Gaming on a large, 17-inch laptop display is great for immersion and improves the overall experience. But what if you want portability as well? The good news is that it’s completely possible to get a 17.3″ gaming laptop today that is both portable and powerful. However, it’s also a fact that you can get more gaming performance by opting for a more traditional desktop replacement versus a thin-and-light design. Larger laptops have more space for cooling, which allows for more powerful hardware.
This is particularly noticeable in the high-end segment. Especially since Nvidia’s introduced the Max-Q Design graphics cards (also known as GPUs – the most important component by far in a gaming laptop). Max-Q GPUs are optimized for power-efficiency to run cooler in slim laptops, but gaming performance will take a hit due to lower clocks. Here are some averages from the popular Time Spy benchmark to illustrate the point:
These are just averages from one benchmark, but it is fairly representative. The standard, non-optimized laptop RTX cards are considerably faster than the Max-Q models at the cost of additional heat and power. Based on this fact, and after checking out countless reviews, we’ll get straight to the point and name three of the best 17-inch gaming laptops on the market from three different categories. We will dive into the details later.
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Best Overall: MSI GE75 Raider
As of 2019, MSI is the manufacturer with the widest range of gaming laptops across seven different categories. At the upper end of the performance spectrum – between the thin-and-light GS75 Stealth and the heavy GT75 Titan (see below) – sits the 17.3″ GE75 Raider.
What makes this a rare laptop is that it comes in a lightweight form factor but still uses full-featured GeForce RTX graphics cards. It’s not as thin as some of the 17-inch Max-Q alternatives, but it actually weighs less than many of them. The processor is usually a 9th-gen Intel Core i7-9750H and you can get it with the leading RTX 2080, or with one of the runners-up: RTX 2070 or RTX 2060.
It should be mentioned that the less expensive GPU options are also great alternatives. Since an RTX 2070 is mostly on par with an RTX 2080 Max-Q, it is more than adequate for high details and frame rates at 1080p – in all AAA titles from 2019. It will also help keep the temps down for a more comfortable gaming experience. Reviews: Notebookcheck (RTX 2080), MobileTechReview (RTX 2070).
- Extreme performance
- Lightweight with narrow bezels
- 144Hz FHD display
- Hot and loud when gaming
- No G-Sync
So, because it makes more sense to compare apples to apples, we’ll divide our laptop ranking into thin-and-light designs and desktop replacements. We’ll dive into a bit of performance data (and why size matters) at the end of the post. Also, to make this list as complete as possible, we’re also going to add some 17-inch gaming laptops that we want to recommend from a price/performance perspective. Since we haven’t tested all of these laptops ourselves, ranking is based on professional reviews and user ratings from a wide range of sources. Here’s an overview of the 2019 laptops we’ll be looking into:
|Asus TUF Gaming FX705||Intel Core i7||Nvidia GTX 1060||32GB||256GB SSD||6.1 pounds|
|Alienware Area-51m||Intel Core i7/Core i9||Nvidia RTX 2070/2080||16-64GB||Up to 2x 1TB PCIe M.2 SSD+1TB HDD||8.5 pounds|
|Lenovo Legion Y740||Intel Core i7||Up to Nvidia RTX 2080||16 GB||256 SDD 1TB HDD||6 pounds|
|MSI GS75 Stealth||Core i7-8750H||Up to Nvidia RTX 2080 Max-Q||16 GB||Up to 3x SSDs||5 pounds|
|Razer Blade Pro 17||Core i7-9750H||Up to Nvidia RTX 2080 Max-Q||16-64GB||Up to 2x 2TB PCIe M.2 SSDs||6.06 lbs / 2.75 kg|
|Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX701||Up to Intel Core i7||Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080||Up to 32GB||Up to 4x SSDs||6 pounds|
Without exception, these laptops have the combination of larger displays and the power needed to provide an excellent gaming experience – but they all differ in some respects. We will start by looking at some of the best thin-and-light 17.3″ laptops that are available in 2019.
Top 17-inch Thin-and-Light Gaming Laptops
The following are some of the best gaming laptops in the compact 17-inch form factor as of 2019:
Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX701
As you may already have guessed, we are big fans of the Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX701, although it’s fair to add that the design is probably love-it-or-hate-it. It’s not just for show, however. The lowered keyboard and side-mounted trackpad allow for more airflow to the graphics card, which is how the Zephyrus is able to perform well consistently. It also allows for a thinner and lighter design.
The laptop has very thin bezels, and one result of this is that the laptop does not come with an integrated webcam. Instead, it ships with a separate webcam that you can plug in, which seems to offer better image quality compared to most integrated webcams. If you do not use the webcam on your laptop frequently, then this trade-off may be worth it. The Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX701 is powered by the usual Intel CPUs, currently the 8th-gen Intel Core i7-8750H.
