Playing games on ultrabooks or thin-and-light laptops might have seemed unrealistic a while ago, but is a reality these days. Despite having compact bodies, many modern ultrabooks pack powerful-enough hardware to deal with quite a few recent titles.
When looking for an ultraportable gaming notebook you can choose a machine with integrated graphics, and as long as you get one with Intel Skylake or Kaby Lake hardware you’ll be able to play most games on 19 x 10 resolutions with low/medium details.
However, there’s still so much an integrated chip can do, so if you’re planning on running the latest titles at 19 x 10 resolutions and above and high settings, you’ll require dedicated graphics. And here’s where this post comes in handy, a list of the best gaming ultra-portables with dedicated graphics.
The devices included in this selection bundle at least a base-level graphics chip (Nvidia 940MX / MX150 or equivalent) for sub 14-inchers, or a mid-level chip (Nvidia 1050 or equivalent) for notebooks with a 15-inch screen or larger. They’re also compact, light and an overall good buy, with few quirks.
With that in mind, take your time and go through the entire post. It’s a long read, but it includes many great options you should consider.
Gaming ultraportables with Nvidia GTX 1050, 1060, 1070 and 1080 graphics
This article is split into multiple sections, based on graphics chip inside (this section) and on screen size (further down). Since the topic is so vast, it includes many links towards other articles on the site that cover each sub-topic in detail.
Looking at the best gaming machines out there, you’ll have to consider those with Nvidia GTX 1070 and 1080 graphics, capable of pushing high-resolutions and high levels of detail in games. These devices aren’t usually portable, as the hardware requires a big chassis and cooling solution, yet some of them are fairly thin and compact. The entire offer of laptops with Nvidia 1070/1080 graphics is treated in depth in this article.
As of the Summer of 2017 Nvidia also announced the Max-Q design of performance graphics chips meant especially for ultraportables, with reduced TDPs and noise levels. The entire offer of laptops with Nvidia Max-Q graphics is available in this article.
Those interested in that nice balance between size, power and price should check out the available notebooks with Nvidia 1060 graphics, detailed in this post. In this category you’ll find computers under one inch thick and usually under 5 lbs, computers that can be easily lugged around, but which are still capable of providing a smooth gaming experience in FHD/QHD resolutions and high graphics details.
Those of you on a more limited budget though (around $1000 or under) will have to turn towards the notebooks with Nvidia 1050Ti and 1050 graphics. The offer is numerous and while at this point graphics performance is not on par with what the more powerful devices above are capable of, laptops in this category are still able to push most titles on FHD resolutions and high settings. They’re also some of the best-buy multimedia and all-round notebooks you can find.
Last, but definitely not least, come the portable laptops with Nvidia MX150 graphics, a more powerful succesor of the GT 940/940MX chip that makes its way in a bunch of thin, light and compact 14 and 14-inch notebooks and allows FHD gaming with mediu/high details.
14-inch or smaller gaming ultrabooks
With that in mind, let’s jump to this next section reserved for the smallest laptops with dedicated graphics, with 10 to 14-inch screens, Intel Skylake/Kaby Lake hardware (or later) and at least an Nvidia 940MX / MX150 graphics chip.
Full-size laptops are covered in the next section, and you can jump straight to it by clicking this link.
13 and 14-inch laptops with Nvidia 940MX/MX150 graphics
There are a few compact laptops that we’ll cover in here, with common traits like a reduced footprint, 13.3 or 14-inch screens, a total weight of under 4 lbs and modern hardware platforms with Intel Core U and Nvidia GTX 940M / 940MX / MX150 graphics. The MX150 is the updated version of the previous options, significantly faster in games, as you can find from this dedicated article here, but the 940M/940MX options are still capable of FHD gaming with medium details and sell for less. More powerful sub-14 inchers with Nvidia 1050 and 1060 graphics are covered in a further chapter.
