You’ll need a laptop that matches your big-picture thinking. You crave a notebook (the word “notebook” comes to mind).
That means a model with a 17-inch screen, the most popular screen size in the portable world. ” is a bit of a misnomer for these bulky thigh-crushers) that not only replaces a desktop PC but also provides a panoramic view of your workspace or playing field that is easy on the eyes.
That’s enough for a magnified view of full HD or 1080p resolution (1,920 by 1,080 pixels) on a larger screen, or a comfortable view of higher resolutions like 4K (3,840 by 2,160 pixels) on a smaller screen. Almost all 17-inch laptops have displays that are 17.3 inches diagonally (just like so-called 15-inch laptops are typically 15.6 inches corner to corner).
Should You Really Go This Large, Though?
On the downside, this screen size necessitates a bulky machine that is often too large for a briefcase, necessitating a special laptop bag, backpack, or roller bag, and is too heavy for more than occasional transport between home and office or cubicle and conference room.
With one notable exception, the lightest 17-inch laptops weigh just under seven pounds. (The outlier, the outlier, the outlier, the outlier, the out
LG Gram 17Forget about it. The heaviest, which are almost always gaming models, weigh in at a whopping 10 pounds or more, and that’s before you factor in two hefty AC power bricks. Is there a tray table on an airplane? , is a unique case that weighs less than three pounds.) Checked baggage, to be precise.
The majority of the time, these machines are designed to run on AC power. Consider yourself lucky if yours can go for more than four hours without being plugged in. (Check out our spec comparison table for the tested runtimes of our favorites.) You shouldn’t expect a plus-size notebook to have a long battery life.
So, are these sacrifices too great to make for a beautiful view? Are luggables just the laptop equivalent of large-print books?
The most powerful processors and graphics cards, the most powerful cooling systems, the most memory, and multiple solid-state drives (SSDs) or hard drives for ample storage are all housed in their chassis. No, they’re also the ones in charge of performance. They have plenty of room for all of the ports you’ll need, as well as large, near-desktop-class keyboards with full numeric keypads.
Although jumbo laptops aren’t designed for frequent flyers, they do fill a significant gap. Let’s take a look at what they can do and what you should look for when buying one.
Work or Play: Which Is Your Main Aim?
A few 17-inch laptops are general-purpose PCs for people who want a large screen on a portable system. The majority, on the other hand, fall into one of two categories with diametrically opposed but equally hardcore audiences: mobile workstations and serious gaming laptops.
Both types can handle office productivity and email using Word, Excel, Outlook, Chrome, Slack, and other programs that many PC users consider to be work. Mobile workstations, on the other hand, as seen inour special guide, guffaw at such tame apps. They rely on cutting-edge CPU and GPU power to accomplish this. Instead, they have independent software vendor (ISV) certifications for compatibility and smooth operation with programs for far more difficult computing tasks, such as CAD and advanced 3D modeling and rendering, crunching through massive scientific or engineering datasets, or diving into video editing and the creation of virtual reality worlds.
Much the same applies to gaming rigs (also the stars of the show), with the exception that CPU muscle is a little less important while GPU strength is paramount.their own buying guide and roundup of oursDuring a fragfest, lag can be fatal. They’re built to run the latest and greatest games at high frame rates—at least 60 frames per second, which is twice the rate recommended for minimally smooth gameplay—with all the visual details and eye candy turned up to eleven. Stuttering or tearing onscreen aren’t going to cut it. That’s something worth looking into).
Let’s take a look at it. Whichever 17-inch machine you’re considering, you’re probably attracted to it because of the one major feature that both types share: the screen.
The Display Panel: What to Look For
Workstation and gaming laptops alike benefit from the right screen type in the 17-inch class. An in-plane switching (IPS) or indium gallium zinc oxide (IGZO) panel is a good starting point because it provides the best color and contrast, as well as the widest off-center viewing angles. In both classes, touch screens aren’t very popular, with gamers and workstation professionals preferring the pixel-by-pixel control of a mouse.
