Best gaming laptops 2023: top budget and premium systems

The best gaming laptops on the market in 2023, machines for every kind of gamer and budget

Best gaming laptop 2023: Jump Menu

MSI Raider GE 78 HX

(Image credit: Future)

0. The list in brief ↴
1. Best overall: Alienware M16
2. Best premium: MSI Raider GE78 HX
3. Best value: ROG Zephyrus G14
4. Best work and play : Acer Predator Helios 16
5. Best audio : Asus ROG Strix Scar 16
6. Best bigscreen: Alienware M18
7. Best budget: HP Omen 16
8. Best ultra-budget: Acer Nitro 5
9. Best smooth screen: Razer Blade 15 Advanced
10. How to choose
11. How we test

Gaming laptops are for those who want to absolute best-of-best performance when playing the most graphically intense games, but who also want to be able to take their machine on the go some of the time. They're a step above the best laptops that most people will use for work, or the best lightweight laptops that might be ideal for students.

The biggest AAA games of 2023 (and, frankly, even some titles from the not-so-distant past) often require a choice between performance and fidelity modes, even on the likes of the PS5 and Xbox Series X, but with some of the best gaming laptops you won't have to compromise. Exactly how far up the scale of graphical prowess (and, indeed, price) you wish to go will depend on various factors though.

Some gaming laptops will feature brash, flamboyant designs that scream 'gamer', while others may be a bit more discreet. Whatever your style or budget, we've got you covered with this guide to the machines worthy of your time that will get your favourite games running and looking better than ever. 

Andy Sansom Portrait
Andy Sansom

A lifelong gamer, I'm always looking to advance my system – and how to do that on a budget by paying close attention to the latest deals. You're in good luck, as Amazon Prime Day 2, known as Big Deal Days, is set to take place from Tuesday 10 to Wednesday 11 October 2023.

After that major event it's all eye on Black Friday, which in the run-up to Friday 24 November will host deals galore, through to Cyber Monday on 27 November. Myself and the T3 team will be bringing you all the greatest gaming laptop picks from all retailers, curated in our best Black Friday deals page.

Looking for the best deals? Mark your calendar for Tuesday 10 and Wednesday 11 October, which is when the best Amazon Prime Day deals will be available – it's now called Prime Big Deal Days, though – with the T3 team monitoring the best buys.

The biggest sale event in the calendar is Black Friday, though, which falls on 24 November this year. For the best Black Friday deals, however, the T3 team will be scouring all the best retailers ahead of the long sale weekend to bring you curated deals of all the hottest discounts, so we'll do the work and save you the hassle!

T3's Top 3 gaming laptops

The best gaming laptops we recommend in 2023

Why you can trust T3 Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

Best overall

1. Alienware M16

The complete gaming laptop package at a fair price

Specifications

Display size: 16-inch
Processor: AMD Ryzen 9 7845HX
Refresh rate : 240Hz
GPU : Nvidia GeForce RTX 4080

Reasons to buy

+
Top tier performance
+
Beautiful 240Hz refresh rate screen
+
Good value for money 

Reasons to avoid

-
Not cheap
-
Poor battery life
Buy it if

✅ You want to play everything: with an Nvidia RTX 4080 GPU and AMD Ryzen 9 processor, you'll have no issues cranking games to their maximum settings.

✅ You need a high frame rate: Many gamers consider playing below 60FPS to be sacrilege, the raw power and 240Hz refresh rate should mean you never have to settle.

✅ You need to move around occasionally: It's certainly not the lightest gaming laptop but compared to a desktop and some larger laptops, it's not a pain moving this laptop from desk to desk.

Don't buy it if:

❌ You're going to be away from the charger: battery life for gaming laptops, in general, is pretty poor, but this machine struggles more than most and doesn't charge from USB-C.

❌ Budget is tight: Although a good value proposition, you don't need a £2000+ laptop to play most games well.

You want a big screen: There is a larger screen model available, the Alienware M18, which we are also fans of. 

The bottom line

🔎 The Alienware M16 is an excellent package for the price, an all-around all-star that will be able to play the best games at top specs for the foreseeable. It isn't the cheapest machine on this list but represents a great middle ground of price and performance. ★★★★★

If you want your favourite games to look and run great, better than on even the most powerful consoles of the time, then you'll need a gaming laptop (or PC) and the Alienware M16 should be the best choice for most people. 

Prices vary but the model we reviewed With an AMD Ryzen 9 processor and a mighty Nvidia RTX 4080 GPU showed you'll be able to put pretty much any title on the highest settings and expect a smooth gaming experience.

Design: This is not the lightest machine in the world at 3.26kg, but it's not sufficiently heavy that you'll dread moving it. In terms of looks, although it does sport the Alienware alien head logo, this is a pretty smart looking that wouldn't cause many double-takes when out in public.

