The 10 Most Powerful Gaming Laptops in 2021

Kaelum Ross

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Mar 31, 2021

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It’s an exciting time for those after a high-end gaming setup.

Between the new RTX series GPUs and some amazing innovations in screen technology, if you have the budget for a premium gaming machine, you have some truly special offerings available.

But how do you tell which one is the best?

Today’s feature is here to guide you through the most powerful gaming laptops today, for those after the best setup possible.

This isn’t simply a list of the most expensive gaming laptops, but high-end options actually worth buying (with some different budgets in mind).

Top Picks

Best of the Rest: Quick-Fire Picks

Most Powerful Gaming Laptop Worth Buying: ASUS ROG Strix Scar 15

Although there are several great high-end options available, nothing quite ticks all the boxes like this ASUS gaming laptop.

The latest Strix model is a testament to the ongoing improvements of the series, excelling across the board from build quality to hardware.

Speaking of hardware, nothing is more important for choosing a powerful gaming PC, and the Scar 15 boasts:

  • RTX 3080 ROG Boosted GPU – With 16GB of GDDR6 Memory and impressive secondary specs, it’s the best laptop graphics card today
  • AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX CPU – > The most powerful gaming laptop processor available
  • 32GB DDR4 RAM – > While 16GB is plenty, 32GB is perfect for premium users after as much future-proofing as is reasonable
  • 1TB NVMe M.2 SSD – > Plenty for a decent gaming library, and we really appreciate how ASUS has not cheaped out by going for a smaller SSD + larger HDD. If you want more space, there is an easily accessible slot for an additional drive

These specs are unmatched in nearly every other mobile gaming computer available today (and especially at its price).

The combo of an RTX 3080 and the high-end 5th gen Ryzen CPU can accomplish unmatched FPS, resolutions, and high-setting combos in even the most demanding of titles (more than capable of fantastic graphics in games like Cyberpunk 2077 and Red Dead Redemption 2).

With hardware this capable, we’re pleased to see ASUS have accompanied the Scar 15 with one of the best gaming laptop screens we’ve come across.

In 15.6″ display boasts QHD/1440p resolution, 165hz & 3ms response time, all in a gorgeous IPS panel with a 100% DCIP-3 gamut, adaptive sync, and excellent contrast/brightness.

Don’t underestimate how common it can be for the most powerful gaming laptops to come with a screen that doesn’t feel suited for the hardware (especially secondary specs like color gamut/response time).

A 2k screen with a high refresh rate and low latency is such an incredible value add for users, balancing the demands of immersive gamers who will enjoy high-res/gorgeous colors, with the needs of competitive/esports gamers who are focused on response time, refresh rate, and clear contrast for identifying variations in the environment.

So, with display and hardware ticked off, the last main area to cover is build-quality; and we’re pleased to say the Scar 15 doesn’t disappoint here either.

Somehow the lightest and thinnest laptop compared to its previous iterations while retaining fantastic sturdiness, the Scar 15 looks and feels like a high-end offering made to last.

Speaking of looks; on top of its chicly designed lid and beautiful black metal exterior, this ASUS gaming laptop includes an individual-key customization RGB keyboard.

Sure, this is a flashy perk, but it can also be helpful for gamers to assign certain macros and/or key commands to different color schemes to very quickly identify positioning in games with demanding bindings (but we won’t lie, the real reason we love this feature is that the keys look so good).

Ergonomically, the keyboard is what you would hope for in a premium offering, with a mechanical, tactile feel we expect is suitable for even demanding esports laptop gamers.

The battery life is also impressive as far as demanding gaming PCs go; with a 90W battery, it’s very common for laptops in this price-range to almost forget about gaming without a power socket, so we appreciate the Scar 15 still offers some genuine portability in its size, battery, and longevity.

We’re also pleased with the cooling solution on display here. Boasting 4 fan outlets & a thermal metal compound intelligently built around the machine, like nearly all high-end gaming laptops, you will see high temps when pushing it in demanding games for long periods of time, but the Scar 15 seems to perform relatively decently in benchmarks and has good software availability for manual control if you desire (with good options for those after quiet laptop settings too).

We were even pleasantly surprised to see some fairly decent speakers on the device. Onboard audio is never something we recommend when there are such great headphone solutions available, but as far as a back-up solution/something to share content with others goes, you don’t find many laptop gaming speakers of this caliber.

Is there anything we don’t like about the Scar 15? Well, very little, but it’s worth pointing out the laptop doesn’t have a webcam.

