“Mobile gaming” wasn’t quite possible couple of years ago. Everyone thought that the gaming laptops can’t replace the power desktop can produce. In a way that is the true. Desktop gaming computers have always had the leading advantage in the ever lasting gaming battle. Even though this is still the truth, technology is advancing with the light speed and the gaming we know now, is certainly about to change in a few years, perhaps, even in a few months.
The term portable can have different meanings. But we’ve always known that the good gaming laptops risk a lot of power and portability in order to run the best games, or at least very demanding games that’ve come out in the past five years. Despite having great balance of processor, memory and storage, gaming laptops at the moment cannot provide the desktop class usage, unless we’re talking about the 10-series graphics cards, equipped with the Pascal 16nm architecture. However, in this article there will be mentioning of this too.
Portable laptop means a transferable laptop. It does not only come in a smaller diagonal display to start with but, it also comes much slimmer, sleeker and thinner than the regular, less portable laptops that are available on the market. It is not very popular occasion among the gamers to play on a 13 or 14 inches laptops but with the capability to connect to up to 3 monitors that was first released in the Asus ROG series laptops, many laptops started doing the same showing a completely new standard to the dedicated laptop gamers.
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Best Portable Gaming Laptops 2017
We’ve already talked about the most important factors during the gaming time. It’s not easy to get a portable gaming laptop with specifications good enough to suffice. But, in this article we took our time to write about the most portable (slimmest, thinnest, smaller diagonal screen) laptop ready to be placed on your deck, ready to rock your games.
1. MSI GS43VR Phantom Pro-006
If there was any more portable, yet at the same time amazing gaming laptop, that would be the MSI GS43, Virtual Reality ready gaming laptop. This is probably the fastest 14 inch gaming laptop that you can get for the price, and enjoy in the process of great gaming experience, sporting the newest game at the highest and ultra graphics.
The gaming laptops are getting more and more popular, especially in the 15 inch edition but, also its 17 inch edition that is perhaps a bit less comfortable with carrying around and in one term, less portable. However, you will rarely see a powerful 14 inch ultrabook. There are rare finds mostly because the 14 inch laptops don’t easily fit all those powerful parts, because as you know the gaming graphics cards of the latest generation require more space in order to provide the maximal cooling for the laptop.
What makes this model superior compared to the other gaming laptops, aside from its weight and size? The Intel’s Skylake processor, Intel Core i7-6700HQ, quad-core processor that easily boosts up to 3.5 GHz in its Turbo mode, along with the 16 GB of RAM make no problems running even the most demanding applications and performing even the most system requiring operations. In regards to the graphics card, we’ve already seen how greatly does the NVIdia’s GTX 1060M work in the most demanding games, and honestly, it feels really great to fit such a chunky graphics card inside the gaming laptop of 14 inches. Yes, as you may have guessed, this laptop comes with the GTX 1060M, a mobile graphics card for laptops, which may represent the budget graphics card of the high range. In this article, we will see that this graphics card can perform powerfully even in the gaming laptop of this size range.
MSI has always put a lot of work in designing the perfect case/chassis for the gaming laptop, especially focused in the G series laptop. The quality of the lid is excellent, the laptop case won’t creak under pressure, even though applying pressure towards the centered part of the keyboard may result in small amount of flexing that shouldn’t be anything serious. In the center of the aluminum brushed chassis you will see the embedded sign of MSI gaming laptop that looks simple yet powerful. MSI doesn’t put a lot of work in decorating the laptops as much as the HP and Asus laptop do, when it comes down to the gaming laptops.
When you open the laptop, you will see a backlit keyboard, and just like it’s usual for gaming laptops designed by the MSI, it’s colored in the red, green and blue textures. However, we will touch the keyboard topic a bit later. When it comes to the size and weight, the MSI laptop is not too heavier or lighter than the other competing laptops available on the market, 14 inches ones. The laptop weights 1.8kg which is outstanding, considering that the laptop sports a 10 generation graphics card. When it comes to the dimensions, the laptop is a tiny bit larger than the other gaming laptops of this range.
