Buyer's Guide Laptops

[Top Picks] 10 Best Laptops For Game Development (2020 Updated) 

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As a developer, having the best laptop for game development can make the difference between a good idea and excellent execution. It is possible to get by with less, but if you want to be the best, you’ll have to spend more than your typical budget laptop. 

Besides, the right way to stay on top of your game development game is to have two of the best laptops for game developers. That way, when you work on the one, you can test on the other. So do yourself a favor and check out the best laptops for game development listed here.

Best Laptops For Game Development

These are the best laptops for developing games in 2020 and beyond. Now, if you are a game developer and looking for the best laptop for game development in the US, check out these options:

1. Oemgenuine Lenovo ThinkPad P52

Oemgenuine Lenovo ThinkPad P52 - best laptops for game development
Oemgenuine Lenovo ThinkPad P52

The Oemgenuine Lenovo ThinkPad P52 is a go-to for thousands of game developers. This piece of machinery is designed and built by Lenovo but comes with upgraded configurations from Oemgenuine. It is a proper game development laptop that performs reliably. 

The ThinkPad P52 is as big and bulky as it is powerful. With that said, this machine comes with an Intel Core i7-8750H HexaCore processor and an NVIDIA Quadro P1000. It also has a good battery life for close to 10 hours during less power-intensive tasks.

Specifications

  • Display: 15.6″ FHD 1920×1080 IPS Display
  • Processor: Intel Core i7-8750H HexaCore, Six-core, 2.20GHz – 4.10GHz, 9MB cache
  • RAM: 32GB 2400MHz DDR4
  • Storage: 1TB Solid State Drive
  • OS: Windows 10 Pro 64 Bit
  • Graphics Card: NVIDIA Quadro P1000 with MaxQ, 4GB memory
  • Ports: Three USB 3.1 Gen 1, two USB Type-C, Mini DisplayPort 1.4, HDMI, RJ-45 Ethernet, headphone/microphone jack
  • Connectivity: Intel Wireless-AC 9560, Wi-Fi 2×2 802.11ac + Bluetooth 4.1, M.2 card
  • Weight: 5.65 lbs
  • Battery: 6 Cell Li-Ion Battery
  • Warranty: Three Year Lenovo Warranty / Three Year Oemgenuine Warranty

Pros

  • It comes with a three-year warranty.
  • The laptop is fast and reliable.
  • It has a reliable build quality comparable to other high-end options.

Cons

  • This laptop comes with upgraded configurations from a third party.

2. Acer Predator Helios 300

Acer Predator Helios 300 -
Acer Predator Helios 300

The Acer Predator Helios 300 is powerful gaming hardware in the budget segment. The device is quite sturdy, well-designed, and packs enough power to make it one of the best laptops for game development. Furthermore, this compact laptop offers you a backlit keyboard and a decent trackpad. 

The 15-inch laptop is powerful enough to handle triple-A games despite visible signs that the manufacturer cut some corners to cram all components on this machine. The Acer Predator Helios 300 comes with a 144Hz refresh rate and premium color reproduction for stunning displays. Priced at around $1200, this laptop is certainly a good bang for the buck.

Specifications

  • Display: 15.6-inch FHD display, screen resolution 1920 x 1080, with ComfyView IPS, refresh rate 144Hz
  • Processor: Intel Core i7-8750H Hexa-core, 2.2GHz, 9MB cache, upgradeable up to 4.1GHz
  • RAM: 16GB DDR4 (2,666MHz)
  • Storage: 512GB SSD
  • OS: Windows 10 Home 64 Bit
  • Graphics Card: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 Ti Graphics (6GB GDDR5)
  • Ports: One USB-C 3.1, two USB 2.0, one USB 3.0, HDMI 2.0, RJ-45 Ethernet, SD card reader, headphone jack
  • Connectivity: Intel 802.11ac Wi-Fi
  • Weight: 5.95 pounds
  • Battery: Up to six hours
  • Warranty: One year

Pros

  • This machine packs a lot of power.
  • It comes with a very inexpensive price tag.
  • The 144Hz refresh rate is welcomed.
  • The battery life is quite decent.

