The Best Laptops 2019: Our Buying Recommendations

Admittedly, our favorite category: portable, slim and light gaming laptops. We think this is what really sells the concept of a gaming laptop. You should be able to take it around with you without needing to lug around 6+ pounds, it should be slim and easy to carry, and have decent enough battery life that it’s genuinely usable off the charger. Of course, it also needs powerful hardware for gaming.

The best option right now is the MSI GS65 Stealth at 15.6-inches in size, or alternatively the GS75 Stealth if you’d rather go with the 17-inch variant. We’ve tested most of the slim and light offerings in this new RTX generation and MSI’s Stealth line is simply the best for a few reasons: it can deliver the full performance of the components inside without throttling, it does so at respectable fan noise levels, and it’s also the lightest of the main portable gaming options.

The Alienware m15, for example, is noticeably heavier and larger while also having cooler problems. The Gigabyte Aero 15 X9 is a decent offering but its loud cooler and inferior design sees it fall behind the MSI option. And the Asus Zephyrus, while good in a number of areas, has an awkward design with its side-positioned trackpad.

The MSI GS65 Stealth packs decent hardware, headlined by a 1080p 144Hz display, Intel Core i7-8750H CPU and 16GB of RAM. The default 256GB SSD option is a tad on the small side but it can be upgraded relatively easily, while battery life is pretty good.

There are a number of GS65 and GS75 variants out there, including older Pascal GTX models and newer Turing RTX models. The best option right now is the RTX 2060 model, it’s normally priced at $2,100 but can occasionally be found closer to $1,900, making it around the same price as the older GTX 1070 Max-Q variant. The RTX 2060 is about 8% faster on average than the GTX 1070 Max-Q, making it the better value choice.

The higher tier options with the RTX 2070 Max-Q and RTX 2080 Max-Q are priced at $2,400 and $2,800 respectively, but performance gains of 15% or less really aren’t enough to justify the price hike. Of course, if you want more power these models are available, but today the RTX 2060 is the sweet spot.

Also read: TechSpot’s Best Gaming Laptops 2019 — a buying guide dedicated to gaming machines of all forms and sizes. This is a condensed version of our gaming laptop recommendations…

Starting with our favorite category: portable, slim and light gaming laptops. You should be able to take your machine with you without needing to lug around 6+ pounds, it should be slim and easy to carry, and have decent enough battery life that it’s genuinely usable off the charger. Of course, it also needs powerful hardware for gaming.

The best option right now is the MSI GS65 Stealth at 15.6-inches in size, or alternatively the GS75 Stealth if you’d rather go with the 17-inch variant. We’ve tested most of the slim and light offerings in this new RTX generation and MSI’s Stealth line is simply the best for a few reasons: it can deliver the full performance of the components inside without throttling, it does so at respectable fan noise levels, and it’s also the lightest of the main portable gaming options.

The MSI GS65 Stealth packs decent hardware, headlined by a 1080p 144Hz display, Intel Core i7-8750H CPU and 16GB of RAM. The default 256GB SSD option is a tad on the small side, but it can be upgraded relatively easily, while battery life is pretty good. There are a number of GS65 and GS75 variants out there, including older Pascal GTX models and newer Turing RTX models.

The best option right now is the RTX 2060 model, it’s normally priced at $2,100 but can occasionally be found closer to $1,900, making it around the same price as the older GTX 1070 Max-Q variant. The RTX 2060 is about 8% faster on average than the GTX 1070 Max-Q, making it the better value choice. The higher tier options with the RTX 2070 Max-Q and RTX 2080 Max-Q are priced at $2,400 and $2,800 respectively, but performance gains of 15% or less really aren’t enough to justify the price hike for most.

A hardcore 240Hz alternative

Asus Strix Scar III

Asus’ ROG division is a name familiar to most gamers. The brand is found on everything from graphics cards to monitors to motherboards, and it usually represents one thing: premium gaming, often at premium prices. The Strix Scar III is no exception, but you do get what you pay for. The biggest draw of this laptop is that 240Hz IPS display. For those who’ve tried 144Hz screens and imagine there won’t be any noticeable difference when jumping up an extra 96Hz, think again. Even the mouse pointer seems to slide across the screen with the kind of smoothness and fluidity you have to see to believe. And playing games on this thing is something special.

Pushing titles to 200 fps and over requires powerful hardware. Thankfully, the Scar III has that area covered. The top-specced machines boasts a full RTX 2070 combined with an eight-core Core i9-9880H, 32GB RAM and a 1TB M.2 NVMe SSD. All of which makes playing shooters such as Metro: Exodus, Doom, CS: GO and Far Cry New Dawn an absolute joy. While most 240Hz monitors are TN panels, the Scar III’s IPS screen means you get great color accuracy, vividness, and viewing angles. Other positive points include the keyboard thanks to a satisfying amount of travel and not being too soft. The speakers are loud enough that headphones aren’t a requirement, and, like other ROG products, the whole thing is a RGB-lovers dream.

Like all extreme gaming laptops, don’t pick the Scar III if you want something light and with good battery life. The plasticky body won’t be to everyone’s taste, it can get loud when the fans are pushed to their max, and you get an external webcam rather than any built-in version. Ultimately, though, the Strix Scar III’s caveats are present in virtually all extreme gaming laptops. There are certainly louder, heavier, and hotter machines than this, and they don’t have the advantage of that incredible screen.

Budget Gaming

Acer Predator Helios 3000

It feels like every time we update our gaming laptop recommendations, the Acer Predator Helios 300 always comes out on top in the budget category. This laptop is still priced at around $1,000 for the GTX 1060 6GB model, making it still the best value gaming laptop on the market. You’re still getting a Core i7-8750H processor, unlike a quad-core Core i5 model in some other budget offerings. You’re still getting a 1080p 144Hz display with 16GB of RAM and 256GB of storage.

What you’re not getting with the Helios 300 compared to more expensive models is mostly in the design. This isn’t a massive system but it’s not overly slim and the battery life is nothing special. There are some other models that do get pretty close, the Asus TUF FX504 is one such example. It’s not quite as good as the Acer and ~$100 more expensive right now, but if you’re checking prices in the future and the FX504 ends up in a good spot, it’s one we’d consider. For those after a 17-inch model, the Acer Aspire 17 is one to check out.

However there is one direction we wouldn’t go in, and that’s to buy anything below a GTX 1060 6GB. This GPU is the sweet spot to get the most gaming performance. If you opt for something like the GTX 1050 Ti, you might end up saving $250 or so, but the 1060 is easily more than 50% faster. And as you go lower in price, laptop makers tend to strip back features like storage, RAM and the CPU, so overall you end up with a lower quality product. Save up and drop $1,000 on the Helios 300 and you’ll be much happier with your purchase long term.

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