Today, laptops are used on various projects, and as such, there are many models that represent different expertise. Little did we know that over the past years mobile gaming will come alive at this point. Gaming laptops are coming out in various sizes, starting from the regular, expected 15-inch dimension, to a fully desktop-class 17-inch gaming machines that terrorize even the most demanding games.
The smaller versions of laptops were genuinely available on the market. However, they have never been oriented towards gaming, or at least not that hardcore like with chunkier and stronger models. The gaming concept was still understandable, when it came to the portable, thin 14-inches gaming machines that we have reviewed in some of our previous articles but, any smaller than that was impossible to be oriented towards the high-end gaming.
Table of Contents
- Top 5 Best 12-inchs and 13-inches Gaming Laptops
- #1. Alienware AW15R3-0012SLV-PUS 13.3″ Gaming Laptop
- Products from Amazon.com
- #2. Dell Inspiron 13 7000 Series 13.3-Inch Full HD Touchscreen Laptop
- #3. AORUS X3 Plus v7-KL3K4 () VR Ready Gaming Notebook
- #4. Dell XPS9360-4841SLV 13.3″ Laptop
- #5. Razer Blade Stealth 12.5″ 4K Touchscreen Ultrabook: Exclusive best 12 inch gaming laptop
- Who is this for?
- Final Words
- Products from Amazon.com
Top 5 Best 12-inchs and 13-inches Gaming Laptops
After the extensive and analytical research, we have encountered very powerful machines that can outperform other 15 inchers without a problem, yet they are tiny and compact, ranging from 12 to 13 inches in display diagonal. How is gaming even possible on them? You can get all this information while reading our review.
When we were reviewing the 15 inches sibling of this gaming laptop, we have encountered several problems that were present when exposed to the hardcore level of gaming. On the other side, the Alienware 13 from the 2017 carries a lot of Easter Eggs that will make every gamer fall in love with it.
We have spent hours and hours reviewing the perfect gaming laptop, and after everything is put on paper in a right manner, it comes down to this portable, button-like and simply wonderful laptop. Whether are you a student, or sitting in an office or a freelance writer, you’re going to enjoy every bit of this gaming laptop, but also use it in other purpose. Let us dive in towards its main features and see what it makes it so popular.
Just like with other models, from Dell’s flagship gaming laptop’s branch, Alienware keeps the design of these laptops on the top level. Once again the lid is combined with metal (brushed aluminum) and high-quality plastic. I like when a lot of effort is put in building these laptops with consistency. Knowing that they were designed for gaming is very helpful when you know that its build is strong and firm.
The hinges are excellently made, which is typical for Alienware. The Alien-like logo on the chassis once again shows that the manufacturer exceeds our expectations in making machines that are as strong as if they are coming from a different world. It also doesn’t hurt to mention that the chassis quality is far beyond the rivals, which is another reason why we chose this laptop to be the first.
The only thing that we minded was the weight. However, that too is understandable. Averagely the laptop reaches around 2.5kg which is still considered relatively lightweight. However, there are other rivals that exceed in no more than 2,2 kg in weight. All in all, it shouldn’t be too heavy to carry, however a portable laptop is supposed to be what it is supposed to call, a portable laptop.
The brushed aluminum on the chassis looks wonderful though, gaming laptops always focus their outside look into looking deadly and dangerous, and while most gaming laptops try to make it that way, Alienware sticks to the traditional discreet but powerful. Unlike other gaming laptops, Alienware was more creative in terms of illumination on keyboard and touchpad. Instead of the ordinary sinister red color, often find in Asus, HP, MSI laptops, the Alienware gives a neutral blue color on this model, illuminating either touchpad and the keyboard itself.
More will be told about the keyboard and touchpad in the paragraphs below, but overall, we are pleased with the outside look that Alienware designed for this model.
Keyboard and touchpad
When it comes to the noise, it doesn’t sound any louder than the models with the best keyboards. Although you hear as your fingers hit the keys that won’t disturb or distract you. The laptop is completely eligible for use in libraries, cafes, classes at university and other places that demand silence.
