The 3 Best Thin & Lightweight Gaming Laptops
Many people are looking to buy the best lightweight gaming laptops. Laptops, mobile phones and tablets have become thinner and lighter every day, and from the looks of it, no one is complaining much about it. We love the fact that lightweight gaming laptops don’t compromise when it comes to technology. In fact, most lightweigth gaming laptops that we have seen used high-end technology and the best materials in the laptop industry have made them as competitive as they are stylish. Lightweight laptops have a reputation for being expensive, so you should avoid combining light with cheap ones.
The era of ultrabooks or lightweight gaming laptops began when Steve Jobs pulled MacBook Air out of a manila envelope and there’s been no turning back since! Today, lightweight gaming laptops get by with great computing power and excellent storage capacity, in addition to enormous battery life. They can be described as a mixture of less efficient tablets and heavier laptops. They are lightweight, but offer some top specifications for different purposes and functions.
The lightweight gaming laptops listed here are the light and design-oriented laptops of the new generation. They are thin at 20mm or even less. Most of them are based on MacBook Air in terms of shape, weight, and design. They’re a new breed of laptop, with a thin profile and lower cost than traditional heavy laptops. But they also may not have the traditional peripherals like a DVD burner, multiple USBs, a hard-wired Ethernet port, or additional ports available in traditional Windows notebooks. So let’s take a look at the new generation of ultra-thin, lightweight gaming laptops and see which one fits your needs.
Test Results: Best Thin & Lightweight Gaming Laptops
Ranking First – Performance Winner: Razer Blade 15
- Amazing system and game performance
- Very good image quality
- Fair price-performance ratio
- High Price
Technical data at a glance
A year ago, Razer made the leap from 14.0 to 15.6 inches on the Blade. The larger form factor did the Razer Blade 2019 good in the test, but in view of the high price and the excellent implementation and workmanship in many places, the cooling system on the desktop still attracted negative attention.
Razer first updated the new Razer Blade in January for the presentation of the mobile GeForce RTX GPUs based on Nvidia Turing. However, adjustments were only made to two aspects: the GPUs and the case.
With the GPUs, there are now three options with GeForce RTX 2060, 2070 and 2080 Max-Q, and one of them is significantly stronger than in the predecessor. And the case is now always 17.8 mm thick and thus 0.5 to 1.0 mm thicker than the predecessor.
On the other hand, nothing has changed in the CPU, connections and displays for the January update, so the findings from the test of the Razer Blade 15 2019 from a year ago are still valid. This test is basically dedicated to the now maximum possible gaming performance as well as the cooling system, which has to dissipate up to 50 watts more power loss.
Three performance levels in Razer Synapse
Razer’s Synapse software suite also allows the performance of the new Blade 15 to be adjusted. Three profiles are available: “Balanced”, “Gaming” and “Creator”. What they do in detail? Neither Synapse nor the Reviewer’s Guide nor Razer will tell you on demand. Tests in applications and games do bring the adjustments to light: they affect the CPU and (via the cooling system) the GPU.
“Balanced” limits the CPU to 35 watts TDP, while “Gaming” and “Creator” allow the full 45 watts. With less fast spinning fans, “Balanced”, in contrast to “Gaming”, also puts the GPU under the temperature restraints: In Kingdom Come: Deliverance (UHD) the Razer Blade 15 only reaches 1,150 MHz (“Balanced”) instead of 1,250 MHz (“Gaming”) because it hangs in the temperature limit at 76°C. In return, the volume turns out noticeably lower with 38 to 44 decibels.
|Mode||CPU Package Power 1||GPU clock 2||GPU limit 3||Volume 4|
|Balanced||35 watts||1,150 MHz||temperature||38 dB|
|Gaming||45 watts||1,250 MHz||TDP||44 dB|
|Creator||45 watts||1,100 MHz||TDP||42 dB|
“Creator” is in games at 42 decibels and thus between. This is surprising because the GPU only reaches 1,100 MHz at 70 °C and therefore consumes less. In this mode, the shackle is apparently the graphics card’s TDP.
So it makes a difference in which mode the Razer Blade 15 is operated. However, Razer should also explain the background in Synapse to the experienced user, instead of even hiding it from the press department.
