Gaming laptops are getting thinner, lighter and more powerful all the time. Sometimes they even offer half decent battery life. There are countless to choose from but we review and rank the best ones out there and explain what to look out for before you buy.
Luckily for you, we've reviewed and ranked lots of different models for you to choose from at a range of different prices and specs.
In 2020, laptops are arriving with specs such as 10th-gen Intel processors, Nvidia GeForce RTX Super graphics cards or the latest from the AMD Ryzen series. We're always testing and adding new models so keep an eye out for new entries.
Best gaming laptops 2020
The Black Friday sales season is here! The prices shown below are the best available on our top recommended products, but similar products may also be discounted. See our guide to the best Black Friday deals.
1. Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 - Best Overall
The ROG Zephyrus G14 marries gaming laptop clout with ultrabook sensibilities in one of the most compact and powerful gaming laptops we've ever seen.
A tip of the hat has to go to the thermal design of this compact machine, which can accommodate up to a Ryzen 9 4900HS, 32GB of DDR4 RAM, up to a 1TB M.2 NVMe SSD and, most impressively, Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 Max-Q graphics.
There's also the matter of this machine's 'AniMe Matrix' LED-laden lid, which can display images, text, equalisers and even animated GIFs - perfect for adding a touch of character and personalisation to your machine or as a means to silently trash-talk your competitors during competitions.
Read our full Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 review
2. Razer Blade Pro 17 - Best 17in
The Razer Blade Pro 17 is an incredible bit of kit, offering a refined design with tiny 6mm bezels, a lightweight form factor and a chassis that's closer in size to a standard 15in laptop than a 17.3in laptop while still offering desktop-level gaming performance.
You'll get the Full HD 144Hz display, Core i7 processor, 16GB of RAM and 512GB SSD no matter the variant you opt for - the only difference is the GPU, varying from the entry-level RTX 2060 to the RTX 2080 Max-Q. It's great that the features are near-identical across all variants, making the decision much easier for consumers.
While the RTX 2060 variant we reviewed offered average performance from an entry-level machine, the Max-Q cards should really make a difference to your gaming experience - if you can afford them.
We'd like a brighter screen and a better keyboard but those are our two main quibbles.
Read our full Razer Blade Pro 17 review
3. Gigabyte Aero 15 OLED - Best Screen
It might not be marketed as a gaming laptop but the Aero 15 OLED has the component for it and then some - up to RTX 2080 Super with 10th-gen Intel - only with a display that's designed for creative tasks.
This is an amazingly sleek and portable, yet powerful laptop which will suit those looking for a single machine to handle complex work tasks such as video editing and then, once work is over, some of the latest AAA games. That's if you're ok with a refresh rate of 60Hz.
You can drop down to a non-OLED, Full HD display with a GTX 1660 Ti but we'd recommend going for an OLED model if you can afford it - especially if you need the performance of this stunning display.
Read our full Gigabyte Aero 15 OLED (2020) review
4. Acer Predator Helios 300 - Best Value
The Helios 300 for 2020 is another well-rounded gaming laptop from Acer offering a nice mix of components and features.
If you just need the kind of pace for mainstream titles and eSports then the 10th Gen Intel and CPU and Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 GPU is a solid combination. And games will be displayed on the smooth 144Hz display.
While the price undercuts many rivals there are a few downsides to consider including lower screen quality beyond that refresh rate, mediocre battery life and a pretty chunky design. If they worry you then look elsewhere for a little more finesse, although likely at a higher price.
Read our full Acer Predator Helios 300 (2020) review
5. Alienware 17 R3
As 17in gaming laptop go, it's hard to get much much than the Alienware m17 R3.
This latest version has absolutely bags of power with a full-fat RTX 2070 Super graphics card and speedy Intel Core i9-10980HK. Combine these with a 300Hz display and you've got an impressive tripleheader.
There's also excellent build quality, top-class keyboard and this thing isn't overly thick and heavy. Of course, there are downsides so beware of the mediocre trackpad, poor battery life and lacklustre speakers.
The big question here is whether you can afford the m17 R3 and whether it's actually overkill for your needs.
Read our full Alienware m17 R3 (2020) review
6. XMG Fusion 15 - Best Modest Design
It might not be as flashy compared to rivals but if you don't really buy into the ostentatious nature of gaming devices then the XMG's more plain design will appeal.
The big advantage here is the amount of performance on offer thanks to parts like an RTX 2070 for less money than the big brands on the market. It also has good battery life and a mechanical keyboard.
It's one of the best value gaming laptops available, as long as you're ok with the screen and speakers being lower grade than rivals.
Read our full XMG Fusion 15 review
7. Alienware Area 51m - Best Desktop Replacement
The Alienware Area 51m is a tricky one to place in the gaming laptop market.
On the one hand, this has performance that blows rivals away thanks to its desktop components and we like the updated design making it the ultimate desktop replacement.
However, you've got to be able to afford one and buy into the sheer bulk of it along with the two power bricks. It not perfect either, as we'd like more ports and expect a better keyboard. You also want 4K which is not available as an option.
If you're not so keen on the size and price, then there are plenty of other gaming laptops that are more well-rounded. They can still offer decent performance and are much more portable, plus easier on the wallet.
Read our full Alienware Area 51m (2019) review
8. Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3i - Best Budget
If you just need a cheap gaming laptop then the Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3i is a reasonable choice.
It's certainly a lot cheaper than the vast majority of machines on the market. In fact, it's more affordable than some non-gaming laptops and has a decent amount of power for mainstream gaming thanks to a GeForce GTX 1650 and a Ti isn't much more.
