Gaming laptops nowadays may be a dime a dozen, but without a guide you won’t be able to pick out the right gaming laptop that will provide an immersive, lag-free experience.
All consumers will want a product that gives them maximum value for money, and gaming laptops are no exception. Gamers will want a capable machine that suspends reality for a few hours as they unwind and relax with a title of their choosing.
With these in mind we introduce ten things that can help you choose the perfect laptop.
GPU or CPU?
The gaming community may be at a divide over which hardware is more important in a computer, but GPU should always win over CPU when given a choice.
Here’s a helpful illustration as to why you should go with a more powerful (or newer) graphics card than a speedier processor. Games can take quite the hit in performance, i.e., frame rates, rendering and textures when it’s run with an older GPU, but not so much when it’s running on, say an Intel i5 than an i7.
In fact, GPUs can be divided into 3 categories- Entry Level, Mainstream and Ultra or VR Settings. For those who love to play games occasionally and wouldn’t mind spending less for a gaming experience, we’d recommend the GTX 1650 as a minimum.
Mid-end cards for mainstream gaming such as the GeForce RTX 2060 handle polygons and textures quite well, even on High settings. Incidentally, the same GPU can handle today’s VR games and hardware requirements on the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. The RTX 2070 is a top-of-the-line GPU that can render most games on Ultra settings. Its cousin, the RTX 2070 Ti handle VR framerates and effects superbly.
SSD or RAM?
A capable gaming machine will have both generous RAM and ample SSD storage, but not everyone will be able to meet the steep price tag that it brings.
If you can only choose one, then make sure that the laptop can be upgraded in the future with more storage space or memory. Once you have the money or when newer games start lagging, you’ll have the ability to add more hardware instead of missing out on the latest gaming experience.
Display – Form and Function
Laptops that offer IPS panels and full HD (or higher) are a must, but to really get the most out of your machine you’ll have to check the other aspects as well.
The best displays are ones that have high brightness, color accuracy and refresh rates. More importantly, it has to have a low response time so you won’t see or feel lag. 60Hz is the lowest acceptable refresh rate in monitors, and 5ms or faster is the gold standard for laptop gaming.
Look for A Solid Keyboard
People often discount keyboard as an essential factor in gaming, but in competitive environments it can mean the difference between winning or losing.
Don’t be fooled by fancy lights and RGB customizability; a keyboard’s tactile feel and response is far more important. To this end, key travel must be rated at 1.5mm or lower, and flex has to be non-existent so you won’t have to worry about whether or not you hit those WASD keys.
Thermal Management Is Necessary
Your gaming laptop’s performance and lifespan is directly related to how well it can wick away heat from your hardware. Thermal throttling results in jagged frame drops, maddening rendering pauses and sometimes, an unexpected crash. To combat this, you’ll need a gaming laptop that has some sort of thermal management system in place.
How Much RAM Is Enough?
For starters, you’ll need at least 8GB of RAM to play the newest titles and for multi-tasking reasons. Get the 16GB variant if there’s one available (for a nominal fee). Keep in mind that RAM is one of the easiest and cheapest hardware to upgrade, so consider keeping up whenever you have extra money.
Connectivity – Wired and Wi-Fi
Ethernet ports may sound antiquated, but they’re the best when you need top download/upload speeds. Look for a gaming laptop that has an RJ45 ethernet port if you’re planning to play RTS or MOBA games.
As for Wi-Fi, choose a machine that’s updated with the latest AC wireless and supports 802.11AC connections. An HDMI port is essential if you’re planning to regularly hook up your laptop to a bigger screen, i.e., a desktop monitor or a TV, or use multiple displays for entertainment and gaming purposes.
Say No To Touchscreen
Touchscreen capability is lost on a gaming laptop. You wouldn’t use it anyway, as a good old mouse and keyboard combo should be enough for most games. Moreover, touchscreen support drain the battery when you could use that for something better, like finishing a boss stage or a raid, for example. Leave the technology for productivity purposes and opt for a higher-res screen, bigger battery or more RAM instead.