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Gaming laptops are so good now you’ll wonder why you bothered with a big clunky desktop system or underpowered console in the first place. Add the money you’ve saved from not buying those things to your regular laptop budget, and you’re set.
We’ve spent an unhealthy amount of time on Amazon racking our brains about which machine offers the best laptop gaming experience for no more than $2000. After lots of coffee and dreams about GPUs, here’s what we found.
What to Look For in a $2000 Gaming Laptop
With a budget of up to $2000, you’re right in the price-to-performance sweet spot for gaming laptops. In this price bracket, you can access some of the fastest available laptop CPUs and GPUs, but you’ll still have to make some compromises in build quality or some features that aren’t directly related to performance.
Our criteria for laptops in this price range aren’t complicated. At the time of writing, NVIDIA has just released its first 40-series GPUs, so there is a bit of confusion about whether gamers should go for discounted last-generation laptops or these new shiny systems. We’ve included great laptops from both generations, although it’s usually better to go with newer systems when possible. However, the state of the computer market being what it is, you’re likely to have a hard time finding the latest laptops in stock, so we’ve gone for a mix of new and slightly older machines that might be easier to buy.
Our strategy at this price point is to select laptops with the best possible performance components while accepting small sacrifices in areas such as build quality, screen specifications, or other irrelevant gaming factors. Each laptop has a slightly different purpose, but that’s the main thrust of our filter. We want something that can handle demanding games and stay relevant for some time.
We’re not considering laptops under $1500, but we have a dedicated review roundup for the best gaming laptops under $1500 if that’s a price tag you find more agreeable. For the most affordable options, head to our best budget gaming laptop roundup. If you’re not looking for a laptop in particular and want to know about the budget options, we also have a roundup of the best gaming systems under $1000.
This is the latest ROG (Republic of Gamers) Strix G16 at the time of writing and comes in at exactly our upper budget limit. You can donate the 1c of change to a charity of your choice.
This is a high-performance machine that’s geared toward gamers and power users. It comes with Windows 11, a 13th Gen Intel Core i9-13980HX processor, and an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4070 Laptop graphics card at 140W Max TGP, which delivers impressive frame rates for gaming and multitasking. This is about as good as it gets at this price point, and really you might be getting a taste of more expensive laptops here with this visual design.
With 16GB RAM (DDR5-4800MHz) and 1TB of PCIe 4×4 storage, this laptop is OK for modern games in terms of memory, but in the medium term, you’ll want to upgrade that to 32GB. Still, you’ll get fast loading times out of the box with that SSD. The advanced cooling solution, which includes Thermal Grizzly’s Conductonaut Extreme liquid metal on the CPU and a third intake fan, promises that the laptop can handle the power it can deliver over long gaming sessions.
The Strix G16 has a fast FHD 165Hz refresh rate panel with 100% sRGB color space coverage, Dolby Vision, Adaptive-Sync support, and a thin bezel 90% screen-to-body ratio offers a great gaming and viewing experience. QHD would have been nice, but at least you won’t have issues hitting that 165Hz high refresh rate.
Between its solid cutting-edge specs and Cyberpunk-inspired design, this laptop is at the top of our wishlist for this budget segment if you can find one!
The various Zephyrus laptops from Asus always impress in the categories they’re designed for, and as a ROG (Republic of Gamers) machine, this G15 has a lot to live up to. Priced so that there’s still enough cash for a decent mouse and headset left in our $2000 budget, the spec sheet is impressive.
The NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 8GB GDDR6 and ROG Boost up to 1345MHz at 80W (100W with Dynamic Boost 2.0) means plenty of gaming performance at the screen’s native resolution and medium-detail 4K gaming if you hook it up to an external display. The AMD Ryzen 9 5900HS processor and 16M Cache offer plenty of power for multitasking, despite being a slightly older generation of AMD CPU.
The 15.6” 165Hz IPS-Type Quad HD display with adaptive sync is a nice touch, offering sharp visuals. That said, some reviewers think this panel isn’t as vibrant and colorful as it could be.
The 16GB 3200MHz DDR4 RAM and 1TB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD provide ample storage and memory, although new laptops are moving to DDR5 now, and 32GB should be on everyone’s medium-term upgrade list. The new memory standard isn’t worth the cost right now, but some future applications may benefit more from DDR5, so if you want to buy a laptop to use for an extended period, you might want to look for something newer in this roundup.
