How To Choose Best Gaming Laptop

While many PC gamers prefer the desktop, there are occasions when you need something a little more portable. A gaming laptop is a portable gaming system with enough power to play games in a small package.

When it comes to selecting a gaming laptop, though, stats aren’t everything.

You’re looking at a whole computer with a built-in keyboard and monitor.

Here, we’ll walk you through all of the choices you’ll have to make when purchasing a gaming laptop, so you can pick the ideal one for your needs and budget.

Short Instructions

1. Get a decent GPU: Most games rely on the GPU, which you can’t improve with a laptop.

For a few years, a strong GPU will ensure that your laptop can play games at high settings.

2. Consider upgrading later: Many gaming laptops, but not all, allow you to update your RAM and storage.

3. Choose between resolution and speed: Right present, the fastest displays (up to 360 Hz) are only available in 1920 x 1080 resolution, so a 4K screen will be slower.

4. Invest in a nice keyboard: You don’t want to be playing games on a mushy or stiff keyboard.

5. Battery life will most likely be poor: few gaming laptops last more than 8 hours on a charge, and you’ll need the power supply to achieve optimum performance in the first place.

Which GPU do you require?

While some games use the CPU, the bulk of games still rely on the GPU, therefore this is one of the most important considerations when purchasing a gaming notebook.

Currently, Nvidia GeForce GTX or RTX GPUs are found in the majority of gaming laptops.

The newest Nvidia graphics cards are the RTX 30-series cards, which range from the RTX 3060 Max-Q to the RTX 3080.

The Radeon RX 5000M series from AMD includes the RX 5500M for budget computers, as well as the RX 5600M and RX 5700M for higher performance.

However, a new line of AMD discrete GPUs is expected to arrive laptops later this year.

The RTX models are more expensive. In the meanwhile, keep an eye on our Best Tech Deals page if you’re searching for a current-generation gaming laptop.

1. Entry-level gaming: If you don’t need to play on the maximum settings, a GTX 1650 or RX 5500M will suffice, allowing you to play most games on medium settings.

A GTX 1660 Ti will give you a boost in performance, which we believe is significant and well worth the money.

A laptop with these GPUs will cost between $800 and $1,100 (£700 to £900).

2. Mainstream Gaming: The GeForce RTX 2060 from Nvidia is a fine middle-of-the-road card that will allow you to play most games on high settings.

Though the RTX 3060 and RTX 3070 will take their position in the mid-range as the year progresses.

It’s also regarded as the minimal virtual reality standard, therefore it’s the lowest setting you should use with your Oculus Rift or HTC Vive.

The RX 5600M from AMD isn’t as powerful as a performer, but it’ll do the job. Laptops using these GPUs are expected to cost between $1,100 and $1,350.

3. VR and Highest Settings: An RTX 2070 will let you play just about anything on high settings, whereas the RTX 2080 or RTX 2080 Ti are the most powerful 20-series cards available, allowing for smoother VR and special effects.

The RTX 3070 and RTX 3080 will push the most pixels as the year progresses. These are the cards that will allow you to start using Nvidia Gameworks effects.

Laptops in this category start in the high $/£ range and can cost upwards of $3,000 (£2,700) depending on other specifications.

However, the new RTX series allows you to play ray-traced games at higher frame rates.

You could even be able to play 4K games with an RTX 2070 or RTX 2080.

Are there any additional specifications I should check for?

While the GPU is vital, you should also search for a strong CPU, plenty of RAM, and plenty of storage space.

1. CPU: Depending on your budget, you may acquire a highly strong Core i7 CPU or even an Intel Core i9-9980HK that you can overclock.

Laptops with desktop processors are also available. However, most games benefit more from a good GPU than a good CPU.

Thus a Core i5 processor would suffice.

Consider saving a little money if you notice something older than the most recent Intel 10th Gen Core (model numbers begin with 10) or with less power.

Because CPUs aren’t frequently upgradeable, you’ll only have to make this decision once.

At CES 2021, Intel unveiled the 11th Gen Intel Core H35, with a 45W version following later in the year.

2. RAM: Gaming may use a lot of RAM, thus we recommend 8GB for even basic productivity activities.

On a gaming PC, if you have the option, go for 16GB. Typically, a laptop with a GTX 1650 or 1660 Ti comes with 8GB of RAM.

Some GTX 2060 and higher graphics cards will come with 16GB of RAM.

If you can’t acquire a laptop with 16GB of RAM right now, upgrade it as soon as possible.

Many gaming laptops have upgradeable memory, so if you’re adept with a screwdriver, this is an area you might consider improving later.

