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Buying Guide

The best gaming laptops (2024)

Find the perfect balance of power and portability with our top gaming laptop picks, featuring impressive specs and ergonomic designs for peak performance.

Eight gaming laptops on a purple background.
Image: KnowTechie

Gaming on PC is no longer massive, with a bulbous desktop and giant monitors, and modern gaming laptops offer a more compact and portable way to get your game on.

Of course, you can always use a docking station, create your giant gaming setup, and take your laptop on the go when needed.

The best gaming laptops come with impressive graphics chips, memory, and storage, and they each have a different array of individual specs that make them stand out.

From high-quality displays to mechanical keyboards, ergonomics, and cooling options, these gaming laptops are ready to take your gameplay to the next level.

Best Overall
Best Value
Best Budget
Best Screen
Best Splurge
Best Heavy Duty
Best Keyboard
Best Cooling
Best Compact
Best Speakers
Best Overall
Best Budget
Best Screen
Best Splurge
Best Heavy Duty
Best Keyboard
Best Compact
05/13/2024 02:59 pm GMT

Find the best gaming laptop for you

The first thing you will consider when purchasing a gaming laptop is the price. Unless price doesn’t matter, in which case, go spec yourself out the most massive gaming laptop you can find.

But if price matters, you’ll want to search for one with as close to updated specs as possible while not breaking the bank.

So, it’s not the latest Intel Core processor, but the last one. Maybe not the latest NVIDIA GeForce GPU, but one model down. Here’s where you’ll find your discounts and still end up with an excellent gaming laptop.

Also, consider whether you’ll be using it on the go or mostly at your desk, and pick one with a suitable weight.

Maingear ML-16 (Best Overall)

Maingear laptop on vibrant purple background.
Image: KnowTechie

The Maingear ML-16 is a top-of-the-line gaming laptop, but it won’t cost you a second mortgage. It comes in three flavors.

The “Standard” build includes an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4080 Mobile GPU, Intel Core i9, 32GB DDR5, and a 1TB Gen4 M.2 NVMe SSD. The “Boost” build steps it up with 64GB DDR5 and a 2TB Gen4 M.2 NVMe SSD.

And then the “Custom” build opens up the field to pack in more storage, and, well, that’s about it. There’s little to customize.

Like all Maingear’s computers, these laptops contain no bloatware and get checked for boot errors and physical defects before shipping. And the ML-16 is stuffed with a massive battery with three power modes to extend your gameplay hours.

The 16-inch QHD (2560×1600) 240Hz display is optimized for a 16:10 aspect ratio and supports NVIDIA Dynamic Display switching. And the Maingear ML-16 rounds it all out with a Cherry mechanical keyboard and a buttload of ports.

Best Overall
ML-16 | MAINGEAR ML-16 | MAINGEAR
4.8

The Maingear ML-16 is a powerful, customizable gaming laptop that wouldn't look out of place in the boardroom or the dorm room.

What We Like:
  • Can be customized to your liking
  • No bloatware or unwanted programs
  • Long battery life
  • Cherry MX mechanical keyboard
What We Didn't Like:
  • Can get expensive
KnowTechie is supported by its audience, so if you buy something through our links, we may get a small share of the sale.

MSI Katana 15 (Best Value)

Gaming laptop with colorful keyboard and vibrant screen display.
Image: KnowTechie

The MSI Katana 15 boasts a NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4070 GPU and an Intel Core i7 12th Gen 12650H processor. While not top of the line, it’s pretty close and will play most triple-A games.

Maybe not Star Citizen, but nothing plays that. It has an excellent 15.6-inch full HD IPS display with a 144Hz refresh rate, so colors are bright and mostly sharp.

The only downside is that, like many gaming laptops, this is not really for putting on your lap. It gets hot during longer gaming sessions, so you might want to purchase a desktop laptop cooling stand.

You’ll still spend less than most gaming laptops. For that, the MSI Katana 15 is a great value purchase.

Best Value
MSI Katana 15 Gaming Laptop MSI Katana 15 Gaming Laptop
3.5
$1,289.98

The MSI Katana 15 is a cost-effective gaming laptop with a high-refresh display, powerful Nvidia graphics, and a nice touch of RGB on the keyboard.

