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Ultrabook reviews, guides and comparisons

Best 30 gaming ultrabooks and portable laptops in 2016

By Andrei Girbea - @ andreigirbea , updated on November 24, 2016

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 someone looking for an ultraportable, you can pick 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. There are also a few devices with Iris and Iris Pro graphics, which push gaming abilities even further.

Note: Excuse me for interrupting, I'm gathering my favorite Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals on ultraportable laptops over here, if you're interested.

However, there’s still that much an integrated chip can deliver, so if you’re planning on running the latest titles on your portable laptop, at 19 x 10 resolutions or higher 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 with dedicated graphics.

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 1060 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 few to no deal-breaking flaws.

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 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 1060, 1070 and 1080 graphics

These are the ones to look at if you want the best gaming performance in a thin and light body. The offer for GTX 1080 and 1070 portable configurations is limited, yet I’ve listed the available options in here, but there are quite a few 17, 15 and even 14 inchers with Nvidia GTX 1060 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.

We’ll address some of them below, including the Alienware 13, the Razer Blade 14, the MSI Stealth Pro series and others. Keep on reading.

14-inch or smaller gaming ultrabooks

This section is 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 940M graphics chip (or an AMD equivalent, although those are are a rarity these days). We’ll start with the more portable options first and then we’ll continue with the powerful models in the second half of the section.

The 13-inch Asus Zenbooks: UX303 series and the newer UX310UQ

The original Zenbook UX303LN is perhaps 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). The Zenbook UX310UQ is the KabyLake update of the series and we’ll talk about it further down.

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 and most models aren’t even offered with a touchscreen, but with a matte non-touch display available with either a FHD or a QHD+ IPS panel. The latter is crisp and bright, but pretty crappy when it comes to color reproduction. The former is not as sharp or as bright, but does a much better job at displaying proper colors, so is the option I’d get if available in my region.

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 their size. Buyers can get these with Core i7 U-Series processors (15W), 940M graphics with Optimus, up to 12 GB of RAM (4GB soldered + 1 spare DIMM) and various storage options (M.2 SATA and 2.5″ drives). 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.

Price wise, you should expect to pay around $1200 (or 1100 EUR) these days for the latest UX303UB model 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 models,  but you can still consider the Zenbook UX303LB and UX303LN variants, as you might still find them greatly discounted in some stores, and while they don’t pack the latest CPUs, their fair pretty much similarly in games to the UX303UB.

The Zenbook UX303UB is the latest 13-inch Asus ultrabook with Skylake hardware and Nvidia dedicated graphics, but it shares most of its traits with its predecessors, the original UX303LN (with Haswell hardware) and UX303LB (with Broadwell hardware)

The Zenbook UX303UB is the latest 13-inch Asus ultrabook, with Skylake hardware and Nvidia dedicated graphics, but it shares most of its traits with its predecessors, the original UX303LN (with Haswell hardware) and UX303LB (with Broadwell hardware)

As of late 2016 Asus released the Zenbook UX310UQ as a slightly updated version of the UX303 series, with redesigned aesthetics, an improved keyboard and a few hardware updates, including Skylake and KabyLake Core i7 U processors, up to 24 GB of DDR4 RAM (8 GB soldered and one extra DIMM) and Nvidia GT 940MX dedicated graphics. Other changes include an USB 3.1 port on the sides (without Thunderbolt 3 support) and a 48 Wh battery (compared to the 50 Wh one used previously), so overall the UX310UQ is merely an incremental upgrade of the old models.

However, there are two catches here. Firs of all, this model isn’t widely available at the time of this post and second, many reports claim that the two screen options available, with FHD and QHD+ resolutions, actually come with TN panels, which translates in poor contrast, colors and especially viewing angles. Chances are IPS panels might be also available in some regions once Asus fully deploys this model, but unfortunately it’s hard to tell for sure which exact panel is on a given configuration, so I’d be reluctant to pick one of these till the waters clear out. You can however follow this link for updated configurations and prices in your region and you can try contacting the shops and ask them for more details about those screens.

