• Asus ROG Strix G15 AMD Advantage Edition (2021)

  • Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 (GA401IV-BR9N6)

  • How We Tested

  • What You Should Know About Gaming Laptops

  • Other Gaming Laptops We Tested

  • More Articles You Might Enjoy

Our Favorite Gaming Laptops of 2021

  1. Best Overall

    Asus ROG Strix G15 AMD Advantage Edition (2021)

    Pros

    • Stellar battery life

    • 300Hz refresh rate

    • Great non-ray tracing performance

    Cons

    • Mushy keys

    • CPU runs hot

    • Disappointing ray tracing

    Skip to the full review below
  2. Best Value

    Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 (GA401IV-BR9N6)

    Pros

    • Durable keyboard

    • Sophisticated design

    • Good battery life

    Cons

    • No webcam

    • Dim screen

    Skip to the full review below
Asus ROG Strix G15 AMD Advantage Edition
Credit: Reviewed/Joanna Nelius
Best Overall
Asus ROG Strix G15 AMD Advantage Edition (2021)

The Asus ROG Strix G15 AMD Advantage Edition is a unicorn among gaming laptops. With an amazing combination of hardware components, design, features, and battery life for its price point, it’d be hard to find another laptop that has this much value. It’s also one of the best laptops Asus has put out with an AMD processor and an AMD graphics card. Those two components in this form factor are truly a sight to behold.

The Ryzen 9 5900HX keeps programs running at tip-top speeds so every task feels snappy. Running 50 Chrome tabs at once, rendering 3D images, transcoding 4K video, working in Excel—it all flows seamlessly.

The Radeon RX 6800M GPU keeps your games running at high frame rates. At 1080p resolution, graphically demanding games like Control run at 96 fps on the highest graphical settings. Esports games like Overwatch reach up to 159 fps at the same settings, although to take advantage of the Strix G15’s 300Hz display, the graphics will need to be turned down.

Perhaps the most impressive (and surprising) aspect of this stellar gaming laptop is the battery life. It lasts for nine hours! In a world where gaming laptops generally last around four to five, the ROG Strix G15 AMD Advantage Edition is a powerhouse. Gaming on battery power will drain it fast. However, for your everyday computing needs, this laptop will last longer than an entire workday. It might get some inquisitive looks in the office due to its size and color scheme, but if this is your only laptop it’ll serve all your needs.

Pros

  • Stellar battery life

  • 300Hz refresh rate

  • Great non-ray tracing performance

Cons

  • Mushy keys

  • CPU runs hot

  • Disappointing ray tracing

ZephyrusG14
Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar
Best Value
Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 (GA401IV-BR9N6)

The Zephyrus G14 exudes class. The first thing you notice is the color scheme—white, silver, and a hint of black—which calls to mind a two-tone paint job on a sports car. This sets it apart from the rainbow-colored lighting typical of out-of-the-box gaming laptops; you wouldn’t think twice about taking this to a quiet coffee shop to get a little work done. There is an all-black option available, though I can’t imagine choosing that version.

The keyboard feels especially durable, the touchpad’s sensitive and precise, and it’s got a stunning display. With its 14-inch high-def screen, games look great even on lower graphics settings. Text documents and web pages are smooth and crisp in a way you typically only see on Macbooks and tablets. And you’ll be amazed by how lightweight this thing is despite its formidable power; the G14 achieves a shocking balance between convenience and performance.

Most impressive of all is the battery life, which exceeded four hours running in Turbo mode without any power-saving measures active. This may well be the ideal solution for someone who really wants to game anytime, anywhere.

Pros

  • Durable keyboard

  • Sophisticated design

  • Good battery life

Cons

  • No webcam

  • Dim screen

Related content

How We Tested

Testing Gaming
Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar

We test everything from processing capability to screen brightness.

The Testers

I'm Joanna Nelius, Senior Editor of Electronics at Reviewed. I've been reviewing gaming products for the last several years, having written for PC Gamer, Maximum PC, and Gizmodo in the past. In addition to gaming desktops and laptops, I also specialize in CPU and GPU reviews. Performance, thermals, and value are usually the main things I look for in a gaming laptop, but I love a high refresh rate display and stellar ray tracing performance.

