The best gaming laptop 2018: T3's top picks for playing games

T3 rounds up the absolute best gaming laptops available to buy in 2018

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If you're looking for a new gaming laptop then you've come to the right place. That's because we've rounded up all the best gaming laptops on the market today right here in this super handy, curated guide.

And, cutting to the chase, we think the best gaming laptop on the market today is the Asus ROG Zephyrus. It is amazingly thin and light, remarkably quiet, and - most importantly - lightning fast, packing an outrageously powerful Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 graphics card into its premium casing.

It's unashamedly expensive in terms of price point, but it is simply the best gaming laptop you can buy right now, and to get the best you have to pay for it.

There are also some great machines at more affordable prices, too, including the impressive Dell Inspiron 7000 Gaming, the high-end performance of the Alienware 17 R4, and the decent little Gigabyte Sabre Pro 15. Our list of ten machines is sure to meet your needs and desires when it comes to portable gaming...

What is the best gaming laptop?

There are a lot of powerful gaming laptops on the market, offering high-powered graphics chips from Nvidia and AMD, as well as overclocked Intel processors.

The best gaming laptop is the Asus ROG Zephyrus. It is a stonkingly fast gaming laptop with a premium and super thin Nvidia Max-Q design that makes playing AAA PC games on the go, at work, or at home an absolute no-compromise pleasure.

  • Best gaming monitor 2018

How to choose a great gaming laptop for you

What you are looking for in a gaming laptop is the ability to enjoy today's most demanding, graphically intensive games, without having to make loads of settings compromises. 

Bad gaming laptops advertise themselves on their gaming credentials, however deliver vastly inferior performance to desktop counterparts. High resolution screens are a nice added bonus too, however keep in mind that high frame rates are far more important, so it is pretty pointless plumping for a laptop with a 4K screen if it doesn't have the interior hardware to power games on it.

Other things to look out for when buying a gaming laptop include weight and portability - after all you are buying this to carry/transport round unlike a desktop - battery life, which tends to be a fundamental issue with many gaming laptops, and price. 

Here at T3.com we think you should be spending a minimum of £800 ($1,000) on a gaming laptop to ensure a good level of performance, and more than £1,600 if you can stretch to it if you want something at the premium end of the scale.

Our pick of the best gaming laptops to buy today

Best gaming laptop

1. Asus ROG Zephyrus GX501

A super premium and incredibly classy gaming laptop

Specifications
CPU: Intel Core i7-7700HQ
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080
RAM: 16GB DDR4
Screen: 15.6-inch full HD 1,920 x 1,080 IPS
Storage: 512GB SSD
Reasons to buy
+Massive power+Amazingly thin and cool+Looks a million dollars
Reasons to avoid
-Huge price point-Cramped keyboard

The Asus ROG Zephyrus is simply an amazing piece of engineering. Despite being incredibly thin and light (2.2kg) it packs an insanely powerful Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 graphics card, something made possible thanks to Nvidia's new Max-Q design tech. From that incredibly high starting point there's no drop in specs either, with a rapid Intel Core i7-7700HQ partnering up with 16GB of 2,400MHz RAM. The Zephyrus' screen isn't 4K, however, it is a wide-view 1080p number with a 120Hz refresh rate, as well as anti-glare finish. The feel of the thing in the hand is pure unadulterated premium, as too under the eyes - the GX501 truly is a remarkable piece of technology. 

The only down sides to the Zephyrus are its cramped keyboard and high cost. If you've got the money, though, then this is a no-brainer, best-in-class proposition.

Best gaming laptop

2. Razer Blade Stealth

An incredibly fast and desirable gaming ultrabook

Specifications
CPU: Intel Core i7-7500U
Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 620 (expandable with Razer Core)
RAM: 16GB LPDDR3-1877MHz
Storage: 1TB SSD
Reasons to buy
+Incredibly sleek+Super fast+CNC milled body
Reasons to avoid
-Razer Core adds serious GPU power-Expensive

An outrageous combination of sexy, streamlined mobility and serious gaming power, the Razer Blade Stealth ultrabook is unlike anything else on the market.