Cons

  • The fans are uncomfortably loud sometimes.
  • The sound is no exception for a machine of its kind.

3. Alienware M17

Alienware M17 - best laptops for game development
Alienware M17

The Alienware M17 is a fine piece of gaming machinery. Priced around $1600, it might be an expensive option for some, but the price is well-justified by the brand and builds quality. The M17 has powerful specs that will see you through a year of game development and years more to come, making it one of the best laptops for game development and certainly “our favorite” in the list.

The premium Alienware brand makes it a statement because of its iconic logo at the back of the laptop. By gaming standards, the Alienware M17 is by far one of the slimmest and lightweight laptops available. You can carry it around with ease and comfort.

Specifications

  • Display: 17.3-inch Full HD display, screen resolution 1920 x 1080, IPS, 144Hz refresh rate
  • Processor: Intel Core i9-9980HK 2.4GHz, 8-core, 16MB cache, up to 5.0GHz
  • RAM: 16GB DDR4 2,66MHz
  • Storage: 2 x 512GB SSD
  • OS: Windows 10 Home 64 Bit
  • Graphics Card: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080, 8GB GDDR6
  • Ports: Three USB 3.1, One Thunderbolt 3 USB-C, HDMI, Gigabit Ethernet, mini DisplayPort, one Alienware Graphics Amplifier, one Mic-in, one Headphone jack
  • Connectivity: 802.11ac Wi-Fi Killer Networks E2600 Gigabit Ethernet, Bluetooth 5.0
  • Weight: 5.80 pounds
  • Battery: Up to 5hrs 20 mins
  • Warranty: One year

Pros

  • This laptop features a stunning design.
  • It is thin and lightweight.
  • It is incredibly powerful.
  • The laptop is durable and future-oriented.

Cons

  • The laptop is quite expensive.
  • The display is 1080p.
  • The battery life is disappointing.

4. Gigabyte Aero 15X

Gigabyte Aero 15X
Gigabyte Aero 15X

The Gigabyte Aero 15X is a huge improvement from the older model. It features an improved thin and lightweight chassis that makes it highly portable and easy to handle. The Aero 15X packs an i7-8750H processor, which is the backbone of every gaming laptop available today. That means the laptop can perform CPU intensive tasks such as game development without noticeable drag.

Besides, Optimus Technology from NVIDIA makes the Aero 15X the ideal laptop for VR game development. The battery life is also outstanding compared to other premium options available in the market.

Specifications

  • Display: 15.6-inch 5mm Thin Bezel FHD with IPS anti-glare LCD, 144Hz refresh rate, Pantone X-Rite, resolution 1920×1080
  • Processor: Intel Core i7-8750H 8th generation 2.2GHz-4.1GHz
  • RAM: 16 GB DDR4 2666MHz
  • Storage: 512GB M.2 NVME PCIe Gen3 x4 SSD
  • OS: Windows 10 Home
  • Graphics Card: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 with Max-Q design GDDR5 8GB; NVIDIA Optimus Technology
  • Ports: two USB 3.1 Gen1 (Type-A), one USB 3.1 Gen2 (Type-A), one Thunderbolt 3 (USB Type-C), one HDMI 2.0, one mini DP 1.4, one 3.5mm Headphone/Microphone Combo Jack, one SD Card Reader, one DC-in Jack, one Ethernet RJ-45
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi: 802.11 ac; Bluetooth V4.2 + LE
  • Weight: 4.49 pounds
  • Battery: 94.24Wh 10hrs Long Battery Life
  • Warranty: One year

Pros

  • It features a thin and lightweight chassis.
  • The 144Hz refresh rate is a plus.
  • It offers excellent performance.
  • There are sufficient ports.

