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The best gaming laptops for students: Best overall, best budget, and more

Lenovo Legion display

IDG/Matthew Smith

It’s back-to-school season, which means now is the perfect time to buy a laptop. But if you’re a student who’s also serious about gaming, you’re going to want a laptop that’s powerful enough for your late-night gaming cravings, but portable enough to carry comfortably every day.

If you’re not sure where to start, take it easy. This is where we come in. We went on to curate a list of the best gaming laptops for students. We considered everything from display quality to portability to budget. Read on to learn more about our picks.

With just a few weeks until the school year begins, now is the perfect time to buy laptops, MacBooks, tablets, and more. Be sure to check out our back to school deals to find the best current prices. You can find more laptop recommendations in our best laptop roundup.

[Need some serious homework? Check out our picks for the best laptops for college students]

UPDATE JULY 11, 2022: Named the Lenovo Slim 7 Pro X as our pick for the best gaming ultraportable. Read the review below for more info.

also, Be sure to check out our latest review of the Corsair Voyager A1600. This is Corsair’s first foray into gaming laptops, and it has some great design features but falls flat when it comes to gaming performance. If you’re looking for a laptop that’s capable of both productivity and gaming, check out our latest review of the HP Envy 16. It has powerful processor and GPU performance, and has a beautiful OLED display, but it’s not the most portable, and it’s expensive.

Lenovo Legion 5 Pro (2022) - Best overall Lenovo Legion 5 Pro (2022) – Best Overall

advantage

    Beautiful and durable designAsus VivoBook Pro 15 OLED Ultra Slim Laptop - Best budget option

      Comfortable keyboard and touchpad Asus VivoBook Pro 15 OLED Ultra Slim Laptop - Best budget option

        Adequate wired and wireless connectivity
        Excellent gaming performance

      • competitive price

shortcoming

    Moderate processor performance

  • Display is bright, but color rendering is poor
    • Speakers may sound muddy

Lenovo Legion 5 Pro A lot out of the box. It offers great gaming performance, a wide range of connectivity options, a solid design, and more. Pricing is also very competitive. This machine is powerful and great value for money.

The Legion 5 Pro features an Intel Core i7-12700H CPU, Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 Ti GPU, 16GB RAM memory and 512GB SSD storage. According to our tester, the laptop “per second” during Rise of the Tomb Raider 148 fps speed scream” benchmark. The non-touch IPS display has a resolution of 2560×1600 and a maximum refresh rate of 165Hz. The display is also bright, but not as colorful as others we’ve seen. Overall, we think the pros here far outweigh the cons.

Read our full Lenovo Legion 5 Pro (2022) review

ASUS VivoBook Pro 15 OLED Ultra-Slim Laptop – BEST BUDGET OPTION

Lenovo Slim 7 Pro X - Best ultraportable for gaming

advantage

Lenovo Legion 5 Pro (2022) - Best overall Good Productivity Performance

  • Excellent display
  • Rugged Design
  • Super long battery life
  • shortcoming

        boring Aesthetics of

      • Humble 720p webcam
      • Unreliable Fingerprint Scanner

      Improper port selection

    If you’re looking for powerful gaming performance at an affordable price, the ASUS VivoBook Pro 15 OLED is an excellent choice. According to our tester, the laptop handles “gaming, streaming, and everyday work” with ease. It has an AMD Ryzen 7 5800H CPU, Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 GPU, 16GB of RAM, and 512GB of NVMe PCIe SSD storage. You may need to drop down to medium or high graphics when playing newer AAA games. That said, the machine should be able to run older games just fine. The OLED panel is also great, and the battery life is great. In fact, it lasted over 11 hours on a single charge in our battery life benchmark. That’s impressive for a gaming laptop. However, there are a few niggles to be aware of.

    The fingerprint scanner is finicky and the overall aesthetic is bland. The port selection isn’t too diverse either. If you can accept the caveats, the VivoBook Pro 15 OLED is an absolute joy to use and well worth considering. If you’re interested in more budget gaming laptop recommendations, be sure to check out our picks for the best gaming laptops under $1,500 and the best gaming laptops under $1,000.