We expect this is to minimize the bezel size as much as possible (and also because laptop manufacturers usually include awful built-in webcams so perhaps ASUS has decided to skip altogether). Either way, if you want a webcam, we’d recommend a standalone choice (some options at the bottom of this feature).

Port-wise, we’re pleased to see HDMI, ethernet, 3 x USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A & 1 x USB 3.2 Type-C with power & DisplayPort capability. We would have liked to see thunderbolt and a card reader for creatives, but think the output availability is still great as far as premium gaming requirements demand.

The Scar 15 may be an expensive offering, but we’re actually floored with the level of value it provides; many laptops with similar across-the-board success boast significantly higher price-tags.

ASUS has knocked it out of the park with this latest iteration; balancing incredible specs, build quality, display & price.

Not only do we consider this the best value RTX 3080 offering, but it’s comfortably our choice for the most powerful gaming laptop worth buying today.

A quick note on where to buy RTX 3000 series laptops

Before we jump into our next pick, we wanted to advise that you may have some difficulty picking up certain models because RTX 3070 & 3080 laptops are very high in demand/often out of stock due to their fantastic capability.

As good as our top choices are, the reason we’ve made this feature 10-picks long is that there are great alternatives for a powerful gaming laptop, don’t feel like you need to wait for our #1 pick to be in stock. 

It may be our favorite, but all of the options we’re recommending today are worthy of a premium setup.

Most Powerful Gaming Laptop: ASUS ROG Zephyrus Duo SE GX551

Now, while the Scar 15 represents, to us, the best balance between high-end gaming power and value for money, the GX551 is more suitable for those after the world’s most powerful gaming laptop bar-none.

On the surface, the Zephyrus Duo SE seems very similar to the Scar 15; also lead by the unmatched RTX 3080, Ryzen 9 5900HX, and 32GB DDR4 RAM, the hardware is fantastic but equally capable to our top pick.

So what makes this choice extra special? Well, if you check out the product listing, you’ll notice it’s a dual-screen gaming laptop.

Previously featured in What in Tech, multi-display laptops come with an independent second screen above the keyboard.

Although this technology is often cited as perfect for multi-tasking creatives, there’s a reason why desktop gaming setups nearly always have 2+ screens, not being able to show anything but your fullscreen game isn’t ideal, so a dual-screen laptop for gaming is an exciting prospect.

Preset software exists for the second screen, but you can ultimately put anything you want there, unlocking many options:

  • The ROG ScreenPad plus works with some modern titles to provide custom UI (often reducing main-screen clutter).
    • Things like quests in single-player games to favorite builds/metrics in competitive titles and MMOs
  • Customize to show core thermal UI and maximize cooling control during gaming
  • One of the best laptops for streaming and Twitch; capable of gaming on the main screen with your chat, camera angles & key metrics on the second display
  • Pretty much any other second-screen software you can think of being useful – such as Discord, Skype, Teamspeak, or an internet browser
  • One of my off-beat favorite utilities: if you’re interested in CEMU and Wii U/DS emulation, this is one of the only devices in the world capable of giving you a suitable experience for their second screens!

What’s more, the main screen of the Zephyrus Duo, on top of boasting fantastic low latency/colors/blacks, is a 4k 120hz display.

This is an incredible setup for immersive gaming and esports, but if you’re specifically focussed on the latter, there is also a GX551 model with a 300hz full HD screen instead (one of the highest Hz laptops available today, with hardware capable of using it in competitive games like Overwatch, Dota 2, Fortnite & more).

Note: don’t be dissuaded by the lack of reviews, the GX 551 3080 edition is brand new on the market and is already part of a dual-screen gaming laptop family that is heavily praised (like its 3070 brother).

Although the main specs emulate the Scar 15, you are getting twice the storage with a fantastic 2TB NVMe SSD, one of the largest solid-state drives we’ve seen built into a laptop; alongside the Thunderbolt Type-C port, this device doubles up as a great creative/production machine if you have demands outside of gaming.

Boasting high-quality thermal control, all-metal build quality, and tactile RGB keyboard responsiveness rivaled by little else, the GX551 feels designed to capably accommodate its high-end hardware.

You won’t get the same battery life as the Scar 15 due to the additional power draw of the second screen (though, if you are in a situation that demands portability, you can always temporarily disable it).

While the GPU, CPU, and RAM leading the device are on par with our top pick, the additional screen capabilities on offer here make the Zephyrus Duo a truly one-of-a-kind offering in its price range.

If your budget allows, this is the most powerful 4k gaming laptop available today, and an incredible solution for high-end users.

Most Powerful 17″ Gaming Laptop: Razer Blade Pro 17

Our top 2 picks are focused on the most powerful 15-inch gaming laptop offerings, but if you’re in the market for the largest display possible without compromise on power, this Razer offering is a fantastic fit.

