Top 5 BEST & WORST Gaming Laptops of 2021!

These are the top 5 best and top 5 worst gaming 
laptops that I’ve tested this year! We’ll start   out with the 5 best gaming laptops then go 
to the 5 worst gaming laptops afterwards. Starting out with number 5 and working our way up 
to the best we’ve got the Dell G15. This is meant   to be a more budget friendly option but honestly 
it surprised me compared to what Dell has offered   in the past.

I thought the build quality felt fine 
despite the plastic design and it’s got some nice   features including a MUX switch and a GPU that’s 
near full power, so the gaming performance ends up   being pretty decent. The battery life was also the 
best I’ve ever recorded from any gaming laptop so   far. Unfortunately in classic Dell style though 
it can run hot, but I can kind of overlook that   a bit when the performance is this good for 
the price. Plus honestly, I think people are a   bit more paranoid about high temperatures than 
they need to be.

The only thing I didn’t like   with mine was the 120Hz screen wasn’t great, 
but you can spend a little more money in most   regions to get a better screen than this, so 
if you can do that I’d definitely suggest it. The 4th best gaming laptop I tested this year was 
the ASUS Zephyrus S17. As far as 17” models go,   this is probably the best one I’ve used. The 
performance on offer from the S17 was excellent,   but unfortunately mine came with a 4K 120Hz 
screen, which isn’t the best for gaming.   If you’re doing a mixture of gaming and 
content creation though it’s not too bad,   but unfortunately the 4K model does not have a MUX 
switch, so for most people just playing games I’d   recommend the 1440p option that does have a MUX 
switch, as this will boost gaming performance.   Plus the 1440p mode also gets you advanced optimus 
and G-Sync.

Battery life wasn’t amazing due to it   being Intel based, but generally Intel does better 
than AMD in gaming. Plus you get Thunderbolt 4   and faster PCIe gen 4 storage, so it’s a bit of a 
tradeoff. The S17 takes full advantage of PCIe gen   4 as well and offers some seriously impressive 
storage speed. I liked the mechanical keyboard   which lifts up when you open the lid. This both 
gives you a nice angle for typing but also allows   air to get pulled in underneath, resulting 
in impressively low temperatures considering   the high performance on offer. Unfortunately 
like other Zephyrus series laptops from ASUS,   it has 16 gigs of memory soldered to the 
motherboard. Nothing’s perfect I guess,   but that said I don’t think this is that big of 
a deal. With 16 gigs soldered to the motherboard   and a 16 gig stick installed you still get 32 
gigs in dual channel, which is honestly probably   going to be enough for most people just playing 
games for quite a while yet. Plus if capacity   really is the priority then you could install 
a 32gb stick for 48 gigs in total. But yeah I   suppose if you do want maximum upgradeability 
then the Zephyrus series isn’t for you, so just   something to be aware of if you think you might 
want a laptop with 64 gigs of RAM or something.

Coming in at 3rd place we’ve got the Lenovo 
Legion 5 Pro. The 5 Pro has pretty much   all the key features you could want in 
a gaming laptop including MUX switch,   advanced optimus, full powered GPU and G-Sync, 
plus it uses a 16:10 screen with a resolution   that’s higher than 1440p. So more screen 
real estate and just generally some nice   features for a gaming laptop that doesn’t 
break the bank too much for the 3060 model   if you can find a decent sale.

Now while I 
think the 5 Pro is a great gaming laptop,   for most people I think the real star 
is going to be the Lenovo Legion 5,   and it’s that non-pro version of the Legion 
which I’m saying is the 2nd best of the year. Now you might be wondering why the Legion 
5 Pro wasn’t ahead of the cheaper Legion 5,   I mean it’s basically the same but professional.. 
Basically it just comes down to the fact that   the regular Legion 5 is cheaper while still 
offering the same core features as the 5 Pro,   including MUX switch, full powered 
GPU, advanced optimus and G-Sync,   all while generally being $100-200 less money. 
You do get a regular 16:9 screen rather than the   taller 16:10 so I guess it depends how much you 
value that, and it is worth keeping in mind that   that higher resolution screen with the 5 Pro will 
require more GPU horsepower to run games.

