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.
As a buyer, you can pick a machine with integrated graphics, and as long as you get one with Intel Broadwell or Skylake 15W hardware, you’ll be able to play most games on 13 x 7 resolutions with low/medium details. There are also a few devices with Iris and Iris Pro graphics, which push gaming abilities even further.
However, there’s still that much an integrated chip can deliver, so if you’re planning on running the latest titles on your ultra-portable laptop, at 19 x 10 resolutions and high details, you’ll require a notebook with dedicated graphics. And here’s where this post comes in handy, a list of the best gaming ultra-portables of the moment.
To be included in this selection, a device needs to bundle at least a mid-level graphics chip (Nvidia 940M or equivalent) if it’s a sub 14-incher, or a high-end chip (Nvidia 970M or equivalent) if it’s a notebook with a 15-inch screen or larger. It also needs to be compact, light and of course an overall good buy, with very few to no deal-breaking flaws.
With that in mind, take your time and go through the post. It’s a long read, but it includes many great options you should know of. And before you start, keep in mind that I’m constantly updating this article in order to keep it up-to-date, so if you’ll find it useful, make sure to tell your friends about it and share it around, that’s the best way to say thanks for the hard work.
Gaming ultraportables with Nvidia GTX 970M and 980M graphics
These are the ones to look at if you want to best gaming performance in fairly thin and light bodies. The offer for 980M portable configurations is rather limited, but there are quite a few 17, 15 and even 14 inchers paired with Nvidia GTX 970M chips, capable of running smoothly most of the recent titles in 19 x 10 resolutions with High/Ultra details. I’ve gathered them all in this detailed article.
14-inch or smaller gaming ultrabooks
This section is reserved for the smallest laptops with dedicated graphics, with 10 to 14-inch screens, Intel Broadwell/Skylake hardware (or later) and at least an Nvidia 940M graphics chip (or an AMD equivalent). We’ll start with the more portable options first and then we’ll continue with the powerful models in the second half of this section.
The 13-inch Asus Zenbooks: UX303LN, UX303LB and UX303UB
The original Zenbook UX303LN is the most popular 13-incher with dedicated graphics ever built. It was launched back in Mid-2014 with Intel Haswell hardware and Nvidia 840M graphics, and later followed by the Zenbook UX303LB update (with Broadwell processors and Nvidia 940M graphics) and the more recent Zenbook UX303UB (with Skylake processors and Nvidia 940M graphics).
I’ve reviewed the UX303LN in this detailed article, and although Asus released its successors, the review is still of interest today, because the UX303LB and the UX303UB actually share the same chassis, keyboard or display with the UX303LN model. In other words, Asus kept the package and only updated the internals on the new generations.
These Zenbooks share a similar aluminum built case, which weighs around 3.3 lbs and feels both nice and strong. They are regular clamshell laptops, so the screen does not convert in any way and most models aren’t even offered with a touchscreen, but with a matte non-touch display. However, there are two aspects to keep in mind here. Previous buyers reported the hinge ensemble to be fragile and break easily, so you’ll need to pamper these notebooks. And second, it’s going to be important to pick the right screen-option for your needs.
Asus offers the UX303LN/LB/UB series with either a 1920 x 1080 px IPS panel or a 3200 x 1800 px IPS panel. The latter is crisp and bright, but suffers from documented issues with reproducing colors. Issues Asus never addressed, which ruin this machine for photo/video editors and anyone who needs a laptop with a color-accurate display. The 1080p panel is not as sharp or as bright, but does a much better job in painting proper colors, so is an alternative to consider, if this option is available in your region (it might not be).
That aside, the UX303s bundle a fairly good backlit keyboard, a decent trackpad, a proper selection of ports on the sides and, what probably matters the most on a gaming-machine, beefy hardware (for 13-inchers). Buyers can get these with Haswell/Broadwell or Skylake Core i7 U-Series processors (15W), Nvidia 840M/940M graphics with Optimus (which are identical in most way, despite the rebranding), up to 12 GB of RAM (4GB soldered + 1 spare DIMM) and various storage options, as there are both an M.2 SATA 6 and a 2.5″ bay available inside the laptop. There’s also a 50 Wh battery, which allows for roughly 5-6 hours of daily use on a charge and 2 hours of gaming.