For the following benchmarks, the Razer Blade 15 was equipped with a completely updated “Windows 10 Version 1809” as well as the GeForce 419.67 driver. In applications the profiles “Balanced” and “Creator” were used, in games the profile “Gaming”. All game benchmarks were performed in two different scenarios: One directly after the game start (with “cold” GPU) and one after a warm-up phase in the game (with “warm” GPU).
For a better overview, the game diagrams contain only the identification of the GPUs used in each case. The following list assigns the GPUs to the respective notebooks:
- GeForce RTX 2080 Max-Q – Razer Blade 15 (2020)
- GeForce RTX 2070 Max-Q – Gigabyte Aero 15 (2020)
- GeForce GTX 1080 Mobile – Gigabyte Aorus X7 DT
- GeForce GTX 1070 Max-Q – Razer Blade 15 (2018)
Performance in games
It doesn’t matter to the GeForce RTX 2080 Max-Q in the Razer Blade 15 whether the benchmarks are started right after the game start or a load phase: Whether with “cold” or “warm” GPU, the results are almost the same.
The new fastest model can thus increase by an average of 43 percent in games in Full HD in a “warm-warm comparison” to its predecessor with GeForce GTX 1070 Max-Q. A mobile GeForce GTX 1080 is beaten by 11 percent. The performance leap of GeForce GTX 1080 Mobile to GeForce RTX 2080 Max-Q is thus relatively small.
In Ultra HD it is even 48 percent ahead of the GeForce GTX 1070 Max-Q in the predecessor, the mobile GeForce GTX 1080 in the Gigabyte Aorus X7 DT is beaten by 10 percent. However, the Gigabyte notebook clocks the CPU higher than the Razer Blade in games, which can give it an additional advantage especially in Far Cry 5.
Exactly the opposite effect has to be considered in the following comparison of notebook GPUs with desktop GPUs, because the benchmarks of the desktop graphic cards were created with an overclocked Core i7-8700K.
The GeForce RTX 2080 Max-Q reaches the level of a GeForce GTX 1080 Founders Edition in this comparison, the GeForce RTX 2070 Max-Q just barely reaches the level of a GeForce GTX 1070 Founders Edition. Both variants are almost 20 percent away from the respective desktop counterpart, GeForce RTX 2080 FE and GeForce RTX 2070 FE, respectively.
Performance in applications
In applications, the Razer Blade 15 with Core i7-8750H (6 cores, 12 threads) achieves the performance level expected from a mobile 45 watt CPU. On average, the system is on par with the Core i5-8400 (test) for desktop PCs in “creator” mode, which clocks its six cores higher and thus compensates for the lack of hyper-threading. If the notebook is operated in “balanced” mode and thus TDP reduced to 35 watts, the performance in applications drops by 27 percent.
Razer Blade 15 2018 and Razer Blade 15 2019 with identical Core i7-8750H don’t take anything in the end in balanced mode. In the creator mode, which is only offered on the new model, the new model is also faster here, though.
The Razer Blade 15 with GeForce RTX 2080 Max-Q is not only significantly faster than the old Razer Blade 15 with GeForce GTX 1070 Max-Q, it’s even quieter in operation, although it consumes more (180 to 135 watts on the power outlet in games).
While the old model was up to 48 decibels in gaming mode, it is now only 44 decibels under the same measurement conditions (measured 1.5 feet in front of and 1.8 feet cm above the notebook). This is still louder than most thicker gaming notebooks with a maximum of 40 decibels. But the new lower level is impressive for the form factor.
The volume drops to 38 decibels in “balanced” mode. Considering the performance loss of less than 10 percent, this can be a good decision. If only the CPU is loaded, the notebook reaches 34 decibels under continuous load in Prime95 in “creator” mode (45 watts TDP) and thus remains very quiet.
With an identical CPU, the same battery and a larger GPU, the battery life in PCMark 8 almost reaches the level of its predecessor with a normalized 200 cd/m² brightness, 11 to 15 minutes less runtime is confirmed by the benchmark of the new edition.