Display: The 16-inch QHD screen is a standout of this laptop. It has a resolution of 2560 x 1600 and a peak brightness of 450 nits. The refresh rate comes in at 240Hz, not quite as much as the Razer Blade 15 Advanced, but still way above what's needed.

Performance: The model that we reviewed can hold its own against the worst any game dev has to offer. Our reviewer managed to play Doom: Eternal on its most demanding settings at 240FPS, maxing out the screen.  

Battery life: Gaming laptops are not particularly long-lasting machines, they're designed to be taken place to place yes, but then plugged in at each location. The Alienware M16 does still lack in this department, with around 3 hours general use and only about 45 minutes of intense gaming.

Read more: Alienware M16 review

Best premium

2. MSI Raider GE 78 HX

The ultimate gaming laptop, money no object

Specifications

Display size: 17-inch
Processor: 13th gen Intel Core i9
Refresh rate: 240Hz
GPU: NVIDIA Geforce RTX 4080

Reasons to buy

+
A beautiful laptop and screen
+
Dreamy performance
+
A joy to use

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive to say the least
-
Not the quietest
Buy it if

✅ You want to feel badass: Wth its liberal use of RGB lighting and gamer-focused keyboard, the MSI Raider is guaranteed to turn heads.

✅ You want to run anything: The RTX 4080 GPU is amongst the leading components on the market right and you'll be granted unparalleled performance and ray tracing.
 
✅ You hate plastic: Many of the best gaming laptops are still made almost entirely of plastic, which is fine but doesn't feel premium. The MSI Raider does still use plastic but it also features a metal encased base and lid, with an excellent build quality.

Don't buy it if:

❌ You don't have money to burn: At almost £4000, there's absolutely no shame in not wanting to spend so much on a gaming laptop.
 
❌ You're commuting: While changing room in your house shouldn't be a problem, sustained periods carrying this laptop are  uncomfortable especially given the bulk of the charger.,

❌ You don't want to stand out: Just by looking, it's pretty obvious this is no normal laptop. If you don't want the attention or the pressure of having a very expensive piece of tech on you then maybe look elsewhere.

The bottom line

🔎 MSI Raider GE 78 HX The ultimate gaming laptop is super expensive but  I would still recommend it wholeheartedly, and not just because it looks so great. There's a lot of substance to go with the style too.   ★★★★★

I know what you're thinking. The best part of four grand for a laptop? No chance. But hear me out. This is a machine that is extra in all of the best ways. Whether it's the Star-Trek style lightbar on the front, transparent WASD keys or the frankly absurd 10 ports of various connectivity styles.

With an NVIDIA RTX 4080 GPU, I challenge you to find any game that can push it beyond its limits. A big, beautiful beast..

Design: Loud. That's the word that comes to mind with the RGB lights all turned on. Honestly, I think this sense of fun is something all gaming laptops should have, it is after all a leisure activity. The metal casing is concurrent with a superb build quality. 

Display: It may have very visible hinges but the 17-inch QHD+ offering is very easy on the eye. With a resolution of 2560x1600 and 240Hz refresh rate, you'll be able to make the most of the hardware under the hood. 

Performance: It's safe to say you won't be found wanting with the Raider. Playing 2023's ExoPrimal with Ray Tracing and textures cranked up to max with dozens of dinosaurs on screen, I couldn't get less than 90 FPS. The same went for Deathloop. Unplugged however things were a bit different (always the case for gaming laptops) but I could still get around 40FPS on Deathloop, which was a nice surprise.

Battery life: With a massive 99.9Whr battery, you might think this would be an endurance-filled machine but gaming laptops never fare well in the battery stakes. The Raider will do around 3 hours of general use, and about one hour of intense gaming.

Read more: MSI Raider GE78 HX 13V review

Best value

3. Asus Rog Zephyrus G14

A former market leader now at an essential price

Specifications

Display Size: 14-inch
Processor: AMD Ryzen 7 4000 series
Refresh rate: 60Hz
GPU: Nvidia Geforce RTX 2060

Reasons to buy

+
Sleek, light design
+
Great WQHD screen
+
Top build quality

Reasons to avoid

-
Fans can be whiny and loud
-
Screen only 60Hz
Buy it if

✅ You know good things come in small packages: this is a compact 14-inch laptop that will fit easily in your bag without weighing you down.

✅ You like a great deal: Formerly a more premium device, this laptop is a couple of years old now but still packs a punch and has fallen in price significantly.
 
✅ 14-inches is enough: not the biggest laptop in the world, this 14-inch stunner may not be as big as some others on this list. It doesn't have a particularly high refresh rate but its small size just improves Pixel density.

Don't buy it if:

❌ Noisy fans put you off: When working hard this isn't the quietest laptop, largely because of just how exceptionally thin it is.

