This guide will tell you about TOP-6 best 17-inch laptops, their strong and weak points. A particular focus was made on the features that are important for successful gaming. Which models are capable to run current-generation games at max settings? Which ones are more affordable? You may also take a look at a comparative chart to narrow your choice. The guide also specifies the key factors you should consider when buying your laptop, which is particularly important because such device is not as customizable as a desktop computer. Apart from that, you will learn advantages and disadvantages of using laptops as well as answers to the most frequently asked questions about these products.

It’s a common misconception that laptops are an ultra modern implementation of PCs. The truth is, laptops have been around since the 1980s, albeit they were far less powerful and capable. They also challenged the definition of “portable”, being heavy bricks that would roast your lap rather painfully.

Laptops, in recent times, have been challenged by the advent of hybrid tablets and other portable solutions, though to be honest, the concept of a real laptop, just like with desktop PCs, isn’t going away. The “post-PC world” that mobile and tablet developers were so eager to herald into being, isn’t ever going to happen, not to the level of completeness they envision.

Physical keyboards are always going to be not just desirable, but necessary. Touch-typing is a miserable experience, and voice dictating is never that practical. Hybrid, shallow keyboards aren’t that great for heavy typing, and pen-to-screen may be better for graphics but is not a substitute for a mouse in other situations.

Laptops having touch screens isn’t a bad idea, but throwing the baby out with the bathwater for this slim, touch technology is just plain stupid, and consumers know it. Today, we’re going to look at some powerful 17-inch laptops. We’ll learn how they work, what to look for in them, and look over six of the best ones around.

What You Will Learn From This Guide:

How Do 17-Inch Laptops Work?

All computing devices obey the same basic set of rules on a component level. They possess a CPU, which is what performs the logic to run programs. They possess a GPU (graphics processing unit), which is used to create graphics and dispatch them to the screen. They possess some form of permanent memory storage, be it SSD (solid state drive) or a traditional hard drive, they possess an SPU (sound processing unit), which produces audible sound from digital signals, and they all possess RAM (random access memory), where active programs and loaded data reside temporarily.

This applies to smartphones, tablets, laptops, PCs, game consoles, smart TVs and everything in between. The distinguishing characteristics to a laptop are the form factor, and the architectures generally used. Most laptops are x86/64-based architecture, which is what’s used in most current-generation game consoles, and in desktop PCs (yes, even your Mac uses this architecture now). Smartphones, tablets, smart TVs and the like tend to use ARM, which is more power-efficient, but weaker at the moment.

A typical laptop has a built-in LED/LCD screen that folds down in a clamshell style, along with a full keyboard and a built-in touchpad mouse. They will have at least two USB ports (though usually 4-6 now), as well as HDMI and possibly VGA or DVI output to plug one or more monitors in.

Some laptops have a slot for a compact optical drive, though these are being phased out (very unwisely) across both laptops and desktops alike. Laptops will have either an SSD or a traditional hard drive, with good ones having both (as SSDs that’re affordable are uselessly small for anything but the boot and recovery drive). While the highest-end desktop PCs are always going to be a bit more powerful than a laptop, due to compactness and power concerns, high-end modern laptops can be very powerful, rivaling the most expensive game consoles, and being viable as gaming rigs themselves.

Laptops do have their downsides, which we’ll touch on a little later, though.

What To Look For When Buying It?

When buying your laptop, you have a very large set of factors to consider, because these things aren’t as customizable or upgradable as a desktop PC. You’re making a bit of a commitment to the existing specifications and capabilities when you purchase a laptop, just like you do with a tablet or phone.

Architecture – You won’t see many ARM laptops out there, so this is more in cores and 32-bit versus 64-bit. You don’t see as many 32-bit chips on the market nowadays, with x64 having taken over for the most part, but now and then, you do see 8-core 32-bit laptops claiming to be virtual 4-core 64-bit, which is a weird approximation technology that, while it does work, pales in comparison to genuine 64.

Core Count – CPUs were once single-core affairs, with only really expensive, proprietary motherboards (unavailable in laptops) offering multiple processors to get more parallelism. Today, CPUs tend to have multiple cores, to the point single-core chips are practically extinct. The more cores you have, the more demanding processes you can run, or the more multitasking you can perform.