Cons

  • The sound quality is poor.
  • The webcam location is a concern.
  • The touchpad could be better.

5. Lenovo Legion Y7000

Lenovo Legion Y7000
Lenovo Legion Y7000

The Lenovo Legion Y7000 is a powerful laptop for game development. The Legion Y7000 provides sufficient power and impressive performance on CPU intensive tasks like game development. It comes with a lot of auxiliary features that don’t weigh down on the price of the laptop, which is around $1200. So, ff you are looking for a budget-friendly laptop for game development, then you should not look further than the Legion Y7000.

Sporting the outer part of iron-gray aluminum, the laptop comes with illuminated keys and a 15.6-inch screen. Besides, the camera is positioned on the bottom of the bezel. 

Specifications

  • Display: 15.6-inch LED Backlit FHD with Anti-glare IPS, screen resolution 1920 x 1080 display
  • Processor: Intel Core i7-8750H 8th Gen
  • RAM: 16GB DDR4 (2-DIMM) 2666MHz
  • Storage: 1TB 7200RPM SATA Hard Drive; 256GB PCle Solid State Drive
  • OS: Windows 10 Pro
  • Graphics Card: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060
  • Ports: Three USB Type-A, one USB 3.1/USB 3.2 Gen 1, HDMI 2.0, Mini-DisplayPort, 3.5mm headphone jack, Ethernet RJ45
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi 802.11a; Bluetooth 4.1
  • Weight: 5.18 pounds
  • Battery: 57Wh, up to 5hours
  • Warranty: One year

Pros

  • The CPU performance is above average.
  • The trackpad size is sensible.
  • The battery life is decent.
  • The laptop is relatively affordable.

Cons

  • The display response time is average.
  • The GTX 1060 GPU is not future proof.

6. MSI GS75 Stealth

MSI GS75 Stealth
MSI GS75 Stealth

The MSI GS75 Stealth gaming laptop offers a lot of power and excellent performance. The 144Hz refresh rate and 1080p display offer a unique viewing experience with a sensible amount of sharpness and point of speed.

You can expect to work on your game development venture with ease and play games with activated ray tracing at playable frame rates. Furthermore, the laptop is sleek and stylish, which is very appealing to gamers. However, the build quality is not that impressive. The laptop offers excellent battery life and 2 TB of storage.

Specifications

  • Display: 17.3-inches, 144Hz refresh rate, 1920×1080 IPS Level
  • Processor: Intel Core i7 8750H 1GHz 4.1GHz
  • RAM: 32GB (16GX2) DDR4
  • Storage: 512GB SSD
  • OS: Windows 10 Pro
  • Graphics Card: NVIDIA GeForce RTX2080, Max-Q design GDDR6, with New Ray Tracing Technology
  • Ports: One Thunderbolt 3; one USB-C Gen1, HDMI
  • Connectivity: Killer Gaming Network E2500
  • Weight: 10 pounds
  • Battery: 82Wh
  • Warranty: One year

Pros

  • It features a unique design.
  • There are plenty of ports.

Cons

  • The laptop is priced a little hefty

7. Dell XPS 9570

Dell XPS 9570
Dell XPS 9570

The Dell XPS 9570 features premium construction and build quality. This option is more of an every-day use laptop. However, the power and performance exhibited by the XPS 9570 are enough for game development. The 15-inch laptop comes with style. It comes with an Intel i7-8750H processor and a huge 97Wh battery that ensure you go on working for hours. 

Dell has provided upgrades to the internal components that make the XPS 9570 future-proof and high-powered. Furthermore, the 4K ultra-HD display allows you to add more details and take your game to another level.

