In a few short weeks, we should have the first batch of next-gen gaming laptops rolling out. Nvidia promised we’ll see machines that were announced at CES in February, and we’ve already gotten a good taste of the notebooks that will define the list of the best gaming laptops for the next year. But you shouldn’t wait to buy one.
AMD, Nvidia, and Intel all have next-gen components to power 2023’s gaming laptops, and they’re sure to bring a leap in performance. They also look to bring a leap in price, and with last-gen options going for so cheap right now, we’re in a situation where you can spend less money and get a more powerful laptop.
Next-gen gaming laptops are much more expensive
The main problem with waiting on a next-gen gaming laptop is that they’re getting more expensive. We recently highlighted MSI’s upcoming Cyborg as an example of what a $1,000 gaming laptop will look like in 2023. This is the lowest price, too. When Nvidia announced its RTX 40-series mobile graphics, it said laptops would start at $1,000.
RTX 3050 laptops started around $800. That’s already cheaper, but there’s an important note for the MSI Cyborg. It comes with a last-gen Intel processor, presumably to keep the price low. It’s hard to say with so few prices to go on, but that could be a trend we see with RTX 40-series gaming laptops.
It’s possible we won’t see too many models at that price, though. Nvidia announced that laptops with an RTX 4080 or RTX 4090 would start at $2,000, but an early price leak of upcoming XMG laptops shows that you’ll spend around $4,000 for an RTX 4090 and $3,500 for an RTX 4080. This paints Nvidia’s upcoming generation in a different light, showing that the RTX 4090 may represent upwards of a $2,000 increase to the base price of a laptop (more than the price of a desktop RTX 4090).
XMG isn’t the only one. The Alienware x16, for example, starts at $3,100 with an RTX 4050. The Alienware x14 starts at only $1,800, but that’s with a last-gen RTX 3050. Similarly, the Razer Blade 16 with an RTX 4060 starts at a cool $2,700.
Although we could see gaming laptops around the same price as the previous generation, I’m not holding my breath. Nvidia’s latest desktop GPUs have seen massive price increases, and there’s no reason to believe the mobile range won’t follow suit. Even if we do, last year’s models are going for bargain bin prices right now, and you can buy a much more powerful laptop for the same price as a new RTX 40-series machine.
What you should buy instead
We’re still waiting on prices for a lot of next-gen laptops, but last year’s stock is being offered at clearance prices already. Using the prices of around $1,000 and $2,000, here are the last-gen gaming laptops you should buy instead.
Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 – $450 off
By far, the best gaming laptop deal you can get right now is on the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14. I picked one up in the middle of last year for full price, and although I’m kicking myself for not waiting on this deal, I’ve enjoyed every minute with this laptop.
It’s been marked down anywhere from $400 to $600 for the last several months (it can be had for $1,200). For that price, you’re getting a Radeon RX 6700S and AMD Ryzen 9 6900HS, along with a 1600p 120Hz screen. A preliminary leak of the upcoming RTX 4050 mobile shows it’s around 15% faster than last-gen’s RTX 3050. The RX 6700S inside the 2022 Zephyrus G14 is around 25% to 30% faster than that card.
Lenovo Legion 5i Pro – $600 off
Read our Lenovo Legion 5i Pro review for a full breakdown of this laptop, but it’s easy to say upfront that it’s one of the best gaming laptops you can buy. Lenovo’s Legion machines have a bit of thermal secret sauce that allow them to hit performance much higher than their specs would suggest. The RTX 3070 Ti inside the Legion 5i Pro even competes with the RTX 3080 Ti inside the Razer Blade 17.
Now down to $2,000, it’s the same price as the cheapest RTX 4080 laptop we’ll see. And for a machine with similar quality, including an excellent screen and keyboard, you’ll likely spend far more. The model I’m recommending comes with an Intel Core i7-12700H and RTX 3070 Ti. I’m sure it’ll be outclassed by RTX 4080 laptops, but I have a hard time believing a next-gen machine will be able to touch the price of the Legion 5i Pro right now.