Long gone are the days when you used to need a purpose-built desktop PC to develop and design video games. With the advent of new technologies, much that see top grade desktop hardware squiggle their way down to a much more compact form factor and find a place in the sub-17” dimensions of a laptop, it is now more possible than ever before to realize your game development and game design passions in something as small and portable as a laptop. If you went back in time to tell tech enthusiasts what today’s laptops are capable of, they’d probably laugh at you.

In 2022 you’d be a laughing stock no more; manufacturers have been hard at work trying to perfect their technologies to be able to fit in your bag back as a one-stop shop for creators and enthusiasts alike. With CPUs that go all out with their clock speeds, GPUs that would have miners and scalpers salivating at mere mention, plus more RAM to work with than a shepherd in the Rocky Mountains, these devices truly a testament to how far we have progressed technologically. We understand however, that going all out on the research process to find a laptop which will deliver on your expectations would be a task and a half in of itself. Therefore, we have taken the liberty to compile for you a list of the absolute best laptops for game development, and save you the time.

Comparison of Top-Notch Game Dev Laptops

We’ve been hard at work trying to compile a list of the very best laptops for game developers. Here’s what we found, and our thoughts about them in a nutshell.

ImageProductDetailPrice
MSI Creator 15 Professional Laptop

MSI Creator 15 Professional Laptop

  • Great performer
  • Suitable for all kinds of developers
  • Greatly priced
Check Price
Acer Predator Triton 500

Acer Predator Triton 500

  • Mind-blowing refresh rate
  • Top-of-the-line specs
Check Price
MacBook Pro 2020

MacBook Pro 2020

  • Best battery life
  • In a league of its own with macOS and M1
Check Price
Lenovo Legion 5

Lenovo Legion 5

  • Best value for money
  • CPU shines through
Check Price
GIGABYTE AERO 15 OLED XC

GIGABYTE AERO 15 OLED XC

  • Best with the RTX 30 series
  • Best-in-class screen
Check Price
Razer Blade 15

Razer Blade 15

  • Incredibly well made
  • Value could be better
Check Price
ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14

ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14

  • Power & Portability
  • Unique design features
Check Price

Buyer’s Guide to the best laptop for game development

There’s no shying away from it; laptops that offer a respectable experience in game development cost a pretty penny. The amount of pure horsepower they boast is proportional to the quality of games you can develop using them; the more beefed up the laptop, the more range developers have for testing the graphical and technical prowess of their projects.

When you’re in the market for a laptop you want to use as a game development peripheral, it would be in your best interests to pick one that is a solid all-rounder in the specs department. Particularly, you want a fast, multicore CPU with a jacked-up GPU to compliment it, along with an ample amount of RAM to work with. That statement alone might sound a little vague, so try looking for the following specs in the following departments:

CPU

At the minimum you want a last gen Intel Core i7 or i5 processor, or a Ryzen 5/7 if AMD is more to your liking. Do your best to avoid the U series processors and opt instead for the H or K suffix models. Select CPUs with high base clock speeds with the option to overclock them to higher Megahertz counts. Ideally, the i9s and the Ryzen 9s are obviously the best in terms of performance. Minimum you want something in the mid to high 2000s MHz range, three thousand would be best, but it would also be highly desirable if it can reach at least the early 4000s MHz range when you overclock the CPU.

GPU

Perhaps equally as important is your laptop’s graphical prowess. Settle for nothing less than a dedicated GPU with enough VRAM to smoothly operate the games you will develop. Game designers and game developers extensively make use of GPU intensive software like Adobe Photoshop, Blender to design models and create animations so it is essential that you have a solid card in your system. You cannot go wrong with NVIDIA’s RTX series, which besides being remarkably powerful on their own are especially impressive in the mobile form factor. The RTX series has increased support for ray tracing technologies that have already become a common feature in new releases. It goes without saying that the RTX 30 series of graphics cards would be pretty smack, but if you’ve caught up with tech news recently, you’d know that they’re also becoming increasingly difficult to find.

 Lucky for you, we’ve listed a few here which were in stock at the time we wrote this, but should your luck be sour in availability, we think the RTX 20 series, especially the RTX 20 Supers with Max-Q designs are plenty serviceable being very powerful in their own right. At minimum, try scoring a laptop which sports at least late GTX series. The AMD equivalents would be Radeon RX 570s all the way to 5500XT. These cards will also have between 4-8GB of VRAM, which is quite important.

RAM

You really do need a decent amount of RAM to compliment the aforementioned specifications for your GPU and CPU combination.

