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Best portable gaming laptops and ultrabooks in 2020 (detailed guide)

Best portable gaming laptops and ultrabooks in 2020 (detailed guide)
By Andrei Girbea - @ andreigirbea , last updated on June 19, 2020

Here at Ultrabookreview.com, we’ve been thoroughly reviewing gaming laptops for more than 10 years, from all the major brands. This long-term experience is what qualifies us to tell you which are our favorite gaming laptops in early-2020, and why.

We’re primarily sticking with the portable ultrabooks, but we’ll also touch on the best full-size gaming notebooks, due to their good value and the fact that most are fairly compact and light as well these days.

With the multitude of options, it’s not easy picking the right gaming laptop for your needs and budget, though. It sure requires more than just skimming through a list of specs and components. That’s why, since we’ve tested most of these computers, we take many aspects into consideration for our recommendations. The performance, thermals and noise levels while running games and other demanding chores come first, but the overall build, the screen quality, the typing experience, the audio or the potential flaws count as well. On top of all these, pricing plays a final, but important, role in determining a notebook’s overall worth.

Even when accounting for all these aspects, you’ll see that there are actually many good gaming laptops out there, with various form factors, hardware specs, features and price tags, each catering to different needs. As a result, this is not just a basic Top 10 article, but a detailed guide (with a condensed summary, for those of you in a hurry). I’d advise you to take your time and go through the entire post, it will help you narrow down your options and make a purchase you won’t regret. And of course, if you have any questions or feedback, don’t hesitate to get in touch in the comments section at the end of the article, we’re around to help out if we can.

Oh, and a shameless plug. If you find this article helpful, we’d be extremely grateful if you’d buy from our links and recommend the site to your friends, id helps us immensely and allows us to continue our work.

Let’s get this started. We’ve split the article into a few different sections, in order to make it easier for you to navigate:

2020 laptops with RTX and GTX Turing graphics cards

Before we proceed to the bulk of this article, I want to quickly touch on the 2019/2020 notebooks based on Nvidia’s GeForce RTX and GTX Turing graphics chips.

Earlier this year most of these were overpriced. In the meantime, though, many have come down in price, and now offer better value than the Pascal (GTX 1000) models of the past.

On top of that, there are actually more games now that can benefit from the competitive advantages of the RTX chips: Ray Tracing and DLSS. Battlefield V, Shadow of Tomb Raider or Metro: Exodus are just some of them. And even if RTX is of no interest to you, Turing GTX laptops (primarily the GTX 1660Ti models) have pretty much become the sweet spot in terms of performance/buck.

That’s why, while we’ll still include both Turing and Pascal recommendations down below, I’d be more inclined to opt for one of the new Turing models these days. However, those of you shopping on a tight budget might still score great deals on some of the 2018 Pascal options, while those are still in stock.

RTX gaming laptops - slowly becoming the sweet-spots

Best ultra-portable gaming laptops

This is the condensed version of the article, focusing on the thin-and-light, no-compromise performance notebooks.

The options in here combine compact, thin and premium-made builds, high-quality screens with 240 Hz refresh rates, good-quality RGB keyboards, as well as the latest hardware specs and features. They also do a good job and delivering on the hardware’s performance potential in demanding loads and AAA games. However, these options aren’t cheap, and you should expect them to run hot with games, as there’s simply no other way when you put powerful hardware inside small form-factors.

Just a heads’up, we’ve only included 15-inch models in this selection, but this part covers the 13 and 14-inch variants, and this one covers the larger 17-inch ultraportables.

First, the specs and particularities, and then we’ll get in-depth on these picks and explain why they were chosen.

The best portable gaming laptops on the moment

Razer Blade 15 AdvancedreviewAsus ROG Zephyrus S15 GX502  – reviewGigabyte Aero 15 review
Screen15.6-inch – FHD 240 Hz matte15.6-inch – FHD 240 Hz matte with GSync (*)15.6-inch – FHD 240 Hz matte, UHD 60 Hz 100% aRGB matte, UHD OLED
ProcessorCore i7-10875H, 8Coreup to Core i7-10875H, 8Coreup to Core i9-10980HK, 8Core
VideoNvidia GeForce RTX 2070 to 2080 Super, with OptimusNvidia GeForce RTX 2070 Super 115W or 2080 Super 90+W, with Optimus(*)Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 or 2080 Super, with Optimus
Memoryup to 32 GB DDR4 (2x DIMMs)up to 32 GB DDR4  (, 16 GB soldered, 1x DIMMs)up to 32 GB DDR4 (2x DIMMs)
Storage1x M.2 PCIe2x M.2 PCIe2x M.2 PCIe
Ports3x USB-A 3.1, 1x USB-C with Thunderbolt 3, HDMI 2.0, DP 1.4, mic/earphone2x USB-A 3.1, 1x USB-C gen 2 with DP and charging, HDMI 2.0b, LAN, headphone/mic, Kensington Lock3x USB-A 3.1, 1x USB-C with Thunderbolt 3, HDMI 2.0, miniDP 1.4, LAN, SD card reader, mic/earphone
Battery80 Wh76 Wh94 Wh
Size355 mm or 13.98” (w) x 235 mm or 9.25” (d) x 17.8 mm or .70” (h)360 mm or 14.17” (w) x  252 mm or 9.92” (d) x 18.9 mm or .74” (h)356 mm or 14.01” (w) x 250 mm or 9.8” (d) x 18.9 mm or .75” (h)
Weight~2.1 kg (4.65 lbs)2.05 kg (4.55 lbs)~2.12 kg (4.7 lbs)
Priceupdated configurations and pricesupdated configurations and pricesupdated configurations and prices
Particularitiesunibody aluminum construction, clean design, Chroma RGB backlit keyboard, biometrics, up-firing speakersunibody magnesium construction, Aura RGB backlit keyboard, AAS cooling system, bottom speakersmostly aluminum build, simple design, RGB keyboard with Numpad, bottom speakers

* Normally Optimus and GSync cannot coexist, we’ll explain how they do in this case further down, once we get to the Zephyrus.

Razer Blade 15 Advanced

The 15-inch Razer Blade is our favorite all-around gaming ultraportable of the moment. However, it’s also the most expensive, and that alone might steer some of you away.

We’ve covered all its aspects in our detailed review. In a few words, though, Razer demand a premium for the excellent unibody aluminum build, the simple and clean aesthetics, the fast and customizable keyboard with per-key RGB illumination, the complete IO with support for Thunderbolt 3, the fast 240 Hz matte screen, the consistent performance, and the good battery life.

Compared to the competition, the Blade has an edge in the design and overall craftsmanship quality. It’s also one of the very few gaming models with up-firing audio, as well as the single one that offers Thunderbolt 3, a finger sensor and an IR camera at the same time. On top of these, Razer’s control software is one of the better on the market, allowing to easily tweak the illumination and juggle with the performance settings.

Hardware-wise, the Blade 15 is available in a few different configurations. Most of them are based on a six-core Intel Core i7 processor, up to 32GB of DDR4 RAM, a single M.2 PCIe slot for storage and an 80 Wh battery. You can then opt for either RTX 2070 or 2080 Max-Q graphics, paired with a 240 Hz screen. There’s no GSync, just Optimus.

Razer also offers a Blade Base Model variant with a GeForce RTX 2060 graphics card, dual M.2 + 2.5″ storage, a 65W battery, and a 144 Hz screen, but this variant is expensive compared to the other compact RTX 2060 alternatives. A more affordable GTX 1660Ti model is also available, as well as a professional Studio Edition of the Blade 15, with a 4K UHD wide-gamut screen and Quadro RTX 5000 graphics.

The performance is another of the Blade’s important selling points. This is one of the few 15-inch gaming notebooks based on the higher-power 90W variant of the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 chip, not the 80W version you’ll find in most of the other models. That allows it to handle demanding games better than most ultraportables, especially once tweaked as explained in our review. The Blade also runs quieter than most, at about 44 dB with games, but at the same time, both the internal components and the aluminum case reach high temperatures.

Buyers should also be aware of the potential coil-whine issues, problems with sleep, and possible QC inconsistencies with the keyboard and clickpad. That’s why you should only buy this from reputable stores that accept returns, just in case you end up with a faulty unit.

The Razer Blade 15 Advanced starts at $2599 at the time of this update for the RTX 2070MQ model with the 240 Hz screen, 16GB of RAM and 256GB of SSD storage. You will most likely find it discounted here and there, though, so make sure to follow this link for updated configurations and prices at the time you’re reading the article.

