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CES 2021 has come and gone, and with it, the debut of some killer new laptops for the year. There’s lots to be excited about, like AMD’s Ryzen 5000 series processors with RTX 3000 series graphics. Screens are looking more detailed and colorful than ever before, like Dell’s 5K2K monitor, with higher refresh rates (275Hz and up), and 100% sRGB and lightning-fast response time. Screen-to-body ratio has gotten bigger too, while overall weight continues to drop.
So what’s the downside? Patience. These are brand new, and still need to be put through third-party testing before they become available for the public to purchase. The wait might be a few more days, weeks, or months, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get a loaded-up laptop right now that’ll satisfy your gaming needs.
For those that are ready to get in the game and play your favorite AAA titles ASAP, we’ve rounded up some of the best gaming laptops available right now.
Gaming Laptop vs. Regular Laptop
Should you buy a dedicated laptop for gaming? And what’s the different between a gaming laptop vs. a regular laptop? Here’s what you need to know about the basics of what makes a good gaming laptop.
RAM: For starters, RAM is vital. This is what significantly impacts your frame rate and computer’s overall performance while gaming. Go for something with at least 16GB if possible, though you can (and should) always upgrade to more. Having 32GB will “future-proof” your laptop for games that are still yet to come out over the next few years too.
Display: A colorful HD display is important as well, even more so if you won’t be connecting this up to an external monitor. This is also where aspect ratio factors in, which simply means the ratio of the width and height of a screen (16:9 is the most common aspect ratio you’re probably used to already).
Noise: Though a good pair of gaming headphones can block it out, noise is another thing to consider, specifically from the fans and cooling systems inside. It’s inevitable that a laptop’s going to heat up with heavy gaming, so keeping it cool is crucial, as is dissipating the heat generated from long stretches of playing time. Some fans are obnoxiously loud, while others builds can have no fans at all, and possess their own unique way of preventing overheating altogether. An easy and affordable addition to this is a laptop cooling pad with built-in fans, which breezes cool air into your machine when it gets warm, and saves wear and tear on the internal parts. Worth noting: we recommend plugging in a good pair of gaming headsets for better audio too; the best gaming laptops are designed with loud, full sound, but nothing will be as immersive as hearing the action through a pair of dedicated cups.
Weight: Finally, if your battle-station setup will be in a stationary spot at home, weight and durability won’t be that big of an issue. But if you’ll be traveling with this in tow, a heavy laptop gets uncomfortable to schlep, no matter how well it performs. Same goes for durability too – if there’s a chance this’ll get roughed up in transit, make sure it’s got a tough screen and body that can handle the journey.
1. Lenovo Legion 5 Gaming Laptop
With the AMD Ryzen 7 4800H mobile processor at its core and 16GB 3200MHz DDR4 memory, this super thin laptop was built for gaming as well as portability – weighing in at only 5.41 pounds.
The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660Ti GPU acts fast, and graphics look amazing on the 1080p, 300nit and 100% sRGB screen – blowing away everything else in this price range. The FHD 15.6-inch display brings bright and deep colors, with a 144 Hz refresh rate.
Dual Burn Support combines the CPU and GPU’s forces together for improved frame rates, and a 512GB hard drive should be enough space for most gamers and content creators.
It’s overall efficient, runs quietly (with nice sound too), along with a comfortable keyboard and complex cooling system that works fast.
2. Acer Predator Helios 300 Gaming Laptop
At the heart of Acer’s Predator is the 10th Gen Intel i7-10750H 6-Core Processor. Pair that with the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060, and you’ve got a killer combo for a fast gaming laptop.
Graphics look crisply detailed and eye-popping on the 1080p, full HD, 15.6-inch LED screen from multiple angles, and the included 16GB of DDR4 SDRAM creates a fast response time for gaming and even creative suite applications.
A speedy 144Hz IPS panel and 3ms Overdrive response time helps cut down on lag, while the 4th Gen AeroBlade 3D Fan Technology dissipates heat and cools down the internal temps even in your most intense moments.
There’s a Turbo button for extra fast action, and a Predator button right on the keyboard to view the current temperatures of the CPU/GPU, which also lets you do things like customize your lighting profile, overclock your GPU with three speeds (normal, fast, extreme), and even set your fans to what works best with your usage levels.
3. MSI GL65 Leopard
Don’t let the colorful keyboard distract you from what’s inside this powerful laptop. This one is a workhorse for all sorts of applications.
The 15.6-inch FHD screen is impressively thin and still displays gorgeous graphics, in near 100% sRGB thanks to the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070. At its heart is the Intel Core i7-10750H processor at 2.6-5.0GHz, able to support games like Minecraft and Final Fantasy with no stalling, at over 100fps.
Two fans, along with seven heat pipes, keep things consistently cool, and the storage is expendable, with room for an extra HDD or SSD. Same goes for RAM – while this gaming laptop only comes with 8GB, it supports all the way up to 64GB.
4. Acer Nitro 5 Gaming Laptop
Another ace option from Acer, this one a bit more beginner-friendly.
Powered by a 10th Generation Intel Core i5-10300H Processor (up to 4.5GHz), it’s also got a fast NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Ti graphics coprocessor. 8GB of DDR4 SDRAM comes standard, and the 15.6-inch, full HD LED-backlit screen with a 144Hz refresh display looks great for vintage and modern games alike.
There’s a lot going on here, in just a 2.64-pound body, with twin fans and quad exhaust ports keeping it cool when things get heated.