Verdict: Best performance for a thin and lightweight gaming laptop
With the change of mobile GPUs from Nvidia Pascal to Turing, the Razer Blade 15 makes another significant performance leap in the largest configuration. Because where previously a maximum of a GeForce GTX 1070 Max-Q was used, a maximum of a GeForce RTX 2080 Max-Q now calculates the 3D worlds. Over 40 percent more performance compared to the fastest predecessor is possible with this. The lightweigtht gaming laptop has great equipment with the Core i7-9750H, 16 GB RAM, 512 GB SSD and FHD display with 240 Hz.
In return, those who stay within one class don’t profit significantly from the switch to Turing, because the jump from GeForce GTX 1070 Max-Q to GeForce RTX 2070 Max-Q is small. Positive: The new configuration with GeForce RTX 2070 Max-Q costs lesst than the old model.
At its priece, the Razer Blade 15 with GeForce RTX 2080 Max-Q is expensive, but it convinces in addition to the performance, the well-known high-quality case and the unchanged very good display, it also convinces on another point: the volume. Although the new top model consumes 45 watts more under load in games and is thus over 40 percent faster, it has even become quieter. Measured 44 to 48 decibels are still louder than in most larger gaming notebooks with often 40 decibels, but for the form factor the result is impressive. And if you do without 10 percent performance and play in “balanced”, you even reach only 38 decibels.
The cooling system is not only positively noticeable in games: In “Balanced” mode, it was noticeable much less in everyday life under Windows than it was in the predecessor, which brought the fan to life under even the smallest load.
The Razer Blade 15 2019 (1st revision) is thus currently the most compact and high-quality gaming notebook with a 15.6 inch display in a high-quality aluminum case, which addresses an annoying problem of its predecessor. Thus, there is still no direct competitor, especially considering the cooling system for Razer.
All in all the performance of the Razer Blade 15 is outstanding and makes it the best thin & lightweight laptop on the market, in our opinion.
The new version of the new edition is here
Once again, the offset from the introduction of a new mobile GPU and CPU generation has caused a very fast generation change (not only) in the Razer Blade. Because the new Razer Blade 15 from January, which was tested here, has already received a successor at the end of April.
While in January only the GPU was changed from Pascal to Turing, now the change from Coffee Lake to Coffee Lake Refresh took place. The newly installed Core i7-9750H offers 400 MHz more base and 500 MHz more single core turbo clock. But it’s not only the CPU that has changed: The displays now also have an option for a Full HD display with 240 Hz or an OLED display with Ultra HD. Razer currently still offers both series in parallel.
240 Hz and new Core i7 at the same price
The new CPU and the 240 Hz full HD display are also available in combination with the GeForce RTX 2080 Max-Q and 512 GB SSD memory for the same price. For the model with GeForce RTX 2070 Max-Q, the very latest version costs 100 Dollar more.
Ranking Second – Best Price: Acer Predator Triton 500
- Stylish case with small dimensions & very lightweight
- Great Battery
- Very compact power supply
- Thunderbolt 3 support
- Fan noise under load
Thin & lightweight gaming laptop: In detail
High hardware performance and a slim design do not go together? Yes, they do! Manufacturer Acer proves it with its gaming laptop Predator Triton 500, which meets the highest demands of gaming enthusiasts with its light weight and arrow-fast interior.
While gaming laptops used to be heavyweights not only in terms of their inner workings, but also literally rest on the shoulders of their owners during transport, several manufacturers now offer compact, but no less powerful models. Acer’s Predator Triton 500 is even slimmer and lighter than the Taiwanese hardware expert’s Nitro 5, but with even more power.
One device, many versions
Acer currently offers the Predator Triton 500 with various hardware components, whereby the graphics cards generally come from NVIDIA’s RTX series. The smallest possible GPU is a GeForce RTX 2060, but there are also somewhat more expensive variants with the RTX 2070 and the even more powerful RTX 2080 Max-Q. There are also currently three Intel variants available for the main processor. In addition to the quad-core Intel Core i5-8300H (2.3 GHz basic clock rate each), there are CPU variants with the six-core i7-8750H (2.1 GHz basic clock rate each) and the i7-9750H.