The machines run a bit hot under load, but they won’t throttle under normal circumstances, not even when dealing with demanding chores. Performance is somewhat limited by the fact that there’s only ULV hardware inside and a mid-level Nvidia graphics chip, so don’t expect these to deal with everything flawlessly. The hardware section of the review will tell you more about what to expect, and you can also read the updated post on the UX303LB. A detailed analysis of the Zenbook UX303UB will be added to the site once that model will be available in stores (it’s not at the time of this update)
Price wise, you should expect to pay around $1300 (or 1300 EUR) for these 13-inchers, with the Core i7 processors, 12 GB of RAM, the Nvidia Graphics and usually 256 or even 512 GB SSDs. Follow this link for more details on the UX303UB Skylake update, this one for discounts on the Zenbook UX303LB, or this link for potential deals on the slightly older version, the UX303LN.
Alienware 13 13-inch gaming notebook
While the Zenbooks above focus mostly on design, the Alienware 13 is an ultraportable built to deliver power in a 13-inch form-factor. In other words, it bundles an Nvidia GTX 960M graphics chip alongside the latest-generation Skylake Core U processors and up to 16 GB of RAM, which makes it a device far more capable of dealing with demanding daily chores and modern games.
The specs list also includes a 52 Wh battery, capable speakers placed on the lateral edges and several screen choices. Stay away from the TN HD panel included on the base models and aim for either the FHD or the QHD+ options with matte IPS panels.
Despite bundling all these features, the Alienware 13 is still fairly compact, but thick (1.1-inches) and heavy (4.5 lbs). Its case is made from plastic, with some soft rubber material on the inside, and there’s a fair amount of flex in the screen ensemble and the chassis, but overall the laptop feels well built. The IO is alright, but there’s no SD-card slot. On the back of the laptop you will notice a particular connector used for the Alienware Graphics Amplifier, an external graphics solution you can hook the laptop to if you need more processing power.
Another important aspect here is the keyboard, which does not offer a modern chiclet design, bur rather a classic layout. It looks a bit odd, but it types well and most users will probably like it. It’s also backlit and you can adjust the color from the included app, which also controls the backlightning of the Alienware logo on the hood and the one beneath the screen.
Now, since this is advertised as a gaming laptop, you need to know that it can handle most titles at 19 x 10 resolution, with Medium details. Once you crank those details up to High or above, the configuration starts to struggle and some games drop under 30 fps, and here’s where the external graphics can come in handy, if you choose to pay for it. On the other hand, you should know that the Alienware 13 does not throttle under load and doesn’t get extremely hot either.
Wrapping this up, the Alienware 13 is a capable 13-incher, just not a great buy for everyone imo. The base model starts at $999, but once you add a better screen, an SSD and 16 GB of RAM you’ll be looking at around $1500. You’ll probably find it cheaper online, but that’s still a lot of money for a 960M configuration with an ULV processor. $1500 could also get you a Gigabyte P34W for instance, which is a lighter and thinner 14-incher with Nvidia 970M graphics. We’ll talk about this one further down.
Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 460
The Lenovo Yoga 460 is a slightly different computer than all the others above, as it is a 14-inch notebook with a 360-degrees convertible display. The 4-in-1 form-factor allows buyers to use it not just as a regular laptop, but also as a tablet, stand or tent.
The 460 is more than just another hybrid though. It’s built to last, despite having a plastic case, it bundles an excellent backlit keyboard and a good trackpad with physical click buttons, it lines a solid selection of ports on the sides and is yet fairly compact and light for a 14-incher, weighing just 3.9 lbs. The specs list also include a WQHD IPS touchscreen and a 56 Wh battery.
