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The GS65 Stealth Thin delivers everything I want in a gaming laptop. It has the convenience and portability of a productivity notebook—light and thin enough that I can toss it in my backpack, tote it to meetings, and comfortably use it on the couch—married with the internal guts of a gaming PC—powerful enough to play the latest games at high or max settings once the workday is over.
It has a sleek matte black aluminum body with gold accents that feels sturdy and luxe—and thankfully lacking in obnoxious gamer aesthetics. Best of all, in addition to a slim, 18mm thickness, the screen’s 4.9mm thin bezels allow for a overall chassis size that’s about an inch smaller than most 15-inch laptops.
Performance-wise, the GS65 doesn’t disappoint. The base spec features a GTX 1060 Max-Q GPU, but I recommend the GTX 1070 (again Max-Q) model for a few hundred dollars more. It brings with it an upgraded SSD and Killer wireless networking. This spec lets the GS65 maintain framerates above 60 fps in most of the latest games with settings maxed out. And by tweaking a few settings and disabling some of the more demanding, less visually-impactful options, you can easily push your framerates up to 100 fps and above, taking advantage of the system’s 144Hz display.
There are other nice details, too: a keyboard from SteelSeries that’s solid and responsive (and RGB-lit, if you care about that sort of thing), a responsive touchpad, and a webcam that’s placed at the top of the screen, thankfully avoiding the abysmally unflattering “nose-cam” found on most thin-bezeled laptops like the Dell XPS 13.
The only gaming feature missing here is G-Sync, but that’s a forgivable offense as the omission allows for both a lower price tag and battery life that legitimately lasts through a whole day of email, web browsing, and streaming video.
Read the full review: MSI GS65 Stealth Thin
2. Lenovo Legion Y740
Hard proof RTX doesn’t have to cost a fortune
CPU: Intel Core i7-8750H | GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Max-Q | RAM: 16GB DDR4-2,667MHz | Screen: 17.3-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080) IPS 144Hz | Storage: 1TB HDD; 256GB SSD | Battery: 76Wh | Dimensions: 12 x 16.2 x 0.91 inches | Weight: 6.4 lbs
Though they’ve existed for but a couple of years now, Lenovo’s Legion-branded laptops have made a name for themselves in the games industry, if only because they offer unprecedented value on top-notch specs.
Rather than crafting jacks of all trades, the Chinese tech company—known primarily for its ThinkPads—aims to squeeze the most performance out of the cheapest possible materials without compromising on quality and design. This principle is nowhere more evident than in the Lenovo Legion Y740, a 17.3-inch gaming laptop, whose graphics chip ranges from Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 to 2080, and for a fraction of the price of its major competitors.
Sure, “considerably thinner than previous generations” as they may be, its bezels are bigger and more distracting than the norm. But the screen itself leverages technology rarely seen elsewhere. Dolby Vision HDR, for example, is in full bloom on this fluid 144Hz IPS display. And G-Sync eliminates the need for software-based adaptive sync protocols, such as vsync, which notoriously reeks of input lag and microstuttering.
On the audio end, the Y740 is graced with another striking Dolby technology, Atmos, by way of a fine-tuned onboard soundbar that emits a wide range of crisp frequencies, valuing midrange and bass tones in equal measure. Built into its Windows 10 Home install is the Dolby Atmos software as well, paving the way for customizable EQ profiles and nearly making up for the down-firing orientation of the speakers.
If real-time ray tracing is your endgame, the Lenovo Legion Y740 does not disappoint. In fact, in the Metro Exodus RTX benchmark, which sees most of the in-game graphics settings cranked all the way up, the Y740 managed an impressive average of 46fps. Temper a few of those sliders and you can bank on a buttery smooth 60fps, with raytracing turned on, for about 30% less than the cost of its premium-priced rivals configured with the same specs.
Read the full review: Lenovo Legion Y740
3. Razer Blade 15
The toughest, most well designed gaming laptop of 2019
CPU: Intel Core i7-8750H | GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 Max-Q | RAM: 16GB DDR4-2666MHz | Screen: 15.6-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080) IPS 144Hz | Storage: 512GB SSD | Battery: 80 Whr | Dimensions: 9.25 x 13.98 x 0.68 inches | Weight: 4.63 lbs
With the new Blade 15, launched earlier this year, Razer has finally caught up to the competition in terms of what makes a great gaming laptop. Solid construction, slim body, elegant design, long battery life, thin bezels, 144Hz screen, and internals powerful enough to play the latest games. That means an Intel Core i7-8750H processor paired with an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 Max-Q GPU.
What sets the Blade 15 apart from the competition is the details. Its aluminum body is the most solid and flex-resistant of all the laptops we’ve tested lately, and by a measure of about half a millimeter, it’s the thinnest as well. Of course, that half-millimeter difference is mostly negligent in terms of perception—more impressive is the overall solid feel of the body, which Razer says is CNC-milled from a single block of aluminum. Opening the clamshell, the touchpad is noticeably larger than its peers, and the keyboard is flanked on either side by large speakers.
We’re currently testing the new Razer Blade Stealth and should have a verdict on that soon. It’s likely to oust the 15 from this list.