You can also choose between 8 and 16 GB RAM. A fast SSD with 512 GB volume is normally installed. All variants of the Triton 500 have the slim design in common. When closed, the height of the laptop is just 7.4 inches, the weight is about 4.41 lbs (without the external power supply). All versions also feature a 15.6-inch display that supports NVIDIA’s G-Sync technology, effectively eliminating tearing effects. A high refresh rate of 144 Hz is also provided. The display itself only supports Full HD resolution, but this is not a disadvantage due to the small distance to the monitor.
Slim on the outside, powerful inside
The Triton 500 model we tested is one of the top-of-the-line models with GeForce RTX 2060, 16 GB DDR4 RAM, 512 GB SSD and i7-8750H CPU from Intel. Recently, Acer started offering an otherwise identical model with the i7-9750H, i.e. a ninth generation CPU. The built-in i7-8750H is clocked at 2.1 GHz, but overclocking up to 4.1 GHz is possible. The RTX 2060 Max-Q accesses 6 GB GDDR6 memory just like the large desktop variant, but is smaller and has a lower power consumption. The latter is however due to the lower boost clock, whose maximum is officially 1’095 MHz. Desktop versions of the RTX 2060 usually reach around 1’800 MHz.
Apart from the 512 GB SSD array with PCIe connection, there is no additional internal hard disk space. But of course you can connect an external drive via one of the three USB 3.0 ports without any problems. In addition, there is one port each for USB-C and Thunderbolt 2. Despite the WLAN option with killer hardware, Bluetooth 5.0 is of course also possible, Acer doesn’t do without a Gigabit Ethernet connection, which just about fits into the low case. Of course, you can also connect headphones and a microphone or headset via USB or a 3.5 mm jack plug. The 15.6-inch IPS panel, which is identical on all Triton models, offers good contrast and leaves nothing to be desired with its 3 ms response time and a refresh rate of 144 Hz. However, if you want to play your games in 4K, you have to output the picture signal via HDMI to a suitable external monitor. The resolution of the IPS display is a maximum of 1’920 x 1’080 pixels.
Overall, the design is rather simple. Away from the LED-illuminated keyboard, which shimmers in a pretty blue and thus also allows playing in a darkened room, anthracite and black shares predominate. However, the varnishing of the stable device, which is mainly made of aluminum and plastic (underside), gets dirty relatively easily. Fingerprints are already clearly visible after the first touch, which also applies to the very good and directly working touchpad (101 x 61 mm). The keys, a number pad doesn’t exist, are generously sized with 0.6 inches in readiness and length and score with a hard stroke, which remotely reminds of Apple’s keyboards. Professional typing – the office package is included in the rather lavish software offer – is also possible on the Triton 500, should it ever be used as a work tool. Remarkable, considering the powerful hardware components, is the Triton 500’s low weight of just 4.41 lbs and its slim dimensions, which make it the best thin & lightweight gaming laptop with regard to price-performance ratio. The case is 14.11 x 10.04 x 0.70 inches when the screen is folded up.
It’s getting hotter slowly
The compact design of the Triton 500 has of course the disadvantage that the cooling especially of CPU and GPU becomes more difficult. There are air inlets on the bottom side, so it’s not recommended to place the unit on an uneven surface or even one with a fabric cover, as well as on the left and right side of the case. The largest air intakes, through which the fans dissipate most of the heat to the outside, are located on the back. Whilst no great heat development is noticeable in normal desktop use, the Triton 500 gets quite warm after just a few minutes in play. Parts of the case heat up noticeably in temperature ranges that come close to the normal human body temperature. However, the laptop didn’t get any warmer after longer gaming sessions, whereby CPU and GPU inside reach peak values of around 80 degrees Celsius according to Acer’s integrated monitoring tool. However, we couldn’t make out any performance losses due to excessive heat development despite additional relatively high outside temperatures of 22 to 27 degrees Celsius.
This also applies to the so-called turbo mode, with which you initiate the overclocking of the CPU to 4.1 GHz at the push of a button. The only difference is that the internal fans then turn up quite a bit, whereby the Triton 500 reaches about the volume of a PS4 Pro under full load (about 50 decibels) – but with the difference that you are considerably closer to the noise source than would normally be the case with a Sony console. If you use headphones while playing games, you’ll probably hardly notice this. Without, the noise is definitely disturbing when playing games, as it is either always clearly audible or you have to increase the volume of the good internal speakers to drown out the fans. The adapter also gets very warm during gaming. This caused us serious worries during the test, which turned out to be unfounded in the end.
