Many people are interested in smaller form factor for gaming laptops – 14.0″ and below. The reasons are lightness and compactness and maybe coolness – but mainly the first two. It is important to note that there are 15.6″ laptops that are more compact and light then some 14.0″ laptops (like the Vaio S 15.5) and also, as far as gaming performance goes, 15.6″ laptops are currently more cost effective. However, this section will focus on 14.0″ and below laptops segment, because it interests many people.
The table is sorted by screen size and then gaming performance. Weight is stated and so is extremely good or bad battery performance (compared to the laptops in the list). Some laptops have not entered the list – partial banned laptops are at the end of the post.
The table includes also laptops that are not available yet in the US. The most interesting laptops are marked by some kind of green. It doesn’t mean the others are so awful – they might suit you for the right price or because they have some feature(s) you need.
Summary, divided by screen size:
Sager NP6110. You get top performance for a sub-12.x” laptop and the fastest by far. It even compared well against 14.0″ and even 15.6″ laptop for its price.
Don’t have many choices. The UX32VD (also from J&R) is actually pretty good – the screen is just beautiful 1080p IPS screen, the laptop is thin, very light and the noise is low – as what an “ultrabook” should be. The gaming performance is OK. The GT 620M in the UX32VD is based on the new Kepler core and deliver performance that is very close to the GT 630M (old GT 540M). I guess it could also be overclocked. The problem is the price. Asus knows that currently no one matches this quality.
The Sony Vaio S has very good gaming performance with GT 640M LE GPU, good battery performance and the price is ok compared to others with such abilities. However, the 900p screen could be probably better, but the 900p resolution is anyway much better than the 768p alternatives.
1. Highly portable – From the available models, the M5-481TG is a very good mix of good gaming performance, features and price – for less than 800$ (730$-780$, wait for a discount), you get low weight, good build quality, backlit keyboard and a very good battery performance. The GT 640M LE in this one comes with GDDR5 memory and although it doesn’t have significant impact on the performance, but it does mean that if you’ll overclock the GT 640M LE you can be sure that the memory bandwidth won’t limit you (although you’ll need to handle somehow the extra heat). Only problem is the screen.
2. Best gaming performance for the money – Lenovo Y480. In short, you get top gaming performance with I7-3630QM, 8GB DDR3 and GT 650M GDDR5 for 750$ (sometimes a bit less). That’s very high gaming performance / price ratio. You don’t get good screen and it’s not very lightweight (although not too heavy too). The battery performance isn’t good, but not bad either and if you are buying it for the gaming performance, and not for long weekend on the wild, you’ll be ok. If you are ok with the 768p screen, then it’s a hell of a laptop for you.
3. Asus G46VW – still no in-depth review, but the G series sports a very high build quality and very good cooling system that ensures good thermals and low noise levels.
4. Alienware m14x-R2 offers the highest gaming performance for this class with GT 650M GDDR5 GPU and an I5/I7 CPU (as the Y480). The 900p screen (optional) delivers good (but not great) contrast and brightness levels, but the colors could be better. The build quality is very high. The major problem with this machine is that it is not that portable – it is heavy, certainly not thin, and the battery performance isn’t as good as the competitors. It also tend to get hot under load.
But wait! – there are some new models that should start shipping in the US in the following months. Some are stated in the list. If you can wait, maybe you should.
|Sager NP6110 (W110ER)||11.6″, 768p||4lbs, 1.8kg||GT 650M DDR3 + I5||
||800$ cash||1, 2|
|Asus UX32VD (J&R)||13.3″, 1080p||3.23lbs, 1.45kg||GT 620M (Kepler) / I7-3517u||
|Sony Vaio S 13.1″||13.3″, 900p||3.9lbs, 1.72kg||GT 640M LE + I5||
||880$||1 (768p screen)|
|Lenovo T430||14.0″, 900p||2.33kg||NVS 5400M (a bit slower GT 540M)+ I5||
|Samsung NP700Z3CH||14.0″,900p||4.56lbs, 2.07kg||GT 630M / I5-3210M||
||1000$, maybe less later||1|
|MSI x460dx||14.0″, 768p||4.3lbs, 1.95kg||GT 630M / gen.2 I5||
|Sony Vaio E 14.0″||14.0″,900p||5.3lbs, 2.4kg||7670M + I5/I7||
||770$ with I5 and 7670M||1|
|HP dv4t-5200||14.0″, 768p||4.8lbs, 2.17kg||GT 630M / I3-I5||
||500$ with I3 (NB1932 coupon)||dv4t-5100 review|
|HP Ultrabook 4t-1100||14.0″, 768p||3.98lbs, 1.8kg||7670M / i3-3217U and up||
||700$ (100$ off with NB1932)|
|[upcoming]Asus N46VM||14.0″,768p (wide angel)||2.4kg||GT 630M / I7|
|[upcoming] Asus S46CM|
|Acer TimelineU M5-481TG||14.0″,768p||4.1lbs, 1.85kg||GT 640M LE
|[upcoming]Asus UX42VS||14.0″, 768p||1.9kg||GT 645M / I7-3517U||
|Alienware m14x-R2||14.0″, 900p||6.45lbs, 2.92kg||GT 650M GDDR5 + I5/I7||
|Lenovo Y480 (Canada – Y400, I5)||14.0″,768p||4.85lbs, 2.2kg||GT 650M GDDR5 (Y480) + I7||
||750$ (Canada)||1, 2|
|[upcoming] Asus N46VZ||14.0″,768p (wide angel)||2.4kg||GT 650M DDR3 / I7|
|[upcoming] Gigabyte U2442||14.0″,900p||1.7kg||GT 650M / GT 640M||
|Asus G46VW||14.0″,768p (wide angel)||2.5kg||GTX 660M + I5/I7||
||Still no in-depth review