The Zenbook UX310UQ is Asus's latest iterations of their popular 13-incher with dedicated graphics

The Zenbook UX310UQ is Asus’s latest iterations of their popular 13-incher with dedicated graphics

Alienware 13 gaming notebook

While the Zenbooks above focus primarily on the design, the Alienware 13 is an ultraportable built to deliver serious power in a 13-inch form-factor. Its latest iteration bundles an Nvidia GTX 1060 6GB graphics chip alongside Skylake Core HQ processors and up to 32 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 76 Wh battery, capable speakers placed on the sides and several screen choices. Stay away from the TN HD panel bundled with the base models and aim for either the FHD IPS or the QHD OLED options.

Despite bundling 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 solid and an overall improvement from the previous model. 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 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, the one beneath the screen and the trackpad’s, that’s also RGB backlit.

Unlike the previous Alienware 13, the latest version is a much better gaming laptop and will handle most titles at 19 x 10 or 25 x 14 resolutions with High details. The good news is 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 even more compact shells.

Overall though, I feel the Alienware 13 is a really capable 13-incher and a pretty good buy. The base model starts at around $1200, but once you add a better screen, 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 expensive, pricier than the 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 a bulky, heavy and expensive

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, and for a good reason.

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 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 a 3200 x 1800 px IGZO 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 will get hot, even seriously hot under load, but it won’t throttle under normal use, so it manages to 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 then in the past, with the base model with the FHD matte screen, 16 GB of RAM and a 256 GB SSD selling for $1799, while $1999 can get you the same screen and a 512 GB SSD and $2099 will get you the QHD+ touchscreen and a 256 GB SSD. That’s still a lot of money, but if you want the best thin-and-light gaming ultraportable, you’ll pretty much have to go with this one. Follow this link for more details, users reviews and potential price cuts on the Blade 14.

The Razer Blade - a 14 inch thin and powerful gaming laptop

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 of memory), bundles GTX 1060 6GB graphics 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 (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, and these are some of the culprits you’ll have to accept for the lower-starting price ($300 less than the Blade 14 for an even beefier configuration).

Like I mentioned earlier, 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 with Nvidia 970M graphics

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 allows it to get a huge 94 Wh battery inside its otherwise slim and light body. The Aero 14 weighs 4.2 lbs and is about 0.78 on an inch thick.

The details on build quality and keyboard experience are rather limited, but from the few available reviews of the original Aero 14, we can say they’re decent. Details on the performance of the GTX 1060 update are also very scarce at the time of this update, but at least we know the IO is decent as well, except for the fact that there’s no Thunderbolt 3 port and that could be a deal-breaker for some of you. The screen gets a QHD matte IPS panel without GSync support.

Overall, the Gigabyte Aero 14 seems like a worthy alternative to the MSI GS43, although it’s a little too early to draw final conclusions for now. It’s supposed to start at around $1600, so it will sit somewhere between the GS43 and the Blade. I’ll update this with a link for more details, updated configurations and prices once those are available.

The Gigabyte Aero 14 offers solid specs and interesting looks

The Gigabyte Aero 14 offers solid specs and interesting looks

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, the lack of a Thunderbolt 3 port and even its high price-tag might steer your towards something else unless you really want that Core HK CPU, since the X3 Plus starts at $1999 for the base configuration. That still gets you plenty though, including the Core i7-6820HK processor, 16 GB of RAM, the Nvidia graphics and a 512 GB SSD.

Follow this link for more details, user reviews and updated configurations and prices.

The Aorus X3 Plus packs an Intel Core HK processor in a 13.9-inch form factor

The Aorus X3 Plus packs an Intel Core HK processor in a 13.9-inch form factor

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 Skylake hardware, Nvidia GTX 960M/1050 graphics (or AMD equivalent) or higher, an under 1 inch thick body and again, no major flaws. On top of that, I’ve been looking at 15 inchers under 5 pounds and 17 inchers under 6 pounds, 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 metallic body that’s only .7-inches thick and weighs 3.96 lbs, and packs beefy specs inside. We reviewed it here on the site and you can find all about it from here, or from the short summary below.

