Best Gaming Laptops for College in 2021

A young man playing games on laptop

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So you’ve finished high school. Congratulations! Now that you’re about to start college, you want a laptop. An avid gamer, you’re also looking to buy a machine capable of both gaming and college works. So to help you make a decision, let’s look at some of the best gaming laptops for college.

Are Gaming Laptops Good for College Work?

While not the best fit for an average college student, a gaming laptop should do just fine. Well, apart from the fact that they could distract you from studies.

A gaming laptop is especially a good choice if you’re in a tech-related or engineering faculty. For example, 3D designing applications like AutoCAD needs decent hardware to run smoothly. Performance is also an important factor if you’re into graphic design or 3D animation.

A gaming laptop can also be a good fit for science majors. If you’re in data science, you’ll have to study Machine Learning, and you’ll need a decent graphics card to run ML algorithms. Or maybe you’re a Cybersecurity student and you may need virtualization frequently. A gaming laptop is very suitable for these kinds of resource-heavy tasks.

Image: Two college students on a study date.

Not all gaming laptops are good for college though, always evaluate the features of the laptop you’re buying. Most gaming laptops are usually bulkier and heavier. Since they are designed for maximum performance, they often provide poor battery backup.

But in the last few years, gaming laptops have become much more compact and portable. There are gaming laptops that weigh as low as three and a half pounds! The battery backup has also improved drastically – you can easily expect at least 5 hours of screen-time under normal use.

Things to Consider when Buying

Since you need a laptop for both gaming and college, you can’t just go for one single spec (e.g: performance). Consider all the things like portability, price, and more. Confused? Let me help.

Portability

Most gaming laptops are bulky and heavy. But for college, you’ll want to buy a portable laptop. You’ll often need to carry your laptop to places, like in the lab or in a group study. So you don’t want to buy something that’ll hurt your back.

Battery Backup

Gaming laptops aren’t really famous for their battery life. And since you’ll spend a lot of time outdoors, you should consider a gaming laptop with decent battery backup. Your laptop should be able to run for at least 5 hours under moderate load.

So in our list of best laptops for college and gaming, we prioritized battery life among other ranking factors.

Performance

Now let’s consider performance. Most gaming laptops provide decent levels of performance in terms of processing speed, memory, and graphics. No matter which faculty you are in, a gaming laptop should be more than enough for the usual college tasks.

As for gaming, it depends on your budget. But generally, a Core i5/Ryzen 5 and GTX 1650/ RTX-2060 (or higher) is enough for decent gaming. If you’re not on a budget, we recommend you go for a laptop with RTX-30XX or a higher series GPU. The RTX series performs better in terms of fps when gaming in 4K.

Memory & Storage

For a smooth multitasking experience, your laptop should have at least 16GB of RAM installed. Don’t worry if the gaming laptop you chose doesn’t come with 16GB RAM. You can always buy and install an extra RAM chip on most laptops.

Almost all gaming laptops these days use DDR4 RAM. The difference is in the operating frequency. The operating frequency of DDR4 RAMs may vary from 2400 Mhz to 3600 Mhz. It’s not always a big deal, But a higher operating frequency is better for performance.

All gaming laptops come with a pre-installed SSD. A Solid State Drive is important for smooth I/O operations and therefore better performance.

Display

These days, most gaming laptops sport a display of over 17″. But a 17″ laptop isn’t ideal for a backpack. For maximum portability, choose a laptop with a 15″ or 16″ display.

As for the refresh rate, 144hz is enough for usual gaming. But if you’re a competitive esports guy, go for at least 165hz. The response time of the display is important, but shouldn’t be the priority. Ideally, A response time under 5ms is sufficient for an excellent gaming experience.

Best Gaming Laptops for College Students

Now that you know what to look for, check out my list of best gaming laptops for college. I tried to include laptops with different sets of features. Check the whole list, you should find a good match. Let’s dive in.

1. Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 RTX3060 – Best all-rounder for college

  • CPU: AMD Ryzen 9 5900HS
  • GPU: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060
  • RAM: 16GB
  • Screen: 14” IPS HD 144Hz
  • Storage: 1TB SSD
  • Battery: 9 Hours
  • Weight: 3.5 lbs
Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 - one of the best portable gaming laptops.

Pros:

  • Super-fast AMD Ryzen 9 processor.
  • Clean, and attractive Design.
  • Lightweight and portable.
  • Commendable battery life.

Cons:

  • Cooling fans are noisy under load.
  • 14″ display.
  • No Webcam.

Product Description

  • Powered by AMD Ryzen 9 5900HS Processor @ 3.1GHz (8 Cores, 16 Threads, 16M Cache, up to 4.60GHz), you can watch your favorite games come to life.
  • No Front-Facing Camera, 14″ 144Hz Full HD (1920 x 1080) IPS-Level PANTONE Validated Anti-Glare (100% sRGB) Display.
  • NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 6GB GDDR6 Graphics.
  • 16GB DDR4-3200 Memory; paired with ultra-fast DDR4 RAM slices through heavy workloads and multitasking.
  • 1TB M.2 NVMe PCIe 3.0 SSD; No Optical drive.
  • Wi-Fi 6(802.11ax) and Bluetooth 5.1; 1x USB 3.2 Type C (Gen 2) w/ Power Delivery, Display Port and G-Sync, 1x USB 3.2 Type C (Gen 2), 2x USB 3.2 Type A (Gen 1), 1x 3.5mm Combo Audio Jack, 1x HDMI 2.0b.

The ROG Zephyrus G14 is a compact yet powerful machine from Asus. Its combo of Ryzen 9 and RTX 3060 can provide plenty of performance when necessary. And while not the perfect size for a gaming laptop, its 14″ 144Hz display is good enough for competitive e-sports.

The laptop doesn’t scream for attention but surely meets the eyes with its clean and attractive look. It has a weight of just 3.5 lbs and a battery backup of more than 9 hours – making it one of the best gaming laptops for college students.

2. Razer Blade 15 RTX3060Best Gaming Rig for college

  • CPU: Intel Core i7-10750H
  • GPU: Nvidia Geforce RTX 3060
  • RAM: 16GB
  • Screen: 15.6″ FHD 1080p 144Hz
  • Storage: Up to 1TB SSD
  • Battery: 5 Hours
  • Weight: 4.63 lbs
The Latest Razer Blade 15 is great for both college tasks and gaming.

Pros:

  • Premium build quality.
  • Solid gaming performance.
  • Wide range of CPU/GPU combo available.

Cons:

  • Trackpad could’ve been better.
  • Expensive compared to the specs.
  • On the heavy Side.
  • Average Battery life.

Product Description

  • GeForce RTX 3060: NVIDIA’s 2nd gen RTX—with new RT Cores, Tensor Cores, and streaming multiprocessors to give the most realistic ray-traced graphics and improved performance.
  • More Power: The 10th Gen Intel Core i7-10750H processor provides the ultimate level of performance with up to 5.0GHz Max Turbo and 6 cores.
  • FHD 144Hz: Incredible performance paired with the fast 144Hz 15.6″ Full HD thin-bezel display helps edge out the win.
  • Thin and Compact: The CNC aluminum unibody frame houses incredible performance in the most compact footprint possible, while remaining remarkably durable and just 0.78″ thin.
  • Ready To Connect: Fully loaded with Wi-Fi 6, Gigabit Ethernet, Thunderbolt 3, USB Type-A and Type-C ports, and HDMI, for a desktop-class experience.
  • Make It Yours: Customize the backlight color of the keyboard with Razer Chroma, and expand the memory and storage, making the Razer Blade 15 uniquely yours.

The updated version of Razer Blade 15 has been around for just a few months. And already it’s become one of the best gaming laptops around. It’s relatively thin and light compared to older bulky beasts, while also providing decent battery backup.

The laptop is designed with gaming in mind. It’s a great option if you’re looking to get the best gaming experience. As for performance, The pairing of 10th gen core i7 and an RTX 3060 GPU can easily produce three-digit frame rates. You can also buy the RTX3080 model if you’re looking for some serious performance.

