Update: Coming off the technology high that is CES 2015, we've found one gaming laptop in particular (so far) that might be a contender for a spot on this very list, the MSI GS30 Shadow with GamingDock. Will it make the cut? Check the link and see for yourself, then come on back when we give it a full review later this year.
You don't even need to tell us what happened when you told your friends that you want to buy a gaming laptop. Their inner elitist got the best of them, and bashed you for not just outright building a gaming PC. But we get you. Building a gaming PC takes knowledge and dexterity that you just don't have or care to develop.
That's where the gaming laptop shines, as the fast lane to PC gaming. No need to build a case or even buy a monitor. Of course, that convenience comes with quite a price tag. Most vendors start their asking prices at around $1,400 (about £818, AU$1,492) for 13 and 14-inch products, whereas the biggest and beefiest 17 and 18-inch models can skyrocket upwards of $3,000 (around £1,753, AU$3,195).
If you consider that a gaming laptop will never come close to a comparably-priced gaming desktop, then your decision is already made. But again, the gaming notebook is a device of convenience and portability over raw power. Without further ado, here are our favorite gaming laptops that we've reviewed thus far.
Gigabyte P35W v2
If you're determined to buy a gaming laptop instead of a desktop system, it will be tough to find a better value than the Gigabyte P35W v2. Frankly, this gaming laptop offers more hardware and better performance than its rivals for less cash.
You will miss out on the bells and whistles of more premium systems, like the attractive chassis and WQHD displays of the Ghost Pro 3K and Razer Blade. You'll also lack the latest in wireless networking tech, if you opt for this system.
Regardless, in terms of pixels pushed per penny, the P35W v2 represents one of the best buys in mobile PC gaming rigs today. Of course, you'll always get even more power for the money in a desktop PC, but in terms of gaming notebooks, the P35W v2 is currently the one to beat.
- Read our Gigabyte P35W v2 review
There's plenty to like about the EVO15-S, and while it comes at an expensive premium, it's one of the few laptops that are well worth the expense. This Origin machine is one of the thinnest and lightest gaming laptops you possibly buy.
Meanwhile, it does not skimp at all with some of the latest cutting edge parts, an excellent 1080p panel for all types of media, three storage drives and 16GB of RAM. Plus there's also the option to throw on a 4K screen for a marginally priced upgrade.
In time, more and more gaming PCs will be outfitted with Nvidia's latest GPUs, but for now, the Origin EVO15-S is one of the best-performing gaming laptops for a reasonable price.
- Read our Origin EVO15-S review
MSI GS60 Ghost Pro 3K
MSI and Nvidia have together proven that 3K gaming is possible on mobile setups, albeit with a few conceits to texture detail and other settings. Is it worth it? That's up to how much stock you put in resolution. What's important is that it can be done, and within reason.
This gaming laptop is a great value even at the high end, but starting at just $1,699 for the 1080p version with a GTX 860M is a steal in comparison. At the moment, the Ghost Pro is no doubt one of the 15-inch gaming notebooks to beat.
The MSI GS60 Ghost Pro 3K (starting at $1,699, £1,399, AU$2,549)is not only a beauty to behold, it offers more hardware in nearly as premium a package as the big boys. But unless you're seriously intent on getting into post-HD gaming right now, save yourself a few hundred bucks and opt for the 1080p version.
- Read our MSI GS60 Ghost Pro 3K review
Make no mistake, this is undoubtedly the complete package and then some, offering the glitz and glamor of a boutique gaming PC in the laptop form factor. Not to mention that this AMD graphics chip inches dangerously close to desktop-level performance.
Save for some nagging (but ultimately fixable) problems, the Alienware 17 (starting at $1,499, £1,199, AU$2,499) is one of the best gaming laptops money can buy. From its sharp metallic and soft-touch build to a host of powerful components, this is a one-stop shop for getting into PC gaming with a single click.
- Read our Alienware 17 review
MSI GT72 Dominator Pro
At 17.3 inches, the GT72's 1920 x 1080 screen should be large enough for media streaming sessions. Also, thanks to its insanely powerful components, this rig should easily withstand whatever the next few years can throw at it.
It's biggest weakness, though, is its form factor. The GT72 is a great gaming machine, for sure, but it's also a hulking piece of plastic with a 2 (and a half) hour battery life.
If you're a mostly sedentary gamer with an urge for owning the latest and greatest technology, the GT72 is one of the best "portable" – of course, we use that term loosely – gaming machines around.
- Read our MSI GT72 Dominator Pro review