RAM – Ram affects how demanding programs you can run, or how many things you can do at once as well. This is basically the workbench, or counter space, your laptop has to perform multiple tasks or larger tasks. You want at least 8GB of RAM, though many laptops offer better scope than this.

Memory – This is a different category than your RAM. Be careful with SSD, as it tends to be small (250gb or smaller), due to being somewhat expensive for the moment. SSD has the advantage of speed, so having an SSD restore and system drive isn’t a bad thing, but make sure you have at least 1TB of standard memory in a secondary drive because you’ll want it for installing more programs and saving files. You’d be surprised how quickly you can burn through a terabyte of space these days.

USB Ports – Chances are, you’ll want to use a real mouse because touchpads are honestly horrible peripherals (though the only viable built-in substitute for now). You might also want a bigger keyboard, an external hard drive/optical drive, a gamepad (because mouse and keyboard is terrible for most games), and other peripherals. So, don’t settle for less than four USB ports if possible, and make darn sure they’re USB 3.

Bluetooth – Bluetooth is a useful feature, making it easy to connect your other devices for quick transfers, without occupying a USB port.

Wi-Fi – Make sure your laptop supports 10/100/1000 Wi-Fi, to be compliant with all the different signals you may encounter.

OS – Don’t buy a laptop with Windows 7, even if it claims to be mostly modern. It will not support an upgrade to 10, and you’re pigeonholing yourself into obsolescence. Be sure it has Windows 10. Windows 10 might be awful in some ways, but with a little TLC, it can be made passable. I highly recommend avoiding Apple laptops (Macbooks), because they’re the very definition of useless. If you don’t like Windows, you can install Debian or some other easy Linux distribution onto it instead – Darwin is identical to MacOS, only useful if that’s your thing.

My Personal Experience With 17-Inch Laptops

I’ve been using computers since the beginning of the 1980s, my first one being the Commodore 64. Man, PCs have come a long, long way in that nearly 40 years’ time. That sounds like a long time, doesn’t it? Well, when you compare a top of the line laptop of today, to the grayscale LCD hulks that passed for them in the early 80s, it looks like a century or more must have happened between them.

My first laptop isn’t what I’m here to talk about, though. I want to talk about a somewhat modern problem that can happen with laptops. I inherited a laptop, which was only a couple years old at the time. This was around the time Windows 10 was brand new, and it was one of the first HP laptops to feature that OS. I did not like Windows 10 at all, and while it can now be modified and tweaked to not suck, back then, there was no salvaging it. It was marginally less offensive than 8, and I do mean marginally.

Well, my first instinct was to downgrade the OS. I knew eventually, Microsoft would improve 10, or make it possible for users to, but for the time, I felt Windows 7 was a better option. So, I installed Windows 7 on that laptop. It installed, by some miracle, but once it booted for the first time, the display was stuck at a painfully low 640x480 resolution, the sound did not work, nor did the Wi-Fi or landline internet port.

No Win7 or WDMI (Microsoft generic) drivers existed for that laptop, only Win10 HP drivers would work. Since I had no other CD burner at the time, I couldn’t burn driver discs for it, and I couldn’t put it online to download them. Oh dear!

I had to download an ISO of Windows 10 (he had lost the included system disc) from HP, extract it to the pure file system, and load it onto my phone. I then had to pray the WDMI USB driver would work, to boot from. Mercifully, it did, and I was able to restore Windows 10 to it.

The lesson here is, don’t ever downgrade your OS on a laptop, and don’t buy one older than Windows 10, because you’ll be stuck in an unsupported ecosystem. Since laptops are monolithic, the best you can do is add/replace RAM, the battery, and perhaps the hard drive in them.

TOP-6 Best 17-Inch Laptops

Recently, in January 2018, new gaming laptops with Nvidia's 2060, 2070, 2080 next-generation graphics cards hit the market. As an example, the prices for MSI with RTX graphics cards start from $1500. However, if you are not a hardcore gamer, then maybe you do not need them?

Let us therefore discuss now six available brand-name products within the price range from $450 to $1,300. Some models suit better for gaming while other would be more appropriate for designers or business purposes. The budget option, though affordable, has a disadvantage of being unable to run modern games at high settings. At the same time, there is a very solid gaming laptop that will run almost all games at max settings.

