2018 is an excellent year for laptops – with the latest Intel Core processors built on the Coffee Lake architecture, and several advancements in the miniaturization of crucial components such as graphics processors, the latest laptops can be expected to deliver significantly better performance and increased power efficiency to make them ideal for portable systems. Indeed, the best laptops of 2018 are the stuff of gamer’s dream, featuring unprecedented power and performance that is a cut above last year’s best, and infinitely better than the bulky, expensive machines we had just in the former half of the past decade.
Gaming laptops aren’t very different from high-performance laptops which have been around for quite a while. High-performance notebooks cater to the portable needs of a lot of people – from professionals to college students, to media connoisseurs looking to take their computer with them on-the-go – and have been an ideal solution to people who rely on computers for all of their tasks but with a need or drive to travel. Gaming laptops, on the other hand, have a particular need that most high-performance laptops cannot satisfy – and that is the ability to handle intense graphics processing. Desktop processors have always delivered the power and performance for gaming, with the latest and greatest GPUs of the past decade coming in large form-factors such as the Nvidia GeForce GTX 10 Series graphics processors and the AMD Radeon product lineup. So far, desktop gaming was the only way to go if you wanted power and performance, and laptops were a compromise that sacrificed a lot to make your gaming rig more portable.
But it’s 2018 and just looking at the best gaming laptops under 1500, it’s become apparent that the norm is shifting, and portable laptops no longer need to sacrifice too much to deliver great portability for gamers who need to be on-the-go. Smaller chips and better technology – including Nvidia Max-Q – allows portable laptops to house even the most powerful components, with effective small-form cooling solutions to keep up with the heat. Gaming laptops can go for up to $5,000, but also at a $1,500 budget, there are dozens upon dozens of excellent gaming laptops available to even the most discerning of gamers.
This year, we’ve come up with the greatest highlights in portable gaming and included the best of the best in this list of the best gaming laptops under $1,500. At this price range, you can expect great things – incredible high-speed processors built with the latest technology, powerful GPUs capable of running most games and applications on high or even Ultra settings, enough RAM to accommodate fast, snappy performance and excellent multitasking potential, faster and larger storage, and the best battery performance compared to previous generations.
If you’re in the market for a high-performance gaming laptop, but intimidated or flustered by the sheer amount of options and brands available, this list is for you. We’ve evaluated and reviewed the best gaming laptops under $1,500 of 2018, and to show for it we have handpicked the best of the best of them and put them in this list for your convenience and information.
What to Look For
This year’s lineup of gaming laptops take portable gaming to a whole new level, and every single laptop out there is built with a specific user in mind – from casual game to hardcore gamer to VR enthusiasts, and more. But with all the products available, it’s easy to get overloaded with information on hundreds of potential options. That’s why we’ve come up with this list – to help you get through the selection process in one piece. However, it’s important to arm yourself with the information you need to make a right purchase decision, so here’s a run-down of everything we look for when evaluating the best gaming laptops under $1,500:
No matter what you’re planning to buy if you have a budget of $1,500 you’re going to want to get the best bang for your buck. You don’t want to overpay for a lower quality machine just as you don’t want to cheap out and get a gaming laptop for less when you could have gotten more and still be within your budget. This list of the best gaming laptops under $1,500 considers value so you never have to end up with the dreaded buyer’s remorse.
Gaming laptops, if anything, have to excel in one particular thing: performance. When looking for a gaming laptop, it’s important to find a machine that’ll cater to your needs. Whether you’re a casual gamer looking to kill your downtime with fun casual titles, a competitive gamer looking for an edge in online player-versus-player arenas, or a hardcore gamer looking for a machine that can run everything from the most immersive AAA titles to the latest and greatest MMOs, every gamer has a specific set of needs. No matter what you need, though, performance is always going to be based on a litany of internals – including your CPU, your GPU, how much RAM you have, and whether or not your cooling system can handle the heat.
What’s the point of portability if you’re going to be tethered to a power socket the whole time? While a lot of these laptops are excellent desktop replacements that you can keep plugged in forever, it’s also essential to consider battery life and overall battery performance so you know how flexible you can be when you have to take your machine out on-the-go.
Nothing ruins a gaming experience like poor visuals, inadequate colors, and overall low-quality picture, but on the other end of that spectrum, nothing can enhance and immerse you more in your gaming than a display that brings all of your favorite characters and special effects to life. That’s why for this list of the best gaming laptops under $1,500, we considered how bright and vibrant the laptops’ displays are so that you can get the best gaming experience available to you at this price range.