However, the ThinkPad Yoga 460 is a part of this selection because it bundles an Nvidia 940M graphics chip, alongside the latest Intel Core U hardware platform, so its a good multimedia laptop that can tackle some gaming when needed, just like the Zenbook UX303 lines mentioned above. It can be paired with up to 8 GB of RAM and SSD storage.
The base model starts at around $999, with a Core i5 processor, while the Core i7 models with dedicated graphics are expected to sell for a little over $1000. Follow this link for more details and potential discounts.
Gigabyte Aorus X3 Plus series
If you’re after a top-of-the-line sub 14-inch gaming laptop, Gigabyte’s Auros X3 line should be on your shortlist.
The latest model sells for around $2000 and this kind of money will get you a latest generation Intel Core i7 HQ processor, up to 16 GB of RAM, Nvidia GTX 970M graphics with Optimus and dual M.2 storage, plus a 13.9-inch QHD or HQH+ IPS IGZO panel, backlit keyboard with macro keys and customizable profiles, stereo speakers, a 73 Wh battery and solid connectivity (Wi-Fi AC, Lan, Bluetooth, 3xUSBs, HDMI, mini-DP, card-reader).
All these are tucked inside a 23 mm thick body (just under 0.9 inches) that weighs 1.8 kilos (4.1 pounds). And did I mentioned the design? Well, the Aorus X3 Plus looks spectacular, with a black case and aggressive cooling vents towards the back. On the other hand, the laptop feels rather fragile, as there’s a lot of flex on the lid-cover and the keyboard frame, as you can find out from our detailed review. Our test unit also encountered some Wi-Fi problems, throttling and noise under serious load, so there there are certainly some pros and cons to weigh before buying one of these.
However, if you want the powerful hardware in such a compact body, the Aorus has very few rivals. The latest versions do sell for around $2000, but some of the previous configurations with Haswell/Broadwell processors and Nvidia 870M graphics can be bought for as low as $1400 online, as you can see from this post. That puts the Aorus X3 Plus on par with the Gigabyte P34W, but makes it much more affordable than the Razer Blade 14, And we’ll talk about both of these further down in this article.
Razer Blade 14 – sleek and fast
The Blade 14 is the thin-and-light gaming laptop to match these days. It has been called an “engineering marvel” and gathered countless praises, and here’s why.
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 it’s also fairly light and compact (about 0.70″ thick and the non-touch version weighs 4.2 lbs, while the touchscreen models weigh a little under 4.5 lbs).
Hardware wise there’s a Core i7 quad-core processor on the Blade 14, Nvidia GTX 970M graphics, 16 GB of RAM (onboard) and up to 512 GB of SSD storage space. These can be paired with either a 1920 x 1080 px IPS matte screen or a 3200 x 1800 px IGZO multi-touch display. But there’s a catch. While the FHD is more appropriate for gaming on a 970M chip, the configuration with the FHD panel only comes with 8 GB of RAM. That means most people would prefer the touch-option, which is an awesome display, just not that well suited for the Nvidia graphics bundled with this unit, which can’t handle the latest games at the native 1800p resolution. For anything else besides games though, the screen is going to be a delight to use.
These aside, you should also know there’s a 70 Wh battery on the Razer Blade 14, a backlit gaming keyboard with anti-ghosting, a great trackpad with physical buttons, front-facing stereo speakers flaking the keyboard and a fair amount of ports on the sides, although there’s no LAN and DP ports and no card-reader either, which might concern some of you.
Performance wise the Razer Blade 14 is a beast. Yes it will get hot, even seriously hot under load, but it won’t throttle under normal use, so it manages to squeeze quite a lot out of the hardware inside, which can’t be said about the Gigabyte Aorus X3 Plus or the P34W, its main rivals. Our own Doug is a sucker for performance in a tiny shell. He owns both the Razer Blade 14 and the Gigabyte P34W and has gathered his impressions of the two in this detailed post, which you definitely must read if you’re interested in any of these machines. It explains why he chose the Razer Blade 14, despite its high price tag.