Your Operating System and the applications you’d use are becoming more RAM hungry by the day. You’d need more than a measly 8GB to make sure your laptop can go the distance and be ready for future updates. 16GB is a good shout for RAM, but obviously for creators, developers and designers the more you can have the better. More RAM will afford you better multitasking opportunities as well.

Display

Often one of the most understated and overlooked components of a laptop is a top display. While the average consumer might not be bothered by the run of the mill selection of average laptop displays, for game designers a solid display is an essential part of their device. We find 15 inch screens to be a great sweet spot between 13” and 17” + screens because they’re the perfect size for both productivity and portability. Creators and designers should also seek out a display that is color accurate, has a higher color bit count (like 10bit instead of 8-bit color), and has HDR. All of this is important in the graphical design aspect of game development, especially when you’re working with UI, environments and player models.

A higher refresh rate on your screens makes for a much smoother user experience because the screen is literally refreshing the current image as many times per second as is the Hertz count. The current trend of game development has seen many developers opt for higher refresh rate panels (e.g. 144Hz), that being said, 60Hz is still fine should the rest of your specs be up to the mark.

Storage

 DO NOT GET A LAPTOP WITHOUT AN SSD IN 2022. What an HDD will offer in the storage to price ratio an SSD will make up for a hundred times over in speed. It’s highly likely that with game development, you’re going to be loading and exporting huge files and you do not need the added strain of working with something as slow and dated as an HDD, on which an SSD has a speed advantage of nearly 5 to 20 times.

I/O

Thunderbolt ports are important, so are full size USB ports, SD card slots and HDMI ports. At the end of the day though, if your laptop checks all the other boxes but doesn’t check this one, just get a dongle. Laptop manufacturers are downsizing on their I/O offerings to make their devices more compact and this seems to be the way of the wind, so there’s really no fighting it.

The 7 Best Laptops for Game Development

1. MSI Creator 15 Professional Laptop

br-lazy"

Specification

  • CPU: Intel Core i7 10875H (2.3GHz up to 5.1GHz)
  • GPU: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 SUPER Max-Q 8GB
  • RAM: 32GB DDR4
  • DISPLAY: 15.6” 3840 x 2160 @ 60Hz
  • STORAGE: 1TB NVMe SSD

Design & Hardware

For what we’ve gotten accustomed to from MSI, the creator 15 sure is a breath of fresh air. The bezels are thin and frame a display that is quite simply a treat to look at. Bright and absolutely popping with color, the screen itself invites productivity.

The all-metal exterior feels premium and built to last. The keyboard leaves much to be desired though; isn’t very tactile and has little travel. Also, it only comes with one full sized USB port, but the ethernet port and audio jack are welcome additions although with creation-oriented devices that’s to be expected.

Performance

As you’d probably expect, the performance on this thing is NUTS. It surfs through anything you throw at it, be it running the games you’re designing or software. Photoshop and Illustrator work like a charm, and so does 3D Max/Blender. If you need a more gaming contextualized example, it’s able to handle AAA titles at 4K like nobody’s business. Rest assured this is enough for a lot of your game development needs. The battery life is stellar, lasting for about 8 to 10 hours under normal use, but we recommend plugging it in while running heavy software.

Pros

  • Performance Champion 60Hz Panel
  • Great battery life Can get very loud
  • Outclass display Keyboard isn’t great
  • Fantastic value for the specs Relatively poor I/O
  • Solid build quality

Cons

  • 60Hz Panel
  • Can get very loud
  • Keyboard isn’t great
  • Relatively poor I/O

2. Acer Predator Triton 500

br-lazy"

Specification

  • CPU: Intel Core i7 10750H (Up to 5GHz)
  • GPU: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 SUPER 8GB
  • RAM: 16GB DDR4
  • DISPLAY: 15.6” 1920×1080 @ 144Hz
  • STORAGE: 512GB NVMe SSD

Design & Hardware

Rocking a sleek design with a metal chassis, the Triton 500 is an instant eyecatcher. To some people, the blue accents and RGB Keyboard might be too much of a “gamer” look, but it’s subjective enough that it’s not a problem.

The screen is absolutely the show stealer here; at a mind boggling 300Hz this laptop is unmatched in how smooth it is. Routine tasks like web browsing get a fresh coat of paint, and when you’re working, it absolutely sets the mood for productivity. Response time is lightning fast, over 4 times faster than run-of-the-mill 60Hz displays. It’s SO good, that using even 144Hz seems like a massive step down after. I/O is great with 3 full-size USB ports amongst an ethernet jack, mini DisplayPort and a thunderbolt 3.

Performance

Let’s talk about the battery first, when a laptop loaded with RTX 2070 Super can last up to 6 hours on a charge, even we might consider not plugging in; it sounds too good to be true right?