We’ll only mention what we think are the best bang for your buck options in this section, but a complete list of modern ultraportables with Nvidia MX150/130 graphics is available over here.
|Acer Swift 3 SF315-52||14.0-inch IPS FHD matte||Kaby Lake Core U / max 16 GB RAM||MX150||No||3.75 lbs / 1.70 kg|
|simple design and metallic build; not as compact or light as other options; good backlit keyboard and trackpad; glossy non-touch matte screen with a decent panel; solid performance; 48 Wh battery|
|Starting price: $999|
|Asus Zenbook UX303UB||13.3-inch IPS QHD+ matte||Skylake Core U / max 20 GB RAM||GT 940M 2GB||No||3.2 lbs / 1.45 kg|
|similar to the UX330LN reviewed here, but with updated hardware and screen; nice build; good backlit keyboard and trackpad; high-resolution display; comes with 12 GB of RAM and 512 Gb SSD by default; solid performance; 48 Wh battery|
|Starting price: $1099 – configurations and latest prices|
|Asus Zenbook UX430UN||14.0-inch IPS FHD matte||Kaby Lake Core U / max 16 GB RAM||MX150||No||2.75 lbs / 1.25 kg|
|updated version of the UX430UQ reviewed here, the only difference being the graphics chip|
|Starting price: TBA|
|Asus Zenbook UX430UQ||14.0-inch IPS FHD matte||Kaby Lake Core U / max 16 GB RAM||GT 940MX 2GB||No||2.75 lbs / 1.25 kg|
|read review for details; compact design with slim bezel; metallic build; good backlit keyboard and trackpad; excellent matte screen; base configuration with i7 CPU, 16 GB RAM, 512 GB SSD; M.2 NVMe storage; gets hot and noisy under load; 50 Wh battery|
|Starting price: $1399 / 1300 EUR – configurations and latest prices|
|Asus Zenbook UX410UQ||14.0-inch IPS FHD matte||Kaby Lake Core U / max 24 GB RAM||GT 940MX 2GB||No||2.75 lbs / 1.25 kg|
|read review for details, as well as this comparison with the UX430UQ model; a 13-inch version is also available, Zenbook UX310UQ; compact design with slim bezel; metallic build; excellent matte screen; base configuration with i7 CPU, 16 GB RAM, 512 GB SSD; M.2 NVMe + 2.5″ storage bay; runs cool under load, but fairly noisy; 48 Wh battery|
|Starting price: $1299 / 1200 EUR – configurations and latest prices|
|HP Envy 13||13.3-inch IPS FHD/UHD touch||Kaby Lake Core U / max 16 GB RAM||MX150||No||2.65 lbs / 1.2 kg|
|compact, slim and well built, packs an IPS panel with small bezels, 54 Wh battery|
|Starting price: TBA|
|Lenovo IdeaPad 720S||14.0-inch IPS FHD matte||Kaby Lake Core HQ / max 32 GB RAM||GT 940MX 2GB||No||3.42 lbs / 1.55 kg|
|compact and well built; a little heavier than other options; packs an IPS panel with small bezels and backlit keyboard; 56 Wh battery|
|Starting price: $1049 – configurations and latest prices|
|Lenovo ThinkPad T470p||14.0-inch IPS FHD/QHD matte||Kaby Lake Core U / max 16 GB RAM||GT 940MX 2GB||No||4.00 lbs / 1.8 kg|
|business laptop; rugged build; larger and heavier than the other options in here; highly configurable; backlit keyboard; multiple screen options; core HQ hardware with up to 32 GB of RAM; up to 72 Wh battery|
|Starting price: $1199 – configurations and latest prices|
|Xiaomi Mi Air||13.3-inch IPS FHD glossy non-touch||Kaby Lake Core U / max 8 GB RAM||MX150||No||2.86 lbs / 1.30 kg|
|nice aesthetics and metallic build; compact size with small bezels;decent backlit keyboard and trackpad; good IPS screen, but glossy and no without touch; solid performance; runs quite warm; 40 Wh battery; affordable, but needs to be imported from China in most regions|
|Starting price: $999|
Alienware 13 gaming notebook
While the notebooks above focus primarily on design and portability, the Alienware 13 is an compact laptop meant to deliver as much power as possible in a 13-inch form-factor. Its latest iterations bundle either Nvidia GTX 1050 or 1060 graphics chips, alongside Kaby Lake Core HQ processors and up to 32 GB of RAM, which makes them devices far more capable of dealing with demanding daily chores and modern games. The specs list also includes a 76 Wh battery, capable speakers and several screen choices, but stay away from the TN HD panels bundled with the base models and aim for either the FHD IPS or the QHD OLED options.
