If there’s one section of PC gaming hardware that’s impressed us this year it’s been the selection of gaming laptops that have crossed our test benches over the past twelve months. It’s not just all about Nvidia’s RTX 40-series cards getting shrunk down to fit inside a notebook form factor either, as AMD has released some of the best mobile hardware it’s ever created.
Just don’t ask about its actual mobile graphics cards, because we’ve struggled to see hide nor silicon hair of one through the entirety of 2024. Even when it launched that absolute best laptop gaming CPU—finally dropping its 3D V-cache tech into mobile processors—it was paired with an Nvidia GPU in the only notebook to use it.
It’s also not just the high-end which has seen a swathe of new mobile hardware either, and we’re almost more excited about the performance now on offer in the budget gaming laptop market. In fact we’d actually recommend you completely avoid the highest of high-end hardware as the mobile RTX 4090 is often so thermally constrained that it doesn’t perform any better than a far cheaper RTX 4080 laptop.
But at the budget end you have RTX 4060 machines, and some similarly performing RTX 4050 systems, on offer for relatively little cash. And these will still come with decent SSDs and plenty of RAM, and will smash most games at 1080p with some very high graphical settings. The following are our favourite gaming laptops of the year, each with a shot at getting a coveted PC Gamer Hardware Award.
Best gaming laptop 2023: the nominees
Framework 13 AMD
I’ve long been a fan of the Framework 13 laptop, thanks to its entirely modular design and its passion for complete repairability and upgradeability. Though it’s never been something you could really call a ‘gaming laptop.’
With the latest AMD 7040 mainboard options, however, you have the chance to either buy a full AMD Framework 13 laptop, or else upgrade your existing machine to a Ryzen 7 7840U mainboard. That’s using the same APU as the best handheld gaming PCs on the market, and means you will actually get good 1080p gaming performance out of the 780M integrated graphics.
This makes the Framework 13 an incredibly versatile machine—a smart, good-looking office laptop with a decent battery life, glossy screen, and also now a system that will allow you to play even the latest games with a decent 1080p frame rate.
Read our full Framework 13 AMD mainboard review.
Lenovo Legion Pro 7i
This is the system that really put Lenovo on the map for us in terms of gaming laptops this year. At a time when Razer and MSI were asking us to pay near $4,000 for an RTX 4090 system, Lenovo rocked up with this solid, well-designed and grown up machine that could stand toe-to-toe even with an RTX 4080 at its heart.
The design is pretty classic, showing Lenovo’s ThinkPad origins, but it’s also effective. It runs the hardware inside it at full speed, has all the ports you could want, and even a welcome hardware cut-off switch for the webcam.
The screen may not quite be up there with the Nebula mini-LED panels of the Asus ROG machines, but it’s still bright and crisp and makes the Lenovo a very powerful, pleasant to use, and affordable package.
Read our full Lenovo Legion Pro 7i review.
The G5 is about as classic a budget gaming laptop as you can get. Its never-more-than-functional design isn’t going to win any awards for aesthetics, but it houses all the gaming hardware you could want from an affordable laptop that’s still going to deliver high frame rates in the latest games.
It’s smartly using the same old chassis Gigabyte used for the last-gen Intel 12th Gen laptops, indeed it still sports a 12th Gen Core i5 chip, but it’s been upgraded with an RTX 4060 GPU. It’s a 75W version, and considering we’ve seen equivalently priced MSI laptops using a 45W RTX 4060, that gives it a healthy level of gaming performance.
You also get a 144Hz 1080p display, 16GB RAM (though some cheaper SKUs come with just 8GB you can easily upgrade the G5), but only a 512GB SSD. But those are minor concerns when it can game so well.
Read our full Gigabyte G5 (2023) review.
The winner of the PC Gamer Hardware Award for the best gaming laptop will be announced on New Year’s Eve. It’s all to play for, and any one of these three is completely deserving of the crown.