Boasting many of the same specs as our top 2 picks, the Blade Pro 17 includes the unbeatable RTX 3080, 32GB DDR4 RAM & a 1TB NVMe SSD.

The difference in spec here is the CPU, with an Intel Core i7-10875H 8-Core processor leading the charge.

We do give a slight edge to the Ryzen 9 5900HX, but with the 10875H’s fantastic single-core performance (important for gaming), the difference is not significant enough that we’d recommend going with a 15-inch laptop if you demand 17-inches.

The screen options available are mouth-watering too, with the choice of either 4k 120hz or FHD 360hz.

The latter is the highest refresh rate gaming laptop available today – if your soul-purpose is esports, this will be a very attractive offering to you alongside specs that can accommodate 360FPS in less demanding competitive titles.

There’s great port-connectivity too; including a UHS-3 card reader, 2 x USB-C ports (one with Thunderbolt) & one of the few HDMI2.1 laptops around. The outputs are suitable not just for gamers, but creative professionals too.

Now, this is Razer we’re talking about, so you can expect them to be focused on the aesthetics & build.

The Blade Pro 17 doesn’t disappoint here, ranking as one of the most beautiful gaming laptops we’ve come across, it boasts an individually backlit Razer Chroma RGB keyboard, a frame made from a single unit of enforced aluminum, thin screen bezels & a minimalist design that is matched by little else.

On top of all that, it is nearly 25% smaller than its previous iterations; despite its large 17.3.” form-factor, it still boasts fantastic portability.

The Razor Blade Pro 17’s battery life is middle-of-the-road for a premium gaming laptop; likely achieving somewhere between 4-7 hours depending on the operation.

Not only is its 360hz option arguably the best esports laptop available today, but either screen package of the Blade Pro 17 boasts incredible utility in specs, portability, and a gorgeous design.

This is comfortably our choice for the most powerful 17-inch gaming laptop available in today’s market.

Cheapest RTX 3080 Laptop: GIGABYTE AORUS 17G YC

The Aorus 17G is a fantastic offering and was close to competing with some of our other top picks for their spots.

But as we’re here to cover the most powerful gaming laptops in the world today, the 17G may not be #1, but is still very close (especially for its price-point) and offers some USPs that might make it your favorite choice (especially as a budget option compared to the Razer Blade Pro for 17-inch gamers).

The specs on the 17G YC pack a serious punch for the price; with an RTX 3080, i7-10870H, 32GB memory, and a 1TB NVMe PCIe SSD.

There is one key difference compared to many of our other picks; the RTX 3080 is a variant that has 8GB GDDR memory instead of 16GB.

We expect this has largely been done to keep the laptop cheap and also deceptively portable for a 17-inch.

To clarify, half of the video memory does not mean half of the performance in games.

Yes, you can expect a decrease in performance that will vary in significance across titles. But by and large, this is still the top-range RTX 3080 we’re recommending in our other picks and worthy of a high-end gaming build (it’s only in the competition of amazing laptops like the Scar 15 does this pick feel second best).

To match its decent specs, the 17G includes a full HD 300hz IPS panel.

We feel like Gigabyte could’ve gotten away with offering 240Hz or another common lower-refresh rate, so we’re really pleased to see they’ve catered the laptop well to competitive gamers who need an extremely high frame-rate.

The display is excellent, and with its IPS panels, looks nice and vibrant; we will say it is slightly inferior to our top Razer & ASUS gaming laptop picks – with a lower color gamut and nits rating, the screen doesn’t give you the same level of picture/brightness (but is still decent).

So, where does the Aorus 17G YC excel (other than its great price)?

Let’s start with the best part; it’s the thinnest and lightest 17″ laptop with a full mechanical keyboard, the Aorus 17G is a compelling e-sports laptop for high-end users or those simply after a portable setup with the best tactile feedback possible (though other choices on this list still have some great keyboards).

The battery is also a respectable 99 watts; this is still a premium gaming machine, so don’t expect more than a few hours while playing demanding titles, but relatively speaking, it’s a decent runner.

Despite being one of the cheapest RTX 3080 laptops, we’re pleased to see the YC doesn’t cheap out on secondary areas; with good onboard Wi-Fi/Bluetooth, serviceable speakers, a camera suitable for basic calls, and I/O ports that include Thunderbolt 3, HDMI 2.1, mini DP 1.4 & a UHS-II card reader.

If you don’t want to spend as much on a 17-inch laptop, we’d go as far as to say the YC is the most powerful 17-inch gaming laptop when value is considered and is still capable of some incredible performance. 