The Core i5 chip is good enough for day-to-day use and the 3i also offers an attractive design and nice keyboard.
Downsides at this price are namely the feeble screen (despite the 120Hz refresh rate) but also include a small SSD, poor trackpad and limited selection of ports.
Read our full Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3i review
9. MSI GS66 Stealth - Best Keyboard
If you're looking for a 240Hz display then the MSI GS66 Stealth is a good option.
The screen is excellent and is paired with pretty powerful 10th-gen Intel and Nvidia RTX internal components. Although they might be similar to some cheaper rivals, the advantage here is the sleek and portable design.
MSI also provides a decent keyboard and wide array of ports, too. Battery life isn't great and there are some thermal issues so the 240Hz screen should really be the thing that swings this laptop for you.
Read our full MSI GS66 Stealth review
10. Dell G5 Gaming - Best Battery Life on a Budget
Can't afford an Alienware? Well, Dell's G5 range in on hand to offer something far more affordable.
The good news here is that there's a decent amount of performance on offer for your money and you can get cheaper models than the one we tested. The G5 15 Gaming has excellent battery life and components such as memory and storage that are often overlooked are also good.
There are, however, sacrifices to achieve the price and they include a washed-out screen, chunky design and a mediocre keyboard and trackpad.
At the end of the day, there are better rivals around this price so the G5 15 makes the most sense at the cheaper end of the available models.
Read our full Dell G5 15 Gaming 5500 review
Your buying guide for the best gaming laptops in 2020
There are plenty of things to consider when on the market for a respectable gaming laptop.
You need a capable CPU, a graphics chip that is powerful enough to deliver your games as the developers intended them, enough system RAM to keep applications stored in memory, high-capacity and fast storage drives to hold games and other files, a sizeable and decent-resolution screen to view the action on, and a good chassis to bear all these components.
With that in mind, we've broken down our buying advice by component to help you figure out what to look for. Oh, and if you're open to buying a powerful laptop that's not been designed specifically for gaming, check out our guide to the best laptops of 2020.
Which processor is best?
From Intel, the latest generation of Core processor is a good idea for the best performance and longevity. However, opting for the previous year's model can save you a lot of money if you find a laptop reduced in price due to its age.
It's not old, it's just not the latest model so tends to get discounted to clear stock.
As ever, our benchmark results provided within our reviews will tell you how quick a particular laptop is at various tasks.
Read our Intel vs AMD comparison.
Which graphics card should I choose?
The graphics card is arguably the most important component of a gaming laptop, as it does most of the work when you're playing a game. Unlike with a desktop PC, you can't usually upgrade the graphics card in a laptop, so it pays to get the best you can afford to begin with.
Laptops with Nvidia GTX graphics chips are the older models but still provide decent performance. You'll see the 'Max Q design' versions of these cards largely as they are created to fit inside the chassis of a laptop, although some occasionally have a proper card.
If you want the latest tech then look for GeForce RTX cards for improved performance along with features like ray tracing. They're just more expensive, of course.
Also bear in mind that AMD is very much back in the game these days and have plenty of Ryzen chips and Radeon GPUs that are top quality.
What screen do I need?
Laptop screens have improved in recent years, with screen resolutions now settling at full-HD (1920x1080), and using better technology than the basic TN type found on cheap portables. Look out for IPS panels, which offer wide and consistent viewing from all angles, better contrast ratio and wider colour gamuts.
Don’t be misled by boasts about screen brightness - contrast ratio, especially at lower brightness settings, is far more important than dazzling your eyes with 300nits figures.
It’s also easier to find screens now with more practical anti-glare finishes, reversing the trend of high-gloss reflective panels that were once unavoidable from most brands.
And you can usually ignore the trend for greater-than-HD resolution since many graphics processors struggle with Ultra HD (4K) screens. For most gamers, Full HD (1920 x 1080) or Quad HD (2560 x 1440) is a happy compromise between glorious on-screen detail and playable framerates.
If you want a smoother experience at 1080p or 1440p, opt for a display with a higher refresh rate (120- or 144Hz). You can even get 240Hz on the Razer Blade 15.
How much storage do I need?
For storage, a solid-state drive will greatly improve the user experience when it comes to booting a PC, launching programs and opening and saving files. It won’t make your games run faster, although it may reduce any loading times between levels, and they should start up faster.
Nevertheless, an SSD is always recommended, with the option of a second capacious hard disk to store your games. Remember that modern games take up a lot of space so get as much storage as you can.
Do gaming laptops have better sound?
Some gamers like to use headphones or headsets, especially in multiplayer games, but if you don’t anticipate spending your time donning ear defenders you should still find that modern gaming laptops run quieter today. Which means you may get to appreciate the built-in stereo speakers.
Some sport brand badges to suggest bespoke audio systems - we’ve seen B&O, Dynaudio, Harman, Klipsch and Onkyo put their names to tinny laptop speakers - although, in our experience, these are more window dressing, with some of the best-sounding laptops bearing no fancy badges.
Battery life and other considerations
Battery life is perhaps less a concern for a desktop-replacement type of gaming laptop, although that’s more a historical resignation caused by the long-standing difficulty in combining fast graphics with svelte and mains-dodging laptops.
As we discovered with some models in the following group at least, you can have a powerful gaming machine and stunning battery life, even if the unplugged runtime will dwindle more rapidly once low-power integrated graphics have switched over to hungrier gaming graphics.
Don't forget about the warranty. You're spending a lot of money, so it's important to make sure the manufacturer offers a good, long warranty. Ideally, this would cover the cost of shipping the laptop back to base for repair and then being returned to you, so always pay attention to the small print.
Find out how we test laptops.