Best gaming laptops 2019: No-nonsense reviews & expert buying advice

Picking a gaming laptop is a lot more fun today than it was five years ago, when a “real” gaming laptop meant 12 pounds of back-breaking hardware to haul around.

With major advances in laptop CPUs and graphics technologies, you can now get great gaming performance in sizes from slender to huge, and prices from budget to sky-high. That’s where this handy-dandy buyer’s guide come in. We’ll name the best gaming laptops currently available, and we’ll highlight what to look for when buying a gaming laptop. (Check back often, as we’ll update this list as new products arrive.)

Update 02/14/2019: We have all the gaming laptop news from CES in January, plus a new pick for best overall: The unbelievably thin and light (for a gaming laptop), RTX-fortified MSI GS75 Stealth (available from MSI). Read our review.

Latest gaming laptop news

We came to CES, we saw some awesome PC hardware, and Brad Chacos gave us the highlights, including these insane gaming laptops: 

  • “GeForce RTX is too hot, and too power-hungry for laptops, they said. Well ‘they’ were wrong. Nvidia proved all the naysayers to be, well, nay, by not just introducing GeForce RTX GPUs in laptops, but by introducing 40 different designs that have its newest mobile GPU. While there are still questions about how well mobile RTX performs, you can’t dispute that 40 wins is quite an accomplishment. We literally saw dozens of laptops running the new GPU, and running hybrid ray tracing at that.”
    geforce rtx 20 series laptop family Nvidia
  • “When Acer first revealed the Predator Triton 900 concept in 2018, the crazy, swivel-display gaming laptop was hidden under glass—because that’s how you show off hardware that’s so audacious, it may never reach the production line. But at CES 2019, the Predator Triton 900 suddenly became very, very real with a projected release date of March this year. Sure, it’ll cost you $3,999, but that’s the buy-in if you want to play in laptop crazytown.”
    Acer Predator Triton 900
  • “We’ve come a long way, baby. Just two years ago, a 17-inch gaming laptop almost needed a wheelbarrow to move around. But MSI’s GS75 Stealth will shock you at just how little it weighs: five pounds. That’s basically not much heavier than most 15-inch laptops. Thanks to narrow bezels, the GS75 Stealth has a footprint not much bigger than most 15-inch gaming laptops, too. And the GS75 Stealth doesn’t compromise on the specs: With its 17.3-inch, 144Hz FHD screen, 8th gen Core i7, and GeForce RTX 2070 Max-Q GPU, you can have your gaming and take it with you, too. Eight hours of battery life likely won’t set any records, but for a gaming laptop it’s pretty good.”
msi nb gs75 stealth photo01 MSI
  • ”Not everyone is comfortable taking a small, dainty gaming laptop to the café—even if your plan is to sip a chai latte while reading French poetry. Sometimes you gotta go big, and nothing says big like Alienware’s new Area-51m, a truly in-your-face gaming laptop if there ever was one. It’s got a newly revealed Alienware design language, but you might be more impressed by the parts inside it: A socketed and upgradeable desktop Core i9-9900K and a GeForce RTX 2080. But the real reason we’re so jazzed by the Area-51m is what Alienware is prepping to deliver to enthusiasts: upgradeable graphics.”
alienware area 51m dark side lid lunar light open Daniel Masaoka/IDG

Best 17-inch gaming laptop

The MSI GS75 Stealth challenges that old PC laptop proverb that says you can have high performance, and you can have a 17-inch screen, and you can have light weight—but you can only pick two. Sure, at five pounds GS75 is hardly “light.” But along with its 17.3-inch display it packs an 8th-generation 6-core CPU and Nvidia’s brand-spanking new GeForce RTX 2080 Max-Q graphics inside.

The MSI GS75 is one of the first laptops to debut with Nvidia’s RTX graphics for laptops, announced in January at CES. As you’ll see in our benchmarks, the MSI GS75 is a (relatively) lightweight laptop with a heavweight wallop. The initial signs seem to point toward a lighter, faster future for mobile PC gaming.   Read our review.

[$2,999 MSRP as reviewed; available from MSI]

Best 15-inch gaming laptop

Razer isn’t exaggerating when it calls its Blade 15 the “world’s smallest 15-inch gaming laptop.” It’s nearly as small as the popular workhorse Dell XPS 15, yet it offers blistering gaming performance. 

The Razer Blade 15 that we reviewed features a 15.6-inch, 1920×1080 IPS 144Hz factory-calibrated screen, an 8th-gen 6-core Intel Core i7-8750H, 16GB of DDR4/2677 in dual-channel mode, Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1070 Max-Q (optional GTX 1060 Max-Q), and a 512GB Samsung M.2 PCIe SSD.


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