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  • Asus ROG Strix G15 AMD Advantage Edition (2021)

  • Acer Predator Helios 300 PH315-54-760S (2021)

  • How We Tested Gaming Laptops

  • What You Should Know About Gaming Laptops

  • Other Gaming Laptops We Tested

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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

    Acer Predator Helios 300 PH315-54-760S (2021)

    Pros

    • Can handle modern games at 1080p

    • Strong processor performance

    • Extremely bright display

    Cons

    • Lackluster keyboard

    • Short battery life

    • Too much bloatware

    Skip to the full review below
A closed laptop on top of a table
Credit: Reviewed/Joanna Nelius

The Asus ROG Strix G15 AMD Advantage Edition is a unicorn among gaming laptops.

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

An open laptop sitting on top of a desk
Credit: Reviewed / Matthew S. Smith

Many features of this Helios 300 are nicely balanced, like the hardware with the display's refresh rate.

Best Value
Acer Predator Helios 300 PH315-54-760S (2021)

Acer’s Predator Helios 300 may not be the best-looking laptop, but it has the best value out of all the other laptops in its class that we’ve tested. Thanks to an Intel Core i7-11800H, Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060, and 16GB of memory, this Helios 300 outperforms many other similarly configured gaming laptops, and it does at a lower price.

For Acer to get its price so low on this Helios 300, it did make some concessions. Its design and chassis haven’t changed much and feel a little outdated. The keyboard doesn’t have the ideal snappy feel of something like the Strix G15 for face-paced games—but all the hallmarks of a gaming laptop are there: high frame rates at a 1080p resolution, high refresh rate display ideal for esports and loads of connectivity options. The display itself covers the full sRGB color gamut with high max brightness, so games look extremely vibrant.

Like many of Acer’s other gaming laptops, this Helios 300 is best suited as a desktop replacement, since its battery only lasts for about three hours and 46 minutes—and that’s while performing light tasks like browsing websites and watching short YouTube videos. You’ll need to keep the laptop plugged in while gaming, but if you won’t be traveling around with it often, that shouldn’t be too much of an inconvenience.

For a little over a grand, it’ll be hard to find a better value gaming laptop than this one, though. It hits many of the core tenants that make a gaming laptop worthy of a spot on your desk.

Pros

  • Can handle modern games at 1080p

  • Strong processor performance

  • Extremely bright display

Cons

  • Lackluster keyboard

  • Short battery life

  • Too much bloatware

Related content

How We Tested Gaming Laptops

These are the best gaming laptops available today.
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.

Matthew S. Smith is a technology journalist, reviewer, and editor with 14 years of experience. He’s tested over 600 laptops over the past decade, In addition to evaluating monitors, laptops, and other gear for Reviewed, you can find his other work published at Insider, IGN, and Digital Trends.

David Murphy was formerly the Senior Technology Editor at Lifehacker. Across his 15+ career in technology journalism, his work has appeared in The New York Times, Wirecutter, PCMag, Reviewed.com, Computer Shopper, Laptop Mag, PCWorld, PC Gamer, Tom's Hardware, World of Warcraft: The Magazine, Maximum PC, Buzzfeed, Engadget, and Ars Technica (to name a few places).

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 are 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. Some of what you’ll find on our list comes with Intel Core i7 9th-gen chips, although there are now 10th-gen and even 11th-gen mobile Intel chips on the market. 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’ll want a laptop with 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 a 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 fewer 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

Product image of Razer Blade 14
Razer Blade 14

The main things we love about the Razer Blade 14 are its display, RGB lighting, and 1TB SSD. The QHD, 1440p IPS screen makes colors pop as bright as the keyboard lighting, and the large SSD provides enough storage space for many games that would look fantastic on the Blade 14's display. This laptop is also configured with AMD's FreeSync Premium, which helps prevent tearing or other unsightly visual artifacts on screen. Usually, AMD's FreeSync is paired with systems that have AMD graphics cards, but because this Blade 14 comes equipped with an AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX CPU, it can reap the benefits of AMD's gaming display tech too!

The thing that keeps Razer's Blade 14 from being higher on our list is its power-capped GPU. To keep the laptop from getting too hot and throttling its own performance, Razer caps the RTX 3070's power draw at 100W, while other manufacturers leave the graphics card's power draw at the standard 130W. However, Razer's power cap is one reason why its laptops are generally slimmer than the competition, and the performance trade-off isn't actually terrible. Compared to the Lenovo Legion Pro 5 Gen on this list, the Blade 14 gets the same performance, but it's more aesthetically pleasing.

Pros

  • Gorgeous QHD display

  • Customizable gamer "glow"

  • Ample storage space

Cons

  • Gets hot quickly

  • Performance struggles

Product image of Razer Blade 15 Advanced (RZ09-03305E53-R3U1)
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, Nvidia RTX 2080 Super 16GB RAM, and an entire terabyte 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

  • Short battery life

Product image of Lenovo Legion 5 Pro Gen 6 (16” AMD)
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 can 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

Product image of Acer Predator Triton 500 (2020)
Acer Predator Triton 500 (2020)

The battery life of the Acer Predator Triton 500 is just as short as our best value pick, but this gaming laptop still has a few aces up its sleeve. It comes with some of the best last-gen hardware you can still find: a 10th-gen Intel Core i7 and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Super. The model we loved was loaded with 32GB of memory, which helped this gaming laptop reach some serious speeds, although 16GB paired with the same CPU and GPU is plenty for the majority of games, even demanding ones like Cyberpubnk 2077.

The Triton 500's 10th-gen Intel processor can reach the same single-clock speeds as the newer 11th-gen laptop chips, and the RTX 2080 Super has roughly the same performance as the current-gen RTX 3070 laptop GPU in most games. Price-wise, expect to pay over $2,000 for this configuration, depending on how much RAM and storage you choose to include. You can also drop down to an RTX 2070 if you want to save some cash.

This laptop needs all that power for its blazing-fast display with a 300Hz refresh rate. Games like Overwatch, Fortnite, Valorant, and other esports-type games will benefit the most from that high refresh rate, and since the hardware is capable of pushing frame rates that high, you'll get a lot of use out of the display if you play a lot of fast-paced games.

Pros

  • Incredibly powerful hardware

  • Excellent cooling

  • Blazing fast screen refresh rate

Cons

  • Bloatware

  • Display colors could be better

  • Short battery life

Product image of HP Omen X 2S (15-dg0010nr)
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 Core i7-9750H processor and an 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

  • Poor battery life

Product image of Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 (GA401IV-BR9N6)
Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 (GA401IV-BR9N6)

Specced with an AMD Ryzen 9 4900HS and Nvidia RTX 2060 Max-Q, 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

Meet the testers

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

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