Because if there’s anything that can steer buyers away from the Blade, that’s the outrageous amount of money Razer asks for this machine. The matte FHD model with 8 GB of RAM and a 256 GB SSD sells for $1999, while the touchscreen model with 16 GB of RAM start at $2199 for the base model, that only includes a 128 GB SSD. The model with 512 GB of storage space sells for $2700, and you’ll probably want this one, given how much space games need these days. That’s a lot of money, but Razer owners swear this thing is worth it. See this link for potential price cuts and more details about the Blade.
The Gigabyte P34W is another 14-inch ultra-portable with powerful hardware inside, but it’s more affordable than the Razer Blade 14 or the Aorus X3 Plus. In fact, the latest model with modern hardware sells for around $1500, and you can actually find it even cheaper online. That’s $500 less the the Aorus and $700 less than the Blade.
So what’s the catch? First of all, hardware wise the P34W matches and even outmatches the other two. It’s built on the same Intel Core i7 quad-core processor with Nvidia 970M graphics, supports 16 GB of RAM and actually dual-storage solutions, with both an M.2 SATA and a 2.5″ bay. The specs list also includes a 14-inch FHD matte display, a 61 Wh battery, a good selection of ports on the sides and a backlit keyboard. All these are tucked inside a fairly stylish body that only weighs 4 lbs and is about 0.8-inches thick. So on paper the P34W sounds like an awesome buy.
In practice the P34W is not as well built as the Razer though. As Doug shows in his detailed comparison of the two or you’ll see in the video below, the P34W is made from both metal and policarbonate, with plenty of of flex in the lid and frame. The Gigabyte is not a match for the Blade when it comes to screen or speakers quality either, but it does run longer on a charge, despite packing a smaller battery.
The biggest issue potential buyers will have with the P34W is the fact that throttles under high load. On the outside, it does not get as hot as the Razer Blade 14, but the inner components reach high temperatures sooner and as a result, throttling occurs more often when performing taxing chores or running demanding games. In other words, this laptop can’t get the full-potential out of the hardware platform inside.
If you’re fine with this particular aspect and would rather not pay the high-prices Razer asks for the Blade 14 though, the Gigabyte P34W remains an option to consider, especially since it is hundreds of dollars cheaper than the Blade or the Aorus X3 Plus. Just make sure you know exactly what you’ll be getting into.
MSI GS40 Phantom
The GS40 is one of the later launched 14-inchers with quad-core processors and dedicated Nvidia 970M graphics and you can read all about it in our detailed review.
It’s built on the latest Core i7 HQ processors, supports DDR4 RAM (2xDIMMs, up to 32 GB of memory), bundles the GTX 970M 3GB graphics chip and offers both a PCIe gen3 M.2 storage slot 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 (although an USB 3.1 slot in not included).
The MSI GS40 is compact and light, weighing just 3.6 lbs and inheriting the looks from the larger MSI GS60. But de3spite that, there’s room inside for a 61Wh battery, so you can actually expect 4-5 hours of daily use on a charge from this one, which is not bad at all.
Bottom point, if you’re after a compact and powerful gaming laptop, the MSI Ghosy GS40 should be on your list. It starts at around $1600.
The Lenovo is a slightly different gaming 14-incher, which a more affordable price tag than many of the others mentioned above. It sells for as little as $800 and you might find it even cheaper online.
That kind of money we’ll get you a Core i5 or i7 U-Series processor, 8 GB of RAM, hybrid storage (1 TB HDD with 8 GB SSD) and an AMD R9-M275 graphics chip, which is roughly on par to an Nvidia 940M solution, performance wise. In other words, this is not a high-end gaming machine, just a multimedia notebook that can cope with some gaming as well.
On the other hand, the Y40 is rather chunky (4.4 lbs and 0.9-inches thick) and not that well built or good looking either, with its case made mostly out of plastic, with a sheet of metal on the plam-rest. And that’s not all: the keyboard is shallow and lack a backlight, while the screen is rather bad, as Lenovo went with a 1920 x 1080 px matte TN panel on this computer.
