Gaming laptops are a specialized breed of device, and are highly dependent on a user’s specific needs and budget. There is a minimum spec needed to support gaming, which can conflict with a budget, but that’s life in general. Midrange laptops can provide a good bang for your buck, particularly in the key area of graphic performance and we had a close look at the range on offer. After compiling the list we tried to work out some compromises between performance and price, and set out what we think are the best 10 laptops for gamers.
Table of Contents
- 1 Toshiba Qosmio X75-A7180 17.3-Inch Laptop
- 2 MSI GT70 Dominator-895 17.3″ i7-4800MQ 16GB 1TB
- 3 CyberpowerPC FANGBOOK EVO HFX7-500 17.3-Inch Laptop
- 4 MSI Slim GS70 2OD-002US Intel Core i7-4700HQ 16GB Memory
- 5 ASUS ROG G750JM-DS71 17.3-inch Gaming Laptop
- 6 MSI GE70 Apache Pro-012 17.3-Inch Laptop
- 7 Razer Blade Pro 17 Inch Gaming Laptop 256GB
- 8 Gaming Laptops Buying Guide
Toshiba Qosmio X75-A7180 17.3-Inch Laptop
Not to be confused with Quasimodo, the Qosmio is a cost-effective continuing development of an existing range of laptops each time new laptop processors and graphics engines are released. The X75 has the new quad core mobile I7 CPU to provide the processing grunt. However, the Nvidia GTX 770M video card is one generation behind the current chip release, but the CPU and graphic combination should still supply power and frame rates equivalent to a standard desktop. A 17” display, regular HDD drive and an SSD drive complete the configuration.
Nor particularly photogenic, it can still outperform some more expensive offerings.
One worth considering.
MSI GT70 Dominator-895 17.3″ i7-4800MQ 16GB 1TB
MSI have never been known for leading edge design, but are renowned for the stability and performance of their products. A plain jane among laptops, the GT70 can beat the pants off many off its prettier brethren. A full quad core I7, 16Gb of Ram and a GTX 870M video card give it a performance curve equivalent to a desktop at a very nice price. Not a thing of beauty, but a solid performer well deserving of a place in the top ten.
CyberpowerPC FANGBOOK EVO HFX7-500 17.3-Inch Laptop
Cyberpower are a fairly recent entrant to the laptop manufacturing marketplace.
As with the MSI, the Fangbook EVO isn’t the prettiest thing around, but performs well. The equipment specs are very good for the price. An I7 quad-core CPU, 16gb of RAM, and a Geoforce GTX770M video processor are crammed into a slightly bulky all plastic shell. A worthy contender making the most of the processor and graphics combination.
MSI Slim GS70 2OD-002US Intel Core i7-4700HQ 16GB Memory
This seems to have been a challenge set to the engineers to cram a full-size notebook environment into an Ultrabook case. As Jeremy Clarkson says as he picks up a hammer, “Can’t be that difficult can it?”. It hosts an ultra-slim display, a quad-core I7 processor and aNVidia GeoforceGTX 765M video chipset. Not too shabby, fitted into a slim all-plastic case. As expected it can run a wee bit hot, but it is one of the most portable gaming laptops and is a splendid option for mobile gamers.
ASUS ROG G750JM-DS71 17.3-inch Gaming Laptop
If you want to future-proof your mobile gaming as far as you can, then the Republic of Gamers series form Asus is a serious contender. This wee beauty has been released recently to much fanafare and interest. The G750JS has the newNvidia GTX 870M chipset with 3GB of graphics dedicated RAM as the graphics engine. Add in the quad-core I7-4700HQ processor and you have a pretty much future-proof laptop. Well, for a while anyway.
MSI GE70 Apache Pro-012 17.3-Inch Laptop
The Apache series is a recent release from MSI that was not officially designated as a gaming laptop, but has a powerful spec that fits for the bill by adequately handling graphic intense applications and current games.