Read the full review: Razer Blade 15
4. Acer Predator Triton 500
At long last, real-time ray tracing goes truly portable
CPU: Intel Core i7-8750H | GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Max-Q | RAM: 16GB DDR4-2,667MHz | Screen: 15.6-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080) IPS 144Hz | Storage: 512GB M.2 NVMe | Battery: 84Wh | Dimensions: 10 x 14.41 x 0.7 inches | Weight: 4.41 lbs
Not everyone needs the thinnest or the most powerful gaming laptop. Sometimes still-thin and still-powerful is just fine. Striking a healthy balance between portability, performance, and price is the Acer Predator Triton 500, a Max-Q notebook that emerged from somewhere out of the woodwork to impress our dedicated team of hardware testers at the top-secret PC Gamer lab. Wielding an RTX 2080, the model we reviewed is priced somewhere in the middle at $2,499. However, you can find an RTX 2060 version at the $1,799 mark.
Either way, it’s well worth your while, seeing as it can push Metro Exodus at the highest settings, with ray tracing on, at an average pace of 56fps. And while it’s doing so, you get to experience the luxury of its deeply satisfying 1.7mm keyboard travel and a Microsoft precision touchpad that we surprisingly don’t hate. Despite its terrifying default boot-up noise, the Acer Predator Triton 500 is one for the books.
Read the full review: Acer Predator Triton 500
5. Acer Predator Helios 300
The best budget gaming laptop—GTX 1060 graphics for a grand
CPU: Intel Core i7-7700HQ | GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 6GB | RAM: 16GB DDR4-2133MHz | Screen: 15.6-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080) wide-view 60Hz | Storage: 256GB M.2 SATA SSD | Battery: 48 Whr | Dimensions: 10.47 x 15.35 x 1.05 inches | Weight: 5.95 lbs
Acer’s Predator Helios 300 offers an incredible value proposition. At just over a grand, sometimes less if you can find it on sale, it offers a GTX 1060 6GB graphics card that can lock down 60 fps at near-max settings in most games from the last few years. The system’s lacking in any fancy screen features like G-Sync, although you can get a model with 144Hz refresh rate, and you’ll probably want to think about investing in a large HDD to back up the 256GB SSD. But those minor issues don’t mean much when you factor in the super-affordable price tag.
The Acer Predator Helios 300 is the best budget gaming laptop you can buy, without compromising on the features you need from a portable gaming device. Right now you can get the 1060 GPU version, with a 144Hz screen, 1TB HDD and 256GB SSD for $1,149 at NewEgg, saving you $250. That’s a great price for what you’re getting here.
6. MSI GF63 8RC
The best entry-level gaming laptop, currently under $650
CPU: Intel Core i5-8300H | GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 4GB | RAM: 8GB DDR4-2666 | Screen: 15.6-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080) IPS | Storage: 1TB HDD | Battery: 3-cell 51 Whr | Dimensions: 14.13 x 9.99 x 0.85 inches | Weight: 4.10 lbs
The MSI GF63 8RC has to be our top choice for ultra-budget gaming laptops. Priced as low as $649.99 on sale, the GF63 comes equipped with Intel’s i5-8300H, 8GB of DDR4 RAM, Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1050 and one of the thinner bezels we’ve seen in this price range. The only obvious downside is the lack of an included SSD. The laptop comes loaded with a 1TB HDD which means you’ll probably want to upgrade the storage fairly quickly.
With its highly competitive price tag, the Newegg exclusive MSI GF63 8RC is one of the cheapest gaming laptops we could find with a GTX 1050 discrete graphics card. It’s priced just a little bit higher than Acer’s Aspire E 15, but the GF63 offers up to 67% higher gaming performance and exponentially higher performance when compared to laptops with integrated graphics. If you’re working with a tight budget, the GF63 offers everything you’d need in a laptop without putting a huge dent in your wallet.
Read the full review: MSI GF63 review
7. Gigabyte Aero 15X v8
Productivity powerhouse with longer battery life
CPU: Intel Core i7-8750H | GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 Max-Q | RAM: 16GB DDR4-2666MHz | Screen: 15.6-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080) IPS 144Hz | Storage: 512GB SSD | Battery: 94 Whr | Dimensions: 9.8 x 14.0 x 0.74 inches | Weight: 4.49 lbs
Gigabyte’s Aero 15X was the first thin Max-Q laptop to catch my eye, and the 2018 Aero 15X v8 refresh remains a promising entry in the field, fixing most of the issues I had with its predecessor while keeping everything else that I love about it. Primarily, the keyboard works much better after a driver update, and the screen’s been updated to a snappy 144 Hz panel.
Compared to MSI’s GS65 and the Razer Blade 15, the Aero 15X has a less attractive body with sharp edges, but wins in the productivity category on account of a bigger, 94 Whr battery. In practice—that is, our streaming video test—that larger battery lasts upwards of six hours, compared to the GS65’s four and a half. With near-identical internals, gaming performance is comparable to the GS65 as well. The biggest difference, other than the body design and battery, is that the Aero 15X can be outfitted with a 4K screen. I recommend sticking with the high refresh rate 1080p screen if gaming is your primary concern, but 4K is a nice option for productivity power users who can take advantage of the extra pixels.