Powerful Gaming 17-Inch Laptop | Alienware

Powerful Gaming Laptop Alienware: photo

Gamers know the Alienware brand, as they’re a leading manufacturer of gaming laptops and desktops alike. This 17” gaming laptop features a powerful GPU, a large hard drive, and sufficient ram to run almost all current-generation games at max quality.

Features

  • CPU: Intel Core i7 x64.
  • GPU: Nvidia GTX 1060
  • RAM: 16GB.
  • Memory: 1TB HDD.
  • OS: Windows 10.
  • Ports: 4 USB, Cat6 LAN/Internet, HDMI, Serial, Audio In/Out.
  • Full Keyboard: Yes.
  • Mouse: Touchpad.
  • Touchscreen: No.

Performance (1-10)

  • Graphics: 8.
  • Multitasking: 10.
  • Boot Speed: 6.
  • Battery Life: 8.
  • Wi-Fi Performance: 10.
  • Display: 9.
  • Multimedia Experience: 9.
  • Gaming Experience: 9.
  • Work Experience: 7.

Conclusion

This is a very solid gaming laptop. The only reason it doesn’t score a gaming experience of 10 is that the GTX 1060 is actually a little old at this point, meaning some of the most recent games may not quite run at max settings if they weren’t programmed optimally, and the display, while sharp, can ghost with some HDR-enabled gaming experiences if the laptop’s running off of the battery.

As a multimedia device, it performs quite well too, missing out on the 10 only because the HDMI output protocol is slightly older, allowing for some monitor lag with 4K video. However, for the price, this is an exceedingly brilliant gaming laptop, anything with a newer 1080i GPU being prohibitively expensive for the moment. While max settings may not work on some inefficient brand-new games, they need only lose a single notch in some categories, and you probably won’t notice the alleged quality reduction.

Alienware: Check the current price

Casual Gaming 17-Inch Laptop | ASUS

ASUS Casual Gaming Laptop: photo

Asus is another brand most computer lovers and gamers will recognize from a mile away, being another leader in high-end PCs and laptops, as well as motherboards and other components.

This one is very similar to my laptop, which I don’t game on, but do often use as a high-end multimedia device in the kitchen or on the bed.

Features

  • CPU: Intel Core i7 x64.
  • GPU: Nvidia GTX 1050.
  • RAM: 16GB.
  • Memory: 256GB SSD, 1TB HDD.
  • OS: Windows 10.
  • Ports: 4 USB, Cat6 LAN/Internet, HDMI, Serial, Audio In/Out, SD Card.
  • Full Keyboard: Yes.
  • Mouse: Touchpad.
  • Touchscreen: No.

Performance (1-10)

  • Graphics: 8.
  • Multitasking: 9.
  • Boot Speed: 10.
  • Battery Life: 9.
  • Wi-Fi Performance: 10.
  • Display: 8.
  • Multimedia Experience: 10.
  • Gaming Experience: 8.
  • Work Experience: 9.

Conclusion

This is a great laptop for casual gamers or fans of streaming. It doesn’t quite size up to the Alienware’s gaming experience due to having an even slightly older GPU but is great for less-demanding casual games. It has an excellent boot speed thanks to the SSD and a crisp display that makes web media, movies, and the like very positive experiences with this laptop.

It’s also a good work laptop, thanks to its quick boot speed, large keyboard, and excellent multitasking capabilities, which actually outshine Alienware’s high-end gaming dedicated engineering.

ASUS: Check the current price

Great Multi-Purpose 17-Inch Laptop | Dell

Great Multi-Purpose Laptop Dell: photo

Dell is one of those companies that likes to create well-balanced machines that may not be the best in the show for any particular user base but performs well enough in all of them that they’re a safe bet for most users.

Hardcore ultra-modern gamers may find themselves having to turn the specs down on a game for this one, and it doesn’t multitask as well as others on this list.

