The 6 Best Gaming Laptops in 2020
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Buying a gaming laptop can be a seminal moment for your gaming experience. If you’ve been stuck gaming on a laptop without a dedicated graphics card, getting one of the best gaming laptops will give you better frame rates and higher in-game detail settings. If you’re a desktop gamer, you can suddenly take your games with you wherever you go, playing on a train or plane at will. And if you’ve been playing on an older gaming laptop, you can enjoy a higher resolution display, a nicer keyboard, and battery life that isn’t measured in minutes.
The best gaming laptops of today are built with lightweight chassis, have decent keyboards, enjoy solid battery life compared to their predecessors and offer the kind of performance that was only available in the most capable desktops a few years ago. Even if you aren’t set on spending thousands on a new gaming laptop, you can still get yourself something great. Affordable gaming laptops are still a huge step up from their counterparts from yesteryear.
Whatever kind of performance you’re after and whatever your budget will allow, there’s a capable gaming laptop that will fit your needs perfectly.
- Best Gaming Laptop Overall: Razer Blade 15
- Most Powerful Gaming Laptop: Alienware Area-51M R2
- Best Stealth Gaming Laptop: Dell XPS 15
- Best Lightweight Gaming Laptop: Razer Blade Stealth
- Best AMD Gaming Laptop: Asus Zephyrus 14
- Best Cheap Gaming Laptop: Dell G5 Se
Best Gaming Laptop Overall
Razer Blade 15
Razer Blade 15
$2399SAVE $200 (8%)
- CPU: Eight-core Intel Core i7-10875H
- Graphics: Nvidia RTX 2070 Super Max-Q
- Display: 15.6-inch, 300HZ, 1,920 x 1,080
- Battery: 80Wh
Razer’s original pedigree may have been in gaming peripherals, but in 2020, its Blade laptops are some of the most beloved for gaming, and for good reason. Like last-year’s model, the 2020 version of the Razer Blade offers a perfect combination of power and portability, with a gaming-grade 300Hz display which won’t hold back your hardware no matter what you’re playing. If you’re a competitive gamer, that extra speed can even net a slight input lag advantage on the competition. It’s not much, but when every millisecond counts, it can make all the difference.
The Intel Core i7-10875H CPU is a notable upgrade over its last-generation counterpart for its additional two cores and four threads, which helps make this CPU more future proofed for next-generation AAA games designed with next-gen consoles in mind. They also help out with heavy alternative tasks like video editing, which can really take advantage of those additional threads for improved transcoding performance.
The Nvidia RTX 2070 Max-Q in this particular model isn’t the most capable that Razer offers, and only improves on the last-generation RTX 2070 by a few percent, but it’s more than enough to play both esports and AAA games at great frame rates and detail settings. If you want more, there’s always the RTX 2080 Max-Q, but it’s much more expensive. More powerful gaming laptops from other manufacturers are available, but they don’t offer the same excellent overall package as the Razer Blade.
The 1080p display is perfect for high-speed gaming at this screen size, and though there is a 4K OLED option, it’s not recommended for this size of display as it will not only be hard to see the benefit, but you sacrifice a lot of battery life–a trade not worth making considering the GPU will struggle to maintain strong frame rates at that resolution in AAA games.
Battery life is above average for a gaming laptop, with 80Wh offering enough for five to six hours away from a power socket with mixed usage.
Most Powerful Gaming Laptop
Alienware Area-51M R2
Alienware Area-51M R2
$2999SAVE $320 (11%)
- CPU: 10 core Intel Core i9-10900K
- Graphics: Nvidia RTX 2080 Super 8GB
- Display: 17.3-inch, 1080p, 360Hz; or 4K, 60Hz
- Battery: 90Wh
17-inch laptops might be unwieldy, but they offer the pinnacle of gaming performance with extra screen space to appreciate high-end visuals, and extra physical space for higher-end components and cooling. The Alienware Area-51M R2 embodies that ideal in every part of its design, from its cutting edge components to its top-tier display options.
To take full advantage of this laptop’s power, you also get a blazingly fast 360Hz 1080p display for competitive gaming. If immersion and AAA experience games are more to your taste, though, there’s also the option of a 4K 60Hz panel, which few laptops could hope to run at playable frame rates. This is one laptop that can, and quite comfortably too. That said, Don’t expect great battery life from this laptop, as even at 90Wh its high-end components will eat through it in just a couple of hours. The price is high too, but when you’re buying cutting edge, you should expect to pay for it.