On the more important graphics side, there are only Nvidia RTX options, including the RTX 2060, RTX 2070 Max-Q or RTX 2080 Max-Q. RAM and storage space is 16 GB and 512 GB, respectively, in the default configuration. You can expand RAM up to 32 GB and the laptop has two M.2 NVMe-compatible SSD slots. The display is a non-optional component, but it’s a good one. It is a 144Hz IPS-type panel with G-Sync support. It is Pantone calibrated, so you are going to get accurate colors if you are playing games or editing content.
According to some testers, the keyboard offers limited travel and has a sub-optimal layout, particularly when it comes to the arrow keys. The laptop also has a volume knob, which is unusual for a gaming laptop. You can control the volume with this knob and you can click it to mute the audio.
All things considered, the Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX701 is clearly a unique machine today, with some odd design choices that are well beyond the conventional. Although it’s not without flaws, and the design is a matter of taste, it’s one of the best-rated 17-inch gaming laptops on the market in 2019.
- Efficient cooling
- Great performance
- 144Hz Pantone-calibrated display
- So-so battery life
- Lacks Thunderbolt 3
Dell’s Alienware laptops can usually be trusted to deliver on their promises, and the slim 17-inch Alienware m17 is no exception. This laptop (and the 15-inch version) marks a major shift in Alienware’s design language, from what used to be solid but also bulky laptops, in favor of much more lightweight and portable designs. However, if you prefer the more traditional approach with a desktop replacement chassis and more horsepower, that’s still available too (look below).
To keep temperatures in check within the confined space of the m17’s slim chassis, it uses the Max-Q versions of the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 and RTX 2080. But at the lower – or actually mid-range – end of the GPU performance spectrum, you can also equip it with the standard laptop version of the GTX 1660 Ti and RTX 2060.
As per usual with Alienware laptops, there are plenty of configuration options in terms of storage, RAM, and even battery capacity. You can also choose between a 120Hz 1080p display and a 4K/60Hz option. If you go with a 4K display, however, it will require a faster graphics card for driving all those extra pixels.
- Lots of configuration options
- Great build quality
- Thunderbolt 3 port
- No per-key RGB backlighting
- No G-Sync
MSI GS75 Stealth Thin
MSI’s GS75 Stealth is another high-end machine that is exceptionally slim for a 17.3″ laptop. It has slim bezels and weighs only 4.96 lbs/2.25 kg, making it is one of the most compact gaming laptops on the market right now. The display has a refresh rate of 144Hz and it’s available with Nvidia RTX graphics cards, up to the RTX 2080 Max-Q. It also comes with a 9th-gen Intel i7 CPU. You can also choose between a few other configurations, including ones with the RTX 2070 Max-Q or the RTX 2060.
The GS75 comes in an all-metal body with stylish bronze accents, complemented with an RGB keyboard from Steel Series and a trackpad that is pretty wide compared to other gaming laptops. The design is pretty low-key overall. While this is a very slim laptop you get plenty of ports including USB-C Thunderbolt 3.
Hardware editors have remarked that the body is not entirely rigid; the screen wobbles a bit due to the hinge design, which isn’t expected from such a premium device but likely no deal breaker either. Users have also pointed out that the metal body is something of a fingerprint magnet.
Nevertheless, the GS75 will give you the proper performance in a very slim chassis at the end of the day. The performance will depend on the graphics card that you pick but the RTX 2080 Max-Q will be able to run pretty much any game at 100+ FPS at 1080p. With the high-end RTX cards, you also get DLSS and real-time ray tracing support (although the latter will impact performance dramatically). Additionally, MSI gives you a lot of control over the fan speeds, so you can increase or decrease the speed for better cooling or silent operation.
All things considered, this is a great laptop that became even better with the RTX graphics cards – the performance improvement is about 20% with the RTX 2060 over the GTX 1070 Max-Q, for example.
- Excellent per-key backlit keyboard
- Very thin and lightweight
- Thunderbolt 3 port
- Lacks some chassis rigidity
- Attracts fingerprints
Razer Blade Pro 17
Razer’s 17-inch Blade Pro received a major overhaul in 2019, with a new design and several key hardware updates. The new Blade Pro uses a Core i7-9750H processor and comes with a choice of high-end Nvidia RTX graphics cards. Additionally, it’s almost 25% smaller than its predecessor and comes standard with a 144Hz 1080p display that covers 100% of the sRGB color space. Another highlight is the per-key backlit Chroma keyboard.
