What to look for In a Gaming Laptop

Gaming laptops have come a long way in the last decade. Games that used to be only available on desktop PCs are now available many powerful laptops. They are a good middle ground between playing demanding games on a home computer and having the portable ability to play wherever you like. The following are some tips you can use when you are in the market for a gaming laptop.

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Get a good GPU

The graphics processing unit is the main part of the computer that renders 3D objects in games. Unfortunately, you cannot upgrade these in laptops so you are going to want one that can be useful for years to come. Which GPU you will want to go for will also rely on what kind of games you plan on playing. Even if you plan on only playing low-end games, it might be a good idea to invest the money into something a little nicer just in case you change your mind down the road.

The cheapest laptops that can focus on gaming generally fall between $800 and $1,000. Laptops bought at this price are going to get you by just fine but will not be able to handle very demanding games or virtual reality.

For someone looking for a middle-of-the-road GPU, those laptops usually cost between $1,000 and $1,500. If you want to try virtual reality, these are the recommended lowest entry points for that. Using this tier of laptop will allow you to run most games at high settings, but not the more demanding ones.

The top-of-the-line laptops can go for anywhere between $1,500 and $3,000. These will allow you to play games at the highest settings available while putting out the best frames per second and have a potential to put out 4K resolutions (depending on your monitor). Ray tracing is a recent popular feature that these laptops can give. It allows for light to reflect on surfaces much more realistically than in the past. These are also going to give the best experience for virtual reality.

Don’t forget the CPU

The central processor unit is one of the most important parts of any computer. Like with the GPU, the CPU cannot be upgraded so this is a one-time choice. Most games are ran using mainly the GPU, but the CPU handles basic instructions and allocates the more complicated tasks to other specific chips to get them to do what they do best. Essentially, it’s what makes the whole device run as it should. It is the brain of the computer. This area will most likely be more important for other uses you will have for your laptop.

When gaming, the CPU is taking care of tasks that the GPU is not handling. It is handling the physics of the world you are in as well as what the NPCs are doing at any given time. During your shopping, the Intel Core i5 is probably the lowest end CPU you want in your gaming laptop while a quad-core i7 will be the most ideal.

RAM

Random Access Memory is another way of saying system memory. This is where the laptop temporarily carries any software or files in use. It allows the CPU to access the software and files much faster than it would by just accessing it straight from the hard drive or solid state drive. With this faster access, your new gaming laptop is able to multi-task much better than with a lower RAM. In other words, your new gaming laptop can run more programs without it slowing down or the operating system outright crashing.

The recommended amount of RAM for most average production computers right now is 8 GB. That amount of RAM is going to get you by and run your programs successfully. If you want that extra muscle to handle your demanding games, 16 GB of RAM is going to be your best bet for things running smoothly for a long time.

Choose the right size for you

Of course, every laptop is going to be exponentially more portable than a desktop, but just how much you will be using it on the go should factor into the size laptop you choose. A laptop that is larger, say 17-18 inches, is going to be harder to carry, but in the end more powerful than a 12-13 inch laptop.

Larger laptops have more room for components like the GPU to make things run efficiently. They may be best suited for your home where all you plan to do is transport it between rooms or leave it on your desk. On the smaller end, you could find a laptop that weighs about 5 lbs. It should also be noted that since the smaller laptops do not have the beefier builds that take up so much power, they generally have longer lasting batteries, only helping their case for their portability.

Display

It will be rare to find anything less, but do not purchase a gaming laptop with less than a 1920 x 1080 display. For a laptop that will show your games good while having a great refresh rate, you will want 1080p resolution and a 60Hz display. Higher resolution displays will only top out at 60Hz, with 1080p, if you get a good enough GPU, you can run up to 144Hz refresh rate for smoother gaming.

Also, with your display avoid touch screens. This isn’t a phone and most games will not take advantage of touch screen capabilities and be any good. Unless you are looking to get a 2-in-1 laptop, all an added touchscreen will likely do for you is bump up the price and shorten your battery life.

Don’t worry about the speakers

If you are buying a laptop whose sole purpose to you is going to be gaming, do not pay extra for a better sound system when you can just buy a headset. Headsets now are comfortable and have proven countless times to be the best way to hear your games. They are better quality and you can crank up the volume without annoying anyone else in the vicinity of you.

Be sure to try out the keyboard

The keyboard is going to feel your fury during your gaming hours so make sure that it feels comfortable to you. There are always options for you to choose backlit keys, really loud clicks, or other customization options. At the end of the day, the most important feature is going to be if it is comfortable to you and the keys register the moment you press them.

Gaming Laptop

Conclusion

At the end of the day, everyone is going to be looking for something different with their gaming laptop. If you only want the portability to be useful in your house while dishing out the most power, you can find some nice beefy laptops that will absolutely be worth your time and can play games at the highest settings as well as virtual reality. If you are looking for something easier to take with you on the go, there will also be a nice selection of good battery life models that will be cheaper, but the trade off will be how the game looks. Do not just purchase the very first gaming laptop you see when passing through Wal-Mart on a whim. There are many personalized gaming laptops that will do exactly what you need them to do.

John Hansen

John Hansen

When John was 4 years-old, his mom bought a Nintendo 64 with Super Mario 64 and the rest is history. Since that day, John has fallen in love with countless gaming franchises and has dived deep into the varied experiences of the many different gaming worlds. Nowadays, John has a beautiful daughter who loves Minecraft, Pokémon, and Lego games. John spends most of his gaming time playing Overwatch or whatever new game has caught his eye at the time. Outside of gaming, John has graduated from Ashford University where he completed a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Mass Communication. He has also started a YouTube gaming channel and is teaching himself how to edit videos and co-hosts a small hour long gaming podcast called the Pixel Street Podcast. With future goals of becoming a professional video game journalist, you can find John's blogs on multiple websites.
John Hansen

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