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Gaming laptops have moved on dramatically in recent years, with the unwieldy designs of the past now being replaced by refined gems with ever-improving power and capabilities.

So, instead of the heavy and LED-encrusted monsters that once would crush your femurs - should you dare rest it on your thighs - the typical form factor is now a slightly bumper-sized notebook. There's no need to compromise on specs either, with the elite-level refresh rates, graphics cards, keyboards and trackpads all available.

With the modern gamer having so many choices at their disposal, and with gaming laptops typically not coming cheap, which are the ones you really want to be considering?

That's where this guide comes in. We've tested the latest and greatest options in order to deliver a list of recommendations for different types of users, as well as providing a dedicated section for those looking for advice before buying. Let's dive in.

Asus ROG Strix Scar 17 (22)
Asus ROG Strix Scar 17 (2023)
1. Best gaming laptop

The Asus ROG Strix Scar 17 features some of the highest-performing mobile components available today and its performance won't leave you wanting for more.

  • Extreme gaming performance
  • Massive 240Hz display
  • Brilliant keyboard
  • Big, heavy and expensive

The 2023 Asus ROG Strix Scar 17 is one of the most powerful gaming laptops available today, and it has excellent cooling to keep its monstrous components running at their best.

The keyboard is also one of the best around, and of course, there's plenty of LED lighting to give it the complete gamer aesthetic. We love that it utilises a high-speed WQHD display, rather than opting for 4K, as it means you can really take advantage of the refresh rate on offer here.

The downside is that it's a very expensive option, and while the 17-inch display is luxurious for gaming and productivity, this model isn't designed to be super portable. That said, if you want a machine for gaming at home, it doesn't get much better than this.

Razer Blade 16
Razer Blade 16
2. Best portable gaming laptop

The 2023 Razer Blade packs an astonishing amount of power into a surprisingly slim chassis. We think it's one of the best gaming laptops around, so long as your budget can accommodate it.

  • Dual-mode 4K120/FHD240 display
  • Up to an RTX 4090 inside
  • Slimline design
  • Very expensive

Razer's Blade notebooks have been a longstanding favourite here at Pocket-lint. Not only do they pack the latest top-of-the-line hardware to chomp through the latest triple-A titles, but they do so in a slim elegant chassis that's more akin to a MacBook than most gaming rigs.

The 2023 Razer Blade 16 is no different, somehow cramming up to an RTX 4090 into its supple frame, and keeping the bar set high when it comes to build quality and premium feel.

New for this year is an innovative dual-mode display, which can switch between 4K at 120Hz and 1080p at 240Hz. This means you can enjoy the high-fidelity visuals of a story-driven adventure or switch into performance mode when things get competitive, it's the best of both worlds. The downside is the cost, this lovely laptop is a serious investment.

Asus Zephyrus Duo 16
ASUS ROG Zephyrus Duo 16
3. Best dual-screen gaming laptop

The ROG Zephyrus Duo 16 is a gaming laptop like no other. It has a secondary display nestled above its keyboard so you can look at multiple apps at once.

  • Unique twin-display design
  • Impressive gaming performance
  • 240Hz WQXGA main display
  • Short battery life

If you're looking for something truly unique, you'll definitely want to take a look at the Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 16. This machine comes with dual displays, making it capable of multitasking like no other.

We're accustomed to carrying around a portable monitor so that we can work efficiently on the go, but with a laptop like this there's no need, it's built right in. There are plenty of advantages when it comes to gaming, too. You can have your system performance monitor or apps like Discord and Spotify on the secondary display, while enjoying a full-screen gaming experience up top.

It packs up to an Nvidia RTX 4090, along with AMD's excellent Ryzen 9 7945HX, and that means it'll handle whatever you can throw at it. The problem with all this power and screen real estate is that it's a bit of a battery hog, so you'll want to keep the charger handy.

Acer Predator Helios 16 (26)
Acer Predator Helios 16
4. Impressive gaming laptop
$1300 $1650 Save $350

The Acer Predator Helios 16 has a stunning display and excellent cooling, ensuring that you always get the best performance.

  • Excellent performance
  • Lovely Mini LED display
  • Comprehensive I/O
  • Big and heavy

The Acer Predator Helios 16 is a pretty traditional gaming laptop design, in that it's thick and heavy and looks like it means business. So, you aren't going to want to lug it around all the time, but there is a significant upside to such a bulky chassis - the performance.

In our testing, the keyboard area stayed exceptionally cool, even during intense gaming sessions and that makes it way more usable. As with the other options on our list, it's highly configurable, we tested the humble RTX 4060 variant, but you can select up to an RTX 4080 in the same chassis.

A standout feature of this laptop is its gorgeous Mini LED display, with a WQXGA resolution and a speedy 240Hz refresh rate. Elsewhere, things are solid too, the build quality is robust and the keyboard and trackpad are a delight to use. It's a great all-rounder.

Lenovo Legion Slim 7i Gen 7 review: A lighter way to play photo 4
Lenovo Legion Slim 7i
5. Best lightweight gaming laptop
$1750 $2099 Save $349

If you're looking for a gaming laptop that won't weigh you down while you're out and about, then the Legion Slim 7i is well worth your consideration.