What We Like:
  • RGB keyboard
  • 144Hz IPS display panel
  • Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070 graphics chip
What We Didn't Like:
  • Older generation Intel CPU
KnowTechie is supported by its audience, so if you buy something through our links, we may get a small share of the sale.
05/13/2024 02:59 pm GMT

Acer Nitro 5 (Best Budget)

Acer Nitro laptop with Windows 11 on purple background.
Image: KnowTechie

The Acer Nitro 5 is entry-level with its standard i5-12500H processor and NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 Ti GPU. However, you can upgrade to an i7 and RTX 4060 if you want to spend more.

But at a budget cost, this gaming laptop should satisfy your gaming needs. It’s also packed with ports, so you can plug in whatever you need to plug in.

Where this budget gaming laptop shines is its cooling system. For a cheaper laptop, that’s impressive. It has dual-fan cooling through dual intakes and a quad-exhaust to release all that pesky heat.

Overall, the Acer Nitro 5 is an excellent entry into an often costly market.

Best Budget
Acer Nitro 5 Acer Nitro 5
3.9
$770.00

The Acer Nitro 5 is a midrange gaming laptop with a fair price, giving you the power to play many games at high frame rates.

What We Like:
  • Full-HD 144Hz display
  • Plenty of ports for peripherals
  • Dedicated Nvidia graphics
  • Dual-fan cooling for good thermal management
What We Didn't Like:
  • Only red backlighting for the keyboard
KnowTechie is supported by its audience, so if you buy something through our links, we may get a small share of the sale.
05/13/2024 03:04 pm GMT

Acer Predator Helios 16 (Best Screen)

Acer Predator laptop on a purple background
Image: KnowTechie

The real selling point of the Acer Predator Helios 16 is its screen. It’s a 16-inch screen with a 16:10 aspect ratio, a 240Hz refresh rate, and a 3ms overdrive response time.

The WQXGA LED also features many extras like NVIDIA G-Sync. So you’ll have no problem playing games, streaming, or doing whatever else you do on a gaming laptop.

Besides, you’ve got 16GB DDR5 out of the box with a 1TB PCle Gen 4 SSD. You get plenty of ports for your peripheral needs, but the internal cooling system could better keep temperatures in check.

Besides that, the Acer Predator Helios 16 is a good-looking gaming laptop with an RGB backlit keyboard.

Best Screen
Acer Predator Helios 16 Acer Predator Helios 16
3.7
$1,899.99 $1,499.99

With one of the fastest refresh rates out there, the Acer Predator Helios 16 delivers one of the best visual experiences in a gaming laptop.


What We Like:
  • 13th Gen Intel Core i7
  • Amazing refresh rate
  • Max 32GB DDR5
  • Intel Killer WiFi 6E
What We Didn't Like:
  • Loud fans
  • Cooling performance could be better
KnowTechie is supported by its audience, so if you buy something through our links, we may get a small share of the sale.
05/02/2024 08:16 pm GMT

MSI Titan 18 HX (Best Splurge)

MSI laptop on a purple background
Image: KnowTechie

The MSI Titan 18 HX does this weird thing: if you bump the power cord, it’ll switch to battery power, and you’ll have to re-plug it. And the cord is short to boot. But, whatever, it’s a small thing on a laptop packed to the brim with modern features.

The SteelSeries Cherry Keyboard is re-programmable with per-key LEDs. The computer is a bit heavy but runs pretty cool for a gaming laptop, thanks to a cooler boost.

As for specs, you get the Intel Core i9 processor, 128GB DDR5, and the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4090 GPU. The display is also one of the best, with 18 inches of 4K UHD mini LED.

This means super fast visuals for your gaming experience. The MSI Titan 18 HX may be expensive, but that’s because it has quadrupled the memory of most gaming laptops.

Best Splurge
MSI Titan 18 HX MSI Titan 18 HX
4.0
$5,399.00

Meanwhile, at the top end of the gaming laptop spectrum, there's the loaded MSI Titan 18 HX.