Unfortunately, it kind of is, because it’s inconsistent with longevity. Performance is no joke though and especially when coupled with the bonkers 300Hz display it’s going to charm any game development out there with its speed capabilities complimented beautifully by the fluidity of the display. Graphic design and coding are always a breeze on specced out computers, and we’re happy to report that the Triton 500 will do your job and more!

Pros

  • Best in class high refresh rate panel
  • Incredible performance
  • Respectable I/O

Cons

  • Gets very hot
  • Bloatware
  • Runs expensive at retail

3. MacBook Pro 2020 with Apple Silicon

br-lazy"

Specification

  • CPU: Apple M1 Processor
  • GPU: Apple 8-core GPU
  • RAM: 8GB
  • DISPLAY: 13.3” 2560×1600 Retina Display @ 60Hz
  • STORAGE: 256GB SSD

Design & Hardware

Design is what we’ve come to expect from Apple with a premium all-aluminum unibody finish, thin bezels with a minimal chin and an oh-so-good screen that gets nice and bright with striking colors. I have mixed reviews on the touch-bar; what makes for interesting visual appeal is a little gimmicky and lacks the robustness of physical function keys.

Software

There is much to love about macOS; it’s something that ties neatly into the Apple ecosystem, historically fast & fluid, is super reliable with usage and updates, has fantastic application optimization, has very low risk of malware/virus infection and is incredibly user friendly.

But what really sets the MacBook apart this year is Apple’s very own M1 chip, the internals greatly compliment macOS in ways much better internals on paper could never do with Windows.

Of course, macOS does not nearly support the same range of software and applications that Windows does but we’re of the opinion that game developers can find enormous amounts of work designing games for macOS, iOS and tvOS. Accounting for billions and billions in downloads and revenue every year, macOS is a goldmine for game developers.

Performance

Simply put, nothing in its form factor comes very close to the M1 MacBook Pro. The app optimization comes full force here with apps like Photoshop, Blender, XCode, Visual Studio and the like run without a hitch. Battery life is easily some of the best you’ll ever experience with the M1 chip’s power efficiency getting a lot of credit for that. You can easily expect up to a massive 20 hours with light/regular use, and up to 8-10 HOURS with moderate/heavy use.

Pros

  • Unbeatable battery
  • Software-Hardware relationship
  • Fantastic screen
  • MacOS is better than ever before

Cons

  • Can’t upgrade the internals
  • Software limitations
  • Average keyboard

4. Lenovo Legion 5

br-lazy"

Specification

  • CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 4800H (2.9GHz Base)
  • GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660Ti 6GB
  • RAM: 16GB DDR4
  • DISPLAY: 15.6” 1920×1080 LCD Display @ 144Hz
  • STORAGE: 512GB SSD

Design & Hardware

At first glance, the plastic build of this laptop may seem uninviting but it’s actually built very solidly. At the back, you’re greeted with a wide array of I/O ports that puts more expensive laptops on the list to shame. As with newer devices the bezels are thin and the screen, albeit an LCD panel, is sharp and has great peak brightness. The keyboard is clicky, with decent travel.

Performance

Let me preface this by saying that you should not compare this laptop to its more expensive counterparts on the list. While a GTX 1660Ti is admittedly not as good as the RTX 3070, this laptop also does not cost as much. We found this laptop is incredibly popular amongst aspiring developers much for its price! Performance is very snappy – Running IDEs and GFX software is a smooth affair, and code compilation is quick and hassle free. The Ryzen CPU shines through as well, being fast and having high turbo and base speeds.

The 144Hz screen is a big plus and adds a lot of fluidity to the user experience, but because of its relatively dated GPU not all games will likely take advantage of that. Most of all though, don’t count on developing games with real time ray-tracing because this card lacks RT cores and that makes for an expectedly below-par experience in that department.

Value

All-in-all, the Legion 5 is a great deal. In our opinion this is THE laptop to get if you’re a developer on a budget. This will get so much done for hundreds of dollars less than the competition.

Pros

  • Best for value
  • 144Hz refresh rate display
  • Great CPU performance
  • Responsive keyboard

Cons

  • Mediocre audio
  • Poor battery life
  • Poor ray tracing experience

5. GIGABYTE AERO 15 OLED XC

br-lazy"

Specification

  • CPU: Intel Core i7 10980HK (Up to 5GHz)
  • GPU: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 Laptop GPU 8GB GDDR6
  • RAM: 32GB DDR4
  • DISPLAY: 15.6” 3840×2160 Samsung AMOLED @ 60Hz
  • STORAGE: 1TB SSD

Design & Hardware

This laptop is good looking, screen on or screen off. About that screen though, my gosh, it’s really good. Samsung AMOLED panels have been exceptional for some time now and it shows here with deep blacks, vibrant colors, great sharpness, color accuracy and contrast.