Most Powerful Gaming Laptop Under $2,000: ASUS TUF 3070

The last of our top highlights is for those who are excited at the prospect of owning a top-range RTX 3080 laptop but can’t quite stretch to the demanding budgets.

The latest ASUS TUF PC, a long line of successful laptops previously featured on What in Tech, boasts some really excellent specs that won’t get you the same performance as the above. But, relative to budget, will still provide excellent value.

The model we’ve chosen is based on a $2,000 budget and boasts an RTX 3070 with 8GB GDDR6, Intel Core i7-11370H, 24GB DDR4 RAM & a 2TB SSD.

The RTX 3070 is the 3080’s smaller brother; the latter tends to provide (roughly speaking) around 10-15% improved performance in gaming.

While this is a great improvement, 90% of the power of an RTX 3080 is still very capable, which is why we’re happy to recommend 3070 laptops in an article focusing on the most power – you’ll still be able to play the latest titles with great settings/some older competitive titles at excellent framerates and/or have great capability for a virtual reality laptop.

The 11370H CPU, fresh as part of the Intel 11th gen, has great single-core performance. It’s worth noting that it’s only a quad-core processor, the sweet spot for gaming is 6-8, but this CPU is still very capable for its budget.

24GB of RAM is plenty and you will not see a notable difference from our 32GB offerings (if you really need to, you can go down to 16GB without much consequence today, but for a premium user, there are benefits to 24+ for improved future-proofing).

We’ve chosen the 2TB SSD as the listing is fairly cost-efficient for adding it over the 1TB model; though of course, if you need to go even cheaper, 1TB is more than enough for many gamers, with upgrade options easily accessible.

With an adaptive-sync FHD IPS display that boasts 240Hz, 3ms, and a 100% sRGB color gamut, the display may not reach the highs of the Razer Blade Pro’s refresh rate or the Scar 15’s vibrancy, but for the price? This is still a screen very capable of a premium gaming experience, and while 240hz may not be the highest refresh rate, it’s still enough for esports-focussed gamers if you can’t stretch your budget further.

We have no complaints design-wise; with a gorgeous and sturdy gunmetal grey build, a tactile keyboard that rivals our more expensive choices, and one of the best battery lives on the list.

We’re also pleased to see Thunderbolt 4 on offer here in its type-C port, alongside 3 x USB type-A and HDMI 2.0.

The 3070 edition of the ASUS TUF represents a great choice for those that need to balance a desire for the most future-proof gaming laptop they can find, while still paying attention to a realistic budget.

Alternative Picks – Best of the Rest

While the top choices are our absolute favorite picks, we appreciate that in the market of the most powerful gaming laptops, some options are often out of stock.

This is why we’ve included 5 more options well worthy of your consideration if the top laptops are unavailable, or do not match your exact requirements.

Cheapest RTX 3080 15.6″ Laptop: CUK MSI GE66 Raider

Still boasting the 16GB version of the RTX 3080, it may not have the same top-level CPU, but this MSI gaming laptop packs an impressive punch and is a great alternative to the Scar 15.

Cheapest RTX 3070 Laptop: GIGABYTE AORUS 15G XC

The cheapest laptop on the list, the 15G is the perfect second-choice to the ASUS TUF (or first choice if the slight budget drop suits you better and you don’t mind its smaller SSD).

Most Powerful Gaming Laptop Under $2,500: HIDevolution ASUS ROG Zephyrus G15

This ASUS ROG laptop variation is a very powerful gaming machine.

We do think that, once you get to this price-point, it’s more effective to stretch that little bit further to pick up an RTX 3080 laptop, but if you can’t, it’s a great choice.

High End Gaming Laptop Alternative: MSI GE66 Raider 10UH

Another variation of the classic MSI GE66, this specific listing is suitable if you like the look of the GE66 Raider (or Scar 15) but demand very large storage space and/or RAM (e.g. production users).

Most Portable High-End Gaming Laptop: CUK GS66 Stealth

With great battery, lightness (relative to other premium choices) & a sleek, minimalist design, the GS66 Stealth carries a premium for these qualities, but is a great choice if they’re very important to you.

Final Word

And there you have it! After much deliberation over specs, build quality, display and overall price/value, the above are our final takes on the most powerful gaming laptops in the world today.

If you see one of the top options out of stock, we appreciate how frustrating that can be, but we’ll re-iterate a point made above: all of the options here are very capable of a powerful gaming build.

We’ve made this list 10 picks long because we know the top few choices won’t always be available, they all represent a great balance across what is most important for a high end gaming laptop.

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