The main “problem” with this laptop is the RTX 3080 GPU. At this wattage, it won’t perform any better than an RTX 3070 Ti. So you’re better off buying the version of this laptop with the GPU model one tier down. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find any in stock as we wrote this. However, the 3080-equipped model is still a great deal in isolation at this price, so we still recommend it. Just note that this laptop has no webcam! Would you even notice?
Alienware has quite the reputation for gaming laptops that have great specs and performance and bring something different to the design department.
The Alienware m15 R7 is equipped with a crisp QHD (2560×1440) 240Hz display, and the AMD Ryzen 9 6900HX processor and 32GB DDR5 RAM should be plenty for even the most demanding non-gaming tasks.
With 170W of total power available, its 3070 Ti might not get to stretch its legs as much as with larger laptops, but it should be more than enough for QHD gaming at up to ultra settings depending on the game.
The updated Cryo-tech cooling system and hexagonal-shaped vents help to maintain performance by maximizing air movement and dissipating heat during high-performance tasks. This helps to keep the laptop cool even during long gaming sessions. This also plays into Alienware’s signature style, and we think it looks fantastic, but that’s highly subjective.
In short, this is one slick laptop with good performance to be relevant for years to come, and since it’s a Dell product, you know you can RMA it easily if the worst happens.
Lenovo is better known for making retro-styled ThinkPad laptops, but its Legion line of gaming laptops has slowly been building a reputation for performance at a fair price.
The Lenovo Legion 5 Pro 16″ boasts some impressive specs for the money. Its WQXGA (2560×1600) 165Hz display delivers vibrant visuals with remarkable clarity and offers that golden 16:10 aspect ratio to make this a great machine for gamers who also do creative work. The NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 Ti 8 GB GPU offers more than enough power to run modern games at the panel’s native resolution, and don’t forget that most new big games have DLSS support.
The laptop features the Latest AMD Ryzen 7 6800H Processor Octa-Core, clocked at 3.2 GHz (guaranteed base clock) and up to 4.70 GHz Max Boost, with 8 cores, 16 threads, and 16 MB Cache. Eight cores are more than adequate for gaming, and it should be just fine for creative work if you don’t mind waiting just a little longer for renders to finish.
The Lenovo Legion 5 Pro comes with 32GB of fast DDR5 4800 MHz RAM and a 1TB SSD, allowing faster performance for memory-hungry applications and multitasking. It may not yet be one of the go-to laptop gaming brands, but you’d be making a mistake if you overlook the Legion 5 just because it’s not established in the gaming laptop space yet.
Business in the Front, Party in the Back: MSI Stealth 15
MSI makes various gaming laptops, including its enormous desktop-killer Titan series and the uber-gamer Raider series. Its Stealth laptops are the antithesis of those machines, packing serious gaming hardware into an understated chassis that wouldn’t draw any attention in the boardroom.
This 15.6″ FHD 144Hz Gaming Laptop has no trouble living a double life. The 13th Gen. Intel Core i7 processor offers reliable performance for gameplay, multitasking work, and productivity. Depending on your needs, you may want to opt for the QHD option, although that will push the laptop’s price well over our budget limit here. The good news is that with an RTX 4060 mobile chip in play, you’ll have no trouble hitting the 144Hz limit of the panel at 1080p.
The laptop has USB Type C and DDR5 memory, which you’d expect in an up-to-date 2023 machine, but sadly no Thunderbolt 4 connectivity. MSI’s latest Cooler Boost Trinity+ cooling system includes 3 fans, 7 pipes, and (they claim) the world’s thinnest 0.1mm fan blades, which help to ensure optimal thermal dissipation. In a thin-and-light gaming laptop like this, noise and thermals are always a central issue, but based on user reviews, it seems like whatever MSI is doing here is keeping noise at bay. Although the laptop does get quite hot by all accounts.
One minor issue is that when using this laptop for non-gaming purposes, such as watching videos or browsing the web, it is just short of six hours. That should be fine for most people’s mixed usage, but if you need more battery life than that, you’ll have to look elsewhere. Gaming on battery power is just as pointless here as on any modern gaming laptop.
If you don’t care about portability and live for that gamer aesthetic, there are better choices than the Stealth 15, but if you want a single laptop that can be used for work, play, and any creative hobbies you may have, it’s a killer machine. However, you may also want to consider a Razer Blade if you have more to spend.