What We Like:
  • Intel Core i9
  • 4TB SSD
  • 128GB DDR5
  • 4K UHD LED Display
  • RGB backlit keyboard and touchpad
What We Didn't Like:
  • Very expensive
  • Short power cord
  • Weird cord safety swap
KnowTechie is supported by its audience, so if you buy something through our links, we may get a small share of the sale.
05/02/2024 08:20 pm GMT

Lenovo Legion Pro 5i (Best Heavy Duty)

Laptop displaying 'LEGION' logo on purple background.
Image: KnowTechie

The Lenovo Legion Pro 5i is nothing glamorous for gaming laptops. It looks more like a standard work laptop issued by the I.T. department than a gaming laptop.

However, while sturdy and reliable, it’s still packed with gaming-centric specs. It boasts an Intel Core i9 processor and an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4070 GPU with 8GB of GDDR6 VRAM.

And, to our surprise, it’s a well-cooled machine. The Legion Coldfront 5.0 cooling technology brings an improved fan system, customized fan curve controls, and a larger intake and exhaust system.

The screen isn’t too shabby either, with a 16-inch 2560 x 1600 IPS-type anti-glare display. So overall, the Lenovo Legion Pro 5i might look utilitarian, but it’s a well-stocked gaming laptop.

Best Heavy-Duty
Lenovo Legion Pro 5i Lenovo Legion Pro 5i
3.5
$2,116.82

A strong entry from Lenovo in the gaming laptop world, this one forfeits visual bells and whistles for a structurally sound build.



What We Like:
  • Up to 64GB RAM
  • A sturdy build
  • Intel Core i9
  • NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4070
  • Legion Coldfront 5.0 cooling
What We Didn't Like:
  • Very utilitarian
KnowTechie is supported by its audience, so if you buy something through our links, we may get a small share of the sale.
05/02/2024 08:24 pm GMT

Alienware M16 (Best Keyboard)

render of an alienware m16 gaming laptop on a purple background
Image: KnowTechie

Oddly enough, the Alienware M16 Gaming Laptop is marketed for enterprise business as much as it is gaming. That’s because its specs are not the highest for gaming but are undoubtedly competent for business use.

It has an Intel Core i7 processor with an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4070 GPU backed by 8GB GDDR6 dedicated video memory. It’s a fast GPU that pairs well with the 165Hz refresh rate.

Where this laptop stands out is its backlit mechanical keyboard. It has larger palm rests and touchpad alongside the recessed keyboard. There’s per-key RGB, and the Cherry MX mechanical keyboard offers stainless-steel switches and gold-plated electrical contacts.

If you like customizable keyboards, the Alienware M16 Gaming Laptop is the one for you.

Best Keyboard
Alienware M16 Alienware M16
3.8
$1,999.00

The Alienware M16 Gaming Laptop fits the bill in all technical areas, but the keyboard is a real standout.



What We Like:
  • Advanced keyboard
  • Up to 64GB RAM
  • Up to 2TB SSD
  • Intel Core i7
  • NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4070
  • 16-inch QHD+ display
What We Didn't Like:
  • Heavy
KnowTechie is supported by its audience, so if you buy something through our links, we may get a small share of the sale.
05/02/2024 08:25 pm GMT

ASUS ROG Strix Scar 16 (Best Cooling)

ROG Strix laptop with glowing logo on screen.
Image: KnowTechie

While the side exhausts may heat your hand a little bit, it’s one way the ASUS ROG Strix Scar 16 keeps its Intel Core i9 processor cool. There’s also upgraded liquid metal on the CPU and GPU and three input fans to create a breeze.

Physical specs make this computer stunning, with a semi-translucent keyboard deck and RGB accents around the machine.

The screen isn’t too shabby, either. It features Mini LEDS with up to 1100 nits brightness, 1024 dimming zones, and 100% DCI-P3 color with Pantone Validation.

There are also plenty of ports and a couple of extra hotkeys. Sadly, the ASUS ROG Strix Scar 16 stuffers from poor battery life, but that’s what plugs are for.

Best Cooling
ASUS ROG Strix Scar 16 ASUS ROG Strix Scar 16
4.0
$3,459.99

While it still gets hot, the ASUS ROG Strix Scar 16 offers one of the best cooling solutions possible.


