Looking for the best laptops for game development? Whether you’re a professional game developer or a newbie starting out in the big wide world of video game development, choosing the right laptop is crucial if you want to channel your inner Miyamoto.
There’s plenty to consider before you make your choice; for instance, what kind of games are you going to be working on? Triple-A games with innovative mechanics, cutting-edge 3D graphics and cinematics will need a much more powerful machine with a dedicated graphics card, whereas a less graphically intensive indie title might not, for example.
We’ve looked at everything from the specs, value and performance of a wide range of laptops, as well as using our own expertise, reviewing experience and industry contacts to hand pick the best laptops for game development. Our reviews feature personal insight and experience alongside a range of benchmark tests, and you can learn more about how we test laptops.
If you’re as passionate about playing games as you are about making them, you may also find our guide to the best laptops for gaming useful, or you can find inspiration in our picks of the best PS5 games and the best Xbox Series X games guides. We also have a guide to the best laptops for programming, as well as the best laptops for animation if you’re looking to broaden your horizons.
The best laptops for game development available now
If you want a powerful, dependable and well-built laptop for game development, and you'd also like it to be sleek, stylish and portable, then we would certainly recommend considering the Dell XPS 15.
Packing powerful components like an 11th generation Intel processor and one of the best screens on a laptop, the Dell XPS 15 makes designing and coding games a joy. Even better, you can configure it to come with an Nvidia GeForce 3050 Ti graphics card. While this isn't the most powerful GPU out there, it's still more powerful than any integrated GPU, and it supports cutting-edge technology like ray tracing.
This means that while the Dell XPS 15 isn't a gaming laptop, it'll let you create, edit, render and test your 3D games, while being slim and light enough to easily take with you no matter where you go.
While Apple Mac computers aren't known for gaming, Apple's iPhone and iPad systems have huge libraries of mobile games, and making a hit iOS (the operating system iPhones use) game can earn you a lot of money.
If you want to design iOS games, the new MacBook Pro 14-inch is a brilliant option. It's incredibly powerful, allowing you to compile code in seconds, and it can run emulations of various iPhone models to allow you to see how your game plays on Apple's smartphones. It's powered by a choice of either the M1 Pro or M1 Max chip from Apple. These are seriously powerful and can run iOS games natively, so you can play your game (and check out the competition) without needing an iPhone.
We also reckon it has the best display you can currently get on a laptop (along with its larger sibling further below). This is thanks to the stunning miniLED technology that offers astounding image quality. We've placed the 14-incher higher because we like its portability, but if you prefer a larger laptop for game development, simply turn to the 16in MacBook further down in the list.
Read more in our full Apple MacBook Pro 14-inch (2021) review.
At the opposite end of the laptop spectrum, you might not normally think of a Chromebook as being a good laptop for game development. And no, they don't have the power to actually handle very advanced gaming themselves, but there's no reason why you cant code on them.
So if you're looking for an affordable option and don't need to test high-performance games, then a Chromebook can make sense. They offer long battery life and might even save you from getting distracted while you're working since they can do fewer other things. The HP Chromebook 14 is a well-built machine that runs Chrome OS, and it's also a lot more affordable than a Windows laptop or a MacBook.
Very long battery life and a thin and light design make it a good option if you want to work on game development when you're out and about. You can test Android games on this Chromebook since Chrome OS can run Android apps, and Android games are less graphically intensive than console and PC games. Of course, for heavier workloads, you will need to invest in a more powerful laptop.
Speaking of heavier workloads, if you do need the power to be able to test demanding 3D games that you're developing, the Razer Blade 17 is a fantastic choice in our opinion. The brand should be familiar to you if you're a fan of PC games, and it's well respected for making powerful gaming laptops as well as peripherals.
When it comes to laptops, the Razer Blade 17 packs some of the latest and most powerful tech. When we reviewed it, we found it to be a great gaming laptop, but a great laptop for game development too, thanks to some powerful mobile components, along with top Nvidia graphics cards.
It's also stunningly designed, with excellent build quality, so you can take this around with you without worrying about it getting knocked or scratched. It weighs a fair bit (2.75kg), but that's not bad for a 17in scree. Unsurprisingly for a laptop with gaming specs of this calibre, battery life isn't spectacular, and It's also very expensive. So if you don't need this kind of power, you might prefer one of the more affordable laptops for game development on this list.
See our full Razer Blade 17 review for more details.
We mentioned the MacBook Pro 14 above as our top choice as a MacBook for game development thanks to its portability (and it's also slightly cheaper). But if you want a larger screen, the MacBook Pro 16-inch released alongside is an equally impressive laptop. It offers the same level of performance as the 14-inch MacBook and uses the same M1 Pro or M1 Max chip depending on the configuration you choose.
This means like the smaller model, this is a brilliant laptop for iOS game design especially, but it also has the chops to handle complex 3D games as well. The 16-inch model is a lot larger, which makes it harder to carry around. However, many people may find a larger screen more comfortable to work on, It uses the same miniLED tech as the 14-inch screen, so you get stunning image quality. If you want a laptop with a larger screen and don't fancy a gaming laptop like the Razer Blade 17 above, this is a great choice.