The premium 144Hz display is smooth enough for usual gamers. But competitive gamers should go for the 165Hz version.

Unless you are under a tight budget, This laptop is perfect for your college works as well as gaming.

3. Asus TUF Dash F15 (2021)Best Budget Pick

  • CPU: Intel Core i7-11370H
  • GPU: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050Ti
  • RAM: 8GB
  • Screen: 15.6” IPS FHD 144Hz
  • Storage: 512GB SSD
  • Battery: 8 Hours
  • Weight: 4.4 lbs
Asus TUF 15 Dash is an excelent budget laptop for gamers cum college students.

Pros:

  • Decent gaming performance.
  • Great battery life.
  • Compact design.
  • Quiet cooling fans.
  • Comfortable keyboard.

Cons:

  • No webcam or biometric features.
  • Screen could tilt back more.

Product Description

  • NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050Ti 4GB GDDR6 up to 1585MHz at 60W (75W with Dynamic Boost 2.0).
  • Intel Core i7-11370H processor (12M Cache, up to 4.8GHz).
  • 15.6” 144Hz IPS-Type Full HD (1920×1080) display with adaptive sync.
  • 8GB DDR4 RAM | 512GB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD | Backlit Precision Gaming Keyboard | Windows 10 Home.
  • 0.8” thin, 4.4 lbs ultraportable form-factor.

Asus TUF series has introduced many great budget machines, and this one is one of their best. Under a thousand bucks, you get a combo of the latest 11th gen core i7 and a capable RTX 3050Ti GPU. And along with its smooth 144Hz refresh-rate display, it’s a well-designed machine for gaming under budget.

The laptop also has excellent battery life and moderate portability. You can easily take it to college and spend a whole day without charging.

If you’re looking for a budget-friendly gaming machine for college, the Dash F15 is absolutely perfect for you.

4. MSI Stealth 15M Gaming LaptopA Portable Workhorse

  • CPU: Intel Core i7-11375H
  • GPU: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060
  • RAM: 16GB
  • Screen: 15.6” IPS HD 144Hz
  • Storage: 512GB SSD
  • Battery: 6 Hours
  • Weight: 3.7 lbs
The MSI Stealth 15M is a highly portable gaming laptop.

Pros:

  • Sleek and compact.
  • Strong RTX3060 performance.
  • Portable for a gaming machine.

Cons:

  • Gets Hot under heavy load.
  • Average battery life.

Product Description

  • Visual Performance: The 15.6” 144hz display delivers true-to-life images with a high refresh rate so you can see every frame of the game.
  • Redefined Power: The 11th Gen. Intel Core i7 processor, delivers high performance with cores, take on any games and applications with ease.
  • Supercharged Graphics: The MSI Stealth 15M is powered by a NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060, take on today’s most popular games with these performance graphics.
  • On the Go Gaming: Designed to be thin and light for gamers to carry around every day for games, study, or work.
  • Cool and Powerful: MSI’s exclusive Cooler Boost Technology ensures optimal thermal dissipation. Featuring state of the art fans and heat pipes, get the airflow you need for gaming.
  • Versatile Connections: The Stealth 15M features a wide range of I/O ports, Thunderbolt 4 supporting power delivery and up to 40Gbps of data transfer and USB 4.0.

With a net weight of 3.7 pounds, the MSI Stealth 15M is one of the most portable and yet capable laptops for gaming. The laptop comes with 11th gen core i7 and an RTX 3060 graphics unit. We also found that in the benchmark, the RTX 3060 scores much higher than average. So you can expect excellent graphics performance.

It’s lightweight, weighing just above 3 and a half pounds. But the battery backup isn’t top-notch. It may not be the ideal choice if you have to spend long hours in college. On average, you can expect 5-6 hours of screen on time under normal workload.