Razer Blade 15 - the best thin-and-light gaming laptop

Asus ROG Zephyrus S15 GX502

This is the latest update of the ROG Zephyrus S and the best-value gaming ultraportable out there, as you’ll find out from our detailed review.

It’s a few hundreds of USD/EUR cheaper than the Blade in the top hardware configuration, and also more widely available all over the world.

It performs better than the top-specced Blade in demanding processing loads and about the same in games, but it also runs significantly noisier (up to 54 dB). That’s because, unlike Razer, Asus opted for a full-power implementation of the RTX 2070 115W chip on this laptop, the kind of graphics you’d normally find on a thicker computer. That allows them to keep the pricing down, without sacrificing on the performance and temperatures, but with that downside of increased noise levels. The competent thermal module gets the “blame” for it, alongside the software package that allows you to juggle with the acoustics, temperatures and performance levels, as explained in the review.

Performance aside, the Zephyrus also offers one of the nicest keyboards in this segment, just more comfortable than the one of the Blade. It also gets the 240 Hz fast-screen that’s pretty much the norm in this class these days, as well as a strongly crafted magnesium shell that does a great job at repelling fingerprints and smudges. The aluminum covered lid is not as friendly though, nor as well built, and still plastered with a glowing ROG logo that can’t be switched off.  There are also no biometrics and especially no Thunderbolt 3 support on this laptop, so no way to hook up an eGPU.

On the other hand, the Zephyrus S has a few unique traits down its sleeve. The AAS cooling system is one of them, a mechanical flap at the bottom that isolates the main chassis from the user and allows gaming on the lap, something impossible on other ultraportables. More importantly, this is also one of the very few gaming laptops that offer both GSync and Optimus. You get to choose between them based on whether you want a smooth gaming experience (with GSync), or long battery life with daily use (with Optimus).

In conclusion, The GX502 has its share of flaws, like the lacks in the IO department, the rather slow SSD that comes installed out of the box, its gaming-oriented design reminiscences, and the middling speakers. If you can live with them, though, this Zephyrus S GX502 is your best bet in this class at around 2200 USD, and it’s most likely going to get cheaper in the months to come.

Follow this link for updated configurations and prices at the time you’re reading the article.

Asus ROG Zephyrus S - the best-value 15-inch ultraportable

Gigabyte Aero 15 X/Y

While I don’t think the Aero 15 is as good as the other options at gaming, there’s no doubt it’s a competitive all-rounder with solid particularities of its own, as you’ll find from our detailed review.

For starters, this gets a clean black design, so it’s the best fit for uptight business environments. It also gets a complete keyboard with a NumPad section, a complete set of ports that include TB3, a card-reader and LAN, and the largest battery in the class, at 94 Wh. Gigabyte also allows buyers to choose between several screen choices: the 240 Hz panel from the other gaming ultraportables, but also a UHD OLED variant and a UHD IPS with 100% AdobeRGB coverage, which will appeal to those interested in a portable editing rig.

The Aero 15 matches these features with excellent performance in demanding loads, but its thermal module shows limitations on the high-end configurations in combined CPU+ GPU loads, like PC games. As a result, the components reach high temperatures on the Aero, the fans run loud (at up to 52 dB) and much of the heat transfers to the outer chassis that reaches uncomfortable temperatures of 55-60 degrees Celsius. All these combined only push the Aero to a third place in this list of recommendations.

In conclusion, if you want the sober design and the unique particularities of the Aero 15 in a small and thin package, go for it, the Aero 15 is the one for you. Just make sure you’re OK with the thermal/performance situation explained above and in the review. Finally, I’ll also add that the Aero also has the pricing on its side, matching the Zephyrus and undercutting the Blade by a few hundreds of bucks.

Follow this link or updated configurations and prices at the time you’re reading the article, as well as user reviews from previous buyers.

Gigabyte Aero 15 - the competitive all-rounder

Almost there: MSI GS65 Stealth Thin and Acer Predator Triton 500

Since choosing the 3rd spot in this section was so close between the Gigabyte Aero 15, the MSI GS65 Thin and the Acer Predator Triton 500, we’ll also quickly touch on the two that were left out.

Our detailed review of the RTX MSI GS65 Stealth Thin is available over here. Specs-wise, this is similar to the Blade 15, but smaller, lighter and a bit more affordable, yet not as well built and not as powerful. In fact, the GS65 is known for its squeaky and flexible chassis, you’ll find plenty of videos about it on Youtube. In the end, it’s up to you if you can accept this in a $2000+ laptop or not.

The looks, the design and the keyboard are this model’s greatest assets. It can also perform well once tweaked, but while the high-end variants get a Core i9-9880H processor this year, they are only built on the 80W variants of the RTX 2080 chip, so are not as fast in games as the Blade. The GS65 is also nor as fast or as price-competitive as the Zephyrus. On top of that, the performance is corroborated with noisy fans (up to 54 dB) and fairly high case temperatures, which will further interfere with your gaming experience.

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

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin - the light and beatiful option

As for the Predator Triton 500, which we’ve also reviewed here on the site, this one is the most affordable RTX ultraportables you can find in stores, both in the RTX 2060 and the RTX 2080MQ variant.

It has the solid performance in daily use and demanding PC games on its side, as well as a dual Optimus/GSync mode similar to the one on the Zephyrus, but the performance is paired with hot temperatures and noisy fans (up to 54 dB).

That aside, the Predator is compact and light, but not as well built as the other models and not as clean either, with a fair-bit of Predator logos and design elements plastered all around the case. It also only gets a 3-zone RGB keyboard, while all the others get per-key lighting control, and loses points in the speakers’ and software department.

All in all, if you’re on a tight budget and looking for a compact and light RTX laptop, this could be the one for you. If you’re willing to spend more, though, I’d go with the other options mentioned before.

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

Acer Predator Triton 500 - the value model

17-inch ultraportable gaming laptops

This a newer breed of gaming laptops that have developed in the last years.

They are mostly larger versions of the 15-inch models mentioned above. However, the increase in size allowed the manufacturers to further tweak the thermal modules, resulting in lower temperatures and/or less noise, implement faster graphics and address some of the issues of the 15-inch models.

We’re not going to get in-depth on these models here, but we’ll link to our reviews for more details.

Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX701 – reviewconfigurations and prices

Pros: good build quality; fast and quiet RGB keyboard; 144/240 Hz screen options with switchable GSync/Optimus; best gaming performer in the class – the only option with 100W RTX 2080; best thermals in the class; useful software package; punchy up-firing speakers.

Cons: impractical when not on a desk; no card-reader, TB3 or LAN; difficult to upgrade; narrow clickpad; fans get loud with gaming; expensive

Bottom point: The ROG Zephyrus GX701 is, once tweaked, the best performing 17-inch gaming ultraportable on the market. That’s primarily thanks to its inverted design that favors power and cooling over practicality, but also due to its hardware specs. As a result, this notebook is excellent on a desk, but impractical everywhere else, so I only recommend it if the performance is your number one criteria.

Asus Zephyrus S GX701 - excellent performance in impractical form-factor

Gigabyte Aero 17 – configurations and prices

Pros: simple, sober aesthetics and good build quality; RGB keyboard with NumPad; multiple screen options – 240 Hz for gaming, or UHD IPS/OLED for multimedia; complete IO; best battery life in the class

Cons: a bit dated design; not as fast as other options and still runs hot and noisy; same poor speakers from the Aero 15

Bottom point: The Aero 17 is pretty much a larger Aero 15 with a 17-inch screen. None of the other important specs and design elements have changed, but thermals are somewhat improved thanks to the larger chassis. All in all, though, this will appeal to the same crowd as primarily a thin-and-light allrounder, and not necessarily as a gaming device.

Gigabyte Aero 17 - again, the versatile all-rounder

MSI GS75 Stealth Thin – reviewconfigurations and prices

Pros: compact and the lightest in its class – 5 lbs; one of the better keyboards in the class, with NumPad; good IO; brighter display than on the competition; Core i9 option and excellent performance once tweaked; good battery life

Cons:  not as strongly built as the competition; not as fast as some of the other options in games, with the 80W RTX 2080 as the top configuration; poor speakers; rather expensive

Bottom point: Much like the smaller GS65, the GS75 Stealth Thin is the fashion icon in its segment: compact, very light and great looking, but not as sturdy as the other options and not as fast in games. It does perform well, but only by ramping up the fans to high levels and still running hotter than the bunch.