    Read our full ASUS VivoBook Pro 15 OLED ultra-thin laptop review

    Lenovo Slim 7 Pro X – Best Ultraportable Gaming Console

      advantage

        Attractive and sturdy designLenovo Slim 7 Pro X - Best ultraportable for gaming

          Thin profile and light weight Asus VivoBook Pro 15 OLED Ultra Slim Laptop - Best budget option

            Pleasant keyboard and touchpad Asus VivoBook Pro 15 OLED Ultra Slim Laptop - Best budget option Excellent processor performance Asus VivoBook Pro 15 OLED Ultra Slim Laptop - Best budget option

      shortcoming

          No Thunderbolt 4, Ethernet or dedicated d-video output
          Display is sharp, but lags behind OLED alternatives

            Battery life is slightly behind battery pack

      Lenovo Slim 7 Pro X combines the rare combination of gaming laptops, being ultra-light and powerful. Weighing just over three pounds, it lives up to its ultraportable name. In such a tiny package, they somehow managed to pack an AMD Ryzen 6900HS CPU and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 GPU. That means you can expect strong gaming performance even on the go.

      Honestly, not many people are against it. While the display is sharp, it’s not OLED, and battery life is lacking. But those are minor inconveniences that don’t really detract from the overall appeal of this ultraportable. One thing to note though is that the RTX 3050 GPU is fine for most games, but it can’t handle ray tracing, so if gaming on ultra settings is important, then you might want to consider a more powerful graphics card for your laptop . But if you’re looking for a portable gaming laptop with solid performance, the Lenovo Slim 7 Pro X is a solid choice.

      Read our full Lenovo Slim 7 Pro X review

      HP Victus 16 (16-d0097nr ) – Best Keyboard

      advantage

          Excellent value for money

          • Amazingly comfortable keyboard

              Large 16-inch 1080p screen with 144Hz high refresh rate

            • shortcoming

                Budget RTX GPU

              Audio doesn’t feel right Shows that the hinges are a bit flimsy

              The keyboard on the HP Victus 16 is very comfortable and is ideal for long typing sessions school work. According to our tester, he’s “happy to use the keyboard for the long haul.” HP put a number pad in there too, perfect for gamers. But how does it perform? So, let’s get into the guts.

              This laptop should be able to run most older games at medium to high graphics, as well as everyday tasks like writing papers and browsing the web. It features an Intel Core i7-11800H CPU, Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 GPU, 16GB RAM, and 512GB PCIe NVMe SSD storage. The 16.1-inch display has a resolution of 1920×1080 and a refresh rate of 144Hz. The display hinge is a bit flimsy though, so you’ll need to be careful handling it.

              We didn’t knock this laptop too much, but the design is impeccable But, that’s for sure. If you can live with a bland design, the Victus 16 is a solid choice, especially if you’re on a tight budget.

              Read our full HP Victus 16 (16-d0097nr) review

              Alienware x15 R2 – Best High End Option

              advantage

                  Adequate gaming performance

                    Smooth and gorgeous QHD display
                    Stunning otherworldly design with RGB lighting

      shortcoming

        Rear ports may be hard to reach Moderate battery life when unplugged

          RAM is soldered to the motherboard Asus VivoBook Pro 15 OLED Ultra Slim Laptop - Best budget option

        If you want the best of the best, the Alienware x15 R2 is an option . It features an Intel Core i7-12700H CPU, Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Ti GPU, 32GB of RAM, and 1TB of PCIe NVMe SSD storage. The 15.6-inch display has a resolution of 2560×1440 and a maximum refresh rate of 240Hz. Wow. Wow. However, it has some quirks. The rear ports are hard to reach and the RAM is soldered on. That said, the features really work to overcome any shortcomings.

        If you can afford to shell out the money, the Alienware x15 R2 certainly delivers an out-of-this-world experience.

