The best gaming laptops are changing every year. The early days of mobile gaming were largely desktop replacements — clunky chassis, multiple power bricks, and RGB lighting galore. But the top contenders now are different. Manufacturers are finally putting powerful specs in sleeker, more portable, and more professional builds. They have excellent, fast refreshing screens that are necessary for a great gaming experience. These laptops aren’t just great for gaming, but for everyday work as well.
The best gaming laptop of 2021 is the Asus ROG Zephyrus G15. It can handle the most demanding games on the market today and also makes a great daily driver.
We’ll be updating this page regularly as the best gaming laptops hit shelves throughout this year. Some exciting updates are on the way. AMD and Nvidia have announced their next-gen series of mobile processors and mobile graphics cards — the Ryzen 5000 series and the GeForce RTX 3000 series, respectively — and we’re already seeing them in premium gaming laptops across manufacturers.
The QHD screen is another feature to watch for in the best gaming laptops. A growing number of manufacturers are releasing configurations with 1440p displays, even in gaming laptops under $2,000. These options can hit a sweet spot for many gamers: a better experience than 1080p without the price premium or raw horsepower required for a 4K display. You can expect decently high refresh rates from these panels as well, depending on the model.
One more thing to keep in mind with the best gaming laptops is the power you can expect. Not all chips with the same name are created equal — the RTX 3070 in one laptop may not deliver the same frame rates as the RTX 3070 in another laptop due to its wattage (as well as other factors like the processor and cooling). Nvidia now requires companies to disclose clock speeds and graphics power on each model’s product page, but plenty of manufacturers haven’t done that yet. Your best bet, if you can’t find those numbers on a company’s website, is to read some reviews and make sure the model you’re considering will deliver the frame rates you’re looking for. We will note the wattage used in any laptops we review with the new RTX graphics cards.
If you’re not sure what to play on the best gaming laptops, check out our best games of 2020. If you’re looking for a more multipurpose device, check out our best laptop page. If you’re an Android gamer, we’ve also got a list of the best Chromebooks you can buy.
Best Gaming Laptop
1. Asus ROG Zephyrus G15
The best gaming laptop
Asus’s ROG Zephyrus G14 was our top gaming laptop pick for quite a while. It did just about everything right, and we weren’t sure whether Asus could ever replicate its resounding success. But somehow, the company managed to make the G14 just a bit bigger, and a heck of a lot better. In doing so, it’s created the ROG Zephyrus G15, the best 15-inch rig you can buy.
At just over four pounds, the Zephyrus G15 is one of the lightest 15-inch gaming laptops you can buy. But you’re not making any compromises on performance for that portability: it’s powered by the top mobile chips that AMD and Nvidia have to offer, and includes a fast 165Hz QHD (1440p) display. Together, those components can handle even the toughest AAA titles at QHD resolution. The panel has excellent color reproduction as well, so your games will look great.
But it’s not just the gaming; almost everything else about the G15 is great, too. The audio (pumped from a six-speaker array) has strong percussion and bass, the keyboard and touchpad have a satisfying click, the port selection leaves little to be desired, and the battery can last for a whopping eight and a half hours.
The G15 won’t be the laptop for everyone. There’s no webcam, which is a significant oversight, and some may prefer something more affordable, or with a flashier aesthetic. But as a package, the G15 is the one to beat. Not only is it the best gaming laptop you can buy, but it’s also one of the best laptops you can buy, period.