In summary the GE70 is a crossover unit that can function equally well as a business or gaming laptop. It has the now standard I7-4700 quad processor, 12Gb of DDR3 RAM, a GeoForceGX860 graphics engine and a terabyte of HDD. Despite it’s 17” size it is a compact wee beastie. Still not the most portable on the market but lighter and less bulky than you think
Razer Blade Pro 17 Inch Gaming Laptop 256GB
Razer beat MSI to market with the first Ultrabook gaming unit. The recent release the Blade 14 could be considered a notebook fitted into an Ultrabook case. The entry level Blade 14 model is not an underpowered wimp, having the usual i7 quad core processor and a Geoforce GTX 765M video engine. It might be better with 16Gb rather than the supplied 8Gb, but that is offset to an extent by 256 GB of SSD memory. As with the Alienware14 it is powerful enough to handle most graphic environments and applications with ease.
The case is pretty good-looking, slim and compact.
Gaming Laptops Buying Guide
If you are a passionate PC gamer, your best bet is still a regular desktop gaming PC. But since laptops are gaining more popularity (especially in the recent years), you can get a very powerful laptop designed for gaming as well. The highest priced offers are obviously the strongest ones but the good news is that you can find a very good (and lasting) solution even at mid-priced range. You just need to be properly informed and to know what you are looking for. This is where this guide will hopefully guide you through and supply you with enough info to build and buy your own gaming laptop that will allow you to enjoy all the modern games on max settings for a long time.
Prioritize Laptop Price, Performance, & Portability
The first thing to determine is whether the priority should be on the features part or the portability. If you are changing places very often due to whatever reason, you will likely want a lighter but more portable laptop. These configurations do offer portability but they lack real power compared to their heavier and less portable counterparts. If you are not a student and/or if your destination is fixed then you should certainly prioritize the features over portability.
The bigger the price, the better the configuration that is a general rule. Desktop PCs are still the best picks for a gaming computer but you can’t move them around as you like. On the other hand, you can find pretty much the same configuration(s) if you look at bargain or thin-and-light notebooks but the difference is that they are highly portable and you can move them around as you like (which is why they are more expensive as well). A bargain notebook should be the computer of your choice if you favor performance and budget. Otherwise, just go for a thin-and-light or maybe even an ultraportable notebook.
The weight is another vital parameter to consider. Alongside the overall weight of your laptop, you need to consider the weight of additional batteries, the carrying case, extra hard-drives, network cables and a power cord.
Find a Laptop to Fit Your Lifestyle
Depending on your own personal preferences, you will want to stick to a laptop configuration that is crafted for a particular group of users that you belong to as well. Below are some typical groups to consider.
- Laptops for home Users: A regular home laptop is commonly used for things such as browsing the web, multimedia (music, movies, etc.), and photo viewing and editing. For these purposes, I recommend getting either Intel Core Duo or AMD Turion processor. 1 GB of RAM should be more than sufficient for all of these needs.
- Laptops for students: Students want a laptop that they can easily move around as they like and/or a laptop that allows them to follow their lectures in a more engaging (and more efficient) way. First off, you need to determine what platform your university supports. Some universities will work with any platform but others are much more restricted. In general, if the configuration isn’t supposed to be a specific one, you should get either a thin-and light or an ultraportable laptop with either Intel Core Duo or an AMD Turion processor. Your student laptop should have an integrated CD/DVD burner, a Wi-Fi, and a hard-drive of decent size. You should also aim to have Microsoft Office and Microsoft Works installed on your system as well as both of them will be quite useful. When it comes to memory, 1 GB should be enough for all of your needs.
- Laptops for frequent travelers: Your traveling laptop should be as light as possible so that you can move it around with you as smoothly as you can. Just like in the previous case, you should look for either a thin-and-light or an ultraportable laptop with either Intel Core Duo or an AMD Turion processor. You should also have an integrated CD/DVD burner, a Wi-Fi, 1 GB of RAM memory, and both Microsoft Office and Microsoft Works installed on the system as well.
- Laptops for business users: A typical businessman will create various different spreadsheets and presentations, he will be using different office applications, the internet, and he will often travel a lot. So a laptop designed for business users should ideally meet all of these needs. You should look for a thin-and-light or even a desktop replacement solution in this case. You should have a hard-drive of a solid size, 1 GB of RAM minimum, an integrated Wi-Fi, and an Ethernet adapter. Microsoft Office is a must when it comes to software as well. If you are traveling often, you will probably find a thin-and-light laptop more suitable for your needs. But, if you spend the majority of your work time at your office desk, you should definitely aim for a desktop replacement laptop.