Hey there, I’m Adrien Ramirez, laptop staff writer here at Reviewed. I’ve been working professionally with tech and PCs for six years, from game development to reviewing and everything in between. Before I came to Reviewed, I had worked with Lifewire and the MIT Game Lab. I’m passionate about all things tech, although I especially enjoy working with PCs. When I’m not testing and evaluating laptops, I’m planning new keyboard and small form factor desktop builds, playing games in virtual reality, or nerding out about graphics cards.

I'm Florence Ion, a contributor here at Reviewed. Over a decade ago, I started my career interning for a PC magazine and benchmarking powerful machines. But gone are the days I used to put together my gaming rig. I've since switched over to laptops because they're more portable and they save me a ton of room in my tiny office. And gaming laptops, in particular, offer everything I need to run my business and engage in a bit of playtime when I'm not feeling particularly motivated.

I’m Alex Kane, a freelance contributor for Reviewed. Since early 2016, I’ve been writing about video games and culture for places like Polygon, Rolling Stone, and Variety. I’m also the author of Boss Fight Books’ Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. I come to gaming laptops looking for things like comfort, ease of use, and longevity. Whether I’m playing Fallout 4, Halo, or MTG Arena, I just want a machine that gets out of my way and makes gaming as joyous and headache-free as possible. But having enough power to run the latest blockbusters is equally important when you’re making this kind of investment.

The Tests

To help determine a gaming laptop’s ability as a portable powerhouse, we first attempt to push each machine’s processor to its brink. These tests help us determine the responsiveness of the laptop and whether it’ll be able to handle streaming or running Google Chrome in the background with simultaneous gameplay. We then run a series of tests on the graphics card to figure out how fast graphics and images rendered on a particular machine, and whether your gameplay will run smoothly.

Since gaming laptops are smaller and thinner than full gaming rigs, we tested the heat output and fan noise of each machine during sustained gameplay. If you plan to use a gaming laptop for double-duty, you might find the sound of whirring fan blades to be a bit distracting.

Once that’s established, we run a battery test overnight. We unplug the laptop and set the display brightness to 200 nits and then we cycle through popular websites like Discord and Twitch until the battery dies. This is how we figure out how much action we can get on a single charge. The idea is to emulate daily tasks. Even if you’re buying this laptop solely to play Overwatch, you’ll also likely use it for web browsing.

Lastly, we consider the overall build quality like how sturdy the hinges feel and if there’s any flex to the display. We also take into account how light the machine is—under five pounds is ideal—and how many ports it offers.

What You Should Know About Gaming Laptops

Under the Hood

When you start your search for gaming laptops, you’ll notice that there isn’t much variety when it comes to the internal hardware. The most popular graphics cards these days are made by Nvidia. Companies like AMD also manufacture high-performing graphics cards, but most of the laptops we tested have Nvidia hardware powering their insides. However, with AMD's newest mobile graphics cards now coming to market, we'll most likely start seeing more laptop configurations with those GPUs.

The latest Nvidia graphics cards are the 16-series, 20-series, and 30-series. The 16-series includes 1650 and 1660 Ti cards. They perform well at 1080p and 1440p resolutions and offer better memory bandwidth so that graphics continually render smoothly at high frame-rates. The only caveat of the 16-series is that they tend to ship with less virtual memory, which can become a future-proofing issue down the line.

The 20-series include the RTX 2060, 2070, and 2080. The RTX in their name stands for ray tracing, which helps generate interactive images that react to lighting, shadows, and reflections, contributing to more immersive gameplay. Games like Metro Exodus support this rendering technology. The 20-series are also able to facilitate gaming on a 4K monitor, which you might consider if you’re springing for our best all-around gaming laptop picks.

The 30-series include the RTX 3080, 3070, and 3060, and they’re considered some of the best cards in their class. Like the 20-series, these cards also support ray tracing and can easily facilitate gaming on a 4K monitor, but thanks to a new GPU architecture these cards are miles ahead of the 20-series. Gaming laptops with any of these cards will be the most expensive options, but they've earned those prices thanks to all that performance.

Then there's the new kid on the block, AMD's Radeon RX 6000M-series. These cards typically achieve more frames per second than RTX 30-series cards, but have ray tracing performance equivalent to the RTX 20-series. If you're mainly into esports and cranking out the highest frame rate possible, these are the cards you'll want.

