Although the desktop computer continues to dominate among PC gamers, sometimes you may need a portable option. In this case, a gaming laptop can be a great choice. Are gaming laptops good? It depends on the model you choose.
A gaming laptop allows you to enjoy gaming experiences and many other benefits. For example, it’s of a smaller size. It’s handy. It’s lightweight. You can take it with you when you travel. When you are searching for a high-end gaming laptop, it’s not solely about the specs. You’re considering an entire computing system with an integrated keyboard and screen.
Let’s say you may want to use your laptop not only for games but also to create nice videos with animation maker software. Then you need to make sure the right hardware is under the hood of your device.
In this guide, we will look at the factors you need to consider when purchasing your gaming laptop. It will help you to find the optimal choice that suits your requirements and budget.
The GPU, or graphic processing unit, holds paramount significance in any gaming laptop. Its primary role revolves around rendering the visual intricacies of games, guaranteeing that you witness sharp, intricate visuals, captivating effects, and seamless animations, among many other elements.
To begin your search, focus on laptops equipped with discrete GPUs, each boasting dedicated RAM, vRAM, and a processor.
Integrated graphics cards in a non-gaming laptop cannot effectively handle rendering tasks for demanding games such as Hitman 3, League, or Assassins Creed — Valhalla.
When evaluating the GPU of your gaming laptop, take into account the following:
- The variant. A higher numerical value indicates a superior GPU.
- The amount of dedicated vRAM. Ideally, aim for 6GB/8GB.
- Power consumption. Greater wattage translates to enhanced performance, albeit with heightened heat production and potential battery life trade-offs.
- The “Max-Q” GPU configuration.
“Max-Q” GPU configurations are exclusively available for NVIDIA’s mobile graphics cards. These variants are less potent iterations of their respective models, designed to fit into slimmer gaming laptops, providing a cooler and quieter gaming experience.
Cutting-edge GPUs such as NVIDIA’s RTX30-series deliver outstanding gaming performance, enhanced by visually captivating features like ray tracing.
However, acquiring GPUs might pose a challenge due to the prevailing shortage of electronic chips at the time of this writing. Alternatively, consider exploring the previous versions of NVIDIA mobile, the RTX20-series, or AMD Radeon RX5000M Series.
Since the GPU in your gaming laptop is non-upgradable, selecting a laptop equipped with a capable and durable GPU that aligns with your gaming needs and preferences is crucial.
The RTX variants come at a higher cost. Monitor Netbooknews’ Best Tech list page for the latest generation gaming laptop discounts.
- Entry-level gaming. Opt for an RTX 4050 and/or older Radeon for moderate game settings. The RTX 4060 offers a noticeable power boost worth investing in. Price ranges from $800 to $1,100.
- Mainstream Gaming. Nvidia’s RTX 4060 handles high settings well, while RTX 4070 provides a significant performance boost. Prices are $1,100-$1,500.
- VR and Highest Settings. RTX 4070 handles demanding games on high settings, while RTX 4080/4090 excels in VR & special effects. Prices: $2,000 and above, depending on specs. Ray tracing and 4K gaming are possible with RTX 4080/4090.
These cards enable advanced effects similar to Nvidia Gameworks. A laptop with these capabilities ranges from $2,000 to over $3,000, offering ray-traced gaming and improved frame rates. The RTX 4080 & RTX 4090 can support 4K gaming, depending on settings.
What Other Specifications Should I Consider?
In addition to the GPU, paying attention to the CPU, RAM, and storage capacity is crucial.
Depending on one’s laptop budget, you can acquire a competent Core i7 processor or one that supports overclocking, like IntelCorei9-13900HK.
Some laptops even offer desktop-class CPUs. However, for most gaming purposes, a high-quality GPU has a greater impact than the CPU, so your Core i5 processor would suffice.
If you come across a laptop with an older generation CPU or lower performance, it may be worth considering cost-saving options.
Remember that CPUs are typically not upgradeable, so you need to make this decision wisely. Intel’s 13th GenCore processors, indicated by model numbers starting with “13,” are the most recent ones launched for mobile devices this year.
Gaming often requires substantial RAM, and we suggest a minimum of 8GB even for basic productivity tasks. For optimal gaming performance, aim for 16GB.
A laptop equipped with RTX 4050 typically includes 8GB of RAM. Once you reach an RTX 4060 or up, some models offer 16GB.
If obtaining a laptop with 16GB RAM is not feasible, you can consider updating it. Many laptops allow memory upgrades, so it’s an area you can enhance later if you possess some technical skills.
Why settle for an SSD or a hard drive when you can have both? While some budget laptops may only come with a single, larger hard drive (typically 1TB), most gaming notebooks incorporate a smaller SSD as the boot drive.
It’s common to find a combination of the 128GBSSD and a 1TBHDD in budget systems. Opting for larger SSDs can result in faster loading times though it comes at a higher cost. Ensure that you choose a faster 7,200-rpm HDD rather than a 5,400-rpm HDD.
Similar to memory, storages are often upgradeable. If you require more storage space, you may easily add a 2TB or a larger HDD to accommodate your needs.
The displays are frequently disregarded, although their importance is significant. If you’re not connecting your laptop to an external monitor, the built-in normal screen will be the primary medium to experience your games.
- Screen Size. Gaming laptops typically have 15” or 17” displays, with some exceptions for larger or smaller screens. Remember that larger screens mean a heavier laptop.
- Resolution. Aim for at least a 1920×1080 screen. Avoid lower resolutions. 4K screens are available but may require adjusting settings. 1440p is a popular middle-ground option.
- Refresh rate. Most laptops offer 60Hz display settings. Some offer faster refresh rates ranging from 144Hz to 360Hz for a smoother and more convenient gaming experience.
- NvidiaG-Sync & AMD FreeSync. In high-end gaming notebooks, these technologies sync your display with graphics cards to eliminate screen ghosting and tearing.
- Touchscreen avoidance. Touchscreens are not essential for gaming laptops (excluding some 2-in-1 models). Instead, they only drain the battery and create excessive glossiness on the display.
- OLED. More gaming laptops now offer OLED display choices. While these displays may get sloppier refresh rates than an LED display, they provide richer blacks & more vivid colors. However, some gamers have concerns about potential burn-in issues. An alternative option is Mini-LED, which offers stunning colors without risking a burin-in.
If you have decided to buy a gaming laptop — go for any of these display specs. The abundance of information can be daunting. Our comprehensive guide will assist you in selecting the optimal high-gaming laptop.
Gaming laptops are not highly portable. They require continuous charging for optimal GPU performance.
Most laptops last only a few hours on a charge, requiring a hot laptop charger quite often. Some models sacrifice their display quality for better battery capacity. Improved Mux switches allow for better GPU selection.
Although gaming laptops support barrel chargers and USB Type-C, more is needed for gaming.
To wrap it up, when purchasing a gaming laptop, prioritize longevity. Opt for a mid-range to high-end GPU if feasible, as it significantly impacts performance.
With a higher budget, you can try out a Sony laptop brand, like the Vaio series. While RAM and CPU are important, the GPU choice takes precedence. Storage is often upgradeable, and greater capacity is beneficial due to large game sizes.
Consider your preference for higher resolutions or faster displays and select software accordingly. Keep in mind that gaming laptops typically have limited battery life. The collective performance of these components determines the success of a gaming laptop on hardware tests.