5. Asus ROG Strix G15 Advantage Edition – Performance Beast

  • CPU: AMD Ryzen 9-5900HX
  • GPU: Radeon RX 6800M
  • RAM: 16GB
  • Screen: 15.6″ HD IPS 300Hz 3ms
  • Storage: 512GB SSD
  • Battery: 10 Hours
  • Weight: 5.29 lbs
Asus ROG Strix G15 is a powerful machine that can fit in your backpack.

Pros:

  • Attractive design.
  • Incredible performance for the price.
  • Excellent battery life.
  • Good audio.
  • 300Hz screen.

Cons:

  • No webcam.
  • No biometric authentication.
  • Heavy and bulky.

Product Description

  • 15.6″ 300Hz 3ms IPS Full HD (1920 x 1080) Anti-Glare Display.
  • AMD Radeon RX 6800M 12GB GDDR6 (130W~180W).
  • AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX 8 Cores (3.3GHz-4.6GHz, 16MB Cache).
  • 16GB (2x 8GB) DDR4 3200MHz.
  • 512GB PCIe NVMe SSD.
  • 1x HDMI 2.0b, 3x USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A, 1x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C support DisplayPort / power delivery / G-SYNC, 1x RJ45 LAN port.
  • Backlit Chiclet Keyboard 4-Zone RGB.RGB light bar. Swappable Armor caps. Vapor chamber. IR sensor. Two-Way AI Noise Cancelation. Wi-Fi 6.Bluetooth 5.1. Windows 10.

Now here’s a capable performer. In this list of best gaming laptops for college, We excluded heavier laptops since they aren’t ideal for carrying in a backpack. But we just had to make an exception for this performance beast from Asus.

The ROG Strix G15 Advantage Edition sports the latest AMD Ryzen 9-5900HX, Radeon RX 6800M graphics unit. The AMD duo provides excellent performance as well as decent battery life. It also comes with a 15.6-inch 300Hz display with a rated response time of 3ms.

The laptop isn’t very portable since it weighs more than 5lbs. Not the best suit for a college student, but it’s a good choice if you want serious performance under a budget.

6. Lenovo Legion 5 – Budget Beast

  • CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 4800H
  • GPU: NVIDIA GTX 1660Ti
  • RAM: 16GB
  • Screen: 15.6” IPS FHD 144Hz
  • Storage: 512GB SSD
  • Battery: 10 Hours
  • Weight: 5.4 lbs
Lenovo Legion 5 - High performance Budget machine for college.

Pros:

  • Compact and Stylish design.
  • Blazing-fast GTX Graphics.
  • Decent Battery backup.
  • High quality keyboard.

Cons:

  • A little heavy for backpacks.

Product Description

  • Welcome to the next generation of gaming performance with the AMD Ryzen 7 4800H mobile processor, 16GB 3200MHz DDR4 memory, and 512GB M.2 NVMe PCIe SSD storage.
  • Enjoy fast refresh and deep colors with a 144 Hz refresh rate and outstanding clarity on a 15.6″ FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS display.
  • The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660Ti GPU is a blazing-fast supercharger for your favorite games and the newest titles.
  • Get maximum performance via Dual Burn Support, which pushes the CPU and GPU together for improved framerates, and Legion Coldfront 2.0 for thermal tuning.
  • The Legion TrueStrike keyboard with soft-landing switches delivers hair-trigger inputs.

The Legion 5 is a well-designed gaming laptop from Lenovo. Built around gaming performance, it sports a powerful Ryzen 7 processor and a blazing-fast GTX 1660Ti GPU. Under 1200 bucks, it’s one of the fastest machines you can get right now.

Its 15.6 inch IPS screen has a 144Hz refresh rate, which provides excellent clarity and smoothness when gaming. Its TrueStrike Keyboard is also designed and optimized for gaming.

The only downside is the weight. At around 5.4 pounds, it’s not the lightest option. But its thin and compact design takes less space, so it fits easily in a backpack. Plus, it provides excellent battery backup for a gaming laptop. So I’ll just leave it to you to decide whether it’s good enough for college or not.