The processor inside your gaming laptop won’t directly affect your gaming prowess, though this part of the configuration matters for day-to-day tasks and simultaneous streaming. Most of what you’ll find on our list come with Intel Core i7 chips, either the 8th-gen 8750H variant or the 9th-gen 9750H, although there are now 10th-gen and even 11th-gen mobile Intel chips on the market. (The 10th-generation chips are more plentiful than the 11th at the moment.) AMD's Ryzen 9 and Ryzen 7 5000-series processors are also in a lot of gaming laptops. They're usually a tad slower than Intel's chips in terms of single core performance, but they shred in multi-core performance, which makes them a great choice for anyone who needs a machine for content creation and gaming.

If you’re looking at budget gaming machines, you’re likely to run into Intel’s Core i5 or AMD's Ryzen 5 processors. They’re capable chips, but you will see a performance difference as you push the machine to its capacity.

Display Size

The standard screen size for gaming laptops is 15.6-inches with 1080p resolution. It’s enough screen for partaking in action without carting around a laptop that’s breaking your back. There are 17-inch gaming laptops available, too, but if portability matters to you, you might want to avoid that much screen.

Refresh rates make the most significance on gaming laptops. You may have noticed that a majority of our picks include a 144Hz refresh rate, with machines like the MSI GS65 Stealth with RTX 2060 graphics clocking in at 240Hz, but the Asus ROG Strix G15 has a 300Hz refresh rate. The higher frame rate effectively smooths out gameplay and leads to less stuttering issues than on a standard monitor with a 60Hz refresh rate.

Price Point

It used to be impossible to find a competent gaming machine under a grand, but not anymore. Now you can find plenty of options starting with decent processors and enough graphics power to fuel your third playthrough of The Witcher 3.

Anything over a grand belongs in the mid-range category, though that label doesn’t necessarily refer to a laptop’s specifications. You’ll be able to find machines with current generation hardware, decent battery life, lots of memory, and plenty of storage space. Some last-generation gaming laptops may also appear at this price point.

Laptops that cost well over a grand are considered top performers because they’re equipped with top-tier specs. Machines in this category also tend to offer better display options, and in some instances, allow you to upgrade components down the line.


Other Gaming Laptops We Tested

HP Omen X 2S (15-dg0010nr)

HP’s Omen X 2S is an innovative machine whose bells and whistles are intuitive and fun to use. Equipped with an Intel i7-9750H processor and a NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 graphics card, it’s powerful enough to run most games on high or ultra settings. Because it’s got a second screen built into the base—with touchscreen functionality—the keyboard placement is a little different than you’re probably used to. The keys run along the bottom edge of the machine, with the trackpad located in the bottom right. The X 2S comes with a sturdy but comfortable wrist rest, therefore, and it’ll take a second to get used to typing. But the trackpad positioning was an immediate adjustment for me, as natural as using a traditional PC mouse—assuming you’re right-handed.

Depending on your budget and the options you go with, this might run you north of $2,000 but the second screen’s a fantastic addition to the standard HP Omen, and it feels like the sort of hardware that’ll last a decade or more with regular use. The touchscreen acts as a second monitor where you can operate streaming software like Twitch, monitor your social-media notifications, or maybe consult a walkthrough guide while you’re playing. The Omen Command Center app also makes it simple to toggle between the laptop’s three modes: Comfort, Default, and Performance.

Its most serious drawback is battery life. In Performance mode, you could be seeing an hour of charge or less while unplugged, so don’t expect to get a lot of on-the-go use out of it.

Pros

  • Powerful

  • Cool design

Cons

  • Expensive

  • Poor battery life

Razer Blade 15 Advanced (RZ09-03305E53-R3U1)

The Razer Blade 15 Advanced's performance is about as powerful as you can get from a gaming laptop. Inside the sleek aluminum exterior, there's an Intel Core i7-10875H, an Nvidia RTX 2080 SUPER, 16GB RAM and an entire terrabyte of SSD storage. Although you may feel your wallet hemorrhage from its $3,300 price tag, you'll feel like an e-sports champion with the Blade Advanced's impeccable game performance, springy keyboard, and bright, color-accurate 4K display. Arguably, its biggest flaw is its trackpad, which is large and smooth but sometimes struggles with palm rejection.