Great performance in 1080p
Of course, you don’t buy a gaming laptop primarily to play browser games on the road, but also to enjoy graphically elaborate games like “Assassin’s Creed Odyssey” in all its glory. In all games we tested, besides “Odyssey” among others “Metro Exodus”, “Far Cry: New Dawn” and “Rage 2”, the Triton 500 left nothing to be desired. In all cases, the Acer laptop displays the titles smoothly with the highest possible graphic settings and doesn’t bend its knees even in scenes that demand everything from the RTX 2060. Most of the time it’s not even necessary to activate turbo mode, which is why the described volume problem doesn’t necessarily exist due to the accelerated fans, even with the highest graphic quality.
However, this only applies without any major restrictions at the maximum resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels supported by the internal display. Of course, you can also use the Triton 500 for gaming in 4K resolution, but you will need to use an external monitor that can be connected via HDMI. For 4K-resolutions the powerful hardware of the Triton 500 is not always sufficient for maximum details, especially in “Assassin’s Creed Odyssey” you have to move some of the graphic sliders down to avoid being disturbed by massive drops in frame rate in ancient Greece. In other games like “Rage 2” or the latest part of the “Far Cry” series, 4K gaming is mostly still very fluid at maximum details. The loading times are generally pleasingly short thanks to the SSD connection.
Power connection recommended
Like pretty much all gaming laptops, the Predator Triton 500 runs out of steam pretty quickly without the power adapter being connected. We were able to play for a maximum of 90 minutes, and when using the browser we had a maximum of a little more than five hours before we had to plug the adapter in again. But even with the power supply plugged in, you theoretically can’t play forever, since it is obviously slightly undersized. If you’re playing graphically more complex games, the battery will empty while playing and won’t be able to replenish its resources. But then there’s never anything in the way of gaming sessions of three to five hours or more in a row. When turned off, the permanently installed battery is fully charged again in less than two hours, even if it was more or less completely empty before.
Verdict: Best price-performance ratio for a thin & lightweight gaming laptop
On the outside, Acer’s Predator Triton 500 may not have much to offer with its simple design. But the device convinces in terms of performance with its potent hardware, which, at least in its native resolution in 1080p, displays almost every current game smoothly in the best possible quality. At best, you could criticize the high volume in turbo mode or the lavish price, which is quite appropriate for the performance and the manufacturing quality. Because this gaming laptop is not only sufficient today, but probably also for the next two or three years, in order to be able to play the vast majority of games in high quality and with a reasonably high frame rate. PC enthusiasts who do not want to settle for a “minimal solution” will in any case get a laptop that is worth its money, can be easily transported thanks to its compact, no-frills design, and convinces with inner values instead of primarily focusing on negligible external appearances. The Triton 500 deserves our “Best price-performance ratio” awrad in the thin & light gaming laptop category.
Ranking Third: Gigabyte AERO 15
- Excellent gaming performance
- High-quality keyboard with customizable lighting
- Comparatively slim design
- Fair price
- Hot and noisy under load
- Display luminosity and contrast
Great thin & lightweight gaming laptop
For a gaming notebook, the GIGABYTE AERO 15 OLED SA takes an interesting approach. Instead of the graphics card, the screen is the center of attention in this model. We took a closer look at the device in the practical test!
The most important technical data:
|Size||15.6 inches / 39.6 cm|
|Processor||Intel Core i7-9750H|
|Graphics card||NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 Ti|
|Random access memory (RAM)||16 GB DDR4|
|Storage space||M.2 SSD (512 GB)|
Design and finish
Seen from the outside, the notebook makes a simple and very high-quality impression. A colorful RGB lighting is not to be found. There is only an “AERO” lettering on the case lid, which glows white as soon as the device is turned on. The ventilation slits on the notebook’s bottom are very conspicuously designed. But you usually don’t see them anyway.
The compact notebook lies well in the hand and is also easy to transport due to its relatively low weight. The gaps are even and even under pressure nothing creaks at all. The low weight and thin design is great for mobility for a gaming laptop.