The layout of the keyboard is much better positioned than the area of other models, which feels quite less tiresome for the hand. Dell decided not to compliment this laptop with the macro keys, hence getting used to the keyboard goes in a swifter manner. The WASD keys are slightly shifted but that doesn’t make much difference.
The best part about the letters is that they are quite big, making the laptop eligible for fast typists through the day, even without the illumination. Your hand probably won’t entirely fit on the area designed for rest, but it would be inconsiderate to mind such a thing on an ultra-portable, gaming laptop
In the center of the area where our palms rest, we have a touchpad that serves as the mouse replacement. It is quite identical to the Alienware 15. Its dimensions are 10 x 5.7 cm, and are easily gliding. It looks very smooth and is colored in blue color, like we have mentioned already.
It comes with the touchpad software that is a confirmation that there are up to four fingers supported in terms of touch gestures. Zooming is performed easily, like a piece of cake, just like the scrolling, when you are reading a document or a quite long blog post on the web.
The input is very reliable and accurate, and in general, it exceeds all of our expectations in its accuracy and response time. The mouse clicks are represented quite soft compared to the ClickPad model that is avoided on this model. It is responsive, fast and quite precise, when it comes to the general use, without too many oscillations.
For the more difficult performing, there is always a mouse that will always be more accurate compared to the touchpad, even in terms of gaming, I mean who uses it in gaming?
The Alienware’s display like always doesn’t save on the quality. It presents the 13 inches new OLED technology, that continues to exponentially give mesmerizing experience. Such as now, it is the most vibrant and vivid output that can appear on a gaming, or any other laptop. With the 2560 x 1440 resolution and finish matte, you will enjoy emerging into your favorite games, videos while the images will allure you and make you feel as if you are experiencing the moment itself.
The display is bright and accurate, with response time with only 2.5 mseconds. With ease, you will be capable of watching 4K movies, with high accuracy on details and the sharpness. You are making no mistake when springing for a display this good.
It is needless to mention that the finish-matte from an IPS-like panel is simply glorious, preventing all the unnecessary reflections for the eyes and providing a safeguard with large and wide viewing angles. Additionally, there is an anti-glare feature which reduces the emitting of blue color and allows you to spend hours on this laptop without damaging your eyesight.
We have tested the display with popular games such as Witcher III: Wild hunt and Metro Last Night, and we were thrilled with the detail accuracy this display presented us with, along with the powerful graphics card. (Whether are you opting for the GTX 1050 the budget card, or the GTX 1060, entry-level VR ready graphics card) it makes a great combo towards playing high-end games in the mobile environment. In terms of display, Alienware 13 is the best laptop to play around with.
The 10-point touch display is vivid and accurate, it represents everything one gamer would want from a smaller laptop. Its accurate response was calculated and concluded on Google Halloween doodle. Who wouldn’t like a gaming laptop this versatile?
I have always admired how Dell’s Alienware has always managed to find solutions that many gaming laptops are facing, the audio. Audio is an important factor when it comes to gaming, because the sound needs to be crispy, accurate and followed with the ground-shaking bass.
Alienware brings an utmost improvement on an already compelling audio output quality. As a result of some additional space provided compared to the previous years models with the hinge-forward design, with that kind of design, the speaker design is better as well. These improvements resulted in a side-mounted speaker designs. The best thing about the audio is that it is loud, accurate and crispy, whether are you going to use the laptop for some party, or just enjoy playing games without the headphones, the speakers are a complete spot on, in the world of gaming.
That every detail is included you can realize while listening some of the most popular songs. Good speakers are essential when it comes to the gaming laptops, because in mobile gaming, the fans often get quite loud, and there is no excuse for such gaming experience. For example, I don’t mind much when it comes to audio, mostly because I wear a good-quality pair of headphones that can essentially replace poor speakers but, also eliminate the noise of ventillators in case they are loud. In short, the speakers are very good, all that in the gratitude to the new design of Alienware.
The powerful sound and ground shaking bass also made their appearance during out test in the Witcher III. If you are a fan of heavy metal, you will notice that the soundtracks are extremely detailed, and even the ambient music seems to be put in the first plan. Play settings in Alienware that you are provided with have specifications that you can configure in order to make the best possible sound for yourself.