Specifications

  • Display: 15.6-inch FHD, screen resolution 1920 x 1080, Infinity Edge Anti Glare, Non-touch IPS 100% sRGB 400-Nits
  • Processor: Intel Core i7 8750H 8th Generation 9MB Cache, up to 4.1
  • RAM: 16GB DDR4, 2x8GB
  • Storage: 512 GB M.2 2280 [PCIe] SSD
  • OS: Windows 10
  • Graphics Card: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti with Max-Q design
  • Ports: USB 3.1, HDMI 2.0, Thunderbolt 3, USB 3.1 Gen 2 (10Gbps), Ethernet and USB-A, Headset jack
  • Connectivity: Killer 1535 Wireless-AC adapter
  • Weight: 4.41 pounds
  • Battery: 97Wh
  • Warranty: One year

Pros

  • It is a capable gaming laptop.
  • It presents a good value.
  • It comes with 1080 or 4K display options.

Cons

  • It can be pricey.

8. ASUS ZenBook 13

ASUS ZenBook 13
ASUS ZenBook 13

The ZenBook 13 is a powerful laptop for the casual user and also a game developer. It will not only provide sufficient power for CPU intensive tasks, but it is also sufficient for a game development project. The ZenBook 13 comes with reasonable long battery life and a smooth and highly responsive touchscreen display. The display is FHD (1920 X 1080) but still incredibly sharp. If you are looking to do some 2D pixel art, then the ZenBook 13 is the machine of choice.

Specifications

  • Display: 13.3-inch, LED-backlit FHD, screen resolution 1920 x 1080, 16:9 standard display
  • Processor: Intel® Core™ i5-8265U processor
  • RAM: 8GB 2133MHz LPDDR3
  • Storage: 256GB PCIe® SSD
  • OS: Windows 10 Home
  • Graphics Card: Integrated Intel® UHD Graphics 620
  • Ports: one USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C, one USB 3.1 Type-A, one USB 2.0 Type-A, one HDMI, one MicroSD card reader
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi Dual-band 802.11ac, Bluetooth 5.0
  • Weight: 2.6 pounds
  • Battery: up to 14 hours
  • Warranty: One Year

Pros

  • It offers stellar performance.
  • The battery life is decent.
  • It comes with a fingerprint sensor.

Cons

  • The touchpad is poor.
  • The HDMI port is not USB-C

9. ASUS ROG Scar III G731GW

ASUS ROG Scar III G731GW

The ASUS ROG Scar III is a laptop that provides high-level performance. It is built to perform impressively under any setting. This machine is also affordable but offers all the features and capabilities offered by premium options. All in all, the sleek design and professional style make it a good fit for game developers. The ROG STAR 111 packs a powerful graphics card and CPU that would work well for impactful game development.

Specifications

  • Display: 17.3-inch Full HD 240Hz 3ms
  • Processor: Intel i7-9750H
  • RAM: 32GB RAM
  • Storage:  1TB NVMe SSD + 1TB HDD
  • OS: Windows 10 Pro
  • Graphics Card: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 8GB
  • Ports: One Type C USB 3.2, three Type A USB 3.2 (GEN1), one HDMI 2.0b, one 3.5mm Audio Jack/ Mic-in, Ethernet RJ45, one Keystone
  • Connectivity: Intel® 802.11ac (2×2) Gigabit Wi-Fi support Rangeboost technology; Bluetooth 5.0
  • Weight: 2.85 kg
  • Battery: up to 4 hours
  • Warranty: One year

Pros

  • The RGB lighting is eye-catching.
  • The keyboard is responsive.
  • The CPU is powerful.

Cons

  • The battery life is weak.
  • The machine struggles to stay cool.

10. Apple MacBook Pro

Apple MacBook Pro
Apple MacBook Pro

The Apple MacBook Pro features considerable upgrading, which makes it one of the most powerful laptops currently available. If you are an Apple devotee, then you should consider this product not only because of performance but also future-proofing. The MacBook Pro 15-inch laptop is a well-design professional laptop that is equipped with high-grade components as a welcome boost. 

Sadly, the MacBook Pro 15 2019 redesign did less to correct port and keyboard concerns. All in all, the stylish design is enough to lure in Windows laptop users and perform as expected for game development.

