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Best gaming laptops 2014: 12 best power laptops for games reviewed

We review the 12 best power laptops for playing games in 2014

Best power laptops. We review the 12 best gaming laptops, and offer some general gaming laptops buying advice.

Consoles and tablets may claim to take the gaming crown, but PCs and laptops remain the most powerful and flexible gaming rigs you can buy. Indeed, one analyst recently claimed that sales of dedicated gaming laptops have increased by 50 percent since 2011. This may be from a small base, but there’s no doubt that the combination of nVidia GeForce graphics cards and powerful portable CPUs from Intel means that super-fast framerates and spectacular 3D eye-candy is no longer tied to the desktop. Also see 15 best laptops 2014.

Indeed, given the lack of clutter and the space-saving capabilities of gaming laptops, we would recommend them to any serious gamer. The only real downside is that unlike a desktop PC, you can’t easily upgrade. But upgrade you can, and that, combined with the ability to also run all normal PC tasks for work and play, makes a gaming computer a lot more valuable than a games console. See all laptops buying advice.

Which brings us back to the tech. The latest GPUs from nVidia are faster than ever, and Intel’s roll-out of Core-M chips mean that the previous generation of powerful, portable processors are dropping in price. All this means that a dedicated gaming laptop can be yours regardless of the budget to which you are tied. You do get what you pay for, however. High-end laptops with true gaming potential we’ve reviewed in the past typically cost £1,500 to £2,000 – and you can certainly still spend that sort of money on a top-of-the-range gaming rig and get value.

However, as we discovered, it’s now possible to get respectable gaming performance from more mid-range machines in the £1,000 to £1,500 category. There’s no compromise here: we are talking about true dedicated gaming rigs offering high-end framerates, at something approaching an affordable price. And as the CPUs and GPUs improve, we are starting to see gaming laptop makers focus more on energy-efficiency and portability. Traditionally, they’ve been big, heavy and noisy, with large air vents and cooling systems required to cope with the heat output of their powerful GPUs. And, of course, the power requirements of these GPUs meant that battery life was always pretty poor.

Many gaming laptops still follow that pattern, but even the 17in monsters are becoming more portable. And better power efficiency means it’s even possible to cram some serious gaming potential into smaller, lighter designs. We’re seeing more 13- and 15in gaming laptops that are small enough to fit comfortably into a backpack.

There’s now greater choice than ever before in the gaming market. And you don’t need to compromise to squeeze a gaming PC into a laptop chassis. Here’s our round-up of the latest and greatest gaming laptops for every budget. See how to buy a budget laptop.

12 best gaming laptops 2014

12. Schenker XMG P504

The P504 lacks, shall we say, finesse. It's bigger and heavier than it needs to be, and combined with the poor battery life it's essentially confined to indoor activities. But what it lacks in elegance it makes up for in sheer performance. Other gaming laptops that match its performance typically cost £1600–1800, so the P504 is good value if you don't mind putting up with its rough edges.

11. Asus RoG G750JZ

It's expensive, but the Asus G750JZ delivers the goods for gaming performance. You can find similar performance at a lower price, but features such as its Blu-ray drive, 2.1 speakers, and Thunderbolt interface mean that the G750JZ is also well-equipped for other types of entertainment, as well as demanding tasks such as video-editing and audio-recording work.

10. Alienware 17

There's no doubt that Alienware makes some of the most powerful and eye-catching gaming rigs currently available, and the fact that the Alienware 17 lasts more than four hours on battery power is a tribute to the efficiency of its Haswell processor. However, it's expensive even by Alienware's standards and only by dropping the specification using the custom-build option on the web site will lower the price.

9. Chillblast Defiant 2 Mini

It's a shame that you don't have the option of specifying the graphics card in the Defiant 2 – but it's hard to argue when this sturdy little laptop provides such strong performance for just £899. And, unlike most gaming laptops, it's small and light enough to carry around in a backpack, making it a great choice if you need a powerful laptop that can also cope with life on the go.

8. Scan 3XS Graphite LG156

The design of the 3XS Graphite isn't anything to write home about, and at 2.7 kg it's probably not going to leave home very often either. However, it's good value and provides the sort of gaming performance that would have cost £1200 or more in the recent past. Well-heeled gamers might prefer a more expensive model taking top-of-the range graphics, but the 3XS Graphite is a good choice if you need a solid gaming laptop on a mid-range budget.

7. Asus G550JK

The Asus is a strong, smart machine with a great screen and comfortable keyboard, but the concentration on design means that more gaming grunt is available elsewhere – and sometimes for less cash. If performance is priority, then competitors have more bang per buck. If you're searching for a gaming notebook that's got power and looks, it's a good option.

6. MSI GE70 2PE Apache Pro

The GE70 2PE Apache Pro does have its flaws – it's bigger and heavier than it really needs to be, the battery life is poor, and we really dislike the trackpad. However, it delivers the goods when it comes to gaming action. That extravagant storage system allows the GE70 to squeeze maximum performance out of its processor and GPU, and ensures that it provides high-end gaming performance at a competitive mid-range price.

5. MSI GS60 2PE Ghost Pro

The MSI GS60 2PE Ghost Pro has enough power to handle current games, and it’s got the screen quality to match – and all while costing less than the Gigabyte P35W v2, which has a poorer screen but a tad more gaming power. The storage, keyboard and speakers all impress, but this slimline gaming laptop struggles for longevity and has poor thermal performance. It’s thin and impressive, but be aware about the MSI’s limitations before spending any cash.

4. Chillblast Helix

The Helix isn't perfect, and its screen and battery life are adequate rather than impressive. However, it manages to provide high-end performance at a competitive mid-range price, and will appeal to gamers who want a laptop that won't break the bank – or their back.

3. Aorus X3 Plus

The Aorus X3 Plus works well as a portable games station, providing fast framerates with modern games at high details settings. Its high-resolution screen is less obviously useful for its gaming role as fewer games may benefit from its high 262 ppi pixel density, and the Windows platform does not support absurdly high resolution displays well. When it does work you're rewarded with a pin-sharp image but remember that for gaming there's arguably little need to exceed 2560 or even 1920 screen pixel widths. Overall there's definite room for improvement by its maker but the X3 Plus should prove popular with Windows gamers looking to combine performance and portability.

2. Gigabyte P35W v2

It's impressive to see a gaming laptop as slim and as light as this, especially one that provides such strong graphics performance. The poor screen has room for improvement, but the P35W v2 provides high-end gaming performance at a more accessible price – along with a slimline design that few gaming laptops can match.

1. Aorus X7 V2

The Aorus X7 v2 is a sturdily made all-metal gaming laptop that keeps its waistline to around 1in, even if it still tips the scales beyond 3kg. With its dual-GPU setup it proved itself the fastest gaming laptop in the group, albeit with an unsurprising price premium.

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