Best Gaming Laptops of 2019: So Far

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Another E3 has come and gone, and now that all the buzz about the latest and greatest games has gone with it, we’re left with the aftermath—what do we do now? We’ve seen the gorgeous graphics available for titles like Watch Dogs Legion and Gears 5, so many of us are now anticipating updating our rigs to handle the load. But there are a few of us (myself included) who enjoy the luxury of gaming on the go, and with a new crop of PC gaming-centric laptops out there, it’s time to look at the Top 5 Gaming Laptops we’ve discovered that will be able to put up with 1080p visuals and lightning-fast keystrokes.

Anyone who’s into PC gaming knows that one of the shortfalls of gaming on as laptop is that (in the past) many laptops had to sacrifice full-size graphic card bays for smaller concentrated onboard GPUs. Because of the tremendous amount of heat that graphics cards generate, many manufacturers have become creative in the way they approach speed, power, and cooling, and laptops are fast catching up to desktop performance for gaming. However, changes to the architecture of GPUs and their builds have also come under the watchful eye of gaming laptop manufacturers, and the result has been a boon in graphic power without sacrificing the smaller footprint of a mobile gaming device.

Our first entry is one we’ve reviewed before—the Acer 15.6" Predator Helios Special Edition Gaming Laptop. It still is one of our first choices in mobile PC gaming, although we did note that the clunky bezel design, low storage options, and low battery performance may influence your decision. An all-around gaming workhorse, it features an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 GPU with 6GB of GDDR5 VRAM. There’s a ton of other features, as well, that make it gaming-friendly, including a 15.6" Full HD 1080 IPS display for great visuals and a super-speedy 256GB SSD for fast access, but it was the thoughtful extras and pure-white, Apple-like aesthetics of this rig that caught our attention. From the ivory mouse with gold accents to the gaming earbuds with similar branding, you know from the moment of unboxing that you are in for a treat. But it wasn’t all looks. The engine was powered by an 8th Gen Coffee Lake Intel® Core™ i7-8750H six-core 12-thread processor.

Acer 15.6" Predator Helios 300 Special Edition Gaming Laptop
Acer 15.6" Predator Helios 300 Special Edition Gaming Laptop

You should also be aware that there’s a version of this that is significantly cheaper—the Acer 15.6" Predator Helios 300 Gaming Laptop in a more basic, and less eye-catching black, which offers the same specs, except it’s equipped with 8GB of RAM and a traditional 5400 RPM spindle drive instead of an SSD.

Acer 15.6" Predator Helios 300 Gaming Laptop
Acer 15.6" Predator Helios 300 Gaming Laptop

Next up is the HP Omen 15-DC1030NR, a similarly outfitted rig in many ways, with a few exceptions that may be game-changers for some. With the same Intel® Core™ i7 processor and 15.6" 1080 IPS display, it really comes down to the GPU and storage options. The Omen sports an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 with 6GB of GDDR6 VRAM, and also comes with a combo 128GB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD and a 1TB hard drive. One of the cons of the Acer was that the Special Edition all-white version only came with a 256GB SSD, far short of what’s needed to store many of today’s space-hogging games.

HP 15.6" OMEN 15-DC1030NR Laptop

One other option that may make a difference to some: the Acer Predator and the HP Omen both come with a USB Type-C port, but only the HP Omen supports Thunderbolt™ 3. This is a consideration if you’re a peripherals commando and your attachments mean more to you than your basic unit does. Sigmund Freud would have liked to meet you.

Testing the Omen with Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey was a joy to behold. Every hair on the head of each character stood out in brilliant detail. You could almost smell the horses as you mount your steeds, and fire and water effects are brilliant. You may find the screen a little dim for your liking if you’re playing in a brightly lit room but, with the lights low, you’ll never be bothered by the screen brightness (around 266 nits, which is low compared to the average for gaming laptops, which should be around 279 nits).

Third stop on our magical mystery gaming laptop tour: the Lenovo Legion Y7000 (read our review here). How much different is it from the previous two gaming laptops? Not much, and that’s a good thing. It’s budget gaming at its best, with the same Coffee Lake Intel® Core™ i7 processor, 16GB of RAM, an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 GPU with 6GB of GDDR5 VRAM, and a 15.6" FHD 1920 x 1080 144 Hz IPS display. It also comes with a roomy (like one bedroom, studio apartment roomy, not mansion-in-the-Seychelles roomy) 512GB Integrated PCIe storage solution.

Lenovo 15.6" Legion Y7000 Gaming Laptop

This helped load up a couple of games, most notably Far Cry New Dawn. Watching the post-apocalyptic United States is kind of spectacular, as is seeing the detail on facial expressions—and on Ultra settings, we saw frame rates between 65 and 80 fps (mostly 65, though, depending on the action). The backlit keyboard and touchpad were also comfortable to use, but the speakers sounded a little tinny. If that’s a deal breaker, a nice pair of gaming headphones should suffice. I also watched some 4K trailers, including Terminator: Dark Fate, and the performance of the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 (with 6GB of GDDR5 VRAM) did not disappoint. Every level of detail was super clear and exceptionally crisp. Although some may find this screen to be a little dimmer than some higher-end laptops, it certainly was no dimmer than the Helios.

Rounding out the lineup is a gaming laptop with just a smidge more oomph, which shows in the sticker price. The MSI 15.6" GS65 Stealth Gaming Laptop comes with a 9th Gen 2.6 GHz Intel® Core™ i7-9750H Six-Core processor. It also comes with 16GB of DDR4 RAM, and a 15.6" 1080 display, which runs at a blazing 240 Hz, unlike the 144 Hz of the Omen and the Helios displays. It also features an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 GPU with 6GB of DDR6 RAM and a 512GB NVMe SSD on the base model (which we reviewed). Be aware: there are progressively pricier models with RTX 2070 and 2080 GPUs with up to 8GB of memory, and featuring Intel® Core™ i9 processors.

