The best laptops for gaming and schoolwork

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There’s never been a better time to be a PC gamer, especially if you travel a lot. Gaming notebooks are lighter, more powerful and more affordable than ever. They’re particularly useful for students, as their beefy hardware could help render videos and do other schoolwork that would make super-thin ultraportables a sweat. For general advice on choosing gaming laptops, see our guide. But if you want to narrow the field down to a few great options, you’ve come to the right place.

Are gaming laptops good for school?

As we mentioned earlier, gaming laptops are especially helpful when you’re doing demanding work. Their big promise is strong graphics performance that isn’t just limited to gaming. Video editing and 3D rendering programs can also use their GPUs to handle demanding tasks. While you can find decent GPUs on some productivity laptops, like Dell’s XPS 15, you can sometimes find better deals on gaming laptops. My general advice for any new work machine: get at least 16GB of RAM and the largest solid state drive you can find (ideally 1TB or more). These components tend to be difficult to retrofit, so it pays to invest as much upfront as possible.

The only major downside when choosing a gaming laptop is portability. For the most part, we’d recommend 15-inch models for the best balance of size and price. These typically weigh around 4.5 pounds, which is significantly more than a 3-pound ultraportable. However, today’s gaming notebooks are still much lighter than older models, so at least you don’t have to lug around a £10 brick. And if you’re looking for something lighter, there are plenty of 14-inch options these days. And if you don’t like LED lights and other gamer-centric trinkets, keep an eye out for more understated models (or make sure you know how to turn those lights off).

Best midrange speaker for most people: ASUS Zephyrus G14

Asus Zephyrus G14

Will Lipman photography for Engadget

The Zephyrus G14 is a little more expensive than it was a few years ago, but it remains a fantastic 14-inch gaming laptop. This year it’s AMD’s Ryzen 9 6900HS CPU and Radeon 6700S GPU. That’s enough power to play almost any modern game at 1440p, and they should run smoothly on the 120Hz or 144Hz QHD displays. Unlike the first G14 model, there’s also a built-in webcam with Windows Hello sign-in support. Most impressively, the G14 is still fairly portable for a gaming laptop, weighing between 3.6 and 3.8 pounds.

Buy Zephyrus G14 at Amazon – $2,100

Best high-end option: Razer Blade 15

Razer Blade 15

Will Lipman photography for Engadget

For years, Razer has built a reputation for making gaming laptops that look as good as MacBooks. And that’s still true. Razer’s Blade 15 has a sleek and durable metal body, understated design (unless you really turn on those RGB keyboard lights), and pretty much all the performance you could want in a portable gaming powerhouse. If money is no object, you can upgrade the Blade 15 with the latest 12th Gen processors.

While you pay a bit more for the Blade 15 compared to some other models, you still have a few different price points to work with. The entry-level model starts at $1,799 with an RTX 3060 GPU and a 144Hz 1080p display. That’s certainly enough power for most games and creative apps. If you’re after something smaller, Razer’s new AMD-powered Blade 14 looks convincing too.

Buy Razer Blade 15 on Amazon – $3,000

A thin 14-inch option: Alienware X14

Alienware X14

Will Lipman photography for Engadget

If you’re looking for a thin and light computer that can still handle some gaming and heavy schoolwork, Alienware’s X14 is one of the best choices. It’s only 0.57 inches thick, meaning it’ll fit in all sorts of slim bags, and weighs just over four pounds. Its beautiful 1080p screen supports Dolby Vision and NVIDIA G-SYNC, so it looks great whether you’re watching movies or gaming. And, well, it just looks really cool – it’s the most wearable take on Alienware’s sci-fi aesthetic.

Buy Alienware X14 at Dell – $1,470

Best budget option: Dell G5 15

Dell G5 15 gaming laptop

Engadget

While Alienware has established itself as a solid premium brand, Dell’s more affordable G-series notebooks are worth a look for anyone on a budget. The G5 15 in particular continues the trend of offering very powerful hardware – including Intel’s latest 12th Gen CPUs, AMD’s Ryzen 6000 chips, and NVIDIA’s RTX 30-series GPUs – for under $1,000. Sure, the chassis is mostly plastic and the screen doesn’t offer all the latest niceties, but for the price it’s hard to find anything more powerful.

Buy G5 15 at Dell – $920

Best No Limit Gaming Laptop: ASUS Zephyrus Duo 16

Asus Zephyrus Duo 16

Asus

ASUS’ latest Zephyrus Duo 16 takes the idea of ​​a gaming laptop to the extreme, combining AMD’s latest Ryzen mobile processors with all the great NVIDIA RTX 30-series hardware. And, true to its name, it has two Screens: a gorgeous 16-inch main display (with optional mini-LED backlighting) and a very wide 14-inch secondary panel just below. This opens up multitasking at near-desktop levels, since you can spread windows across both screens. It could help you surf the web while keeping an eye on Twitter. (Or maybe follow an online lecture while sinking into a Halo infinity Match on your main screen. We won’t tell.)

Buy Zephyrus Duo 16 at Amazon – $4,200

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Russell Falcon

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