February 29, 2024

While the RTX 4090 is easily one of the most powerful cards on the market, it’s important to note that GPU makers are a little bit ‘sneaky’ when it comes to naming GPUs. You see when any brand uses a mobile Nvidia GPU, that is, a smaller form-factor version, it is usually appended by the letter M. So if you’re buying an RTX 4090 on a laptop, it’s actually an RTX 4090M, and that means it’s actually not an RTX 4090, but an RTX 4080 instead. In that way, all laptop GPUs are one step down, so an RTX 4080M on a laptop would be an RTX 4070, an RTX 4070M on a laptop would be an RTX 4060, and so on.

And that may seem a bit . . . peculiar, but AMD does a similar thing too. That’s mostly because it’s easier for a company like Nvidia to say, “the RTX 4090 is the best GPU you can buy on any device” instead of going into detail by saying, “The RTX 4090 is the best we can do on desktop, while the RTX 4080 is the best we can do on a laptop”. And the fact that you’re not getting an RTX 4090 on a laptop isn’t a bad thing because even the RTX 4090M (AKA, the RTX 4080) already has to be throttled sometimes due to heat. So, if you got an actual RTX 4090 in your laptop, you’d basically never get to use it to its full potential.

So, with that little bit about GPUs in laptops over, let’s jump straight into our favorite picks in various categories. All of these have the RTX 4090M and also generally have similar specs and prices, with the main difference being screen size and thickness, something we go into a bit more at the bottom. To that end, be sure to think about what you want the laptop for besides just gaming as you look through our list below.

The Best RTX 4090 Laptops in 2024

  • Buy the 

    if you want the best overall RTX 4090 laptop

  • Buy the 

    if you want the best thin and light RTX 4090 laptop

  • Buy the 

    if you want the best 18-inch RTX 4090 laptop

  • Buy the

    if you want the best 17-inch RTX 4090 laptop

  • Buy the 

    if you want the best 14-inch RTX 4090 laptop

Alienware m16

Best overall RTX 4090 laptop

Alienware
Pros Cons
High-end CPU Still quite expensive
Solid construction A bit heavy and bulky
Lots of RAM

Alienware is one of the most well-known names in the gaming laptop space, so it’s probably no surprise to see them at the top of this list with this Alienware m16, which is an excellent choice if you want something that balances specs vs. price. Along with the RTX 4090, this configuration comes with the Intel Core i9-13900HX, one of the best CPUs on the market that won’t cause any sort of bottlenecks with the RTX 4090. Not only that, but it’s a good option if you want to stream to YouTube or Twitch since it will be able to handle both the game and the transcoding.

In terms of screens, you have a couple of different options, but we opted for the best of the best since the RTX 4090 can handle it pretty well. You get a 16-inch screen with a 2560 x 1600 resolution, so just a bit better than you’re typical 1440p, and it means you get the superior 16:10 aspect ratio, at least for gaming. It can also hit a very impressive 240Hz refresh rate, and while you’ll likely get relatively close, you might have to compromise on some graphical settings if you want to hit that sort of refresh rate.

As for other specs, you get 32GB of DDR5 RAM, so you’ll have an overall smooth experience, and it will also help a bit with streaming. Storage is also pretty excellent at 2TB, although with how big games have gotten, you might fill that up in the long run. Of course, battery life isn’t great, which is to be expected given that you have such powerful specs running under the hood, although the overall build is great, so we can’t complain on that front.

Specifications
Screen Size
16-inches
Processor Intel Core i9-13900HX
RAM 32 GB DDR5
Storage 2 TB
Weight
7.17 pounds

ASUS ROG Zephyrus M16

Best thin and light RTX 4090 laptop

The back of the ASUS ROG Zephyrus M16 sitting on a table
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends / Jacob Roach / Digital Trends
Pros Cons
Smart and stylish design RTX 4090 can’t shine in this size
Powerful, high-end Nvidia graphics Battery life is a bit weak
Beautiful 240Hz screen

Finding a gaming laptop that has one of the best GPUs in the market while also being thin and light is very difficult, and yet, the Zephyrus M16 manages to hit both the GPU and the small size and form. At just 0.78 inches thick, it’s probably one of the thinnest laptops on the list, and the overall design is very minimalist, also making it a bit more compact and good-looking. Practically, it can fit into pretty much any environment without somebody thinking you’re playing one of the best gaming laptops you can get.

