Not long ago, if you wanted a good gaming laptop, you’d have to pick up a bulky beast trying to pass off as a portable device. Now, that’s no longer the case. Today’s best gaming laptops squeeze impressive graphics processing units into slim chassis and transform into powerful performers. But which specifications make the best gaming laptops?
We spoke to Simon Hoffmann, an avid gamer since the age of four and now the co-founder of GameIN, a Dubai-based gaming solutions agency that specialises in PC and console gaming. His advice is straightforward - look out for the graphics card before everything else, if you want faster and seamless gameplay.
Graphics card: Nvidia GeForce or AMD Radeon?
"The main component that drives gaming laptops is the graphics card since the game relies on it. A popular gaming graphics card is the Nvidia GeForce and its latest version is the 30 series, which ranges from 3050 to 3090. If you wanted the top of the line, you would go for 3090, but the graphics card also controls the price of the laptop," said Hoffmann.
For Mustafa Sibai, a game lecturer at the SAE Institute Dubai, a gaming laptop must be equipped with at least a GeForce 3060 graphics processing unit, nothing less.
Hoffmann also recommends AMD's Radeon graphics cards, for they're quite similar in processing power to the Nvidia GeForce line but more affordable. "GPUs are power-hungry. AMD consumes less power so your battery will last longer, too, but this shouldn't be a concern since most gamers play plugged to the wall," he added.
Processor: Intel Core or AMD Ryzen?
"The computer processing unit is like the engine of a gaming laptop; while the gameplay takes power from the GPU, every other function relies on the CPU," said Hoffmann, who says the processor is the next component to watch out for.
AMD offers a budget-friendly combination with a Ryzen computer processing unit and a Radeon graphics card. On the other hand, Intel Core and Nvidia GeForce pack an expensive punch. Both Hoffmann and Sibai agree that Intel's 12th Generation core processors are powerful for gaming, with the i7 (12800H) being ideal but the i9 (12900H) offering better performance.
RAM: 16GB or 32GB?
Your graphics processing unit will come with its own temporary memory, along with the laptop's separate RAM storage - the larger the two, the smoother the operation within the device. "The DDR5 is the latest RAM found in most gaming laptops already. Usually, 16GB would do well for gaming," said Hoffmann.
However, Sibai says a 16GB RAM will prove too slow for the latest releases; a better investment is a 32 GB laptop that will last you a solid three years before technology evolves again. If you want a longer-lasting laptop, he recommends 64GB for future-proofing.
Which gaming laptop is the best for me?
Well-known gaming laptop lines, such as ASUS' ROG Zephyrus, HP's Omen, Razer's Blade and Dell's Alienware, implement these specifications in various combinations. Hoffmann prefers the ASUS ROG Zephyrus line since it's compact and affordable for gaming and ASUS "is one of the few companies that are consistently active in the gaming industry, so they know what they're doing". Not to mention, ASUS operates locally.
Sibai recommends Razer Blade 15 for its "amazing build quality", sleek enough to be carried to work meetings. It can also be configured with different GeForce graphics cards and processors depending on your needs. He said: "You do pay the Razer premium tax because of the build quality, but you can find comparable devices with the same specs with a lower price".
Check out our curated list, which tells you at a glance the best features (and limitations) of gaming laptops we think are worth your time, money and consideration. Make sure you become an Amazon Prime member to get your favourite one as soon as possible. Game on!
1. Best Overall: ASUS Zephyrus M16
- Amazing CPU performance by Intel i9
- 165Hz refresh rate
- Incredible design and build
- HD webcam
- Lightweight at 1.9kgs
- Has a plastic look
- Can be loud when pushed to the limit
This may not be the thinnest or the most powerful gaming laptop, but it’s extremely lightweight and fast. It strikes a good balance between fast-paced action and rich, detailed visuals, with its reliable 16-inch screen, Pantone colour spectrum and Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 graphics. And with its Intelligent Cooling system that comprises a liquid metal thermal compound, the laptop’s chassis and components stay cool no matter how hard you push the device. You also get 16GB of RAM and 1TB of storage space, which means it’s always ready for action.
