Our comparison table only shows our top 5 picks. You can find the other recommendations within this article.
If you're looking to buy a new high-end gaming laptop, then you better be prepared with at least $1200. I know for such price you can quickly build your customized high-end desktop PC, but not everyone wants to be at their home while playing games.
Professional gamers have to travel frequently to cafes and different cities for tournaments and competitions. Anyways, if you're ready to purchase a gaming laptop under $1200, then we have plenty of high-end options for you.
These machines can handle top-notch games like GTA 5, Payday 2, Hotline Miami, Sleeping Dogs, etc. I know you can also find some decent laptops for under $1000, but you won't believe how much you're missing because of $200.
Back to the topic, these devices are equipped with Intel Core i7 processor, great GPU, high-speed Memory and at least 15-inch display. If you're low on budget, then you can also check our guides for best gaming laptops under $500 and $800. In this article, you'll see machines from well-known laptop brands like ASUS ROG, Alienware, MSI, Dell, Lenovo, etc.
What to expect from a gaming laptop under $1200?
One thing I made sure is that all of them include a graphics card from NVIDIA that will help you run your games and programs with ease. I know any desktop for such price will offer a lot more power and speed, but it won't provide portability, and you surely won't be able to carry it around while you're out.
Anyways, these days some notebooks can compete with desktops and these kinds of gaming laptops can easily handle some of the most popular games like Batman: Arkham Knight, COD Infinite Warfare, Battlefield 4, Starcraft 2, Assassins Creed, etc.
Processors included in these machines will be at least 2.5 GHz and Memory will be at least 8 GB. Battery life is usually an issue in most of the gaming laptops but we have tried to avoid those kinds of notebooks on our list.
Also remember, investing in a gaming laptop might not be always a smart choice so if you want to lower your budget a little then we also have a guide of gaming laptops under $1000.
Our Top Picks for Best Gaming Laptops under $1200
With its smaller footprint, the Asus FX502VM may not scream gaming laptop at first—it looks more like a budget laptop.
But don’t let appearances fool you. Inside this slim chassis you are getting the latest Intel Core i7 processor with the greatest NVIDIA graphics.
Some people may be worried about overheating in such a slim and lightweight case but there’s no need.
Asus have incorporated an innovative cooling system which uses dual fans and heat pipes to independently cool the powerful CPU and GPU.
A 15.6-inch full HD screen uses IPS technology, ensuring it’s not only fast but can be viewed from a 178-degree viewing angle. You won’t experience color shifts or other potential disruptions to your viewing performance mid-game with this laptop.
The laptop comes with 16GB of DDR4 RAM and a super fast 128GB SSD for the fastest response times. The only letdown is the additional 1TB HDD which uses a slower 5400RPM drive.
This excellent gaming machine from renowned manufacturer MSI is one of their first sub $1200 laptops to feature the new 6 Core technology of the 8th generation Intel Core processors. These newest processors are said to offer an amazing performance boost of over 20 percent, compared to the already speedy 7th Generation i7 processor.
This newly launched laptop features 8GB DDR4 RAM, 128GB SSD and 1TB HDD storage while running Windows 10 64 bit out of the box. An NVIDIA GTX 1050 Ti GPU features an additional 4GB of GDDR5 RAM, for even faster performance.
MSI laptops all feature IPS level NTSC display technology, which brings games and movies to life with powerful colors. The 15.6-inch display certainly has some of the best colors we’ve seen at this price, second only to the Asus FX502VM.
Another feature we really like about the MSI gaming laptops is the inclusion of Nahimic surround sound. This model features version 3 of their 7.1 Enhanced audio. The Nahimic sound technology boosts that 3D surround sound when gaming.
With its 6 Core technology, vivid color NTSC display, extra storage and backlit keyboard with customizable zones, the GV62 is shaping up to be one of MSI’s best gaming laptops ever.
Alienware gaming laptops are used by many of the more serious gamers around the world. They are known to be designed specifically for gamers and feature solid performances.
This Alienware upgrade offers gamers all the essential tools they need to be the very best.
With specs similar to many of the gaming laptops in this price range, what really makes the Alienware stand out is the extra thought that has gone into those gaming extras.
