The big PC gaming announcements from this year's CES are all to do with laptops. We've had Nvidia's mobile RTX 30-series announcement, AMD's Zen 3 transitioning across, and Intel introducing its H35 special edition chips (opens in new tab). Given AMD Zen 3 (opens in new tab) and Nvidia RTX 3080 (opens in new tab) were the biggest releases on desktops in 2020, it was inevitable that they'd be appearing in laptops in 2021. And this is definitely a good thing.
One thing that is notable about a lot of these gaming laptops is that the chassis haven't changed at all. Because they don't really need to. Retooling is not something to be undertaken lightly, and the fact that the new GPUs and CPUs effectively drop into existing designs is reason enough to roll them out one more time.
You shouldn't have to wait too long to get your hands on these new models either. Laptops using the latest kit are due to start appearing by the end of the month, with plenty due to roll out across February.
But which laptops should you be looking for, and which bits of tech stand out to us the most? Honestly, there are so many models on the way, that it'd be almost impossible to list all the different ones, so instead, we've focused on the ones that have stood out for us the most.
Razer Blade 15 Advanced Model
Razer hasn't changed the chassis of the Blade 15 for its latest update, and it seems quite proud of that fact too. Then again, when you've got a machine that looks this good, we can understand why. It's still rocking an eight-core, 16-thread 10th Gen Intel chip at its heart, but you now have the option of pairing it with an RTX 30-series GPU for some serious gaming chops. You can also spec it out with a 240Hz QHD screen for the kind of on-the-go gaming that will challenge plenty of desktop setups.
MSI Stealth 15M
Razer has held the 'thinnest gaming laptop' trophy for so long that you'd be forgiven for thinking they owned it. Not any longer. The MSI Stealth 15M is here to relieve Razer of that title, coming in as it does at just 0.63 inches thick. That's 0.03 inches thinner, in case you were wondering. The rest of the spec is pretty decent as well, boasting an Intel H35 Tiger Lake Core i7-11375 CPU, 16GB of RAM, and a 512GB SSD. The graphics side of the equation is handled by the Max-Q variant of the RTX 3060, and that's hooked up to a 144Hz screen. You can already pre-order from Newegg for $1,499 (opens in new tab).
Gigabyte Aorus 17G
Gigabyte has updated pretty much all of its laptops to take onboard the new RTX 30-series GPUs, and even the Aorus 15G can somehow make room for Nvidia's top of the line RTX 3080, which is kinda incredible. We've picked the Aorus 17G as our pick of the lot though simply because you can squeeze a 300Hz 1080p IPS panel into its slender form. Don't forget the clicky mechanical keyboard for that tasty gaming experience.
Asus ROG Flow X13
Asus actually has a wealth of laptops that we can't wait to get into our greasy mitts. The Scar 17 can be kitted out with the Ryzen 9 5900HX, RTX 3080, and a 240Hz. The TUF Blah looks like a really good option as well, and then there are the new Duos that are definitely expensive, but look perfect if you're a streamer, or have a genuine use for the second screen.
The standout laptop from Asus for me though is the Flow X13. I love the idea of a little gaming machine that doesn't weigh a tonne and won't look out of place in a meeting. The GTX 1650 is fine for gaming on the go, but throw in the flexibility of being able to use it as a tablet, and then getting it home and plugging it into your external GPU, and I can't wait to see how it measures up.
Acer Nitro 5
The Acer Nitro 5 may not look that different from last year's model, but it's what's inside that counts, isn't it? There's no pretence that this is anything other than a gaming machine here, and that means it's got plenty of room for its fans to shift air to keep things cool.
It can be specced out impressively, all the way up to using the best from AMD and Nvidia in fact. So if you're already hankering after an RTX 3080 and a Ryzen 9 5900HX in your dream laptop, then you may well be looking at it. Combined those two with a high refresh screen, and you're pretty much done.
Finalised pricing is thin on the ground, although Acer has said the 15-inch Nitro starts at $750 for a Ryzen 7 CPU and Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060, along with a 512GB SSD. The 17-inch Nitro 5 costs $850 for the same core components, although obviously with a bigger screen.