Our Top Picks for the Best Gaming Laptop Under 1500 for 2018
The Best: Alienware 17 R5
The Alienware 17 R5 is the latest iteration of Alienware’s 17-inch flagship product line. Coming from a rich ancestry of the most famous gaming machines in history, Alienware is a brand that has time and time again delivered the best gaming machines for the best value. This year, the Alienware 17 R5 is our pick for the best gaming laptop under $1500.
Alienware outdoes itself again with the latest Alienware 17 R5, the 17.3-inch variety of the Alienware line of gaming laptops. While the Alienware 15 and 13 are also top-notch laptops that very well deserve a spot on this list, we decided that the Alienware 17 is the best value you can get with a $1,500 budget.
The $1,500 Alienware 17 R5 is the base configuration for this veritable gaming powerhouse, but even the base configuration should be enough for all your gaming needs. The Alienware 17 R5 comes with the latest 8th generation Intel Core i7-8750H hexa-core processor for seamless performance and capability, 8GB of DDR4 RAM (upgradable to up to 32GB) and an overclockable Nvidia GeForce GRX1060 with 6GB of GDDR5 VRAM so deliver top-notch and VR-Ready gaming and graphics performance – enough to power current and future AAA titles for years to come.
Pair the Alienware 17’s internals with its stellar 17.3-inch FHD (1920×1080) 60Hz IPS display featuring full color gamut and better viewing angles, and you get one of the most amazingly vivid and immersive gaming and visual experiences ever had on a laptop. The Alienware 17 R5, as configured, also comes with 1TB HDD with hybridized 8GB SSD for faster booting and excellent storage capability. With a built-in 68Whr battery, the Alienware 17 delivers up to 6 hours of uninterrupted use for longer-lasting enjoyment, which you can kick up to 10 hours of intense gaming with the optional 99Whr battery – the legal limit for laptop manufacturers in the battery cells that they include in their machines. The Alienware 17 also revamped its cooling solution to deliver better cooling and ventilation so your laptop can keep up with extended gaming sessions on even the most demanding titles, all while keeping quiet and cool.
With this much power and at this price range, the only downside we can see on the Alienware 17 R5 is the bulk. The Alienware 17 R5 is bulky and heavy, but honestly, with its magnificent, sleek look and signature Alienware premium feel, the additional weight is well worth the everything else you’re getting with the Alienware 17 R5.
At $1,500 (or less with Dell’s frequent sales) the Alienware 17 R5 is the absolute best gaming laptop you can buy at this price range – as long as you’re willing to compromise a little bit of portability and weight for the added power and performance of this truly stellar gaming laptop. Our verdict: the Alienware 17 R5 is the best gaming laptop under $1,500 for 2018.
Runner-up: MSI GP63 Leopard
The MSI GP63 Leopard is a gaming laptop through and through and delivers great value and performance that we’ve come to expect from one of the leading gaming hardware brands in the world, MSI. The MSI GP63 does not disappoint and is this year’s runner-up for the best gaming laptop under $1,500.
The MSI GP63 Leopard is a powerhouse of gaming and is a 15.6-inch laptop that outdoes the competition in this form-factor and price range. As configured, the MSI GP63 even surpasses the Alienware 17 R5 in some respects, that’s why we believe that despite the close competition, the MSI GP63 deserves spot number two on our list of the best gaming laptops under $1,500.
The under $1,500 configuration we have evaluated here comes with the latest 8th generation of Intel Core i7 processors, specifically the i7-8750H built on the Coffee Lake architecture. On top of that, the MSI GP63 Leopard comes with 16GB of DDR4 RAM – a very comfortable amount of memory, and more than enough to run even the latest AAA titles while still having plenty of other applications running simultaneously. The graphics processor on the MSI GP63 is no weakling either, with a Nvidia GeForce GTX1060 with 6GB of GDDR5 VRAM – it’s not overclocked, but this GPU is powerful all the same, capable of VR content and with enough power to run the most demanding video games on High or even Ultra settings with relative ease. For storage, our configuration of the MSI GP63 Leopard comes with a great high-speed 128GB SSD to allow for faster boot times and less loading times, and a 1TB HDD for all of your storage needs.