MSI puts an Intel Core HQ processor on the GS63, up to 32 GB of RAM, dual-storage (M.2 PCIe and 2.5″ bay) and the 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 a FHD or UHD panel, both without GSync (Nvidia Optimus is present instead). The latter models will only run for about 2-3 hours of daily use on a charge, as you can see from our review, and there’s no display with GSync support available for this computer.

Hardware aside, the GS63 also gets an excellent Steelseries keyboard with excellent feedback and individually backlit keys, a good trackpad and solid IO on the sides, including HDMI 2.0 and a Thunderbolt 3 port.

The MSI GS60 packs beastly hardware and top features inside a thin and light body

The MSI GS63 packs beastly hardware and top features inside a thin and light body

Of course, 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 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, at least to some extent. 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, but runs cooler and is available with a FHD 120 HZ panel with GSync or an UHD screen

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

Gigabyte P35X and P37X

If 1060 chips are not enough to justify buying a 15 or 17 inch notebook, then these Gigabyte options should be of interest, as they pack Nvidia GTX 1070 graphics inside their still thin and light bodies.

The P35X is the 15-inch model of the series and weighs 5.3 lbs, which is a little on top of the limit set for the selection, but we’ve included it because it is the lightest laptop you can get with this kind of graphics. It’s also fairly slim at 0.9 of an inch, and while its body is made out of a mix of plastic and metal, the construction isn’t the sturdiest, as the manufacturer had to go with slimmer case elements to keep the weight down, just like with the MSI devices mentioned earlier.

Still, you’re going to buy one of these for the hardware inside: a Core i7 HQ Skylake processor, up to 32 GB of RAM, Nvidia GTX 1070 8 GB graphics, triple storage drives (2xM.2 and 2.5″ bay) and a 75 Wh battery, plus options for either a FHD or an UHD matte screen. There’s no GSync support on this series, but that means Optimus is there for some decent battery life with daily use.

Of course, the Gigabyte P35x runs hot and noisy under continuous load, and you might even notice a bit of GPU throttling in some cases, but the overall performance is pretty solid and the high exterior temperatures are unavoidable on this kind of machine.

The P35X v6 model (the latest series, with the Nvidia 1070 graphics) starts at around $2100 at the time of this update, but you might actually find it cheaper online. Follow this link for more details, user reviews and updated configurations and prices.

The Gigabyte P35G and P35W are powerful, thin and light, but not as compact as the other 15 inch gaming ultrabooks

The Gigabyte P35X and P37X are some of the lightest notebook with Nvidia 1070 graphics out there

The P37X is the larger variant of the P35x, with a 17-inch screen and a total weight of around 6 lbs, being the lightest 17-incher with GTX 1070 graphics available out there.

Specs and features wise, it is identical to the 15-inch model, with the same CPU, GPU, memory, battery or screen options, just with a larger diagonal. Due to its increased footprint though there’s room for some macro-keys on the left side of the keyboard and there’s it’s able to run a little cooler under load, which also translates in more consistent performance, without any throttling. Oh, BTW, none of these laptops includes a TB3 port, which might ruin them for some of you.

The Gigabyte p37x v6 starts at around $2300, but just like the smaller version, you will probably find it for less online. Follow this link for more details.

The P37X gets macro-keys and runs a little cooler than the 15-inch version

The P37X gets macro-keys and runs a little cooler than the 15-inch version

Origin EVO15-S

The EVO15-S is a compact and light 15-incher with Nvidia 1060 graphics, thus a close alternative for the MSI GS63 (some even say it’s a re-branded MSI with different aesthetics and a higher price). It’s not available worldwide, but you can find out if it ships to your country from Origin’s website.

This laptop weighs around 4 lbs and gets an 0.69″ thick case made out of metal, and one of its main selling points is the ability to customize the color and finishing before ordering. It also gets a good RGB baklit keyboard and decent IO, but without a Thunderbolt 3 port.

Hardware wise, you’ll find a Core i7 HQ processor inside with Nvidia GTX 1060 6GB graphics, up to 32 GB of RAM and hybrid storage (M.2 and 2.5″ bay), plus a 1080p IPS matte screen. There’s no GSync, but due to the small battery, you’ll only get around 3-4 hours of daily use from this laptop.