Specifications

  • Display: 15.4-inch LED-backlit Retina display
  • Processor: Intel Core i7 processor 8th-generation 2.2GHz 6-core with Turbo Boost up to 4.1GHz; Intel Core i7 processor 8th-generation 2.6GHz 6-core with Turbo Boost up to 4.3GHz
  • RAM: 32GB 2,400MHz DDR4
  • Storage: 256GB or 512GB SSD
  • OS: Mac OS
  • Graphics Card: Radeon Pro 555X or 560X, 4GB of GDDR5 memory, automatic graphics switching, Intel UHD Graphics 630
  • Ports: four Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C), headphone jack
  • Connectivity: 802.11ac Wi-F wireless networking, Bluetooth 5.0
  • Weight: 4.02 pounds
  • Battery: Up to 10 hours
  • Warranty: One year

Pros

  • The display is stunning.
  • The configurations are impressive.
  • It packs a lot of power.

Cons

  • The MacBook Pro is quite expensive.
  • It lacks essential ports.
  • The keyboard is still failing.

Buyer’s Guide: Factors to consider

If you are developing a game in an environment such as UnrealED or Unity, then you need a capable and sturdy laptop. On the game development front, we have already covered the very best hardware. With said that, let’s get down to select the right laptop for you. Your next laptop should be built for the true power user. That means the laptop should have the display and performance to match your needs. 

If you are planning to buy a laptop to code a game, here’s everything you need to know.

What Kind Of Gaming Development do You Intend To Do?

It is essential to get the right equipment for the job. Moreover, it is equally important to know the scope of your work. Game development is an incredibly broad subject. The kind of gaming development you intend to do will determine the kind of hardware you will need. Each task needs an entirely different set of requirements. Let’s find out more.

2D Pixel Art

If you intend to do drawing and pixel art creation, a laptop with a touchscreen and a sensible color calibrate monitor should work correctly.

You can check out our article on Best Drawing Laptops. If you are particularly looking for a laptop for drawing.

3D Modelling and Animation

For 3D modeling that involves higher polygon count scenes and real-time sculpting, then you should make a choice based on GPU, RAM, and CPU, specifically in that order.

Programmer

If you are combining large volumes of codes, the CPU and RAM are the essential traits. You should also consider SSD storage.

VR Developer

For VR game development, you are working with demanding machinery that has fixed limits and minimum requirements. In that case, you should buy a laptop with a 1060 GPU.

The Best Laptop For Game Development

Whether you are a seasoned game developer or a newbie just getting started with coding Bootcamp, here are the minimum specs you need:

SSD

Are Solid State Drives worth it? If speed, flexibility, multitasking, durability, and gaming are important to you, then SSDs are worth every dollar. The chip-based SSD offers a compelling argument for leaving behind and replacing the spinning platter Hard Drives. The first and obvious reason why you should opt for SSD is its superior performance. Furthermore, the cheapest SSDs will surpass performance built HDDs much time over. So you will spend less time looking at a loading screen.

So, if SSDs are so sophisticated, why are manufacturers still selling HDD laptops? One of the reasons why HDDs are still surviving is the pricing. For instance, while a 1TB HDD might cost around $40, you’ll get the same storage at $150 for SSD, and $400 for a higher-quality model. All in all, SSDs are worth the investment, but you are better off using both. Most people use SSD as a system drive and HDD for regular storage, and they work together smoothly.

CPU

Your choice of CPU depends on the kind of development you want to do. Most people will like to focus more on the GPU, but the CPU of your game development laptop is equally essential. There are a plethora of options for processors, but you should be careful with your choice because lower-powered models like Intel Atom or ARM are not capable of game development. The same can be said for Intel i3 to some extent. If you are wondering what to choose between Intel i5 and i7, either choice might work for you, but this can be a tricky situation. It is crucial to consider the clock speed of each and their respective number of cores.

