Best gaming laptops 2023: Portable powerhouses

gaming laptops

Best gaming laptops 2023: Portable powerhouses. A beautiful thing is the best gaming laptop. A sleek and portable piece of PC gaming hardware that is very powerful. We’ve reached a stage in PC technology where you can get desktop gaming performance in a laptop less than an inch thick and small enough to fit in a backpack.

You’ve made the decision to buy a gaming laptop at the appropriate time. The next era of mobile GPU and CPU is just now hitting the market, offering the best that Nvidia, AMD, and Intel have to offer. I’ve already tested the alternatives, and the Lenovo Legion Pro 7i is the best gaming laptop. It creates the best RTX 4090 gaming laptops, such as the Razer Blade 16, Asus ROG Zephyrus M16, and the absolutely crazy MSI Titan GT77 HX, appear excessive.

But we know that even these new chips will be housed in the same chassis that we’ve grown to love over the last year. Furthermore, the price of last-generation laptops should fall immediately, which makes this inflection point between the two hardware generations an ideal time to start looking for a new gaming laptop.

Every year, we put hundreds of gaming laptops through their paces. The ones on the list offer the best bang for your buck—the best combination of performance, price, and portability.

 gaming laptops

The Gigabyte G5 (2023) is an excellent value, which is surprising given the typical price increase for brand-new gaming laptops. However, you won’t find any fad features or superfluous add-ons here to push the price. Simply a straightforward, well-built, and intelligently equipped gaming laptop at £1,200 (or $1,100 in the US for a similar, if slightly inferior, model) that delivers plenty of frames in games.

Let’s start with the main attraction: the RTX 4060. We have yet to see Nvidia’s RTX 40-series dip to this level on desktop, but even this low-cost card delivers excellent 1080p performance that matches the G5’s 1080p 144Hz display. This is partly due to the 75W of power that Gigabyte is willing to put into the GPU inside this machine.

That may not seem like much compared to the 175W RTX 4090 laptops we’ve reviewed this year, but it’s 30W more than MSI is willing to run via its own RTX 4060-powered gaming laptop, the Cyborg 15(opens in new tab). Although you can see the frame rate increase with each extra watt pulsing through the G5’s GPU. In our testing, the Gigabyte G5 is up to 27% faster than the Cyborg 15, although the Cyborg 15 boasts a better gaming CPU under the hood.

The processor in question here is an Intel Core i5 12500H. A reasonable choice; however, it suffers from only four Performance-cores (P-cores). Because this is one of Intel’s hybrid Alder Lake chips, it has a slew of Efficient-cores (E-cores) to alleviate the load on the faster gaming silicon. There are eight E-cores in all, which makes this a 12-core processor.

I’d like to see at least six additional P-cores in the mix. In fact, like the Core i7 12650H CPU featured on the MSI Cyborg 15. That includes six P-cores and only four E-cores. The MSI laptop also has quicker DDR5 memory than the Gigabyte machine, which uses outdated DDR4. However, as the benchmarking results show, the actual performance difference between these two is rather small, even in CPU-intensive programs and tests.

To reach the insides of this laptop, use a Phillips-head screwdriver to open it up. You’ll have to remove a couple of stickers over the screws, which may void your warranty, so make sure you want to go in there before you do, but behind the back panel, you’ll see one free M.2 SSD slot for an easy storage capacity update. You’ll undoubtedly want to use that at some point, as the 512GB SSD bundled with this machine will quickly fill up.

When running any moderately demanding game, the G5’s worst flaw is the noise this thing makes. That is a familiar experience for anyone who has used a gaming laptop before, but consider this as a caution that gaming laptops are generally not any quieter in 2023. Not if you desire great performance in the first place. The MSI Cyborg 15, which I also tested this week, is only somewhat quieter due to its drastically lower performance.

There are also many positive things to say about the G5’s screen. While 15.6 inches can feel intrusive at 1080p, it’s a happy medium for frame rate, resolution, and size. While the contrast on this laptop is a little low, the colors are wonderfully saturated, and it’s an all-around great screen.