7. MSI GF65 Thin

  • CPU: Intel Core i7-10750H
  • GPU: NVIDIA GeForce RTX3060 Max-Q
  • RAM: 16GB
  • Screen: 15.6″ HD IPS 144Hz 3ms
  • Storage: 512GB NVMe SSD
  • Battery: 6 Hours
  • Weight: 4.10 lbs
MSI GF65 Thin - a great choice for college and gaming.

Pros:

  • Higher-end RTX graphics for its price.
  • Lightweight and portable.

Cons:

  • Short battery life.

Product Description

  • 15.6″ FHD, IPS-Level 144Hz 45% NTSC.
  • Intel Core i7-10750H 2.6-5.0 GHz.
  • NVIDIA GeForce RTX3060 Max-Q 6GB GDDR6.
  • 16GB (8G*2) DDR4 3200MHz; 2 Sockets, Max Memory 64GB.
  • 512GB NVMe SSD.
  • RTL8111HS-CG | Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX201(2*2 ax) | BT 5.1

MSI sure knows how to build a gaming laptop. The GF65 Thin is an entry-level gaming laptop, but it’s designed expertly to meet the needs of a gamer.

It comes with 10th gen core i7 and GeForce RTX3060 Max-Q. Compared to the price, the laptop offers a high-end GPU that’s capable of some serious performance.

It also has a 3ms 144Hz IPS display for smooth gaming. The only feature it falls short in is the battery. It can barely pass 6 hours in the video playback test. So if you spend a lot of time outdoors, this may not be the best choice.

8. Acer Nitro 5 (2021) – Budget Pick

  • CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 5600H
  • GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650
  • RAM: 8GB
  • Screen: 15.6″ HD IPS 144Hz
  • Storage: 256GB NVMe SSD
  • Battery: 11 Hours
  • Weight: 4.8 lbs
The Acer Nitro 5 has excellent battery backup to meet your day-to day colelge needs.

Pros:

  • Excellent CPU performance.
  • Great battery backup.

Cons:

  • The screen isn’t very bright.
  • Too heavy for a backpack.

Product Description

  • AMD Ryzen 5 5600H Mobile Processor (6-core/12-thread, 19MB cache, up to 4.2 GHz max boost) with Radeon Graphics | Windows 10 Home.
  • 15.6″ Full HD (1920 x 1080) Widescreen LED-backlit IPS Display with 144Hz Refresh Rate | 16:9 aspect ratio.
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 with 4 GB of dedicated GDDR6 VRAM.
  • 8GB DDR4 3200MHz Memory | 256GB NVMe SSD.
  • 802.11ax Wi-Fi 6 Dual-Band 2.4GHz and 5GHz featuring 2×2 MU-MIMO technology | LAN: Killer Ethernet E2600 Gigabit Ethernet LAN | Bluetooth 5.1

The Acer Nitro 5 is a laptop first released in 2017. And in 2021, its latest version has become one of the best budget gaming machines.

The Laptop comes with AMD Ryzen 5 and GeForce GTX 1650 Ti GPU. And its fast 144Hz screen ensures a smooth gaming experience.

The Acer Nitro 5 also offers great battery life. In a video playback test, it ran for a whopping 11 hours. And nearly 5 pounds in weight, it’s not the most portable laptop on this list. But if you’re looking for a low-cost option with decent performance, this is it.

Do you really need a laptop in college?

Generally, yes. No matter your department, a laptop is more like a prerequisite for college nowadays.

A laptop allows you to manage your college works in an easy and efficient way. It can also help you with note-taking and reading books. Even if your subject has no relation with computers, the convenience of having a laptop for college works is huge.

Gaming Addiction in College

Since you decided to buy a gaming laptop for college, it’s clear that you love to play video games. So there are a few things that you should know.

Let’s admit it, gaming isn’t inherently bad. It can be a great way to spend quality time with friends and release stress. But it can also become an addiction easily. Imagine skipping classes to play Overwatch with friends. I’ve seen a lot of people doing just that.

Try to limit gaming, especially if you’re a college student. College life is a very important period, the rest of your life depends on how you utilize this period. You really don’t wanna spend too much time on gaming, well, unless you are aiming to make it a career.

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