The hinge also makes a stable impression. The screen can thus be folded back by about 140 degrees. The 15.6 inch display has extremely narrow edges. Only the lower frame, as known from other notebooks, is wider.
Above the keyboard there is a webcam that can be closed with the help of a small slider, the power button and the loudspeakers. Below the keyboard there is the touchpad, in which a small fingerprint sensor has been integrated. As the following tests have shown, this works quickly and reliably. When the notebook is turned on, the keyboard welcomes us with a chic rainbow effect. The lighting can also be turned off if desired or immersed in a simple white if necessary.
Interim conclusion: The GIGABYTE AERO 15 OLED SA undoubtedly looks like a high-end notebook. It makes a robust impression, lies well in the hand and remains optically discreet – with the exception of the (adjustable) RGB lighting of the keyboard.
The connection possibilities of the notebook are manifold. On the left side there is an HDMI output, a USB-A port, a USB type C port, a headphone/microphone combo port and even a LAN port.
On the right side there are two more USB-A ports, a card reader and a Thunderbolt 3 port. An external graphics card could theoretically be added over the latter.
The highlight of the GIGABYTE AERO 15 OLED SA is, as the name suggests, the built-in OLED display. It has a size of 15.6 inches, has a resolution of 3,840 x 2,160 pixels (UHD) and is simply impressive in practice.
The display offers a dark black, rich colors and high contrasts. As it is calibrated ex works, the DCI-P3 colour space is covered 100 percent. This makes the notebook not only suitable for gaming, but also for image and video editing. Thanks to OLED technology, the viewing angles are also stable.
The illumination of the display is beautifully even, with up to 400 cd/m² at the top. This is enough to see all important details even outdoors. However, the display reflects quite strongly. The notebook therefore rather unfolds its true potential in darkened rooms.
Gamers will have to make a small compromise with the GIGABYTE AERO 15 OLED SA. Because the refresh rate is only 60 hertz. This could be too low for fast shooters and fast-paced action games, depending on the requirements. But for those who prefer to play atmospheric single-player games anyway, this is the perfect solution! Believe me: Once you have seen Geralt von Riva riding through the vineyards of Toussaint in the sunset on this OLED display, you will never want to miss it again.
Interim conclusion: Concerning color and contrast display, it is definitely the best notebook display we have been allowed to test here so far. There are small deductions for the rather strong reflection and the low refresh rate of 60 hertz.
The brilliant display must also be fed with the appropriate contents. So let’s take a look at the inner values. Our notebook is powered by an Intel Core i7-9750H. The processor delivers enough performance to get us through everyday life without long loading times and masters even more demanding image editing programs. In certain situations, there are still slight jerking movements, but these can be overcome.
Note: We recommend that you start by going to the Control Center and updating all drivers!
The graphics card, a GeForce GTX 1660 Ti, does a solid job and gives us a smooth 60 FPS at maximum graphics settings in Witcher 3 – but also only at a Full-HD resolution. In most cases, WQHD or even UHD is out of the question. The power of this mid-range GPU is simply not enough.
The memory equipment of the notebook is solid. On the 512 gigabyte SSD, the 4-5 most important games find their place, but then it gets a bit tight. A similar thing with the RAM: 16 gigabytes are (more than) enough in many games. Also, both components can be upgraded very easily.
One thing you can’t ignore, or better overlook, is the volume. The fans only rarely turn up once in everyday office mode. They can be heard very clearly during gaming, though. It’s better not to do without headphones. And a secret round of LoL during a university lecture also seems to be impossible.
Interim conclusion: The notebook gives a really good picture in everyday use. It is perfectly suitable for working with image editing programs, while the pure gaming performance is at least sufficient to display current games smoothly in Full-HD. Higher resolution, with maximum graphic details, is only possible in the rarest of cases, though.
Battery, sound & software
The battery power is sufficient to watch a movie in bed without necessarily having to connect the device to the mains. But those who want to game cannot actually do without it. On the one hand, you can follow how the battery level decreases every minute, and on the other hand, the notebook’s performance also suffers from the lack of power supply.
