Best gaming laptops 2021: No-nonsense reviews & expert buying advice


There are great gaming laptops available now (even as pandemic-fueled sales remain strong), and you can see our tested favorites below. But if you yearn for the latest and greatest, hold on: CES, the biggest tech show in the United States, starts (virtually) January 11, and we expect some new announcements to disrupt the landscape.  

Check out the latest news and reviews, along with our top picks below. 

Latest gaming laptop news

Laptop news and reviews are heating up, because of new AMD and Intel mobile CPUs coming soon. Here’s the latest. 

acer nitro 5 an515 44 r99q main Ben Patterson/IDG

The Acer Nitro 5 is both cheap and good, a budget gaming laptop we’re happy to recommend.

  • We take a close look at Nvidia’s Dynamic Boost technology, which aims to leverage the “unused” thermal capacity in a laptop. But is it just a “me-too” technology to keep up with Intel and AMD’s similar offerings? Read all about it.
  • Bargain alert! Acer’s Nitro 5 budget gaming laptop is surprisingly good for the price ($670 at Best Buy). Don’t expect the latest parts, but do expect great bang for buck. That’s why it’s our new top pick for best budget 15-inch gaming laptop (replacing itself in a prior generation, actually.) Read our full review.

Latest laptop reviews

Catch up on the latest models we’ve tested here, including: 

acer predator triton 500 2020 3 Brad Chacos/IDG

The Acer Predator Triton 500 packs a lot of power into a surprisingly slim chassis. 

  • Okay, not everyone could afford the Acer Predator Triton 500 we just tested ($2,800 on B&H Photo), with its 6-core, 12-thread Core i7-10750H and GeForce RTX 2080 Super, all squeezed into a sublime 4.6-pound aluminum chassis with a lightning-fast 300Hz G-Sync display. But looking’s free, and this is one gorgeous machine. Read our full review.
  • We just reviewed two gaming laptops that sport 300Hz screens. That ultra-high refresh rate makes looking at your screen all day a delicious experience. Read our reviews of the MSI GS66 Stealth ($2,999 on Amazon) and the Acer Predator Triton 500 ($2,800 on B&H Photo).
  • Are two screens better than one? The Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo ($3,699 on Asus.com) may be the first dual-screen laptop that gets things right. Read our full review.

Best 15-inch gaming laptop

The Acer Predator Triton 500 model we tested features a 15.6-inch, 1920×1080, 144Hz panel, an 8th-gen Core i7-8750H with 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD, and a GeForce RTX 2060. It’s easily enough firepower to match laptops based on the slightly lower-cost GeForce GTX 1660 Ti, but it has the option to run DirectX Ray Tracing games, too.

If we were to ding the Triton 500, it would be for the SSD replacement. Let’s just say, adding more storage to the Triton 500 won’t be a five-minute affair. Read our full review of the Acer Predator Triton 500.

Best budget gaming laptop

The Acer Nitro 5 surpases what we expect of rock-bottom budget laptops. Its display is a bit dim, and its GTX 1650 graphics is only going to feel slower as time goes by. However its performance is solid overall, and its battery life is a nearly unheard-of (for gaming laptops) five hours. If you’re looking for solid budget value, or if you plan to buy cheap and upgrade more often (a reasonable plan in the ever-advancing world of gaming), this is a respectable entry-level machine. Read our full review.

[$830 as tested via Bestbuy.com]



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