For a great gaming laptop, you need high-performance processors, dedicated graphics cards, and a lot of system memory. These days top gaming laptops are using dual or even quad processors and hooking up two or more graphics GPUs through SLI configurations to get the ultimate gaming performance.
Most gamers look for Nvidia and ATI as their choice of Graphics Cards, which uses dedicated memory (RAM) and pulls additional system RAM when needed through HyperMemory (ATI) or TurboCache (Nvidia). You need at least 2 Gigs of RAM, although most high-end laptops now come with 4 or more Gigs of RAM. Note: 32-bit Operating Systems ONLY recognizes up to 3GB of RAM, while you need 64-bit systems to take full advantage of 4GB of RAM.
Sound and visuals are essential to gamers, so you have to check for superior display qualities and top sound systems. So look for display technologies like CrystalBrite (Acer) or X-Black (Sony) for better viewing. Also, look for high resolution (native 1,920 x 1,200) screens, 64 bit systems, DirectX 10 Graphics, Blu-ray or HD playback…
With all these considerations in mind, here’s a shortlist of a few top gaming laptops you should consider if you’re in the market. Although prices are coming down, keep in mind be prepared to pay top dollar for all that high-end gaming hardware, especially if you’re looking at the more popular, well-known brands. Also, please note stated prices are rough estimates at the time of writing, so check each manufacturer’s online site for exact prices and configurations.
1. Alienware Area-51 m17x ($4,749)
Alienware has always been the established leader for superior gaming machines. Unfortunately, while they make some of the best gaming rigs, you will have to pay for all that performance and for all that style. Many believe Alienware is too overpriced for what you get. However, if money is no object, Alienware should be your first consideration for a gaming laptop. Currently, one of their fastest machines is the Area-51 m17x, which sports some impressive specs:
- CPU: Intel Core™ 2 Extreme X9000 2.8GHz (6MB Cache 800MHz FSB)
- Memory: 4GB+ Dual Channel DDR2 SO-DIMM at 667MHz – 2 x 2048MB
- Hard Drive: 250GB (250GB x 2) 7,200RPM (8MB Cache) w/ Free Fall Protection
- Graphics: 512MB NVIDIA® Quadro® FX 3600M
- OS: Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate with Service Pack 1
- Display: 17″ WideUXGA 1920 x 1200 LCD (1200p) with Clearview Technology
- Weight: 10.5 lbs
But don’t expect long battery life as gaming laptops are usually power-hungry creatures that burn up your power source very quickly. While still mobile, this laptop serves more than a desktop replacement than a portable laptop; the same said for most of the gaming laptops here. However, you won’t look any cooler than when you’re lugging this rig around, not that looks should count, but they often do. Shallow world Folk Fests.
2. Rock Extreme 780 X9100 (£2300 British Pounds or USD 4,210)
Offering some serious competition to the Area-51 m15x is the Rock Extreme 780 X9100. This is the follow-up to the very high ranked Extreme 770, which you may also consider. The 780 sports the new Intel Core™2 Extreme processor and the latest gaming technologies.
- CPU: Up to Intel Core™ 2 Extreme processors X9100 (2 x 3.06GHz) 6MB Level 2 Cache
- Memory: Up to 4GB DDR3 1066Mhz RAM
- Hard Drive: Up to 320Gb 7200rpm SATA
- Graphics: NVIDIA 9800M GTX 1GB GDR3
- OS: Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium
- Display: 17″ WUXGA+ X-Glass TFT Screen (1920 x 1200)
Weight: 8.4 lbs
Rock (Rock direct) is a leading UK laptop manufacturer and was recently acquired by the Stone Group. It should be business as usual since the Stone Group is also a leading hardware specialist and laptop manufacturer. Rock has a solid reputation for bringing the latest innovative notebook technology to customers. Perhaps better suited for European buyers with its “3 Year pan-European Collect & Return Warranty” — although gamers this side of the pond shouldn’t necessarily rule out getting a rock.
