PC games are approaching near-movie quality visuals and therefore, the hardware required to pump out such visuals has also increased in power exponentially. Most conventional laptops will not be able to pump out high fidelity visuals in modern AAA games at maximum settings without breaking down. So if you are a gamer, the only option for you is to get a desktop gaming rig or a capable gaming laptop.
The most discerning of gamers would still prefer a desktop rig as laptops cannot always afford the required thermal headroom to run powerful components at maximum potential. But with the latest CPUs that give more performance per watt and new innovations in GPU design that use lesser power than before, it is now possible to game in full visual fidelity at native resolution on laptops that sport unbelievably thin chassis.
As always, there are many factors that influence a purchase decision and gaming laptops are no exception. The first thing that you should do is narrow down the available choices by budget. This is one segment that can cost exponentially higher than other laptop classes so to make the job easier, decide your budget and narrow down from there. Then, it comes to the actual hardware. You need a powerful CPU and discrete GPU to get the most out of modern games else you'll be looking at a slideshow on screen. Gaming laptops also tend to be upgrade-friendly and you should be able to start off low and upgrade later (except the CPU and GPU, of course). The overall aesthetics also need to be considered but gamers are generally not too bothered about it. They'd rather flaunt bold looks and bulky builds to emphasize the under-the-hood power of their prized possessions.
Due to the nature of the components and legal limitations on maximum battery capacity, one cannot expect 10-hour battery runtimes while gaming. Even if you are able to get 2 or 3 hours, you have a golden deal. The overall quality of the display and speakers along with available connectivity options are more important factors to consider than battery life.
With those factors in mind, we at TechNadu have narrowed down on what we consider to be the best gaming laptops in the market. They are expensive but offer the best-in-class components and ample upgrade potential. So, here are the 8 best gaming laptops to buy in 2018.
1. Razer Blade 15
- Specs: Intel Core i7-8750H CPU; 16 GB DDR4 RAM; 256 GB SSD; 80 Wh battery
- GPU / Display: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 MaxQ / 15.6-inch FHD 144 Hz IPS display
- Ports: 3x USB 3.1; 1x HDMI 2.0; 1x Mini DisplayPort 1.4; 1x Thunderbolt 3; 3.5mm combo audio jack
- Extras: Razer Synapse 3; Free CoD: Black Ops 4 game codes (till stocks last)
- Dimensions (W x H x D): 13.98 x 0.66 x 9.25 in
When it comes to gaming laptops and peripherals, Razer is a household name. The new Blade 15 offers a lot of horsepower in a surprisingly thin and light chassis. It packs in a Core i7-8750H hexa-core 45W CPU, 16 GB RAM, and an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 MaxQ GPU in an ultrabook-like form factor. This means you can play all the latest games without breaking a sweat at framerates befitting the 144 Hz FHD display. Despite the slim form factor, port connections are plenty except for the lack of an Ethernet port.
While the thin form factor is certainly a selling point of this laptop, it also causes a few problems such as throttling under load. The fans start kicking in even under low load, which can get distracting sometimes. Also, Razer's support can be an issue depending on which part of the world you live if you want to send the laptop for RMA service.
- Pros: Great power in a thin and light chassis; 144 Hz display
- Cons: Throttles under load; No Ethernet port; Razer's RMA process can be cumbersome
2. Gigabyte Aero 15X
- Specs: Intel Core i7-8750H CPU; 16 GB DDR4 RAM; 512 GB SSD; 94 Wh battery
- GPU / Display: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 MaxQ / 15.6-inch FHD 144 Hz IPS display
- Ports: 3x USB 3.1; 1x HDMI 2.0; 1x Mini DisplayPort 1.4; 1x Thunderbolt 3; 3.5mm combo audio jack; 1x Gigabit Ethernet; 1x SD card reader
- Extras: X-Rite Pantone Color Calibration
- Dimensions (W x H x D): 14 x 0.74 x 9.8 in
The Gigabyte Aero 15X is a powerful laptop for content creators as much it is for gamers. You get enough power, memory, and storage to work on your creative projects and unwind with a AAA game at maximum graphics at the end of the day. The Aero 15X sports a very slim profile. It might not turn heads like the Razer Blade but it more than makes up with performance. The FHD display offers a smooth 144 Hz refresh rate and can be calibrated professionally using the built-in X-Rite Pantone color calibration tool.
The Aero 15X features a 94 Wh battery (99 Wh is the legal limit allowed in flights) so it offers a great battery life when compared to other gaming laptops. There were a few driver issues at launch but Gigabyte has sorted out most of them making this a great purchase.