❌ You don't have to have the latest kit: As stated, this is not the latest model, but buying older releases is a great way to get a better spec at a cheaper price.

❌ You're desperate for a high refresh rate: There's plenty of power under the hood but the screen on this laptop only has a 60Hz refresh rate, which may have an impact on framerates.

The bottom line

🔎 Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 A pocket rocket, this 14-inch mini-marvel isn't the newest machine anymore but that's just served to make it a much more affordable effort. A thing of beauty. ★★★★★

They say that good things come in small packages and the ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14 is proof of that. This 14-inch wonder is a couple of years old now but that now works in its favour with the price falling to a whole new level. 

A 2020 T3 award winner, this is not a machine to mess with, but it's a great choice for both gamers and creatives alike. 

Design: Wow. This is an ultra-thin machine that gives even the likes of MacBooks a run for their money on the eye test. It's not laden with RGB lights and loud styling choices, so you won't lose any street cred bringing it out at college or the office. In fact, the opposite is probably true. 

Display: It may only have a 60Hz refresh rate but the WQHD display is still a cut above when it comes to resolution. Squeezing so many pixels into a smaller 14-inch display produces spectacular results. 

Performance: remember this review should not be written in a silo - it's important to refer to other products on this page and how this one compares against them. We need to be giving answers to questions people didn't even realise they had. Consider giving alternate product recommendations for anyone who'd like a product but needs a cheaper price.

Battery Life: Battery on gaming laptops is traditionally poor but when being used for traditional tasks the G14 can actually get around 8 hours of battery life. Admittedly for gaming that will drop considerably, but still impressive for this category of laptop.

Read more: Asus Rog Zephyrus G14 review

Best work and play

4. Acer Predator Helios 16

The best of both worlds

Specifications

Display size: 16-inch
Processor: 13th Gen Intel Core i9-13900HX 2.2Ghz
Refresh rate: 240Hz
GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 4080

Reasons to buy

+
Oodles of power
+
240Hz refresh rate screen
+
Excellent cooling

Reasons to avoid

-
Can get loud
-
Prone to fingerprint smudging
Buy it if

✅ You want something to work on too: with an excellent keyboard, smart design and a plethora of ports, including two Thunderbolt 4 options, this is a versatile laptop.

✅ You want something to take on the go: at 2.9Kg this is on the lighter end of the gaming laptop scale and it's not unreasonable to get it in your backpack. The charger in particular is not as cumbersome as others.

✅ You want to play high-end games: This is still a gaming laptop and a powerful one at that, the 4080 GPU and 240Hz refresh rate display should help you get the most out of pretty much any current title. 

Don't buy it if:

❌ You work in a library: This is really not a quiet machine when gaming. Performance mode is acceptably loud but Turbo mode genuinely drowned out most of the game audio.

❌ You're on a tight budget: Not the most expensive on this list but also not the cheapest, the Predator Helios 16 that we tested came in at around £2675/$2499. A fair whack.

❌ You want everything to look pristine: although a beautiful bit of gear, it's hard to keep the laptop's case fingerprint free. so be careful.

The bottom line

🔎 Acer Helios Predator 16 Not cheap but a great choice if you want a laptop that can play pretty much any game to the max and also want to use it for work tasks. ★★★★

The Predator Helios 16 from Acer is a jack of all trades that offers a solution to pretty much any concern. Aside from gaming performance, it offers a fantastic keyboard and superb connectivity. 

Sporting a 16-inch screen, but still coming in at a reasonably svelte 2.9kg, and with a 13th Gen Intel Core i9 processor and Nvidia RTX 4070 GPU (at least in its 16 PH16-71 form, as reviewed here), there's a lot to love about this machine. 

Design: This is a nice balance between looking like a fun gaming machine with RGB lights along the spine, and just a nice smart laptop. The casing is almost completely plastic which is a shame but it does keep the cost and weight down. 

Display: The 16-inch mini-LED display has a crisp 240Hz display capable of running games at high frame rates with a lush 2560 x 1600 resolution.

Performance: For the price you would expect excellence when gaming, and you'll get it. Thanks to an Nvidia RTX 4070 GPU you can expect to run ray tracing-enabled games like a charm. I played Deathloop on maximum settings at a consistent 90FPS and reached 120FPS on Forza: Horizon 4

Battery life: If I've said it once I've said it 1000 times, gaming laptops do not have lengthy battery life. The same goes here, with the Predator Helios clocking around 4-5 hours general use and just over 1 hour on intense games. 

Read more: Acer Predator Helios 16

Best audio

5. Asus ROG Strix Scar 16

A powerhouse laptop with speakers to match

Specifications

Display Size: 16-inches
Processor: Intel Core i9-13980HX
Refresh rate: 240Hz
GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 4080

Reasons to buy

+
RTX 4080 is a monster
+
Great sound
+
Solid battery for a gaming laptop

Reasons to avoid

-
Plastic case looks cheap
-
Loud fans
-
Styling won't be for everyone
Buy it if

✅ You want to listen to your music or games: wth four individual speakers and Dolby Atmos sound, using this laptop is a treat for the ears.