Features

  • CPU: Intel Core i7 x64.
  • GPU: AMD Radeon 530.
  • RAM: 8GB.
  • Memory: 128GB SSD, 1TB HDD.
  • OS: Windows 10.
  • Ports: 4 USB, Cat6 LAN/Internet, HDMI, Serial, Audio In/Out, SD Card.
  • Full Keyboard: Yes.
  • Mouse: Touchpad.
  • Touchscreen: No.

Performance (1-10)

  • Graphics: 7.
  • Multitasking: 7.
  • Boot Speed: 9.
  • Battery Life: 10.
  • Wi-Fi Performance: 10.
  • Display: 8.
  • Multimedia Experience: 8.
  • Gaming Experience: 7.
  • Work Experience: 8.

Conclusion

This is the best-balanced laptop for general use. It won’t run the latest games at max settings, and it won’t run a million programs at once, but it will work for gaming, work, and multimedia well enough to satisfy the “average user” consumer base. Dell excels in this sort of engineering, and it shows clearly with this particular model.

Dell: Check the current price

Budget 17-Inch Laptop | HP Pavilion

Budget Laptop HP Pavilion: photo

HP is probably the most-trusted provider of refurbished laptops, where refurbishments from other providers have a history of shaky reliability and durability. This one’s not going to run 4K HDR games and videos, but as a portable computer on the go, it will suit most people on a budget well enough.

Features

  • CPU: AMD Core A10 2.5GHZ x64.
  • GPU: AMD APU.
  • RAM: 8GB.
  • Memory: 1TB HDD.
  • OS: Windows 10.
  • Ports: 4 USB, Cat6 LAN/Internet, HDMI, Serial, Audio In/Out, SD Card.
  • Full Keyboard: Yes.
  • Mouse: Touchpad.
  • Touchscreen: No.

Performance (1-10)

  • Graphics: 6.
  • Multitasking: 8.
  • Boot Speed: 7.
  • Battery Life: 9.
  • Wi-Fi Performance: 8.
  • Display: 7.
  • Multimedia Experience: 8.
  • Gaming Experience: 7.
  • Work Experience: 7.

Conclusion

Quite simply, you can’t expect this to be the end-all laptop for any given use, as it won’t run modern games at high settings, it will struggle with 4K video, and it has finite ram for multitasking. The boot speed is slow, because of the lack of an SSD, but as far as traditional HDD boots go, it’s actually pretty snappy, still clocking in at under a minute to go from power on to the functioning system.

If you want a laptop on a budget, and can live with limitations, you’ll enjoy this laptop. It’s excellent for students.

HP Pavilion: Check the current price

Excellent Budget Business 17-Inch Laptop | Lenovo

Budget Business Laptop Lenovo: photo

Lenovo is well-known for being one of the leaders in business-oriented PCs, and that’s where this laptop shines. It’s not the most powerful laptop in the world, but it’s tuned to handle multitasking very well despite the limited out-of-the-box ram.

This one isn’t the way to go for bigtime gamers or multimedia aficionados but will function passably for those as well. If you have serious work to do, however, this thing performs like a much more expensive model on that front.

Features

  • CPU: Intel Core i5 (overclockable to 3.4ghz).
  • GPU: Intel APU.
  • RAM: 8GB.
  • Memory: 1TB HDD.
  • OS: Windows 10.
  • Ports: 4 USB, Cat6 LAN/Internet, HDMI, Serial, Audio In/Out (Dolby), SD Card.
  • Full Keyboard: Yes.
  • Mouse: Touchpad.
  • Touchscreen: No.

Performance (1-10)

  • Graphics: 6.
  • Multitasking: 10.
  • Boot Speed: 7.
  • Battery Life: 7.
  • Wi-Fi Performance: 10.
  • Display: 7.
  • Multimedia Experience: 7.
  • Gaming Experience: 6.
  • Work Experience: 9.

Conclusion

This one seems like a weak solution on paper, and for the high-end video fiend or gamer, it definitely fits that description. This is a professional laptop, designed to run demanding office applications and SaaS web interfaces. Writers, professionals, retailers and other people in the commercial sector will find this to be a very affordable, yet powerful solution, balanced for those needs.