Keyboard and Touch Bar
When it comes to the keyboard that laptops offer, they often don’t offer the best quality in both terms of design, sound and typing feel. This is very often occasion that appears in the laptops, especially gaming laptops because the most of the budget is already invested in the quality of graphics card, processor and storage. Let’s get started with the design.
I’m not the biggest fan of disco alike designed keyboards that are frequently seen in the MSI laptops. These lights exchange between themselves, especially in the games. You will get a feeling as if you’re in the night club, torn between the flashlights produced by the DJ. However, this can be attractive to some people just not to me. Perhaps the keyboard enhances the gaming element and ambient gamers experience while enjoying their favorite game.
I rather prefer that the backlit keyboard is colored in red or blue. Preferably blue, but I must say that the ROG series gaming laptops with crimson, sinister red keyboards look quite powerful, and I wouldn’t mind if I’d have to cope with it.
Other than that, the keyboard is very large and wide. There’s enough space for an uninterrupted typing that doesn’t imply making too many spelling errors. Despite the large keys there’s been enough space for the for the numeric pad keyboard on the right side of the laptop, as always. This will appear very useful for all people who prefer to have a switch between business and entertainment. The best feeling about this keyboard is that it feels very soft, cushy and deep as you type on it. The laptop is also known for its anti-ghosting feature that allows you to manage frequent typing process and avoid the errors that often happen on low-quality keyboards. If you’re a fast and accurate writer, this keyboard, and this laptop is a must have in general. Despite being completely different compared to the other laptops, this keyboard is very easy to get used to. Honestly, who wouldn’t get used to a good-quality keyboard that is very innovative and intuitive.
Great thing about this keyboard as well is the depth of the keys. If keys are as deep as assumed, there won’t be the crunchy feeling on keyboard, and feeling as if everything is falling apart from how noisy the keyboard is.
When it comes to the touch bar, we’re offered a great, excellent quality brushed metal touch bar which is very smooth on touch and sleek while sliding. It’s a pure perfection. As mentioned in our other articles, touch bars are not essentially necessary or important in the world of gamers who are in love with gaming laptops, mostly, because you can guarantee they’ve already bought a great gaming mice for them. But it feels very nice to have a touch bar, to know where it is and be able to rely on it when watching movies or performing some business operation. You won’t find yourself plugging the mouse in the computer just if you have to perform some day to day use of the gaming laptop.
The touch bar runs smoothly and swiftly. When it comes to the accessing speed, you can completely rely on it not failing you. The touch bar is smooth running and responses quite excellently. In terms of quality, I can freely say that this keyboard and touch bar have everything that an average gamer would want from a laptop, and demand as well. It’s rare to see a professional gamer playing games on a touch bar however, this set has exceeded from all our expectations.
The display may be outstanding but not quite the best, it has an IPS panel that runs at 1080p which is still great, with imbued LG Philips panel. This is nothing near bad but, for this price not the best either. It is quite challenging to find a fast, responsive and vivid screen on a 14 inches laptop. You won’t see 2K or 3K option nor the 120 Hz frequency with 5 ms options, which is more likely for 17 inchers that are virtual reality ready and friendly. The display has a nice setting of brightness and contrast and you can easily navigate it accordingly.
This bright, matte panel doesn’t allow the graininess, hence it’s minimal and only when the screen is viewed up very close.
You will be happy with what this gaming laptop of 14 inches has to offer in terms of display. It may not be the best display to be found. But keep in mind that with this choice, you’re aiming to save on portability rather than the best components you can find. The laptop offers clear and sharp picture with displayed vivid textures of colors that bring the open worlds to life. Playing games with this screen will be like charm but, if you’re not pleased with that, then you should be looking for a larger laptop. The screen is also very responsive and intuitive, allowing you to get ahead of the game and your opponents that you’re facing throughout the gaming.