There aren’t many ways to configure the Razer Blade Pro, but you do get a choice when it comes to the most important part. You can get it with an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060, 2070 Max-Q or a 2080 Max-Q. It normally ships with 16 GB of DDR4 RAM and 512 GB of PCIe/NVMe SSD storage space, which is upgradeable to 64 GB of RAM and up to 4 TB of storage (two M.2 slots).
There’s no question that the 2019 Blade Pro is a major step up from its predecessor in terms of design – it’s both lighter and more powerful. On the downside, there are not as many ways to configure the Blade Pro compared to the Alienware m17, for example, such as upgrading to a 4K display. But if one of the existing configs has exactly what you’re looking for, then this laptop is no doubt one of the best you are likely to find.
- Great per-key backlit keyboard
- 25% smaller than its predecessor
- Thunderbolt 3 port
- No 4K option
Lenovo Legion Y740
At the intersection between thin-and-lights and more performance-heavy (and literally heavy) conventional desktop replacements, we find the Lenovo Legion Y740, which is a very low-key gaming machine, so you can take it to work without attracting too much attention. There is still some RGB bling but you can control the various RGB regions yourself. One of the major selling points for the Legion Y740, however, is that it’s very reasonably priced considering the high-end hardware involved.
Talking about the hardware, you get an Intel Core i7 CPU. You can get up to an RTX 2080 Max-Q GPU, which is the most powerful card on the market right now aside from the non-Max-Q GPUs. You can also configure the device with up to 32 GB of RAM and there are many storage options to choose from. At 6.2 lbs (2.8 kg), the Legion is not as lightweight as some of the competing models with Max-Q graphics, but not as bulky as the desktop replacements.
The display comes with G-Sync, which is something of a rarity these days and gives you smoother gameplay even at lower FPS. You can turn off the feature when you don’t need it to increase the battery life of the device when gaming. The arrangement of the ports is very clean. You have a USB Type-C port with Thunderbolt 3 on one side along with the charging port. On the other side, you have the USB-A port with the headphone jack. All the other ports are at the back.
- Reasonably priced considering the hardware
- Attractive, low-key design
- Thunderbolt 3 port
- Not as compact as other Max-Q laptops
The Fastest 17-inch Desktop Replacements
If compromises such as power-optimized Max-Q graphics cards are not for you – and you don’t mind adding some heft to get better performance – then you should be looking at more traditionally-sized gaming laptops. Due to the desktop-class components used (in some cases actual desktop components), you’ll get noticeably higher performance with one of these machines.
The Alienware Area-51m is a new laptop that reuses an older name and also takes some design cues from past Alienware models. While it is a bit bulky, one of the major highlights of this laptop is that not only can you swap the traditional laptop components such as the RAM or the storage but you can upgrade the CPU and GPU as well. This is a very rare feature in today’s laptops.
One of the reasons behind the laptop’s heft is that it uses actual desktop CPUs – up to the Core i9-9900K – and the more desktop-like, non-Max-Q Nvidia RTX GPUs. So you are getting the best performance possible in a portable form factor.
Other than the top-of-the-line Intel 9900K CPU, the Alienware Area-51m can be configured with the laptop Nvidia RTX 2080 and up to 64 GB of RAM. With all this hardware crammed inside, it’s no surprise that the 51m is quite large. This is, however, an unavoidable compromise to enable the modular design – and sufficient space for cooling the high-end hardware. While Nvidia Max-Q cards do deliver better efficiency and allow for slimmer laptops, they are also not as powerful as the more full-featured GPUs that you get with the Area-51.
The large display has a 144Hz refresh rate and rather thin bezels. Oddly enough, there is no 4K panel option available, though the top configurations would have no issues powering 2160p at playable frame rates. On the other hand, you do have the option to get G-Sync and eye tracking. For the reasons mentioned, you shouldn’t expect much battery life from this machine, but that’s probably not much of an issue for the target audience.
It’s still good to know that you’ll have to carry two AC adapters along in order to power this monster. You can get by with a single adapter for simple tasks, but when you are taxing the graphics card you will need to plug the other one in as well.
All things considered, the Alienware Area-51m is one of the fastest laptops on the market right now and is unique in terms of upgradability. Hands down, it is a gaming laptop like no other and we consider it one of the best 17-inch gaming laptops right now in 2019.
- Desktop-like performance
- Modular design: CPU/GPU can be upgraded
- Good thermals
- No 4K display option
- Very expensive
- Uses two AC adapters
MSI GT75 Titan
As its name indicates, the 17-inch MSI Titan is another huge high-end laptop. MSI hasn’t made the remotest attempt to reduce its dimensions at the cost of performance. It weighs in at 10.05 lbs (4.56 kg) and just like with the Alienware Area-51m, you’ll have to lug around two AC adapters if you opt for one of the most powerful configurations.