What We Like:
  • Extra hot keys
  • RGB lighting
  • Powerful cooling solution
  • Intel Core i9
  • 32GB RAM
  • 240Hz/3ms refresh rate
What We Didn't Like:
  • Battery life isn't great
  • Audio quality is iffy
  • Kind of noisy
  • Expensive
KnowTechie is supported by its audience, so if you buy something through our links, we may get a small share of the sale.
05/02/2024 08:27 pm GMT

Razer Blade 15 (Best Compact)

render of a razer blade 15 laptop on a purple background
Image: KnowTechie

It’s hard to say that a gaming laptop is anywhere near compact, but the Razer Blade 15 does its best to fit the bill. Its anodized exterior is pretty thin for a gaming laptop, and it doesn’t go heavy on extra keys or a massive palm rest.

Unfortunately, the thickness means there’s a thin battery in there, which may explain its not-so-great battery life and heat issues.

However, it does fairly well on price compared to specs, with up to 32GB RAM and an available 13th Gen Intel processor upgrade. You can also upgrade the display for an extra cost from a QHD 240Hz to an OLED screen.

There are also options for UHD and FHD. Of course, this means the Razer Blade 15 has a lot of price variability, but you do get what you pay for.

Best Compact
Razer Blade 15 Gaming Laptop Razer Blade 15 Gaming Laptop
4.0
$2,999.99 $2,489.00

While not exactly light, the Razer Blade 15 is constructed to be a fairly compact machine.



What We Like:
  • Compact footprint
  • Very durable
  • Thin, anodized exterior
  • 12th Gen Intel Core i7
  • NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070Ti
What We Didn't Like:
  • Short battery life
  • Can get hot
  • Brightness could be better
KnowTechie is supported by its audience, so if you buy something through our links, we may get a small share of the sale.
05/02/2024 08:29 pm GMT

Alienware M18 (Best Speakers)

Alienware laptop displaying Baldur's Gate game, on a purple background
Image: KnowTechie

With the Alienware M18, Dolby Atmos speakers place sounds, voices, and instruments in their own space. This feature is super helpful when playing games with tons of pertinent background noise.

The downside is that this laptop suffers from short battery life and gets a bit loud. But the speakers will drown out the noise of the cooling system.

It has a crisp 18-inch, 16:10 display with Dolby Vision in 165Hz QHD+. If you are keen, you can also upgrade to an Intel Core i9 and RTX 4080 (from the 4070).

The Alienware M18 is a very middle-of-the-road gaming laptop with high-quality sound.

Best Speakers
Alienware M18 Gaming Laptop Alienware M18 Gaming Laptop
3.5
$2,329.95

The Alienware M18 isn't the best overall gaming laptop out there, but there are no complaints about its very competent speakers.



What We Like:
  • Dolby Atmos speakers
  • Recessed keyboard
  • Alienware Cryo-tech cooling
  • Intel Core i7
  • Up to 32GB RAM
What We Didn't Like:
  • Fan is loud
  • Terrible battery life
  • Some users report nonresponsive boot
KnowTechie is supported by its audience, so if you buy something through our links, we may get a small share of the sale.
05/02/2024 08:30 pm GMT

How to pick the best gaming laptop

If you’ve been a PC gamer for a while, you know the type of games you play most often. That’s the first thing to consider when buying a gaming laptop, as it informs the minimum specifications you are looking for.

Cooling the hardware needed to play AAA titles is tricky and will result in a thicker, heavier laptop in most cases.

If weight is a consideration, Razer’s Blade line of gaming laptops is thin and easier to carry, although you will also want to carry the power brick.

The screen specifications can also be a trade-off between resolution, refresh rate, and display type. All have benefits and drawbacks for gaming, so pick the one that best fits your favorite game genre.

Do you have a gaming laptop that you love? Or maybe some peripheral suggestions to flesh out the battle station? Drop us a line in the comments, or carry the discussion to our Twitter or Facebook.

Editors’ Recommendations:

Just a heads up, if you buy something through our links, we may get a small share of the sale. It’s one of the ways we keep the lights on here. Click here for more.

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A tech writer on the internet for over 15 years for outlets such as Forbes, Wired, TNW, and others, Curtis is exhausted, burnt out and happy to just write buying guides and the occasional review for KnowTechie, the best tech blog your mom never told you about. Ephemeral existence for ephemeral times. Please send pitches and grainy pictures of the inside of your elbow to kevin@knowtechie.com

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