The G5 (2023) feels like a sturdy design for a gaming laptop. The performance is there, as are the flexibility and upgradeability, and you aren’t overpaying for the hot new thing. It’s rather reasonable. This will be difficult to beat as the best budget gaming laptop to buy right now

2. Lenovo Legion Pro 7i (Gen8)

The Lenovo Legion Pro 7i is the best 16-inch gaming laptop, and because 16-inch is the best form factor for a gaming laptop, it is also the best overall gaming laptop.

It’s a machine whose price tag causes the rest of the high-end RTX 40-series look even more ludicrous on their lofty $4,000+ perches. And it’s the RTX 4080 gaming performance that impressed us in testing, offering gaming performance that makes me wonder why anyone would want an RTX 4090 machine.

The Legion Pro 7i’s RTX 4080 runs at a 150W TGP, which is the GPU’s effective limit. Manufacturers are permitted an additional 25W of leeway to beef up their specs if they feel they can push a little more juice via their systems. Lenovo has yet to go that path; the Legion Pro knows what it likes, and that’s the 150W TGP and nothing else.

An Intel Core i9 13900HX processor from the 13th generation powers the Legion Pro 7i. If, like me, you assumed it would be essentially a slightly higher-clocked version of the Core i9 13900H utilized in Asus’ superb Zephyrus M16 gaming laptop, you ‘ may be mistaken.

This is a completely distinct and significantly superior CPU despite the nearly identical name. Whereas the Asus has a 14-core design with six P-cores, this one has eight P-cores and twice the number of E-cores. Both are capable of 5.4GHz boost clocks, although the larger chip has a higher base TDP of 45W.

A 1TB PCIe 4.0 Samsung SSD and 32GB of DDR5-5600 SK Hynix memory back up the crucial CPU/GPU combination.

The 1600p 240Hz screen completes the set. That’s OK. I’ve been spoilt by the joy of the small LED backlights used in the previous several laptop displays I’ve tried because this one lacks the punch I’ve come to expect from a gaming screen. It features the 16:10 aspect ratio, which I only realized I needed in a gaming laptop once I started using them regularly. The native resolution of 2560 x 1600 is an excellent match for the Legion Pro’s 16-inch screen.

At both 1080p and 1440p resolutions, the Legion Pro 7i consistently outperforms the Razer Blade 16 and the Asus Zephyrus M16. Only the chunky boi MSI Titan GT77 can fully utilize its RTX 4090-ish GPU. Then at the risk of acoustics and possibly your sanity.

Because it’s the thing that keeps drawing my attention when I’m staring at this Lenovo machine. It could be more visually appealing but can deliver great gaming frame rates. And it costs about $2,000 less than the Blade 16.

So it feels like a grown-up gaming laptop, is eminently usable, has plenty of performance (both CPU and GPU), and doesn’t cost nearly as much as the next-gen laptops we’ve already checked out. It’s not cheap; $2,750 / £2,800 is still a significant sum of money. However, this is not an unusual price for such a powerful computer.

3. Razer Blade 15

 gaming laptops

The most delinquent iteration of the Razer Blade 15 improves on one of the best gaming laptops ever created. It boasts the same stunning CNC-milled aluminum chassis as its predecessor, but this time it can accommodate one of Nvidia’s latest RTX 40-series GPUs and an Intel 13th Gen Core i9 CPU.

We tested the Razer Blade 15 Advanced, which has a 10th Gen Intel processor and an RTX 3080 (95W) GPU inside. And we fell in love once more. The chassis hasn’t altered since then; it now includes more powerful components. We’ve also tried out the larger Razer Blade 17 with an RTX 3080 Ti inside, along with one of those delectable 12th Gen chips, and we’re still perplexed by what can fit inside such a small and clean chassis.

That so, you will see some throttling as a result of the slimline design, and battery life on the larger Blade 17 can be a little short, but you are still getting amazing performance from a beautiful machine.

The Blade 15 isn’t the most lightweight gaming laptop you can buy, but it’s still far lighter than many traditional gaming laptops while offering similar performance and specs. That heaviness also donates to the feeling of solidity. It also suggests that the Blade 15 will fit comfortably in your backpack. A fantastic pick for the mobile gamer… or if you don’t have enough room for a full-fledged gaming workstation and monitor.

Keyboard purists will like the larger shift and half-height arrow keys. The Blade 15 Advanced improves on the Base Model’s zonal lighting with per-key RGB lighting. Typing feels fantastic, and Blade’s keycaps have always felt good. The trackpad can be annoying at times, but you’ll want to use a mouse with this beautiful machine anyhow, so it’s not the end of the world.

