The best gaming laptop for any budget in 2021

Weight: 2.5kg | Size: 21.4mm | Screen: 17.3in 4K HDR400 | RAM: 32/64GB | Storage: 1/2TB SSD | CPU: i7-10870H/i9-10980HK | GPU: i7-10870H/i9-10980HK | OS: Windows 10 Pro

Best-in-class gaming specs often line up nicely with another high performance-demanding workload – creative industry work. The Gigabyte Aero 17 HDR (from £2,695) lines up the best mobile components from Intel and Nvidia to produce a (somewhat) portable titan that’s a nice combo for creative professionals.
Let’s kick off with the headline feature in the name of this spec behemoth, the Aero 17 HDR offers an absolutely gorgeous 17.3-inch 4K HDR panel. The purpose of this laptop is content creation and it’ll bring out all those wonderful bright colours of your photos, videos or artwork. The panel isn’t OLED, so that may sway some who like to see vibrant colour turned up to the maximum but such panels can often err on the side of oversaturation – this display gets the balance right when accuracy is a key factor.
The performance of this laptop is absolutely remarkable but you really wouldn’t expect anything less, with the model we tested sporting the i9-10980HK processor and RTX 3080 – the best on offer for a laptop right now. If anything, the key point of this device is deciding whether you need this much horsepower, as it’s a high price and is really aimed at creative professionals – not even intermediate users need to fork out for this ultra-premium workstation. The cheaper i7/RTX 3070 model is more (sort of) modestly priced but many beginner to intermediate will still be able to get what they need for less – under the £2,000 mark.
Performance only falls short for the Aero 17 HDR in two potentially key areas, the SSD and speakers. The read speeds were lower than the majority of entries on this list – which isn’t ideal for a laptop aimed at creative professionals who regularly rely on data transfers. While the speakers are certainly better than most gaming laptops but fall well short of the impactful sound on the likes of the MacBook Pro 16.
While this laptop isn’t made for gaming and even features Nvidia’s specific Studio drivers for creative work (you can switch to Game Ready Drivers if you so choose), it completes modern games then shifts to New Game+ mode and beats it again with ease – owing quite a bit to the 60Hz limit of the 4K panel. 4K, high settings and 60fps on the latest games – no problem. For creatives who like to dabble in games, the option is here for you.
The design of the Gigabyte Aero 17 HDR is relatively unremarkable, taking some queues from the likes of the MSI GS66 Stealth and Razer Blade 15 with some added bulk. The lid does sport some diagonal lines that remove some of the style of this otherwise relatively classy design. Unlike those smaller laptops and their black finishes, the Gigabyte does seem to deal much better with fingerprints – for the others, you’ll often need a cloth handy. The webcam is also situated in quite a strange place, pointing upwards 45-degrees from the rear of the keyboard. Thankfully, there’s a fingerprint scanner on the trackpad to help you sign in a different way.
The keyboard is more akin to an ultrabook than a gaming laptop, which is the right move. It doesn’t offer a ton of feedback but for typing away or clicking those all-important shortcuts, it does as good of a job as is needed. The keys are also well spread out, making for a comfy typing experience overall. As a creator laptop, it would certainly be nice to have a larger trackpad as this one is rather small – but it functions just fine.

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