When you use the laptop, you may even forget this is a gaming laptop—it stays cool and silent playing Portal 2 and while browsing the web. The only time the fans really had to kick was when playing Shadow of the Tomb Raider at max settings, and the heat was worth the 83 frames per second I experienced during playtime. This may not be the best value around, but it is the best gaming experience around if you can pay for it.

Pros

  • Powerful

  • Bright Display

  • Supreme build quality

Cons

  • Expensive

Lenovo Legion 5 Pro Gen 6 (16” AMD)

If you’re looking for a solid gaming desktop replacement, Lenovo’s Legion 5 Pro Gen 6 is a top contender. It balances the right components with the right design and features at a competitive price, and its display was chosen with content creators and high fidelity gamers in mind.

Its AMD Ryzen 7 5700H CPU and RTX 3070 GPU combo puts it just under the Razer Blade 15 Advanced with last-year’s hardware in terms of overall gaming performance—but the Legion 5 Pro is way cheaper and the ray tracing performance is leagues better thanks to the current-gen graphics card. Challenging games like Far Cry 5 reach up to 110 frames per second at 1080p with the graphics on the highest settings. The 5 Pro also outputs over 60 fps at the same settings in games like Control, Metro Exodus, and Cyberpunk 2077 with ray tracing enabled.

The display makes those high fidelity graphics really pop, too. The Legion 5 Pro’s Quad HD (QHD) 2560×1600 resolution display has sharper images and improved clarity over a 1080p display. The combination of its juiced up resolution and a 165Hz refresh rate create impressive visual spectacles. really make visuals pop. The laptop’s 16:10 aspect ratio is larger than similar 16:9 displays and the higher resolution is able to fill in that pixel density better than regular ol’ 1080p.

This laptop does dump a lot of heat out from the sides, so you’ll probably want to move your mouse hand a few inches away from the chassis. But that’s a small compromise for an otherwise outstanding machine.

Pros

  • QHD display

  • Hardware configuration

  • Snappy keys

Cons

  • Dumps hot air

  • Off-center trackpad

Lenovo Legion Y545 (81T20001US)

With its elegant black-and-white color scheme, the Lenovo Legion Y545 is a gorgeous piece of hardware. It’s got a comfortable keyboard, the trackpad feels fantastic, and it delivers strong, reliable performance for something under a grand. It comes with the same 16 gigabytes of RAM and Intel Core i7-series processor you find in most of the laptops that cost twice as much. Another standout feature that may be a make-a-break proposition is the power supply, which plugs into the back center of the base, as opposed to the side. I found this to be more comfortable and convenient than most laptops, but for most users, it will probably take some getting used to.

As for frame rates, the Legion Y545 stayed locked at a steady 60 frames per second the entire time I was playing Rise of the Tomb Raider—on low as well as high graphics settings—so hardcore enthusiasts who favor higher numbers over consistency may not be fully satisfied there. That said, for a budget machine, the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 4GB graphics card doesn’t disappoint. And at two and a half hours, battery life is fairly unremarkable, but this laptop’s a lot of fun to use. It’s the bang-for-buck choice for players on a budget.

Pros

  • Gorgeous color scheme

  • Comfortable keyboard

  • Affordable

Cons

  • Unremarkable battery life

MSI GS65 STEALTH-006

The MSI GS65 Stealth scored highly in our processor and graphic card stress tests. It comes equipped with one of the latest RTX 2060 chips, features a matte, edge-to-edge 15.6-inch Full HD display with a 240Hz refresh rate, and it also has a cool, customizable rainbow keyboard.

The GS65 Stealth performed better than the Alienware M15 in our benchmark tests, including Geekbench, 3DMark, Metro 2033, and Rise of the Tomb Raider. However, it lagged behind the Alienware M15 about an hour and eighteen minutes in our battery benchmarks, managing a little less than three hours of constant activity. It’s a relatively minor difference overall, but it’s something to consider if you’re often on the road rather than tethered to a power cable.