In our testing, the Role Play configuration made the best out of other offered configurations. For fans of dynamic effects, there is a multimedia centered setting that brings every sound to life.
When it comes to the smaller versed laptops, especially set in the gaming availability, we don’t expect a long-lasting battery life. We have tested various other models which didn’t last longer than two to three hours. However Alienware is a mere surprise. Of course, it doesn’t last up like the Chromebooks can, but we were merely impressed with 6 and half hours of active times.
And, we don’t mean six hours in standby, but watching movies, surfing, streaming videos online. Bluetooth and Wi-Fi usually take a lot of internet, but the Alienware 13 really stood up to the challenge and lasted much further than we have expected.
When challenged against games, the Alienware 13 lasted about an hour and half while playing The Witcher III which doesn’t surprise me, knowing that laptops are not yet, and are not going to be anytime soon resistant to the cables. So, if you are going to your friend to play your favorite games together, make sure that both of you have power sockets nearby.
Heating and Temperature
When one model is exposed to so many breath taking features, starting from the gorgeous, gaming-friendly design, powerful display and crispy sound, along with the durable battery, there must be something that will somewhat be a drawback.
When testing with Witcher, we were encountered with the temperature raising. After only 15 to 20 minutes of wandering around, the keyboard got pretty hot but, still easy to handle, the touchpad wasn’t any cooler either. It is an ok thing to say considered that this indeed is a very compact laptop, and the component it carries inside are very strong.
Even though it got relatively hot, it was still very easy to hold in lap (even though this is not a recommended thing to do), the vents are powerful which is why it doesn’t overheat. The temperature raises mostly on the upper surface, including the touchpad and keyboard. Considering that the 15 inch model encountered much more problems with heating, I can say that the 13 inch version encounters much better system than other laptops, which is why it is better than the competition in every possible way.
Naturally, in the tasks that require less overheating, and overclocking of the graphics card, the laptop behaved much cooler, which is a relief. When you are streaming a HD YouTube video, even in the full screen, you won’t encounter any kind of trouble on that matter.
The conclusion is that, this kind of laptops would suffer more if it wasn’t for Alienware’s professional design, that is oriented completely towards the quality, and that’s the part I love the most about that company.
In terms of fans, they ran respectively silent, except when exposed to the highest performance in Witcher, I noticed the sound but even if it exceeds the normal noise levels, there are great speakers to cover it all up.
I was genuinely impressed with what all could this gaming laptop have fit into itself. Equipped with the newest quality items, it really won’t cease to impress even the most hardcore gamers.
Let’s start with the processor. Alienware sprung for the Intel Core i7, the newest, 7th generation model, also called Kaby Lake, i7-7700HQ, with four cores and 8 threads, which in its biggest turbo boost can reach 3.8 GHz, capable of crushing multiple operations and make even the most demanding programs run like a piece of cake, along with 16 GB of DDR4 RAM memory. Although I consider this amount of RAM just enough, it doesn’t hurt to mention that this model is extendable up to 32 GB, if you are willing to spend additional money.
Opting for the right amount of storage was the difficult task. The 256 GB solid-state drive is the best you can get in terms of fast transfer and accessing speeds. Your laptop is going to start like the piece of cake and there is nothing you will have to worry about.
However, in terms of this gaming laptop, that is the only thing you have, which is why it’s the best to opt for the 512 GB version. In case you work, 256 GB just won’t suffice, given that your games take a lot of space. Unfortunately the model doesn’t have a hard drive yet, and I don’t think that SSD will replace the mechanical hard drives anytime soon, unless they get extremely cheap in the future.
Let’s talk about the graphics card now. You can choose between two 10 series GeForce graphics card, coming from Nvidia. Being given an option to choose between two graphics cards based off the extremely popular but, also new Pascal’s 16nm architecture, is a great opportunity. There is a budget gaming graphics card, found on laptops as much as desktop, the powerful GTX 1050 Ti or VR ready GTX 1060 M with 6 GB of dedicated memory.
