Traditionally, gamers have looked to hefty, monstrous machines with stylish designs — though some prefer the term “ostentatious” — for their portable gaming needs. Even as other laptops get thinner, lighter, and sexier, gaming laptops remain bulky and incredibly powerful, making them the best option if you’re looking for a portable — well, relatively portable — computer that can handle the latest games in their full glory.

However, wanting to play games doesn’t necessarily mean you want a gaming laptop. In general, they’re not known for being paragons of portability. None have exceptional battery life, and all need to be tethered to an outlet to game for any extended period of time. If you’re looking for a computer to take to work or class every day, or simply want a machine that can play less taxing games like Team Fortress 2, you don’t want a gaming laptop. But if you want to play all the latest, most demanding games on high settings, and only need to travel on occasion — perhaps to a LAN party with friends, home for the holidays, or simply from your desk to your couch — a gaming laptop is probably a good fit.

But deciding that you want a gaming laptop isn’t the final choice — it’s only the beginning. To learn more about the best gaming options on the market, and to find out which gives you the highest performance for your hard-earned dollar, read on.