Laptops are infinitely more popular than are desktop PCs these days. After all, if you can get the performance you want from a portable device why would you go for a space-hogging desktop with the extra cost of monitor and keyboard. There is one scenario in which the desktop PC retains a vestige of popularity however, and that is for PC gamers.
But as processors, graphics cards and displays improve gaming laptops are growing in popularity. Get a laptop with the performance for playing games and you can move it from room to room, or take it to your friends' houses to play together. In this article we give some brief gaming laptops buying advice, and pick out seven great laptops for gaming. Click through the links of the product name to read full reviews of our gaming laptops.
Gaming laptops buying advice
In order to enjoy good gaming performance, you need a few key things from your laptop. Unfortunately, none of these comes cheap - expect to shell out upwards of £800 for a half decent gaming laptop. We're going to assume that battery life and portability are less important as we don't expect you to be gaming on the tube (use your smartphone for that).
You may want to specify your laptop and purchase from a bespoke manufacturer such as Chillblast or PC Specialist, or go for a dedicated gaming brand such as Alienware.
The key thing is performance. You'll be looking for a Core i5 or i7 processor from the recently released Intel Haswell lineup. And get as much RAM as you can - at least 4GB in our view. An SSD will help with general performance, too. Those factors will take care of general performance, and are a good start, but the most important factor for gaming in graphics performance. Ideally you'll have a discrete nVidia or ATi graphics subsystem in your laptop. Intell Haswell CPUs are SoC processors that do offer decent graphics performance on their own, but for a dedicted games machine don't skimp on the graphics.
You'll need something on which to view those graphics: the display is critical here too. For a great gaming experience we recommend a 17in display, and you should look for an HD resolution. Another important factor to consider is matte or gloss. A matte screen will be a lot better for clarity of vision when you have the lights on or if there is any natural light in the room, as cheaper glossy screens tend to reflect a lot, which won't help your gaming performance. You can of course hook up to a separate monitor, although that does negate somewhat the point of having a laptop!
You may wish to hook up a separate sound system, too. With the best multimedia laptops you'll get a reasonable speaker and subwoofer setup, but the physical limitations of laptops make it difficult to produce great audio. So if you don't want to wear headphones consider investing in a PC speaker set.
Now on to our reviews of seven good laptops for gaming, in no particular order...
Best laptops for gaming: gaming laptops reviews
- Reviewed on: 6 September 13
- RRP: £1199 inc VAT
The Toshiba Satellite P70 is a 17in laptop that offers good all-round performance and media-playing credentials.
The Satellite P70 doesn't win awards for its build quality, visual design or longevity, but it excels in several other categories: the screen is excellent, the speakers are acceptable for a media machine, and there's plenty of power inside – so this system has the quality to handle media, gaming and work. It's worth considering if Ultrabooks and other 15.6in laptops just aren't powerful or versatile enough.
- Reviewed on: 29 August 13
- RRP: £1799 inc VAT
The Chillblast Messiah's gaming performance justifies its price. Read our Chillblast Messiah 17 GTX780M review to find out more.
It's a shame that Chillblast can't manage some more interesting designs for its gaming laptops. However, the Messiah's gaming performance does justify the price, while its healthy memory and storage, along with features such as the Blu-ray writer and FireWire port ensure that it can handle demanding productivity tasks too.
- Reviewed on: 19 July 13
- RRP: £2284 inc VAT
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.
- Reviewed on: 23 August 13
- RRP: £879 inc. VAT
The PC Specialist Optimus V is billed as a mainstream laptop, but the specification of this Haswell-powered notebook will be appealing to Windows gamers.
It's not the most portable of machines, and we did feel it was rather noisy in places. However, the overall specifications of the PC Specialist Optimus V are very good, and performance is mostly smooth and versatile. You'll generally have to go some way above the £1000 point to find all these features. If you want a large system with a 17.3in screen, this is a cunning performer.
- Reviewed on: 11 June 13
- RRP: £1000 inc. VAT
The performance of both the Haswell Intel Core i7 processor and the nVidia GeForce GTX765M are impressive, and promise good things for the next generation of laptops. However, the gross weight of the A523 remains puzzling. It's a shame that Schenker doesn't invest as much in the style and design of its laptops as it does with specifying latest-spec processors inside.
- Reviewed on: 24 July 13
- RRP: £899 inc VAT
It's not cheap, but the LG155 provides the sort of gaming performance that we've previously only seen from laptops costing well over £1000. And while it's rather large and heavy it does provide better battery life than most gaming laptops, so it's well worth considering if you feel the need to play demanding 3D games on the move.
- Reviewed on: 22 July 13
- RRP: £699 inc VAT
If you’re looking for a slimline Ultrabook with all-day battery life then the CX61 is clearly not the laptop for you. However, if you need a powerful desktop replacement system for work or for entertainment at home you’ll find it provides impressive performance at a very competitive price.