If you are running a tight budget, an i5 or i7 with four cores should be sufficient for game development. However, if you are looking for high-end options in this area, Intel’s i9 should be sufficient, but also exercise caution with this choice. You should also be aware of the generations of chips. Intel’s 8th generation of chips tends to be slower and run on low wattage requirements. While this means more battery life, the clock speed will be slower but are usually boostable. With that said, for a task that will need maximum use of your CPU, then choose earlier models for better performance.

GPU

Perhaps the most crucial part of your decision lies with the Graphics Processing Unit. The best laptop for game development must have a dedicated GPU as a minimum requirement. A dedicated GPU can outperform an integrated option many times over. Hence, laptops with integrated GPUs cannot be considered as viable options for your game development venture. So, what GPU models should you consider?

First, let’s look at a common name in this realm, NVIDIA. Here you will see names like 980 and 1060, where the first number references the generation while the rest refers to the relative power. For instance, 980 is a 9th generation chip that carries 80 capacity. In that case, a 980 chip is newer than an 880 and powerful than a 970. The most current chips are the 10-series and are 40% more powerful than previous generations. Often, these chips are not made with VR capacity. So if Virtual Reality game development is your priority, ensure the GPU is VR ready.

Battery

How much power do you need? The answer to this question depends majorly on the kind of game development. For 2D Pixel Art, then just about any laptop will do. However, if you are 3D modeling or VR game development, the higher the battery life, the better.

Display

When it comes to the display of the laptop, these are the most common criteria: the type of panel, the resolution, the refresh rate, 4k, or FHD. Truth be told that this is no easy decision. A lot of this comes down to personal preference. For example, whereas FHD is cheaper and requires a low amount of power, 4k is generally easier on the eyes and provides a better viewing experience. The refresh rate depends on the kind of games you want to develop. If you are developing real-time games or you want the game to be very responsive, then you will want to push the rate.

Frequently Asked Questions – FAQs

What is a good laptop for game development?

Generally speaking, the safest option for game development laptop is an Intel processor with the highest clock speed and core combination. When it comes to RAM, 8GB should be a reasonable limit, while anything less that could be a waste of resources. Also, select a laptop that has a dedicated GPU because they are built for intensive tasks.

How much RAM do I need for game development?

For RAM, 8GB should be a reasonable limit. You can get by with 32GB and more, but that’s a waste of resources since other things demand more expenditure. Above all, 16GB is a sweet spot, and anything lower should work just right.

Are gaming laptops good for game development?

Yes. Wouldn’t you want to test your game from the perspective of a gamer? Once your game is ready, you will need to test it before you can release it to the world. Performing the initial tests by yourself allows you to identify and correct any issues with the development. Besides, gaming laptop usually comes with high capabilities that enable the laptops to perform significantly faster than the regular laptops.

Can laptops with Core i5 Processors be used for game development?

Yes. Most programmers use i5 processors for 2D game development, which is a solid choice. The newest choices and most powerful will run an i7 processor. All in all, the CPU is rarely a bottleneck in gaming development, so i5 should perform well. 

Can MacBooks be used for game development?

Yes, but it’s not advisable. First of all, Apple removed the F-row of function keys and replaced it with a touch bar, which is inconvenient for programmers. Moreover, this change is made worse when you need to boot windows software

Which processor is best for game development?

Intel i5, i7, or i9 are the best processors. But, lower options like the i3 are sufficient for 2D game development. So you’ll need more power for high-end games. The generation of chips is also a factor to consider as manufacturers sacrifice power for extended battery use.

Conclusion

As better and more impactful systems are released to the market, it is vital to have the right equipment for a game development project. Many developers are moving away from desktops and showing a preference for laptops because of several advantages, including portability. This article lists the best laptops for game development and a short buying guide for choosing the suitable option for your needs. 

In case, you have any queries, feel free to let us know in the comments. 

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