Best high performance laptops: Top 5 picks!

When it comes to running intensive applications, most people will recommend a desktop. But over the past 10 years, high performance laptops have become phenomenally more powerful to the extent that they have already replaced desktops in many business applications. Desktops still offer a better price/performance ratio over laptops, and not to mention the fact that you have way more upgrade options with a desktop. Laptops are more limited when it comes to components and upgradability, however, they offer portability, and in the age of mobile computing that’s a huge advantage. This article is not about whether you should choose a laptop or a desktop, but rather about finding the best high performance laptop that can run heavy applications, run 3D modeling software, run AAA games at the highest settings…etc; because if you’re on this page you are likely to have already made a decision!

What is a high performance laptop?

A “High Performance” laptop is a broad term to refer to laptops that can handle ultra-demanding workloads. They are usually bulkier and more expensive because of they have high end components. Before picking up a high performance laptop, it is necessary to determine what kind of “speed” and “performance” you need: for example, a mobile workstation will work very well with CAD and 3D modeling software, but it’s not the best choice for gaming.

What to consider when choosing a high performance laptop?

To answer this question you must first make a list of the heavy tasks you expect your laptop to handle: Will you be compiling big programs, working with CAD software and rendering 3D shapes, editing videos, or simply need a powerful gaming rig that can handle the latest AAA games at the highest settings? To help you out, here are the mains components to consider:

Processor (CPU):  The CPU is the heart of your laptop, there are two things to consider, the clock speed or frequency (number of operations the CPU can do per second) and the number of cores (the number of physical cores the CPU contains). There are two main manufacturers of computer processors: Intel and AMD; But we’ll only talk about Intel processors since they are the most popular. For a high performance laptop, always choose a laptop with a quad core CPU; this means that the processor has 4 cores working together. For example: the Intel Core i7-7500U has a base clock speed of 2.6GHz, and so does the Intel Core i7-7700HQ, however the 7700HQ has 4 cores when the 7500U only has 2. For CPU intensive applications, such as video editing, going with a “HQ” will save loads of time.

RAM:  When it comes to RAM, it’s simpler: get as much RAM as you can on your laptop! We usually recommend 8GB as a minimum for a laptop in 2018, however, for running heavy applications such as CAD software, video editing, or compiling huge files, the minimum RAM can change. Most high end laptops usually come with 16GB or 32GB of RAM.

Graphic Card (GPU): A dedicated graphics card is mandatory if you’re looking for a laptop for gaming, but it can also be very important if you do any GPU intensive work, that could be CAD software, and video editing for example.  Just like Intel for processors, Nvidia is the market leader when it comes to dedicated graphics.

Storage:  You probably already know it, but whenever you have the choice, choose a laptop with a Solid State Drive (SSD). An SSD bring a huge boost to performance, boot times, and app launching times. Compared to traditional hard drives, they are more expensive, and that’s why their storage capacity is still limited. So if you need more storage capacity, consider getting a laptop that has two drives (SSD+HDD).

Display:  There are three main things to consider when looking into laptops’ screens: the screen size, screen resolution, and color reproduction. There are two types of laptop screens: IPS and TN screens. For a high performance laptop, an IPS panel is highly recommended because they provide wider viewing angles, better contrasts and better color reproduction. This is particularly important if you do any color critical work, such as video or photo editing. A TN panel is recommended in case you’re looking for a gaming laptop: TN panel have a higher refresh rates than IPS panels, and they are more suitable for gaming.

 

Best high performance laptops as of 2018:

 

Dell XPS 9560-7001SLV-PUS: A premium high performance ultrabook

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Powered by a 7th gen Intel core i7 7700HQ processor, the Dell XPS 9560 not only packs a lot of power, but it’s also one of the sexiest ultrabooks ever released. Let’s first see what we have under the hood: an I7 7700HQ, 16 GB RAM, a 512 GB PCIe SSD, and a dedicated Nvidia GTX 1050.This beautiful piece of hardware can tackle any task you throw at it. It can handle intensive tasks such as video editing and CAD software, and also gaming. While you can’t expect to run the latest AAA games at their highest settings with the GTX 1050, you should be perfectly fine as long as the settings are low-medium.

The build quality is also another huge selling point for the Dell XPS 9560: the chassis is made of aluminum and carbon fiber and the overall design screams premium quality. The keyboard is very good and the travel distance is decent considering the laptop is only 0.66 inch thick.

The Dell XPS 9560 also comes with a gorgeous 15.6 inch 4K touch screen, one of the most beautiful screens you’ll ever see on a laptop. It is an IPS screen, and as expected viewing angles are more than generous, and the color accuracy is simply impressive. But what is more impressive is the battery life, considering the specs of the Dell XPS 9560 and the 4K touch; you’d think it won’t last long; but no; the Dell XPS 9560 surprises us here too. Although this will depend on the usage, average battery life is between 6 to 8 hours.

