There’s more to a decent gaming laptop than raw speed. You can pack it with the best graphics card, the fastest, most colorful display around, a gazillion-core processor, tons of fast solid-state drive storage to hold your games and a rock-solid hard drive for secondary storage, but it can still fall short. Those powerful components may overheat at the worst moments, your battery may die or you might experience an instability that impacts your gaming performance.
Fortunately, battery life, at least for 15-inch gaming laptops, has gotten significantly longer and processors are a lot better. Throw in advances in cloud gaming, and you’ve got the ability to play more games on lower-end hardware. So it’s not a given that you’ll need to bust your budget to pay for a new laptop, but budget gaming can be difficult if you’re not shopping carefully. Check out CNET’s recommendations for the best gaming laptops that also offer the best gaming performance for the price.
WHAT Razer Blade 17
THE COST Starts at $2,699.99
AVAILABLE FROM razer.com
The 2021 version of the Blade 17 comes with faster components and better screen options. Yes, there are faster 17-inchers, but this laptop provides powerful gaming performance with an Intel Core i9-11900H processor and a Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 GPU.
WHAT Dell G15
THE COST $908.99
AVAILABLE FROM dell.com
Solid gaming graphics power and strong battery life are the foundation of a good gaming laptop, and the price makes this budget gaming Dell G15 a great bargain. It comes in two flavors — a standard Intel-based model and the AMD Ryzen-based edition.
The naming’s a little confusing, since the line’s branding changed from G5 15 to G15 and the company seems to have dropped the all-Adanced Micro Devices processor versions. That’s sad, but the lower-performing RTX 30 series does allow Dell to hit cheaper entry prices than the AMD graphics processing units at the moment. And it’s a good budget gaming laptop, whichever processor’s inside.
WHAT Asus ROG Strix G15 Advantage Edition
THE COST $1,649.99
AVAILABLE FROM asus.com
Asus’ all-AMD gaming laptop delivers excellent performance and battery life, with a top-of-the-line Ryzen 9 5900HX CPU and Radeon RX 6800M GPU — and that’s before you realize that the performance and components are way above its price class. It runs cool and quiet, even running close to full tilt.
The following CNET staff contributed to this story: senior editor Lori Grunin and copy editor Jim Hoffman. For more reviews of personal technology products, visit cnet.com.