Looking for the ultimate gaming notebook? At one time, gaming machines meant hulking monstrosities of desktop computers. However as computers evolved, smaller devices boasted equal computing power. Thus laptops began competing with desktops in the gaming space.
Among portables, there’s a subset of laptops called notebooks. A notebook is defined by its smaller firm factor, slimmer profile, and decreased weight. Contrary to size, notebooks may offer superb gaming capabilities. Discover the ultimate gaming notebook with a look at five of the best notebooks ever made.
What Is an “Ultimate” Notebook?
Chances are you’ve used the terms “laptop” and “notebook” interchangeably. A notebook is a lightweight, portable computer. Generally, notebooks clock in at six pounds or less. Yet despite their small size and weight, notebooks still pack in processing power equivalent to their laptop counterparts. A laptop is a portable computer as well. But these are usually a bit larger in both size and weight.
Opting for a laptop or notebook over a desktop yields several advantages. There’s still loads of processing power, but where you go your machine goes. Desktops require a monitor, keyboard, mouse, and power outlet. Notebooks take up less space than traditional desktops as well. However laptops and notebooks lack the upgrade paths presented by desktops, and processing performance differs as well. Despite what you might think gaming laptops differ from desktops a great deal. While you can upgrade components such as RAM and hard drives, you lose the ability to swap out CPUs and GPUs.
So how do we define “ultimate?” We’ll focus on all gaming notebooks that are virtual-reality ready. Plus, we’ll balance performance, price, and portability. Hitting these three “P” areas will yield a notebook that’s the ultimate.
5 of the Best Notebooks Ever Made
Dell Inspiron 15 7000 ($800)
The Dell Inspiron 15 7000 is a superb gaming notebook. Not only is the Inspiron 15 7000 a top performer, but it sports a unique chassis. Laptop Mag praised its stunning form factor and comfortable keyboard. The 15 7000 balances power and portability. Weighing in at 5.8 pounds, it’s easy to tote around. Moreover, the battery lasts over 11 hours.
Despite its excellent feature set, the Inspiron 15 7000 runs a bit hot on the bottom. Additionally, Laptop Mag comments that its display is pretty muted and inaccurate. Nevertheless, with a 7th generation Intel Core i5 processor and Nvidia GTX 1050 Ti GPU, the Dell Inspiron 7000 is a high performing, portable notebook. The baseline 256 GB SSD is speedy, but you’ll likely want the standard hard drive option. Especially if you’re installing games, you’ll relish the extra storage space. Still, for under $1,000, it’s tough to beat the Dell Inspiron 15 7000. This notebook is visually captivating, capable of gaming, and lightweight.
- Intel Core i5
- Nvidia GTX 1050 Ti GPU
- 5.8 pounds
- Innovative single-hinge design
- Gets hot
- Lackluster display
Alienware 13 R3 ($1,300)
While gamers value GPUs and CPUs, screens rank among the most important aspects of gaming machines. The Alienware 13 employs an OLED screen as its viewing device. The resulting images are gorgeous. As PC World notes in its review, the OLED display reproduces brilliant, rich colors. Expect rich darks, and deep blacks, with an enhanced sharpness. Additionally, OLED displays are more energy efficient than LCD screens. So you’ll benefit from better battery life. The OLED-outfitted Alienware 13 features a 2560 x 1440 screen.
The 13-inch notebook is a mere 5.5 lbs. That’s a tad heavy for notebooks, but still under 6 lbs. PC World admired the small stature and compact size, as well as brilliant OLED display. It’s a solid overall performer with a GTX 1060 and 6 GB of VRAM. Scoring well in benchmarks, the Alienware 13 handles both 1080p and 4K gaming well. However, PC World admits that the Alienware 13 gets warm under its keyboard under stress. Plus, while the 5.5 lbs. is light for a gaming machine, it’s still on the heavy side. But Alienware’s 13 manages stellar performance and packs in one of the best screens available.
- OLED screen available
- GTX 1060 with 6 GB VRAM
- 5.5 lbs.
