Kotaku Gift Guide: Gaming Laptops

Kotaku Gift Guide: Gaming Laptops

Gaming laptops — this is bound to get messy. Some folks love the portability of PC gaming on the move, others don’t understand why you wouldn’t just spend your dollars on a desktop machine, where you get far more back for your buck. I’m keen to hear from all of you. Which do you prefer? Would you consider buying a gaming laptop and, if so, which model?

Money To Burn

New Razer Blade
The New Razer Blade is about as good as it gets for high spec laptop gaming, but considering desktop options at a similar price point, you’d have to be committed to portable gaming to pick this one up. $2,699 is no joke, but this may be worth it if you have the money to burn. One of the best gaming laptops on the market. You could spend more than this, you could always spend more. But this could be worth the dough if you’re willing to splash out.
Price: $2699

A Man of Moderate Tastes

Alienware M17x
A lot of people seem to be liking this one, and it might just be one of the better value gaming laptops on the market. It’s still pretty pricey at well over $2000 but it’s less than you’d normally expect to pay for a laptop of such beefiness.
Price: $2199

The Cheaper Option

DreamBook Power M98 SLI
It was actually our publisher Danny Allen who suggested this: a powerful machine with a great price point. This laptop has not been branded for gaming. At no point does its logo glow green, and there isn’t a ‘z’ in sight. Very nice set up for $1499.
Price: $1499

Got something better you can suggest? Let us know in the comments below!


  • I know you’ve linked to the pages of each of these articles, but what about putting in a little bit more effort and posting some specs on the page so it’s possible to do a comparison at a glance?
    For that matter, why not find a few more systems for comparison’s sake and so the article doesn’t just look like a plug for these three laptops?

    • That is a completely relevant comment. I wouldn’t call a short write-up with no specs, personal opinions a “Gift Guide”. This is more like sending someone an email and saying “Hey, here’s three links to laptops that might be OK for gaming”. This is a really pi$$-poor effort.

  • Asus have some good offerings:

    The Asus G75VX is well spec’d but pricey:
    Intel i7 3630QM / 16GB RAM / 17.3″ display (1920×1080) / 256GB SSD+1TB HDD / 3GB GTX 670MX

    Personally, I want something thin and light for work as well as a bit of gaming, so I’m waiting for the Asus Zenbook Touch U500VZ (only weighs 2.2kg):
    i7-3632QM / 8GB RAM / 15.6 ” display (1920×1080) / 2 x 256GB SSD (Raid 0) / 2GB GT650 M
    Pricing: TBC, probably around $2500

  • been rocking an MSI GT783 for a while now and been really happy (it’s of course superceded by newer models now, but that meant I could time it to get an extra $500 discount!) – I find that the portability is fantastic for things like easy LANs with friends, or moving to the room with AC on hot days, but it has enough grunt to run most things maxed out except for the titles pushing as tech demos as much as games (eg. BF3 and FC3). It also comes with a nice wired gaming mouse and a travel backpack – so look into what extras certain models get in the box as well. I was looking into the Alienware M17x, but ultimately found that the right clearance at somewhere like Scorptec or JB could get you a bit more bang for the same buck.

    another thing to consider is your peripheral situation – sure a laptop costs more, but a decent gaming laptop tends to have a reasonable monitor and backlit keyboard, which are the sorts of things which can add a fair bit to a new desktop system as well.

  • 18 months ago I paid $1,399 for a non gaming branded Toshiba. 18 months ago. Standard price.

    It sh*ts all over the DreamBook. I can’t find a single spec for the DreamBook that outdoes my Toshiba, and it’s 18 months newer and $100 more expensive.

    Off the top of my head, it’s running a Core i7 around the 2.6ghz mark, 6gb RAM, GT 540M (which does admittedly have a slightly lower benchmark.)

    It’s also worth noting that the DreamBook STARTS at $1,499. That’s for the base model, which looks to have pretty average specs for today.

    So yeah, I’d be willing to say I’d be shopping around before taking this article as gospel.

    • And my Toshiba also manages to pack an HD 3D display! Not that I’ve ever used the 3D. Bit of a gimmick in my opinion.

  • Had an Asus Republic of Gamers G73SW since the start of the year. Scored it cheap ex-demo, but I was initially looking at Alienware. I found increasingly you could get similar specced laptops for a lot less without compromising on quality. This set me back less than $2000, which at the time was roughly $200-$400 cheaper than a comparable Alienware laptop. The Asus ROG stuff is fantastic quality too. Laptop performs amazingly, and have loved every moment of it.