One of the best things about the Blade 15 is the number of customizations available from Razer. There’s something for everyone, from the RTX 3060 Base Edition to the RTX 4070 Advanced with a 240Hz QHD panel. It’s one of the most visually appealing gaming laptops available and one of the most powerful.

4. Asus ROG Zephyrus G14

With its well-balanced spec and outstanding gaming performance, the new the Zephyrus G14 for 2022 continues to excite us. Seriously, this thing rips through frames at up to 120Hz refresh rate, and it’s useful for much more than just gaming.

We fitted out the version with AMD’s RX 6800S under the hood, though an RX 6700S is also available for much less money. That cheaper alternative is a bit superior, as the high-end one can get a little pricy and competes with the expensive but great Razer Blade 14. Its 32GB of DDR5-4800 RAM doesn’t help much in that area, though we love having all that fast memory ready for everything you can throw at it.

At its heart is the AMD Ryzen 6900HS, one of the top chips from AMD’s Ryzen 6000-series, but not its best and brightest—though when it comes to the top of the red team’s mobile processors, you’re basically competing over boost clocks and not much else. It delivers eight cores and 16 threads of the Zen 3+ architecture and can boost to 4.9GHz (which it does on occasion).

That GPU and CPU combo, on the other hand, makes light work of our benchmarks suite, and I’m very impressed with the G14’s gaming performance overall. Even without using the more aggressive Turbo preset—I tested everything in the default Performance setting. It outperforms the RTX 3080 and RTX 3070 mobile CPUs almost everywhere, and while it falls short of the RTX 3080 Ti in the Razer Blade 17, that’s a considerably larger laptop with a lot higher price tag.

One of my favorite things about the G14 is its name: it’s a 14-inch laptop. The combination of screen real estate and small dimensions is an excellent balance between the bigger 15- and 17-inch designs, and it is not as compromised as a 13-inch model sometimes feel. The significant thing about the 2022 model is that it has a larger 16:10 aspect ratio than prior models’ 16:9 displays.

The G14’s fast refresh rate and high-resolution panel look excellent when everything is functioning well. Because this model has such a bright and vivid IPS display, you can take in every detail.

One of the disadvantages of this machine is the battery life, which isn’t the best while gaming—less than an hour. You’ll get more when watching films or doing something monotonous like working, but a new laptop should provide a bit more. It’s not a deal breaker, but you should keep it in mind.

The G14 has also lost its shockingly low price for what you receive, despite providing great performance.

One reason for this could be the inclusion of 32GB of DDR5 RAM—16GB of which is soldered to the board and the other 16GB attached via removable SO-DIMM from the laptop’s underbelly. That is not inexpensive memory. DDR5 prices haven’t come down much since the memory standard was announced last year, and 32GB is a lot of high-performance memory for most gaming PCs today.

Overall, the G14 experience is really simple and straightforward. In a couple of weeks, I’ve owned it, I haven’t run into any big issues, and Asus has more than made up for my minor flaws with the design. However, the less expensive models may be better than the one we reviewed—the same chassis and fantastic design but at a somewhat lower price.

5. Asus ROG Strix Scar 17

 gaming laptops

The best number crunchers you’ll find on a gaming laptop are AMD’s new range of Zen 4 mobile CPUs. This makes the Asus ROG Strix Scar 17 one of the most effective gaming laptops I’ve tested. But part of the luster has worn off since I can’t get the notion AMD machines are still considered tier-two in the eyes of their manufacturers.

That’s a shame because this fantastic gaming laptop makes the crazy MSI Titan look even dumber. The Asus is about $2,000 less expensive and surpasses it in almost every category that matters.

This is the cheapest RTX 4090 machine I’ve seen in this generation, so being perceived as a lesser light in terms of laptops has benefitted this AMD-powered device. It’s also one of the best-performing RTX 4090 machines I’ve seen, making it difficult to suggest any of the rest.

You absolutely must plug it in because, despite the 90Wh battery, it does not last long away from a wall socket. If you’re gaming, think of the battery as a uninterruptible power supply rather than a thing to rely on for long periods of time.