Despite all these features the Alienware 13 is still fairly compact, but a little thick (0.92-inches) and definitely heavy for its class (5.0 lbs). Its case is made from a mix of metal and plastic, with some soft rubber material on the inside, and the build quality is nearly spotless. The IO is good as well, including plenty of USB ports and a TB3 connector, but there’s no SD-card slot. Another important aspect to mention here is the keyboard, which has a rather a classic layout, but types well and it’s RGB backlit.
Gaming wise, the 13-inch Alienware will handle most titles at 19 x 10 or 25 x 14 resolutions with High details. The hardware actually works smoothly, with no signs of throttling or excessive overheating, which I’d say is impressive for a 13-incher, but let’s not forget this laptop is actually fairly large for its class, larger than some of the 14-inchers we’ll address down below that bundle similar specs in more compact shells.
Overall, the Alienware 13 is a really capable 13-incher and a pretty good buy. The base models start at around $1000, but once you add a better screen, the GTX 1060 graphics, a PCIe SSD and 16 GB of RAM, you’ll be looking at around $1500 for the Core i5 models and $1700 for the Core i7 options, which makes it pricier than many 14 and 15-inch alternatives with similar specs. Follow this link for more details, user reviews and updated prices (potentially discounted).
The Alienware 13 packs powerful specs in a 13-inch form-factor, but is bulky, heavy and expensive
Razer Blade 14 – sleek and fast
Razer’s Blade 14 has been the thin-and-light gaming laptop to match for a long while and it still is today. It has been called an “engineering marvel” and gathered countless praises, all for good reasons.
On the outside, the Razer Blade looks and feels like a premium computer should. It’s both beautiful and rock-solid, with its dark aluminum hull, but is also compact, slim (0.7-inches) and light (around 4.16 lbs for the matte screen model, 4.3 lbs for the touchscreen option).
Despite these, hardware wise there’s a Core i7 quad-core processor on the Blade 14, Nvidia GTX 1060 6 GB graphics, 16 GB of DDR4 RAM (onboard), up to 1 TB of PCie SSD storage space and a 70 Wh battery. These are paired with either a 3840 x 2160 px multi-touch display or a 1920 x 1080 px matte panel.
The Blade also gets an RGB backlit keyboard with anti-ghosting, a great trackpad with physical click buttons, front-facing stereo speakers flaking the keyboard and a fair amount of ports on the sides, although there’s still no card-reader, but you do get 3 USB slots, HDMI 2.0 video output and a Thunderbolt 3 port, which makes the laptop compatible with external graphics units like the Razer Core.
Performance wise the Razer Blade 14 is a beast. Yes, it gets seriously hot under load, but it doesn’t throttle under normal use, so it squeeze a lot out of the hardware inside. You’ll find more about the laptop from our review of the previous generation with Nvidia GTX 970M graphics, and an update of the 1060 model will be available on the site as well in the near future.
On top of all these, the latest versions of the Blade have gotten more affordable, with the base model with the FHD matte screen, 16 GB of RAM and a 256 GB SSD selling for $1899, while $2099 can get you the same screen and a 512 GB SSD and $2399 will get you the UHD touchscreen and a 512 GB SSD. That’s still a lot of money when you can find standard Nvidia 1060 laptops for as low as $1100 these days, or portable ones like the Gigabyte Aero 14 for a few hundreds less, but if you want the best thin-and-light gaming ultraportable, the Blade remains the reference.
The Razer Blade – the 14-inch thin-and-powerful gaming laptop to match these days
MSI GS43 Phantom Pro
The GS43 is another compact 14-incher with quad-core processors and dedicated Nvidia 1060 graphics, and it has the price on its inside when compared to the Blade 14 and other similar devices, as it starts at $1499 for a Core i7 model with hybrid storage. You can read all about it in our detailed review, or go through the short summary below.