While 1050 TI is amazing graphics card, and there is nothing wrong in having it if you are opting for the budget laptop, in our testing article, we have opted for the GTX 1060. Truth to be told, we were amazed with the performance, knowing this card is just an entry level towards the virtual reality, compared to its higher class siblings. We have run all our games with high FPS, on ultra, and with the right configuration, the GTX 1060 is completely usable in terms of virtual reality. Just get yourself some really good headset and you are ready to dive in.
The things that I didn’t like
- The lack of mechanical hard drive. Like I mentioned before, even though having fully, capacitive solid state drive is simply thrilling, for more demanding games, and work, you will need at least 1 TB of a good, SATA drive with 7200 RPM.
- It doesn’t run hot like its 15 inch sibling but it still runs hot enough that you feel it on the keys while gaming. Still, that doesn’t take off the impressions at all. We still believe this laptop is beyond its time.
Reason for Recommending
Finding a compact gaming laptop is hard. While it may have amazing configuration, it might have problems with some other components and vice versa. The Alienware 13 R3 is a laptop that covers great features and faces some minor issues on its path of being the best 13 inches gaming laptop, and that’s why it is a perfect recommendation from my side.
If you’re looking for an OLED display, with thunder-like powerful bass and crispy sound, a set of specifications that takes your breath away, all packed up into a gaming-friendly box, Alienware 13 R3 is a perfect choice for that decision. It comes with minor drawbacks such as the lack of mechanical hard drive, and a little heating problem, but given that you are looking for a compact gaming laptop, Dell’s Alienware 13 is the closest to reaching your expectations.
If any laptop could be more versatile than Dell Inspiron 13 from the 7000 series, then no other laptops would exist. Packed in a beautiful and ultra-sim package it looks as gorgeous like the 15 inches gaming laptop that we have reviewed couple of weeks ago. It packs a lot of features including a powerful, crystal clear display, powerful speakers and a chiclet designed style keyboard with the back lights.
As of the equipment, it powers a powerful 6th generation Intel Core i7-6500U that boosts up to 3.1 GHz. Unfortunately it comes with the shared graphics card memory, in Intel HD Graphics 520. Although this is not recommended for playing demanding games, it can still serve to play your favorite titles that came out couple of years ago. There is 16 GB of DDR3 memory and an amazing 1 TB solid state drive. Prepare to experience the speed you didn’t experience before.
The display it has is embedded with the powerful IPS panel, with 170 degrees of view angles, finish-matte that prevents the reflections. Perfect for entry-level gaming but also other branches of PC using such as Photoshop, Illustrator, Sony Vegas and much more.
Things that I liked
- Fine, deep and comfortable keyboard
- IPS panel display with wide viewing angles
- 1 TB of solid-state drive. Honestly, I have never reviewed a laptop with such a large SSD, but I don’t regret it.
- Powerful Processor
Things that I didn’t like
- It gets slightly hot. However, that doesn’t affect the performance
- The lack of dedicated graphics card. With a discreet graphics card chip, this laptop would most likely move the mountains.
Reason for Recommending
When it comes to gaming laptop of entry level, but also, a business suite laptop, which requires a unique design and versality, Dell Inspiron 7000, the 13.3 inches laptop has it all. I don’t recommend it for the hardcore gaming, but it is an all-in-one purpose gaming laptop that simply outstands the competition at 13 inches.
With a LED display with IPS panel, gloriously powerful processor, and beasty, thundering SSD, Dell Inspiron 13 from the 7000 series exceeds all of our expectations, and is a promising laptop in the world of ever growing technology.
This is another updated model compared to the v6 model that we have already written about. Aorus X3 is almost 14 inches large, but still kicks ass with the almost the same design and configuration, the change here is in amount of RAM, storage and a completely revamped processor.
Probably being the only gaming laptop that inspires games with a lot of shooting, Aorus X3 has a glossy, 13.9 inches display with IGZO QHD panel, given with the 3200 x 1800 pixels wide resolution. It sports great viewing angles, up to 170 degrees, along with the quite handy Anti-Glare display.
