While specs are definitely an important part of the equation, consumers should also consider all the bells and whistles (or lack thereof) that the individual manufacturers offer when it comes to design, software, upgradability and warranty. Those considerations are especially important when you’ll be paying potentially upward of $1,000.
To help you choose your ideal gaming laptop, we’ve evaluated the top nine gaming-laptop brands and rated them on a 100-point scale. Unfortunately, Samsung produced only one gaming laptop, the Odyssey, during the 12-month evaluation period, which wasn’t enough to make the cut.
See how the best (and worst) gaming-laptop brands fared.
1. MSI (84/100)
There’s a new sheriff in town, and its name is Micro-Star International, aka MSI. The company pulled a serious power move and rose to the top spot thanks to laptops with stunning new designs, like the ultraslim GS65 Stealth Thin and the GE63 Raider RGB with its captivating light show. It doesn’t hurt that MSI has a massive library of gamer-centric software and an even bigger catalog of systems with a laptop for just about every size and budget.
2. Acer (80/100)
A 21-inch laptop? A touchpad on the top of the keyboard deck? Acer took a lot of risks this year, and they mostly paid off, securing the company the second place spot. In addition to employing innovative design, as seen in the Predator 21 X and the Predator Triton 700, Acer offers a bevy of price-conscious systems that have a degree of upgradability, such as the Predator Helios 300 (17-inch).
2. Alienware (80/100)
Alienware fell a couple of spots this year but still managed a solid showing, tying for fourth place. We like the slightly slimmer design on both the Alienware 17 R5 and the 15 R4 paired with incredibly powerful performance for gaming and multitasking. The company also revamped some of its most popular software, making it easier to use and adding a few new features. Alienware is going to have to offer even better designs next time around if it wants to reclaim the gaming-brand throne.
4. Razer (79/100)
Razer continues to make some of the sleekest gaming notebooks in the land. The company landed in fourth place, thanks to the new 15-inch Razer Blade’s futuristic-retro design. The Blade Pro’s perpetually beautiful display and keyboard, along with powerful specs, help make it a standout system.. However, the company still needs to work on expanding its portfolio of laptops, particularly notebooks for cost-conscious gamers.
5. Asus (78/100)
Asus finds itself in fifth place, but it’s primed to make a run for even higher placement next year. The company stunned the PC gaming world with the incredibly thin ROG Zephyrus, one of the first laptops to incorporate Nvidia efficiency-focused Max-Q graphics cards. However, to break out of its holding pattern, the company will have to improve the quality of its speakers and keyboards in lower-tier products like the ROG Strix GL553VD and work on sweetening its warranty program.
6. HP (75/100)
Making the jump from last place to sixth is impressive. HP made the leap by serving up a daring redesign of its flagship line of laptops, including the Omen 15 and the Omen 17, complete with new proprietary software and a customizable keyboard. The company also beefed up its portfolio by introducing premium and entry-level systems. However, HP will have to work on ensuring display quality across the board, particularly in budget lines like the Pavilion Power 15t, if it hopes to make another jump next year.
7. Aorus/Gigabyte (72/100)
From laptops like the Aero 15 that look just as good in an office or a LAN party, to sleek flagships like the X9 that would give stealth bombers a run for their money, Gigabyte and its sub-brand Aorus have a lot to offer gamers. But for all their thin bezels and colorful visages, both brands are held back by dim displays and weak audio, which won’t cut it with gamers.
8. Origin PC (71/100)
Origin PC retains its sixth place spot this year by sticking to what it does best: offering a ludicrous number of customization options. In addition to continuing its kitchen-sink approach to laptops, the company wasn’t afraid to inject a little color into the situation with the Eon17-X or to slim things down with the EVO15-S. However, a lack of both gamer-friendly software and overall innovation prevented Origin PC from rising higher in the ranks.
9. Dell (67/100)
Dell knows how to make a premium laptop; just look at the Dell XPS or even the Alienware 17 R5. However, the company hasn’t really been putting that know-how to use with its Dell-branded laptops, and that’s why the company wound up in last place. Plagued by lackluster displays, shallow keyboards and a lack of onboard gaming software, Dell budget gaming systems such as the Inspiron Gaming 15 5000 are a far cry from their Alienware brethren. However, with their fresh new designs and entry-to-premium specs, the company’s new G-Series laptops, such as the G3 15 Gaming, are the light at the end of the tunnel that Dell needs to lift its position.
9. Lenovo (67/100)
Despite delivering one of the best gaming laptops we reviewed this year, the Legion Y920, Lenovo still finds itself on the bottom rung, because of theY720’s lackluster performance. The company really didn’t offer much in the way of innovation or value selection. But Lenovo is in the process of updating and expanding its gaming lineup, as evidenced by the Legion Y530, a budget system that’s sleek and powerful. Pair those upcoming systems with Lenovo’s solid warranty, and the company has a real shot at moving up in the rankings next year.