This computer is built on the latest Core i7 HQ processors, supports DDR4 RAM (2xDIMMs, up to 32 GB), bundles GTX 1060 6GB graphics and offers both a PCIe gen3 M.2 and a regular 2.5″ bay for your mass-storage. These are paired with a 14-inch matte FHD IPS display, a Steelseries keyboard and solid IO (including a TB3 port), and all are tucked inside a compact and light body that weighs around 4.1 lbs and inherits the looks from the larger MSI GS63. Despite these, there’s still room inside for a 61Wh battery, so you can actually expect 4-5 hours of daily use on a charge from this one.
However, as you’ll find out from the review, the GS43 is not the most sturdily built device, looses points in the keyboard and speakers department, and while it performs well and doesn’t throttle under load, it also runs very hot and noisy, culprits you’ll have to accept for the lower-starting price ($300 less than the Blade 14 for an even beefier configuration).
The MIS GS43VR Phantom Pro starts at $1500, and you can follow this link for more details, up-to-date configurations and potential discounts.
The MSI GS40 packs the latest Intel HQ processors and Nvidia 1060 graphics in a portable and well priced package
Gigabyte Aero 14
Just like the units above, the Gigabyte Aero 14 bundles Intel HQ processors with Nvidia 1060 6GB graphics and up to 32 GB of DDR4 memory. It doesn’t get dual-storage like the MSI GS43 and only relies on M.2 PCIe storage, but that leaves room for a huge 94 Wh battery inside its otherwise slim and light body. The Aero 14 weighs 4.2 lbs and is about 0.78″ thick.
This laptop is also well built and nice looking, available in a few lively color schemes, gets a matte QHD IPS screen, good IO (but no TD3 port) and a backlit keyboard, albeit not RGB and with an odd layout that will require some time to get used it. As far as performance goes, it works well and doesn’t’ throttle, but runs hot and noisy under load, as expected from such a thin computer. It doesn’t get as hot as the Blade though and it’s also more affordable.
The base version starts at $1700 with a Core i7 processor, GTX 1060 graphics, 16 GB of RAM and a 512 GB SSD, so it’s $400 cheaper than the Blade and about on par spec-per-spec with the MSI GS43.
The Gigabyte Aero 14 offers solid specs and interesting looks for a great price
Aorus X3 Plus
The Aorus X3 Plus is the only sub 14-incher available with an unlocked Intel HK quad-core processor, and that’s paired with Nvidia 1060 graphics, up to 32 GB of DDR4 RAM and dual M.2 PCie storage options. It also gets a 13.9-inch 3200 x 1800 px matte IPS screen and a 73 Wh battery, all tucked inside a 4.1 lbs body. The X3 Plus is however a little thicker than the other ultraportables in this section, with an overall height of 0.9-inches, but I doubt that’s going to be a deal-breaker. Nor will the fact that the keyboard doesn’t get RGB backlit keys and only settles for regular white backlightning.
On the hand, its rather weak case, despite being made of aluminum and the lack of a Thunderbolt 3 port might steer your towards something else, unless you really want that Core HK CPU. The X3 Plus starts at $1899 for the base configuration which gets you the Core i7-7820HK processor, 16 GB of RAM, the Nvidia graphics and a 512 GB SSD. Previous generations with i7-68209HK processors and otherwise identical traits are available for a few hundreds less though.
The Aorus X3 Plus packs an Intel Core HK processor in a 13.9-inch form factor
Microsoft Surface Book
The Surface Book is a little different than the other machines in here, as it’s a 2-in-1 laptop with a few particularities.
Its screen is detachable and acts as a stand alone tablet with a 13.5-inch 3:2 3000 x 2000 px IPS touch panel that supports inking. This screen hooks up to a solid base that transforms the Book into a regular notebook. The base includes a bigger battery, a keyboard/trackpad, ports and an Nvidia GTX 965M graphics chip (with an updated to follow in late 2017). That’s a last year’s mid-range option, still fairly capable of decent gaming performance, but overall outperformed by the newer generation Nvidia GT 1050 chip and anything above. The CPU inside is also a last year’s Intel Skylake dual-core model.
