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The 5 Best Gaming Laptops for College: Ultimate Guide

Whether you’re an undecided Freshman, an Engineering grad student or anything in-between, you need a laptop for school.  If you also happen to be a gamer, you’re probably going to want that laptop to have gaming chops as well!  Regardless of where you’re at in your journey, there’s a great gaming laptop for you – and this list is your best guide for finding the one!

The Top-Rated Gaming Laptops for College

Editor's PickLaptopScore
Top PickRazer Blade Pro 1790%
Runner-UpAlienware M17 R390%
Budget PickHP Omen 17t88%
Best CovertGigabyte AERO 1790%
Best OvertASUS ROG Zephyrus S91%

Top Pick: Razer Blade Pro 17

Razer Blade Pro 17
  • Zero-compromise powerhouse: Built for gaming and creative work in a 0.78" thin CNC aluminum unibody with high-performance vapor chamber cooling
  • Futureproof design: Supports SSD and dual-channel memory upgradeability, Thunderbolt 3 enabled, compatible with Razer Core X external GPU enclosures for additional graphics power
  • Perfect display for work or play: An edge-to-edge, 100% sRGB, factory-calibrated matte screen with a 144Hz refresh rate offers the best experience for intense gaming sessions or content creation
  • Customizable RGB individual key lighting: Includes 16.8 million colors available with dozens of preset profiles.300 nits of brightness
  • Biometric security: Supports Windows Hello instant facial unlock with integrated webcam and IR sensor

The Razer Blade Pro 17 perfectly encapsulates everything that a college gaming laptop should be:  Slim and attractive, subtle yet classic design, and most importantly, power to spare!

Made from a single block of CNC anodized aluminum and engineered with cooling and durability in mind, this laptop is sturdy enough to take your daily trips to class and coffee shops.  

Make no mistake though – this machine’s specs bely the reserved appearance.  This thing is a beast.

An octa-core 10th-gen Intel i7 teams up with your choice of RTX 2070 or 2080 to power through literally any game on the market at high-to-ultra settings, as well as any software you might need for school.  The included RAM and NVME are adequate, and the machine is easy to open and upgrade should the need arise.

If you’re looking for something that you know will last through your college years without ever letting you down, the Razer Blade Pro 17 is a no-brainer.

Runner-Up: Alienware M17 R3

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Alienware M17 R3
  • High-end materials like magnesium alloy, copper and steel provide a premium, lightweight and performance-driven gaming experience with iconic AlienFX lighting
  • Our fastest panel yet offers 300Hz 300nits 3ms Full HD for smooth, high-speed motion graphics
  • Alienware Cryo-Tech optimizes component cooling, which maximizes overall performance and keeps your laptop cool to the touch
  • The new Alienware m17’s standard display features a 300Hz 3ms Full HD panel.
  • At just 4.65lb and under 20.5mm thin, the new Alienware m17 is lighter and leaner than our previous m17

The Alienware M17 R3 is another stellar machine from one of the pioneers of gaming laptops, and it’s about as good as things get for student gamers!  The first thing that needs to be addressed is the gorgeous and customizable aesthetics!
Built from magnesium alloy and coated with an anti-smudge (think fingerprints) material and accented with blue lighting – available in your choice of white or dark grey.  Speaking of choice, you have a lot of options to choose from regarding components as well – laying out all of the options here would defeat the purpose of trying to offer a quick-to-read reference guide, so let’s just say you’re going to enjoy personalizing your notebook if you choose to go this direction!
All-in-all, the Alienware M17 R3 is every bit as easy to recommend as the top pick.  Go with whichever one speaks to you!

Budget Pick: HP Omen 17t

HP Omen 17t
  • Processor: 7th Generation intel(r) core(tm) i7-7700HQ, quad-core, 2.8GHz up to 3.8GHz.
  • Video Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 (8 GB GDDR5 dedicated).
  • Display: 17.3-Inch diagonal FHD 120 Hz IPS Anti-Glare WLED-backlit (1920 x 1080).
  • Memory: 16 GB DDR4 SDRAM (upgradable with 2 accessible Memory Slots).
  • Hard Drive and solid-state drive: 1 TB 7200Rpm Serial ATA and 256 GB PCIe NVMe M.2 solid-state drive.

The HP Omen 17t is a great choice if you’re low on funds or aiming to get out of school with the least amount of debt possible, but don’t want to need a replacement in a couple of years!  Rather than listing all of the gory details of this machine’s specs, let’s consider the biggest differences between this and the top picks, shall we?
Opting for this over the top picks will save you something in the ballpark of $500-$1500 depending on optional upgrades.  What are you sacrificing?  A bit of build quality/durability due to the plastic body, and (eventually) performance.  

The HP Omen 17t is far from a slouch under the hood, but it does feature older components that will likely start to show their age near the end of your 4-5 years in college.  Rest assured, it will still be totally competent for schoolwork and will more than likely still be able to play new games at low settings at that point.

Long story short, if you want to save some money without also damning yourself to a perpetual upgrade cycle, this is a solid middle-ground!