  • Very lightweight and portable
  • Good performance
  • Excellent display
  • Heats up significantly
  • Some compromises made for weight-savings

With understated looks and a fairly slim and light design, the Lenovo Legion Slim 7i is a great companion for work and play.

It's a full kilo lighter than some of the other options on our list, whilst still packing up to an RTX 4070 and Intel Core i9 processor. Impressive stuff.

Of course, some compromises have to be made to keep it so lightweight, so if you're purely looking for gaming performance, this might not be the machine for you. However, if you want your laptop to be something that you don't mind carrying around all day, the Legion Slim 7i should be high on your list of considerations.

The bottom line: Best gaming laptop

Our current favourite gaming laptop is the Asus ROG Strix Scar 17. It's mega-powerful, has great cooling, a lovely display and an amazing keyboard. If you want the best gaming experience outside of a desktop PC, then this could very well be it.

Asus ROG Strix 17 Inch
Asus ROG Strix Scar 17 (2023)

It's one of the fastest machines around and it's sure to impress - so long as your wallet and backpack can accommodate it.

However, we know the Scar 17 won't be right for everyone. It's big and heavy, and it has a massive price tag. If you want something that's both more affordable and more portable, then you might want to check out the Legion Slim 7i instead. And if money's no object, the Razer Blade 16 offers amazing power in a slimline chassis.

How we chose these gaming laptops

We've tried and tested each and every one of these laptops in-house at Pocket-lint. This means we can vouch for the performance, build quality and user experience that each of these machines brings to the table. We've not just run some benchmarks and called it a day, either. We've used these laptops for both work and play to get a real feel for what they're like to live with.

We've tried to include a broad spectrum of devices on this page, but with so many machines on the market, it's impossible to include the right laptop for everyone. If you're looking for something more affordable, you might want to check out our guide to the best cheap gaming laptops instead. And if you need something more portable, why not try our guide to the best laptops for students?

How to choose a gaming laptop

There's a frankly ridiculous amount of gaming laptops on the market at any given time, and finding the right one for you can be an uphill battle. Before you get bogged down in spec sheets, here are some questions you should ask yourself before splashing the cash.

What games will you be playing?

Obviously, if you're looking for a gaming laptop, you're going to need it to handle your favourite games. This will mostly fall under CPU and graphics card performance, but there are a few other factors to consider, as well.

If you love more graphically demanding games like GTA V and Cyberpunk, then you'll want to focus on finding a laptop that's filled with top-end hardware. If you're more into strategy games like Crusader Kings or casual titles like Fall Guys, then you may be satisfied with a more mid-range configuration. Our gaming laptop reviews always test performance on some popular titles, so they should give you a good idea of what to expect.

The other things to consider are the keyboard, which may be very important if you plan to use it for first-person shooters and equally the monitor's refresh rate. If you play a lot of reaction-based competitive games, then a 120hz and the above screen will be ideal for you. If you prefer single-player games, you can save some money by purchasing a 60hz option.

What do you need it to do outside of gaming?

One of the best things about PC gaming is that you can use your PC for all manner of tasks outside of gaming. Thanks to the high-end hardware found in these devices, they're particularly suited for creative tasks like video editing, graphic design, 3D rendering and live broadcasting.

Video editors will want a display with a high degree of colour accuracy, and usually a resolution greater than 1080p. Whereas those who want a gaming laptop that can double up as an office machine will likely want to focus a bit more on webcam quality and battery life.

Where will you be using it?

If your gaming laptop will spend most of its life on your desk, it doesn't particularly matter if it weighs half a ton. However, if you'll be lugging it around in a backpack, then you'll want to keep a keen eye on the device's portability. Battery life, too, is a big factor here, and it's worth noting that performance can differ significantly when running on battery as opposed to mains power.

You will also want to consider the connectivity options. If you want to plug in multiple monitors and a host of peripherals, then your ideal laptop should accommodate those. Luckily, in the gaming laptop space, we're usually well covered with connectivity, and rarely have to resort to dongle life.

What about audio on gaming laptops?

Most hardcore gamers prefer to use a headset for maximum audio fidelity, so they might not care much about a laptop's speakers. However, as we've said, a PC can be used for many things. If you're likely to watch a movie on the thing, then you'll definitely want to look at the speaker performance - there's nothing worse than a tinny, quiet speaker to ruin the immersion, after all. This is an area where options differ wildly, ranging from barely audible to pretty darn good.

How much can you spend?

The sky really is the limit when it comes to a gaming laptop, and, while ultra-premium options are often in the region of multiple thousands, there are some great budget options, too. This is an area where a higher price usually means higher performance components, but there are a few things to watch out for.

To get the most out of your money, you might want to look at a lower-resolution display. A 1080p gaming experience will still look great on a laptop's relatively small screen, and won't need such a beefy graphics card to run.

Most gamers won't need shed-loads of RAM. You can usually get away with about 16GB on even the most demanding titles. So as long as you're not planning any heavy-duty video rendering, you can avoid overspending by cutting down on the system memory.