2013 isn’t over yet, but with Intel’s 4th-gen Core processors and Nvidia’s GTX 700-series already out, it looks like the hardware gamers care about won’t see any major upgrades until after the holidays. Anyone looking at a laptop gaming powerhouse will find that now is a great time to buy, and some sweet deals are likely to appear over the next few months.
You might be wondering, then, what laptop is best. That’s a difficult question. Processors and GPUs have become much more efficient over the last few years, and that’s made gaming hardware available in a wider range of systems, at a vast range of prices. Still, there are some laptops that stand out.
The ASUS Republic Of Gamers laptops have been strong value leaders since their introduction about five years ago, and the G750 is no exception. Built with the latest 4th-gen Intel Core processors, and boasting Nvidia 700-series graphics, this laptop is equipped to handle serious gaming. Entry-level models equip the GTX 765M, while the high-end version boasts the GTX 770M.
There’s more to this laptop than the internals, however. The G750 boasts a decent keyboard and touchpad, along with a subtle matte black chassis, making it better suited for everyday use than most. And, despite its size and power, most versions provide four to five hours of light-duty battery life.
Prices start at about $1,400 for the base version and rise to $1,900 for high-end models. Though certainly not cheap, these prices are generally below equivalent competitors, making ASUS’ laptops a good value.
Many small gaming laptops have hit the market over the last two years, but most haven’t been worth the money. They tend to be either under-powered, over-priced, or both, making 15.6” laptops a better choice.
Alienware’s M14x has been the rare exception. Starting at $1,199 with a Core i7 dual-core and Nvidia GT 750M GPU, even the most basic model has sufficient power to handle games on the system’s 1366×768 panel. Upgraded models offer a 1080p display, quad-core processors and Nvidia GTX 765M graphics.
Since the M14x is small, it’s much easier to carry and use as an everyday laptop, making it a great choice for students. Light-duty battery life comes in at around five hours,and the keyboard is respectable, though not great, for a gaming laptop. The same can’t be said about the touchpad; an external mouse is preferable.
Better known for its gaming mice and keyboards, Razer has begun to enter the laptop market, as well. The company’s first shot was the original Blade, a system that was thin and fast but also drastically overpriced. In the middle of 2013 the company updated the Blade, making it both faster and more affordable.
The new version comes in two flavors, the Blade and the Blade Pro. Both offer a 4th-gen Intel quad-core processor, Nvidia GTX 675M graphics and eight gigs of RAM. The main difference is display size; the Blade has a 14-inch 1600×900 display while the Pro has a 17.3” 1080p screen. The Pro also includes Razer’s unique LED-backlit customizable keys, which are located in the numpad’s position.
Only hard drive size varies, with the smallest 128GB Blade model selling for $1,799, and the Blade Pro starting at $2,299. That’s a lot, but the systems justify their price with a profile that’s barely more than 16mm thick and battery life that’s competitive with many mainstream laptops. Both Blades are a good choice for gamers who frequently travel or attend LAN parties.
While gaming laptops are thinner and more capable than ever before, price is still a concern for many buyers. A typical rig sells for around $1,500, which is almost three times the average transaction price of a laptop sold in the United States. In other words, most people just can’t afford to game.
That’s where Lenovo’s IdeaPad Y500 comes in. This laptop can be purchased for $849, yet is equipped with Nvidia GT 650M dual graphics and an Intel dual-core processor. Spend $100 more and you can upgrade to a quad.
Sure, this isn’t the fastest system on this list, nor the most aesthetically pleasing. But it is fast enough to handle any game on the market at 1080p and medium detail, and many games will play at high or even maximum settings. There’s no better choice for gamers who can’t spend more than a grand.
Most of the gaming laptops on this list have received a recommendation because of their value, portability, everyday usability, or all three. But there are gamers who simply want the most powerful gaming laptop they can afford. If you’re among them, you’ll love the M18x.
This massive 18-inch laptop offers, even in its most affordable $2,099 configuration, a quad-core processor and dual Nvidia GTX 765M graphics. Spend more and you can upgrade to the GTX 770M, and in turn boast of owning one of the fastest gaming laptops in existence. All models have a beautiful 1080p display, and battery life is surprisingly adequate because of the laptop’s massive 86Wh battery.
When configured for maximum performance the M18x can soar over $3,000, so this is hardly the budget pick. But this is the laptop to buy if speed is your priority.
Conclusion: What’s the best laptop for 2013, overall?
All of the laptops on this list are great and, for the right buyer, will be an excellent purchase. Yet we must pick one ultimate winner, a laptop that provides the right combination of performance, price and every-day practicality.
Our choice is the ASUS G750. Though available for just $1,399, this system is equipped to run with competitors sold for hundreds more, and it’s also easy to use as an everyday desktop replacement. The display, keyboard, touchpad and battery life are all better than average for this category. We can’t see why gamers should spend more on alternatives that are, at best, only on par.
What’s your favorite gaming laptop? Let us know in the comments.