PC Gamer Hardware Awards: What is the best gaming laptop of 2021?

Best gaming laptop 2021
(Image credit: Future)

Luscious, high-end gaming laptops have been on each and every techies mind this year. Aside from a buying a prebuilt gaming PC, bagging a gaming laptop has been one of the only ways to get your hands on a current-gen GPU in this time of woeful silicon shortages, and subsequent GPU stock deficits. Frankly, it's been a PC builder's worst nightmare.

In light of this calamity, laptops have become a stalwart salvation for us gamers. Especially since the escalation of this wary work-from-home exodus, laptops are becoming more sought after than ever before. And since we, as hardware enthusiasts and avid gamers, are rather particular about what we need for both work and home, we're happy to say laptops are finally hitting the mark.

There's still some work to be done around battery life, and the portability vs. power dilemma, but there are at least three gaming laptops from this year—the one's we're nominating here—that tick almost all the boxes.

The Asus ROG Flow X13, with it's XG Mobile eGPU, has finally provided a viable workaround for one of the most infuriating barriers regarding the use of an external GPU. The Razer Blade 14 brought powerful Ryzen gaming to one of the sleekest, most desirable laptop designs yet. And the Gigabyte Aorus 15G XC manages to balance the raw power of the RTX 3070 with a well-rounded, non-titanic, and rather quiet chassis.

But which will take the crown as the best gaming laptop of 2021?

Best gaming laptop 2021: the nominees 

Best gaming laptop...

Gigabyte Aorus 15G XC
Setting aside the poor webcam placement Aorus laptops are known for, this is a very tasty machine. It's a little bulkier than the other three nominees, sure, but it very quietly and consistently achieves immense frame rates, as well as nailing it productivity-wise. That's matched by a superb 240Hz screen and a generally well-thought-out machine.

Read our Gigabyte Aorus 15G XC review.

Best gaming laptop...

Razer Blade 14
The first AMD Ryzen-based gaming laptop from Razer, and sadly the only way you can get a Ryzen powered laptop from Razer. It's gorgeous, svelte, and manages to cram a whole lot of power under that sleek little 14-inch hood. Both the 1080p and 1440p display versions have fantastic refresh rates (144Hz and 165Hz respectively) which help make the most of the impressive framerates it can pump out. Of course battery life isn't the greatest when gaming, but that's the case with most of today' gaming laptops.

Read our Razer Blade 14 review.

Best gaming laptop...

Asus ROG Flow X13 with XG Mobile eGPU
Ripping the GPU out and having it as an external eGPU provides many advantages. For one thing you can take it to work GPU-less and use it as this sleek, premium looking laptop, then come home and plug in for some gaming. The GPU of choice is a little underpowered, especially for 2021, but it remains an enchanting concept.—one that Asus has managed to nail finally with this machine's PCIe 3.0 x8 interface. Essentially it's circumvented a lot of the bandwidth issues surrounding the external GPU design conundrum. If only the GPU cable was a little longer, though.

Read our Asus ROG Flow X13 with XG Mobile GPU 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.

Katie Wickens
Hardware Writer

Screw sports, Katie would rather watch Intel, AMD and Nvidia go at it. Having been obsessed with computers and graphics for three long decades, she took Game Art and Design up to Masters level at uni, and has been demystifying tech and science—rather sarcastically—for three years since. She can be found admiring AI advancements, scrambling for scintillating Raspberry Pi projects, preaching cybersecurity awareness, sighing over semiconductors, and gawping at the latest GPU upgrades. She's been heading the PCG Steam Deck content hike, while waiting patiently for her chance to upload her consciousness into the cloud.