The RGB keyboard is tasteful, not obnoxious, with individually backlit keys which you can further customize to your liking. It’s also nice to type on with how tactile it is. The webcam is in a very awkward position though, sitting on the keyboard deck but that’s to accommodate the very thin bezels at the top and the sides that add to the display’s merit. I/O is adequate with enough ports and jacks for most on both sides.

Performance

Performance is about what you’d expect, VERY solid. Multi-tasking is made easy by a huge RAM deposit, which is great for developers who’d need to run multiple instances of the same or different programs.

Of course, what really sets this laptop apart from the other creator laptop is the inclusion of the absolute powerhouse of a GPU in the RTX 3070. This card will handle game development better than anything else on this list, especially in regards to advanced visual technologies. Developers will find this to be an adequate testing ground for graphical fidelity and performance limits.

Pros

  • Solid performance
  • Best GPU performance
  • Unbeatable display

Cons

  • Expensive
  • 60Hz panel

6. Razer Blade 15

br-lazy"

Specification

  • CPU: Intel Core i7 10750H
  • GPU: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060
  • RAM: 16GB DDR4
  • DISPLAY: 15.6” 1920×1080 @ 144Hz
  • STORAGE: 512GB SSD

Design & Hardware

Razer has really knocked it out of the park with their newer Blades. Ergonomics and design appeal come together to present an article of superior craftsmanship in what looks and feels like it was literally carved out of a block of metal. Razer’s signature green accents highlight the device all around, most prominently in the logo on the back (fun fact: it glows too!). The keyboard and trackpad duo are an absolute treat, the former being satisfying to use and the latter being large and precise. It’s a total fingerprint magnet though, expect to be cleaning it up a lot.

Performance

This laptop is what happens when portability meets performance. For something so compact it packs a real punch. Coupled with the RTX 3060, it is sure to cater to all of your game development needs. Want to render models? Done. Want to edit cutscenes? Easy. Need to develop on-the-go? Can do. You can definitely get your games too look good and run good with this one, however, do not go all out if you want to maintain that 60fps minimum.

People argue against Razer’s value, and they certainly do have a point. While this is by no means an underperforming device, this is not exactly great value either.

Pros

  • Outstanding customer support
  • Striking design
  • Superior build quality
  • Highly portable

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Can struggle at very high settings
  • Gets hot

7. ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14

br-lazy"

Specification

  • CPU: AMD Ryzen 9 4900HS (Up to 4.9GHz)
  • GPU: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 Max-Q 6GB
  • RAM: 16GB DDR4
  • DISPLAY: 15.6” 1920×1080 @ 120Hz
  • STORAGE: 1TB PCIe SSD

Design & Hardware

The Zephyrus G14 makes some very bold design choices with an assortment of dots that light up the lid, and we really dig it! You can customize them to show with your own text and animations, and it’s such a fun addition we’re glad they did it.

Save for that, it’s a very stealthy look with muted accents and a stealthy profile. This laptop is also pretty much completely made out of metal, naturally feeling premium and sturdy, with a nicely spaced out keyboard that offers a welcoming typing experience. It’s small enough that you can easily take your development shenanigans to-go!

Performance

The ROG performs exceptionally well considering its size. And for good reason obviously, the Ryzen CPU cuts no corners in speed and the RTX 2060 is solid for your GFX needs. The Ryzen is the star of the show here, delivering power efficiency without sacrificing performance. A game developer needs this in a laptop because they’ll be dealing with CPU intense programs a lot. Needless to say, more ambitious titles will take a big sip out of the pond, but emulation is something a lot of people like to do, and we’re happy to say this is gonna take care of stuff like android studio like cake. The 120Hz screen is a little below what we would’ve liked to see, but not by much and it’s an obvious improvement over 60Hz being butter smooth and responsive.

Pros

  • Premium Build
  • Persistent performer
  • Solid keyboard
  • Very portable

Cons

  • Gets very loud
  • Gets hot
  • Dim display

Conclusion

All in all, while some people might still doubt a laptop’s capability to replace desktops, our recommended lineup seems to differ. You have all-rounders like the MSI Creator that pack performance and great screens together, unique software experiences and reliability in the MacBook, and good value computers like the Lenovo Legion 5. As a game developer, you want something that is an amalgamation of a lot of those good things, and lucky for you we’ve made choosing that much easier for you.