        Read our full Alienware x15 R2 review

      HOW WE TESTED

      The PCWorld team will Every Windows laptop goes through a series of intense benchmarks that measure GPU and CPU performance, battery life, and more. The idea is to push the laptop to its limits and then compare it to others we’ve tested. Below, you’ll find a breakdown of each test and why we run them.

      Windows Laptop Lenovo Legion 5 Pro (2022) - Best overall

    • PCMark 10: The PCMark 10 benchmark is our way of determining how well a laptop handles general-use tasks like web browsing, word processing, spreadsheets, streaming, and more.
    • HandBrake: HandBrake is more intensive than PCMark 10. It measures how long it takes the laptop’s CPU to encode a mighty 30GB file. Cinebench: Cinebench is a short stress test for CPU cores. It renders 2D scenes in a fraction of the time.

      3DMark: 3DMark checks that 3D performance remains the same by running graphics-intensive clips with Be consistent over time. This is how we test gaming laptop GPUs. Lenovo Slim 7 Pro X - Best ultraportable for gaming

        Video rundown test

        : To measure battery life, we used Windows 10’s Movies & TV app to loop a 4K video until the laptop died.

      When it comes to choosing the right laptop, it’s really up to you What are you going to do with it. Are you going to play light games like Minecraft or something like Cyberpunk 2077 ? Are you going to use this machine for homework too? If so, a gaming laptop is a solid choice, especially for video rendering or graphic design work. Fortunately, for Fortnite or Stardew Valley

      . Guts, my friends. This is the most important. Below you’ll find a simple breakdown of what you should be looking for.

      How much do I need Graphics processing power?

      The GPU is important because it’s the component that determines how smoothly your machine handles games. Fortunately, you don’t need the best graphics card for solid graphics performance, which is great news if you’re on a tight budget. If you want to save some money, go for the GTX 1650. It’s an entry-level GPU that’s powerful enough for 1080p mid- to high-quality gaming. If you need more power and higher frame rates, we recommend a GTX 1660 Ti or higher, or a newer RTX 30-series GPU.

      How about processing power?

      For Intel processors, target 12th Generation Intel Core i5 or i7. For AMD, choose Ryzen 4000 or 5000. A quad-core processor is fine, but six-core or more is even better. More cores help your machine share the workload.

      Do memory and storage options matter?

      Absolutely important! 8GB of RAM is the minimum I recommend, but if you can afford it, go for 16GB. This will help improve your browser’s overall performance, which is important when you’re doing your homework. Memory is usually upgradeable, so you can always swap it out and add more memory later.

      Storage directly affects how many games you can install on your computer. You should get at least 512GB of SSD storage and a hard drive, as newer games tend to take up a lot of space. SSDs load games faster because data is stored on chips rather than spinning disks. Plus, SSDs are quieter and more power efficient. You’ll also need space for homework, etc.

      I Should you invest in a high-quality monitor?

      Don’t choose anything lower than 1080p. If the picture isn’t clear or too dark, you can always grab an external monitor and plug it in. For those suffering from tension headaches due to eye strain (hi!), 4K is the way to go. That said, 4K monitors are expensive because of their higher refresh rates and faster response times.

      How long will my laptop last on a single charge?

      In general, most gaming laptops have poor battery life. That’s because they’re power-hungry machines. Running AAA games on Ultra Graphics is a lot of work, you know? Depending on your usage, most gaming laptops will last between four and six hours on a single charge. However, if you limit your use to homework, you might still be able to squeeze in another hour or two.

      Author: Ashley Biancuzzo, Associate Editor

      Ashley is a professional writer and editor with a strong background in technology and popular music. She has written for high traffic sites such as Polygon, Kotaku, StarWars.com, and Nerdist. In her free time, she enjoys playing video games, reading science fiction, and hanging out with her rescue greyhound.

        Asus VivoBook Pro 15 OLED Ultra Slim Laptop - Best budget option

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