Best Covert:  Gigabyte AERO 17

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Gigabyte AERO 17
  • Enjoy a large 17.3" display in a traditional 15" body with an incredible 89% screen-to-body ratio for maximum visuals | This ultra-high performance powerhouse is less than 1" thick, weighs only 5.5 lbs, and housed in a compact, durable CNC aluminum alloy chasis, perfect for creative professionals and gamers on-the-go
  • Ultra-smooth, anti-ghosting FHD 1920x1080 144Hz IPS LCD display with wide angle view and anti-glare for the best multimedia multitasking and gaming performance | Displays up to 100% sRGB color gamut coverage | Individually factory-calibrated and color-accurate within Delta E<1, certified by X-Rite Pantone for true-to-life color and vibrant images
  • Up to 8.5-hours of battery life (PCMark 10) to get you through an entire day's work without plugging in for greater work mobility and productivity | Exclusive, built-in Microsoft Azure AI to intelligently optimize hardware profiles to match your daily usage for the most efficient power and battery usage
  • Equipped with NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 SUPER Max-Q for accelerating and optimizing graphic-intensive creative apps, such as Adobe Creative Suite, Autodesk Maya, Blender, etc. | Powered by the latest 10th Gen Intel Core i7-10750H for faster photo and 4K video editing efficiency and high gaming performance
  • 16GB DDR4 3200MHz dual channel memory (8GBx2) for increased multitasking productivity and 512GB NVMe PCIe SSD (2x NVMe storage slots total) for accessing files at lightning speeds, while safely storing all of your large-scale creations and projects

If you want a gaming laptop that doesn’t raise eyebrows or turn heads in class, Gigabyte AERO 17 is a great pick!  This laptop manages to straddle the fine line between unassuming and underwhelming though – its rather attractive in a business-casual sort of way!
Much like the top picks, this machine is available with all of the latest and greatest components and can be made-to-order.  What this one has that they don’t, however, is an award-winning 4K HDR display!  

If you want a notebook for school that is low-key down to game – but you’d rather keep that to yourself – this is an awesome choice for you!

Best Overt: ASUS ROG Zephyrus S

ASUS ROG Zephyrus S
  • 15.6” full HD 144Hz IPS Type Display | 3 milliseconds response time with slim 6.5 millimeter Bezel
  • Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 8GB GDDR5 (with Max Q technology) | Base: 1101MHz, Boost: 1265MHz, TDP: 90W
  • 8th generation Intel Core i7 8750H (upto 3.9GHz) processor
  • 0.62” thin, 4.6 pounds | ultraportable military grade magnesium alloy body gaming laptop with premium cover CNC milled from Solid aluminum. Bluetooth - bluetooth 5.0
  • 16GB 2666Hz DDR4 | 512GB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD | Windows 10 Home

So you’re a gamer and you don’t care who knows it – the ASUS ROG Zephyrus S is the laptop for you!  Asus, particularly with regard to their Republic of Gamers lineup, makes some of the most unapologetically “game-ish” design choices and it tends to result in laptops that look more “cool laptop bro” than “omg that’s a sexy laptop” but the Zephyrus S actually does both!

Perhaps the slimmest gaming laptop on the market today at less than 7/10ths of an inch thick and made of textured magnesium alloy, it is a genuinely gorgeous piece of engineering – and that’s before you open it up!
Lifting the monitor also lowers a gate on the lower back of the device that acts both as an elevating footpad for the laptop as well as a gill for heat to escape from – why has no one thought of this before?  Awesome RGB lighting is all over the place as well, but you can turn it down or off it that’s too much even for you!

If you want the next-level-geek gaming laptop that’s going to last a few years, this is probably as good as it gets for you!

What to Look for in a Gaming Laptop for College

Everyone has unique needs and desires for their gaming laptops, but the diverse array of possibilities expands greatly when your set of use cases grows!  These are the most important things to consider when shopping for a gaming laptop that will also help you succeed in school:

Durability/Longevity

One of the age-old questions that seems to apply to everything in life is whether it’s better to get the cheap thing, use it like mad and replace it later – or get the high-quality thing and and take care of it for as long as possible?  That decision is ultimately up to you, but it is highly advised that you opt for the latter in this case; cheap gaming laptops are not likely to be good for much 4+years from unless you get something high-end, if not bleeding-edge.  Think of this as an investment into your future!

Aesthetics/Portability

Whether you’re a social gamer or not, you need to keep in mind that you’ll want to take your laptop to at least some of your classes over the years.  That said, a beefy desktop-replacer might not be the smartest move for some of you!  Aim for something that you’re proud (or at least not ashamed) to be seen with, and that fits into your carryables.

Budget

As mentioned before, this is not the time to be a cheapskate!  However, reality is a thing, and budgetary considerations must be made.  Figure out what your absolute maximum allowable budget is, then try to find something that meets all of your needs and fits the budget.  If you need more suggestions, check out our guides to the best 17-inch gaming laptops under $1000 and under $1500.

Last Updated on March 1, 2021