✅ You need top-tier performance: An RTX 4080 GPU is one of the most powerful available and should be more than enough for pretty much anything.

✅ You like to stand out: The design of the the Strix Scar 16 is pretty divisive. You might love its translucent look, or you might hate it...

Don't buy it if:

❌ The design isn't for you: The design is not subtle and may not be to everyone's tastes. This is quite obviously a gaming laptop. 

❌ You don't like plastic: It may be a top performer but this is not a premium-feeling laptop. It is covered in what seems like cheap plastic.

❌ You are on a budget: This is no budget machine with prices pushing £3000 or more in the UK, almost $3000 (before sales tax) and a princely AU$4500+. 

The bottom line

🔎 Asus ROG Strix Scar Fitted with pretty much the best possible components on the market, you won’t be compromising on performance settings anytime soon. It might not always feel like a premium product to touch, but it sure does perform like one. ★★★★

This 16-inch machine is an absolute blockbuster that undoubtedly challenges the best gaming laptops available even just on pure performance specs. A RTX 4080 GPU is one of the best you'll find in this guide and it's a strong all-round worker with exceptional sound, if you can tolerate a few imperfections, that is.

Design: This is probably the biggest disappointment of this laptop. The look of it is fairly out there with a translucent base, but that might be to your taste. The main problem is with the amount of plastic all over this machine, in fact it has a bezel of plastic running all the way around it. For over £3000, you'd expect a nicer finish. 

Display: If the laptop case isn't exactly easy on the eye, you couldn't level the same at the screen. With a 2560 x 1600 QHD+ display at a 240Hz refresh rate, you should be able to enjoy your favourite titles in all their glory.

Performance: Full of raw power, the ROG Scar Strix 16 can mix it with the best of them. A 13th Gen Intel i9 processor is more than enough for pretty much anything, while the Nvidia GeForce RTX 4080 GPU will make even challenging games run like a dream. Under the hood, you do get 32GB of RAM – which is nice to see with some similarly priced laptops, like the Acer Predator Helios 16 only offering half that

Battery: For a gaming laptop, the battery of the Strix Scar is actually pretty good. It can handle around 5 hours of general use or two hours of intense gaming. A good rating for this category of laptop.

Read more: Asus ROG Strix Scar 16

Best big screen

6. Alienware M18

A big screen beauty with untold performance underneath

Specifications

Display size: 18-inch
Processor: Intel Core i9-13980HX
Refresh rate: 165Hz
GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090 GPU

Reasons to buy

+
Big, beautiful screen 
+
Incredible game and general performance

Reasons to avoid

-
Big and heavy
-
Screen could be brighter
-
Poor battery life
Buy it if

✅ You think bigger is better: With a whopping 18-inch screen, you won't be wanting for space on the M18's display.

✅ You want the best GPU: With an incredible RTX 4090 GPU we dare you to find something that doesn't look incredible on this laptop.
 
✅ You're not planning on moving around: The size and weight of this laptop, as well as the battery life, mean it is best used as a desktop replacement rather than on the go.

Don't buy it if:

❌ You want a bright screen: The M18 may have a large display but it's not actually the brightest out there, measuring just over 380 nits at its peak.

❌ You want something to use anywhere: A big bulky body accompanies that big screen and the poor battery life means you'll be tethered to the charger.

❌ You don't need the performance: This is an expensive machine, that if you're not playing the most demanding games you might not even need to splash out on. 

The bottom line

🔎 Alienware M18 a huge laptop with a giant 18-inch screen and the gaming performance to back it up. But it has a few aspects keeping it from true greatness. ★★★★

A mammoth machine with an 18-inch screen and equally big performance specs like a RTX 4090 GPU, the Alienware M18 didn't come to play. Weighing 4Kg, you won't be wanting to carry it with you all day, but it is definitely worthy of possibly replacing your desktop setup. 

Design: Measuring 410mm wide and 320mm deep, this is a big boy although it is not chunky- just a touch under 25mm thick.

Display: An 18-inch QHD+ display with a 2560 x 1600 resolution and 165Hz refresh rate is mighty impressive and one of the main selling points of this laptop. We just wish that it was a little bit brighter. 

Performance: In our testing we were impressed with the sheer power of this laptop. We could run Doom Eternal on maximum settings at a consistent 145FPS while F12022 also at the maximum settings produced an impressive 80FPS.

Battery: Gaming laptops are not really made to be used away from their chargers but that is doubly so for the Alienware M18. We got around five hours of general use from the battery but intense gaming sessions saw the battery drained after only 45 minutes. 

Read more: Alienware M18 review