Best Gaming Laptops for 2019: Portable powerhouses
One of the coolest things about gaming laptops is that one size does NOT fit all.
Everyone wants something different when it comes to a gaming machine. For some, battery life is important. Others want the latest and greatest GPU and display, while still others are more interested in professional workstations that can also play games. There’s no one right choice, and there’s plenty of options out there for everyone.
That’s why we decided to gather up some of our favorite laptops from across the hardware and price spectrum, so you can compare all the various features, and find the perfect portable gaming machine for you.
Let’s kick things off with an offering on the fancy side.
The MSI GS75 Stealth is representative of a new breed of gaming laptop: those that are disguised as elegant professional machines. MSI has long been known for their aggressive red and black gaming laptops, but with the Stealth, they went in a very different direction. True to its name, this beautiful beast stealthily packs a ton of power in a gorgeous frame that you would never guess houses cutting-edge gaming hardware.
The remarkably thin 5.2mm bezel wraps around a 144Hz gaming display that looks fantastic. Inside the black and gold .75 inch frame is a RTX 2060, 2070, or 2080 GPU, an 8th gen i7 CPU, and plenty of storage.
As with many of these laptops, there are options when it comes to hardware configuration. Regardless of which version you pick, the powerful GPU will allow you to take full advantage of the high refresh rate display in all its glory.
If you’re looking for something pretty and powerful, the MSI GS75 Stealth-203 is an excellent option.
On the other side of the gaming laptop spectrum is the Y720 from Lenovo.
If you’re looking for an affordable gaming machine with a little bit of flair at an excellent price, check out the Y720. It’s powered by a GTX 1060, so games are still going to look great in 1920x1080, and the 7th Gen Intel processor provides plenty of computational power for less cash than its 8th or 9th Gen cousins.
The red backlit keyboard and glowing logo on the back of the machine make it clear this is a gaming laptop, and the Dolby Atmos implementation means audio will sound great through headphones.
The biggest difference between the Y720 and some of the other laptops listed here is the slightly more modest GTX 1060 GPU, rather than a Turing powered 20 series card.
Remember though, the GTX 1060 is one of the most popular GPUs around, and there’s a reason for that. In the 1920x1080 gaming space, a 1060 is still pretty much the standard, and will allow you to enjoy every AAA title on the market right now. Having the latest and greatest is, of course, awesome, but there’s something to be said for a less powerful GPU that brings down the price significantly, while still providing serious power.
If you want a very functional portable gaming machine but can live without the latest and greatest gaming tech, the Lenovo Y720 is an excellent option, and the price makes it a very tempting proposition indeed.
Another laptop that’s in no way trying to hide its target demographic, the ASUS ROG Strix Hero II is a bright, powerful gaming PC that just so happens to be portable.
The Republic of Gamers line (ROG) has always been brand heavy, and the Strix laptops are no exception. From the ROG eye that lights up on the back of the laptop to the beautifully lit keyboard, if you’re into RGB, this laptop has you covered.
And if you’re into a high-end portable gaming experience, the Strix Hero II has you covered on that front as well. It too has a high refresh rate 144Hz screen for a buttery gameplay experience. Pair that with a Nvidia RTX that can run run just about anything you can throw at it for years to come, and you’re looking at a remarkably versatile machine. The 2060 is the entry level RTX GPU, but even so, you’ll still get the advantages of the newer Turing architecture, including ray tracing and other advanced capabilities.
Along with the 20 series card, you’re getting an i7-8750H CPU from Intel and plenty of RAM and storage. With the ASUS ROG Strix Hero II, you’re looking at a gaming computer that exemplifies how far gaming laptops have come.
Razer has a huge selection of gaming laptops, most famously their flagship Blade line, but we are particularly impressed with the Razer RZ09. It’s a great example of Razer’s modern aesthetic design, with a bright green logo that stands out against the black aluminum on the back of the display.
At just over four-and-a-half pounds, this ultra portable gaming laptop is also packing some serious power. The RTX 2070 Max-Q GPU is only slightly less powerful than a full desktop 2070 (read: plenty powerful.) The 100% sRGB color-calibrated high refresh rate display looks fantastic, and is perfect for content creators and gamers who value color accuracy. It also has plenty of display connectivity options like Thunderbolt 3, mini DisplayPort, and HDMI.
The Razer RZ09 is a great example of a laptop that can pull double duty as a gaming and content creation machine, and look good doing it.
GIGABYTE’s Aero 15 line has been around for a few years now, and though they haven’t changed much in the looks department, GIGABYTE has been busy upgrading the internals every step of the way.
This Newegg exclusive Aero 15-Y9 model represents the current pinnacle of the flagship gaming laptop line. It’s the only laptop on this list with a 4K screen, and can handle RGB 4K 10-bit H.265 HEVC decoding, and support 8K video playback, meaning it can be a powerful tool in the hands of video editors and content creation professionals.