Lenovo: Check the current price

Best 17-Inch Laptop for Graphics Designers | HP Envy 17T

Laptop for Graphics Designers HP: photo

This HP laptop actually functions well for casual gamers, but it really shines in its optimization for graphics design. While it may seem like graphics are graphics, the needs of graphic designers and artists are not identical to the needs of gamers in some key aspects.

This slip-screened laptop is excellent for working on HD graphics projects, and the high-speed USB makes attaching graphics tablets very feasible. Having a secondary monitor with no lag is actually possible with this as well, where many laptops lag in that department.

For high-end gaming, however, this thing doesn’t perform as amazingly, due to the limited video ram available. This ram is optimized for graphics design, handling large pixel arrays or vertex buffers, rather than real-time shaders or caching swaps.

Features

  • CPU: Intel Core i7.
  • GPU: Nvidia APU.
  • RAM: 4GB APU, 16GB System.
  • Memory: 512GB SSD.
  • OS: Windows 10.
  • Ports: 4 USB, Cat6 LAN/Internet, HDMI, Serial, Audio In/Out (Dolby), SD Card.
  • Full Keyboard: Yes.
  • Mouse: Touchpad.
  • Touchscreen: No.

Performance (1-10)

  • Graphics: 7.
  • Multitasking: 10.
  • Boot Speed: 10.
  • Battery Life: 8.
  • Wi-Fi Performance: 10.
  • Display: 8.
  • Multimedia Experience: 8. 
  • Gaming Experience: 6.
  • Work Experience: 10.

Conclusion

Graphic designers and artists will probably get the most out of this HP, though working professionals might also find the task dispatching and broad page file management to be helpful as well.

This is not a gaming laptop, and it’s not a multimedia laptop either, though you will definitely be able to do last-generation gaming at max settings, and 1080p video with ease. 4K video will struggle a bit, and current generation games will need their demands turned down in order to run.

HP Envy 17T: Check the current price

Comparative Chart of 17-Inch Laptop Effectiveness

Product Features

Alienware

• CPU: Intel Core i7 x64.
• GPU: Nvidia GTX 1060
• RAM: 16GB.
• Memory: 1TB HDD.
• OS: Windows 10.
• Ports: 4 USB, Cat6 LAN/Internet, HDMI, Serial, Audio In/Out.
Effectiveness: 9

ASUS

• CPU: Intel Core i7 x64.
• GPU: Nvidia GTX 1050.
• RAM: 16GB.
• Memory: 256GB SSD, 1TB HDD.
• OS: Windows 10.
• Ports: 4 USB, Cat6 LAN/Internet, HDMI, Serial, Audio In/Out, SD Card.
Effectiveness: 10

DELL

• CPU: Intel Core i7 x64.
• GPU: AMD Radeon 530.
• RAM: 8GB.
• Memory: 128GB SSD, 1TB HDD.
• OS: Windows 10.
• Ports: 4 USB, Cat6 LAN/Internet, HDMI, Serial, Audio In/Out, SD Card.
Effectiveness: 8

HP Pavilion

• CPU: AMD Core A10 2.5GHZ x64.
• GPU: AMD APU.
• RAM: 8GB.
• Memory: 1TB HDD.
• OS: Windows 10.
• Ports: 4 USB, Cat6 LAN/Internet, HDMI, Serial, Audio In/Out, SD Card.
Effectiveness: 7

Lenovo

• CPU: Intel Core i5 (overclockable to 3.4ghz).
• GPU: Intel APU.
• RAM: 8GB.
• Memory: 1TB HDD.
• OS: Windows 10.
• Ports: 4 USB, Cat6 LAN/Internet, HDMI, Serial, Audio In/Out (Dolby), SD Card.
Effectiveness: 7

HP Envy 17T

• CPU: Intel Core i7.
• GPU: Nvidia APU.
• RAM: 4GB APU, 16GB System.
• Memory: 512GB SSD.
• OS: Windows 10.
• Ports: 4 USB, Cat6 LAN/Internet, HDMI, Serial, Audio In/Out (Dolby), SD Card.
Effectiveness: 10

FAQ 

Which 17-inch laptop is the best?
This isn’t something with a singular answer. If you’re a gamer, you’ll get the most out of the Alienware. If you’re a business professional, the Dell would be a solid bet. For graphic designers, the last HP would be the most optimized for parallel pixel processing. The Asus is best for people heavy into video and video editing.

