The best laptops for gaming and schoolwork in 2024


The line between gaming laptops and respectable workhorse notebooks has all but disappeared. These days, having a fast CPU and GPU, along with excellent cooling and a beautiful screen, will help you play the latest games and run all the demanding software you’d need for school work. Not everyone wants a garish gaming rig, though, so we’ve collected some understated options that will be at home across the classroom, library and heated sessions of Apex Legends in your dorm room. These are our top picks for the best laptops for gaming and schoolwork — but if you’re looking for a dedicated gaming laptop rather than an all-in-one machine, check out our best gaming laptops list for our recommendations.

As we’ve mentioned, gaming laptops are especially helpful if you’re doing any demanding work. Their big promise is powerful graphics performance, which isn’t just limited to PC gaming. Video editing and 3D rendering programs can also tap into their GPUs to handle laborious tasks. While you can find decent GPUs on some productivity machines, like Dell’s XPS 15, you can sometimes find better deals on gaming laptops. My general advice for any new workhorse: Pay attention to the specs; get at least 16GB of RAM and the largest solid state drive you can find (ideally 1TB or more). Those components are both typically hard to upgrade down the line, so it’s worth investing what you can up front to get the most out of your PC gaming experience long term. Also, don’t forget the basics like a webcam, which will likely be necessary for the schoolwork portion of your activities.

The one big downside to choosing a gaming notebook is portability. For the most part, we’d recommend 15-inch models to get the best balance of size and price. Those typically weigh in around 4.5 pounds, which is significantly more than a three-pound ultraportable. Today’s gaming notebooks are still far lighter than older models, though, so at least you won’t be lugging around a 10-pound brick. If you’re looking for something lighter, there are plenty of 14-inch options these days. And if you’re not into LED lights and other gamer-centric bling, keep an eye out for more understated models that still feature essentials like a webcam (or make sure you know how to turn those lights off).

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Photo by Sam Rutherford/Engadget

Display size: 14-inch OLED | Display resolution: 2560 x 1440 (QHD) | CPU: AMD Ryzen 9 8945HS | GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070 | RAM: 32GB LPDDR5X | Storage: 1TB SSD | Weight: 3.31 pounds | Max battery life: 10 hours

Read our full ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14 review

The Zephyrus G14 has been our go-to gaming laptop recommendation for years, but it’s better than ever this year thanks to a refined unibody aluminum case, a gorgeous OLED screen and a weight reduction to just 3.3 pounds. It feels curiously light for a machine with an AMD Ryzen 9 8945HS CPU and NVIDIA RTX 4070 graphics. While the new Zephyrus G14 loses the RTX 4080 option from the previous model, that’s not a big problem. You’ll be better off with a lighter and more attractive model that doesn’t cost a ton.

$2,000 at Best Buy

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Will Lipman Photography for Engadget

Display size: 15.6 inches | Display resolution: 1920 x 1080 (FHD) | CPU: Intel Core i5-13450HX | GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 4050 | RAM: 16GB LPDDR5X | Storage: 512GB SSD | Weight: 6.19 pounds | Max battery life: 6.5 hours

While Alienware has established itself as a solid premium brand, Dell’s cheaper G-series notebooks are worth a look for anyone on a budget. In particular, the G15 continues the trend of delivering very capable hardware – including Intel’s latest 13th-gen CPUs, AMD’s Ryzen 7000 CPUs and NVIDIA’s RTX 30- and 40-series GPUs – for under $1,000. Sure, the case is mostly plastic, and the laptop’s screen doesn’t offer all of the latest niceties (at least there’s finally a 165Hz option!). But for the price it’s hard to find anything more powerful.

$800 at Dell

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Dell

Display size: 16 inches | Display resolution: QHD+ | CPU: Intel Core Ultra 9 processor 185H | GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 4060 | RAM: 16GB LPDDR5X | Storage: 1TB SSD | Weight: 5.75 pounds | Max battery life: 90 Whr

After just one year on the market, Dell went back to the drawing board with its latest Alienware m16 and redesigned it from the ground up. The result is the m16 R2, a lighter and more affordable gaming notebook that can still pack a punch in Cyberpunk 2077 with its RTX 4070 GPU. At 5.75 pounds, it’s a chunky beast, but it’s still 20 percent lighter than the previous 7.28-pound model. And for some, the weight will be worth it to live with the m16 R2’s gorgeous 16-inch 240Hz LCD panel.

$1,399 at Dell



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