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. Check out our top picks immediately below, and keep reading to catch up on the latest news and reviews. 

Gaming laptop cheat sheet

Our quick-hit recommendations:·

  • Best 15-inch gaming laptop: Razer Blade 15 [amazon.com]
  • Best budget 15-inch gaming laptop: Acer Predator Helios 300 [amazon.com]
  • Best 17-inch gaming laptop: MSI GS75 Stealth [MSI.com]
  • Best budget 17-inch gaming laptop: HP Omen 17 [amazon.com]
  • Best portable gaming laptop: MSI GS65 Stealth Thin 9SD  [amazon.com]
  • Best price-is-no-object gaming laptop: Origin EON17-X [originpc.com]

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.)

Updated November 14, 2019: We have new top picks for best budget 15-inch gaming laptop, Acer’s Predator Helios 300 (available on Acer.com) and best budget 17-inch laptop, HP’s Omen 17 (available on Amazon.com). Read on for more information.  

Latest gaming laptop news

Here are the latest stories:

  • Check out MSI’s Alpha 15 gaming laptop. It’s all-AMD, packing the newly announced Radeon RX 5500 graphics along with the Ryzen 7 3750H processor and a blazing-fast 15.6-inch 144Hz FreeSync panel for stutter-free, buttery-smooth mobile gaming. Better yet, this notebook costs just $999 for a version with 8GB of RAM, or $1099 for a 16GB model. 
  • We’ve now seen enough 8th-gen and 9th-gen “H”-class laptops that we can recommend that you generally not sweat whether you should buy a laptop with 8th-gen or 9th-gen Core CPU. The newer 9th-gen CPUs are slightly faster. The exception is the 9th-gen Core i9, which ups the core count to 8 cores in a laptop and is definitely worth an upgrade.
  • Did we mention that 10th-gen is here too? Yes, laptop shopper, Intel just introduced two new 10th-gen CPU lineups. The first product lines aren’t for gamers, though, but rather ultrathin laptop designs. We did some early testing of 10th-gen Core laptop CPUs and ranked all the 10th-gen Ice Lake and Comet Lake CPUs so you can learn more. 

Latest laptop reviews

The Alienware Area-51m will come in two colors: Dark Side of the Moon and Lunar White. 

Catch up on the latest models we’ve tested here, including: 

  • We just reviewed the Alienware m15 R2 (available from Dell.com) in its fresh “Legend” design, and it’s definitely built for the future—a very brightly lit one. With RGB LEDs and a white chassis, the redesigned Alienware m15 R2 is a Kubrickian take on the space age. It’s still a powerhouse as well. Read our full review. 
  • Acer’s burly Predator Helios 700 (available from Acer.com) makes no apologies for styling seemingly profiled on either either a Mack truck or a cinderblock. And it delivers exactly what you’d expect of Intel’s newest 9th-gen 8-core, Core i9-9980HK CPU and a full-tilt Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080. And it has a special feature you might call a gimmick, except it actually works. Read our full review.
  • Read our review of the Acer Predator Helios 300, which continues to be the bestselling gaming laptop on Amazon for good reason: It actually manages to be popular, powerful, and affordable. It’s our top pick for best budget gaming laptop.

Best 15-inch gaming laptop

The Acer Predator Triton 500 model we tested features a 15.6-inch, 1920×1080, 144Hz panel, an 8th-gen Core i7-8750H with 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD, and a GeForce RTX 2060. It’s easily enough firepower to match laptops based on the slightly lower-cost GeForce GTX 1660 Ti, but it has the option to run DirectX Ray Tracing games, too.

If we were to ding the Triton 500, it would be for the SSD replacement. Let’s just say, adding more storage to the Triton 500 won’t be a five-minute affair. Read our full review of the Acer Predator Triton 500.

Best budget 15-inch gaming laptop

Acer’s Predator Helios 300 has achieved something we never thought a gaming laptop could do. It actually manages to be popular, powerfuland affordable. 

Looking into the specs, we can see why it’s powerful (relatively, anyway): With its GeForce GTX 1060, 6-core Core i7-8750H, 16GB of RAM, 1080p/144Hz panel and 256GB SSD, it’s a decently configured gaming laptop.

Considering those specs, its price is pretty fair, and the 5.5-pound weight is pretty bearable too. No wonder it’s a steady seller on Amazon. Read our full review. 

[MSRP $1,100 (but the selling price is usually less) on Amazon.com]

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 full review of the MSI GS75 Stealth.

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

Best budget 17-inch gaming laptop

HP’s Omen 17 gaming laptops have a reputation with us that can be summarized in four words: solid performance. Shockingly affordable.

That’s particularly true for the Omen 17. Is it a looker? Debatable. Is it the best gaming laptop? Definitely not. But HP always manages to cram more hardware than you’d expect under the hood, then sell the Omen 17 way below market rate.

I’m not sure how HP pulls off this bit of wizardry, but it’s made the Omen 17 a hit. And the trend continues, as the 2019 model we’re testing (poetically monikered the 17-cb0040nr) packs in some of the latest and greatest CPUs and GPUs for hundreds of dollars less than the competition. Read our full review.

[MSRP $1,680 (but the selling price is usually less) on Amazon.com]

Best portable gaming laptop

The MSI GS65 Stealth Thin 9SD we’ve reviewed (available on MSI.com) is similar to the MSI GS65 Stealth Thin 8RE that preceded it, but with new hardware: Intel’s 9th-gen Core i7-9750H, along with Nvida’s GeForce GTX 1660 Ti, which turns it into the GS65 Stealth Thin 9SD. (If you want your RTX hardware, you can get that in the pricier GS65 Stealth Thin 9SX.) Although it’s heavier than before, it still beats many competing laptops with the same hardware, which tip far closer to five pounds. Read our full review.

Best price-is-no-object gaming laptop

Alienware’s Area-51m flagship gaming laptop is big, thick, and fast, a return to form that should reassure people who got worried when the company unveiled the thin-and-light Alienware m15 last year. The new Area-51m very well might be the first gaming laptop to bring the Holy Grail of features to consumers: Upgradable graphics and an upgradable CPU. Read our full review of Alienware’s Area-51m.    

Runner-up

The Alienware 17 R5 is a slickly designed gaming laptop that leverages Intel’s first Core i9 mobile chip and an overclocked GeForce GTX 1080 to deliver desktop-class power. It’s heavy and expensive though.

The Alienware 17 R5 packs Intel’s debut high-performance Core i9 laptop chip, which turns this already beastly gaming laptop into an utter monster. The version we tested ($3,810 from Dell) pumps out more performance than we’ve ever seen in a gaming laptop with all-mobile parts. It offers over 55 percent more multi-thread performance than its already-potent direct predecessor. CPU benchmarks this fast were practically unthinkable. 

Read on for guidance on how to pick the right gaming laptop for your needs.

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