MSI GS75 Stealth - the model, once more

Razer Blade Pro 17 – review – configurations and prices

Pros: great build and clean design; good keyboard and the best clickpad in the class; fast screen, but only 144 Hz variant available; good performance (RTX 2080 90W) and useful software package; front speakers and biometrics

Cons: gets hot and noisy with modern games; beware of coil whine; smallest battery in the segment (70 Wh) and subpar battery life; steep entry price

Bottom point: The updated Blade Pro 17 addresses most of its predecessor’s issues. It inherits most of the strong selling points of the popular Blade 15 Advanced, with improved thermals, but also a smaller battery as a result. Razer still expects you to pay a premium for the craftsmanship quality and the overall solid bundle, but even so, the entry price is very steep for a 2060 variant. The 2070 and 2080 configurations are not bad in terms of value, though.

Razer Blade Pro 17 - much like the 15-inch variant gaming laptop, but with better thermals and shorter battery life

These are all high-tier premium gaming ultraportables.

We’ll talk about better value 17-inch models down below, like the Acer Predator Helios 300, the Asus ROG Strix Scar 17, the Lenovo Legion Y740 or the MSI GE75 Raider, listed here in alphabetical order and reviewed in previous articles on the site.

More portable, less powerful gaming laptops

If you don’t have around $2000 to spend, but you still want a portable laptop that can handle gaming, albeit, not with the highest graphics settings, you should consider the options in this section instead.

With these you’ll somewhat compromise on the performance, opting for a mid-range graphics chip, but not on the thin-and-light form factor. On the other hand, if you’d rather get something with beefier specs or better overall value (same specs, but at a more affordable level), and don’t care as much about portability, you’d better jump straight to this next section.

I still want to play modern games

In this case, I suggest going with one of the available models built around a GTX 1660Ti graphics chip, or a GTX 1650 chip in the thinnest options. These will handle most recent PC games at FHD resolution and medium-to-high graphics settings. Older GTX 1050Ti models might still be an option for those of you on a budget, but the performance gap to the Turing GTX 1660Ti is significant, and most likely not worth it if the gaming abilities sit high on your list of priorities.

We’ll touch on the 15-inch models first, and then cover the 13 and 14-inch ultrabooks in the next subsection.

Asus Zephyrus M GU502 and Zephyrus G GA502

Asus did a very good job with their 2019 lineups of Zephyrus models, that’s why the mid-range Zephyrus M and the entry-level Zephyrus G get to be mentioned in this article as well.

The Zephyrus M GU502 is a simpler, lighter and more affordable version of the Zephyrus S GX502, as explained in our detailed review.

It’s built on a similar barebone, with the same design lines, the same magnesium main-deck and the same excellent keyboard. Hardware-wise, though, the GU502 only gets GTX 1660Ti or RTX 2060 graphics cards, and it’s primarily available in the former variant in most regions. It also drops the AAS cooling system for the GX502, as well as the dual GSync/Optimus mode.

As mentioned in the review, this Zephyrus M is one of the best-performing sub 2 kilos notebooks on the market and also one of the better-balanced options out there. Asus is aware of what they got here, so they charge quite a premium for this laptop in comparison to the other 1660Ti models on the market.  I’d expect the price to drop in the months to come, though.

In conclusion, if you can find this for around $1600, go for it, so follow this link for updated prices and configurations. If not, I’d recommend the RTX 2060 variant of the Zephyrus S GX502 instead, at around $1800 at the time of this article.

Asus Zephyrus G GU502 - the value ultraportable

If you don’t have that kind of money to spend, but still don’t want to compromise on the size and lightweight and gaming abilities, the Zephyrus G GA502 could be an option for you (review).

This sells for around $1100, and that’s a good price for a compact GTX 1660Ti laptop, but as you’ll see in our detailed review, there are a few catches you’ll have to accept: the GA502 is entirely made out of plastic, gets a white backlit keyboard and settles for a lower-quality 120 Hz panel with reduced brightness and viewing angles in comparison to the 144/240 Hz models on the higher-tier Zephyrus lines. On top of all these, it’s built on an AMD platform with the 60W Max-Q variant of the GTX 1660Ti, so it’s roughly 20% slower in games and 25-30% slower in demanding CPU loads when compared to the Intel i7/80W GTX 1660Ti variants out there.

It keeps the 76 Wh battery though, which you won’t otherwise find in this class, and, I’ll have to stress this again, sells for a lot less than the other Zephyrus models. However, once you start looking at full-size laptops above 5 lbs, you’ll find that there are actually nicer options for a similar price. We’ll touch on them further down in this article.

Asus Zephyrus G GA502 - great price, but with compromises

Tongfang barebones – Eluktronics MECH-15 G2Rx Slim or Schenker XMG Neo 15

A few different smaller-tier OEMs sell a competitively priced thin-and-light gaming laptop based on the Tongfang GK5CN6Z barebone, Eluktronics (in the US) and Schenker (in Europe) being the most popular brands.

If you’ll look through the reviews on Amazon, Newegg and other stores, you’ll see that these products score very high with their buyers. That’s both because they offer excellent specs and features for an affordable price, but also because these buyers usually know in advance what to expect from such a computer.

So what should you expect? A compact metallic chassis with fair build quality, a mechanical chiclet keyboard that’s different than what you’ll otherwise find in this class, a 144 Hz IPS screen, good CPU and GPU specs, multiple configurations options, and a rather small battery.

However, you also need to be aware that these computers might not be as nicely polished as a Razer or an Asus or an MSI, and the post-sale Client Support is not something you should rely on.

That’s why I’d recommend these barebones to tech-savvy users, but not necessarily to the average customer. However, if you’re buying from Amazon or other big stores, you’ll get the option to just send the product back within 30-days in case there’s something wrong with it, and that should be reassuring enough, in case you want to give this a try.

Follow these links for more details and updated configurations on the Eluktronics MECH-15 G2Rx Slim (mostly available in the US/CA) or Schenker XMG Neo 15 (mostly available in Europe).

Dell XPS 15, Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme and the Asus Zenbook Pro Duo

These are premium ultraportable performance laptops, with an emphasize on premium and ultraportable. However, unlike the Blade and the Zephyrus and the Stealth mentioned in a previous section, these are more affordable and bundle lower-end graphics, namely variations of the GTX 1650 chip (or 1050 Ti in the 2018 generations). That means they’re not primarily gaming laptops, but can still tackle most titles at FHD resolutions and mid-level graphics.

We’ve covered these options in multiple articles here on the site, and while it’s hard to say that one’s a better buy than the others, I will share some of my personal thoughts about them.

The 2019 Dell XPS 15 7590 (which we’ve reviewed here) is a hardware update of the previous generations, with 2019-level hardware and several screen options, including a UHD OLED at the very end. The excellent build quality, the screens, the IO and the long battery life provided by the 97 Wh battery option are among this one’s main selling points. On the other hand, potential buyers need to be aware of the potential issues that they might run into, documented in this article.

Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Extreme (and the P1 workstation variant) has been, for the last year, my favorite option in this class. Doug also owns a ThinkPad P1 as his laptop of choice, and swears by it, which means a lot knowing how picky he is.

The 2019 updates build on last year’s versions with modern hardware and some new screen choices, just like the 2019 XPS. The ThinkPad is a little more consistent and less quirky than the XPS, according to the overall feedback, and also wins points in the keyboard, IO and hardware department. The classic ThinkPad design, on the other hand, might not be for everyone, and with an 80 Wh battery, this can’t compete with the XPS in terms of battery life. On top of these, the ThinkPad X1E is significantly more expensive than a similarly specced XPS 15.

2019 versions of the Dell XPS 15 and Thinkpad X1 Extreme are hardware-bumps of the previous generations

2019 versions of the Dell XPS 15 and Thinkpad X1 Extreme are hardware-bumps of the previous generations

Asus also offers a competitive ZenBook Pro lineup in this range. The 2018 and early-2019 variants came at the competition with wider availability and lower prices, especially outside the US. However, as detailed in our review of the Zenbook Pro UX580, the build quality, typing experience and battery life were not on par with those of the XPS and X1 Extreme, and it was up to the potential customers to decide if these were compensated by the lower price-tag.

As a result, while Dell and Lenovo stuck with the same designs for their 2019 models, the mid-2019 ZenBook Pro Duo UX581 update is a completely different beast, with a studier unibody chassis, a new keyboard and not just one, but two screens.