As for other specs, you get a similarly excellent Intel Core i9-13900H, which can handle pretty much most tasks and games you throw at it without too much worry, although we should touch upon the issue of thermal throttling. While it doesn’t affect the CPU as much, this tiny chassis means that the RTX 4090 can’t run at its full power draw and defaults to 85 watts, and while it can be boosted to 150 watts, it runs much hotter and louder. This has gotten a bit better since the laptop first came out, but really, it is something to consider when investing in the Zephyrus m16.

All that said, the 16-inch monitor is great and runs a QHD resolution and an impressive 240Hz refresh rate, and while the situation with the GPU isn’t ideal, you do at least have the option to prioritize either the refresh rates or the graphics fidelity. Besides that, it also comes with 32GB of DDR5 RAM, and 2TB of storage, both of which are excellent and what we’d hope to see at this price point. The Zephyrus m16 is also very well built and feels solid, which we’d hope given how much it’s going for.

Overall, while the Zephyrus m16 has GPU issues in terms of power draw, you should prioritize the fact that it’s thin and light, which a lot of other laptops on this list aren’t, so it’s well worth the comprimise.

Specifications
Screen Size
16-inches
Processor Intel Core i9-13900H
RAM 32GB DDR5
Storage 2 TB
Weight
5.07 pounds

Alienware m18

Best 18-inch RTX 4090 laptop

The Alienware m18 laptop sitting on a desk.
Alienware
Pros Cons
Large screen Very heavy
Good thermal performance Battery life not ideal
Great keyboard experience

There’s very little point in having a high-end GPU if you aren’t going to be enjoying it with a big screen, which is why we really like this Alienware m18 which can take advantage of the higher 2560 x 1600 resolution. It can also hit an impressive 165Hz refresh rate, which you’re more likely to hit than the higher 240Hz. That said, there is an option for this laptop that has a 1080p screen with a whopping 480Hz refresh rate that’s made for those who play competitive e-sports games and want that extra edge.

It’s probably not a surprise that this comes with an Intel Core i9-13980HX, given how expensive and high-end this gaming laptop is. It’s worth noting that with this CPU and the fact that the screen can hit 100% of the DCI-P3 gamut, this is a solid option for those who want to do graphical editing and rendering or video editing. The CPU is also pretty great for music production, and while we probably wouldn’t lug around the 8.90-pound weight around to gigs, it works well for use at home.

Speaking of the weight, this is more of a desktop replacement, given that it’s also nearly an inch thick, so it’s not as convenient to carry around. Luckily it does have the same powerful 32GB of DDR5 RAM and the 2TB of storage as other laptops on this list, so it’s a solid workplace replacement. Also, because of the larger chassis, it can do a better job of expelling heat, especially with the massive fans in the back, so you aren’t going to be thermally throttled like you would with the Zephyrus M16.

Specifications
Screen Size
18-inches
Processor Intel Core i9-13980HX
RAM 32 GB DDR5
Storage 2 TB
Weight
8.90 pounds

MSI Stealth 17

Best 17-inch RTX 4090 laptop

MSI GS75 Stealth
Riley Young/Digital Trends / Riley Young/Digital Trends
Pros Cons
Thin and minimalist design Still a bit heavy
Perfect for online meetings Can run a bit hot
Excellent battery life

While an 18-inch screen is great, it can be a bit big for some people, so going for a middle ground of 17 inches, like with the MSI Stealth 17, is a good idea. Also, one big positive of the Stealth 17 is that it’s also pretty thin, and while it can somewhat compete with the Zephyr m16 on that front, it’s still a bit of a heavy laptop at 6.17 pounds. That’s not as bad as the Alienware m18 and makes it slightly more portable, especially since it’s easier to find bags that fit 17-inch laptops than 18-inch laptops, which are rather rare.