Long story short, the Origin EVO15-S is a very close replica of the MSI GS63, with similar dimensions and specs. You can customize its outer looks to you own liking, but the lack of a TB3 port and its high price tag (starts at around $2100, while the GS63 starts at $1800) make it a hard sell.

The Origin EVO15-S is thin, light and can be customized to your own liking, but is also quite expensive when compared to other similarly equipped ultraportables

The Origin EVO15-S is thin, light and can be customized to your own liking, but is also quite expensive when compared to other similarly equipped ultraportables

Asus FX502VM

This laptop is a one of the most affordable notebooks you can get with Nvidia 1060 graphics, starting at around $1250 at the time of this update.

It’s also fairly light for a 15-incher, weighing 4.9 lbs, and inherits its design lines from the 15-inch Asus ROG laptops like the GL552s, with a metallic lid and interior, and a plastic underbelly. That means it’s a little thicker than the options above, at .95 of an inch, and it’s not the most sturdy computer out there either, but if you’ll treat it well it should do fine by you. The keyboard, the trackpad and the ports are also pretty standard for an Asus gaming laptop, and there’s no TB3 connector.

The real goodies lie inside, where you’ll find a quad-core Intel HQ processor, up to 32 GB of RAM, dual-storage options and an Nvidia 1060 graphics chip, but only the variant with 3 GB of VRAM and not the 6 GB version like on most other laptops in this section, which will take a small tall on gaming performance.

The Asus FX502VM starts at $1250 like I mentioned earlier and that kind of money will buy you a Core i5-6300HQ processor, 16 GB of RAM and a regular HDD, so you will have to pay extra for an SSD, but you’ll still end up paying a great price for the whole bundle, considering most GTX 1060 laptops start at at least $1500 at the time of this post. Follow this link for more details on the FX502, users reviews and updated configurations and prices.

The Asus FX502VM might not offer the same specs as most other laptops in this section, but is one of the most affordable ultra-portables with GTX 1060 graphics available at the time of this post

The Asus FX502VM might not offer the same specs as most other laptops in this section, but is one of the most affordable ultra-portables with GTX 1060 graphics available at the time of this post

Asus ROG Strix GL502VM and GL702VM

These are the heavier and the more powerful alternatives for the FX502VM mentioned above.

The ROG GL502VM is a 15-inch laptop with a Core i7 HQ processor, 16 GB of RAM, Nvidia GTX 1060 with 6 GB of VRAM and HDD storage, and it starts at around $1350. It’s a little heavy though, at 5.5 lbs, and it gets crap battery life, since its 1080p matte screen actually comes with GSync enabled, thus there’s no Optimus, which pretty much means this laptop is an option for those who value performance over portability.

The ROG GL702VM is the 17-inch sibling of the laptop above, with similar specs, screen-type and price, but actually gets a slightly larger battery and it only weighs 5.95 lbs, so it is quite light for a 17-incher.

None of these laptops offers a Thunderbolt 3 port and both will last for only a few hours of daily use on a charge, but that aside, they are great options for their prices. Follow this link for more details on the GL502VM and this one for details on the larger GL702VM, including user reviews, pictures and updated prices and configurations.

The Asus GL502 and GL702 offer solid performance for the buck, but sacrifice battery life for GSync screens

The Asus GL502 and GL702 offer solid performance for the buck, but sacrifice battery life for GSync screens

Razer Blade Pro and Aorux X7 DT

These 17-inch laptops are heavier than the 6 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 7.8 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 positioned in an odd place (to the right of the keyboard, not bellow like on most laptops), solid 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 $3699 and up, but you weren’t expecting it to be cheap anyway, did you. The Blade Pro is expected to sell towards the end of 2016, and you can follow this link for updated details, users reviews and the latest configurations available at the time you’re reading this.