So yeah,   as far as just gaming goes for most people, I 
think that the regular Legion 5 is the way to go. Alright, just before we get into the 5 worst 
gaming laptops of the year, let’s find out   which gaming laptop was the best this year! The 
best gaming laptop I tested all year was the Neo   15 from XMG, also known as the Mech-15 G3 from 
Eluktronics in the US market. Now to be fair this   is a more pricey option compared to the Legion 
5 that was just looked at, but it does have some   excellent features on offer including MUX switch, 
full powered RTX 3070 or 3080 graphics, software   to adjust power limits and fan control, large 
battery, good 1440p screen, mechanical keyboard,   2.5 gigabit ethernet, SD card slot and just a nice 
metal feeling chassis that feels solid. Seriously,   the build quality of this thing is excellent and 
it’s what I would personally pick if I was going   for a high end gaming laptop, though of course 
that higher price point isn’t for everyone,   so in that case I’d refer you to the second best 
laptop mentioned just before which is the Lenovo   Legion 5.

As shown in my big GPU comparison video, 
generally the Nvidia RTX 3060 or AMD RX 6600M   offer the best bang for buck while still 
giving great performance. Generally paying   more money for higher tier graphics does result 
in diminishing returns, so going for something   like this above RTX 3060 graphics is only really 
recommended if you’ve got the money to burn. Some special mentions that didn’t quite 
make it into the top 5 include Lenovo’s   Legion 7. Technically the Legion 7 
is better than both the 5 and 5 pro,   though it does also cost more money, 
but considering the battery drain   issue with their included Corsair iCUE 
software that’s existed for years now,   basically means it just doesn’t make the cut. 
The ASUS Zephyrus G15 and M16 are quite nice too,   though no MUX switch with those models and like 
the S17 you’re also subject to soldered memory.

Alright now let’s get into the 5 worst gaming 
laptops that I’ve tested this year! Now I’m not   necessarily saying that you shouldn’t buy any of 
these laptops, it’s just that when you test out 34   laptops in a whole year there’s obviously going 
to be some laptops that are better than others,   it’s just the way it is, and these are the 
ones that are on the bottom of that list. First up we’ve got Alienware’s m15 R5 and 
R6 gaming laptops. They’re basically both   the same laptop chassis, it’s just the R5 is AMD 
Ryzen 5000 based while the R6 is Intel 11th gen   based. Now both of these gaming laptops generally 
perform quite well in games with decent GPU power   limits and a MUX switch, but there are just some 
silly problems that shouldn’t exist with a higher   price tag. The software takes a full minute to 
load up after boot which is just embarrassing,   literally no other gaming laptop takes this 
long. The R5 with RTX 3070 graphics originally   shipped missing 10% of its CUDA cores, but 
that was patched in a BIOS update.

Likewise,   the R5 also didn’t initially come with a MUX 
switch. The underlying hardware functionality   was always there, and eventually they did put out 
a BIOS update that let us use this, but I’m still   going to argue that this shouldn’t have been the 
case in a more premium laptop design. It sounds   like it just wasn’t finished and they sent it out 
early so that people could beta test it for them   or something. I don’t know, surely they would have 
known that so why did they send the laptop out   to me and others to review it in a state that’s 
not going to represent what people actually buy?   Because now I’ve got my review and game test video 
up and all of the benchmarks are done with no MUX   switch, so it doesn’t actually represent what you 
would get today. I don’t know, it’s clearly just   a mistake from Alienware’s side because this just 
makes my video make it look worse than it actually   is.

Basically it’s just a whole thing that 
isn’t really a problem anymore, I just think   it’s something really silly that happened for 
a laptop that costs more than most others. I   guess if you really want that RGB light bar on 
the back then sure go ahead. Apart from that I   also had some issues with the display outputs 
not working properly on the R6. I guess I might   of gone a bit far into the rant there, if you do 
want absolutely all the details and problems on   any of these new laptops mentioned the full review 
videos will be linked in the description below. Next up is Acer’s Nitro 5. Now don’t get me wrong, 
the $600 version of the Nitro 5 with the GTX 1650   graphics does offer pretty good value for low to 
medium settings gaming, and hey when you’re trying   to sell a gaming laptop at such a competitive 
price point it kind of makes sense to not put   one of the RAM sticks in.