Which one is the best for gaming?
For hardcore gamers, the Alienware would be your best bet. It can handle HDR and high polygon counts readily. Its high capacity of ram and multitasking allows very threaded, demanding games to run. For the casual gamer who mostly does old games, light-weight games, or plays a lot of emulators, the Asus would function just fine. The Alienware would probably be overkill for casual gamers, in all honesty.

How big is a 17-inch laptop?
As silly as this sounds, the size of the display area doesn’t reflect the size of the machine itself. The display size is measured diagonally, from top left to the bottom right corner. Most 17 inch laptops are about 20 to 21 inches in width, about 23 inches in depth, and between 2 to 3 inches in height. They used to be a whole heck of a lot bigger compared to their displays, this is tiny by compare.

Is it good for photo and video editing?
While a desktop solution is better for this, some laptops do suffice for this. The Alienware will do it, but it will run very, very hot as it does. The Asus or the second HP on this list, is probably the better bets for this, as they run cooler, and while that makes them a wee bit slower than the Asus, they’re more optimized for that kind of thing, as gaming has more “immediate mode” demands than mass layered processing requirements.

What is the best screen resolution for a 17-inch laptop?
Most laptops run at a resolution of 1080p, though newer gaming-optimized ones can do 2K or 4K. Honestly, the best is probably 2K, as higher resolutions on something 17 inches in size, become tiny and hard to make out, which will strain the eyes.

Pros & Cons of Using These Products

Pros

  • They tend to be more power-efficient than desktops, out of necessity. In order to run off of a battery, there’s a lot of engineering to approximate a mid-level desktop in a compact, battery-friendly configuration.
  • They’re portable, meaning you have computing power on the go, with more usefulness and convenience than a tablet or a smartphone. The presence of a keyboard and a large display go a long way, because touch-typing isn’t very pleasant or practical, and mobile operating systems don’t multitask well at all.
  • They require less space, even when set up as desktops because actual desktop towers are bulky things.
  • They have a decent resale value, even when they’re obsolete because someone will have a use for even an old laptop, as long as it can handle web video and casual games. Many people buy used laptops for their kids to take to school, or to use for college.
  • They’re very durable, which makes them good “first computers” for those learning how to use computers, regardless their age. They tend to have easy restoration features should the operating system get badly scrambled, and have decent software packages.
  • Picking these out can be a lot easier than desktops because they’re not as customized. This makes it easy to categorize different models for different specialized uses.
  • On average, laptops are a little more affordable than high-end desktops, which allows for decent power on a budget.

Cons

  • They run very hot. You may need additional fans, or a tray to set it on, lest it cooks your lap. This is a problem that can’t readily be solved, as there are a lot of powerful computing components packed into a very small space, which limits the cooling abilities that can be put in, and space for air to flow.
  • Even good battery life on a laptop isn’t that great. You won’t get the lifespan you get out of a good modern phone or tablet, as they eat more power (especially the screen backlight), and x64 architecture eats more power than ARM.
  • They’ll never be as powerful as a desktop, because of energy constraints and compactness.
  • You can’t really upgrade these, aside from adding a hard drive and maybe some additional RAM. You’re stuck with the type of CPU and GPU you get on the purchase, and the onboard display’s maximum resolution will remain its maximum resolution for the rest of its life cycle.
  • They can’t be nearly as easily-repaired, and a lot of computer repair places won’t work on them, meaning you have to send them into the manufacturer, and this will cost significant money unless it’s still under warranty.
  • Warranties for these devices tend to be tenuous.
  • Touchpad mice are terrible. Laptops once had little analog buttons for the mouse, and why these were replaced with rubbing a piece of plastic frankly mystifies me. Nobody likes this peripheral. Nobody.

Conclusion

Laptops have their charm, as they’re very portable, and while they’ll never equate to a desktop in power, they’re a lot more powerful than they used to be. If you travel or like to be on the go in your city, tablets and phones might be nice, but there’s nothing quite like a proper, multi-tasking, large-screened computer with a real keyboard.

Different laptops are best for different types of users, so there’s no single solution that’s best for everyone. We’re confident one of these will suit your needs, though.