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Best Gaming Laptops of 2019

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

While many gamers may go to desktops to get the most performance for their money, try lugging it around in your backpack. When you need a powerful rig you can take with you, there's no substitute for a gaming laptop. There are more options now than ever, from budget-friendly to VR-ready.

Gaming laptops come in all shapes and sizes, for different needs and budgets. Some come with full-size Nvidia GeForce GTX or RTX graphics cards, while others go for the more efficient Max-Q designs that enable thinner chassis and quieter fans. While many gaming laptops come with 1080p display, some opt for 4K models.

If you're looking for a budget system, you'll want to keep your eyes peeled for laptops with the recently announced Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 and GTX 1660 Ti.

And expect some innovation over the next few years. At Computex, Intel had a concept gaming laptop with two screens and an innovative cooling solution. We also reviewed the Asus Zephyrus G GA502, which uses a Ryzen processor and GeForce graphics, and there are more of those coming, like the HP Pavilion Gaming Laptop 15. We also recently tested the HP Omen X 2S, which has two screens.

To help you find a system today, we've compiled a list of the best gaming laptops right now. For a primer on how to pick one, check out our gaming laptop buyer’s guide.

Quick Shopping Tips

  • Focus on the GPU: Most games are dependent on the GPU, and those aren’t upgradeable. If you splurge on a powerful GPU now, you’ll be gaming comfortably for a few years.
  • Choose higher resolution or faster speeds: 4K displays are pretty, but the fastest 144Hz and 240Hz displays are only on 1920 x 1080 screens right now. Some laptop manufacturers have announced 240Hz FHD displays, so expect those to come soon.
  • You can upgrade some parts later: While CPUs and GPUs are almost always soldered down, most gaming laptops let you replace the RAM and storage, so you can buy cheaper now and add more memory and a bigger hard drive or SSD down the road.

MORE: All Laptop Content

The Best Overall Gaming Laptop

MSI GE65 Raider

The Best Overall Gaming Laptop

CPU: Intel Core i9-9880H | GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 | Display: 15.6-inch, 1920 x 1080, 240 Hz | Weight: 5 pounds / 2.3 kg

Strong productivity benchmarks
Mature, yet fun design
Per-key RGB keyboard and light-up Type-A ports
Impressive framerates
Speakers could be louder for this price
Competitors have brighter screens

MSI packed a lot of power and even some fun into the GE65 Raider with high-end specs suited for both gaming and productivity tasks. It’s also cheaper than a number of its competitors, making it a great value.

Read Review: MSI GE65 Raider

MORE: Best Gaming Desktops

The Best Budget Gaming Laptop

Dell G7 15 (2019)

The Best Budget Gaming Laptop

CPU: Intel Core i9-9750H | GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 | Display: 15.6-inch, 1920 x 1080, 144 Hz | Weight: 5.5 pounds / 2.5 kg

Good webcam
Mature design
Upgrading instructions labeled on some components
Bright 144 Hz-refresh screen
Above-average gaming and productivity performance for this price range
Dim RGB keyboard
Below average battery life
Tinny audio
Screen could be more colorful

The Dell G7 15 packs a lot of power into a relatively slim chassis for a budget price and often outperformed against competitors. The laptop’s design has matured and the option for a 144Hz display will please esports players and others who want high refresh rates.

Read Review: Dell G7 15 (2019)


The Best Thin Gaming Laptop

Alienware m15 R2

The Best Thin Gaming Laptop

CPU: Intel Core i7-9750H | GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Max-Q | Display: 15.6-inch, 1920 x 1080 240Hz | Weight: 4.9 pounds (2.2 kg)

Clean aesthetic
Strong gaming performance
Comfortable keyboard
RAM is soldered down
Display is dimmer than average

The Alienware m15 R2 looks nice and offers strong performance, but the RAM is soldered down and the display could be a little brighter.

Read Review: Alienware m15 R2

MORE: Best Graphics Cards

The Best Splurge Gaming Laptop

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Alienware Area-51m

The Best Splurge Gaming Laptop

CPU: Up to Intel Core i9-9900K | GPU: Up to Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 | Display: Up to 1920 x 1080, 144 Hz with G-Sync | Weight: 8.5 pounds / 3.9 kg

Strong gaming and productivity performance
Strong performance
Beautiful new design
Upgradeable CPU and GPU
Blazing transfer speeds
Extremely pricey
No 4K options

The Alienware Area-51m, packing a desktop-level Intel Core i9-9900K and Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080, showed off some of the most powerful laptop performance that we’ve seen to date. If you can’t afford one, you’ll have desktop power in a somewhat portable machine.

The process to make major upgrades yourself requires some tools and patience, but the ability to replace the CPU, GPU, RAM and storage is truly impressive.

You can also see our complete teardown of the machine.

Read Review: Alienware Area-51m

MORE: Best Gaming Monitors

The Best Esports Gaming Laptop

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Asus ROG Strix Hero II

The Best Esports Gaming Laptop

CPU: Intel Core i7-8750H | GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 | Display: Up to 15.6-inch, 3840 x 2160 | Weight: 5.9 pounds / 2.7 kg

Powerful faming performance
Bright visuals
Compact size
Great audio
Hot bottom casing
Loud fans

The ROG Strix Hero II is a slim gaming laptop that’s easy to take to tournaments. Besides its slick design, the Hero II offers a brilliant display and solid audio. The only real downside is that the laptop can run hot while gaming, so be sure to keep it on your desk.

Read Review: Asus ROG Strix Hero II

MORE: Best Deals

Want to comment on this story? Let us know what you think in the Tom's Hardware Forums.

  • abryant
    Archived comments are found here:
  • ilikegirls
    Do not buy ASUS! Even if you spend $2,000 on a laptop, you are treated like garbage and they won't fix your issue. I detailed my issues with them on this Reddit Post HERE.?rel=ugc]']HERE. TL;DR - Sent laptop for repair twice, but nothing was actually done to fix the issue and they just keep requesting my laptop. Out of the 3 months I've owned this laptop, they have had it for close to 5 weeks
  • drawingpin
    I think the amazon links for the Dell G7 15 are broken. When I click on the $800 link it takes me to a different laptop. When I searched on Amazon for the model it is roughly $1000 more expensive.