By the way, not only the loud fans but also the rather mediocre loudspeakers speak for the use of headphones. Typically for notebooks, these are suitable for watching a YouTube video, but the background noise doesn’t necessarily create a pleasant atmosphere.
Two noteworthy applications are already preinstalled ex works. There is the Gigabyte Control Center, with which, for example, the keyboard lighting can be adjusted. In addition, the notebook also has “Azure AI”, an artificial intelligence from Microsoft, which creates its own profiles for CPU, GPU and fan usage depending on the user behavior. However, this feature has not made a noticeable difference.
Verdict: Great thin & lightweight gaming laptop
Hardcore gamers who are looking for a pure thin and light gaming notebook and spend a lot of time with classic eSports titles should probably better look for an alternative. Because the equipment isn’t strong enough for this and the display’s refresh rate is too low.
Instead, the GIGABYTE AERO 15 OLED SA is suitable for creative professionals who work a lot with image or video editing programs and who like to immerse themselves in atmospheric single-player game worlds in their free time. Thanks to outstanding color and contrast display, you will never want to work/play on another screen again.
If possible, however, you should look out for a model with stronger graphics card. The Nvidia Geforce GTX 1660 Ti sometimes works at the limit in many games. All in all though the Aero 15 is a great light and thin gaming laptop for a fair price
How we test: Best Thin & Lightweight Gaming Laptops
Lightweight laptops for gamers must meet different requirements than normal notebooks for work use. That’s why we have developed a completely new test procedure for these models and at the same time we are adjusting the weighting of the individual rating categories to the requirements.
- Performance rating category – 35% of the total score
By far the most important rating for gaming notebooks is the performance. In doing so, we fall back on current games like Forza Horizon 4, Forza Motorsport 7, Far Cry 5, Grand Theft Auto 5, Total War: Warhammer 2 and Shadow of the Tomb Raider as well as two classics, Alien Isolation and DiRT. In addition, we run synthetic benchmarks like CineBench R15, the new 3DMark and Unigine Superposition.
- Scoring category display – 25% of the overall score
After performance, the quality of the display is the second most important rating in our ranking. Since all our test candidates have a display with full HD resolution, resolution does not play a differentiating role in the evaluation, and we can focus entirely on the measurable characteristics of the display. These include values such as maximum brightness, color space coverage, contrast ratio and viewing angle stability.
- Evaluation category Equipment – 20% of the total score
How large is the hard disk space? How many USB ports does the test device have? And which chips are installed on the mainboard? The equipment is an important aspect of every notebook, even gaming models. Here we record all relevant connections, modules, drives and special features that stand out in the test.
- Evaluation category ergonomics – 15% of the total score
The ergonomics evaluation takes into account many small details. These include, for example, the volume of the system under full load. But also the quality of the keyboard and touchpad, the impression and look of the device, as well as the behavior of the display hinge belong to this category.
- Evaluation category mobility – 5% of the total score
As already mentioned, mobility plays only a minor role in our ranking. On the one hand, because the battery life is very short in gaming mode on all devices, and on the other hand, because they usually only develop their full performance when connected to the main power grid. In this rating category, we will go into the notebook’s dimensions, evaluate the weight and check the battery life.
Buying lightweight gaming notebooks: What you should pay attention to
When buying a thin & lightweight gaming notebook there are a few points to consider. We have compiled the most important ones for you:
Performance of the dedicated graphics card
A thin & light gaming notebook must meet many criteria. But the performance of the dedicated graphics card is particularly important. Although the integrated graphics chips from Intel and AMD are becoming more and more powerful, as soon as a video game is a bit more demanding in terms of display, you don’t want to do without a separate chip. Currently, Nvidia dominates the mobile market with its Geforce 1000 series and follows up with the RTX 2000 series; AMD still doesn’t play a relevant role here. As on the desktop, Nvidia positions itself with different GPU variants, which should meet different demands.
At the top of the mobile graphic chips, Nvidia positions the Geforce RTX 2080 – the Ti variant, which is available for desktop computers, hasn’t been implemented for mobile use. It sets a best value in terms of performance, but at the same time can’t significantly distinguish itself from other graphics cards like a Geforce GTX 1080 Max-Q. This is surprising and disappointing because there are after all several years of GPU development in between and we expected a significant difference. In short: You don’t need to upgrade from GTX 1080 to RTX 2080 to play in Full-HD resolution.