So in few words, the Lenovo Y40 offers good performance in a 14-inch form factor and is affordable, but makes concessions when it comes to size, weight and keyboard or screen quality. There are better computers out there, but for those of you on a limited budget this one could be the right pick anyway.
15 or 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 Haswell hardware, Nvidia GT 750M graphics or higher (or AMD equivalent), an under 1 inch thick body and again, no major flaws. On top of that, I’ve been looking at 15 inchers under 5.5 pounds and 17 inchers under 6.5 pounds, to keep the suggestions as portable as possible.
MSI GS60 Ghost Pro 3K 2PE and 2PC – review
These are some of the most interesting 15 inchers available right now. There are two GS60 Ghost Pro models, the top-version called the 3K 2PE and the lower-end model called 2PC (or simpler, the Ghost Pro 3K and the Ghost Pro), and they share most of their characteristics, with the hardware and screen options setting them apart.
The GS60s are both about 0.85 of an inch thick and weigh just under 4.4 pounds, but despite that, they offer a good looking aluminum-alloy case, a backlit keyboard and all the ports you’ll want on such a computer ( 3xUSB 3.0. HDMI, mini-DP, card-reader, SPDIF, LAN), plus a 6 Cell 52 Wh battery.
The GS60 Ghost 2PE Pro 3K model comes with an insane 2880 x 1620 px 15.6 inch display, with an IPS Panel and a low-glare finishing, while the GS60 2PC settles for a non-glare 1920 x 1080 px IPS display. That aside, the two are motorized by the same Intel Core i7-4710HQ processor, can take up to 16 GB of RAM and support dual-storage options (mSATA RAID 0 and a 2.5 inch bay). The top version gets an Nvidia GTX 870M graphics chip though, while the 2PC only gets an Nvidia GTX 860M solution. And while the former is for sure faster, don’t forget that it has to push more pixels if you’re planning on gaming at native resolution. On top of that, it runs hotter, and that’s a problem in a device this thin.
The Ghost GS60 is also available with Nvidia 970M graphics, and you can see how it performs in our detailed review available here.
In fact, that’s my only major gripe with the GS60 Ghost line: it gets warm with light use and actually very hot under extended load, and the components inside reach very high temperatures as well (above 90 °C), which might have a negative impact on their lifespan.
So, at the end of the day, the MSI GS60 offers solid performance and top-tier features in a very thin body, with a price tag of $2000 and up for the 2PE Pro 3K version, and about $1800 for the 2PC model, but both versions are available discounted online, as you’ll see from here. Still, are these laptops worth that kind of money? If not for the temperatures, I’d say yes for sure, but given the high temperatures, I’d suggest getting them only if you really want the compact form-factor and don’t mind the hot bodies. And make sure you’re buying extra-warranty as well. Otherwise, you should look at some of the other suggestions below.
Asus Zenbook NX500 and GX500 – more details
These machines are going to be released towards the end of the year, so there’s not much to say about them for now.
We do know that these Zenbooks are going to have a metallic body, a low profile (under 0.8 inches thin) and reduced weight (under 5 pounds), while packing top features. Among them, there’s a 4K screen (3840 x 2160 px resolution), Asus’s Bang&Olufsen stereo speakers we’ve seen on many of their ultraportables, an Intel Core i7-4712HQ processor, up to 16 GB of RAM and dual PCI-E storage options. There’s also a rumored 6 Cell 96 Wh battery on these, which should translate in serious endurance, even when running games.
The two models are going to be separated by the graphics solution they’re going to offer, an Nvidia GTX 850M for the NX500 (read my full review over here) and an Nvidia GTX 860M chip for the GX500. On top of that, while the NX500 will keep the standard brushed aluminum looks we’ve been used to from previous Zenbooks (much like the UX51VZ launched a while ago), the GX500 will get a black theme with red stripes, which is somewhat more appropriate for a gaming ultrabook and closer to what Asus does with their N and G series laptops.
Anyway, these Zenbooks are expected in stores in Q3 or Q4 2014, with prices starting at roughly $2000, but I’ll update this section once we know more about them.