Processor Intel Core i7-7700HQ  Processor
RAM 16GB
Storage 512GB, PCIe SSD
Graphics Dedicated, Nvidia GTX 1050
Screen 15,6”, 3840 x 2160, IPS
Connectivity and Ports 1 – USB type c

2- USB 2.0 port

1 – HDMI port,

Card reader, Bluetooth 4.2

Battery up to 10 hours battery life

 

Acer Predator 17 Gaming Laptop:  a desktop replacement with plenty of power

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The Acer Predator 17 is one of best options out there if you’re looking for a relatively affordable gaming laptop to use as your main computer. The specs include a 7th generation i7-7700HQ Processor, 16GB of RAM, 256GB of SSD storage in addition to 1TB standard hard drive, and a dedicated GTX 1070 graphics card with 8GB of dedicated DDR5 VRAM. For both work and entertainment, the Acer Predator 17 has plenty of sheer power.

In terms of build quality, the Predator 17 feels sturdy and substantial; with a typical “gaming laptop” design in red and black. To keep the laptop cool during gaming sessions, Acer also provides a second fan that you can replace the DVD drive with.

Last and not the least is the display, the Predator 17 has a 17,3 inch IPS screen, at Full HD resolution. Color accuracy is decent out of the box and can be improved by calibrating. The Predator 17 also manages to produce 100% sRGB and 88% AdobeRGB colors, which is good news if you need a laptop for photo editing, or video editing.

Processor Intel Core i7-7700HQ  Processor
RAM 16GB
Storage 256GB SSD + 1TB HDD
Graphics Dedicated, Nvidia GTX 1070
Screen 17,3”, 1920 x 1080, IPS
Connectivity and Ports 1 – USB type c /Thunderbolt 3

4- USB 3.0 port

1 – HDMI port, 1 Display port

Card reader, Bluetooth 4.2

Battery up to 3 hours battery life

 

Asus ROG Strix GL702VI-WB74: unbeatable performance

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The Asus ROG Strix GL702VI-WB74 packs a quad-core Intel Core i7 7700HQ processor and a powerful NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 graphics card, making it one of the most powerful gaming laptops you can get right now. For buttery smooth multitasking and a fluid experience, the Asus ROG Strix also has 16GB of DDR4 RAM, a 256GB PCIe M2 SSD and an additional 1TB HDD.

The screen is one big factor why you might want to choose the ROG Strix GL702VI-WB74 over another gaming machine: this laptop comes with a 17,3 inch Full HD IPS screen, with a refresh rate of 120Hz and a G-Synch technology. However, there are some minors things to consider here too: as most IPS panels, there is some light bleeding when displaying dark content; and also the response time is very average, especially when compared against TN panels.

Processor Intel Core i7-7700HQ  Processor
RAM 16GB
Storage 256GB SSD + 1TB HDD
Graphics Dedicated, Nvidia GTX 1080
Screen 17,3”, 1920 x 1080, IPS
Connectivity and Ports 1 – USB type c

3- USB 3.0 port

1 – HDMI port, 1 mini Display port

Card reader, Bluetooth 4.2

Battery up to 4 hours battery life

 

ASUS FX503VM: a compact gaming beast

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The ASUS FX503 is equipped with a 7th generation quad core i7-7700HQ processor, 16GB of RAM, a dual 128GB and 1TB storage capacity, and a dedicated Nvidia GTX 1060 with 3GB of VRAM. If you are looking for an affordable high performance laptop that you can also use for casual gaming, then the ASUS FX503 should be on your short list. For example, even intensive games such as Shadow of war on ultra run at a very good 45-65 fps, which is impressive considering the size and price tag of this laptop. The only downside is that the laptop can get quite hot during long gaming sessions and the loud fans kick in.

The FX503 also features a 15.6-inch Full HD display.  And even though it’s not an IPS panel, the viewing angles still deliver decent contrast and color consistency, and the typical TN panels’ color shift is also reduced.

Processor Intel Core i7-7700HQ  Processor
RAM 16GB
Storage 128GB SSD + 1TB HDD
Graphics Dedicated, Nvidia GTX 1060 3GB
Screen 15,6”, 1920 x 1080, IPS
Connectivity and Ports 2-  USB 3.1 port

1 – HDMI port, 1 mini Display port, RJ45

Card reader, Bluetooth 4.1

Battery up to 6 hours battery life

Lenovo Legion Y720: a well equipped gaming laptop with serious power

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Packing a 7th gen core i7-7700HQ processor and a GTX 1060, the Lenovo Legion Y720 is for those who want a powerful gaming laptop that can also be used away from the outlets. The specs also include 16GB of RAM and a blazing fast 256GB PCIe SSD. The Legion Y720 not only can handle Full HD gaming at the highest settings, but also other intensive tasks such as video editing, or 3D modeling in CAD software.

As for the design, it’s a typical gaming notebook look with a black chassis and red trims. The build quality feels very premium and the body is made from textured aluminum while the keyboard has a pleasant matte finish. However, it’s a fingerprints magnet and the laptop starts to look dirty easily.

Processor Intel Core i7-7700HQ  Processor
RAM 16GB
Storage 256GB SSD
Graphics Dedicated, Nvidia GTX 1060 6GB
Screen 15,6”, 1920 x 1080, IPS
Connectivity and Ports 3- USB 3.0 ports

1 – HDMI port, RJ45

Card reader, Bluetooth 4.1

Battery up to 6 hours battery life

 

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