Despite weighing under 1.33kg (2.93 lbs), the system packs a 7th Gen Intel Core i7-7500U CPU, 16GB of dual-channel memory and a 1TB SSD, and is capable of running for 7 hours straight on battery with a 4K display. What's more, the system is also compatible with the Razer Core, Razer's plug-and-play external GPU enclosure, which means incredible desktop-grade graphical power is also delivered when the two are combined.

Throw in the fact that the build quality is also superb, with a super premium CNC milled body from aircraft-grade aluminium, and it quickly becomes obvious that this machine is not just incredibly fast but also insanely desirable.

Best gaming laptop

3. Razer Blade Pro

Mind blowing power meets ultra portability

Specifications
CPU: Intel Core i7
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 (8GB GDDR5)
RAM: 32GB
Screen: 17.3-inch, UHD (3,840 x 2,160) IGZO touchscreen with G-Sync
Storage: 512GB – 2TB PCIe SSD
Reasons to buy
+4K screen+Awesome gaming performance+Slim and portable design
Reasons to avoid
-Off-putting price-Under 5 hours of battery life

The Razor Blade Pro does what many other gaming laptops don't, and that is to genuinely deliver desktop-grade performance. The fact that it does this despite being only 0.88-inches thick, packing a gorgeous 17-inch, 4K, multi-touch display, as well as a superb Ultra-Low-Profile mechanical switch keyboard too is just scandalous really. Obviously, the price is sky high and the battery life when used for intense gaming action under 5 hours, however there is no doubting that you are getting one of the absolute best out there right now in gaming laptops, with the Razer Blade Pro's crazy specs crushing even today's most demanding AAA, graphically intensive games.

Best gaming laptop

4. Asus ROG Strix GL502

A great all round gaming laptop with an attractive screen

Specifications
CPU: Intel Core i7
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 - 1070
RAM: 16GB DDR4
Screen: 15.6-inch full HD 1,920 x 1,080 IPS
Storage: 128GB - 256GB SSD, 1TB HDD
Reasons to buy
+High level specs+Bright, vibrant screen
Reasons to avoid
-Standard battery life

Another entry from Asus makes our top list and, once more, it is easy to see why. That's because the Asus ROG Strix GL502 comes packing a brilliant and vibrant 1,920 x 1,080 IPS screen and then pairs it with some superb, top-tier gaming hardware. An Intel Core i7 processor and Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070, along with 16GB of DDR4 RAM makes short work of any title at that resolution (and often consistently surpass 60fps!) and makes playing games a totally stress-free experience in terms of performance. As you would expect, battery life isn't stellar, however the rest of this very well priced gaming laptop make it a top contender.

Best gaming laptop

5. Alienware 13 R3

Gawk at the first-ever OLED gaming laptop

Specifications
CPU: Intel Core i5 – i7
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060
RAM: 8GB – 16GB DDR4
Screen: 13.3-inch HD 1,366 x 768 TN – QHD 2,560 x 1440 OLED touchscreen
Storage: 180GB – 512GB SSD
Reasons to buy
+Gorgeous OLED screen+Improved hinge-forward design+Power!
Reasons to avoid
-Rather dense-Short battery life

Alienware has such pedigree in the gaming laptop market that, unsurprisingly, its latest R3 refresh of the classic Alienware 13 is an absolute treat for gamers. Configurable with a gorgeous QHD 2,560 x 1,440 OLED screen, as well as some really tasty internal hardware (Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 and 16GB of DDR4 RAM anyone?), the Alienware 13 R3 delivers real gaming power in a super portable, compact-screen-size package. In addition, a new forward-hinge design allows the system to be thinner than past iterations too, with a 0.81-inch (0.22cm) chassis delivering Alienware's typically cool off-world aesthetic with aplomb. As ever, battery life or weight isn't the best, however these are minor issues to a really tasty, top-tier gaming laptop.

The best gaming laptop

6. Dell Inspiron 7000 Gaming

Great gaming value for money

Specifications
CPU: Intel Core i7
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060
RAM: 16GB
Storage: 1 TB hybrid
Reasons to buy
+‘Pro-grade’ cooling system+Full HD screen and WavesMaxx audio

Dell’s latest gaming-focused range of laptops are an ideal option if you’re looking to invest in a machine that can handle the every tasks of life AND your PC gaming needs. Even the basic model comes with a Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 and an impressively robust cooling system to keep that beast of a card from melting. With 16GB of RAM, a 128GB solid state drive, a 15-inch Full HD screen and speakers with WavesMaxx audio you’ve got one impressive package from the people at Dell. You’ll get just over eight hours of use on a single charge, which is okay, but it can charge up to 80% in one hour so you won’t have to wait long to keep gaming on the move.