See our full MacBook Pro 16-inch (2021) review for more details.
The Acer ConceptD 7 Ezel is a powerful computer aimed at creatives, but it also has the specs to be a great laptop for game development. It comes with a 4K Pantone-validated display for accurate colours. It can also be configured with some mightily NVIDIA graphics cards which offer plenty of power, and will allow you to see how your games perform on powerful gaming hardware.
This laptops has a very versatile design too, allowing you to position the screen in multiple modes, like a 2-in-1 but the 4K touchscreen actually it has six rather than two positions. This all makes the Acer ConceptD 7 Ezel a brilliant portable workstation that we think rivals the MacBook Pro for its build quality and performance. So if you're not a fan of Apple of iOS, but want raw power, this is a fantastic option.
Read more details in our hands-on Acer ConceptD7 Ezel Pro review.
Apple started its winning stream of modern MacBooks with the brilliant MacBook Air (M1, 2020). This was the first MacBook to come powered by Apple's own M1 chip - rather than Intel's hardware, which older MacBooks used.
The M1-powered MacBook Air was a revelation, offering incredible performance and battery life in the iconic thin and light design the MacBook Air has been known for. Even two years after release, the MacBook Air is a brilliant laptop for game design, offering you plenty of power to code on. And, like the MacBook Pros on this page, it can run iOS apps natively.
Best of all, the MacBook Air is more affordable than ever, and can often be found in sales for around $900/£800, making it one of the best value laptops money can buy right now. There's rumours that Apple will be releasing a new model this year with an improved M2 chip, but for now, the M1 model from 2020 remains a brilliant laptop for game development.
See our complete Apple MacBook Air (2020) review for all the details.
The ThinkBook 14S Yoga is a great choiceIf you fancy using a 2-in-1 laptop, which can be used as a traditional laptop, but can also be used like a tablet by folding back the touchscreen behind the keyboard. While it doesn't feature a dedicated graphics card (which are incredibly rare in 2-in-1 devices), it is packed with modern, and powerful, mobile components.
For writing and compiling code, then, this is a brilliant laptop. And, when used in tablet mode, you can test out how your game will work with touchscreen devices, while also making it more comfortable for reading reams of text, or for watching movies when you want to wind down. It also comes with a stylus, so if you want to create hand-drawn art for your game, this offers you a handy way to do just that.
We've already mentioned one gaming laptop above – the mighty Razer Blade 15. But if you're looking for the best gaming laptop for game development that doesn't cost the Earth, we'd recommend considering the Asus TUG Gaming F15. When we reviewed it, we found this great value gaming laptop to offer impressive performance for its price, making it an option if you need to test more demanding games.
It's been updated for 2022 with 12th Gen Intel processors, and the 1440p screen boasts a 165Hz refresh rate and 100 per cent coverage of the DCI-P3 gamut. It's by no means the most powerful gaming laptop out there, but these specs are fantastic for the price.
Read our full Asus TUF Gaming F15 review for more details.
How should I choose the best laptop for game development
Depending on what kind of game you’re developing, choosing the best laptop for game development can vary from person to person. If you’re working on a power-hungry and demanding 3D game, laptops with older processors won’t get the job done - you’ll need something newer and with a dedicated graphics card to ensure you can run and properly test your game.
Otherwise, you might be able to get away with a less powerful machine for something like an indie game and focus your attention on other qualities that suit your lifestyle and workflow, like battery life and portability.
It’s also worth considering if you actually need to play or test the game on your laptop of choice. If your main focus is programming, then you might only need something as lightweight and simple as a Chromebook, which is exactly why we've included one in our list of the best laptops for game development above.
How much RAM do I need for game development?
The more the better when it comes to RAM. You might get away with 32GB, but 64GB will comfortably see you through your game’s development - it’s also the recommended RAM for the popular Unreal Engine 5 game engine.
Are MacBooks good for game development?
Yes and no. The M1 has shaken up the computing world’s perception of MacBooks, and those ripples are also being felt in the gaming market. Now, MacBooks are a viable option in terms of performance - however, the software support is still a little weak. Add to that the fact that much of the PC gaming market exists within the pro-Windows Steam ecosystem and you may find yourself jumping through one too many hoops when using a MacBook for game development.
Is it better to use laptops or PCs for game development?
Overall, PCs are far superior to laptops when it comes to developing games. However, there are some significant benefits to using a laptop.
Naturally, they are portable, which is great for student developers, or those working remotely regularly. If you need to be on the move often and don’t have the money to invest in a PC as well as a laptop, choosing the latter might make more sense.
Especially if you already have a rig set up, having a laptop for game development means you can make tweaks and adjustments more easily. If you’re developing Triple-A games, you may struggle to render and test your game, but less demanding titles will generally be fine on a laptop.