Maybe it can be said of any year, but 2011 has been extremely important for gaming laptops. We saw the improvement in overall processing power with the introduction of second generation Intel Quad-Core (Sandy Bridge) processors. Not only more powerful, but these processors are supposed to be more graphically intelligent, switching power where/when it’s needed, which means you have better battery life. In addition, we saw the introduction of faster GPUs such as the Nvidia GeForce GTX 580M and AMD Radeon HD 6990M – paving the way for DirectX 11 graphics.
Now when considering the best gaming laptops of 2011, some consideration should be given to the different versions of Clevo-based laptops, such as the Clevo x7200 modified by the big name Boutique makers like Falcon Northwest, Sager, Origin, Rockdirect… but as many experts have pointed out, these are overpriced and usually come with one or more inferior design flaw such as crappy keyboards or simply less value for the money you have to spend. Instead, here’s a short list of a few gaming notebooks you should consider before you make your final choice.
The criteria for picking these powerful laptops can usually be summed up along the following features or specs:
1 – powerful discrete or dedicated graphics card(s) with its own fast video memory
2 – fast high performance processor(s)
3 – plenty of RAM and a full HD 1080p display
Plus, many gamers like to have a Blu-ray Optical Drive to fully round out their ideal gamer’s laptop. With all these factors in mind, here are some of the best gaming laptops of 2011. (Prices may change without notice – shop around and you will find many of these laptops at cheaper prices than listed here.)
Alienware M18x – Starting Price $1,999
Alienware always produces some of the best gaming laptops on the planet and the Alienware M18x doesn’t disappoint. The powerful i7 2920XM (Overclocked Turbo Boost to 4.0GHz 8MB cache) processor is just for starters. The basic version comes with 1.5GB GDDR5 Nvidia GeForce GTX 460M but those gamers with money to spare can upgrade via SLI to dual 2GB GDDR5 NVIDIA GeForce GTX 580M. Regular model comes with 4GB of Dual Channel DDR3 at 1333MHz but you can upgrade to a ridiculous 32GB of RAM. For the hard drive(s) you have plenty of options… all the way up to 1 TB 7200RPM Solid State Hybrid. The M18x also comes with dual layer Blu-ray Reader and has just been further empowered by the Bigfoot Killer Wireless Adapters.
Solid gaming laptop with plenty of options and features. Some find the over-the-top custom design a bit too flashy, but the components underneath all that flash does deliver the goods. Fastest gaming system you will get in a laptop at the moment.
Toshiba Qosmio X775-3DV78 – Starting Price $1,900
While many people don’t necessarily associate Toshiba with gaming, their high-end Qosmio series of performance laptops do deserve some respect and your consideration if you’re in a market for a gaming laptop. Especially, the top of line models like the Qosmio X775-3DV78, which has been described by some as “ugly as sin” but still sport some of the most impressive specs for a 3D enabled gaming laptop. Empowered with the Intel Quad Core i7-2630QM processor and the new GeForce GTX 560M with 1.5GB GDDR5 memory – this machine can handle most modern games.
Powerful gaming rig with true 3D and full 1080p display with Blu-ray and Harman-Kardon stereo speakers. Give the Qosmio X775 more than a passing glance in your search for a gaming laptop – you won’t regret it.
Asus G73SW-3DE – Starting Price $1,999
Most gamers have heard of Asus and their popular ROG (Republic of Gamers) series of laptops. The Asus G73SW-3DE with its Sandy Bridge Intel Core i7-2630QM 2.0GHz with Turbo Boost up to 2.9GHz processor and 8 GB of memory is no exception. Further powered with the Nvidia GTX 460M Graphics with 1.5GB GDDR5 and large storage sporting a 1TB (500G 7200RPM + 4G SSD x2) HDD. Fleshed out with full 1080p LED 17.3-Inch Display, including 3D at 120HZ and Blu-ray drive.
Running quiet and cool, the Asus G73SW-3DE should be on everyone’s list, since it can play just about anything thrown at it. Solid choice for a great gaming laptop.
MSI GT780DXR – Starting Price $1,999
The MSI (Micro-Star International) company has been around for over 25 years and has a long history for producing very innovative products over the years. Their GT780 series of high-performance laptops have been especially noticed by gamers. The MSI GT780DXR sports the Intel i7-2630QM (2 GHZ) Processor with 16 GB of RAM and dedicated NVIDIA GeForce GTX 570M graphics with 1.5GB of fast DDR5 VRAM. In addition, you have the 17.3″ Full HD 1920 x 1080 display, “One-Touch Overclocking” and “MSI Turbo Drive Engine (TDE) Technology”, and MSI cooler boost technology.
Powerful DirectX 11 gaming with impressive performance numbers such as the record 12,475 points in the 3DMark Vantage run-through. Another solid contender for your gaming notebook of choice.
HP Envy 17 3D – Starting Price $1,599
This one is for the old gamers who still remember the Envy gaming rigs before it was taken over by Hewlett-Packard. Granted 3D may not be your cup of tea, but this HP Envy 17 can still give just as impressive 2D numbers with its Intel Core i7-720QM (1.6 GHz) CPU, 6 GB of RAM and powerful ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5850 graphics. Throw in a full HD 1080p display combined with a Beats Audio system with a Blu-ray drive and you have all the components for a great gaming laptop. Other great features include ATI’s EyeFinity multiple monitor system, HMDI outputs and 3.0 USB port.
It may not have all the firepower of some of the other gaming laptops listed above, but the HP Envy 17 3D will be less expensive and offers good value for your money. Another worthwhile consideration to add to your list.
There you have it, five top rated gaming laptops of 2011 and the upcoming years. Check out these machines if you’re in the market for a gaming laptop, they are definitely worth your consideration if not your dollars.