In fewer words, the Surface Book is a stunningly looking computer with an unique form-factor and a year old hardware. That shouldn’t matter much in terms of daily use, but the GPUs have surely come a long way with Nvidia’s 10 series and this will feel dated in games.
The Book is also expensive, with the base versions starting at around $1500 and the Nvidia configurations selling for $2400 an up, with some discounts available most of the time. Whether its uniqueness is worth that kind of money is entirely up to you. Check out this link for more details, updated configurations and prices.
The Surface Book is excellent as a laptop and pretty good as a tablet as well, but its high price tag make it a hard buy for most
15 to 17 inch gaming ultra-portables
This section is reserved for the fastest thin and light gaming laptops of the moment. The entry bar is set at KabyLake hardware, Nvidia 1050 graphics (or AMD equivalent) or higher, an under 1 inch thick body and again, no major flaws. On top of that, I’ve only included 15 inchers under 5 pounds and 17 inchers under 7 pounds in here, to keep the suggestions as portable as possible.
MSI GS63VR and GS73VR Stealth Pro
The MSI GS63VR is one of the most interesting thin-and-light 15 inchers available right now, as it gets a .7″ thick metallic body that weighs 3.96 lbs and despite that, packs beefy specs inside. You can find all about it from our detailed review or go though the short summary below.
MSI puts Intel Core HQ processors on the GS63, up to 32 GB of RAM, dual-storage (M.2 PCIe and 2.5″ bay) and Nvidia 1060 6 GB graphics. The battery on the other side is rather small, at only 57 Wh, and that can translate in poor battery-life results depending on the screen option you’re going to choose, as the laptop is available with either FHD or UHD panels, both without GSync (there’s Nvidia Optimus instead).
Hardware aside, the GS63 also gets a Steelseries keyboard with excellent feedback and individually RGB backlit keys, a good trackpad and solid IO on the sides, including HDMI 2.0 and Thunderbolt 3 ports.
The MSI GS63 packs beastly hardware and top features inside a thin and light body
When you put the kind of hardware this laptop gets in such a thin shell, the end-product is going to run fairly hot and noisy, but MSI redesigned the cooling system from the previous GS60 series and covered the belly in a sheet of felt to keep temperatures at bay, and the results are fairly good, as the GS63 is far more pleasant to use than the smaller GS43 mentioned in the previous section.
Overall, the MSI GS63 VR is a great 15-incher for those looking for gaming performance in a small 15-inch body. It starts at $1799, and you can find more about it from by following this link, including user reviews and updated configurations and prices.
If you don’t mind a slightly larger device though, you should definitely check out the MSI GS73VR as well, which is the 17-inch sibling of the GS63 and fixes many of its faults. Our own Derek actually loves this laptop, as you’ll find out from the detailed review available over here.
The GS73 gets a larger 17-inch screen available with either a TN FHD 120 HZ or an IPS UHD 60 Hz panel (both without GSync), a slightly larger 65 Wh battery and otherwise similar traits and features. But because it’s a bigger device (weighs 5.4 lbs and is .77-inches thick), it actually runs cooler and quieter. Battery life is still crappy though, especially on the GSync variant with the deactivated Intel HD chip.
The MSI GS73VR starts at $1799 just like the 15-inch model. Follow this link for more details and updated prices and configurations.
The MSI GS73 is larger and heavier than the GS63, but runs cooler and is available with a 17-inch FHD 120 HZ panel with GSync or an UHD screen
As of July 2017 Gigabyte also offers the GS63 and GS73 with updated GTX 1070 Max-Q graphics, for those that want a slight bump in performance and quieter fans, and are willing to pay a few hundreds extra for them.
Gigabyte Aero 15
This is the alternative to consider if you’re willing to get a slightly heavier laptop with similar hardware (Core i7 HQ, GTX 1060) and a much larger 94 Wh battery that will get you at least 50% longer runtimes.