It sports the newest, entry VR friendly graphics card, NVidia GeForce GTX 1060 with 6 GB of GDDR5 memory, with 6 GB of memory. The newest feature is definitely the Kaby Lake Intel Core i7-7820HK, processor with 4 cores ranging from 2.9 GHz, up to 3.9 GHz in the turbo mode, that automatically starts once laptop exceeds the normal capacity. There are 16 GB of RAM which are extendable up to 32 GB, and a 512 GB solid state drive. For some, this amount of storage will suffice, but for someone else, it would be great to have another SSD, if your financial possibility suffice, or a general hard drive with at least 7200 RPM.
The model has preinstalled Windows 10, along with all features and software that makes gameplay significantly easier and more entertaining
The things that I like
- Large SSD
- Crystal Clean Display
- Good configuration
- Compact Design
The things I didn’t like
- It is very similar to the predecessor.
- Perhaps, it would need a little more space.
- Weak battery life
Reason for Recommending
In case the Alienware 13 R3 has sold out, this laptop is definitely a perfect replacement if you are looking for the Virtual Reality friendly graphics card, without the shared memory. While the other laptops we are mentioned are more versatile, Aorus X3 and Alienware 13 are completely dedicated and devoted to the good-quality of gaming. It doesn’t hurt to remind that in terms of memory, this laptop falls behind Alienware, but still 512 GB accompanied with the powerful external hard drive makes a perfect combination.
Aorus X3 v7 is a very pricey gaming laptop, dedicated to the bests of the bests in gaming industry. Even though its screen reaches almost 14 inches, the manufacturer has still managed to maintain the simple and compact design that fits everywhere. We were impressed with the overall work, and in case your favorite option has sold out, and you are looking for a laptop with bold gaming attitude, and a dedicated graphics card, Aorus X3 V7 is the perfect choice for you.
If you are looking for another versatile laptop model with amazing specifications but less of the gaming performance, Dell XPS 13 is a perfect laptop for you.
With an elegant and attractive, ultra-thin design it is going to grab attention of other people in the libraries, cafes or the LAN parties. Although the graphics card is sharing the memory with RAM, a strong 7th generation i7-7500 processor is going to make it up to that mess with its turbo mode boosting up to 3.5 GHz.
There are also 8 GB DDR3 memory however, 8 GB is its maximum. For the storage there is a 256 GB SSD storage. As for the display, there is a 13.3 inches QHD display, added up with the infinityedge feature, touch screen, the texture is covered in finish matte so that there is no anti-glaring and no reflections.
In terms of design it is one of the thinner laptops that run pretty fast and smooth, thanks to the SSD. But, it would be more appreciated that there is more storage than now.
Things that I liked
- The attractive and trendy design
- Chiclet style keyboard
- Smooth running
Things that I didn’t like
- The lack of more storage
- Integrated graphics card
Reason for Recommending
It is understandable that not all gamers can afford the best laptops. It is also understandable that not all gamers are only oriented towards the games. In my case, I am oriented towards more things and I would rather focus on a processor that can handle multiple threads. Such is this laptop, without too many gaming features that make it stand out compared to the rest, such as Asus ROG series, MSI, Alienware, HP Omen and other models. If the other Dell has been sold out from our list, then we definitely recommend this laptop, it is fast, smooth, good looking and extremely powerful.
Dell XPS 13 is a laptop that everyone wishes to have. However, it doesn’t live up to the latest gaming trends but it suffices for many other operations and not just gaming. Photo and video editors will enjoy its fast performance just as much as other developers. It has a touch screen, hence it is recommended for games that support the touch features as well. Although it is pricey a bit, it is still a perfect buy, if you are looking for a machine that will last.
#5. Razer Blade Stealth 12.5″ 4K Touchscreen Ultrabook: Exclusive best 12 inch gaming laptop
Have you ever been looking for a Windows replacement for a MacBook? Razer Blade Stealth is exactly that. It is the best gaming option that you will find as small as 12.5 inches. And not just that, we’re going to introduce you to its biggest features.