The Razer Blade Pro offers impressive specs and GTX 1080 graphics in a compact form factor, starting at $3700

The Razer Blade Pro offers impressive specs and GTX 1080 graphics in a compact form factor, starting at $3700

The Aorus X7 DT is even lighter than the Blade Pro, weighing around 7.2 lbs for the base level, mostly due to the fact that it uses thinner materials for its outer case, and as a result it’s not as sturdily built either. It also doesn’t offer a mechanical keyboard and lacks a Thunderbolt 3 port, but on the other hand 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 point of $3100.

That’s going to get you a Core i7-6820HK 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.

On top of all these, the Aorus X7 DT is actually available in some stores at the time of this post, and you can find more about it and the available configurations by following this link.

The Aorus X7 DT offers fast hardware is a compact and well priced package

The Aorus X7 DT offers very fast hardware is a compact and well priced package

Dell XPS 15

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, as it is available in a few different options. Its biggest selling points are the excellent build quality and reduced footprint, as you can tell from that small bezel around the screen, cause specs wise the XPS 15 is not really a match for the other computers in this section.

It is powered by an Intel Core HQ processor with up to 32 GB of RAM and PCIe storage, but it only bundles an Nvidia GTX 960M graphics chip, so it’s not an amazing gamer by its own. On the other hand, it does get a Thunderbolt 3 port so you can hook it up to an eGPU. Still, overall I feel the XPS 15 is mostly a multimedia ultraportable with gaming abilities, and you can find more about it from our detailed review.

Dell does offer it in a bunch of different options, with either a FHD matte or an UHD touch screen, Core i5 or i7 HQ processors, with or without a 2.5″ storage bay, and with a 56 or an 84 Wh battery. Not all these options are available worldwide though.

In the US the XPS 15 starts at around $1000, with good mid-level configurations going for $1200 to $1500, so you are paying premium for the build and the form-factor, but I’d reckon you were expecting it. 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, both by its own and especially when hooked up to an external GPU via TB3

The XPS 15 is a beautiful and compact multimedia laptop that can also tackle games, both by its own and especially when hooked up to an external GPU via TB3

Asus Zenbook UX510UW

This is another multimedia notebook with some gaming potential, but unlike the XPS above it is built on the Intel Core U hardware, which means it does sacrifice performance for longer battery life. And also unlike the XPS, it doesn’t offer a Thunderbolt 3 port.

That means potential buyers will have to settle for a GTX 960M graphics chip, paired with up to 24 GB of RAM, dual-storage, a Core i7 U processor and a 48 Wh battery, good enough for 5-7 hours of daily use on a charge. The UX510 on the other hand doesn’t shine in demanding loads or in games, as it can only handle modern titles on 1080p resolutions with Medium details, and I do advise you to get the FHD matte screen option if you decide to go for one of these, as it’s a much better match for the hardware inside than the UHD variant. Hopefully an Nvidia 1050 update will be available in the near future, which should boost its gaming abilities.

The Zenbook UX510 is not very affordable either, with a base price of $1000 to $1100, as you are charged premium for the aesthetics and the light-weight body (4.1 lbs), which will probably convince some of you to give it a try. Just make sure you don’t buy it for the performance, you’ll find more powerful alternatives out there for the same kind of money, but they won’t be as light, as thin or as well made.

You should read our detailed review of the Zenbook UX510UW for more details about this notebook and you can also follow this link for updated info on configurations and prices.

The Zenbook UX510 is a slim and long-lasting multimedia laptop with mid-level gaming abilities,

The Zenbook UX510 is a slim and long-lasting multimedia laptop with mid-level gaming abilities

There are a couple of other 15 inchers that didn’t make the list above due to being a little too heavy or not that great at dealing with games, but are also worth considering if you don’t mind sacrificing portability to a small extent, like the:

  • Asus ROG GL502VSmore details and latest prices – a thicker and heavier 15-inch laptop with Core HQ processors, GSync screen and Nvidia GTX 1070 graphics. Weighs 5.7 lbs and starts at around $1650.
  • Aorus X5 v6more details and latest prices – a smaller version of the Aorus X7, with a 15-inch 120 Hz screen with GSync, Core HK processors, Nvidia GTX 1070 and a large 95 Wh battery. Weighs 5.5 lbs and starts at $2399.
  • MSI GE62VR Apache Promore details and latest prices – a full-size 15-inch laptop with Core HQ processors, Nvidia GTX 1060 graphics and a rather small 51 Wh battery. Weighs 5.3 lbs and starts at $1499.
  • Gigabyte P35Wmore details and latest prices – a thin and light 15-inch laptop with Core HQ processors and Nvidia GTX 970M graphics. Weighs 4.85 lbs and you can find it for around $1300 at the time of this update, although stocks are limited.