Some workstation users, on the other hand, prefer the highest-resolution screen available to simulate the desktop experience of multiple monitors or to edit 4K video. For high frame rates, gamers often opt for displays with a resolution of 1080p; fast gaming at 4K resolution necessitates a costly, top-of-the-line graphics processor (GPU) like Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 2080 Super, GeForce RTX 3070, or GeForce RTX 3080. Some mobile workstations also excel at precisely matching what’s seen on screen to the destined output of your finished work, with a choice of sRGB, Adobe RGB, or DCI-P3 palettes or color spaces for the web, print, or cinema. A few recent models from companies like Asus and Gigabyte include Pantone color accuracy validations.
That’s fine for the human eye (television runs at 30Hz, and most movies run at 24Hz), as well as 90% of applications and users. Find out more about As a result, gaming laptops with so-called “high refresh” 120Hz, 144Hz, 240Hz, or even 300Hz displays are now available. The majority of standard laptop LCDs have a refresh rate of 60Hz, which means that the image on the screen is redrawn 60 times per second. ( ) However, for dedicated gamers who have invested in graphics chips capable of producing more than 60 frames per second, this isn’t enough. whether you really need a high-refresh display.) Shoppers in this stratosphere will also find some screens that support Nvidia’s G-Sync technology, which allows the display’s refresh rate to be synchronized with the GPU’s output on the fly for smoother results.
CPU, Memory, and Storage: The Heart of the Machine
When it comes to CPUs, Intel parts with discrete GeForce, Quadro, Radeon, or Radeon Pro graphics processors outsell AMD’s mobile Ryzen 5 and 7 chips with integrated graphics in terms of popularity. More information can be found at These are known as Intel’s H-Series chips, as opposed to the lighter-weight U-Series CPUs found in thinner and lighter laptops. The mighty—and mighty expensive—Core i9 chips dominate the market. Intel’s Core i7 processor in 10th or 11th Generation guise (model numbers in the 10,000s or 11,000s, respectively) with at least six processing cores is the most popular option for 17-inch gaming notebooks. ( )choosing the right laptop CPU.) By mid-2021, Intel’s 11th Generation H-Series (“Tiger Lake-H”) CPUs should be dominating the market in the newest models.
Though ECC’s ability to detect and fix single-bit memory errors is outside the mainstream for ISV apps, it’s a plus for scientific, architectural, or financial computing jobs that can’t tolerate even the tiniest data corruption. Intel’s Xeon processors, which support server-style error correcting code (ECC) memory, join the Core i7 and Core i9 for mobile workstations.
In the case of a portable workstation, you’ll want to look into the specific RAM requirements of the applications you’ll be running to determine how much memory you should buy. (Unless you have a lot of money to burn, more than that isn’t really necessary.) Most buyers, however, will be satisfied with regular, non-ECC RAM. A gaming laptop should have at least 8GB of memory, with 16GB being preferable. Workstations require more RAM, with 16GB being a good starting point and 32GB being common; many models can go up to 64GB or 128GB.
PCI Express (PCIe) solid-state drives are used instead of SATA solid-state drives in most performance-conscious portables. The acronym “NVMe” (for Non-Volatile Memory Express) is frequently used in conjunction with PCIe SSDs, as are a few proprietary monikers, such as HP mobile workstations’ Z Turbo Drives. (For more information, see our guide to Both of these icons denote the fastest SSDs. When it comes to storage, look for one or two M.2 solid-state drives, often paired with one or two 2.5-inch hard drives—the SSD for the operating system and favorite apps, the larger hard drive for games and data. the best PCI Express NVMe SSDs.)
A laptop with a screen size of 17 inches is the most likely to have enough space for both. If you’re on a budget, a smaller SSD (256GB or 500GB) as the boot drive, paired with a large hard drive, is a good compromise. This is a cost-effective option. The smallest amount of storage you should accept is half a terabyte (for an SSD-only system); 1TB or 1.5TB is more common, and some workstations have up to 3TB or 4TB of storage. Some 17-inchers may have an empty bay that you can use to install an aftermarket 2.5-inch drive or M.2 SSD.
Choosing a GPU: Again, the Work/Play Divide
For gaming laptops, as well as for hard-charging, always-on rendering or calculations, their silicon is optimized for different operations than the companies’ respective GeForce and Radeon parts. Nvidia’s Quadro, Quadro RTX, and RTX A-series (much more common) and AMD’s Radeon Pro (much less common) graphics cards are used in mobile workstations.