As for hardware, it’s much the same as previous options, with an Intel Core i9-13900H and 2TB of storage to work with, although you get a much larger 64GB of DDR5 RAM to work with, and if you do a lot of CAD or 3D modelling that will certainly help.  The 17-inch screen is also pretty great for that sort of work, and the QHD resolution combined with the 240Hz refresh rate will give you a smooth experience whether you’re doing modelling or graphical rendering and video editing. Also, the screen also has mini-LED backlighting, which means better overall contrast due to more controlled local dimming.

Of course, it’s important to mention at this point that the MSI stealth does suffer from the same problem all high-end gaming laptops suffer from: heat. A smaller frame means fewer pathways for air to move and smaller fans, so while it’s not as bad as it is with the Zephyrus m16, it’s still going to be an issue if you’re expecting to get the most out of the RTX 4090. Ultimately, you have to decide whether it’s more important to have a thin laptop with a large screen and middling performance or a larger laptop with better performance.

Specifications
Screen Size
17-inches
Processor Intel Core i9-13900H
RAM 64 GB DDR5
Storage 2 TB
Weight
6.17 pounds

ASUS ROG Zephyrus 14

Best 14-inch RTX 4090 laptop

The ROG Zephyrus G14 (2022) with the screen turned off.
Matthew Connatser/Digital Trends / Matthew Connatser/Digital Trends
Pros Cons
Excellent gaming machine Noisy at idle
Responsive touchpad
Unique lid design

Big-screen laptops are great, but if you’re interested in something petit and easy to put under your arm, then the Zephyrus G14 is it. With just a 14-inch screen, this thing is absolutely tiny, at 77 inches thick and with a weight of only 3.79 pounds; we’re wondering how they managed to fit an RTX 4090 in here. But have an RTX 4090 it does, and while it does suffer from similar heat issues like the other thin laptop, it’s still a pretty amazing thing to have in such a small package.

Another nice thing to see is that it comes with an AMD Ryzen 9 7940HS CPU, something that’s pretty rare with RTX 4090s, so if you’re a fan of AMD CPUs, you’re in luck. For everybody else, the Ryzen 9 7940HS is a high-end processor equivalent to the other i9s on this list and is a little bit more efficient and cheaper, which we’re sure Asus took advantage of when configuring this laptop. Either way, you aren’t going to find much that’s going to phase it, and it will handle high-end tasks similar to the other laptops, from video editing to music production.

As for the screen, it runs a 2560 x 1600 with a solid 165Hz refresh rate and a really bright 500nits, which is good considering it is meant to be portable and be used in places with potentially bright lights or sunlight. Also, while the smaller size means you only get a 1TB SSD for storage, which you can supplement with one of these external hard drive deals, you still get 32GB of DDR5 RAM to work with.

Specifications
Screen Size
14-inches
Processor AMD Ryzen 9 7940HS
RAM 32 GB DDR5
Storage 1 TB
Weight
3.79 pounds

How We Chose These RTX 4090 Laptops

Screen and Chassis Size

The reality is, when it comes to having laptops with an RTX 4090, there aren’t a lot of options out there, with all of them pretty much having the same sort of specs. It makes sense too, given that brand names will have to charge a lot of money, they also feel obliged to pack them with a ton of other high-end specs. That often leaves very little choice besides just screen size and overall chassis size, and that’s how we differentiated between all the choices, giving you roughly the same sort of specs but based on different screen sizes.

One big benefit of going this route is that you have more freedom to pick what’s important to you besides just having a high-end GPU. For example, if you want something as a desktop replacement, then going for a bulky 18-inch screen is great, but if you want something portable, well, then a 14-inch laptop makes a lot more sense. This may sound boring, given that part of the fun of laptops is seeing different manufacturers try different specs, but it actually is a lot easier since you get to look at the big picture and decide what you value most, instead of getting stuck in the weeds.

This article is managed and created separately from the Digital Trends Editorial team.

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