This system uses a GeForce GTX 10-series GPU as well as over-clocked Intel processors to allow for 4K gaming and a VR Ready experience.
Killer Wireless using the Double Shot Pro standard makes sure your wired or wireless network prioritizes the traffic that matters to you most—your gaming—and reroutes any insignificant data streams.
A Thunderbolt Type-C port allows you to use either Thunderbolt or USB 3.1 for peripherals with a connection rate of 10GBps.
The 15.6-inch full HD display uses NVIDIA G-sync technology to deliver what promises to be the smoothest and fastest graphics ever, thanks to the added ability to sync your display refresh rate to the GPU speed.
This results in less screen tearing and minimal stutter of the display or lag in the input—all crucial for more intense games.
This is yet another solid gaming laptop from Alienware and comes in the distinctive Alienware casing with added AlienFX lighting, letting everybody know you’re serious about your gaming.
The unassuming looks of the ASUS Vivobook make it look more like a business machine than a gaming rig. Underneath the hood though, it’s a different story. The ASUS VivoBook packs in a powerful Intel Core i7 quad-core processor, backed up with 16GB of DDR4 RAM and a dedicated NVIDIA GPU.
The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 150 employed by the VivoBook is more than capable of running most of today’s triple-A titles and powerful enough to cope with even the most demanding of 4K video editing software. A matte 1080p full HD screen uses 100 percent sRGB color gamut but is only TN-based rather than IPS, meaning your viewing angles may be more limited than other gaming specific laptops.
ASUS states the battery life of the VivoBook is around four to five hours with an intelligent cooling system, aiming to prevent the system from overheating. Some users, however, have reported the VivoBook to run very hot in more heavy-load multitasking processes or marathon gaming sessions.
If you need a gaming laptop that will also double as a premium workstation laptop, the sleek ASUS VivoBook is definitely one computer you should be looking at.
5. HP Omen 15
More known for their business machines and systems, HP have in recent years dipped their toe into the gaming laptop market with a range of serious spec gaming machines.
The OMEN 15-inch gaming laptop is this year’s model and a very sturdy entry into the sub $1200 gaming laptop category.
Using the latest 8th Generation Intel Core i5 processor, it teams up with the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti GPU, including 4GB of dedicated RAM for a truly top-notch gaming performance.
A 15-inch full HD IPS screen features antiglare technology and is WLED backlit. For under $1200 you are getting a lot of screen space.
The latest NVIDIA GTX 1050 Ti GPU provides benchmark results that will cope with almost every modern game you can find, and the 12GB of ultra-fast RAM means you can throw almost anything at it. This laptop is a good choice if you need something for video editing, music production, animation or games software development.
A 128GB SSD and 7200RPM 1TB HDD provide the storage for this system, but if you should wish to upgrade that or the 12GB RAM, one panel gives access to all the internals.
HP are very quickly making a name for themselves in the gaming laptop market and this one can certainly give most others a run for their money.
The AW15R3-0012SLV is another one of the best gaming laptops under $1200 from Alienware. However, this 15-inch notebook has pretty mixed up reviews due to its 6th generation Intel Core i5-6400 processor.
I understand most of the gamers desire an i7 processor but since your budget is limited you have to sacrifice at some point, and with this machine, you will be getting an i5 processor.
Budget users mostly care about the specifications and other than processor it packs everything top-notch like NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 GPU, 1 TB HDD and 8 GB DDR4 Memory.
It comes with a full HD IPS display with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels which is pretty less considering it's an Alienware gaming machine. While we were testing it, we found some pros like a responsive touchpad, light keyboard, no heating issues, brilliant display and long-lasting battery life.
Overall, it's an affordable and reliable option for not only gamers but also for college students and programmers.
Acer‘s Predator products have previously been out of the price range for your average gamer. The Predator Helios 300 seems to be Acer’s solution to this problem and offers great value at around the $1200 mark.
There had to be some sacrifices made to meet this price point, however. The main one is the display. Although it’s much dimmer than some more expensive Predator laptops, the full HD display panel uses IPS technology to give a better range of viewing angles. The picture quality is comparable, if not better, to many of the laptops at this price. Just don’t expect the full-color spectrum of the higher end Predator laptops.
