Choosing the best gaming laptop requires not only knowing just how powerful of a machine you're looking for, but what the hardware under the hood is going to provie for you. Gaming laptops have made huge strides over the past decade, featuring top-of-the-line hardware that competes directly with desktop machines in many cases.
Finding a machine that fits your needs and budget, however, can be a challenge with so many variations and options available. From the best RTX Series gaming laptops to top budget-friendly laptops, there's a lot to consider when purchasing a new mobile machine.
Alongside plenty of power under the hood for your favorite games, finding a good gaming laptop on sale during Back to School sales may just help you grab one for cheap. Many of the best gaming laptops on our list offer plenty of versatility and power for schoolwork, and can double as a solid student laptop (opens in new tab) for gamers heading back to school
So read on further to see what gaming laptops are best to go for in 2022, with options from MSI to Dell, Alienware, ASUS and more. If the gaming laptops you find in our list aren't quite what you're after, you'll also find some helpful shopping advice and tips at the end of this article to guide you even further in your search.
The best gaming laptops available today
The Asus ROG Zephyrus 14 is a game-changing laptop that delivers unparalleled levels of performance despite being compact and light. It does this thanks to its use of AMD's hot new Ryzen 4000 processors paired with 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-around 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.
As we say in the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 review (opens in new tab), "this gaming laptop is just a beautiful thing. A laptop that's small and tough, powerful and slick, detailed and desirable."
The price, too, while not cheap, is nowhere near the levels of what you can spend on a gaming laptop, which explains why we 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.
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.
The Acer Nitro 5 is among the lowest-specced systems in our best gaming laptops list, but that in no way means it isn't capable of delivering a good gaming experience, and we recommend it so highly thanks to its excellent price point.
An Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 (6GB GDDR6 VRAM) on board means that, while you don't get Ampere-levels of gaming performance, you'll still be able to run today's best PC games at medium to high settings without seeing your framerate plunge to single figures.
Meanwhile, the system's 256GB isn't the biggest, but is an NVMe SSD, meaning that it is very fast and loads games quickly. The 8GB of RAM in the machine is a little light, with 16GB preferable, but in most games and applications it doesn't cause too much trouble.
The Intel Core i7-9750H (Hexa-core) processor ensures that the system can crunch through any light or medium computing task with ease, too, while a battery capable of delivering 8 hours of run time on a single charge means that you've got genuine portability as well. There's also a solid selection of ports, a built-in webcam, and an RGB backlit keyboard as well.
T3's Acer Nitro 5 review (opens in new tab), states that "Acer's functional pixel-pusher does more than enough to satisfy for the price, though the 120Hz screen is a mixed bag." Yes, the Acer Nitro 5 can't compete in terms of power with many of the other laptops in this guide, but if you are shopping on a budget it is a great choice.
If you want to compare this system to our number one gaming laptop choice, then check out T3's Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 vs Acer Nitro 5 comparison feature.
In our Razer Blade 15 Advanced review (opens in new tab), we said that this system "cuts through tough games like butter" and that it is a "super-premium laptop which pushes hard and looks great doing it". We also gave it a maximum score of 5 stars and a T3 Platinum Award. So, yeah, it's a bit good.
And in terms of playing today's most demanding AAA games on the go it excels. This Razer Blade 15 Advanced is the sort of system that PC gamers dream of owning, so the fact that is also looks like something you could take into a Fortune 500 company boardroom at the same time is just heavenly.
The specs don't lie, with an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 graphics card, 32GB of RAM and an Intel Core i7 octa-core processor tucked in the chassis this Blade runs games, even with next-gen effects like real-time ray tracing turned on, supremely well and it posted some very tasty benchmark scores in 3DMark. It also ran any game T3 threw at it perfectly, with butter smoother framerates delivered on its stunning 360Hz refresh rate display.
There's plenty of extras, too, that make the Razer Blade 15 Advanced worth considering if you're looking for a regular work laptop upgrade as well as a gaming one, such as an integrated Full HD 1080p webcam that is Windows Hello compatible, as well as a wide variety of ports and storage options available.
Obviously at this price the Razer Blade 15 Advanced isn't the gaming laptop for everyone. However, it can be outfitted with a lower spec if desired to save money, with the range starting with an RTX 3060 under the hood. If you can afford this all singing all dancing model, though, then it's a gaming laptop that will do you for at least the next 5 years, if not more.
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 solid 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.
Its 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.
As our Dell G5 15 5500 review (opens in new tab) says, "it's not the fastest around. But it's very sturdily built, impeccably designed, and muscular enough to give even current games a run for their money."