The MSI GP63 Leopard comes with a great display that offers FHD (1920×1080) resolution on a 15.6-inch IPS panel for better colors and a more vibrant picture overall. The screen also features a high refresh rate at 120Hz for smoother gameplay, especially for competitive gamers who want that edge in online first-person shooters and other competitive genres. And at just under 5 lbs, the MSI GP63 is one of the lightest gaming laptops under $1,500.
With its high-refresh display and all of its other high-powered components, the MSI GP63 Leopard allows for a weak 5 hours of battery life, so you’re looking at the somewhat limited use and portability options that will undoubtedly end up tying you down to a power socket more often than you might like. As a desktop replacement, however, the MSI GP63 Leopard is a great choice – so long as you’re comfortable being perpetually plugged in.
Unlike the Alienware 17 R5 with its signature sleek and futuristic design, the MSI GP63 Leopard adheres to the typical gaming laptop aesthetic, with rather loud red accents on its matte black chassis. While we love the red-and-black gamer vibe, we understand that it’s a deal breaker for a lot of people. The MSI GP63 Leopard looks loud and attention-grabbing, and we would have loved it more if it was just a little bit more subtle, and went just a little bit easier on the red.
Like we said before, the MSI GP63 Leopard is a gaming laptop through and through. It delivers great performance and power to keep up with all your gaming needs, and at under $1,500, it’s one of the best gaming laptops you can buy at this price range. If you don’t mind the poor battery life and the rather loud gamer-centric aesthetic and red accents, then there’s no reason not to go for MSI GP63 Leopard. As configured, this machine comes with an MSRP of $1,499.
Honorable Mention: Dell G7
The Dell G Series is an excellent lineup of gaming laptops from one of the world’s best computer manufacturer, Dell. The Dell G7 may not be as powerful or high-performance as the Alienware 17 or the MSI GP63 Leopard, but it does cater to a lot of needs and preferences that neither of the machines as mentioned above can satisfy – including, but not limited to, unprecedented portability.
The Dell G7 has just been refreshed to get the latest generation components, and as configured, the Dell G7 is a true gaming powerhouse in its own right. With the latest 8th generation Intel Core i7-8750H hexa-core processor for unprecedented processing performance, 16GB of dual-channel DDR4 RAM, and 128TB SSD paired with a 1TB 5400rpm HDD, the Dell G7 gaming laptop is packed to the brim with the high-power and high-performance components you need to experience gaming to a whole new level.
The 15.6” FHD (1920×1080) IPS display features great color accuracy and vibrancy, and paired with the Dell G7’s Nvidia GeForce GTX1060 GPU with 6GB GDDR5 VRAM, you can play basically anything on it – from your favorite casual games to serious competitive online first-person shooters to the latest and greatest AAA titles and open-world RPGs.
The Dell G7 also comes with Dell MaxxAudio, which significantly boosts sound quality to deliver excellent cinematic and theatrical audio for all of your sound preferences and needs.
The highlight of the Dell G7, however, and the main feature that helped it make it to this list of the best gaming laptops under $1,500, is the fact that it’s under an inch thick at 0.93″ profile. With up to 7 hours of battery life under regular to heavy use, the Dell G7 is hands down the most portable laptop of the bunch.
The Dell G7 performs great in a lot of aspects, but it’s hard to get over its less than stellar display. The display was maxing out at around 230 nits based on our brightness tests, which is dismal brightness for a gaming laptop. The best gaming laptops offer brightness levels on their displays of approximately 300 or more nits, with the Alienware 17 R5 featuring a super-bright display at 400 nits.
The Dell G7’s underwhelming display may be a deal-breaker for most; but even at 230 nits, the display should be bright enough so long as you’re not in a light-saturated environment like under the sun, or outdoors when the sun is shining. For low-light situations, the Dell G7 performs just as well as any other laptop. Despite the brightness issue, the Dell G7 still outlasts the competition with stellar battery life and great non-bulky design.
If you’re looking for a gaming laptop that’s great and convenient to take with you on the go, then you can’t go wrong with the Dell G7. A sleek design and thin profile combined with excellent battery life make the Dell G7 one of the best gaming laptops under $1,500, and the most portable of the bunch without sacrificing performance.
Look Out For: Lenovo Legion Y730
The Lenovo Legion Y730 has been on our radar for quite a while. Due to be released in September 2018, we expect the Lenovo Legion Y730 to perform just as well as the other gaming laptops on this list but deliver the same power and performance in an ultra-thin profile and sleek aesthetic that we saw when it was unveiled at E3 early this year.