The rate at which PC gaming has been growing in the last few years is something of a marvel. With e-sports making gaming “cool” again, the increase in demand for gaming laptops and PCs has allowed manufacturers to really push the performance envelope. Displays really took off this year, with refresh rates on monitors going all the way to 300Hz! Many brands also bolstered their portfolios to include gaming laptops that could be classified as ‘thin’, but perhaps the most notable thing in terms of design this year has been the move towards more muted designs. For the Digit Zero1 Awards, however, we only look at pure performance, and our testing includes a generous mix of 1080p gaming at the highest graphics settings, edit and export workloads in Adobe Premiere Pro and Adobe Lightroom along with incorporating industry-standard CPU-GPU benchmarks.
The Alienware Area51m R2 almost never made it into this year’s evaluation due to logistics issues. Thankfully, it arrived just in the nick of time and a bucket of coffee later, the testing and scoring concluded that this was the most powerful gaming laptop of 2020. Powered by an Intel Core i9-10900K (yup, the desktop chip) and an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Super Max-Q, there really is no compromise here. There’s also 32GB of DDR4 memory and 1TB of super-fast storage and the icing on the cake is the 300Hz FullHD IPS-LCD panel. Our testing of the Alienware Area51m R2 showed that the laptop was delivering the highest playable frame rates of all games tested across the board. Render times for Adobe Lightroom and Premiere Pro were the highest as well, corroborating that in real-life usage, the Alien- ware Area51m R2 would be able to shred through whatever demanding task you throw at it. While gaming and editing performance is always a priority, it was surprising that the Alienware Area51m R2 ran cooler than the competition, with less noise from the fans too! The fans in the Area51m, at max speed, generated 64dB of noise while that of the MSI GT76 Titan were really loud at 74dB.
The MSI GT76 Titan we tested was equipped with the Intel Core i9-10900K, NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Super Max-Q, a whopping 64GB of DDR4 memory and 2TB of NVMe storage. It also packs a gorgeous 1080p, 300Hz IPS LCD panel, just like the Alienware Area51m R2. While gaming, the MSI GT76 Titan fell behind the Alienware Area51m R2 only by single-digit numbers, small enough for it to fall within the margin of error. However, when it came to Creative workloads in Adobe Lightroom and Adobe Premiere Pro, the Area51m R2 really shot ahead, with MSI’s render times being almost 20-30 seconds slower. (Click here to buy)
The Acer Predator Helios 700 is definitely one unique laptop. It features a sliding keyboard which the company calls the “Hyperdrift keyboard.” Sliding it out exposes two intake fans that relentlessly pull in ambient air to cool the Intel Core i9-10980HK and the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Super Max-Q. This also overclocks both the CPU and GPU, allowing you to get more performance out of this setup. The Acer Predator Helios 700 performed admirably well in our testing, garnering a score of 91.83 in FHD graphics at Ultra preset, which is still really impressive. The Acer Predator Helios 700 does deliver very impressive performance, racking up an overall performance score of 82, while the MSI GT76 Titan gets 87 and the Alienware Area51m R2 scores 91. Given how close it is to our runner-up and costs much less, the Acer’s value for money proposition sits at an incredibly high number, making it the best-buy recommendation this year. (Click here to buy)
About Digit Zero 1 Awards:
With a legacy of 20 years, the Digit Zero 1 Awards is recognized as the Industry’s only performance-based awards. Digit rewards brands for putting in years of research in developing and introducing performance-driven products for their audience. All products are made to pass through a rigorous and scientific test process and compete with competitor brands in the same category. The Winner in each category is announced on the basis of their total score post complete performance analysis done across an average of 56 tests conducted for every category, across key performance parameters. The test process for the Zero1 Awards does not consider scores for features, price or design. The aim is to identify the very best products that money can buy, celebrate the innovations that push the industry forward, and reward the products that dare to disrupt the market.
Digit's resident camera nerd, (un)official product photographer and the Reviews Editor