This laptop packs a desktop Intel Core i9-10900K, the most powerful gaming processor ever made, and a full-fat Nvidia RTX 2080 Super with 8GB of GDDR6 memory. Only the new generation of RTX 3000-series graphics cards and the last generation 2080 Ti flagship offer greater performance than that, and their power and thermal demands make them unlikely candidates for even the biggest of laptops any time soon.
The Alienware Area-51M R2 is upgradeable, however. You can swap the CPU and GPU for same-generation component options through Dell’s upgrade kit program, so if you want to save a little now and pay more later, you can always opt for a weaker configuration at first and improve performance down the line.
Best Stealth Gaming Laptop
Dell XPS 15
Dell XPS 15
- CPU: Six core Intel Core i7-10750H
- Graphics: Nvidia GTX 1650 Ti
- Display: 15.6-inch, 1080p
- Battery: 86Wh
The XPS 15 is a surprisingly capable gaming machine, and with its sleek profile, you’d never know it. That makes it a fantastic stealth gaming laptop for your next office upgrade, or just if you want a professional looking laptop that lets you play games outside of business hours.
The XPS 15 9500 packs a 10th-generation Intel Core i7-10750H CPU with six cores and support for 12 threads. It’s not cutting edge, but it still hits the highest clock speed of any Intel mobile CPUs yet released, and with more cores than its 11th-generation counterparts, offers much better multi-threaded performance – a must for next-generation games. It also pairs well with the capable Nvidia GTX 1650 Ti, perfect for rendering gorgeous gameplay at 1080p resolution. There is a 4K display option, but with this type of hardware it would just tank your frame rates and reduce your battery life; which is excellent on this model thanks to its use of lower powered components and lack of extraneous lighting and extras.
As with all Dell XPS laptops, the display on the new XPS 15 is magical, with fantastic color accuracy, a gorgeously broad contrast ratio, and with such slim bezels, it’s incredibly immersive when gaming. Port selection is fantastic too, including USB-C and USB-A, as well as a pair of high-speed Thunderbolt 3 ports, which let you bear a more powerful external graphics card if you want better visuals and frame rates when gaming. At just four pounds, too, this machine is great for gaming or working on the go—just be sure to upgrade the storage if you want to have more than a handful of games installed at any given time.
Best Lightweight Gaming Laptop
Razer Blade Stealth
Razer Blade Stealth
- CPU: Four core Intel Core i7-1165G7
- Graphics: Nvidia GTX 1650 Ti Max-Q
- Display: 13.3-inch, 1080p, 120Hz
- Battery: 53.1Wh
The 2020 version of Razer’s Blade Stealth maintains its status as a gaming laptop with great hardware in a supremely compact and lightweight chassis. Weighing in at just over three pounds, you’d be hard pressed to find a laptop this light with a dedicated graphics chip at all, let alone a current-generation 16-series option with a top-tier Intel Tiger Lake CPU at its side.
Most other gaming laptops have more out-of-the-box power than this model, especially in the graphical department, but none can match its blend of performance and portability. Its light weight combines with a compact chassis that makes it great for gaming on a train or plane, and with over 10 hours of battery life per charge, you don’t even need to consider playing with the charger plugged in.
The 13.3-inch display is 1080p resolution—more than enough for that size—and with support for 120Hz refresh rates, it’s buttery smooth and even makes you a little more competitive by reducing input lag compared to more traditional 60Hz panels.
Best AMD Gaming Laptop
Asus Zephyrus 14
Asus ROG Zephyrus G14
- CPU: Eight-core AMD Ryzen 4900HS
- Graphics: Nvidia RTX 2060 Max-Q
- Display: 14-inch, 1080p, 120Hz, IPS
- Battery: 76Wh
AMD Ryzen CPUs have made team red a powerhouse in both desktop and mobile, and the latest generation of AMD-powered laptops are some of its most impressive yet. The Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 is an amazing gaming machine packing a powerful AMD Ryzen 4900HS CPU that easily keeps pace with some of the best Intel mobile chips in games, and goes far further if you use it for intensive tasks like video and photo editing, too.
Paired with an Nvidia RTX 2060 Max-Q GPU, this compact laptop has all the power you’ll need to display gorgeous AAA graphics at 1080p resolution and high frame rates in less demanding games. The 120Hz display gives you a competitive edge over gamers with slower screens, and its keyboard is both comfortable and accurate with plenty of travel for such a thin frame.