    Alienware laptops are fantastic, but be aware you are paying a premium for the brand name – and that’s fine if that’s what you want. I’m not bagging Alienware at all. I’ve heard some positive feedback about some MSI gaming laptops too. Just be aware these days, there’s all kinds of nice laptops available from different manufacturers, and you’ve got a lot of options.

    Also bear in mind you get what you pay for, don’t spend less than $1000 on a gaming laptop and then get sad when it doesn’t play Crysis 3 at max graphics. Be aware laptops are a compromise on their desktop counterparts and are subject to limitations. They’re also subject to the $ = speed rule. Even more so than desktops. Check the specs on the laptops against what you want to or are expecting to play. Make sure you read reviews as well, other people’s feedback is your best advice.

    • Oh, to clarify, it being ex-demo wasn’t the reason for it being cheaper than Alienware, I based that off it’s RRP at the time. Sorry, wasn’t clear about that.

  • I’m not really one for a gaming notebook, I have a MacBook Air for work and custom built desktop for gaming.

    However I would be curious to know if anyone has purchased a 15 inch Retina MacBook Pro, installed Windows (7) with the sole intention of using it as a gaming machine. Would love to see some results of this or feedback? Curious.

  • I prefer to steer clear of laptops for gaming purposes…not just because I can spec out a desktop for cheaper, but because desktops are infinity times easier to upgrade. Hell, you CAN’T upgrade most laptop models aside from possibly sticking in more RAM or putting in a bigger hard drive. You certainly can’t swap out the video card or anything along those lines because it’s all integrated into the mainboard.

    I do understand that some people may want a laptop for gaming and enjoy the portability of it. But for someone like me, who likes to upgrade his gaming rig, and likes to crank everything up to max settings, a laptop won’t cut the mustard. Having a not-so-portable computer is the price you pay for a good gaming setup I think.

  • But don’t laptops tend to have overheating problems more than desktop.

    Can you guys suggest a good brand cuz my bro goin overseas and he wants a gaming lappy

  • Coming from someone who purchased a Clevo Horize P150HM which came with an NVIDIA 580m card built into it just over a year ago – don’t invest in gaming laptops if you intend on using them for games. I’ve puchased 3 additional fans to blow air directly into the intake while the laptop also sits on a cooling mat and it still overheats to the point where it needs to shut down. These things never have enough cooling to account for the heat that comes from a proper gaming session & I doubt that the reviewers ever tend to play games for longer than an hour or so which is necessary for the temperature to slowly build up.

    • I have a Clevo P150HMB, with an Nvidia 485m card, which should generate more heat than a 580m. I’ve had gaming sessions on it for more than a few hours. Perhaps you should replace your GPU/CPU thermal compound with something more efficient? It’s fairly easy to do with the Clevo laptops.

        • Sorry, I don’t have any links. It’s been a year since I removed my gpu/cpu heatsink, but I remember it to have been pretty straightforward. Just had to remove a large panel on the back, and then undo the screws holding the heatsink/fan assembly.

          Search Youtube for a guide on applying thermal compound. Basic principle is you want a thin and even coating, after properly cleaning the surface with some alcohol wipe (ispropyl is best, although I’ve used methylated spirits perfectly fine). Everyone seems to agree that Artic Silver 5 is an excellent compound to use, and certainly better than the stock stuff.

  • In addition to a purpose built desktop for gaming. I purchased an Asus G75 GTX670m RoG laptop for $1800 that sits in my Home Theatre as a HTPC/Steam box, well that’s what I’m calling it anyway! Runs everything at max pretty much. I went with a lappy due to its size and also portability if I ever decide to take out of the cabinet and on the road etc. Consoles now gather dust in said cabinet. PC gaming on a 92″ front projection system make it hard to fire the old girls up these days…

  • What about Asus’ beast the G75? I’ve had the G73 for a few years now and it kicks serious butt and has great bang for buck

  • Got an Dell L702x Core i7 (2600), 32gb 1600 ram, 256gb Samsung 840 SSD & 750gb 7200 Seagate Momentus xt, 3D Display via Nvidea 555M, Blu-Ray optical
    – All for under $2k… Plays FC3 noice…

  • Is there a gaming laptop that can run a 1080p game and not heat up like an oven? My Dell 17 inch laptop can play games at 1080p but it just gets too hot even with a laptop cooler. My laptop is gaming on the go, my desktop does the bulk of the gaming for me.

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