MSI 15.6" GS65 Stealth Gaming Laptop

We gave Witcher III: Wild Hunt a spin on the MSI, and we have to say, we were impressed. Colors popped with a visual acuity that you used to only see on high-end desktops, and we tested all settings on Ultra without a single frame-rate drop. We’re hoping that has to do with the RTX 2060, which is still a fairly new mobile GPU, but in benchmark testing has shown superior frame rate performance over the GTX 1060. Witcher III, for instance, had a frame rate of 74 fps as opposed to the 56 fps on the GeForce 1060 (mobile version). For gearheads in the know, the RTX 2060 has greater memory bandwidth than the GeForce GTX 1060, tremendously better, better enough to make a purchasing decision. The increase in price makes this gaming laptop well worth the extra bucks, and since this is a newer GPU, all drivers and updates for current games are ready immediately.

Finally, we took a look at a laptop from a manufacturer that has been raising the bar in the mobile gaming market for years. The Razer 15.6" Blade 15 Gaming Laptop fulfills all of our gaming dreams for the right price, with a bevy of options that put it on par with the other five in this roundup, including the 8th Gen Coffee Lake Intel® Core™ i7 8750H six-core processor, NVIDIA GTX 1060 with 6GB of GDDR5 VRAM, and a Thunderbolt™ 3 port. It also matches 100% sRGB for a full color spectrum, which makes it useful as a graphics design machine, as well. But what stood out for us was how sleek and compact this unit felt, with a unibody aluminum casing, full, rich backlighting on the keyboard (which was pretty spacious as well, with a very large trackpad that could be an issue for some twitch gamers), and its very slim bezel design. Compared to the ACER Helios, which we’ve compared to the Commodore 64 for its thick bezels, this lightweight and totally ninja-esque laptop is probably the best looking and feeling of the bunch.

Razer 15.6" Blade 15 Gaming Laptop

We tried out Metro Exodus on the Razer and were instantly amazed by the flawless speed with which characters moved, thanks to the 144 Hz refresh rate. We couldn’t help but notice that the screen is a little dim when playing in a well-lit room, and it doesn’t get any sharper with low lighting. The panel hits about 262 nits of brightness, which is below the Omen and well below the average of 279 nits. While some enthusiasts can spot that dimness almost immediately, some gamers are not bothered by it, and prefer the system’s speed and refresh rate over nit-picking.

So, if we’re going to do a ranking here, I would nominate each of these in the following categories:

  • Best Gaming on a Budget
    • Lenovo Legion Y7000
  • Best Power House
    • MSI 15.6" GS65 Stealth Gaming Laptop
  • Best Extra Special Swag Award
    • Acer 15.6" Predator Helios Special Edition Gaming Laptop
  • Best Bang for Buck
    • HP Omen 15-DC1030NR
  • Best Look and Feel
    • Razer 15.6" Blade 15 Gaming Laptop

At a Glance

Lenovo Legion Y7000

MSI GS65 Stealth

Acer Helios SE

HP Omen 15-DC1030NR

Razer Blade 15

Processor

2.2 GHz Intel® Core™ i7-8750H 

2.6 GHz Intel® Core™ i7-9750H

2.2 GHz Intel® Core™ i7-8750H

2.2 GHz Intel® Core™ i7-8750H 

2.2 GHz Intel® Core™ i7-8750H 

Cores

Six

Six

Six

Six

Six

RAM

16GB 2666 MHz DDR4

16GB 2666 MHz DDR4

16GB 2666 MHz DDR4

16GB 2666 MHz DDR4

16GB 2667 MHz DDR4

Screen

15.6" 1920 x 1080 IPS

15.6" 1920 x 1080

15.6" 1920 x 1080 IPS

15.6" 1920 x 1080 IPS

15.6" 1920 x 1080 IPS

Refresh

144 Hz

240 Hz

144 Hz

Not specified

60 Hz

GPU

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060

NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060

NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060

VRAM

6GB GDDR5

6GB GDDR6

6GB GDDR5

6GB GDDR6

6GB GDDR5

Storage 1

512 GB Integrated PCIe

512 GB M.2 NVMe PCIe

256 GB M.2 NVMe PCIe

128 GB M.2 NVMe PCIe

128 GB M.2 SATA

Storage 2

None

None

None

1 TB 2.5" SATA (7200 rpm)

1 TB 2.5" SATA (5400 rpm)

Ports

USB Type-A (USB 3.1 Gen 1),
USB Type C (USB 3.1 Gen 1),
HDMI 2.0,
Mini DisplayPort

USB Type-A (USB 3.1 Gen 1),
Thunderbolt 3,
HDMI 2.0,
Mini DisplayPort

USB Type-A (USB 3.1 Gen 1),
Type A (USB 2.0)
USB Type C (USB 3.1 Gen 1),
HDMI 2.0

USB Type-A (USB 3.1 Gen 1),
Thunderbolt 3,
HDMI,
Mini DisplayPort,

USB Type-A (USB 3.1 Gen 1),
Thunderbolt 3,
HDMI 2.0,
Mini DisplayPort,

Audio IO

3.5mm Headphone/Microphone
Input/Output

3.5mm Headphone/Microphone
Input/Output

3.5mm Headphone/Microphone
Input/Output

3.5mm Headphone/Microphone
Input/Output, 3.5mm microphone Input

3.5mm Headphone/Microphone
Input/Output

What do you think? Do you have any other suggestions for Best Gaming Laptop so far? If you already own any of these laptops, tell us about your experiences with them, and if you need even more suggestions, head on over to our Laptops page here.

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