The form-factor pushes the keyboard at the bottom, like on some of the ROG Zephyrus lineups, in order to accommodate that secondary screen at the top. This alone targets the Zenbook UX581 to different demographics of professional users, those who need a competent work-laptop and plan to mostly keep in on a desk, doing real-work. In comparison, the XPS and the X1E/P1 remain smaller and lighter options with a more versatile form-factor and longer battery life, but don’t get the potential added practicality of that second display, or the increased performance of the Core i9 and RTX 2060 hardware in the ZenBook Duo.

In other words, this year Asus decided to no longer compete with the heavyweights of this category, and instead create a sub-niche of their own with the ZenBook Pro Duo UX581. Follow this link for more details and updated configurations, as well as this one for our detailed review.

2018 ZenBook Pro (left) vs 2019 ZenBook pro Duo (right)

2018 ZenBook Pro (left) vs 2019 ZenBook pro Duo (right)

Other units to keep in eye on in this class are the new MSI Prestige 15, the updated Asus ZenBook 15 and an updated version of the 15-inch Lenovo Yoga 730, all built on Core U processors and GTX 1650 graphics. An updated Microsoft Surface Book 3 should also be of interest, as well as the overhauled HP EliteBook 1050, albeit that’s primarily a business notebook with a price to match. We’ll also keep an eye on them for our next major update.

I want a smaller 13 or 14-inch ultrabook

Most of the 14-inch or smaller thin-and-light notebooks with dedicated graphics are based on Nvidia’s entry-level MX250 or MX150 chips, and these don’t offer much in terms of performance. There, are, however, a few GTX 1650 powered exceptions.

To make things even more complicated, both the MX250 and the MX150 are each available in two variants. One is designed for ultra-thin formats, and another roughly 20% more powerful, but only implemented in a handful of 13 and 14-inch models.

13-inch gaming ultrabooks

For years, the Alienware 13 has been the only 13-inch performance laptop money could buy. It wasn’t compact and it wasn’t pretty, but it bundled a GTX 1060 GPU in its latest iteration, good enough for FHD gaming at high details.

Since that’s no longer an option, unless you somehow find it used, these days you have to settle for either one of those MX150/MX250 models, or the only GTX 1650 13-inch model available: the Razer Blade Stealth 13.

However, there are a few things you need to be aware of before taking the plunge on this notebook. First of all, the GTX 1650 Max-Q Blade Stealth 13 is very expensive: $1899 at the time of this update. Without a clear competitor, Razer can charge as much as they want on it, and they do demand a big premium.

I can accept that, but then the 1650 Stealth is just slightly faster than the MX150 variant in games, and actually slower in demanding processor loads, with the IceLake Core i7 CPU. It doesn’t get a 120/144 Hz screen either, so the gaming experience suffers even more compared to the larger options.

Nonetheless, as reported in our detailed review, the Razer Blade 13 Stealth remains a solid performance ultrabook: we loved the build quality, the small and light form-factor, the excellent touchscreen, the front speakers, and the clicky keyboard. But if I’d be in the market for such a computer, I’d go with the much more affordable MX150 variant instead, or with a larger 14-inch laptop if improved gaming performance in a tiny shell would be a must.

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

Razer Blade Stealth - the smallest competent gaming ultrabooks

We can’t jump to the next section before mentioning that there are also quite a few other interesting 13-inch ultrabooks that might be of interest to you, built on the lower-power variants on the MX150/MX250 chips.

Yes, these are 20-40% slower in games than the Blade Stealth, but perhaps will appeal to those of you on a tighter budget and without the gaming-performance as a top criterion. Among these options, I’d look into the HP Envy 13, the Asus ZenBook UX334FL and ZenBook UX392FL, and even the rather unique Huawei MateBook 13 with its 3:2 touch display, each with their particularities, strong-points, and quirks.

14-inch gaming notebooks

Your options are no longer as limited once you step up to this subcategory, but that’s not going to make your decision easy.

Most models are still based on MX150/MX250 graphics, except for the MSI Prestige 14 and the MSI Prestige PS42. The latter is based on a quad-core i7 and GTX 1050 graphics, while the former is the updated variant based on a six-core i7 and the GXT 1650Ti GPU. Both Nvidia options are Max-Q, of course, the variants designed for ultraportable chassis, but still, offer improved performance in these laptops over the existing MX150/mX250 alternatives.

The prestige 14 is especially interesting as one fo the first options to integrate the six-core Core i7-10710U processor at a higher power setting. I’m not going to bore you with the details, but OEMs can implement this CPU in several variants, and this is the higher-tier 25W+ option. Paired with the GTX 1650Ti 35W GPU, Thunderbolt connectivity and a compact and light form-factor, the Prestige 14 might just well be the best gaming ultrabook of this moment (Q4 2019). It is also more affordable than the Blade Stealth, with a launch MSRP of $1200 for the Core i5 model and $1400 for the six-core i7 with more RAM and storage, both with FHD screens. A UHD wide-gamut option is also available for creators, with a $200 premium.

We’ll tell you more about it once we get to review it, and in the meantime, follow this link for more details and updated prices/configurations.

If the gaming performance is truly important to you, then the Asus ZenBook Pro UX480 or the Gigabyte Aero 14 should also be on your list. However, keep in mind these are both 2018 models, so you might no longer easily find them in stores.

The ZenBook Pro 14 is based on a Core U + GTX 1050 MQ hardware platform, much like the ZenBook 15 or the Dell XPS 15 of that generation, but in a smaller package. It weighs roughly 1.6 kilos (3.5 lbs), so it’s only marginally heavier than the other options above, but performs much better in games, gets a more complex thermal module and a larger 70 Wh battery. It also gets a secondary screen integrated withing the clickpad, which Asus calls the ScreenPad and now includes on most of their ZenBook and VivoBook lines.

The ZenBook Pro is also fairly competitively priced for what it is, selling for around 1200 EUR in Europe (follow this link for more details in your region). It is not worldwide available, though, and the availability will most likely dwindle even more as it’s phased out by the updated 2019 variant, the ZenBook Duo UX481. This one, unfortunately, only gets MX250 graphics.

The Gigabyte Aero 14 is an even more powerful 14-inch gaming ultrabook, based on an Intel Core H + GTX 1060 platform. It’s slightly larger and heavier, at about 1.8 kg(4.1 lbs), but also comes with a full set of ports and a huge 94 Wh battery. This hasn’t been updated in more than a year and I doubt it will ever be, thus it’s even harder to come by these days. In all fairness, though, the Aero 15 is not a lot larger or heavier, so perhaps could be an option to consider instead if a small screen is not an absolute must for you.

Premium 14-inch gaming notebooks: the ZenBook Pro, the ZenBook Duo and the Aero 14

Premium 14-inch gaming notebooks: the ZenBook Pro, the ZenBook Duo and the Aero 14

As for those MX250 models, the Huawei MateBook X Pro is one of the better all-rounders. It’s compact, light, quite snappy and bundled with an excellent high-resolution touchscreen. It’s also expensive, though, and based on the lower-tier MX250 variant.

The Asus ZenBook 14 UX434FL is another decent all-rounder with a much more affordable price, but now without its quirks, as you’ll find out from our detailed review.

There are however quite a few other 14-inchers based on the full-power MX250 card, thus more competent with casual gaming, from the affordable Acer Swift 3 SF314-56G, to the mid-level MSI PS42 Prestige and up to the business-grade Lenovo ThinkPad T490. They’re all good-buys in their segments, with various traits that fall in line with their prices, which range from $600 to $2000.

Some of the 14-inch gaming options: the Acer Swift 3, the Huawei MateBook X Pro and the Lenovo ThinkPad T490

Some of the 14-inch gaming options: the Acer Swift 3, the Huawei MateBook X Pro and the Lenovo ThinkPad T490

More powerful, less portable – the best value gaming laptops

This section of the article focuses on the value gaming laptops, those that will give you the best experience for your money. It includes our recommendations in a few price-brackets, without taking the thin-and-light form-factor into consideration, as in the previous chapters. However, most of these computers are still compact and fairly portable, and only the most powerful models completely leave that aspect aside.

Options under $1000

Your sure bet at this price is still with one of the Pascal GTX 1060 variants of last year. The Acer Predator Helios 300, the MSI GL63 Raider the Lenovo Legion Y530 come to mind as the better options, and you’ll find all about them from our reviews.

With these, you’ll somewhat sacrifice on the build quality, the design lines, and the battery life, but not on the performance, thermals or on a fast 120Hz/144Hz screen. As a result, these can handle FHD gaming at high settings well.