Bonus: Buy with zero per cent instalments and pay Dh535.42 for 12 months with select banks.
2. Best for Advanced Gamers: Razer Blade 15 Advanced Gaming Laptop 2021
- Unmatched build quality
- Extensive range of computer processing (CPU) and graphics processing (GPU) options
- Switch between 240Hz and 360Hz
- Decent battery life for a powerful laptop
- Fan can be loud
- Not the fastest RTX 3080 product
The Razer Blade 15 is one of the best gaming laptops ever made. It houses one of Nvidia’s latest RTX 30-series GPUs (3080), and Intel’s 11th generation i7 CPU, making it a powerhouse performer. It has the same beautiful CNC aluminium chassis as its predecessor and its updated graphics processing capability supports up to 8GB, which is amazing for such a small chassis. Razer has a number of configurations from the GTX 1660 Ti Base Edition to the RTX 3080 Advanced, but whichever one you choose, you will be satisfied – they’re that good.
Bonus: Buy with zero per cent instalments and pay Dh1,042.64 for 12 months with select banks.
4. Best for Occasional Gamers: Lenovo Legion 5 Gaming Laptop
- Excellent performance for price
- 165Hz refresh rate
- Three fan settings
- Upgradable RAM and storage
- 720p webcam
- Bulkier than most
- Fast draining battery
- Average storage space
Lenovo Legion 5 is another budget-friendly laptop with low to mid-range specifications, so it's perfect for those looking to game occasionally. It combines the power of an eight-core AMD Ryzen 7 processor and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti graphics card, which is faster than the 3050 variant. Though it only offers 512GB of storage space, reviewers say they've been able to easily upgrade it. Enjoy gaming on a 15.6-inch screen with a speedy refresh rate of 165Hz and vibrant colours.
Bonus: Buy with zero per cent instalments and pay Dh349.92 for 12 months with select banks.
3. Best Value Storage: MSI Sword 15.6” FHD Gaming Laptop
- White shell and keyboard
- Thermal solutions with up to six heat pipes
- 1TB storage (upgradable) and 16GB RAM
- Single colour backlit keyboard with numpad
- Slightly slower refresh rate
In the same price range, you can enjoy more storage space for intensive gaming on MSI Sword. Backed by GeForce RTX 3050 Ti graphics card and an 11th Generation i7 processor, this laptop handles multitasking well alongside gameplay. You might have to put up with a slightly slower refresh rate of 144Hz, though Sibai says "there's not that big of a difference between 240Hz and 144Hz". If you're not a fan of RGB backlit keyboards, MSI Sword keeps it simple with cool blue lights illuminating a white keyboard that offers satisfying tactile feedback at 1.7mm key travel.
Bonus: Buy with zero per cent instalments and pay Dh345.06 for 12 months with select banks.
5. Best Budget and Battery Life: ASUS TUF Dash F15
- Value for money
- Superb battery life
- Military graded for durability tests
- Slim 19.9mm chassis
- Type-C charging port for easy power bank top-ups
- Compromises fast core processor and RAM
- Average storage space
ASUS TUF Dash F15 offers decent 1080p gaming, and at a great price. Its 11th generation Intel Core i5 and GeForce 3050 GPU are decent specs, and the laptop features 512GB of storage with 8GB RAM. You're still getting an amazing refresh rate of 144Hz for this value, with five heat pipes and a self-cleaning cooling system. Because its specs lag behind other pricier counterparts, you can game for longer - we're talking 16 hours of unplugged battery life. And this series is called TUF for a reason; the laptop has survived test drops, vibration, humidity and extreme temperatures to earn a military-grade toughness.
Bonus: Buy with zero per cent instalments and pay Dh260.75 for 12 months with select banks.
Warranty: Amazon offers a one-year extended warranty for Dh369, one-year accidental damage protection for Dh332, and two-year damage protection with one-year extended warranty for Dh424.
Our recommendations are independently chosen by Gulf News editors. If you decide to shop through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission, as we are part of Amazon Services LLC Associates Program.