Read the full review: Gigabyte Aero 15X v8
8. MSI GS75 Stealth
Leading edge performance in a svelte chassis
CPU: Intel Core i7-8750H | GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Max-Q | RAM: 32GB DDR4-2,667MHz | Screen: 17.3-inch (1,920 x 1,080) IPS 144Hz | Storage: 512GB SSD | Battery: 82 Whr | Dimensions: 15.59 x 10.22 x 0.75 inches
When Nvidia announced its Max-Q design initiative nearly two years ago, the Big Graphics company said the best gaming laptop would get thinner and lighter yet more powerful than the beefy notebooks which preceded it. If nothing else, the MSI GS75 Stealth serves as evidence to back up that claim. With its posh, black and gold design—glarily inspired by the 15-inch GS65 Stealth Thin before it—the GS75 Stealth is a handsome and perfectly good 17-inch lappy on the outside, minus its susceptibility to paint chipping. Oh, and the touchpad woes.
Snug inside its aluminum alloy chassis is a hardy GeForce RTX graphics card, spanning almost Nvidia’s whole line of ray trace-capable products, paired with an Intel Core i7-8750H processor no matter which configuration you buy. Be that as it may, every version of the GS75 Stealth exceeds two grand, making it a tough sell for budget-minded gamers. We, of course, reviewed the utmost expensive model, housing a Max-Q-size RTX 2080 and 32GB of RAM. Decimating the competition, it ran Shadow of the Tomb Raider in 1080p at 87fps, and that was at the highest graphics preset. Pretty incredible for a clamshell PC weighing less than five pounds.
Read the full review: MSI GS75 Stealth
9. Asus ROG Strix GL503VS-DH74 Scar Edition
Bigger body, better performance
CPU: Intel Core i7-7700HQ | GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 | RAM: 16GB DDR4-2400MHz | Screen: 15.6-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080) wide-view 144Hz with G-Sync | Storage: 256GB NVMe SSD, 1TB FireCuda SSHD | Battery: 64 Whr | Dimensions: 10.3 x 15.2 x 1.0 inches | Weight: 5.6 lbs
I said at the beginning that choosing a laptop usually means picking two between price, performance, and portability. Where thin-and-light laptops like the GS65 offer the latter two of those three, the Asus ROG Strix GL503VS-DH74 Scar Edition instead checks the first two boxes: price and performance.
In exchange for a larger shell, the GL503VS packs in a regular (non Max-Q) GTX 1070 GPU. This results in a performance improvement of around 15 percent at a slightly lower price point. It uses a previous gen quad-core CPU, but that doesn’t matter in most games. The GL503VS also offers G-Sync on its 144Hz panel, but the tradeoff means you miss out on Nvidia’s Optimus battery tech. As such, you shouldn’t expect more than around two hours of battery life. Don’t forget your charger!
10. Dell Inspiron 15 7567
A brilliant budget laptop, ideal for indies
CPU: Intel Core i5-7300HQ | GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti 4GB | RAM: 8GB DDR4-2400MHz | Screen: 15.6-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080) | Storage: 256GB SSD | Battery: 6-cell 74 Whr | Dimensions: 10.82 x 15.15 x 1.0 inches | Weight: 5.76 lbs
If you’re looking for a cheap laptop to play indies or other less-demanding titles, Dell’s Inspiron 15 7000 series is just the ticket. The 7567 model features a GTX 1050 Ti, a slight upgrade over the bottom-barrel GTX 1050 model which can be had for a few bucks cheaper. Neither can handle the latest games on high or max settings, but if all you’re interested in is lightweight indies or don’t mind cranking the settings down, the 7567 is a great ultra-budget option.
As a bonus, the 7567 features a robust 74 Whr battery that should last upwards of four hours, depending on the workload. This makes it a great back to school laptop for gamers who need a machine that’ll last through classes and then help secure Victory Royale once homework is done.
How we test gaming laptops
What makes one laptop more attractive than another in the eyes of a gamer? Is it light weight, for portability in between LAN parties? How about high-end hardware to facilitate the fastest frame rates? Surely connectivity matters. External displays, gaming peripherals and direct-attached storage can make you forget you’re even using a notebook. Or maybe value is what matters most. For a low-enough price, we’re all willing to compromise on graphics quality, right? Right?
Of course not, which is why the best builders cram in as much processing muscle as possible, even when money is tight. And at the top of the range, desktop-class components in mobile enclosures set new performance records with every generation.
We run the following tests to measure performance and productivity on gaming laptops:
- Cinebench 15
- CrystalDisk QD32 Read and Write
- 3DMark Fire Strike
- PCMark 10 Express
For gaming, we use the built-in benchmarks on Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Total War: Warhammer II, and Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands. Tests are performed at 1080p using the highest available graphics preset, with V-sync and G-Sync disabled. All tests are run multiple times to ensure that thermal throttling doesn’t occur. In the event that scores drop on subsequent tests, the lower (throttled) scores are used.
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