Gigabyte P35G v2 and P35W v2 Ultrablades
The P35G v2 Ultrablade is actually the larger version of the P34G v2 mentioned in the 14 inchers’ section. It offers the same Intel Core i7-4710HQ processor, up to 16 gb of RAM (2xDIMMs) and the Nvidia GTX 860M graphics chip, but offers a possible quadruple-storage solution (2 x M.2, 2 x 2.5″ bays), or a dual-storage solution plus a DVD Writer.
There is of course a 15.6 inch display on this laptop, with a 1920 x 1080 px matte IPS non-touch panel, and since the device is larger (weighs 5.1 lbs and is 0.85 inches thick, plus has a rather big footprint, as you can see from the bezel around the screen), there’s also room for a NumPad area on the keyboard and a 75Wh battery (although I’ve seen reports that this laptop will only last up to 5 hours in daily use).
Gigabyte will charge you roughly $1600 for all these, with 8 GB of memory and 128 GB SSD + TB HDD included in this configuration.
If you want a bit more power in your device, then you might to have a look at the P35W v2, which is mostly identical to the P35G, but packs an Nvidia 870M graphics chip and a Bluray burner for $200 extra.
Of course, the biggest concern with these laptops are the load temperatures and noise. From what I’ve seen so far, owners claim that these Gigabyte ultrabooks do get warm under load and you’ll hear the fans spinning, but the nor the temperatures or the noise are really problematic. And that’s the best you can expect from such thin, light and powerful devices.
Updated versions of these laptops bundling Nvidia GTX 970M and 980M graphics are available now. Follow this link for more details.
Dell XPS 15 Touch
Dell XPS 15 is one of the fanciest devices in here, with a slender 0.7 inch thick aluminum cast body that weighs only 4.4 pounds. But it’s fairly powerful as well.
Dell offers an Intel Core i7-4702HQ processor on their XPS 15, up to 16 GB of RAM, several storage options and an Nvidia GT 750M graphics, which barely qualifies it for this list. And that’s something to keep in mind, especially since this device comes with a 3200 x 1800 px display (a touchscreen, BTW), which means that actually running games at native resolution will require a lot of power. On top of that, the XPS 15 does get quite hot and noisy under serious load, and these are the reasons why this Dell is mostly a good all-rounder that can deal with occasional gaming, and not a proper gaming ultra-portable, like those mentioned before.
So unless you’re planning to do some heavy gaming on this machine, the XPS 15 is going to be good enough for most of you. Specs apart, you’re also getting a good keyboard with this one (nicely spaced, without a NumPad Area), a reliable touchpad, a decent selection of ports (3xUSBs, but only one of them USB 3.0, HDMI, mini-DP, card-reader) and either a 61W or a 91W battery. Considering that both the hardware and the screen are sippy, I’d go for the larger capacity one.
However, that big battery is only available on the higher specced models and those can get quite expensive. In fact, even the base version of the Dell XPS 15 start at about $1900, and for that kind of money you’ll get the CPU and graphics mentioned above, plus 16 GB of RAM and hybrid storage (1 TB HDD + 32 GB cache-SSD). Replacing that with a 512 GB SSD will cost you $300 extra, but most configurations are slightly discounted online, as you can see from here.
Acer Aspire V5-573G and V7-582PG
These should be on your list if you’re on a tighter budget.
The Aspire V5-573G really offers a lot for the money. You can get an Intel Core i7-4500U CPU with 8 GB of RAM, Nvidia GT 750M graphics and a 1 TB HDD for under $1000 (see this link for up-to-date prices and discounts). It’s true that there’s only an ULV processor on this Acer and the Nvidia 750M is no longer a top-of-the-line solution, but even so, it will do.
The thing is there’s only a 1366 x 768 px TN screen on this laptop, which is one of the reasons why it is so affordable, but that means that you’ll be able to run most games on it on High details.