The CPU/GPU combo is the most important specification, as it always is in a gaming notebook. The mobile AMD CPU is the main new thing here, but we’ve already talked extensively about the mobile RTX 4090, condemning its misnaming as an RTX 4080 in a thin disguise.

It’s AMD’s latest Zen 4 architecture brought into the laptop sector, and it’s pretty damn remarkable, outperforming the competitive Intel 13th Gen chips seen in comparable computers. By a long shot, sometimes. It’s a 16-core, 32-thread processing powerhouse that has yet to burn up inside the unexpectedly small chassis.

The chip’s nominal clock speed is only 2.5GHz, with a boost clock of 5.4GHz. That’s also a consistent bump since I saw the chip climbing up to that level during single-core loads during my tests. I got 4.7GHz in strongly multithreaded loads, which is no small feat. I’ll say it again: we’re talking about 16 complete Zen 4 CPU cores here.

The Core i9 13980HX in the Asus Strix Scar 16, this machine’s smaller twin, has been the most powerful Intel mobile CPU we’ve seen. That’s a 24-core processor with 32 threads, but keep in mind that Intel is combining eight Performance cores with 16 Efficient cores to meet the threaded objective. This is shown in the CPU benchmarks.

I keep returning to my disastrous experience with the MSI Titan machine. That’s an offensively choky, loud machine that only just about delivers the sort of performance that the Asus Scar 17 can. That means that while the ergonomics of this big boi ROG laptop don’t appeal to me, the raw performance does.

It’s also my first taste of AMD’s new range of laptop processors, and it’s definitely suiting my geeky pallet. With the strength of its Ryzen 9 7945HX and the efficiency and performance of its Z1 Extreme, née Ryzen 7 7840U, which adorns the outstanding ROG Ally handheld gaming PC, the red team is truly nailing mobile processors.

6. Asus ROG Zephyrus M16

Despite still having a ridiculously high price and whirring up like a jet turbine, the Zephyrus M16 is my favorite of the RTX 4090 machines I’ve examined this year.

This Zephyrus M16 variant is all about excess in a modest chassis rather than affordability. To that end, we’re looking at the RTX 4090, though at a lower 175W level than Razer and MSI have allowed the GPU to operate in their systems. This is the 150W RTX 4090 spec, which is still theoretically at the top of its potential TGP rating but lacks the extra 25W works are allowed on top of that figure.

The Zephyrus M16 also includes one of Intel’s Raptor Lake mobile CPUs, the company’s next generation of mobile processors. This Core i9 13900H processor has 14 cores and 20 threads. That translates to six Performance-cores with Hyperthreading and eight Efficient-cores without Intel’s new hybrid terminology.

This is significantly less than the Core i9 13950HX found in the Blade 16 and Titan computers, which boast 24 cores and 32 threads. But, for a gaming laptop, I’m not persuaded you’re missing out when this chip is still happily powering that monster Nvidia GPU with a single core performance near the top of the charts.

The good news is that the cooling within the Zephyrus M16 is good sufficiently that both the RTX 4090 and the Core i9 CPU can run at top speeds, albeit the trade-off is that you have to put up with those unacceptably loud noise levels.

Nonetheless, the benchmarks show what the Asus machine is capable of. Despite preceding the extra 25W on the RTX 4090 TGP in favor of the Blade 16, the Zephyrus M16 can still produce frame rates comparable to the more expensive Razer system. Interestingly, even though it doesn’t have as powerful a processor inside, it can pull ahead in some CPU-bound games at 1080p.

The screen completes the next-generation trifecta in the new line of gaming laptops. The Zephyrus M16 in RTX 4090 and RTX 4080 variants features a tiny LED backlight on its 16:10 panels, making this brilliant panel a highly effective HDR display.

This screen is one of the reasons I like the Asus Zephyrus M16 so much, but as an all-around package, I’d go with the Asus over the Razer right now. The Zephyrus chassis is still extremely light, and the lifting action of the screen hinge is a clever means of improving airflow; it’s just a touch more angular and conventionally ‘games.’