- Small form factor
- Keyboard gets warm during stress
- Heavy for its size
Razer Blade ($1,900)
Razer is well-entrenched in the gaming space. Its various components include the Leviathan soundbar and mechanical keyboards. Considering Razer’s dominance in the accessories department, it’s no surprise the Razer Blade laptop offers uncompromising size, portability, and performance. The Blade boasts a VR-ready GPU in a GTX 1060 with 6 GB of VRAM and 7th generation Intel Kaby Lake CPU. At 4.2 pounds, ports are slightly scarce. But you’ll find everything you need including USB 3.0 ports, HDMI, and a Thunderbolt 3 port. The Thunderbolt connector hooks up to a 4K display and is compatible with Razer’s external graphics amplifier.
Laptop Mag appreciates the Razer Blade for its beefy specs and incredibly slim chassis. For under $2,000 you get a VR-capable machine that’s among the smallest, most portable, and lightest gaming rigs available. But the Blade does not come cheap. As you begin adding options such as a 4K touchscreen, you’ll jack the price to almost $3,000. Furthermore, heat management is really tough for the Blade. Trying to keep this rig cool calls to mind a certain quote from “Blade” about trying to ice skate uphill. Laptop Mag found that 15 minutes of The Witcher 3 got the Razer Blade hotter than that infamous scene of Geralt in a bathtub. Razer also manufacturers the Blade Pro which delivers a desktop replacement in a portable package. Ultimately, the Blade is a beautiful, ultra-portable gaming notebook that doesn’t sacrifice performance with its portability.
- 7th generation Intel CPU
- GTX 1060
- 4.2 pounds
- Lots of ports
- Thunderbolt 3 for expansion
- 4K touchscreen available
- Gets hot quickly
- Adding options jacks up price
MSI’s VR-ready GS63VR yields plenty of power in a slim design. For under $2,000, you can snag a well-endowed gaming laptop. The GS6VR comes with an i7-7700HQ CPU, GTX 1060 GPU, 16 GB RAM, and 256 GB NVMe SSD as well as a 2 TB hard drive. It’s VR-capable and (despite the plentiful storage, graphics, and processing options) weighs in at 4 pounds. You also get a 15.6-inch 1080p screen. In their review, PC World dubbed the MSI GS63VR a game-changing notebook. Like the Blade, the GS63VR balances performance and portability brilliantly. It’s got the MSI aesthetic with three-zone backlight and full keyboard replete with 10-key number pad. In its benchmarks, PC World found the GTX 1060 about on par with the desktop GTX 980.
Yet PC World found the 4K screen underwhelming. Additionally, the speakers sounded underpowered and tinny. While most laptop speakers are unimpressive, those on the GS63VR are particularly bland considering its premium looks.
If the GS63VR don’t meet your needs, consider the Asus ROG Strix GL502. It’s available with a GTX 1060 or GTX 1070, core i7 Intel CPU, and full-HD 1080p screen. But the Pro-230 offers insane performance in a thin package that’s also competitively priced.
- Reasonable price
- GTX 1060
- Plentiful storage options
- 1080p 15.6-inch screen
- 4 pounds
- Optional 4K screen is lackluster
- Awful speakers
What’s the Ultimate Gaming Notebook?
Gaming laptops are increasingly available. Many laptops offer superb performance in small form factors. If you want one of the best screens available, the Asus NX500 features a Quantum Dot screen that’s lovely. However, it’s extremely expensive, at well over 2K. Plus, that’s as outfitted with a GTX 850M GPU which is pretty underpowered compared with the Nvidia 10-series GPUs.
There’s also the Acer Predator 21x. But at $9,000, it’s really difficult to recommend, or even call “ultimate.” As PC Mag states, it’s a beast for 3D gaming and boasts a massive 21-inch screen and a mechanical keyboard. But it’s almost 20 pounds and requires two power bricks. Moreover, there’s no 4K screen which for the price of a decent used car, you would assume might be standard. So while the 21x rocks dual GTX 1080 GPUs and 64 GB of RAM as well as an overclocked i7, it’s touch to call it the best. Sure, it’s the most well-endowed, but you can buy a fantastic laptop and desktop for substantially less than the price of the 21 x.
HP is probably better known among casual PC users, but its Omen line is fantastic. My main work rig is an HP Omen with a 17-inch screen, i7-6700HQ CPU, and GTX 965m. It’s a high performer with premium specs and only a few tradeoffs like a flimsy disk drive (hey, at least it has one), and lots of plastic. Once you’ve snagged your gaming laptop, try these tips to enhance gaming performance.
Which gaming notebooks do you recommend?
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