- Laptops for multimedia enthusiasts: If music, video clips/movies, and dealing with photos are your thing, then your best bet is a multimedia laptop. Multimedia requires more memory, so your RAM should be at least 2 GB in this case. The laptop should be a desktop replacement one with either Intel Core 2 Duo or AMD 64 X2 processor. The minimum size of your hard-drive should be 80 GB and you should have at least a 15-inch monitor as well. Some external ports like USB 2.0 or FireWire that allow you to transfer files between your laptop and one or more external devices (MP3 player, camera, camcorder, etc.) will come in as very useful as well. You should also have a DVD drive (either R or RW) in order to watch DVD films as well. You can easily buy all of these additional things and more on Amazon.
- Laptops for gamers: As you already know, gaming is what really tests your hardware to the limit which is why you should exclusively look for a high-end model if you want a gaming laptop. The configuration that I would recommend is a desktop replacement laptop with Intel Core 2 Duo or a Turon 64X2 processor. The very minimum amount of RAM is 2 GB (although nowadays I would certainly recommend more) and you also need a strong graphic card as well. A 512 MB full 3D graphic card should be enough for most games but again, I would recommend going for higher values here as well.
Pick a Laptop Processor
Both Intel and AMD provide quality solutions for all kinds of laptop users. The difference is mainly in priorities. While some of them prioritize the performance itself above everything, others place their focus on battery life. I would certainly recommend getting a mobile processor (except if you haven’t already decided that you want a desktop replacement alternative) because it heats much less and it has a much better battery life. If you really care about the performance, however, a desktop replacement configuration is the way to go.
Here are some popular choices to consider in this regard:
- Celeron – This is the very basic type of processors and it has the most “budget-optimized” performance on the market (their speed is low but still not as low as Pentium-M, though). The maximum speed for Celeron processors is 2.5 GHz.
- Celeron-M – A subtype of the previous processor but mainly crafted for users who focus on office and text applications exclusively. The maximum speed of these processors is 1.5 GHz .
- Pentium-M – A very similar processor to the Celeron one but with slightly better battery life. It also has an integrated Wi-Fi on top of that. The speed goes up to 2.1 GHz at best.
- Pentium 4 – This processor is mainly designed for desktop PCs and for people who prioritize multimedia enjoyment above everything. They offer higher speed than the 3 previously mentioned types (the maximum speed here is 3.33 GHz) but that also eats up more battery life as well. In case you want to buy a Pentium 4 processor, you should really get a desktop computer.
- Intel Core Duo – This is the first processor of the “modern era” and it has more than just one processor on a single chip. This is highly useful for users who are used to multitasking and who would like to run more applications/processes at the same time (for example, play a game and browse the web at the same time).
- AMD Sempron – If you want a basic processor but you are low on your budget, you should certainly consider AMD Sempron as this is AMD’s lowest offer and it does its job well (for that price range).
- AMD Athlon 64 – This is what many gamers still call out as their favorite. This 64-bit processor is ideal for enjoying the modern games at a consistently high number of FPS.
- AMD Athlon 64 FX – It is a very identical concept to the previous one but due to its unique design, it is much more user-friendly for people who intend to over clock their processors for an increased performance.
- AMD Turion 64 – Turion 64 is one of the best choices if you want high performance gaming. It has a support for both 32 and 64-bit applications as well as the great support for thin-and-light laptops in general.
- AMD Turion 64 X2 – The same processor as the previous one but with 2 cores.
Select Standard Laptop Features
Once you have decided what type of laptop suits you the most and what processor to buy, the next thing to consider is the list of features that you want your computer to have. You need to consider the following ones:
- Hard-disk – This is the basic feature to take into consideration. The more space your hard drive has, the more files you can store as well. If you just intend to keep the basic operating system files and some text/office documents, a hard drive between 40 and 60 GB should be more than enough for you. However, if you want to store music, movies, games…..and other multimedia files, you will certainly need a bigger hard-disk (preferably, the one that is over 80 GB). And on top of that, if you wish to backup your system at some point and get some additional space as well, you can always consider getting an external hard-disk.