Pros

  • Great performance

  • Cool rainbow keyboard

Cons

  • Poor battery life

Dell XPS 15 7590 (Intel i9-9980HK, 32GB, 1TB SSD, NV1650, 3840x2160 OLED-Touch)

With its muted color scheme and business-casual design, the Dell XPS 15 (7590) may not look like much at first glance. However, when it comes to power, this thing is a real beast. Under the hood, our review unit had an i9-9980HK processor and 32GB of RAM. This machine blazed right through our graphics test, which checks for consistent and stable performance under heavy loads. While it might be better suited for things like video or photo editing, it’s as powerful as a gaming laptop.

Dell fixed the awkward webcam placement, which I was thrilled about. In previous models, the webcam sat at the bottom bezel of the display. The webcam now sits at the top bezel, which offers a much more flattering angle. You no longer have to worry about coworkers looking up your nose during Zoom meetings.

My only nitpick is that it’s a little heavy for an ultrabook. Generally speaking, the gold standard for ultrabooks is anything under three pounds and the XPS 15 is a little over four. While it’s not as heavy as a gaming laptop, which can tip the scales at six pounds, I wouldn’t say the XPS 15 is the most portable machine around. If it's power you're after, you can't get much better than the XPS 15.

Pros

  • Powerful

  • Great for video editing

Cons

  • Heavy

  • Expensive

MSI GE75 Raider (10SF-019)

This MSI laptop is the epitome of the typical gaming laptop: aggressive curves, RGB everywhere, extremely loud fans, and a 1.5-hour battery life all in the pursuit of a 244 FPS gaming experience that’s technically portable (but really isn’t).

If sheer power is your only priority, you’ll be pleased with the GE75 Raider’s Nvidia RTX 2070 GPU (this isn’t the less powerful Max-Q version!), its 244 Hz monitor, and its responsive Steelseries membrane keyboard. As a bonus, the Raider also has customizable RGB settings for every single keyboard key, an aesthetic that screams “gamer”, and physical buttons dedicated to cycling through different RGB lighting presets.

Unlike many laptops out there these days, the GE75 Raider has physical left and right click mouse buttons beneath its trackpad. However, the trackpad isn’t the smoothest, with its surface offering an odd mix of smoothness and friction that may cause your finger to skip. Meanwhile its 244Hz screen may be fast, but it’s not very color-accurate or bright, so this laptop is a miss for anyone that needs a great screen.

If you plan to travel with it, the 17.3” beast itself is a little over 5 pounds, but its chunky adapter is easily two pounds, and you will need to carry it with you thanks to the Raider’s abysmal battery life. However, if you’re looking for a portable desktop more so than a travelling laptop, then the GE75 Raider offers a good value in so far as performance per dollar is concerned.

Pros

  • Supports ray-tracing effects and VR

  • 244-Hz refresh rate

  • Proper built-in mouse buttons

Cons

  • Exceptionally loud

  • Lackluster display

Meet the testers

Florence Ion

Florence Ion

Contributing Writer

@Ohthatflo

Florence Ion is a freelance journalist and prolific podcaster. She's written for Ars Technica, PC World, Android Central, The Verge, and Engadget. Her reviews and how-tos can usually be found on Lifehacker, Tom's Guide, and Reviewed. She can also be heard weekly on All About Android on the TWiT network and Material on Relay FM.

See all of Florence Ion's reviews
Alex Kane

Alex Kane

Editor, Search & Updates

@alexjkane

Alex Kane is an editor at USA Today’s Reviewed.

See all of Alex Kane's reviews
Adrien Ramirez

Adrien Ramirez

Staff Writer

@itsaramkat

Adrien is a staff writer for Reviewed, mainly focused on reviewing laptops and other consumer tech. During his free time, he's usually wandering around Hyrule.

See all of Adrien Ramirez's reviews
Joanna Nelius

Joanna Nelius

Senior Editor, Electronics

@JLNwrites

Joanna specializes in anything and everything PC gaming, and loves nerding out over graphics cards, processors, and chip architecture. Formerly: Gizmodo, PC Gamer, Maximum PC.

See all of Joanna Nelius's reviews

Checking our work.

We use standardized and scientific testing methods to scrutinize every product and provide you with objectively accurate results. If you’ve found different results in your own research, email us and we’ll compare notes. If it looks substantial, we’ll gladly re-test a product to try and reproduce these results. After all, peer reviews are a critical part of any scientific process.

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