Much like the Aero 14, the 15-inch model is very well balanced computer and highly popular among those interested in portable full-size gaming notebooks. It weighs 4.7 lbs (2.15 kg), is about .75″ thick and is built well, despite the fact that some parts of its outer shell are made out of plastic. This however allows Gigabyte to offer the Aero 15 is a few bright orange and green color schemes, something you’re not going to find with the competition.
The package also includes a 60 Hz FHD IPS matte screen without GSync, an RGB backlit keyboard and good IO, including a Thunderbolt 3 port. The addition of that big battery means there’s no place for a 2.5″ storage bay, but I can perfectly live with just M.2 NVMe storage just fine.
The Aero 15 is also well priced. It starts at $1899, but that’s for a configuration with 16 GB of RAM and a 512 GB SSD, which put it mostly at the same level as the MSI GS63 (which starts at $1799, but comes with a 256 GB SSD). Follow this link for user reviews, updated configurations and prices.
The Aero 15 gets fast hardware and a big battery in a compact and well priced package
Dell XPS 15 9560
This is one of the fanciest 15-inch laptops available out there, with a slender 0.66″ aluminum and carbon-fiber body and a total weight of between 3.9 to 4.4 lbs, depending on the configuration. Its biggest selling points are the excellent build quality and reduced footprint, as you can tell from that small bezel around the screen, because otherwise the XPS 15 is mostly a multimedia laptop and not as powerful in games, as you can find from our detailed review.
It is still built on Intel Core HQ processor with up to 32 GB of RAM and PCIe storage, so it will handle daily tasks and demanding loads just fine, it just can’t match the devices with higher tier graphics in games(it does get a Thunderbolt 3 port though, so you can hook it up to an eGPU).
Dell offers the XPS 15 in a bunch of configurations, with either a FHD matte panel or an UHD touchscreen, Core i5 or i7 HQ processors, with or without a 2.5″ storage bay, and with a 56 or an 97 Wh battery.
In the US the XPS 15 starts at around $1000, with good mid-level configurations going for $1200 to $1500, so you are paying a premium, but a fair one, for the build and the form-factor. Follow this link for more details on this notebook, user reviews and updated configurations and prices at the time you’re reading the post.
The XPS 15 is a beautiful and compact multimedia laptop that can also tackle games
The Lenovo Yoga 720 (convertible) and Asus Zenbook Pro UX550 (clamshell) are the alternatives to consider when looking at the XPS 15, with similar builds and features.
Acer Predator Helios 300
If portability is not your concern and just want the best bang for your buck, then the Acer Predator Helios 300 is the one for you. This post is about ultraportable laptops and this Predator is not an ultraportable, but it is one of those exceptions we just couldn’t leave out.
The Helios 300 is a full-size 15-inch laptop that sells for around $1100 and comes with a Core i7 HQ processor, 16 GB of RAM, 256 GB NVMe SSD and GTX 1060 graphics, but also a matte IPS screen, a backlit keyboard, proper IO and fairly-decent build quality.
The Helios 300 is however chubby and heavy for a 15-incher, gets a rather dim and washed out display, a medium sized 48 Wh battery and runs quite hot for a machine of its heft. More about all its pros and cons in our detailed review.
Performance is solid though, and that’s what matters most on a gaming notebook. On top of that, none of this Predator’s quirks are actually deal-breakers, so while there are nicer 15-inch laptops out there, this one just gets you the best gaming experience for your buck.
For other full-size laptops with GTX 1060 graphics, check out this complete list and our articles on the Lenovo Legion Y720, Acer Aspire Nitro V15 Black Edition, Eluktronics P650 and Asus ROG GL502VM.
There is also an even cheaper laptop with 1060 graphics to consider, the Asus FX502VM which sells for under $900 for a configuration with a Core i5-6300HQ processor, 16 GB of RAM, a 1 TB HDD and the GTX 1060 chip with only 3 GB of RAM. It’s a lower end configuration with a slower CPU and no SSD, but can be an option if you’re on a very tight budget. Follow this link for more details. Follow this link for more details on the FX502, users reviews and updated configurations and prices.
