Top 10 Gaming Laptops to Buy – By MckinsTech

We expanded the Top 10  to meet the increasing number of gaming notebooks. You can now find a list with the best high-end laptops that weigh less than 2.5 kg as well as budget gaming laptops for less than 1500 Euros. Our “classic” Gaming Top 10 (without any restrictions in terms of weight) is obviously still available.

2nd – Schenker XMG Ultra 17

Schenker XMG Ultra 17
Schenker XMG Ultra 17

The XMG Ultra 17 from Schenker Technologies is the best example for a full-fledged desktop replacement. Despite its high weight (4.4 kg) and high construction (4.1 cm), we were mostly convinced by the 17-inch chassis. The manufacturer deserves respect for the upgrade possibilities and the screen. The 4K in our test model does not only feature a high resolution, but also covers a surprisingly wide color gamut (88 % AdobeRGB), but you will have to get used to it.

The GPU performance is also remarkable – Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1080 manages a level of performance that was not possible so far. You also get a real desktop processor. The XMG Ultra 17 does not last long without the power adapter, but the sound is great. This is also the case for the connectivity (Thunderbolt 3) and the input devices. However, we were disappointed by the fan behavior.

3rd – Alienware 15 R3

Alienware 15 R3
Alienware 15 R3

Although the quality management has suffered a bit since the acquisition by Dell (buyers frequently report build quality and cooling issues), which we can confirm based on our last review, Alienware laptops are still among the most elegant and high-end gaming laptops on the market. The 15-inch series AW 15 R3 is now also available with Nvidia’s Max-Q design. The latter reduces the power consumption as well as the temperatures at the cost of performance.

Our test model priced at almost 2900 Euros (~$3416) provides plenty of performance, thanks to Core i7-7820HK and GeForce GTX 1080 Max-Q. Gamers will be happy with 16 GB of DDR4-RAM as well as an NVMe-SSD. Except for the weight, the chassis leaves a very good impression. You get good input devices, numerous ports, different lighting options, and a high-contrast 1080p IPS panel with G-Sync support. The battery runtime is not bad either. Dell could improve the sound and the noise development. The temperatures under load would allow a slightly lower RPM level on our particular test model.

4th – Acer Aspire V17 Nitro BE

Acer Aspire V17 Nitro BE
Acer Aspire V17 Nitro BE

Although the Acer VN7-793G-738J (also called Aspire V17 Nitro) features “only” a GeForce GTX 1060, the 17-inch device has taken the lead. As well as its contrast-rich 4K display, it has a stylish case and balanced components. Gamers might be happy with 16 GB of DDR4 RAM and the SSD/HDD combination as well as the sophisticated interface layout including Thunderbolt.

In addition, the V17 Nitro is very quiet and slim (2.5 cm/~1 in) for a gaming notebook and delivers above-average battery life. There are hardly any points of criticism (maintenance could be better). Thus, we can unconditionally recommend this laptop.

5th – Alienware 13 R3

Alienware 13 R3
Alienware 13 R3

The third revision of the Alienware 13 differs from conventional gaming notebooks in several aspects. On the one hand, there are the extensive lighting (including touchpad) and the striking design, which may not appeal to everyone. On the other hand, the case quality is different in general. For example, the manufacturer uses a combination of metal and (rubberized) plastic, which increases the weight but ensures excellent stability. The build quality is also flawless.

Thanks to its promising OLED display (2560×1440 pixels), which outclasses TN and IPS panels, the test model, for 2200 Euros (~$2481), achieves one of the best ratings overall. Contrast, viewing angles, color intensity, and response times are excellent. The glossy touch surface, which reflects heavily, is a small disadvantage.

Otherwise, we can only complain about the missing card reader, the imperfect maintenance and the high depth. Measuring 26.9 cm (~10.6 in), the device appears much like a 14-inch laptop. In return, the Alienware 13 R3 delivers unrivaled performance in the 13-inch segment. Those who buy the top model will get a PCIe SSD, a Core i7-7700HQ, and a GeForce GTX 1060. The latter two are more often found in 15-inch devices and bigger. In case the performance might become too low someday, it can be improved with external solutions such as a Graphics Amplifier or Thunderbolt 3 (eGPU).