3. Gateway P-7811FX ($1,449)
The Gateway P-7811FX is an inexpensive alternative to all the pricey gaming laptops you might be considering. If you’re looking for a good gaming machine yet want to stay within a limited budget, this laptop may have your name on it.
- CPU: 2.26GHz Intel Core 2 Duo P8400
- Memory: 4GB, 667MHz DDR3
- Hard Drive: 200GB 7200rpm
- Graphics: Nvidia GeForce 9800M GTS
- OS: Microsoft Windows Vista Premium (64-bit)
- Display: 17.1 inches HD-friendly 1920×1200.
Weight: 9.0 lbs
This gaming laptop offers great value for your money and well worth your consideration, especially if you’re on a tight budget.
4. Sager NP9262 ($5879)
In case you want to go in the other direction and break the bank, the Sager NP9262 may be calling your name. Built on the Clevo D900C / D901C (Worlds 1st Quad Core Laptop), the NP9262 sports some very impressive gaming specs.
- CPU: Intel Core™ 2 Quad Processor Q9650 / 12MB L2 Cache, 3.0GHz, 1333MHz FSB
- Memory: 8GB memory available on NP9262 with 64bit edition of Windows VISTA
- Hard Drive: 320GB 7200rpm SATA 300 Hard Drive + other HD choices
- Graphics: Dual Nvidia GeForce 9800M GTX Graphics with 1GB DDR3 Video Memory in SLI mode
- OS: Windows Vista ULTIMATE 32/64-Bit Edition
Display: 17″ Wide Viewing Angles WUXGA LCD with Super Glossy Surface (1920 x 1200)
Weight: 11.55 lb
5. Dell XPS M1730 ($4,000)
Some gamers wouldn’t be caught dead mentioning Dell and gaming laptops in the same breath. There’s no accounting for gaming snobbery or brand name bias. However, Dell, which now owns Alienware and some of that style, must be rubbing off since the XPS M1730 is one of the most striking gaming laptops you can buy; looks do count, and this one leaves all takers in the dust. If you can get over the idea of having a Dell in the first place, the XPS M1730 also sports some very impressive gaming specs.
- CPU: 2.8GHz Intel Core 2 Extreme X7900
- Memory: 2GB of 667MHz
- Hard Drive: 400GB (2×200) at 7,200rpm
- Graphics: Dual 256MB Nvidia GeForce 8700M GT in SLI (scalable link interface)
- OS: Windows Vista Home Premium
- Display: 17 inches 1,920×1,200 resolution
Weight: 11.1 lbs
These are just some of the top gaming laptops on the market. Any one of these rigs will give you half-decent gaming. There are probably a lot cheaper gaming laptops out there, and it does pay to shop around. And as you probably already noticed, these gaming rigs are geared around Intel and Nvidia, but you shouldn’t rule out AMD and/or ATI based systems. For Mac lovers, you should look at the Apple MacBook Pro — and remember you can also run Windows to play games!
Furthermore, one of the major drawbacks of going with any gaming laptop (rather than a PC) is that there is very little room for expansion… you need a system that can be easily upgraded mainly because, by the time you buy it, your system will probably be out of date. That’s a bit exaggerated, but it is always a good idea to go with a gaming system that you can easily upgrade when the need arises or as you can afford it.
Some gamers also dislike Vista as an Operating System for gaming and quickly switch back to Windows XP. This is simply done. However, some current laptops /PCs won’t accept XP, so check this out BEFORE you buy your machine.
Besides, if some of these gaming rigs look very similar, you should know that Clevo is the ODM (Original Design Manufacturer) based in Taiwan that sells bare bones and computer components to all these boutiques brand OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) like Falcon, Sager, M-TECH, Rock… Clevo is considered by many gamers to produce the top laptops in regards to superior quality and build. A prudent gaming laptop buyer would always cross-reference these Clevo products to find the best deal.