The Helios 300 contains impressive internal specs, with a Kaby Lake Intel Core i7 processor which features 16GB of system RAM. Acer have upgraded this laptop to the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 which offers better performance for the latest games and is more suitable for VR gaming than its predecessors.
The Acer Predator Helios 300 is very good compared to many other machines at this price. However, with some games, like GTA V, needing 40GB of disk space just for installation, you will need to address the small, but fast, 256GB SSD.
8. MSI GL62M
MSI are a name that you don’t usually associate with making good value laptops. Instead, they seem to concentrate on high-end performance gaming laptops. However, this MSI GL62M with an updated NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti GPU offers incredible value.
The hybrid storage drive is a great feature. You have fast SSD for files you use frequently, while having a large 1TB hard drive for storing other files and data. The hybrid design keeps the price down on this laptop.
MSI’s NTSC technology used in the 15.6-inch full HD IPS-level display brings the vivid colors of the NVIDIA GPU to life, with a faster refresh rate than some other non-NTSC displays.
This latest MSI gaming laptop also features a six heat pipe thermal solution to ensure both the GPU and CPU stay at the optimal temperature. This guarantees the maximum performance in any gaming or multitasking scenario.
This sub $1200 gaming laptop offers all the traditional features of Nahamic surround sound, an enhanced tactile keyboard with WASD backlighting and a performance-based design. Added to that is the newer Intel Optane technology for better performance. At this price why not give it a go?
When it comes to gaming laptops, people don't usually prefer going with HP Pavilion as these machines are built for day to day tasks. However, the HP Pavilion 15t is an exception, and it's a great PC for playing high-end titles.
If you compare the HP Pavilion 15t with others on this list, you will notice that it is slightly better when it comes to specifications since it comes with NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050Ti 4 GB GPU, 8th generation Intel Core i5-8300H processor with 4 cores, 16 GB DDR4 SDRAM, 1 TB 7200rpm HDD and a full-size backlit keyboard.
It boasts every single thing that you might ask for in a gaming laptop. Its colorful backlit keyboard with black surroundings matches perfectly with the device.
This is a serious gaming laptop with powerful graphics and impressive audio. The laptop include high-end front-firing speakers with HP Audio Boost and tuning by Bang and Olufsen PLAY. Battery life is also very respectable at 9 hours.
10. Lenovo Y720
Lenovo, again, are a manufacturer you may associate more with high-powered business systems. Recently they have branched out into many stylish laptops for the home-based user and some powerful gaming hardware.
The Y720 follows the pattern of gaming-centric laptops that Lenovo have created. With an all-black color scheme, accented by a swish red logo, the case is built to combat high temperatures and is fitted with vents at the back and a dual fan system for longer gaming sessions.
Under the hood, this laptop features some powerful components, including a 7th Generation Intel Core i7 processor and one of the latest NVIDIA GPUs in the GeForce GTX 1060. Did we mention the GTX 1060 delivers performance up to three times faster than its predecessors and allows you to enjoy video up to 60FPS?
A vibrant 15.6-inch full HD IPS display offers the quality you have come to associate with Lenovo laptops; but where this one really excels is in the audio department.
The Y720 features Dolby Atmos sound processing. According to Lenovo, the first laptop to do so. When wearing headphones, the sounds will flow above and all around you for a breathtaking gaming experience. It’s the same system you may find in your local theatre and provides for an immersive experience, whether gaming, streaming movies or listening to music.
The only downside is the smaller 256GB SSD provided as standard, although you can easily add an HDD for hybrid storage if needed. All in all, the Y720 provides the graphics, processing power and immersive audio for an exhilarating and fully immersed gaming session on the go.
So these are our recommendations for best gaming laptops under $1200, and you must select the one that suits you. They all have powerful GPU and processor to handle the latest games you will be playing on it.
Also note, that SSD is always an optional and you play most of your games pretty smoothly without it. Most of the budget gaming notebooks in this list have almost similar specifications and I believe it's all about the brands.
It's important to go with a laptop brand that you like as they all have their own unique features that you'll be using while playing your games.