However, several of the newer Turing-based GTX 1650 and GTX 1660Ti models are starting to creep under $1000 as well. I’d primarily keep an eye on the 1660Ti variants, as these are not only faster, pretty much comparable to GTX 1070 notebooks of the past in games, but they also benefit from the generation update. That means most of these are more compact and lighter than those 2018 models, get RGB keyboards and improved thermal modules, among others.

The Asus TUF Gaming FX505 is one of the options that sells for just under $1000 often, based on an AMD Ryzen platform. 9th gen Intel-based models perform better in games, though, and run cooler and more efficiently, so I’d recommend one of those instead. Among them, the Acer Nitro 5, the HP Omen 15, the Lenovo Legion Y540 or the Dell G3 Gaming fall in this price-range. However, you will occasionally find discounted higher-tier models for under $1000 as well, like the updated Predator Helios 300 or even the Asus ROG Strix G.

Follow the links above for our in-depth reviews, or this one for an updated selection of sub-$1000 gaming laptops based on GTX 1660Ti graphics at the time you’re reading the article.

Gaming laptops under $1000: Lenovo Legion Y540, Acer Nitro 5 or Dell G3 Gaming

Gaming laptops under $1000: Lenovo Legion Y540, Acer Nitro 5 or Dell G3 Gaming

Options in the $1000-$1500

You get a lot of different options once you’re willing to spend between $1000 and $1500 on your gaming laptop.

At the lower limit, you’ll be able to get a better-specced version of one of the units mentioned above, with more RAM, more storage and an i7 processor. However, if you’re on a budget and looking for the best gaming performance for your buck, I’d advise sticking with a Core i5 instead and prioritize on the GPU and screen choice, making sure to get a 144 Hz option.

Towards the middle of this price range is where you’ll find the real gems, those sweet spots in terms of performance for the buck. We’ve reviewed most of them here, but the GTX 1660Ti and RTX 2060 variants of the Acer Predator Helios 300, Alienware m15, Dell G5 Gaming, HP Omen 15, Lenovo Legion Y740 and MSI GL63 fall within this segment. Of course, the 17-inch variants of these notebooks are also up to grab if you prefer a larger screen, as well as improved thermals and a large battery in some cases. There’s an updated selection of these 17-inch mid-range gaming laptops over here.

Each of these devices has their particularities, strong points, and quirks, and there’s no easy way to tell for sure which is the best one for you. That mean’s you’ll have to do some digging of your own, go through our reviews (and others) and narrow down your options to the ones you like best.

My personal favorites are the Predator Helios 300 and the Lenovo Legion Y740, I just find them the best balanced and best-priced of the pack. But some of the others are more affordable and last for longer on a charge (like the HP Omen 15), some offer better cooling and performance (like the MSI GL63), and some are studier made than the others (like the Alienware m15), so again, there’s no clear winner here. Think about what matters for you and where you can compromise, and pick the one that best caters to these needs. And of course, if you need any help, get in touch in the comments section.

The potential sweet-spots: Lenovo legion Y740, Acer Predator Helios 300 and the Alienware m15

The potential sweet-spots: Lenovo legion Y740, Acer Predator Helios 300 and the Alienware m15

At the higher limit, you can find better-specced versions of the models above, but also some RTX 2070 models. At the time of this update, the HP Omen 15 sells for under $1500 with an RTX 2070 Max-Q.

The other options don’t come from tier-A manufacturers and are based on barebone designs from Togfang or Clevo, like the compact and portable Eluktronics MECH-15 G2R, or the SAGER NP8966 / CLEVO P960RD models.

Personally, I would only recommend buying from these companies to those of you who understand what a barebone design means. And that’s because the excellent price is usually compensated by deficiencies in the Client Support and post-sale warranty specifics. However, if you’re a tech person and know your way around a computer, and can also find these from a store that allows potential returns without a restocking fee, then yes, these might be great-value picks for you. In fact, looking at the reviews on Amazon and other stores, buyers are actually very happy with these products and rate them highly, in many cases even higher than the A-brand alternatives.

Options above $1500

At this point, your options get incrementally better, but most of them are not significant upgrades from the models in the previous subsection.

If we’d focus on what $1500 to $2000 can get you in terms of performance, that’s mostly tier-A RTX 2060 and 2070 notebooks with better build quality, better thermals, larger batteries, and slightly improved performance.

As for specific the models to check out, the Asus ROG Strix Scar, the Alienware m15/m17, and the MSI GE65 Raider lines come to mind.

Of course, once we push above $2000 and no longer have a limited budget, all sorts of possibilities unveil to us.

If we opt to go the ultraportable way, then the Razer Blade and the Asus ROG Zephyrus will catch our eye, laptops we’ve already covered in a previous section. On the other hand, if we opt for performance without compromise, there are quite a few interesting desktop-replacements to check out. Among them, there are the unusual Asus ROG Mothership tablet-pc and Acer Predator Helios 700 sliding notebook, the upgradeable Alienware Area 51m and the more classic looking, but beastly, Asus ROG G703 and MSI GT75 Titan.

Neither of these are value buys anymore, though.

The no-compromise gaming notebooks: Asus Mothership, Alienware Area 51m and Acer Predator Helios 700

The no-compromise gaming notebooks: Asus Mothership, Alienware Area 51m and Acer Predator Helios 700


All in all, there are a lot of great gaming notebooks in this list, of all sorts and budgets, and more will be launched in the months and years to come. Thus, as potential buyers interested in a compact gaming computer, you’ve got a wide array of options to choose from, starting with the highly portable 13-inch ultrabooks with some gaming abilities and ending up with the powerful 17 inchers with beefy specs and yet surprisingly thin-and-light builds.

In the end, it’s up to you though to choose that device that best suits your requirements and budget. Finding that perfect balance between power, portability, features, and price at the right time is something you’ll have to do for yourself, but we’re here to help.

Thus, if you have any questions or anything to add to this post, drop your comments below and we’ll get back to you.

Disclaimer: Our content is reader-supported. If you buy through some of the links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.
Andrei Girbea, Editor-in-Chief of Ultrabookreview.com. I've been covering mobile computers since the 2000s and you'll mostly find reviews and thorough guides written by me here on the site.


  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

        • 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.

        • Henry Zhou

          December 16, 2016 at 3:14 am

          Do you know what new CPU and GPU hardware will release in the spring? I'm in a similar situation as Charry, and would be glad to wait.

        • Andrei Girbea

          December 16, 2016 at 4:59 am

          the new Intel Kaby Lake HQ processors are scheduled for Q1 2017, and those will be paired with Nvidia 10 Series graphics (1050, 1060, etc)

  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

  3. Andriy V

    December 25, 2016 at 4:21 am

    Hi Andrei,

    Could you please advise lightest laptop/ultrabook/2-in-1, etc (because always traveling and even my MacBook is too heavy) to play Fallout 4 even on low/mid. I have MacBook Pro retina 13 late 2013, and its time to change my devise for a new one.

    Thanks in advance.

  4. Mariyah

    January 12, 2017 at 5:31 am


    What are your thoughts of the Lenovo 710S? It's got a solid graphics card and affordable price.

    • Andrei Girbea

      January 17, 2017 at 6:06 am

      Haven't personally reviewed it, but I've read good things about it.

  5. Rick van Hofwegen

    January 27, 2017 at 10:37 am

    Hi Andrei,

    Can you give me an advice about a good 13'3 inch laptop with good specs and not that heavy. Price isn't really a matter. I've seen the new xiaomi 13'3 inch, but don't know if there are better options. Thanks in advance!

  6. Diego

    March 20, 2017 at 3:08 pm

    I wonder why the Surface Book or even the Pro 4 (with Iris) didn't make it to the list…
    With my first gen Book, i7/16/512/dGPU I'm able to play games in medium graphics at low resolution (HD)… Or even fHD at low graphics.
    Alien Isolation, Dying Light, SOMA, Outlast, the Witness, Bioshock Infite… They all play very nice in my thin and light 2-in-1.

  7. Steve

    August 16, 2017 at 5:24 am

    Hi Andrei,
    First of all – thanks for your reviews, you do a really nice job. I have a quite similar question to those you can find above. Asking it because previousely you recommended to wait for new hardware generation. I'm going to study for master degree abroad, so I can't take my pc with me – obvious. I am looking for a laptop between 1000-1500 USD (taking into account that laptops in Europe are more expencive). According to your reviews as well, I actually liked laptops like Helios 300, Acer Nitro V15 and some other models. Thus, I am not sure because of their cooling solution and warranty for only 1 year. Even though I appreciate design of both laptops (at least helios 300 is not very aggressive, so it's fine) and their test results. Could you possibly advice some laptops with approximately the same stats, but with reliable cooling system and warranty for at least 2 years? 3 would be even more perfect. Because of warranty I consider ROG laptops as an option for me as well – stats and design seem to be nice as well. I'd be greatful if you can give any advice. Thanks in advance.