- Pros: Great for gamers and content creators; Color calibrated display; High battery capacity
- Cons: Driver issues with earlier models
3. ASUS ROG Strix Scar II
- Specs: Intel Core i7-8750H CPU; 16 GB DDR4 RAM; 512 GB SSD; 66 Wh battery
- GPU / Display: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 / 15.6-inch FHD 144 Hz G-Sync IPS display
- Ports: 2x USB 3.1; 1x USB 3.1 Type-C; 1x HDMI 2.0; 1x Mini DisplayPort 1.2; 3.5mm combo audio jack; 1x Gigabit Ethernet; 1x SD card reader
- Extras: Quad-antenna wireless AC; AURA Sync RGB gaming keyboard
- Dimensions (W x H x D): 14.2 x 1 x 10.3 in
The ASUS ROG Strix Scar II is not the slimmest laptop out there but the extra thickness allows for better cooling and helps get the best out of the powerful Core i7 CPU. The ROG Strix Scar II offers all standard connectivity options and additionally, comes with a quad-antenna wireless AC setup for improved connectivity. Due to the added girth, the Scar II uses a non-MaxQ GTX 1070 GPU that allows for much higher frame rates. The 144 Hz FHD display supports NVIDIA G-Sync but that means you don't get NVIDIA Optimus tech, which can dynamically switch between the iGPU and the discrete GPU. As a result, the Scar II suffers from poor battery life.
The Scar II offers great thermal performance and the fans hardly kick except under load. The keyboard is highly responsive and supports AURA Sync lighting for some cool RGB effects. If you can live with the added bulk and low battery runtime, the Scar II is one of the best gaming laptops you can buy in 2018
- Pros: Powerful components; G-Sync display; Quad-antenna wireless-AC
- Cons: Bulky; Poor battery life
4. Acer Predator Triton 700
- Specs: Intel Core i7-7700HQ CPU; 32 GB DDR4 RAM; 512 GB SSD; 54 Wh battery
- GPU / Display: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 MaxQ / 15.6-inch FHD 120 Hz G-Sync IPS display
- Ports: 3x USB 3.0; 1x USB 2.0; 1x Thunderbolt 3; 1x HDMI 2.0; 1x DisplayPort; 3.5mm combo audio jack; 1x Gigabit Ethernet; 1x SD card reader
- Extras: Customizable RGB mechanical keyboard; PredatorSense gaming control panel; Killer E2500 Ethernet and 1535 Wi-Fi
- Dimensions (W x H x D): 15.47 x 0.74 x 10.47 in
The Acer Predator Triton 700 is without a doubt the most powerful thin gaming laptop around. Although it features a 7th Core i7 CPU, it is still adequate for any game you throw at it. The 32 GB of memory and an ultra-fast 512 GB PCIe NVMe SSD ensure zero bottlenecks. The Triton 700 features the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 MaxQ GPU, which should be able to handle the latest AAA titles at excess of 120 fps at 1080p highest settings. The Triton 700 features a rather unusual design with the keyboard towards the lower deck and the upper area allowing enough space for ventilation.
The Acer Predator Triton 700 offers excellent performance without major thermal issues. But the compact design does not come cheap and the trackpad location is not practical. Battery life is low and the onboard speakers lack sufficient bass. Despite some cons, the Triton 700 excels as one of the best gaming laptops out there.
- Pros: GTX 1080 in a compact chassis; G-Sync 120 Hz screen
- Cons: Trackpad location is not ideal; Low battery life; Onboard speakers lack bass
5. Acer Predator Helios 300
- Specs: Intel Core i7-8750H CPU; 16 GB DDR4 RAM; 256 GB SSD; 48 Wh battery
- GPU / Display: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 OC / 15.6-inch FHD 144 Hz IPS display
- Ports: 2x USB 2.0; 1x USB 3.0; 1x USB 3.1 Type-C; 1x HDMI 2.0; 3.5mm combo audio jack; 1x Gigabit Ethernet; 1x SD card reader
- Extras: AeroBlade 3D fan cooling; PredatorSense gaming control panel; Free CoD: Black Ops 4 game codes (till stocks last)
- Dimensions (W x H x D): 15.35 x 1.05 x 10.47 in
The Acer Predator Helios 300 is one of the best value for money gaming laptops out there and occasionally, you can find the price coming very close to the $1,000 mark. Featuring the latest 8th generation Intel Core i7 CPU, 16 GB RAM, and an overclockable GTX 1060, the Helios 300 can handle almost all AAA titles easily at 60 fps at 1080p max settings. The Helios 300 offers a 144 Hz display, which is great value at this price. With the latest generation Helios 300 series, Acer has included new AeroBlade 3D fans that should allow for better cooling.
While the Helios 300 delivers when it comes to performance, it does have a few compromises. The cooling is not as great as Acer promises it would be. So you might have to crank up the fans using the PredatorSense control panel or if you are technically inclined, try undervolting the CPU/GPU. There is some unwanted bloatware and the drivers are outdated so before starting to test the system, make sure to remove the bloatware and ensure that all drivers and Windows itself is updated. The design language and red backlit keyboard might not be everyone's cup of tea but there are not many gaming laptops out there that can match the value proposition of the Helios 300.
