Although desktop PCs remain the preferred choice for most gamers, there are situations where portability becomes a necessity. Gaming laptops offer the convenience of games on the go without compromising power or performance. Are you looking for your first gaming laptop and are totally lost when it comes to what to pick?
We break down every important specification, feature, and what you need to know before a purchase.
Here are some of the key things to look out for when choosing the best gaming laptop.
Graphics Processing Unit (GPU)
The GPU is arguably the most important component of a gaming laptop. It is the powerhouse that brings your games to life, turning raw data into mesmerizing visuals that truly immerse you in the gaming experience.
While non-gaming laptops usually rely on integrated graphics, gaming laptops rely on dedicated graphics cards. They are oriented to intensively process graphics, which they achieve thanks to their great power. They differ from integrated graphics in that they have their own dedicated memory, VRAM, or video memory. Thanks to this they work much faster.
When it comes to selecting a graphics card for your gaming laptop, two manufacturers dominate the market: Nvidia and AMD. Nvidia is renowned for its GeForce lineup, which includes impressive models like the GeForce RTX 3060 Ti. On the other hand, AMD offers the Radeon series of graphics cards, each tailored to deliver exceptional gaming experiences.
When it comes to checking the GPU, here are the key points to consider;
The model number of a graphics card indicates its capabilities and performance. For instance, if you compare the Nvidia RTX 3070 with its predecessor, the Nvidia RTX 3060, you’ll notice that the RTX 3070 offers superior performance and improved gaming experiences.
Graphics cards have a specialized type of memory called video memory or VRAM. This memory is responsible for storing image data that the GPU uses to render visuals on the screen. The amount of video memory directly impacts the graphics card’s performance. As a general rule of thumb, looking for graphics cards with a minimum of 6 GB of VRAM is advisable.
The Central Processing Unit (CPU)
The CPU is another crucial component when choosing the right gaming laptop, working hand in hand with the GPU. While the GPU takes the spotlight, the CPU acts as the “brain” of your laptop. Its main responsibility is to send signals to the other components in your system and to process the instructions sent by all the software running on your machine.
When evaluating the CPU for your gaming laptop, consider the following key features:
The number of cores in a gaming laptop processor helps in multitasking capabilities. With multiple cores, the processor can handle numerous tasks simultaneously, resulting in smoother performance. A four-core CPU will be enough to meet your gaming needs if you’re on a budget or primarily engage in less demanding games. However, if you seek to immerse yourself in intense gaming sessions, opting for processors with six or more cores is advisable.
The clock frequency, measured in gigahertz (GHz), indicates the number of clock cycles a CPU can perform per second. It determines how quickly the CPU can retrieve and execute instructions. In short, a higher clock speed translates to better processor performance, resulting in smoother gameplay.
The leading processor manufacturers in the market are Intel and AMD. Intel offers its Intel Core processors, including the i3, i5, and i7 series. Meanwhile, AMD produces its Ryzen processors, such as Ryzen 3, 5, and 7. Higher brand numbers often indicate better performance.
For example, if you compare different processors within the same brand, an i7 processor will generally outperform an i5, and a Ryzen 7 will offer better performance than a Ryzen 5. It’s worth noting that processors like the i9 and Ryzen 9 are even more powerful, making them ideal for gamers seeking top-tier performance. However, for most games, laptops equipped with a Ryzen 5 or an i5 processor will provide enough processing power to handle the demands of gaming.
Screen-Size and Resolution
The screen size of your gaming laptop holds significant importance as it directly affects your gaming experience. A larger screen can provide a more immersive gaming experience, allowing you to feel closer to the action. However, it’s important to consider that a larger screen also means a bigger overall size for the laptop. This can impact portability and storage convenience. Popular screen sizes for gaming laptops typically range from 15 to 17 inches, striking a balance between immersive visuals and practicality.
In addition to screen size, screen resolution is another important consideration. The resolution determines the level of detail and clarity in the images and text displayed on the screen. Full HD (1920×1080) is a common screen resolution for gaming laptops, offering sharp visuals and satisfying gaming experiences. However, if you seek an even more refined visual experience, some gaming laptops offer 4K (3840×2160) resolution. With four times the number of pixels compared to Full HD, 4K gaming laptops display stunningly detailed graphics and text.
