There's been a huge spike in laptop sales this year. With so many of us working from home, powerful machines that allow you to stretch your legs around the house have become much more of a necessary household item. Not least of these have been gaming laptops, because getting in the odd gambol is a great way to ease the strife this shit-show of a year has had to offer us.
This year, laptop evolution has taken a cracking turn for the better. We've witnessed mechanical keyboards and 1440p screens become more commonplace across the mobile market, and the portability factor for high-performance machines has become a lot more viable this year too. More powerful components—such as CPUs with higher core and thread counts than ever before, AMD's mobile Ryzen processors for example—are being packed into thinner, lighter, and classier looking mobile chassis. You can even get a portable machine with an Nvidia RTX 2060 for under a grand at this point, which last year was unthinkable.
So, we've brought together a host of portable paragons, mobile monarchs, and notable notebooks that exemplify what 2020 had in store for both gamers and home office goers alike. These are the nominees for this years Hardware Awards in the Laptop category, so check them out. You might just find something worthy of splashing out in the January sales.
Best Gaming Laptop 2020: the nominees
Razer Blade 15 (2020)
The 2020 Blade comes in a range of configurations, from a humble GTX 1660 Ti Base Edition up to a RTX 2080 Super Advanced, complete with OLED 4K panel. There's something for everyone. On top of that, its design marries truly exceptional build quality with impeccable sleek style, though it does call for a lot of cleaning as grease marks are pretty much unavoidable. The 720p camera included on even on the more expensive models is a bit of a letdown, but such is the tradeoff for nifty numbers and an alright gaming battery life to boot.
Gigabyte Aorus 17G XB
This is a strong contender performance wise, and is one of the very few laptops around with an actual mechanical keyboard—number pad included. It may not be milled out of solid aluminum, but I'd rather a plastic chassis than having my quads melted any day. The screen is vibrant and speedy with a 1080p, 240Hz panel, but the webcam placement is a bit questionable. If you haven't got a strong back, it's one to avoid, but it does serve as one heck of a beefy desktop replacement.
Acer Predator Triton 500
The Predator is a warm-blooded creature, running hot as it pads along, stalking the poor, unwary next-gen games from the shadows. When it strikes, it does so majestically, devouring its prey at a swift 81 FPS average. Coupled with an intensely responsive 300Hz screen, it's an apex machine, not to be trifled with. With such a slender form you wouldn't expect it to be as powerful as it is, but that helps it blend in with its non-gaming counterparts. This wolf-in-sheep's-clothing doesn't wear out easily, either. It can keep up a gaming onslaught for a good hour and seventeen minutes. Brutal.
Dell G5 15 SE
This fantastically priced Dell machine is the only all AMD gaming laptop in the lineup. With awesome CPU performance, you're looking at great multitasking, productivity, and the ability to handle CPU heavy games without a hitch. And it cracks out around 63 FPS average in graphic intensive games, too. The 144Hz doesn't go amiss if you want your reflexes to matter, but there are some drawbacks with the weak built in sound system. With a nice headset, you shouldn't even notice it, though. Besides, you get a nice 1TB chunk of SSD storage to keep your gaming library downloaded on, too.
Asus ROG Zephyrus G14
Another great AMD CPU rocking laptop here, and though it's maybe a little expensive, it does manage a good FPS average with ray tracing off. It's RTX 2060 does get a little peaky with ray tracing on, but if you turn the settings down a tad, it should see you right. It even sports an above average 120Hz panel, as well as a whole 1TB of NVMe SSD storage, coupled with a nice 16GB of RAM. Zephyrus models are genuinely gorgeous machines, well built and with a classy aesthetic, but don't be fooled: They can pass for work laptops, the noise of the fans will undoubtedly alert the boss to your shenanigans.
Look out for the final winners for each category on New Year's Eve, where we'll reveal which of the above has left the others in the dust to become the Best Gaming Laptop of 2020. Until then, you might want to check out our roundup of best gaming laptops to get a better feel for the kind of things we're judging these on.