    • Andrei Girbea

      August 16, 2017 at 3:14 pm

      Warranty differs from country to country, but I'd reckon although those laptops come with 1 year warranty where you live, from what you're saying, there's the option to buy extended warranty. There are a lot of good laptops in that budget, each with their pros and cons. You'd have to read reviews, balance their strong points and quirks and decide based on what matters most for you. I can't say, hey, buy this one, it's the best, because you're the only one who knows exactly what you want and need.

  8. Ly

    October 3, 2017 at 10:19 am

    Hi Andrei,
    Quick question, are any of these fanless?

  9. Aravind

    November 11, 2017 at 8:44 am

    I think you missed the 5mm bessels of Aero 15 one of its highlight feature which may add more value to the device

  10. Joe

    July 14, 2018 at 1:05 pm

    Hello, how are you Mr. Andrei?
    I am searching for a laptop under 800$ and i found the acer nitro 5(AN515-51) with core i5 7300HQ, gtx 1050 ti,…
    And i would like to know your opinion and suggestions, if there is any laptop for heavy softwares in that range.
    Thank you in advance for your help.

  11. Evan Adams

    August 31, 2018 at 4:37 pm

    What about best gaming laptop that you might leave docked at a desk? I don't do much gaming but want the option and it will sit most of the time at my desk plugged into external monitor etc… But I still need portability and am not going to buy a 2nd desktop due to software cost.

    • Andrei Girbea

      August 31, 2018 at 5:03 pm

      Well, most laptops should do well for what you need. I would't recommend using them with the lid closed though, these tend to get quite hot and the heat could negatively affect the screen a la long.

  12. Carolina

    September 19, 2018 at 2:05 am

    Thank you for this extensive and knowledgeable post. I am a graphic designer that likes to game (Rocket league, CS, civilization, Dragon Quest, Witcher..) so a good screen and a nice GPU is a must and this article helped me a lot. I was going for the XPS, but here in Canada there are so many complaints about the model that people are actually returning them.
    After reading you reviews, I am between the Zenbook Pro or the Rog Strix edition. Which do you reckon would be the best for my case?
    Thank you

    • Andrei Girbea

      September 19, 2018 at 10:09 am

      I'd reckon a good screen is a must for you and you'd want at least a GTX 1050 GPU to play those games, but preferably better. If you can live with a larger laptop, one of the newer ROG Strix models should suit you well, but you can also consider the new Lenovo Legion Y730. If you'd rather get something highly portable, then the Zenbook Pros and the Dell XPS 15 are the options for you, but expect them to run hot with demanding loads, as well as overall poorer performance than with the larger units.

      • Carolina

        September 21, 2018 at 4:33 pm

        Thank you Andrei!
        Its a stay at home laptop so definitely a larger unit. Didnt know about the Y730. Now its between this and the Strix.
        Cheers! :D

  13. Evan Andrew Adams

    September 20, 2018 at 5:39 pm

    I'm not sure where to put this on the site but because this is around up it might be a good place. With the release of the RTX cards, I'm trying to find any information about how they perform in eGPU setups. Do they oversaturate the usb3 bridge? I spend the vast majority of my time tied to a desk and docked. The sad been thinking a egpu might be a good solution for me. Franklin inches away from just going desktop with a Chromebook if I could figure out how to remote desktop into my desktop went on the road for work.

    • Andrei Girbea

      September 20, 2018 at 5:46 pm

      I can't comment on future RT compatible titles, but based on the existing reviews, the 2080 is about on par with the 1080 Ti so I don't see why they wouldn't work fine in the existing eGPUs. Personally I'd hold on on buying an RTX card for now anyway, performance per $ is poorer than with Pascal and there's nothing that could potentially benefit from RT and DLSS yet.

      • Evan Andrew Adams

        September 20, 2018 at 8:50 pm

        For sure. Thank you. I am more concerned with a year or two out. I don't want to have that USB3 being the bottleneck if I buy a laptop with an older 1080gpu today & want to refresh to RTX down the road. Think I can swing that better than a desktop & remote desktop in from a chromebook.

        • Andrei Girbea

          September 21, 2018 at 12:44 pm

          Ah, Ok. I'd reckon we'll now a lot more on the subject by the end of the year.

  14. Aaron Sams

    October 25, 2018 at 9:34 pm

    What would you recommend for someone taking dual credit programming classes in high school? I'm also looking to run multiple virtual machines and light gaming (probably games you haven't heard of). I walk for 30-40 minutes every day so it's gotta be relatively light. My use of it at school would consist of 75% Web Browsing 5% Video Streaming 5% Light Gaming 15% Note Taking

    • Andrei Girbea

      October 26, 2018 at 12:42 pm

      What's your budget? There are a lot of laptop that should fit your requirements, I'd look at something built on a properly cooled i7-8750H . If heavy gaming is not on the list, you should get probably get this with a GTX 1050/ 1050 Ti, the lower-version dGPU available with this kind of CPU. From that on, you should factor your budget and how important portability is in the equation. I'd reckon it should be pretty important, so perhaps something like the Dell XPS 15, Lenovo ThinkPad P1/X1 Extreme or maybe the Zenbook UX550VG should be at the top of your list.

  15. Kris

    November 7, 2018 at 12:05 pm

    What would you recommend if I'm looking to get a sub-$1400 laptop with an i7-8750H and a GTX 1060? I know the Asus Predator Helios is recommended but I don't like laptops that run very hot (or noisy), and I don't want to have to fool around with thermal paste. I also want a more understated design, and don't care about 144Hz displays or speakers as I have my laptop mostly connected to an external monitor and speakers.

    What do you think between the Eluktronics Mech-15 G2 Pro-X (which I don't see mentioned here) and the HP Omen 15? I'm leaning towards the Omen but can't decide. I also looked at the Lenovo Y730 but on their website it only shows models with a 1050 Ti and I really want a 1060.

    • Andrei Girbea

      November 8, 2018 at 2:42 pm

      I'd go with the Y730 if available when you decide to make the purchase, but the HP Omen 15 seems to be a pretty good choice as well.

      I haven't tested any of the Eluktronics laptops, they're not available over here. They seem to get good reviews from previous buyers, so as long as you can find some proper reviews first and then buy from a place that would allow returns in case something goes wrong, these could be a solid pick as well. I'll look into this Mech-15 G2 for the article.

  16. sedy

    November 26, 2018 at 10:25 am

    I need a laptop for mid-level deep learning ,
    but also should be light weight( less tha 4.5 lb), shouldn't get very hot and should have low fan noise. would 16GB,512 SSD, Nvidia 1050/1060 suffice, and if yes, what would some of laptops to look for that.
    Do i really need 32 GB ram for that?

  17. Jason

    May 24, 2019 at 11:07 pm

    Hi! Based on what you wrote, I believe Dell X15 to be the best laptop for me! But I want to ask just to make sure if there aren't any alternative options because I hate the standard Dell back cover. I don't want to prioritize it but if there is a near identical laptop (Based on your review) without that silver Dell back cover I would greatly prefer it!

    My use is every day use with Netflix/Hulu/Youtube streaming that I really enjoy and use more than gaming. I also program on this laptop so many days while I travel I'll be on it 8 hours a day. Because of this, good screen quality is a must, good audio quality is desired for music, video watching. Also, my top priority needs to be good battery life (closer to 10 the better). Also, a responsive keyboard as similar to standard as possible is good, as I type a lot for programming.

    For the most part, I don't plan on gaming too much and while on the go I just play casual games like Don't Starve indie games, and single player time wasters like that. However, sometimes I want to play Total War: 3 Kingdoms that was just released and maybe a shooter like Borderlands 3 when it releases (doesn't need high/ultra graphics though I'm used to it). I also like Imperator Rome on occasion. It's this "requirement" that really makes choosing a laptop difficult. I currently own Predator Helios 300 (but it's too heavy for my frequent traveling and the weight/battery life is the primary reason I'm looking for a new one) and it runs Total War: 3 Kingdoms at a level I find acceptable, so I don't mind sacrificing graphics quality to improve my other more imperative priorities.