The audio is an important factor in the world of gaming laptops. Unfortunately, the manufacturers don’t realize this sooner and they push bad quality audio thinking that the headphones will replace it. When it comes to the balance between speakers and noise, we’re always praying that if the laptop runs loud, we’re offered with speakers that convert, enough to be able to cover the annoying sound coming from the fans. These speakers are front-facing 2W stereo speakers that have loud and respectful sound quality, despite the small size. You can’t settle for the best audio like this, but it is sufficient and acceptable for watching movies, listening to the music and also gaming. The only downfall you will notice with the lack of subwoofer that is noticeable while you play music on playback.
Just like the vast majority of G series MSI gaming laptops, the GS43VR model also sports the same Sabre audio DAC that does great job fitting and supporting top-notch quality external studio headphones or speakers. We love this feature mostly because it’s very uncommon in this spectre and size of the laptop. We’re surprised that this 14 incher is capable of putting all of these quality features inside one small laptop, but nonetheless, we’re impressed and amazed that in the future we will see better quality, portable laptops.
Heating is also an important factor in gaming laptops, perhaps, even more than in the desktop computers. When the laptop is in calm, idling position, the surface temperatures are endlessly optimal on both of the sides of the laptop. Occasionally there will appear couple of warmish spots that cover the bottom. The surface that makes its appearance closer to the drives, RAM and processors will warm up to 37 C when the laptop is not exposed to too much pressure. This can be a bit disappointing if you’re a strict laptop professional but, if you’re here mainly for the gaming creed, it won’t affect your mood, especially because this is a portable laptop.
However, considering that the components position inside the laptop is pretty tight around the heat pipes, processors and other components that run hot, when there will be a lot heavy and pressing loads of work, you will notice that the laptop is heating itself. The surface will heat up to 55 C degrees while the bottom of the surface will be even warmer, reaching up to 60 degrees. Luckily, these hot surfaces are certainly above the top row keys and on the back of the laptop. You will notice though, that the center of the keyboard will run quite hotter while gaming on the highest settings, as the temperature gradient behaves like a point source.
We’ve compared these temperature oscilations to the other 14 inches gaming laptops and we’ve noticed that the other models run slightly warmer under the extreme pressure, while there are laptops that don’t hit more than 50 C during the gaming on their warmest spots. Nevertheless, this gaming laptop doesn’t run too loud, unless the fans are exposed to a lot of generating of the heat. Thermal system that can manage to get out the heat and the dust out of laptop in the shortest period of time is of utmost importance for the gaming creed. It is hard to find a laptop that is capable of doing it but, we believe that this laptop does the decent job. You don’t need a graphics card to start shutting down itself when it’s needed the most.
The battery life is not significantly better or worse compared to the other MSI models, especially from the G series. Moreover, the battery life of all 14 inch gaming laptops is similar like this model’s under the same network conditions. If you use the laptop with the minimum brightness you can enjoy the laptop for many hour but when the laptop is on its full capacity you can expect around 2-4 hours depending on what you’re doing.
This is quite sad. But thinking about the small case laptop that handles a lot of sensitive and powerful components you will easily conclude that it’s not that bad.
This is what really matters to the community of gamers. Let’s see what is this laptop made of. The laptop is equipped with the Skylake i7-6700HQ quad-core processor that is often seen in the newer gaming laptops of today. The processor is unfortunately a bit slower on this gaming laptop because of its size. Unlike larger gaming laptops, it can’t turbo boost to 3.5 GHz but to 3.1GHz unabling it to achieve its turbo performance maximum. Sometimes it is able to go up to 3.6Ghz but that is only temporary due to the extreme pressure roast. The processor however, offers great multi-threaded and multi-tasking workloads and operations, which is sufficiently with running games and backing up the graphics card, along with the 16 GB of DDR4 RAM that is more than necessary. Its desktop class version i7-6700K offers a 30% raw performance boost when it comes to either single and multitasking operations.