3. Hard disk or SSD for storage? Why not combine the two? Some low-cost gaming laptops just include a hard disk (typically 1TB), however, the majority of gaming laptops additionally have a tiny SSD that serves as a boot drive.

It’s not unusual to find a 128GB SSD and a 1TB HDD coexisting.

You may observe faster loading speeds if you upgrade to a bigger SSD, but this will cost you a lot more money.

Make sure you obtain a 7,200-rpm hard drive rather than a 5,400-rpm hard drive.

Storage, like RAM, is frequently upgradeable in gaming laptops. If you require extra storage, you may add a 2TB or bigger hard drive.

How do I know what to look for in a display?

Displays are frequently disregarded, yet they are critical.

If you don’t connect your laptop to a monitor, all of your games will be displayed on the built-in screen.

1. Screen size: The majority of gaming laptops have 15 or 17-inch displays, while there are a few large systems with 18-inch displays and a few 14-inch systems.

What size you choose is a personal choice, but keep in mind that a larger screen means a larger and heavier laptop.

2. Resolution: Always go for a monitor with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels.

It’s uncommon to come across one with a lower resolution, but if you do, flee.

Certain gaming laptops have 4K (3840 x 2160) panels, but you may need to adjust some settings, especially if you activate ray tracing.

3. Refresh rate: Most laptops feature a 1080p resolution and a 60Hz refresh rate. And for many players, it is sufficient.

Higher-resolution screens (2560 x 1440, 3840 x 2160) are nice to look at, but they only support 60Hz.

As a result, 1080p may be the best solution for some gamers.

For smoother gameplay, several suppliers offer FHD screens with a faster refresh rate of 144 Hz, 240 Hz, or even 360 Hz.

To take advantage, you’ll need a powerful GPU and settings that prioritize frame rate above graphical fidelity.

4. Nvidia G-Sync and AMD FreeSync: Some high-end gaming laptops enable technologies that sync the display with the graphics cards, preventing screen tearing and ghosting.

5. Avoid touch displays: While not intrinsically terrible, touch screens on gaming laptops are superfluous (some 2-in-1 models notwithstanding).

They deplete battery life and might cause the display to become excessively glossy.

How do I know what to look for in a keyboard?

You’ll receive chiclet keys with LED illumination if you buy an entry-level gaming keyboard. But there’s a lot more to think about:

1. Key Travel: This refers to how far down a key may be pressed. In general, we prefer keys with a key travel of at least 1.5 millimeters, and 2 millimeters is even better.

This will prevent you from touching the keyboard’s frame or “bottoming out.” Mechanical keys may even be found on some of the most costly computers.

2. Actuation: This is the amount of force required to press a key down.

We prefer it between 65 and 70 grams since it provides adequate resistance without being too soft.

3. Macro Keys: Finding macro keys on gaming laptops is harder than on desktop keyboards, but it’s not impossible.

A decent set of programmed macro keys will make the most frequent tasks in games much easier to execute.

For this, the laptop maker normally provides proprietary software.

4. Anti-ghosting and n-key rollover are two game-enhancing features.

Anti-ghosting refers to the fact that when you press several keys for a combination or do multiple actions, they will all register.

n-key rollover also indicates that each key is independent of the others and will be registered regardless of whatever other keys are pushed.

5. Backlighting: Backlighting is available on inexpensive gaming laptops, however, it is either red or white.

RGB backlighting is seen on the finest keyboards. Some offer customization by zone (or keyboard region), while others allow customization per key.

Depending on the game, some even allow you to modify the lighting.

How Do You Feel About Battery Life?

The quick answer is that you shouldn’t expect your gaming laptop to be extremely portable.

If you’re going to play games on your laptop, you’ll need to keep it plugged in to get the most out of your GPU.

And if you don’t, your laptop will be lucky if it lasts an hour while gaming.

When doing other duties, most gaming laptops last only a few hours on a charge, but never as long as ultraportables without discrete GPUs, according to our research.

It won’t be a gaming laptop if you need something to last 8 hours while you work.

Some do last a long time, but at the price of the display, and you don’t want to spend your whole gaming session staring at a dark, dull, or incorrect screen.

Final Thoughts

When purchasing a gaming laptop, choose one that will last you several years.

Get a mid-range to high-end GPU if you can afford it, while a better card will provide greater performance.

That decision is more significant than RAM and CPU, though you should still consider them.

The most probable increase is storage, although more is desirable because games eat up a lot of space.

Decide if you want high resolutions or quicker screens, and think about what software you’ll need, but keep in mind that you won’t get fantastic battery life.

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