- Pros: Great price to performance ratio; 144 Hz display; OC GTX 1060
- Cons: No Thunderbolt 3; Design might seem too loud for some; Gets hot under load; Outdated drivers
6. MSI GS65 Stealth Thin
- Specs: Intel Core i7-8750H CPU; 16 GB DDR4 RAM; 256 GB SSD; 82 Wh battery
- GPU / Display: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 / 15.6-inch FHD 144 Hz thin bezel IPS display
- Ports: 3x USB 3.1; 1x Thunderbolt 3; 1x HDMI 2.0; 1x Mini DisplayPort; 3.5mm headphone jack; 3.5mm mic-in; 1x Gigabit Ethernet
- Extras: CoolerBoost Trinity; Per-key RGB lighting; Killer E2500 Ethernet; Nahimic 3 Audio
- Dimensions (W x H x D): 14.08 x 0.69 x 9.75 in
The MSI GS65 Stealth Thin is just slightly thicker than the Razer Blade 15 but offers a lot more configuration options and lesser throttling issues. You get an NVIDIA GTX 1060 with the base model but you can choose from other options that feature a GTX 1070. The 144 Hz display is great for gaming and is fairly color accurate for creative work. The extremely thin bezels of the display make for an immersive viewing experience.
Connectivity-wise, the GS65 Stealth does not disappoint. While the laptop offers adequate cooling for its slim size, cranking up the visuals will increase the heat output. You can use the CoolerBoost feature to increase fan speeds if needed. Another gripe with the GS65 Stealth is that the default 256 GB SSD is partitioned in half between actual usable storage and recovery partition.
- Pros: Extreme performance in a slim form factor; Good connectivity options
- Cons: SSD capacity might not be sufficient; Fan noise can get distracting at load
7. Alienware 17 R5
- Specs: Intel Core i7-8750H CPU; 16 GB DDR4 RAM; 256 GB SSD + 1 TB HDD; 99 Wh battery
- GPU / Display: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 / 17.3-inch FHD IPS display
- Ports: 2x USB 3.0; 1x HDMI 2.0; 1x Mini DisplayPort; 1x USB 3.1 Type-C; 1x Thunderbolt 3; 1x Alienware Graphics Amp port; 3.5mm headphone jack; 3.5mm mic-in; 1x Gigabit Ethernet
- Extras: Customizable lighting zones; Alien Command Center; Tobii Eye Tracking
- Dimensions (W x H x D): 13.07 x 1.18 x 16.69 in
There cannot be a discussion on gaming laptops without mentioning Alienware. The Dell subsidiary has been a go-to choice for gamers of all groups and the Alienware 17 R5 seeks to continue this tradition. This is a huge laptop in whichever way you look at it. The huge 17-inch screen and the added weight and girth may not make it exactly portable in the truest sense but that also helps provide great cooling and thermal headroom for overclocking the components. Despite featuring a powerful GTX 1070 GPU, Alienware also provides a proprietary port for hooking up the Alienware Graphics Amplifier eGPU.
The Alienware 17 R5 does not disappoint when it comes to performance but CPU performance can lag behind other laptops using a similar config. This could be due to some Alienware-specific settings but nothing that would affect your gaming. If you have the budget, you can configure this laptop with a 144 Hz display and also include the Tobii Eye Tracking feature.
- Pros: Great performance; Customizable lighting zones on trackpad and keyboard; Above-average battery life for its class
- Cons: Bulky; CPU performance is not exactly at par with the competition
8. MSI GT75 Titan
- Specs: Intel Core i9-8950HK CPU; 32 GB DDR4 RAM; 1 TB GB SSD (512 GB x 2); 90 Wh battery
- GPU / Display: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 / 17.3-inch UHD G-Sync IPS-level display
- Ports: 5x USB 3.1; 1x Thunderbolt 3; 1x HDMI 2.0; 1x Mini DisplayPort 1.2; 3.5mm headphone jack; 3.5mm mic-in; 3.5mm line-in; 3.5mm line-out; 1x Gigabit Ethernet; 1x SD card reader
- Extras: CoolerBoost Titan; SteelSeries Mechanical RGB keyboard; Nahimic 3 Audio; Killer LAN and wireless AC
- Dimensions (W x H x D): 16.85 x 2.28 x 12.36 in
If you really want the ultimate in a gaming laptop, very few can hold a candle to the MSI GT75 Titan. The GT75 Titan is humongous in every aspect from looks to the pricing. The laptop appeals to the most hardcore of gamers who demand nothing but the best. This is one of the few laptops to offer two 512 GB PCI-E NVMe SSDs in a RAID setup. The 4K UHD screen supports the GTX 1080's G-Sync feature to prevent tearing in fast visuals. The GT75 Titan sports the Core i9-8950HK CPU, which can clock up to 4.8 GHz for insane speeds and processing power.
The GT75 Titan is not for everyone but the most discerning of gamers. With this, you are not buying a laptop but a true high-end desktop replacement. If you have the money to burn and can sacrifice portability for raw performance, the MSI GT75 Titan deserves a look.
- Pros: Maxed out gaming performance; 4K G-Sync display; NVMe RAID
- Cons: Bulky; Expensive
Dear readers, those were our recommendations for the best gaming laptops available in 2018. Gamers have very stringent requirements when it comes to performance so a gaming laptop must be able to cater to such expectations. Unless you are exclusively buying for hardcore gaming, it is always better to get a laptop that caters for both work and play.
We hope that this article has helped you in deciding on a good gaming laptop. As always, let us know if you have any doubts or would like to suggest any other model we should include and we will get back at the earliest.