The Asus FX502VM is one of the most affordable ultra-portables with GTX 1060 graphics available at the time of this post
Band for the buck 15-inch gaming laptops
If you only have about $800 to spend for a brand new computer with the ability to handle FHD gaming and still don’t mind sacrificing portability to some extent, then the Acer Aspire VX15, Acer Nitro 5, Asus Vivobook M580, Dell Inspiron Gaming 5577 and Lenovo Legion Y520 are your better options to consider.
These laptops are all built on Intel Core i5 HQ processors with Nvidia GTX 1050 graphics, 8-16 GB of RAM and various amounts of storage, some (the Aspire VX15) even getting you a 256 GB SSD in that budget. Most also get matte IPS screens (except for the Vivobook M580 and Inspiron Gaming 5577), backlit keyboards, proper IO and mid-sized batteries (around 48 Wh), and they are also fairly well built.
You should read our detailed reviews on all of these for details on their particularities, strong points and lacks, as well as the latest configurations and prices.
You should also check out this list for a complete selection of laptops with Nvidia 1050/1050 Ti graphics, or our articles on some of the better alternatives, like the Dell Inspiron Gaming (excellent build, large battery), Asus ROG GL553 (bright screen, runs cool) or the Acer Aspire 7 (simple looks, otherwise identical to the Nitro 5, affordable).
The most powerful 15-inch gaming notebooks
These are the most powerful 15-inch laptops available in stores, aside from some of those newer MaxQ designs. They pack quad-core Intel processors and Nvidia GTX 1070 graphics in fairly compact and light bodies that weigh under 6 lbs.
The Aorus X5 is built on overclockable Intel Core HK processors with an overclocked Nvidia GTX 1070 graphics and a 95 Wh battery, and among its strong points there are also a 15.6-inch matte FHD IPS screen with GSync, an RGB backlit keyboard, a Thunderbolt 3 port and an overall weight of just 5.5 lbs, corroborated with pretty good build quality, similar to the Aorus x3 and X7. The Aorus x5 is expensive though, starting at $2399 (follow this link for more details).
The Asus ROG GL502VS on the other hand sells for $1700 and up and includes standard-voltage Core HQ processor with the Nvidia GTX 1070 graphics, a 64 Wh battery, a zone RGB backlit keyboard and a 15.6-inch 60 Hz IPS screen with GSync, as well as a Thunderbolt 3 port, all tucked inside a chubbier plastic made body that weighs 5.7 lbs. It doesn’t get the same CPUs, screen or battery as the Aorus, and even the GPU runs at slightly slower speeds, but it does sell for much less. Follow this link for more details.
The Clevo P650HS-G (also known as Sager NP8157) is an even more affordable option with a starting price of around $1650, and can be configured to your own desire. It’s thick and made out of plastic, but still light, and overall an option many computer geeks will probably prefer for exactly those two reasons mentioned earlier: price and customizability. Follow this link for more details.
Aorus X5, Asus GL502VS and Sager NP8157 – 15-inch gaming laptop with GTX 1070 graphics
Portable 17-inch laptops
Aside from the MSI GS73 we mentioned earlier, there are a few other thin-and-light 17-inch laptops with GTX 1060/1070 graphics you could consider, listed below. They’re not as light as the GS73 (5.4 lbs), but are either more affordable or offer better specs.
- Asus ROG GL702VS ~ $1800 – Core i7-7700HQ, GTX 1070 8 GB, 16 GB RAM, 256 GB NVMe SSD + 1 TB HDD, FHD IPS 120 HZ screen with GSync, 75 Wh battery, 6.4 lbs;
- Asus ROG GL702VM ~ $1600 – Core i7-7700HQ, GTX 1070 8 GB, 16 GB RAM, 256 GB NVMe SSD + 1 TB HDD, FHD IPS 120 HZ screen with GSync, 75 Wh battery, 5.95 lbs;
- MSI GE72 Apache Pro ~ $1850 – Core i7-7700HQ, GTX 1070 8 GB, 16 GB RAM, 256 GB NVMe SSD + 1 TB HDD, FHD TN 120 HZ screen without GSync, 51 Wh battery, 6.6 lbs.