Its current GeForce RTX 30 Series offerings are defined by its “Ampere” architecture, which was first seen in desktop video cards like the GTX 1080 Ti. Nvidia also has a big lead in mobile GPUs on the gaming side of the fence. GeForce RTX 3080.. These GPUs, denoted by “GeForce RTX” rather than “GeForce GTX,” are replacing chips based on Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 20 series’ “Turing” architecture at the higher end of the gaming laptop market, though some laptops based on these are still available.
However, the basic story for both workstations and gaming rigs is the same: Midrange and high-end gaming-laptop GPUs like the GeForce RTX 1660 Ti (Turing) and above, as well as all current GeForce RTX chips, support playing and exploring virtual reality (VR), while high-end mobile-workstation parts like the Quadro P5000 series support VR authoring or creation. With higher model numbers and prices, you get more speed and frame rates.
Meanwhile, the RTX 2070, RTX 3060, and RTX 3070 fall somewhere between full-HD and 4K. They progressed from the GeForce GTX 1050 to the GTX 1050 Ti, then the GTX 1060, before reaching the formerly top-of-the-line GTX 1070 and GTX 1080. It was a simple ladder before the launch of the 30-Series Ampere and 20-Series Turing laptop chips: In 2021, Nvidia’s gaming-laptop GPUs have undergone a transformation. The GeForce RTX 2060, RTX 2070, and RTX 2080 (and slightly faster “RTX Super” versions of the last two) have replaced the last three, which have been replaced by the RTX 3050, RTX 3050 Ti, RTX 3060, RTX 3070, and RTX 3080. Only the latter will truly satisfy gamers who want to play the latest games at 4K resolution with all of the image-quality settings turned up, whereas the GTX and lower RTX chips are designed for gamers with full HD (1,920-by-1,080-pixel) screens.
New machines with the GeForce RTX 3050 and RTX 3050 Ti, the first low-end RTX-class GPUs, were hitting the streets at the time of writing. The GTX 1050, GTX 1050 Ti, and GTX 1060 have all been replaced by these GPUs. (The GTX 1660 does not come in a mobile version.) The mobile versions of the GeForce GTX 1650, GTX 1650 Ti, and GTX 1660 Ti are the current chips at the low end. If your laptop has one of these GTX 1600-series or RTX 3050-class graphics cards, you’re looking at a current model.
Traditionally, only a few large, heavyweight gaming laptops have used Nvidia’s SLI (and, in the latest generation, NVLink) multi-GPU technology to carry not one but two GeForce GPUs for insane speed. Laptop GPUs are dominated by Nvidia. They’ve become obsolete. AMD’s Radeon RX mobile GPUs have made some inroads in a few machines recently, but they’ve mostly appeared in 15-inch machines so far, not 17-inchers. However, they were prohibitively expensive, their battery life was invariably short, and not all games benefited from dual-GPU setups in the first place.
So, Which 17-Inch Laptop Should I Buy?
Except for personal preferences, that’s all there is to general advice. Take, for example, keyboards: We also don’t think you should buy a 17-inch laptop in either of these categories unless it has at least one Thunderbolt 3 or USB-C port. Some gaming laptops have RGB backlighting and macro keys for storing frequently used command or combat sequences, while some mobile workstations have touchpads or pointing sticks with the third (middle) mouse button, which is commonly used in CAD and other applications. Thunderbolt 4 port, which combines USB-C and DisplayPort functionality for external docking and storage solutions that can be daisy-chained.
In any case, you’re ready to go shopping for the laptop of your dreams. On the other hand, your eyes will be overjoyed. Start by reading the reviews we’ve compiled here, and best of luck: You’re going to go for broke. Get your back-strengthening routine down pat by flexing those biceps.
Where To Buy
Best for Hardcore Gamers and Topnotch TypistsAlienware m17 R4
Best for No-Compromises Desktop ReplacementDell XPS 17 (9710)
Best for Style-Conscious Creative ProsGigabyte Aero 17 HDR
Best for Occasionally Mobile Big-Screen GamersRazer Blade Pro 17 (2020)
Best for Penny-Pinching Big-Screen GamersAsus TUF Gaming A17
Best for Strong-Armed Serious GamersMSI GE76 Raider