some situations, especially when it's partnered with stonkingly fast internals for a superb portable gaming experience.

Other things to look out for when buying a gaming laptop include weight and portability (after all you are buying this to carry around), battery life (a perennial problem with gaming laptops), and price.

Here at T3 we think you should be spending a minimum of £800 (about $1,000, AU$1,560) on a gaming laptop to ensure a good level of performance. If you can stretch to £2,000 / $2,000 / AU$3,500 or more, that will net you something from the premium end of the scale. There are some hyper-premium systems that retail for over £3,000 / $3000 / AU$4,5000 and, well, if you can spend that money then that is the price tier where you will get the absolute best tech and future proofing.

Asus gaming laptop

These are the top gaming laptop makers in business today.

(Image credit: Asus)

Who are the best gaming laptop manufacturers?

In the gaming laptop field there are, as you might expect, a lot of makers. Some of these have been producing laptops for gaming for decades, and have serious pedigree, while others are newer to the game and are producing exciting and innovative new models.

Here at T3 we rate and review the finest offerings from these makers and, as such, have created our own list of what we consider the best gaming laptop makers in the world. We think it is pretty much impossible to objectively rank these makers, as each keeps outdoing the other with new systems, but we think if you buy a system from one of these firms then chances are you're going to be very, very happy.

Alienware – Dell's elite gaming-focussed arm has been turning out luxe, drool-tastic gaming laptops for 25 years now (founded in 1996). As you would expect from that legacy, that means that basically every system it makes is top-tier. There's a great attention to detail on each system's build quality, and thanks to its backing from Dell, each is often very customisable, too.

Razer – Razer's systems don't come cheap, at all, and they aren't very configurable either, but they are truly elite-tier in terms of fit, finish and style. If your pockets are deep enough you can get a system with loads of gaming power, too, and thanks to Razer's professional aesthetic, these systems can also be used in an office setting. Many models are also light and very portable.

Dell – Despite Dell having Alienware in its fold it also turns out some slightly less premium but still very capable and powerful gaming laptops under its G-range. The Dell G5 and G7 especially offer plenty of gaming performance, including ray tracing-capable GPUs, and also ring in less than Alienware, too. You also get the same levels of excellent customisation as well.

Asus – Asus, in T3's opinion, is currently killing it in the gaming laptop market, with a series of ranges covering all bases. The Asus ROG Zephyrus and Strix ranges especially have been frequent members of T3's best gaming laptop guide over the past few years, with tis systems delivering great build quality and style with raw pixel-pushing power. It's new Zephyrus G14 is highly portable, too.

Acer – Acer is an unsung hero of the gaming laptop market in T3's eyes, consistently producing very good gaming laptops that offer large doses of bling and gaming power. The Predator Triton and Helios are the two lines of note, which offer systems with different sized screens and specs, as well as cutting edge features and novel designs.

MSI – Symbolised by a dragon, MSI is probably the most exotic gaming laptop maker on the planet right now. It has a crazy amount of gaming laptop series, too, but if you shop for anything in the GT, GS or TE ranges then you're going to be very happy with your purchase. The GS Stealth laptops are especially liked by T3's staff members due to their portability as well as power.

MSI gaming laptop

There's much to consider when testing out a new gaming laptop.

(Image credit: MSI)

How we test gaming laptops

Reviewing laptops is a serious undertaking as, unlike many products, they are masters at many different things and feature a myriad of components. They also cost hundreds if not thousands to buy, so making sure a system is covered comprehensively is critical to our testing process.

With gaming laptops, though, the system's actual graphics performance in modern AAA games is the foremost consideration, and that's why we always put a gaming laptop through the best PC graphics benchmarking tool in existence, 3DMark. 3DMark not only has serious heritage as a benchmark tool, being trusted by gamers and companies alike, but also has a suite of tests to run.

We run as many of these graphics benchmarks as possible, and then also look to benchmark a game with its own built-in benchmarking tool if available. We also then experientially report back our findings of actually playing games on the gaming laptop, noting how smooth the framerates were and how high the resolution and in-game graphics settings could be pushed.

Away from game-playing performance, we also test out a gaming laptop's battery life and see just what its screen is like to use in normal, non-gaming tasks. This includes watching videos, editing images in PhotoShop and browsing the internet.

Of course, we also look to ascertain the gaming laptop's build quality. Many other things like fan noise, keyboard type and RGB lighting system are also evaluated, too.

Finally, we consider the system against its piers and in terms of value for money. It is then given a star score, with 5 stars been the top score any system can receive, and it is considered for entry into our best gaming laptops buying guide.