Note: According to several forum messages, the current Alienware generation frequently suffers from temperature problems. Our tests of the 15 R3 confirm this (high, inconsistent CPU values). Apparently, the cooling system is too weak and/or the quality or quantity of thermal grease is too low.

6th – HP Omen X 17

HP Omen X 17
HP Omen X 17

HP usually had a focus on office and multimedia devices in the past, but there are more and more gaming systems. The current high-end model carries the designation Omen X 17and can easily keep up with the established competition in terms of performance, connectivity, and quality.

Advantages of the Omen X 17 include the 120 Hz display with G-Sync support, numerous lighting option, decent battery runtime, and the well-built as well as easy to maintain chassis with the mechanical keyboard. However, the HP also suffers from typical desktop replacement drawbacks like the high weight, bulky design, and loud fans during gaming. The sound could be better as well.

7th – Gigabyte Aero 15X

Gigabyte Aero 15X
Gigabyte Aero 15X

The wolf in sheep’s clothing is a fitting summary for the Gigabyte Aero 15X (~2400 Euros/~$2827). While most gaming notebooks are pretty bulky or heavy and attract customers with a very playful design, Gigabyte’s 15-inch model uses a slim, light and sturdy chassis with an understated design. Only the colorful RGB keyboard illumination is an indicator for the gaming orientation.

Inside the chassis is modern high-end hardware such as the Core i7-7700HQ and GeForce GTX 1070 Max-Q, which create some noise under high workloads. The SKU with the GTX 1060 for 2100 Euros (~$2474) is a good choice if you want to save some bucks. Both models are equipped with a matte 1080p IPS screen, which lacks G-Sync in favor of battery runtimes (Nvidia Optimus), which is a good choice considering the mobility. The small bezels and the certification for X-Rite Pantone are other advantages.

8th – Razer Blade Pro

Razer Blade Pro
Razer Blade Pro

While the extremely expensive 4K edition of the Razer Blade Pro with the Core i7-7820HK, GeForce GTX 1080, and 60 Hz IGZO panel “only” managed an overalls score of 84% (not least because of the glossy screen and the intense noise development), the much less expensive 1080p model with Core i7-7700HQ, GeForce GTX 1060, and 120 Hz IPS screen enters our Top 10 list.

There are still some drawbacks (fan control, weight, sound, display response times, …), but the 1060 model is better in some respects. The battery is smaller, but the runtimes are still better thanks to the Optimus support. The socketed memory is another advantage, while it is soldered on the 4K SKU. The good score of 87% is also a result of the high-quality and sturdy case with RGB illumination.

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9th – MSI GT75VR 7RF

MSI GT75VR 7RF
MSI GT75VR 7RF

While the GT73VR attracted customers with a plethora of features, MSI goes an extra mile with the GT75VR. In 2015, the manufacturer already used mechanical keyboards in 18-inch devices (GT80). These also find their way into smaller gaming notebooks now. In comparison to classical keyboards, mechanical keyboards feature a clearer and more accurate feedback, but the typing noise is louder. Those who like it colorful will also appreciate the integrated RGB light, which can light each key in a different color (including various modes). The GT75VR also performs great in terms of connectivity, maintenance, display (120 Hz + G-Sync), performance and sound.

The basically powerful cooling system is not fully convincing. Despite 10 heatpipes, the 17-inch laptop gets very loud. A maximum of 62 dB(A) is a new negative record. Even more annoying is the case that is tremendously thick with a height of 5.8 cm (~2.3 in). A weight of 4.6 kg (~10 lb chains the buyer to the desk.

10th – Acer Predator 17

Acer Predator 17
Acer Predator 17

Acer, previously better known for office and multimedia notebooks, is penetrating more and more into the gaming range. While the Nitro series is primarily attractive for price-conscious gamers, the Predator has been made for demanding gamers. The current Kaby Lake model is called 17 G9-793 and achieved a rating of 87% in our review. Its biggest unique feature is its distinctive design, which might not meet everybody’s taste.

Otherwise, Acer has made sure that the device is future-proof. For example, the interfaces include Thunderbolt 3 and the display supports G-Sync. The bulky design is not that modern: A weight of 4.3 kg (~9.5 lb) and a height of 4.5 cm (~1.8 in) are slightly outdated in the era of slim gaming notebooks such as the MSI GS73VR.

 

 

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