It’s important to know that higher screen resolutions demand more from your graphics card and CPU. These components must be capable of handling the increased workload to maintain smooth gaming performance. Therefore, it’s important to strike a balance between screen resolution and the capabilities of your graphics card and CPU to ensure a smooth and enjoyable gaming experience.
The perfect gaming laptop is also equipped with a large enough storage capacity. Today’s modern games usually require large storage space. The more games you install, the greater the storage capacity required. Generally, the available storage devices are between HDD (Hard Disk Drive) and SSD (Solid State Drive).
HDDs tend to be cheaper and have a larger storage capacity than SSDs. However, SSDs are faster, lighter, and more durable than HDDs. SSDs are usually more expensive than HDDs, but they can improve boot speeds and faster game loading times so you can jump right into the game without waiting too long.
So, if you have enough budget, choosing a gaming laptop with an SSD is recommended. However, if your budget is limited, a gaming laptop with HDD can still be a good choice for gaming purposes.
If you want a gaming laptop that can easily handle heavy applications and games, then paying attention to the RAM (Random Access Memory) is important. RAM plays a vital role in ensuring smooth performance by allowing the laptop to access and process data efficiently. The faster the RAM, the smoother heavy applications and games will run without any glitches.
For a satisfactory gaming experience, it is advisable to choose a gaming laptop with a minimum of 8GB of RAM. However, if you engage in intensive gaming or multitasking, opting for a laptop with at least 16GB of RAM is recommended. This increased capacity ensures seamless multitasking capabilities and enhances overall gaming performance.
When it comes to choosing a gaming keyboard, there are several factors you need to consider. If you’re looking for an entry-level gaming keyboard, chances are you’ll opt for a chiclet keyboard with LED backlighting.
However, there are several other factors worth paying attention to:
Key travel refers to how deep the keys can be pressed. We recommend keyboards with a key travel of at least 1.5mm, but if you can find one with 2mm or 2.5mm, even better. Some high-end laptop models even offer mechanical keys, a premium feature considering mechanical keyboards are some of the most popular accessories for PC gaming.
Anti-Ghosting and Anti-Rollover Protection
These two features are crucial for optimal gaming performance. Anti-ghosting ensures that when you press multiple keys or perform multiple actions, all of them are registered accurately. Key rollover, on the other hand, guarantees that each key works independently, regardless of the other keys being pressed.
Budget gaming laptops often come with either red or white backlight illumination. However, the best keyboards offer RGB backlighting, providing a wide range of color options.
Some keyboards feature divided zones or sections for backlighting, while others allow individual settings for each key. In certain cases, the backlighting can even adapt and change based on the game being played.
Do you know the importance of keeping your PC cool during gaming? An efficient cooling system is vital for a gaming laptop to maintain optimal performance. When engaging in games that demand high processing power, laptops tend to generate a significant amount of heat.
If the cooling system fails to handle this heat effectively, it can adversely impact the laptop’s performance, leading to issues like throttling or unexpected shutdowns. To avoid such problems, it is crucial to choose a laptop equipped with a reliable cooling system.
Look for laptops that incorporate features like efficient fans and proper ventilation to ensure effective heat dissipation. Additionally, laptops with advanced cooling technologies, such as cooling pipes and heatsinks, can also be excellent choices for keeping laptop temperatures under control.
When it comes to choosing the right gaming laptop, there are several factors to consider.
In addition to the factors mentioned above, there are other aspects worth thinking about, like design and price.
Considering all these factors will help you narrow down your choices and find a gaming laptop that suits your needs and preferences. Additionally, you can click here to explore more detailed information about gaming laptops and discover a wide range of options.
Article contributed by Zoltan Fagyal, Chief Editor and co-owner at notjustlaptops.com
About the author: With a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science, Zoltan brings a wealth of knowledge to the team. He oversees the creation of written and video content, and his passion for technology, laptops, and computers shines through in everything he does. When he’s not busy working, Zoltan can be found tinkering with new tech gadgets or exploring the latest advancements in the industry.