    My desired budget is $1500, but I can go above it for no problem.

    Is Dell X15 my best bet, and if so, is there a laptop similar enough that I can get a better looking back cover?

    • Jason

      May 24, 2019 at 11:10 pm

      As an addendum comment, I usually game around 1-2 hours max in a single day, and I only do that every other day or so. But as it is, I have picky game tastes. And I did mention weight but I want to emphasize that having a light laptop that is easy to use for traveling is ideal.

    • Andrei Girbea

      May 27, 2019 at 12:03 pm

      I'd also look at the Lenovo THinkPad X1 Extreme/P1, that's my first choice over the XPS 15 right now, as well as the ZenBook UX533.

      However, those games are fairly taxing, and I'm not sure the kind of graphics in these laptops will cut it, even if you're willing to take a hit. Ideally, I'd still go with something with a GTX 1060, but that's up to you

      • Jason

        May 30, 2019 at 11:06 pm

        Hello, thanks for the reply. I think I did decide I really like the X1/P1 but I am not sure how to pick which one would be best for me. The X1 having manufacturing defects really turns me off as that is something that will bother me through the entirety of a laptop's lifespan. Does this mean P1 is the best choice? When I look on the website, I see they have two different versions. I'm not sure if I need better than the i5 processor or if the 4k screen is too hurtful to my battery life.

        • Andrei Girbea

          May 31, 2019 at 11:34 am

          the X1 and P1 are the same, except for the graphics. The i5 is fine for daily use and perhaps gaming, the i7 is 6-core and faster in demanding loads. Personally, I'd get the FHD screen, the 4K is nice, but expensive and takes a toll on battery life.

  18. Joy

    June 4, 2019 at 9:24 am

    Hello, I'm a college student looking to get a new laptop and I need some suggestions. I'd like something portable with a decent SSD or a hybrid preferably 1T. I'm into games like the Sims 4, assassin's Creed odyssey, injustice and Tekken but am not a hard-core gamer, so I'm not sure if I should go for a 1050ti or 1060 GPU or whatever is equivalent but also affordable. I also don't get gaming jargon so when words like throttling and fps come up in review videos, I don't really know if the laptop being reviewed is good enough for me or not.

    • Andrei Girbea

      June 4, 2019 at 10:38 am

      What's your budget? For that kind of games, a 1050 Ti will suffice.

      As for those terms:
      – fps – number of frames displayed in a second – the more, the better. Ideally, you'll want something around 60 fps, but between 30 and 60 should be fine. Under 30 the image gets choppy and games stutter.
      – throttling – the performance is affected by the fact that the components inside reach high temperatures, and as a result, the CPU/GPU need to slow down in order to lower those temperatures. that happens to laptops with poor thermal designs.

  19. I need help

    August 18, 2019 at 8:17 pm

    Hello Andrei, Douglas, and Derek..
    You write things often neglected by other sites (emission, heat map, keyboard, etc). Thank you for that!

    I need a recommendation for work+fun laptop. I've narrowed down my basic requirement as follow:
    – 14" or 15" Full HD, no thicker than 1 inch
    – Intel i5 7th gen. Ryzen 5 okay
    – VGA Pascal/GTX NVidia with sustainable performance. Above average cooling. Radeon won't do
    – SSD or SSD+HDD. Optane+HDD won't do
    – DVD Writer. External DVD won't do
    – SDCard, VGA, USB3 Type A
    – Plain/Professional finish, no light show, no fancy case, no gaming aesthetic at all

    My budget stops at i5 9xxxHQ+GTX1650Ti+IPS/FHD/120Hz however much it cost.

    I realize your team has moved on from built-in DVD however in my case, it's non negotiable. Not for multimedia/game but for communication with lots of 199x comps in my line of work (like WinNT+FDD+ODD).


  20. Joco Franz

    August 24, 2019 at 11:29 pm

    Hi. My laptop recently died and im confused whether to buy an ultrabook or a gaming laptop. Im willing to spend up to 1500usd and been thinking about m15 r2. Please give me some advice.

  21. Alex

    December 1, 2019 at 3:23 pm

    Hi Andrei. Would I be able to play WarHammer 2 on a HP Envy 13? Which model of this laptop would be good? I don’t know if I’m asking the right question, but please give me an opinion or a recommendation.

    • Andrei Girbea

      December 2, 2019 at 11:21 am

      Hardly. Warhammer is fairly demanding as far as I know, and the MX150 chip on the Envy is not good enough unless you're willing to drop the details all the way down and maybe even drop the resolution to HD.

  22. xy

    February 4, 2020 at 9:33 am

    Hi Andrei, right now I'm in the market for a new gaming/editing laptop and after seeing one in real life it has to be something with OLED screen (in my opinion once you see one you can never go back to IPS panel). Another condition is per-key RGB and at least GTX1660ti (or more likely RTX 2060 and up). So far I only really like Gigabyte Aero 15 OLED. Not Dell/Razer/Alienware, I don't like design of those ones. Are there any other options? Thanks!

    • Andrei Girbea

      February 4, 2020 at 1:02 pm

      The Asus ZenBook Pro Duo could be an alternative, but you're paying a hefty premium for the form-factor. Make sure to read the screen part of our review, I share my thoughts on OLED in that.

  23. Serge

    February 22, 2020 at 5:34 pm

    Hi, Andrei!
    I‘m in troubles:)
    My budget is about €1.500 and I’m trying to choose a laptop for the following tasks:
    • 2-8 hours working per day (MSOffice as well)
    • ~2 Hours surfing
    • TV Shows (Streaming, YouTube, Movies)
    • sometimes light photo editing
    • The hardest one: someday I have a strong desire to play one game (WoW, dota2 and some of this newEra stuff like RDR2)

    So for the first tasks it’s quite clear: the laptop has to have good screen. The last point is a corner stone cause I want this experience to be VERY GOOD – not the „top“ but decent. So maybe the cooling system > edge performance.
    Honestly, good using experience at all is a main requirement.

    As I want my laptop to stay „up-to-date“ longer, it’s seems that it should carry at least Turing dGPU. Could you please comment this point and the following „high-tech features“ as well:
    1) I guess that WiFi ax (6) will be a pretty useful thing in the nearest future (I want it)
    2) I guess that Type-C with TB3 and Charging is quite useful

    So for me:
    • CPU: Intel (guess better, discuss please)
    • Memory: 16 or 8-upgradable
    • Storage: no matter, may be at least 128 SSD (I have a lot of HDDs and one Samsung 840EVO SSD 120)
    • GPU: d, may be Turing
    • Screen: a good one of 15-15.6, may be 17. FHD/UHD/4K. IPS (?)
    • IOs: ideally like good workstation – USB3 (+/- TB3, DP, charge), LAN, DP/HDMI, SD, mic – all things are Discussable
    • Size and weight: not a point
    • Materials and design: has to be good quality, „nice to touch“. Not every model in this class has it. And also I don’t like so much these „monster-aggressive-RGB-teenager“ style but ready to discuss:)

    The options I’ve found:
    1) Lenovo Yoga s740 (15) – rather a „toy“ then a workstation, but I like it a lot. My „wish“:)
    2) Lenovo Legion Y540 15IRH
    3) ASUS ZenBook 15 UX534 – I don’t like ASUS but my wife likes it a lot :) at least it’s she who will work with it every day
    4) ASUS ROG Zephyrus M GU502 (I would like a GX but it’s out of budget a bit)
    5) MSI Prestige 15
    6) DELL G3 15 3590

    I’ve read a lot of bad feedback on all of these laptops, they have own pros and cons. As you can see there’s no ThinkPad – it’s because I had an experience with it and didn’t have any fun =\ discuss ;)

    Great Thank you in advance!

    • Serge

      February 22, 2020 at 5:51 pm

      Sorry guys for not mentioning all of you! You all doing a very great job! Thank you for all your reviews and articles:) despite the fact that they contain a bulk of information, I had to ask a question;)

    • Andrei Girbea

      February 25, 2020 at 12:39 pm

      Hi. You narrowed down your options well, and I would also include the Dell XPS 15 in there.

      Hardware-wise, you've got two options: either more efficient, but less powerful Core U platforms, (such as the ZenBook 15, Prestige 15), or more powerful, less efficient Core H platforms. I'd also go with 16+ GB of RAM and definitely SSD storage. As for graphics, a GTX 1650/1660 Ti should handle those older titles well, but for RDR I'd go with at least a 1660 Ti.