Extra RAM costs more 
money, I get it, but unfortunately this does   mean that the laptop ends up running in single 
channel. Cool, it is what it is for a lower price   1650 option, whatever. Where I’ve got a problem is 
when these sorts of cost cuttings still take place   in the higher specced configurations like the 
3060 model I reviewed. By the time you’re looking   at the RTX 3060 configuration, it’s no longer a 
cheap laptop, and selling it with one stick of   memory instead of two makes the RTX 3060 graphics 
perform worse than a GTX 1660 Ti from a couple of   years ago. Kind of embarrassing considering a 
1660 Ti is available for less money in a better   designed laptop. Now of course you can always go 
and upgrade the memory yourself if you know what   you’re doing, but that is an extra cost that does 
need to be factored into the overall laptop cost,   and I would also argue that most people 
buying a budget friendly gaming laptop just   aren’t aware of the performance differences 
between single and dual channel memory. Fact is,   a lot of people just sort from lowest price to 
highest price and go with the lowest option.   Now all that said, you can absolutely get the 3060 
Nitro 5 with single channel memory and still play   pretty much any game on it no problem at all, 
I’m sure you’ll still have a great time on it,   it’s just that when you’re paying more for the 
3060 model when you could pay less for a 1660 Ti,   I don’t know, at what point does 
it become misleading marketing? Next up is MSI’s Stealth 15M.

This is a thinner 
quad core laptop, though with upside down   motherboard upgrades are a bit awkward. 
Honestly the laptop wasn’t all that bad,   it’s just for that price generally you can get a 
slightly thicker gaming laptop that will perform   much better because it can have higher power 
limits. Higher power generally means higher   temperatures and you generally just can’t have 
as high temperatures or power limits in thinner   machines. So it really depends how much you 
value the thinner and lighter design. Perhaps   I can sum up my main issue with the Stealth 15M 
is that friends don’t let friends buy quad cores.

The ASUS TUF Dash F15 is another quad core gaming 
laptop, and is next up on the list. I tested mine   with RTX 3070 graphics, but it ended up performing 
worse than most cheaper 3060 laptops. It doesn’t   have a camera built in like most other laptops and 
it’s got memory soldered to the motherboard which   may affect upgradeability. At least there are 
options with 8 or 16 gigs of soldered memory. As   I mentioned earlier with the Zephyrus S17, I think 
32 gigs in dual channel is going to be plenty for   gaming, and this laptop can support that. I 
had some comments in my recent laptop ranking   video that I wasn’t properly factoring in the 
lower price of the Dash F15. Well, I don’t know   what region they’re living in, but I checked the 
price of 3060 models and generally most other 3060   laptops that perform better cost less money, so it 
really seems like you’re paying a premium for that   thinner and lighter design.

I mean that’s just the 
way tech works, right? If you want more power in   less space it costs more money, that’s just the 
way it is. So ultimately it just depends on how   much you personally value things like thinner and 
lighter. I think most people watching probably   just want the best performance per dollar, and 
in that case, the TUF Dash F15 just isn’t it. The most disappointing gaming laptop I tested 
this year was easily Acer’s Helios 300.   Now even I was saying that the Helios 300 was one 
of the best gaming laptops available just a couple   of years ago, but they haven’t really improved 
it since and it seems like they’ve actively gone   out of their way to make it worse.

I reviewed the 
RTX 3070 model and it had a low GPU power limit,   a screen that was worse than the Nitro 5, and also 
like the Nitro 5, single channel memory. Look,   I get trying to cut costs in the budget friendly 
Nitro 5, it’s a budget friendly gaming laptop.   But in the Helios 300? Come on.. Even the 
last gen 2070 model outperformed it in games,   kind of embarrassing. Now it is important 
to note that in many countries you can buy a   configuration of Helios 300 that doesn’t suck. 
There’s a 3060 model that’s available for a   decent price in the US, and I believe it has a 
better screen and also dual channel memory. So   basically none of the problems I 
had with mine, and in that case,   sure get the Helios 300, it wouldn’t be as bad 
as I’m saying it is here.

It would definitely   perform pretty well and you’ll have a good time 
with it, but the configuration that Acer sells   here and that they sent to me is just bad. 
Seriously, it just shouldn’t be an option. Please try not to get upset with me if 
I put your laptop on the worst list.   I’m not saying that any of these are especially 
terrible, just that there might be better options   out there for people to consider. You don’t have 
to get mad and try to justify your purchase just   because you bought one of these laptops. If you 
do want to get mad at anyone then it should be   these companies making these decisions. Basically 
I’m just trying to call them out, not you. The   fact is any of those 5 laptops I mentioned in the 
worst list will do pretty well for most people,   and hey, maybe that’s saying something. 
It’s kind of hard to buy a laptop that   has super serious flaws this year, at 
least out of all the models I tested.

I’ve ranked and sorted through all 34 gaming 
laptops that I’ve tested this year in this video,   so check that one out next if you want 
way more details and explanation compared   to what I’ve gone through in this video 
with more models. It’ll give you a much   better understanding of where every laptop 
fits in, so I’ll see you in that one next..

As found on YouTube