When it comes to the storage this gaming laptop is equipped with a 128GB SSD which is more than sufficient if it has Windows 10 installed on it. Solid state drives make gaming laptops and computers in general run much smoother and correspond with great transferring speed. Also, there’s a 1 TB 5400 RPM SATA drive that is known for its slow performance. However, having a solid state drive, saving movies, games, photos and other data on the other drive should be smoothly. 14 inchers are impressive, especially with additional SSD, knowing that it’s quite hard to fit.
As a result of great graphics performance, based off the Pascal architecture, Nvidia’s GTX 1060 mobile graphics card is the highest functionaling graphics card on such small laptops. This graphics card was designed to be a balanced card for enthusiast 1080p gamers, this laptop gives a mean punch even to the 15 and 17 inchers because it can perform great from medium to ultra settings even on the latest titles. I think that this laptop is a great balance of components.
Things that I didn’t like
No higher resolution than 1080p
System fans appear to always be active which may result in an unpleasant pulsating that can spook you in case you don’t have too much technical computer knowledge.
There’s no G-sync or 120Hz/5ms option that is rather seen on the vast majority of laptops. However, we should keep in mind that this is a portable laptop.
When the gaming load is extreme, the fans will appear to be too loud. Luckily, there are good audio features that cover this issue, efficiently.
Reason for Recommending
It is not an easy challenge to find a great quality gaming laptop that will simply impress you. Gaming laptops are very sensitive and especially these portable ones. The reason I recommend this 14 incher is because it has great balance of battery life, portability and great gaming performances. If you’re looking for a gaming laptop that will persist for at least 2 to 3 years, this is the best choice you can get. Laptop is eligible for either gaming, business and regular day to day use.
In the end of the day, we’ve seen that the GS40 is a good compromise between performance and compact size. Luckily of the Pascal design, users no longer have a need to sacrifice performance for compact design. There are many downfalls on smaller dimension laptops, thinner and slimmer such as loud fan, less features and a bit larger temperatures but this is nothing to worry about. This gaming laptop has much more to offer than it doesn’t and for the compact notebook lovers, this is a great deal.
2. Razer Blade RZ09-01302E21-R3U1
Razer Blade RZ09 measures only 0.7 inches thin. When it comes to the gaming laptops, it’s extremely thin to find a laptop like this. Thin and slim laptops currently don’t have the most power compared to the less portable laptops. This 14 inch gaming laptop comes with an excellent QHD + display and displays perfect, matte picture without reflections and decent viewing angles. It has great audio quality and a cushy and deep keyboard with high accuracy. It is understandable that with great power come a lot of performance issues. This results in a little weaker battery life, loud fans that get even louder when the laptop is exposed to a lot of pressure. 14 inches gaming laptops have a tight space inside for all components to fit in. When it comes to the equipment of this gaming laptop you’ll see the latest Intel i7 processor in it. This is the i7-4720HQ quad-core processor with a 2.6 GHz tact. Along with processor, this laptop has 16 GB of DDR3 RAM and GTX 970M graphics card. In this setup, the system is capable of running the latest titles on medium and high settings. Compared to our first choice, this laptop has a 9 series graphics card but, nonetheless, this graphics card performs greatly and is capable of high resolution gaming experience with a lot of demanding graphics. Other features of this laptop include 256 GB SSD drive and touch screen feature that may not be too useful in the gaming creed but, still performs greatly. Also, the system is preinstalled with the Windows 10 that is positioned on solid state drive in order to leave more space for the mechanical hard drive, and run faster in the process.
Things that I liked
• The laptop has a QHD+ display that represents a combination of great brightness and beautiful color textures.
• Great gaming experience is achieved through the great balance of components including a quad-core processor, GTX 970M and SSD drive.
• Great quality keyboard with cushy and large keys and a great touch bar with a lot of responsiveness and smooth design.