      Those being said, the Zephyrus M is, imo, an excellent laptop, but Asus's quality control isn't great and I'd suggest buying from a place that allows returns, test the laptop for flaws when you get it, and then ask for an exchange if you're unlucky. Keep in mind that most reviews tend to exaggerate the negatives, simply because most of those satisfied with their product don't bother leaving a review, but those who got a faulty unit will be more vocal about it.

      Depending on where you're from, there are also some barebone options you could consider, from Eluktronics (Mag 15) or XMG (Fusion 15). Furthermore, if you're willing to skimp on the graphics, the Yoga S740 and the Dell XPS 15 should also be on your list.

      As for your other options:
      2. Y540 – good value laptop, but lower-end in terms of quality, build and features. also fairly heavy and chunky, could be an option if you're looking for a better GPU at a lower price.
      3. Thin and light, but not a fan of the thermal design that blows hot air into the screen, and overall dated compared to other options. See the review.
      5. Thin and light, efficient hardware, big battery, but poor thermals and some performance limitations in demanding loads. Could be an option with the six-core i7, but read reviews to understand the quirks.
      6. haven't tested it, but it's a lower-tier product like the Y540.

      Hope this helps.

      • Serge

        February 25, 2020 at 11:44 pm

        Wow! Great reply! =)

        We're living in Austria and have to drive to the stores or wait for the delivery. So it’s kinda problem to check it in time. Also the price for DELL 15 XPS here is out of budget (1.600) and it has i7-8750H, GTX1050Ti, 8Gb.

        Nonetheless, thanks to your reply now we have 2 options to choose: yoga s740 and Zephyrus GU502.
        The last two stages now are to „touch“ and to get an answer about the need for WiFi 6, and also TB3 and charging by Type-C. Could you please comment this features?

        Thank you again! I was waiting for the answer with opened 35 tabs in browser and it was painful. And then I’ve received your answer and it was really breathtaking;) thanks for your job! I’ve read all those mentioned reviews. You make a great job!

        • Andrei Girbea

          February 26, 2020 at 12:06 pm

          WiFi 6 – not a must imo, WiFi AC is more than fast enough for regular use
          TB3 – also not a must, unless you need very fast data transfer or an external dGPU, or perhaps you plan to use a TB3 dock
          USB-C charging – nice to have, as it would allow to only grab along an USB-C charger when raveling that could take care of your laptop, phone, tablet, etc. More powerful laptops would require a barrel-plug charger as well, so USB-C would be secondary

  24. plzlol

    March 4, 2020 at 9:52 am

    Good article and guide, thanks !

    I'm looking for a light, 1.5kg max, 13.3 to 14.9" laptop.
    I came up with the MSI prestige 14 in i7 configuration with 1650 Max-Q but was wondering if it's really worth it since it needs some thermal modding to squeeze max performance (repaste + heatpipe added). Ref: https://www.reddit.com/r/intel/comments/e5fzc1/i710710u_revisited_msi_prestige_14_w_lm_mods_3064/

    I was considering to do the mod myself or via HID, but being in Europe it adds a lot to the cost if ordered in the US.
    Is there any alternative to this MSI with a price from 1000-1500 USD ?
    Can we expect price drops when Ryzen 4000 laptops start to be available ?

    • Andrei Girbea

      March 4, 2020 at 7:42 pm

      We had big troubles with the MSI Prestige 14 we had for reviews, and it was only the MX250 25W version. We sent it back to MSI and never heard back for a replacement, so I wouldn't go with it, based on my experience with that sample.

      As for Ryzen 4000 laptops, I don't think they will affect this segment of light-weight laptops, but rather the segment of mid-range full-size notebooks

      • plzlol

        March 5, 2020 at 7:45 am

        Thanks for your reply. I also previously had issues with MSI about the MXM replacement GPU with the GT70/GT72/GT80…
        BUt was considering giving them another chance since other than a contractual/commercial issue, my GT72 has been running flawlessly since 2014 with very good temps for the 980M.

        ANy alternative then ?

        • Andrei Girbea

          March 5, 2020 at 11:12 am

          Do you need to go with a 14-inch laptop? There are many good portable 15-inch models such as the MAG 15 or the Zephyrus M GU502.

        • tilarou

          March 16, 2020 at 9:24 am

          The weight is important for me so if there are 15" with 1.3kg or less it work, but as far as I saw there is none…

        • Andrei Girbea

          March 16, 2020 at 7:10 pm

          There are some options, but not with gaming-capable specs. See this list: https://www.ultrabookreview.com/4219-the-lightest-ultrabooks/

  25. César E.

    June 3, 2020 at 6:15 am

    Hello Andrei:
    – First congratulate all the workers of the web, it is an excellent place to clear your mind in order to make a better purchase. Still doubts come to me and for that I use this comments section.
    – I am a university student but the truth is that I hardly ever take the laptop to college, I use it to study at home, the portability issue interests me only to be able to achieve the best possible experience.
    – I am going to allocate a budget of 1400 dollars to buy a video game laptop in the United States and I plan to be with her for 2 or 3 years; I have read a lot and I am convinced that the best solution for me is the full size laptops (lenovo legion, acer helios hp omen, etc) where I can maximize performance for the money invested.

    I am interested in the following characteristics:
    a) Harware: i7 (thinking that it will age better, although this implies lowering the dgpu) preferably above the i5 although you could also use this without a doubt.
    b) dgpu: at least a gtx 1660ti and if it is possible to get to the 2060 better, but not for the rtx, but for the performance improvement it can provide me.
    c) screen: yes or if I want it of 144hz, but with a range of decent colors and brightness, (the new tuf a15 from asus I don't want them for that reason and also for the high temperatures of the components, despite the good price) I have many doubts between a 15 or 17-inch screen, portability is secondary to the best experience (I want to insist on this) although I think I prefer the screen of 17 (I have never had a laptop with that size) I must take into account the increase in price compared to the 15 model when we talk about the same laptop.
    d) other aspects: the cooling has to be competent for the presented components, good construction, good keyboard but it does not have to be outstanding, 16gb ram and the storage does not matter what is little, then I can increase it in almost all the models, the battery nor is it vital.

    – After investigating, I have these two options as more interesting:
    1- Acer predator helios 300: I find the 17-inch model interesting because of the best thermic, the speakers and the screen, of course, that for my money I would choose the 1660ti gpu model and very little storage. Do you think this model is more interesting than the 15-inch one, although it may be inferior in storage and some other hardware details?
    2- Lenovo Legion y540, I like this laptop, but I am more inclined to the predator, especially for the best construction.
    3- Lenovo Legion 5i: Very soon they will be on the market and I really like how they look, but be very uncertain about the price, I think it will be a good laptop, but you have to wait for the reviews, perhaps with the release of these new laptops , last year's prices drop and would be a point in favor of previous models.

    1.1 Do you think it is more interesting to opt for a 17-inch model over a 15-inch model, even if that means that the larger model has lower hardware than the 15-inch one?
    1.2 Will there be much difference in the gaming experience on a screen of 15 to play on one of 17?
    -Note: I know that these questions at the end seem strange and it should not be easy to answer it because it depends on each one, but I ask for your personal experience, as you prefer.

    – I will appreciate all the answers tremendously, greetings.

    • Andrei Girbea

      June 3, 2020 at 11:16 am

      1.1 I'd go with the 15-inch option, better specs for less money, and good enough thermals and performance with the latest drivers.
      1.2 that's up to you. I'd be fine with either one

  26. César E.

    June 3, 2020 at 4:49 pm

    Thanks for the reply.
    I will opt for the 15-inch model with the consequent improvement of hardware for the same money, I trust that the gaming experience is good in both models, as you tell me.
    I suppose you agree with the choice of the acer helios 300 over the lenovo y540, that does seem safe.

  27. Rohit Bakshi

    June 13, 2020 at 6:42 pm

    hello awesome review and in depth info.
    if I have to choose between acer helios 300 rtx 2070 17inch vs Triton 500 rtx 2060. In India it costs 1853$ for the acer and 2000$ for the Triton.
    Also if I am going to spend that much is there a better alternative than the above two.

    • Andrei Girbea

      June 13, 2020 at 7:14 pm

      Depends on what you need it for. Thr triton is more portable and nicer made, plus includes a bigger battery, Gsync or TB3. The Helios is a more mid-tier laptops and looks like the better performer based on those specs. up to you to pick what suits your needs

  28. Khurelkhuu T

    June 25, 2020 at 12:16 pm

    a very good structured read. helped me decide on exactly what i needed. keep it going guys!

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