The Titan can be equipped with the latest, 9th-gen Intel Core i9 CPUs running at up to 5.0 GHz, as well as the full-featured laptop versions of the RTX 2080 or RTX 2070. It’s also one of the very few laptops that will hold 128 GB of RAM (four slots), making it an attractive option for gamers who are also content creators. There’s plenty of room for storage as well, including several PCIe M.2 slots and one standard 2.5″ SATA to store your entire Steam library.
Another key feature is the full-size mechanical SteelSeries keyboard with individually RGB-lit keys and anti-ghosting. While the GT75 has a lot in common with the Area 51-m, there are also a few differences. One is that the Titan uses standard (but high-end) notebook CPUs. Another is that you can actually get it with a 4K display – a resolution that this laptop can actually handle.
- Extreme performance
- Lots of storage and RAM slots
- Optional 4K display
- Very heavy
Asus ROG G703GXR
Asus’ range of gaming laptops is not quite as broad as MSI’s, but it spans across all popular categories including the most performance-heavy (and physically heavy). The ROG G703GXR is a direct competitor to the Titan and a successor to the G703GX. Compared to its predecessor, the only difference is a move from 8th- to 9th-gen Intel CPUs, which will have a minimal effect on your frame rates.
What does matter is the GeForce RTX 2080 GPU that’s included in both the G703GXR and its predecessor. This is actually the only GPU that Asus has seen fit to include in this high-end machine. So for better or worse, it’s not possible to trim the price tag by opting for a lesser card – you are stuck with the most powerful GPU on the market since this is not the Max-Q version. Another non-configurable item is the display, a G-Sync 1080p panel with a 144Hz refresh rate and full sRGB coverage.
Naturally, the ROG G703GXR has lots of space for storage in the form of three M.2 slots and one SATA 2.5″. It also comes with one of the downsides that you have to live with when you don’t want to compromise on performance, namely dual 280W AC adapters.
- Extreme performance
- Three M.2 slots
- Aura Sync keyboard
- Very heavy
- No 4K display option
- Requires two AC adapters
If you haven’t heard of the Clevo P775TM1-G, don’t worry. Clevo is an original design manufacturer (ODM) and this laptop is usually sold with other names on the lid. Some of the noteworthy names include Origin PC’s EON17-X, the Sager NP9176 and, in Europe, Schenker’s XMG Ultra 17. An advantage of buying from these system builders is that you get the opportunity to configure your laptop down to the smallest details. And there are many options for configuring the P775TM1-G. You can even upgrade it post-purchase.
Just like the Area-51M, the Clevo P775TM1-G uses Intel’s 9th-generation desktop CPUs up to the Core i9-9900K in combination with Nvidia GTX or RTX graphics cards. You can also load it up with 64 GB of RAM and up to 12 TB of storage space using the laptop’s dual M.2 and dual 2.5″ slots. There are also several display options, including 144Hz or 4K G-Sync panels.
- Extreme performance
- Highly configurable
- Can be upgraded
- Very heavy
Asus TUF Gaming FX705
Let’s emd things with a mainstream 17-inch gaming laptop that is reasonably priced keeping in mind the other options on this list. The Asus TUF Gaming FX705 might have an older graphics card but the GTX 1060 is still a capable graphics card when it comes to 1080p gaming.
The laptop comes with a 144Hz display so you get smooth gameplay when you play online titles such as Apex Legends or Overwatch. While the laptop does have a bit of a chin, the bezels on the sides are only 7.18mm. This makes the gameplay experience even better. This is an IPS display so you get accurate colors and great viewing angles.
Asus has put the laptop through all kinds of tests in order to ensure that it is durable. The laptop has gone through all kinds of solar radiation exposure, high altitude, and temperature tests so that it can handle day to day use. The Asus TUF Gaming FX705 is a solid laptop and you can get it in Gold Steel or Red Matter.
The GTX 1060 is paired with the Intel i7-8750H CPU and up to 32 GB of RAM. Moving on to connectivity, you get plenty of ports including USB 2.0, USB 3.0 and HDMI. You do not get a USB Type-C port but you do have an ethernet port and a headphone jack. The laptop supports 7.1 surround sound and is optimized for games and movies.
All things considered, if you are looking for a gaming laptop that offers decent performance but does not cost a lot of money then the Asus TUF Gaming FX705 is a great option to consider.
As of 2019, thin-and-light designs are more common than conventional desktop replacements, even in the 17-inch segment. Thanks to the latest efficient Max-Q design graphics cards from Nvidia, slim gaming laptops can deliver exceptional performance. But big desktop replacements will always have more thermal headroom and perform even better with similar hardware.