High performance Max-Q gaming notebooks
In order to make laptops thinner and quieter, Nvidia introduced what is called “the MaxQ design”, which are basically optimized versions of the GTX 1060, 1070 and 1080 chips, running and lower frequencies than the standard versions, but capable of increased performance per watt. That means a 1080 MQ chip for instance is not as fast as a full-TDP 1080, runs cooler and quieter, but is an expensive as a regular chip. So MaxQ is not an option for those interested primarily in performance, it is meant for those interested in performance in a very compact package.
This allows manufacturers to put higher end chips in otherwise portable laptops (like the MSI GS63.GS73 with GTC 1070MQ chips), but also create completely new devices, like the Asus GX501 Zephyrus or the Acer Predator Triton 700, among others.
There’s a full list of MaxQ ultraportables over here, as well as more details on what you should expect from this design and how it compares to the standard Nvidia 10 Series chips.
Some of the new MaXQ designs with Nvidia 1080MQ graphics
High performance 17-inchers with GTX 1080 graphics: Razer Blade Pro and Aorux X7 DT
These 17-inch laptops are heavier than the 6.5 lbs limit I’ve set for this section, but at the same time they are the lightest and thinnest laptops with Nvidia GTX 1080 graphics, so I just had to mention them here.
The Blade Pro weighs 7.7 lbs and gets a .88″ metallic case with the top-notch Razer build quality. It also gets a mechanical chroma keyboard, a large glass trackpad (placed to the right of the keyboard, not bellow like on most laptops), good IO (including TB3, HDMI 2.0 and LAN), a 17-inch UHD IGZO touchscreen and solid hardware specs inside. That translates in an Intel Core i7 HQ processor, Nvidia GTX 1080 graphics with 8 GB of VRAM, up to 32 GB of memory, dual PCIe storage in RAID 0 and a 99 Wh battery.
All these for $3999 and up, which is a lot to ask from a laptop with quite a few flaws, as you can read in our detailed review.
The Razer Blade Pro offers impressive specs and GTX 1080 graphics in a compact form factor, starting at $3700
The Aorus X7 DT is lighter than the Blade Pro, weighing around 7.1 lbs for the base model, mostly due to the fact that it uses thinner materials for its outer case, and as a result it’s not as sturdily built.
It also doesn’t offer a mechanical keyboard, but compensates with a 120 HZ matte QHD screen with GSync support, an unlocked Core HK processor, multiple storage variants, a 2.2 audio system and a lower price of around $2900.
That’s going to get you a Core i7-7820HK configuration with 32 GB of RAM (that laptop supports up to 64 GB), Nvidia GTX 1080 graphics with 8 GB of RAM, a 512 GB PCie SSD (there are 3xM.s slots inside and a 2.5″ bay) and a 95 Wh battery.
The Aorus X7 DT offers very fast hardware is a compact and well priced package
All in all, there are many definitely a lot of great gaming ultraportables in this list and more will be launched in the months to come. So as potential buyers interested in a thin and light notebook with potent graphics, you’ve got a wide array of options to choose from, from the portable 13 inchers with long battery life and some gaming abilities, to powerful 17 inchers with beefy specs and yet surprisingly thin and light bodies, ranging from between $1000 to $4000. And keep in mind we’ve only listed the portable options in here, in reality the offer for gaming notebooks is larger, especially for the high end ones with top-tier graphics.
In the end though, it’s up to you to pick the device that best suits your requirements and fits withing your budget. We’ve gathered here what we think are the best options on the market at the time of this update, but finding that perfect balance between power, portability, features and price is something you’ll have to do for yourself.
With that in mind, we’ll bring this post to a halt, but make sure you’ll check it from time to time, as I’m constantly updating it with new units and retiring the obsolete ones. And of course, if you have any questions, anything to add or just need help picking your next computer, drop your comments below, I’m around to reply and help you out. And if you found this article helpful, feel free to share it around on forums, Facebook, Twitter or show it to your friends.