A gaming laptop’s GPU matters just as much as its CPU and other components. Given that any gaming laptop worth the name has some sort of discrete graphics, we’ll go through all the mobile GPUs available and tell you what to expect from each one, and point you to some laptops that carry them. 

This year in particular has yielded a slew of options for laptop graphics. To help you make the right decision, we’ve compiled performance scores from more than a dozen different GPUs and laptops, and then boiled it all down into easy guidelines for every budget.

Laptop GPU performance in a nutshell

best gpu for gaming IDG

Here’s roughly what you can expect to see out of the various top GPUs in gaming laptops today. Keep in mind that that the older a game is, the less graphics capability it will require.

The chart above breaks down which resolutions, frame rates, and graphical settings you can expect from the most common laptop GPUs. In it is everything from Nvidia’s top-end GeForce GTX 1080 to the lowly GeForce 940MX. We’ve also updated it with the performance we’re seeing from the Radeon RX Vega M GL component of Intel’s Core i7-8705G.

Want to cut to the chase? Jump below for specific GPU recommendations and laptop examples.

These guidelines are based on Futuremark’s 3DMark Sky Diver benchmark. Though the test isn’t from a real video game, its value actually extends beyond a typical game. Some built-in benchmarks can be influenced by the CPU performance. 3DMark, on the other hand, is inherently a graphics benchmark, and it allows us to focus very narrowly on graphics performance.

Best laptop GPU IDG

Note that 3DMark’s Sky Diver test is a good indication of what to expect when playing lower-intensity or older blockbuster games. If you put a more intensive graphics load in it, you’ll see cards on the lower end of the power scale fall.

For example, in 3DMark’s Fire Strike test, we can see the margin widen between the GeForce GTX 1050 Ti and the GeForce GTX 1050.

Best laptop GPU for gaming IDG

Now that you have a baseline idea of what to expect, let’s break down the best GPU for each common screen resolution. 

Best GPU for 720p gaming

Best: Nvidia GeForce MX150
Best (alternatives): Nvidia GeForce GTX 965M or GTX 960M
Okay: Nvidia GeForce 940MX





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