If however you’re looking for an improved screen and faster gaming performance, then you you might want to check out the Acer Aspire V7-582PG. Roughly $1100 will get you an Intel Core i7-4500U processor, 8 GB of RAM and Nvidia 850M graphics, plus a 1920 x 1080 px IPS display, and the V7 can also be found discounted online.
BTW, both these laptops are fairly portable, with under 0.9 of an inch thick bodies that weigh about 4.8 pounds and there’s not much to complain about their build quality either (metal and plastic are used for the case).
But even so, you’ll be making compromises with these Acers, when compared to those others mentioned before. The looks, the keyboard/trackpad quality or the battery life (expect up to 5 hours of daily use) are just some of those, or the fact that you’re getting regular HDDs with each configuration (but this should not be a concern, as they can be easily swapped for SSDs later on). But let’s not forget that these laptops are a lot cheaper than most of their competitors, and that alone should be enough for most potential buyers.
This is another affordable 15 incher you could consider these days.
Much like the Y40, the Y50 offers a plastic built body, a good keyboard with a NumPad section(which however flexes way too much), a reliable trackpad and plenty of ports (3xUSBs, HDMI, card-reader, LAN, SPDIF), all in a rather bulky body. In fact, this device barely makes it in this list, with a 0.9+ inch thick case and a total weight of roughly 5.3 pounds, so it’s definitely not as portable as some of the other machines mentioned before.
It does pack nice specs though: a FHD matte screen (with a TN panel), an Intel Core i7-4710HQ processor, up to 16 GB of RAM, Nvidia 860M graphics and various storage solutions, plus either a DVD or a Bluray unit. On the other hand, Lenovo chose to put a small battery on this notebook, so don’t expect more than 4 hours of daily use with it.
Even so, it’s hard to beat the Y50 for the money. $1100 will buy you the processor and the graphics listed above, 8 GB of RAM and a 1 TB storage drive, which is in fact better than what you’re getting with the Acer V5. And I expect prices to drop in the near future.
Of course, there are a few things you might not like about this Lenovo laptop, like the screen, the body’s lack of sturdiness and the very short battery life, but if you’re mostly after solid specs for as little money as possible, you’ll could learn to live with these and get the Y50 anyway. Or you might go ahead and buy a laptop like the Lenovo Y510p or the Asus N550JK, slightly thicker and heavier, but overall superior options.
There are a couple of other 15 inchers you could consider, like the:
- Samsung ATIV Book 8 870Z5G – Intel Core i7-4700HQ CPU, up to 8 GB of RAM, Nvidia GT 750M graphics, 1920 x 1080 px IPS matte display, 94 Wh battery, 5.2 lbs. This model has a lot of potential and packs a huge battery. It is however difficult to find in stores these days, that’s why it only earned a place in the “others” section;
- Asus N550JK – Intel Core i7-4700HQ CPU, up to 16 GB of RAM, Nvidia GT 850M graphics, 1920 x 1080 px IPS matte display, 59 Wh battery, 5.7 lbs, 1.1 inches thick – this barely gets outisde the requirements because it is a bit thick. But if you’re fine with this, you should definitely check it out. Prices start at around $1100 for this series (see this link for details) and my full review of the Asus N550 line is available over here;
- Asus N551JK – an updated model on the unit above, with a better screen, faster hardware and a better cooling solution is also available now. Check out this link for a detailed review.
- Asus G551JM – the gaming version of the N551 series, with Nvidia GTX 850M and 860M graphics, IPS displays and a black and red themed metallic case. I’ve reviewed this laptop here on the site.
- Dell Inspiron 7537 – Intel Core i5/i7 ULV CPUs, up to 16 GB of RAM, Nvidia GT 750M graphics, 1920 x 1080 px IPS touchscreen, 58Wh battery, 5.6 lbs (heavy for an ultrabook!);
- HP Envy TouchSmart 15 – Intel Core i5/i7 ULV CPUs, up to 16 GB of RAM, Nvidia GT 750M graphics, 1920 x 1080 px IPS touchscreen, 5.6 lbs (heavy for an ultrabook!).
Besides these, you should look at all the other ultrabooks from this list of recommended 15 inchers.