Things that I didn’t like
• Very expensive laptop. You will notice that our first choice has far better graphics card and is much cheaper and portable.
• Just like our first choice, this laptop runs loud and hot when its exposed to a lot of extreme pressure.
Reason for Recommending
I recommend this laptop to anyone who has more money in the pocket. If you’re looking for an extra slimness and sleek design, followed with feather weight features, QHD display and touch screen, then this laptop is better. In terms of being eligible for average, day to day business, this laptop is too expensive.
This is another gaming jewel from Razer that can put up even with the toughest gaming releases available on the market. It also comes with great variety of features, including a QHD display, efficiently fast keyboard, SSD and great balance of performance that will put your gaming experience to the top.
3. CUK Aorus X3
When it comes to the Aorus laptops, I didn’t have a lot of chance to get to know them. However, I think that this is the right choice for every gamer who likes portable laptops and extra space in their traveling bag. This is a great choice for people who are fond of LAN parties and traveling with the laptop because it comes with greatly slim and sleek design, thin, graceful and beautiful. This is another laptop that comes with the QHD display and offers large resolution for the gaming endeavors. This is a perfect laptop for those who are willing to spend more. It has a great anti-glare feature which includes viewing angles over 170 degrees and LCD feature. The laptop sports a quad-core 6th generation Intel Core i-7 6820HK with capacity of 2.7GHz boosting up to 3.6GHz. This is one of a hell powerful processor along with the budget, powerful GTX 1060 Graphics Card of 6GB, DDR5, also known NVIDIA optimus. It has 16 GB of RAM. The laptop has a 512 GB solid state drive which explains why the laptop is a bit pricey, but very powerful in the process. It has an anti-ghosting keyboard that is backlit, deep, cushy and soft to touch. The laptop also has preinstalled Windows 10 which runs perfectly fast as a result of the SSD.
Things that I liked
• The laptop is generally lightweight and that’s very important about portable laptops. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be called a portable laptop. You will relatively easily carry it through the bus when you’re headed to the library or elsewhere.
• Great gaming benchmarks are achieved through set of greatly performing components that easily fit in a 13.9 inch laptop chassis.
• It has macro buttons and runs relatively silent which is great, considering that this is a portable laptop.
Things that I didn’t like
• Pricey laptop because of the advanced components and generally the fact that this is a portable gaming laptop.
• You will find it difficult to get used to it, but once you get a hold of it, you’re its master.
Reason for Recommending
I recommend this gaming laptop only to the most strict gamers. Portable gaming laptops are generally expensive and you won’t often see a professional gamer on a laptop but when you do, he’s going to look for something extremely powerful and useful in the process.
This is a gaming gem. However, available only to those who have a wallet large enough to afford it. Being extremely slim and lightweight it is easy for carrying around and a bit harder to get used to it. It has the newest components including the newest HK processor, GTX 1060 with the 6 GB memory and 16GB of RAM. It is eligible for business as much as for gaming but its first priority is running the most popular titles on either medium, high and ultra settings and achieving great points in the gaming endeavors.
4. Alienware AW13R2-8900SLV
If you’re looking for a cute looking, portable gaming laptop Alienware 13 R2 is a perfect gaming laptop. Coming in a futuristic case with slim, sleek and thin design and also very lightweight making it comfortable with carrying and taking out to the LAN parties. The laptop has a very deep and cushion like gaming keyboard and smooth, responsive touch bar. Alienware are usually expensive but they always deliver great balance of quality and components. The same is with this gaming laptop. It comes with a 13 inch display with finish matte and great viewing angles. Also, it supports large resolution that converts every gaming experience into a separate story. Additionally, laptop has great quality audio that evokes the emotions through gaming. The laptop is also great for a regular and business use but has put its first accent onto high end gaming. The only thing that can be very stressful is a below average battery life but that’s something normal as portable laptops generate a lot of power. Alienware 13 is a proof that making smaller things aren’t always a problem. It has a lot of great features that will take away the breath from the most gamers.