Besides these, you should also check out the other ultrabportables in this list of recommended 15 inchers.

There are also a few other 17 inchers I’d like to mention, thin and light laptops in their classes, but again heavier than the 6 lbs limit I’ve set for the main selection.

i7-4700HQ
i7-4700HQ
i7-4700HQ
  • HP Omen 17 Gamer more details and latest prices – mid-range 17-incher with aggressive looks and a total weight of 6.3 lbs. Available in a bunch of options, with a matte UHD panel with GSync support, Core HQ processors, a 95 Wh battery and either Nvidia 1060 or 1070 graphics. Starts at around $1550 for the 1060 versions and $1700 for the 1070 models.
  • Gigabyte P57Xmore details and latest prices – mid-range 17-incher with a plastic case. Weighs 6.6 lbs and offers a Core HQ processor, Nvidia GTX 1070 graphics, a 75 Wh battery and a standard matte display, with a starting price of around $1800.
  • MSI GE72VR Apache Promore details and latest prices – a mid-range 17-incher with a fairly bulky body (1.2″), which still only weighs around 6 lbs. Offers Core HQ processors, Nvidia GTX 1060 graphics and a 51 Wh battery. Starts at around $1500.
  • Aorus X7more details and latest prices – the 17-inch model mid-range sibling of the X7 DT, with Nvidia GTX 1070 graphics, Core HQ processors, 95 Wh battery and a 120 Hz GSync screen, all tucked inside a 1.1″ body that weighs 7.2 pounds. The X7 starts at around $2700.

Wrap-up

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.

Andrei Girbea, aka Mike, Editor-in-Chief and a huge fan of mobile computers. Since 2007, I've only owned smaller than 12.5" laptops and I've been testing tens, if not hundreds of mini laptops. You'll find mostly reviews and guides written by me here on the site.

247 Comments

  1. Charry

    November 26, 2016 at 7:08 am

    Hello Andrei
    I'm a soon to be college student that would like to hear your opinion on buying a laptop that fits my desires.
    So it has to max 1500$ and I want it to be aethsthetic good looking while being powerful too for games like battlefield 1 (2016) at normal settings. Also the battery life should be decent and it shouldn't get too hot for use. The key board should also feel comfortable. What do u think anything out there that fits this?
    Note: I'm starting to college next August 2017 so I don't know if I should wait for any newer products/ upgraded around the same price next year. Thanks!

    • Andrei Girbea

      November 26, 2016 at 10:02 am

      There are many options that would fit your needs, you'd have to tell me what size you'd be interested in: a full-size laptop with 15-17 inch screen or something smaller (14, maybe 13 incher).

      • Charry

        November 27, 2016 at 5:46 pm

        Uhm it has to be a 15 inch not lower or higher
        Ty

        • Andrei Girbea

          November 28, 2016 at 5:52 am

          I've read your earlier comment again, and I'd advise you to wait till next Spring, there's going to be a new CPU and GPU hardware generation available by that time and I'd go for those if you plan to keep the computer for a few years.

  2. Georgian Cazan

    December 5, 2016 at 8:23 pm

    Hello Andrei,

    I need a laptop for Kali Linux (Debian 8+), to use it for multitasking, very good wireless card, all the tools in the OS, and for other OS as Win 7 or 10, for writing code, pentesting tools, scanning, push it to the maximum, to be lightweight and very fast and powerful, and expecting not to bottleneck as in heat, fans, processor, memory and use it for 5-6 years without issue.

    Sa traiesti

    • Andrei Girbea

      December 6, 2016 at 6:07 am

      I'm sorry but I don't know much about Linux, so I don't know what to recommend. Perhaps someone else can pitch in

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