Gaming laptops: The top performers

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There’s a new force dominating the world of gaming laptops, and its name is RTX. These high-end GPUs from Nvidia first came to desktop PCs in late 2018, and are now the standard for laptops, after just a few short months. 

All of these gaming laptops, from just under $1,000 to $5,000 or more, can easily support high-end virtual reality headsets like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, and many new designs fit top-tier graphics hardware into wafer-thin laptop bodies.

For this roundup, we’ve taken all the laptops with discrete graphics hardware we’ve tested over the past year and a half and ranked them based on 3D performance. Below are the top performers from that group. 

When reviewing a gaming laptop or desktop, we run preset tests using several games, including Far Cry 5, Metro: Exodus and others, along with standard benchmarks like 3DMark, which is designed to test a computer’s 3D graphic rendering capabilities.

For this list, we’re ranking the laptops in descending order of 3DMark Fire Strike Ultra scores, but the real-world game scores (presented as the number of frames of animation per second the laptop can render) match very closely. Note that these scores are specifically for the exact configurations of each laptop we tested, and almost all can be configured with a wide range of options.

Retiring from this list are a couple of longtime top performers, including the the most expensive laptop we’ve ever reviewed, the $9,000 Acer Predator 21 X. We haven’t tested an updated version since 2017, so it’s being removed from the list. 

Joining the list, and at the very top, are two high-end gaming laptops that use desktop-class processors and full-power Nvidia RTX 2080 graphics, the Alienware Area-51m and the Origin PC Eon-17X. Those are both at the top end of the price scale, but gaming laptops at more reasonable prices, including systems from Asus, Dell, Origin PC, Lenovo, HP, MSI and Razer, among others, are all represented.

The exact scores for the graphics hardware for all tested gaming laptops are located here. 

Alienware Area-51m

Sarah Tew/CNET

On top of a satisfying visual refresh of Alienware’s highest-end laptop, the Area-51m offers plenty of processing overhead from desktop CPUs and the latest RTX GPUs. 

Origin PC Eon-17X (2019)

Sarah Tew/CNET

Like the Alienware Area-51m, the Origin PC Eon-17X features the desktop-class Intel Core i9-9900K and the new Nvidia RTX 2080 GPU. This combination made these our two top-performing laptops so far from all of 2018-2019. 

Origin PC Eon-17X (2018)

Sarah Tew/CNET

The 2018 version of this laptop, with a desktop CPU and Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 GPU, was right behind the updated version. 

Asus Zephyrus GX701

Sarah Tew/CNET

This updated Zephyrus combines both a slim, professional-looking design with the expanded power of Nvidia’s new RTX graphics cards. 

Following these top performers, the next several bunch together close enough to be considered a tie, and include the 16-inch Origin PC Evo 16S, Acer Predator Triton 500, Lenovo Legion Y740-17 and MSI GS75 Stealth 8SG. 

Dive into the exact scores and configurations for all the top performers in the full list of 30+ gaming laptops. 

Gaming laptop performance

Rank System Name 3DMark Fire Strike Ultra score Graphics Card
1 Alienware Area-51m 6337 NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080
2 Origin PC Eon-17X 6228 NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080
3 Origin PC Eon17X (2018) 5330 Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080
4 Asus ROG Zephyrus GX701 5299 NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 with Max-Q Design
5 Origin PC EVO 16S 4667 NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 with Max-Q Design
6 Lenovo Legion Y740-17 4472 NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 with Max-Q Design
7 Acer Predator Triton 500 4642 NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 with Max-Q Design
8 MSI GS75 Stealth 8SG 4464 NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 with Max-Q Design
9 Origin Evo 15 4262 Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070
10 Acer Predator Helios 500 4102 Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070
11 Asus ROG Zephyrus M GM501 3954 Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070
12 Asus ROG Strix Scar II 3938 Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070
13 Microsoft Surface Studio 2 3893 Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070
14 Lenovo Legion Y740-15 3851 NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 with Max-Q Design
15 Alienware m15 3669 Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 with Max-Q Design
16 Asus Zephyrus GX531GS 3435 Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 with Max-Q Design
17 Razer Blade 15 3431 Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 with Max-Q
18 Digital Storm Equinox 3413 Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 with Max-Q
19 MSI GS65 Stealth Thin 3342 Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 with Max-Q
20 Razer Blade 15 (2019) 3362 NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 with Max-Q Design
21 Lenovo Legion Y7000P-1060 2716 NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060
22 Asus ROG Strix Hero Edition GL503V 2657 Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060
23 Razer Blade 15 RZ09-0270 2593 NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 with Max-Q Design
24 HP Pavilion Gaming Laptop (15-c0042nr) 2318 NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti
25 Samsung Odyssey 850XAC 2259 Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060
26 Lenovo Legion Y730-15 1899 Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti
27 Acer Nitro 5 1873 Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050Ti
28 Dell G5 15 1851 Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti
29 Lenovo Legion Y530 1825 Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti
30 Asus ZenBook Pro 15 UX580G 1753 Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050Ti
31 Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme 1641 Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050Ti with Max-Q Design
32 Dell XPS 15 9575 2-in-1 1627 AMD Radeon RX Vega M GL Graphics


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