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.
You can always rely on the Asus ROG gaming series to provide some of the best gaming laptops on the market, and the 2020 Zephyrus S GX701 in maximum spec proves the point: it's crammed with powerful components, looks the part and will play any game out there without breaking a sweat.
Our Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX701 review (opens in new tab) concludes that it's "a dream gaming laptop, with its monstrous power capable of crushing even today's most graphically demanding AAA PC games without compromise."
Admittedly, you're going to have to pay a lot for this laptop, but if you've got the cash, it's worth it. You can pack the laptop with some of the best Nvidia GeForce RTX GPUs currently available, including the mighty RTX 2080 Max-Q, store loads of games on its spacious SSD drive, and even run the most demanding VR experiences right from this laptop thanks to its powerful Intel CPU and stacks of RAM.
And what about that 17.3-inch screen too – it looks simply gorgeous from any angle, and can ramp up to a refresh rate of 300Hz, meaning that screen tearing and blur are just blown away. For gamers the world over, the Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX701 is simply a dream system and one that, while it costs a lot, will last for years and years to come.
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 means that games look fantastic – screen tearing and blurring will soon become a distant memory. No matter what types of games you want to run, the GE66 Raider has enough graphical oomph to handle them, even on the higher settings.
Our MSI GE66 Raider review states that it has "stacks of power, a great screen, and a compelling design – and that's just about everything you can ask for."
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 shot at this system.
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.
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.
Our HP Omen 15 review said that it "looks the part, plays the best games with aplomb, and is reasonably priced for what you get, too – even the sound system impresses." While our review model 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 customizable 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.
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 we tested packed in a strong Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 GPU, 8th generation Intel Core i7-8750H, 16GB of DDR4 RAM, and a 512GB SSD. In the Acer Predator Triton 500 review (opens in new tab) we said, "If you can afford it, we can see no reason to opt for anything else." And right now that model is retailing on Amazon at a very approachable price point.
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.
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 customized 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.
In our Gigabyte Aorus 15G review (opens in new tab), we said "if you want a gaming laptop with top-level performance this year, then this is an option that we'd recommend putting somewhere on your shortlist."
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.
An upgrade from Alienware's previous lineup – the m13, m15, and m17 – the new R4 models 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. Our Alienware m15 R4 review (opens in new tab) says it "remains a top dog in the world of gaming laptops."
From the huge array of ports – from Ethernet to Thunderbolt to HDMI – to the customizable 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.
Buying advice: How to choose the best gaming laptop for you
What you're looking for in the best gaming laptop of 2022 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 exceptionally 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 $1,000 on a gaming laptop to ensure a good level of performance. If you can stretch to $2,000 or more, that will net you something from the premium end of the scale. There are some hyper-premium systems that retail for over $3000 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.
Are gaming laptops worth it?
Gaming laptops have to be able to deliver the goods, and that means high framerates and resolutions. As such, the gaming systems included here pack Max-Q variants of the best graphics cards on the market today, as well as the fastest SSDs and screens that match the best gaming monitors you can buy. If a gaming laptop can't play games like Cyberpunk 2077 and Assassin's Creed Valhalla, then it has no place in this list.
If you also invest in a top-rated gaming mouse, a high-quality mechanical gaming keyboard, and an audiophile-quality gaming headset, you can be sure that your gaming setup will deliver immersion and quality for many years to come.
We're not just interested in performance, though: there's no point blowing your budget on a gaming laptop that isn't going to go the distance. That's why we're focusing on manufacturers such as Dell, Razer, Asus, Acer, MSI, HP and Alienware: manufacturers with a proven track record in delivering gaming machines that deliver rock-solid reliability.
On that note of specific manufacturers, Dell is making some great laptops right now for gamers, so head on over to our best Dell laptops guide for the complete picture.
No matter what kind of gaming laptop you're looking for – the best budget gaming laptop, a good mid-range gaming laptop or the ultimate gaming laptop it's possible to configure – you'll find it here. Whether you want real-time ray tracing or something that delivers power without dislocating your shoulder if you move it, these are our favorite gaming laptops right now.
Should you buy one of these if you just want an everyday laptop? Probably not: there's no need to pay for quite so much power if the pixels you need to push are in Office apps or Netflix. If you're looking for a system that isn't gaming-orientated, head to our general best laptops guide, or our best budget laptops guide instead.
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 great attention to detail on each system's build quality, and thanks to its backing from Dell, each is often very customizable, 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 customization 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 these systems delivering great build quality and style with raw pixel-pushing power. Its 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.
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 frame rates 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.