The Aero 15-Y9 also an excellent gaming PC, with a Max-Q cooled RTX 2080 GPU. Though this doesn’t quite live up to the desktop version due to the fact it’s been engineered to fit in a thinner chassis, it’s still an extraordinarily powerful laptop, with cutting edge specs, excellent performance, and ageless looks.
There’s long been an association with gaming laptops and red. ASUS, MSI, and Lenovo have all branded their gaming laptops red, but Acer is moving in the opposite direction. Their newest version of their flagship Predator gaming line is embracing an ice blue branding to help set their gaming tech apart from the pack.
The Acer Predator Triton 500 is a great example of what Predator is looking to do in this space. The RTX 2060 GPU means you’re looking at a fantastic 1920x1080 experience that will look fantastic on the 144Hz display. As you’ll probably notice, almost all of these laptops have high refresh rate screens, it’s something more and more gamers are taking for granted.
And you’ll be able to dive right into some AAA titles, because if you pick up the Acer PredatorTriton 500, you’ll get a free copy of Anthem, Battlefield V, or Metro Exodus. Battlefield and Metro both use ray tracing, so you’ll be able to test out what the Turing architecture of your 2060 is capable of.
Ah yes, the Titan. As you’d probably guess by the name this behemoth proudly goes in the other direction from the svelte modern gaming laptop, including MSI’s own Stealth.
Though this version of the Titan isn’t really that new, we had to include it for the sheer audacity of what’s being attempted here. The giant frame contains not one, but two GTX 1080s running in SLI configuration.
In a laptop.
It also has 32GB RAM, an i7 CPU, and everything else you’d expect from a high-end gaming laptop. One other feature makes it clear this was designed as a desktop replacement: Cherry MX silver switches. That’s right, the Titan has a fully mechanical RGB keyboard, so even your fingers won’t be able to tell you aren’t at home.
The newest version of the Titan, the GT75, has a RTX 2070 if you’re more interested in a Turing card and all the new features that GPU brings to the table, alongside a high refresh rate (144Hz) display with G-Sync. This is also a great option, but the ambition of the Titan GT83, running two 1080s in SLI is over the top in the most awesome way.
Can’t wait to see two RTX 2080s running together...hopefully soon.
AORUS is a relative newcomer to the scene when compared to the other laptops on this list, but given that they’re the gaming division of GIGABYTE, they have plenty of experience to draw on when it comes to hardware. The AORUS 15-X9 is a clear example of that expertise.
The design of the 15-X9 is a nice combination of work and play. It’s not too over-the-top gamer from a design perspective, though the massive vents make it clear that this thing needs room to breathe. That’s because there’s an RTX 2070 inside, alongside a i7-8750H CPU and a 144Hz refresh rate 15.6 inch display.
One of the coolest things about the Aorus 15-X9 is that it takes advantage of Microsoft’s Azure AI, which improves your gameplay experience and fine-tunes your hardware by analyzing your preference data.
Pretty futuristic stuff, right here, right now.
What’s that you say? We already talked about the Predator line? True, but this one is a little different.
The feature that sets the Acer Helios 500 apart from every other entry on this list is that it’s powered by AMD. Nvidia and Intel are fairly dominant in the gaming laptop space, so this offering from Acer is a unique one.
The Helios 500 features an AMD Ryzen 7 2700 CPU, and an AMD Radeon RX Vega 56 GPU. This combination is perfect for AMD fans that want to take advantage of the power of the Vega architecture.
Perhaps this is a sign that AMD is going to push harder into the portable PC space. More competition would be a very good thing for gamers.
The ROG Zephyrus is an entirely different animal than the Strix we talked about earlier. This is ASUS’ flagship gaming laptop, and that’s quite clear just by looking at it. It has one of the coolest, not to mention unusual designs out there, with a vent underneath the laptop that pops open for more efficient cooling when you open it. This is called the Active Aerodynamic System, and it’s exclusive to the Zephyrus.
The screen is one of the best out there as well, with a 144Hz refresh rate, Pantone Validated color, and even Nvidia's G-Sync, which allows the display to communicate with the GPU in order to reduce screen tearing. This results in a considerably smoother experience when gaming, and is still fairly uncommon to see in a laptop display.
And you’ll be able to put that screen to very good use with the RTX 2080 Max-Q GPU. This card will absolutely crush anything you throw at it in 1080p, and that fantastic cooling system will help with even higher framerates.
The ASUS ROG Zephyrus is the pinnacle of the portable ROG line for a reason. It not only looks amazing, but it’s also one of the most feature rich laptops out there. The price is a reflection of that, but this is a case of getting what you pay for.
The choice is yours
Regardless of which option you go with, it’s very cool that we’re in a place where you can have a quality PC gaming experience even when you’re not at home. Of course, gaming laptops have been around for a long time, but never before have they been so small, so powerful, or so visually appealing.
The fact that you can get laptops less than an inch thick that are packing RTX cards and high refresh rate displays is extraordinary, and the sheer variety of options means you can pick and choose exactly the features you’re looking for.
No question, it’s a great time to be a gamer on the go.