The best gaming laptop of 2021 looks different from those of years past. The early days of mobile gaming were largely desktop replacements — clunky chassis, multiple power bricks, and RGB lighting galore. But the top gaming laptops now are different. Manufacturers are finally putting powerful specs in sleeker, more portable, and more professional builds. They have excellent, fast refreshing screens that are necessary for a great gaming experience. These laptops aren’t just great for gaming, but for everyday work as well. That’s why the best gaming laptop of 2021 is the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14. It can handle the most demanding games on the market today and also makes a great daily driver.
We’ll be updating this page regularly as new gaming laptop models hit shelves throughout this year. Some exciting updates are on the way. AMD and Nvidia have announced their next-gen series of mobile processors and mobile graphics cards — the Ryzen 5000 series and the GeForce RTX 3000 series, respectively — and we’re already seeing them in premium gaming laptops across manufacturers. Intel’s Tiger Lake H series is also on its way, though we expect to see those more frequently in lighter-weight models.
The QHD screen is another feature to watch for. A growing number of manufacturers are releasing configurations with 1440p displays, even in gaming laptops under $2,000. These options can hit a sweet spot for many gamers: a better experience than 1080p without the price premium or raw horsepower required for a 4K display. You can expect decently high refresh rates from these panels as well, depending on the model. The upcoming Razer Blade 15, for example, will offer up to a 240Hz panel with QHD resolution.
One more thing to keep in mind is the power you can expect. Not all chips with the same name are created equal — the RTX 3070 in one laptop may not deliver the same frame rates as the RTX 3070 in another laptop due to its wattage (as well as other factors like the processor and cooling). Nvidia now requires companies to disclose clock speeds and graphics power on each model’s product page, but plenty of manufacturers haven’t done that yet. Your best bet, if you can’t find those numbers on a company’s website, is to read some reviews and make sure the model you’re considering will deliver the frame rates you’re looking for. We will note the wattage used in any laptops we review with the new RTX graphics cards.
If you’re looking for some gaming laptop deals, keep an eye on our deals coverage, where we highlight the best discounts you can get. For the best laptop games you can play, check out our best games of 2020.
Asus ROG Zephyrus G14
Prices taken at time of publishing.
The ROG Zephyrus G14 is an astonishingly powerful gaming laptop. Its AMD Ryzen 9 processor and RTX 2060 Max-Q can push powerful, smooth graphics performance in games with its 120Hz refresh rate display, while also being surprisingly efficient for other tasks.
$1,350 at Best Buy