All-Around Mid-Range Gaming Laptop
ASUS FX502VM-AS73 with GTX 1060 & i7: Our starter is the ASUS FX502VM-AS73, which includes an i7-7700HQ (non-overclockable) CPU at 2.8GHz, giving 8 threads to work with, and a GTX 1060 GPU. Note that the GTX 1060 in notebooks is largely similar to the desktop counterpart, with primary differences in frequency. The laptop includes a goldmine of DDR4 memory at 16GB, given current memory prices, and would work well as an on-the-go lite editing rig that’s capable of gaming. The 16GB of memory will mostly be wasted for those only gaming, but for anyone who works with Photoshop batch files, Premiere, Blender projects, or any other mobile production, it’ll be worthwhile. The unit is currently $1000, marked down from a list price of $1250, and includes an instant promo code of “ASUSFX30” for another $30 off. That brings final price to ~$970. A GTX 1060 is fully capable of playing games at high to ultra on its 1920x1080 native display.
Budget Gaming Laptop in Smaller Form Factor (15.6”)
MSI GL62M 7RDX-NE1050: For something with a medium screen size (15.6”) and a smaller – but not ultra-thin – form factor, the MSI GL62M is available now for $730 after $50 rebate and a $120 instant mark-down. The unit includes an i7-7700HQ, just like the above laptop, but steps-down to a GTX 1050 GPU and 8GB of memory. MSI’s GL62M does keep a 128GB NVMe SSD for faster boot times and lower power consumption, and the GTX 1050 will also aid in reducing power consumption, making the laptop one that’s suitable for traveling/working users and for gaming. Note that MSI has a bit of a bloatware problem, so you'll want to remove all of it before use.
Thin & Light Gaming Laptop on a Budget
ASUS M580VD-EB54 VivoBook: The ASUS VivoBook is a cheaper, wannabe version of Dell’s XPS 13, but will get the job done at a significantly reduced cost (~$700 today). The laptop runs just a 1080p screen, keeping costs low, but sticks to a thin-and-light chassis with a mid-sized 15.6” screen. For components, this is the first laptop on our list to use an i5 – the i5-7300HQ – and so won’t be very suitable for Adobe Premiere or other on-the-go workloads. You’ll want to spend more to get an i7 for anything serious. For the GPU, a GTX 1050 will suffice, keeps thermals within the chassis low, and aids in battery life. You’ll be at medium settings in most games, with some core-crushers (Assassin’s Creed, for instance) giving the i5 trouble. Otherwise, it’s a good, cheap thin-and-light, primarily marketed at those who favor the thinness over the performance.
Small 1440p Gaming Laptop
Gigabyte Aero 14Kv7-BK4: Although a smaller screen size may seem contradictory to a higher resolution, we’ve found that the increased resolution is hugely beneficial to productivity: Being able to align a browser on the left, a document on the right, and still have room to read both helps out tremendously with laptops. The Gigabyte Aero unit we’ve selected is currently priced at $1330, making it one of the cheaper laptops with a resolution higher than 1080p. As for gaming, the laptop is equipped with the same i7-7700HQ as many of the other gaming laptops (4C/8T at 2.8GHz), runs 16GB DDR4, a 256GB primary SSD, and a GTX 1050 Ti for the GPU. The GPU is, admittedly, a bit lower-tier for the price, but that’s the trade-off for a lower cost 1440p screen on a laptop. With its 14” form factor and relatively thin body, the Gigabyte Aero is exceptionally portable, would work well for resolution-dependent productivity tasks, and can still play games.
17.3” 1440p Gaming Laptop
Gigabyte P57Xv7-KL3K3: This laptop is the highest-end we’ll be listing, priced nearing $2000 and shipping with a unique 120Hz display, 1440p resolution, and 17.3” form factor. The laptop also uses the i7-7700HQ, but steps-up to a GTX 1070, a 256GB M.2 SSD, and 16GB of DRAM. For the more hardcore gamers who care about 120Hz displays when mobile, this one’s worth a consideration; that said, the screen is driving-up the unit price, so keep in mind the trade-offs.
Find our other Buyer’s Guides for Black Friday & Xmas over here.
- Steve Burke