When it comes to gaming platforms, PC gamers will tell you that a desktop is better than a laptop. This is certainly true in some respects, particularly in terms of specs. Nevertheless, some gamers prefer the portability offered by laptops. What’s more, technology has made it possible to pack a lot of power even in a relatively small chassis. This means that some laptops can actually rival desktops in terms of performance.
Before you grab just any gaming laptop for sale, however, you should really take some time to do your research. Remember, you’re not building a rig piece-by-piece but rather buying an entire computer in one go. You can modify some components later on but for the most part, you’re stuck with what you get.
If you need some help deciding which one is the best gaming laptop for you, here are a few helpful tips:
Determine What Kind of Gamer You Are
There are plenty of gaming laptops models out there and it can be difficult to narrow down your choices. Of course, one of the major considerations would be your budget. Another thing that you should think about when making your decision is the kind of gamer you are.
If you’re an entry-level gamer and don’t need (or want) to play graphics-heavy titles, there are plenty of low- to mid-range gaming laptops that offer decent performance at lower prices. If you’re a casual or mainstream gamer, you might want to consider mid- to flagship-level models with graphics cards that can handle higher video settings and basic VR capabilities.
Meanwhile, if you’re a hardcore gamer, you need to invest in the most powerful graphics processing units (GPUs or the so-called video card). This way, the graphics will be much smoother and you can play at the highest settings without your laptop slowing down.
Find the Best Graphics Card and Processor
Based on the type of gamer you are and the games you want to play, the next focus of your laptop search should be the GPU and the processor. Unlike the memory and storage, the GPU and processor can’t be upgraded in laptops. Therefore, if you have a little wiggle room in your budget, it’s best to pour a bigger amount on these two components.
Generally, SSDs Are Better
When it comes to storage, you have two options to choose from: a hard disk drive (HDD) or a solid state drive (SSD). HDDs are considerably more affordable, but SSDs are much faster. Do note that laptop makers often use SSDs with lower storage capacities to keep the prices competitive. Some HDD gaming laptops have up to 2TB of storage space, while SSD ones usually only have 500GB. If you can find a laptop with a high-capacity SSD within your budget, by all means go for that model.
The good news is that you can upgrade your laptop to an SSD later on if you want. You can even combine an HDD and an SSD if your laptop is a dual-storage model. This way, you can store a lot of games and files without slowing down your laptop.
The Higher the RAM, the Better
If you don’t want your game to feel laggy, you need a laptop with at least 8GB of RAM. If your budget allows, go for one with 16GB. Partnered with a high-performance video card, a good amount of RAM will ensure the butter-smooth flow of graphics.
As previously mentioned, memory is upgradable in most gaming laptops so if you don’t have the budget yet, you can pick an 8GB model first. Just make sure that the laptop you buy can support the amount of RAM you want. Some models can be upgraded up to 32 or even 64GB memory, while some are limited to 16GB.
Don’t Settle for Anything Less Than 1920 x 1080
Display-wise, 1920 x 1080 is the minimum resolution for almost all gaming laptops. If someone offers you a product with a lower resolution for a lower price, don’t fall for it. Your gaming experience will definitely suffer. For the refresh rate, 60 Hz is more than respectable.
For hardcore and competitive gaming, however, you might want to get a laptop with higher resolutions like 2560 x 1440 or 3840 x 2160 (4K) with refresh rates of 144 Hz or 240 Hz. Laptops with these specs come with high-end GPUs to ensure the best performance. However, they’re also guaranteed to be more expensive.
Finally, regarding the screen size, the most common ones are 15 and 17 inches. Do note that this doesn’t affect the quality of the graphics (the video card is responsible for this). In addition, keep in mind that the bigger the screen, the heavier the laptop will be.
Find a Gaming Mouse or Controller
While many gaming laptops have serviceable keyboards with good response times or latencies, the same can’t be said with the built-in trackpads. Besides, you’ll have a hard time playing a lot of games with only a trackpad.
The best solution is to find a decent gaming mouse or controller. Find something ergonomic so you can stay comfortable when you’re playing for long hours. If you prefer a gaming mouse over a controller, consider the sensor (optical versus laser) and the dots per inch. You may also want to visit a store personally so you can test the fit of the mouse on your palm.
As a final note, remember that gaming laptops have an average lifespan of six years. Considering that new models get released every one or two years, the laptop you buy today will definitely be overtaken specs-wise during that time. Still, with proper maintenance, your laptop can give you high-quality performance for a long time.
Good luck on your search and happy gaming!