There’s heaps of storage space (1TB SSD) and all the RAM (!6GB DDR4) you’ll need for current and next-gen games. With support for the latest Wi-Fi 6 standards, you’ll have access to the fastest network speeds no matter where you want to play, too.
At just 3.5 pounds, this powerful little laptop won’t hold you back when gaming on the go, and its sleek white paint job really helps it stand out from the crowds of RGB-lit black and silver.
Best Cheap Gaming Laptop
Dell G5 Se
Dell G5 Se
- CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 4600H
- Graphics: AMD Radeon RX 5600M
- Display: 15.6-inch, 1080p
- Battery: 51Wh
There are plenty of truly budget laptops that pretend they can game, but the G3 15 is much more than that. With a more than capable CPU and a seriously powerful GPU, it can handle esports games at high frame rates and even modern AAA games at lower detail settings, without missing a beat.
The 15.6-inch 1080p display is a great fit for this size and power of laptop and makes this a perfect laptop for those looking for real gaming performance without breaking the bank. While the display isn’t the brightest, it doesn’t pull much from the battery either. Coupled with a gang of other low-powered components, that means you can guarantee hours upon hours of gaming time without needing to recharge—something that can’t be said for its more powerful cousins on this list.
Eschewing the trend of more mainstream laptops, the G3 also packs several handy ports into its slim and shapely frame. There are USB-C (with DisplayPort out) and USB-A high speed ports, an HDMI output, a rare RJ45 Ethernet port, a 3.5mm headphone jack and an SD card slot.
There’s not much to dislike about this powerful little machine. Its bigger brother, the G5 15, offers the same solid design, hardware and a better display, but at several hundred dollars more. The G3 15 offers the best bang for buck, and though its price isn’t cheap in that anyone can afford it, it offers some amazing hardware at a price well below that of more traditional gaming laptops.
Who makes the best gaming laptops?
Part of the reason that modern gaming laptops are so exciting is because there is so much competition. There are no longer just a couple of decent brands any more.
Today, Dell, Razer, Asus and many other top manufacturers offer excellent gaming laptop solutions; from desktop equivalents with the most powerful components, to sleek powerhouses with long battery life–and everything in between. There are even a few stealth gaming laptops that you might be able to buy as part of an office upgrade for some gaming when the work day is done.
What CPU Do You Need For Gaming?
Whether you prefer AMD or Intel, as a baseline, you want at least four cores and preferably with simultaneous multithreading for eight thread support. The ideal gaming CPU for modern games in 2020 is six cores, with eight and above offering diminishing returns for gaming performance.
The only caveat there, is that next-generation games designed for upcoming Xbox and PlayStation consoles will take better advantage of higher core counts, so eight-core CPUs will have greater future proofing. Although the processor isn’t the most important part of a gaming system, desktop or laptop, it still plays its part–especially at 1080p resolution. Although faster CPUs will give you greater performance, it’s more important to meet the recommended requirements for the games you want to play.
Beyond core count, per-core performance is king. Clock speed makes a huge impact in how capable a CPU is for gaming, which is why all of the best gaming laptops in this guide feature processors with high clock speeds and great per-core performance.
Although it very much depends on the types of games you want to play, with AAA games demanding more than esports titles, make sure your gaming laptop features at least an AMD Ryzen 5 3000 or 4000 CPU, or an Intel Core i5 ninth or 10th generation CPU.
What’s The Best Graphics Card For Laptop Gaming?
The graphics card or chip is the most important component in a gaming laptop, helping to drive higher resolutions, higher frame rates and higher detail settings than any mainstream laptop can manage.
If you’re playing esports games, you can get great frame rates with an Nvidia GTX 1650 or 1650 Ti. If you want to push high refresh rate displays to their fullest or take advantage of higher detail settings in AAA games, a more capable GPU like the RTX 2060, 2070 0r even 2080 Max-Q offer the best performance in gaming laptops.
Although less common, more and more gaming laptops now offer AMD graphics as an alternative. The AMD 5600M is an amazing mobile gaming graphics chip, able to outperform the RTX 2060 Max-Q and mobile RTX 2060 solutions in some games. It’s even not far behind the powerhouse that is the RTX 2070 Super Max-Q, making it an excellent solution for those wanting powerful graphics without the increased price tag associated with some top-tier gaming laptops.