But I’ll always come back to that price. This is the Zephyrus M16’s top specification and is a whole new generation, which will be a significant part of the early adopter price premium rationale. Still, over $4,000 for a gaming laptop is outrageous. That’s the only major criticism I have with the Zephyrus M16, and while the price is significant, it doesn’t affect the fact that this is the hardware package that has most pleased me in this current generation of gaming laptops.

 gaming laptops

But I’ll always come back to that price. This is the Zephyrus M16’s top specification and is a whole new generation, which will be a significant part of the early adopter price premium rationale. Still, over $4,000 for a gaming laptop is outrageous. That’s the only major criticism I have with the Zephyrus M16, and while the price is significant, it doesn’t affect the fact that this is the hardware package that has most pleased me in this current generation of gaming laptops.

We devote a significant amount of time to gaming laptop testing to ensure that we capture all of the objective performance data we require and the opportunity to chronicle the subjective experience of actually using a certain computer. Gaming laptops are expensive goods, and you’re right to do your research before purchasing. Therefore we’re committed to telling you how a notebook feels and how powerful it is.

The objective side requires us to put each system via our normal benchmarking suite. As a result, we can securely compare systems on a directly referential basis. To gain a handle on the processor and graphics card rendering performance, we use the Cinebench R23 and Blender 3.3.0 benchmarks to test the raw performance of a system’s CPU, GPU, and storage components. We also use X264 to test a laptop CPU’s encoding power.

The 3DMark Storage test and the Final Fantasy XIV Endwalker benchmarks are excellent for highlighting a laptop’s storage subsystem’s gaming performance. Furthermore, 3DMark lets us get a synthetic read on a GPU’s gaming and ray tracing performance.

We also put a system through gaming performance tests in Cyberpunk 2077, F1 22, Hitman 3, Horizon Zero Dawn, and Metro Exodus Enhanced at 1080p (so we have a baseline reference score regardless of a system’s native resolution) and 1440p and 4K (when available).

We also run some experience tests on a system’s panel, using Lagom’s LCD test images to help identify things like black levels and white saturation, as well as a general desktop and gaming testing to determine how a laptop’s screen feels.

It’s also vital to look at the gaming frequency of a laptop’s GPU and CPU to understand how a given slice of silicon operates under different notebook chassis’ thermal limitations.

We then utilize PCMark 10’s gaming battery life test to generate a metric for comparing battery life.

I always write a review on a specific laptop on the machine itself. This provides you with an excellent sense of the trackpad and keyboard and the ergonomics of the chassis design.

We then aggregate all of that subjective and objective data and the price to determine how well each machine we test compares to all of the other gaming laptops we’ve examined in our combined decades of PC hardware testing.

What’s the most important gaming laptop component?

When it comes to gaming, the clear answer is the graphics card, but things have recently become more difficult. Because GPU performance is now so dependent on cooling, you must pay awareness to the wattage of a graphics card and the chassis it is housed in.

An RTX 3080 restricted in an 18mm chassis will operate noticeably slower than one in a significantly larger case with space for superior performance cooling, as we said at the top.

Should I worry about what the CPU in a gaming laptop is?

That is entirely dependent on what you intend to do with your laptop. An 8-core, 16-thread AMD Ryzen processor will let you do a lot of work on the road, but it will have minimal benefit in gaming. That’s one of the reasons Intel released the Tiger Lake H35 chips; they’re quad-core, 8-thread CPUs that are overclocked to give high-end gaming performance when paired with a GPU like the RTX 3070.

What screen size is best for a gaming laptop?

This will have the greatest immediate impact on your construction decision. The size of your screen greatly determines the size of your laptop. A 13-inch machine will be a thin-and-light ultrabook, whereas a 17-inch display almost certainly means workstation equipment. You’re looking at the most common size of a gaming laptop screen, which is 15 inches.

Are high refresh rate panels worth it for laptops?

We adore high refresh rate displays, and while you can’t ensure your RTX 3060 will achieve 300 fps in the latest games, you’ll still notice a benefit in the overall look and feel when using a 300Hz display.

Should I get a 4K screen in my laptop?

No. 4K gaming laptops are overkill; they’re fine for video editing with 4K footage, but there are better choices for gaming. Because of the conventional 1080p resolution, the generally slower mobile GPUs are almost certain to deliver high frame rates, although firms are gradually incorporating 1440p panels into their laptop lineups.

A 1440p screen provides the ideal balance of high resolution and adequate gaming commission. At the same time, a 4K notebook will strain your GPU and your eyes as you squint at your 15-inch display.

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