Things that I liked
• Thin and lightweight design
• Sweet and innovative design
• Great audio quality
• Excellent display with finish matte
• Amazing gaming experience
Things that I didn’t like
• Low battery life takes away the fun from this laptop. But, in the end of the day, that’s what the vast majority of laptops does.
• Poor Cooling system makes laptop run pretty hot when on extreme levels of usage.
Reason for Recommending
Recommending the best gaming laptop among the competition is a hard job. However Alienware 13 R2 not just exceeds from our expectations but literally brings games to life with its great quality of components. This laptop doesn’t only guarantee excellent quality of gaming experience but also runs multithreading operations without a single sweat.
The Alienware 13 R2 has a lot of outstanding features to offer, along with great graphics and CPU performance that evokes even the most demanding titles. However, its poor battery life draws it back from the title of one of the best gaming laptops of this level. However, these drawbacks are normal on 13 inch laptops. In my experience, it is insane to fit all of these components in such a small laptop case. The GTX 970M is extremely powerful graphics card, and in combination of 512 GB solid state drive, the laptop will take on every game smoothly and professionally.
5. ASUS GL553
This is one of the first gaming laptops featured by the Asus ROG series that appears with the RGB backlit keyboard. This laptop has a 15 inch screen diagonal but it is relatively slim and thin. I didn’t have any problem when I was trying to fit it in or take it to the university. This laptop oozes freshly new components. It is equipped with Intel Core i7-7700HQ quad core processor. Honestly, I didn’t know that the HQ processor even had its 7th generation. It performs at 2.8 GHz and can boost up to 3.8 GHz in the turbo mode. The system also has 16 GB of RAM which is more than even the most demanding releases demand. Laptop has a mechanical hard drive of 1 TB with 7200 RPM which is efficient and allows fast transferring speeds to be performed. In Terms of gaming, this laptop is equipped with a GeForce GTX 1050 4GB graphics card that allows great games to be played on the highest settings. Like we mentioned the laptop has RGB backlit keyboard and although I’m not a fan of these disco lights keyboards, they might be loved by other strict gamers. The laptop has a full HD Matte display with supported resolution 1920 x 1080 resolution with perfect viewing angles over 170 degrees. The system though has a poor battery life and mediocre audio. But the whole laptop runs pretty quiet, luckily.
Things that I liked
• The laptop has a vivid display with vibrant colors.
• Also, you will easily get used to it as it’s very comfortable for using.
Things that I didn’t like
• Laptop has poor speakers.
• Low battery life
• And bad quality touch bar.
Reason for Recommending
Asus GL553 is a great budget laptop with great performances while still being lightweight and slim. It’s great that the manufacturers managed to make a balance between 15 inch laptop and slim design. Other than that, the ROG series laptops are usually over attaching while this laptop is not too much. If I could choose between the laptops from the list, I’d choose this laptop mainly because of the innovative components, vivid, finish matte display and outstanding design that takes away my breath.
When it comes to the gaming laptops, Asus GL553 is a great opportunity for slim design lovers to get a 15 inch laptop with the newest components at an understanding price. It doesn’t only mean that these laptops are requiring more power but they are ready to deliver high quality performance while being capable of running the latest game releases and be durable for many years. Perhaps, it’s bad on this laptop that it has such a poor battery life, 2 to 3 hours are not much to withstand. This being said, you will not find yourself using this laptop without a power socket nearby. But, for gaming you can’t expect anything better than that.
The GL553 brings our roundup to the end. I don’t always recommend smaller, portable gaming laptops but, shrunk models are sufficient in order to achieve great gaming experience. These laptops risk either power and battery life, and the components inside of it run pretty hot because the laptop chassis is compact and therefore allowing less space between the components. These problems are easy to overcome with cooling pads that are available at the affordable price. Which laptop is your favorite from your list? Do you prefer larger or portable laptops?