- RAM – The memory is nothing less important. The basic software and regular activities don’t require a lot of RAM memory but gaming and multimedia, in general, will certainly require more. The more RAM memory you have, the better the performance will be as well.
- Disk drives – A disk drive is an essential part of every computer for a while now so you will need (at least) one in your laptop as well. You have an option of getting CD-R/RW drives (RW drives being the drives that support disk burning as well) and DVD-R/RW drives (once again, DVD-RW drives can burn the disks, both CD and DVD in this case). You also have an option of getting a combo drive. And also, many computers have hot swap bays that can always be upgraded to a particular disk drive at a later stage.
- Ports – You need a decent amount of ports as well in order to be able to attach and connect different peripheral devices and drives to your computer. An ideal combination is to have a parallel port, classic USB port, USB 2.0 and FireWire port.
- Screen – A classic 14-inch display should serve you well for the most part but if you are a passionate gamer and if you like to watch movies in a great HD quality, you should certainly aim for a bigger size.
- Connectivity and network – In order to connect your computer to the internet, you will need some connectivity. You can get it in one of the 3 following ways – Wi-Fi, an Ethernet port, or a PCMCIA network card.If you need some additional info about each of these, I recommend checking out the networking guide provided by Amazon.
- The graphics – There is no real gaming without a proper graphic card so if you are into it, prepare yourself to upgrade this particular piece of hardware every now and then since the gaming is expanding so fast that the best graphic card this year will end up being just an average one the next year already. A 256 MB card is the very minimum but I would say you need at least 512 MB or even more for proper gaming.
Whenever you buy any computer, you must be prepared to upgrade one or more of its components or it will quickly fall behind as the overall technology is improving.
One of the most common upgrades is associated with RAM memory. This is very easy to do and the upgrades are not expensive either. If your laptop has such an option, you can also upgrade your hot swap drive. Lastly, another thing to upgrade is a PCMCIA card. You can easily attach a new Wi-Fi or FireWire, USB 2.0 and the Ethernet port.
Get Essential Laptop Accessories
A real laptop enjoyment is only achievable with a set of basic accessories that will suit your personal needs. This is something that you need to choose for yourself as only you know what you personally want and need. A good place to look for them is Amazon has quite a nice assortment as well.
- Mouse – You will typically not get a mouse by default no matter where you buy your laptop but that is not stopping you from buying one yourself. Touch pads are great when you are used to them but they lack the commodity and the precision of regular computer mices. You should buy a smaller model for your laptop.
- Bluetooth addition – This is fairly popular among mobile phones but you can easily get a particular Bluetooth add-on for your laptop as well. It will allow you to wirelessly transfer your files between a laptop and another device that supports Bluetooth as well. It has a smaller range than the regular Wi-Fi but it is nothing less functional.
- Additional battery – A traditional laptop battery will keep it running for a certain time period but it will eventually shut down and if you are working on something very important or if you have some important presentations to show off to your colleagues/classmates, you will be in trouble. If you have a constant power source, this is not an issue but if you rely on batteries, I recommend buying at least one more so that when the first one goes off you can easily replace it in a matter of seconds.
- The docking station – Although maybe not as popular as the other types of accessories that are mentioned here, the docking station is still commonly found in the homes of many laptop owners. What it does is that it allows you to connect your laptop to a peripheral device of your desktop PC (such as the keyboard, the monitor, or even a mouse). You can use this to power up your laptop battery as well as this type of connection will act as a charger.
- The carrying case – A carrying case is an absolute must if you plan to move your laptop with you as you go and travel to different locations. It is practically impossible to carry it around without it.
- The cable lock – These accessories are not typically included in your regular laptop sets but you can buy them separately. A cable lock will basically act as an additional security slot.
Buying Used Gaming Laptops
This is always the first alternative when people lack money to buy a new piece of technical equipment (although, this can really be applied to any product). A used laptop will cost much less and if it is preserved well it will certainly give out the same results. But what if that is not the case? Make sure to get properly informed and it would be good to actually know the person you are buying the laptop from. You need to pay attention to some very critical elements as well (the battery, the state of the keyboard, touchpad, etc.). If it would require a lot of money just to make it work properly, you should certainly save up the money to buy a new laptop from the store.