RAM and hard disk volume
In addition to a strong graphics card, we recommend 16 GByte RAM, also because it is more future-proof. Most games can currently also manage with 8 GB RAM – but not every notebook can be upgraded at will. That’s why we advise you not to save money at this point.
An SSD (instead of or together with a conventional hard disk) is the mass storage of choice. Many games require long loading times to display the game world. A solid state disk provides a big boost here. Also annoying reload jerks are much less common with an SSD. If you own a huge game library and want to save some money, you can, for example, install a larger HDD instead of a second SSD. However, you must then expect occasional jerking.
Cooling system and ventilation
Apart from the performance components, it is important that the notebook manufacturer installs a good cooling system. This ensures stability during continuous gaming and prevents loud fan noises, which can sometimes still be heard even during a game when headphones are used and can disturb the user and people around him. The notebook’s keyboard is also interesting. Many gamers prefer mechanical keys due to their durability and the strongly defined pressure point. In return, the touchpad is less relevant; we assume that gamers will fall back on a mouse anyway.
Still to be considered
Other factors are the quality of the case, the dimensions and the weight. Although gaming notebooks are generally used at the desk at home because they are significantly more compact than full-size desktop computers, those who consciously choose a laptop for gaming and reject a potentially cheaper desktop PC could also have mobility in mind.
Lightweight & thin Gaming notebook or desktop variant – what is suitable for me?
If you are thinking about buying a gaming laptop, you should think about why you want to do so. After all, the mobile versions are usually much more expensive than their desktop counterparts. Moreover, notebooks are difficult to upgrade. Although the installation of a larger SSD or HDD is not a problem and in many models you can also change the RAM, but with a processor or graphics card after a few years only the new purchase remains.
If, for example, you want to save space due to your living situation or if you are often on the road and want to spend an hour of gaming in your hotel room in the evening, then it is worth buying a mobile gaming vehicle. Otherwise, the money you save by buying a desktop gaming model is better invested in the purchase of a mouse, keyboard or monitor.
You should also be aware that a 15-inch notebook is always slightly cheaper than its 17-inch counterpart. On the other hand, the ventilation is often better in the larger versions, as there is simply more space available in the case.
How much money do I have to spend?
Basically, you have to decide which games you like to gamble and how important graphic power is to you. The price range for gaming devices is very well reflected in our test. Although there are also devices under 1,000 Dollars, you have to expect that you won’t be able to admire Triple-A games like Battlefield V, Borderlands 3 or Assassin’s Creed Odyssey in all their pixel splendour. The more graphics you want, the more money you have to invest.
Besides the GPU, the CPU is of course another important component of a gaming laptop. Here you have to find a golden path between the two components graphics chipset and processor. For example, if you decided on a combination of Core i9 and Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060, the GPU would slow down this system – conversely, with an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 and a Core i5, the processor would become a bottleneck. However, the GPUs are in most cases a bit throttled in the clock frequency compared to your desktop versions to save power in this way.
Another decisive factor is whether the display of your laptop should be in Full-HD or 4K resolution. But also the refresh rate plays a role. If you want a 120Hz or 144Hz display that shows content even more smoothly, this also increases costs.
What do I do with my games that I still have on CD or DVD?
Do you still have a few classics on an optical data carrier such as a CD or DVD and find that your chosen device no longer has any drive and therefore don’t know how to install the games? That’s no problem at all, because various manufacturers offer external DVD or Blu-ray burners that you can connect to your notebook via USB port.
Can I also upgrade a notebook with an external graphics card?
Do you own a current notebook with an internal graphics card solution? Do you not want to buy a gaming notebook but still want to play graphically complex games? If your notebook has a USB-C port with Thunderbolt 3 function, external graphics card cases can be connected to your laptop, which you can then equip with a graphics card of your choice. Providers of such solutions are for example Dell Alienware, Razer or Sonnet. Gigabyte even offers such a system completely equipped with an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080.
By the way, this option isn’t only something for gamers, but also for creative people looking for a solution for video editing, image editing or sound composition.