And there are also some interesting 17 inchers I’d like to mention, not ultrabooks per-se, but thin and light laptops in their classes:
- Razer Blade Pro – the larger version of the Razer Blade mentioned above, this one packs an Intel Core i7-4700HQ processor, up to 16 GB of RAM, up to 512 GB SSD storage and an Nvidia GTX 860M graphics chip, plus a 1920 x 1080 px IPS matte display and a 74 Wh battery, all inside a fairly compact body (0.9 inches thick, weighs 6.5 lbs). On top of that, there’s a customizable LCD screen towards the right side of the keyboard, meant to improve your gaming productivity. The Razer Pro starts at $2300, with only 128 GB of storage, and goes up to $2700 for the 512 GB SSD version, but you might find potential discounts on all available configurations via this link.
- MSI GS70 Stealth – details – a slightly slimmer (0.85 inches thick) and lighter (5.9 lbs) 17 inch laptop than the one above, packs a similar Intel Haswell platform, paired with Nvidia GTX 765M graphics, dual storage solutions (mSATA and 2.5 inch bay), a Full HD non-glare screen and a dedicated gaming-keyboard, designed in collaboration with SteelSeries. The GS70 sells for $1600 and up;
- Medion Erazer X7611 – details – this offers the same hardware specs as the MSI GS70, but a 1600 x 900 px TN screen, a poorer keyboard and a different case (marginally thicker and heavier), but at the same time is cheaper than 17 incher mentioned before by a few hundreds of dollars. However, the Medion Erazer X7611 is mostly available in Europe, as Medion is a German company.
- Maingear Pulse 17 – details – this is one of the sleekest 17 inchers available right now, measuring under 0.9 inches in thickness and weighing under 6 pounds. At the same time it packs powerful hardware: an Intel Core i7-4700HQ processor, up to 16 GB of storage. Nvidia GTX 870M graphics and several storage options, plus a matte 1920 x 1080 px display. All these for $2000 and up, which makes the Pulse 17 a solution to check-out if you really need the powerful graphics, as the other 17 inchers in here do not offer the same high-end Nvidia chip;
- Gigabyte Aorus X7 v2 – details – the bigger brother of the Aorus X3 and the only device in this list to offer SLI graphics ( two Nvidia GTX 860M chips – an updated version with two GTX 970M chips in SLI is also available), alongside an Intel COre i7-4860HQ processor, up to 32 GB of RAM (4 slots) and a quadruple storage solution (3 x mSATA, 1 x 2.5″ bay), plus a 73 Wh battery. All these inside a 0.9 inch thick body that weighs about 7 pounds. As expected, the Aorus X7 is expensive and the high end configurations will set you back about $3000. But if you want the ultimate gaming ultraportable of the moment, well, this is IT.
The downsides of this monster as the high temperatures when gaming and the battery life. The SLI implementation means that there’s no Optimus on the Auros X7, and that translates in up to 3 hours of light use, which is very low for a device described as “portable”.
A quick wrap-up
All in all, there aren’t that many true gaming ultrabooks available in this list. However, there’s a fair number of good gaming portable laptops, most of them just as thin and light, just more powerful, “motorized” by faster Intel full-voltage platforms, and not the ULVs you’ll mostly find in ultrabooks.
So as potential buyers, you’ve got a wide array of options these days, from the portable 13 inchers to the beastly 17 inch monsters, with prices starting under $1000 or easily going over 3G.
In the end though, the final choice is all yours. There’s no perfect gaming ultraportable, but there are quite a few that come close. So make sure you know exactly what you want from your computer and pick accordingly between all these devices mentioned above. And if you haven’t found anything that fits your needs in this post, maybe you should check out this list of the most powerful gaming ultraportables available right now.
Whit that in mind, it’s time to bring this post to a halt, but make sure you’ll check the article from time to time, as I’m constantly updating it when new good gaming ultrabooks pop in stores.
That aside, 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 post useful, feel free to share it around on Forums, Facebook, Twitter or show it to your friends.