Where can we get started? Should that be from the super-small, ultra-portable design that surpasses even the MacBook, or a powerful 4K display that is not often seen on gaming laptops this small, or laptops in general.
The design is truly gamerlike, despite being less than 13 inches large. It is nice to see that Razer is trying to live up to its trend about laptops that will serve its gaming purpose no matter what. The 12.5 inches 4K UHD display makes images look extremely realistic, while providing beautiful, vivid and vibrant textures, just like the Apple’s MacBook Pro’s Retina display that has grown extremely popular. The laptop looks attractive to the eye, along with the anti-glare feature just like our other laptops have. It is put in an attractive aluminum chassis, and definitely one of the thinnest laptops there are. The display has resolution 3840 x 2160.
The processor is Intel’s Core i7-7500U which ranges between 2.7 GHz towards 3,5 GHz in the turbo Mode, along with 16 GB of RAM that are extendable up to 32 GB, as it stores 512 GB within the solid state drive. The powerful Razer Chrome Keyboards with millions of color options enables comfortable and deep travel of the keys that feel soft compared to MacBook’s keyboard.
Being 12.5 inches, Razer Blade Stealth is ideal for being your travel companion, easily fitting into a rucksack, travel bag, school bag and everywhere where your heart desires. It is a welcome guest to the cafes, buses, libraries but also LAN parties. Just make sure you have enough battery life, unless your friends have prepared a power socket space for you to rest your laptop while it recharges for another round of your favorite game.
Things that I like
- Connectable to Desktop
- Customizable Keyboard
- Beautiful display regardless of the option
Things that I didn’t like
- Low Battery Life
Reason for Recommending
Gamers have been genuinely disappointed with the quality of MacBook’s newest design, and the vast majority of them have decided to spring for Razer Blade Stealth.
The lack of dedicated graphics card is indeed a drawback, but this laptop is enough powerful to run either games, but also connect to the more powerful desktop in order to support some popular titles. This thin, portable and gorgeous box is capable of doing many great things, which is why I recommend it, even over the Apple’s MacBook.
If you opt for this model, you aren’t making any mistakes, because you have set yourself on an adventure of endless possibilities and features this wonderful, compact, laptop offers.
Razer Blade Stealth is a wonderful laptop, and I honestly don’t know which sector should I praise more. Is it its absolutely futuristic design and wonderful look, or its spot on performance that doesn’t leave anyone even? Either way Razer Blade Stealth has exceeded our expectation and absolutely has to offer something for everyone.
Whether are you a hardcore gamer pursuing a compact display for your collection, or a college student with an aim for an attractive and fashionable laptop, Razer Blade’s Stealth model has performance that can outburst even some of the highest performing laptops.
Who is this for?
We have written this review for everyone who just can’t handle sitting at home all day long. Don’t be mistaken, if you are looking for a laptop with a superb configuration, capable of handling whatever you throw at it, you should aim for a larger laptop. With this article, our goal is to provide all the necessary info, so that the serious business workers and other versatile designers, video editors and many others could still enjoy the fun gaming brings, without having to spend twice as much in order to pursue both working and gaming laptop.
These models are also recommended for college students that have some sort of specialized studies. While they are not capable of running the most demanding game, they still establish a firm ground for many popular and addictive titles. We have invested a lot of effort trying to find the best model. It is also important to note that there are not the best laptops. Each one of them can come with several issues that can affect the overall performance. That’s why it is important to note that there is no such thing as a perfect gaming laptop.
There is nothing better than taking a break from the regular working and studying routine and trying to relax with some popular games that you are fond of. For that purpose, we have created 5 gaming laptops, semi-gaming laptops that can come handy on that matter. For all lovers of the portable and thin, may we present you with Top five 12- and 13-inches gaming laptops.
We have reached the end of the Top five 12 and 13 inches gaming laptops, after describing one of the newest but also most revolutionary models, Razer Blade Stealth. We hope that you liked our reviews and a buying guide.
As for the rest, it’s up to you to decide what needs does each of these laptops satisfy. If you are unsure, feel free to check our other reviews about 14 inches portable laptops but also splurge and large laptops of 17 inches.