Best gaming laptop

7. Acer Predator 17 X

A feature packed gaming laptop with good specs to boot

Specifications
CPU: Intel Core i7
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 980
RAM: 32GB DDR4
Storage: 1TB HDD, 512GB SSD
Reasons to buy
+Loaded to the max with features+Relatively quiet cooling fans+4K capable gaming system
Reasons to avoid
-GPU is powerful but old hat-Long battery recharge time-Heavy

Incredibly heavy at 10.03 pounds (4.67kg), the Acer Predator 17 X is certainly not a gaming laptop that you would want to carry around all day, and that's not even mentioning its bulky power supply either. However, if ultra portability isn't a major requirement for you (i.e. you're not going to have to walk round much with it, more commute with it in a car or on public transport), then the 17 X is a really competitive choice of gaming laptop. That's because it comes packing a desktop-grade Nvidia GeForce GTX 980 (which is a little old now but very powerful), a 4K screen with G-Sync functionality at the top end of the configurator, as well as as much RAM as you can shake a stick at (a max of 32GB DDR4). The price is also very competitive compared to similarly specced rivals.

Best gaming laptop

8. Gigabyte SabrePro 15

High power and a low profile with few concessions

Specifications
CPU: Intel Core i7
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060
Screen: 15.6-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080) IPS wide-viewing angle display
Storage: 1TB HDD, 256GB SSDTB HDD; 256GB SSD
Reasons to buy
+Powerful for GPU/CPU combo for its price+Great in-built keyboard

Considering the Gigabyte SabrePro 15 costs less than £1,500, you’d expect it to come with hardware more befitting of a ‘bargain’ machine. Instead, Gigabyte has teamed an Intel Core i7 processor with a Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060, creating a genuinely formidable duo that can run even the most demanding of games at high settings. Its RGB keyboard and Microsoft Precision Touchpad also help sweeten the deal. The only caveat is the laptop’s 15.6-inch screen isn’t the most vibrant, but there had to be some concessions in order to pull off this impressive gaming package.

Best gaming laptop

9. Alienware 17 R4

A gaming beast in portable form

Specifications
CPU: Intel Core i7
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti (2GB GDDR5) – GTX 1080 (8GB GDDR5X)
RAM: 8GB – 32GB
Screen: 17.3-inch, FHD (1,920 x 1,080) – UHD (3,840 x 2,160) IPS anti-glare 300-nits
Storage: 128GB SSD, 1TB HDD – 2TB SSD, 1TB HDD
Reasons to buy
+Absurdly impressive performance+Sleek Alienware build

Considering Alienware has not one, but TWO models in this list proves just how great the gaming laptops are from this manufacturer. This model comes with so many different variants, it's possible to put together a powerful machine without paying the usual prices you expect from Alienware. So for less than £1,500 you can get an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 with 6GB GDDR5, as well as a gorgeous 17-inch display and all the high-end, high-speed connections you could possibly desire in a laptop. Oh, and it also looks super rad as well. Then again, it is an Alienware machine, so no shock there.

Best gaming laptop

10. HP Omen 15

Portable gaming that won’t cost the Earth

Specifications
CPU: Intel Core i5
Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050
RAM: 8GB DDR4 (standard model)
Screen: 16-inch 1080p Full HD
Storage: 1,000GB hybrid
Reasons to buy
+Great entry-level model+Standard version boasts a NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 GPU

Let’s be honest, it’s not easy finding a laptop that enables you to play some of your favourite PC games without laying waste to your poor bank balance. Well, HP might just be going against the grain with its reliable Omen 15 range - there are multiple models across the family, with the entry level model offering for less than £800. You’ll get a tidy Intel Core i5 processor and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 graphics card for your money, meaning you tackle even the meatiest of offerings in your Steam library without causing your machine to melt. It also comes with a stunning 1080p display and all the connections you could possibly need for your peripherals.