Gaming is no more merely a recreational activity today, and gaming laptops are not just your handy notebooks. These gaming-oriented laptops are performance beasts explicitly made for a more excellent gaming experience than yesteryears and also offer advantages over a gaming rig. They are mobile, fast, offer a rich gaming experience, and have a great aesthetic feel.
We here help you with how to choose the best gaming laptop by laying specifications you need to consider before buying one. Our buying guide is our earnest effort to help you get a gaming laptop according to your needs and also within budget. Also, we do not believe in applying filters to your purchases like buying the most expensive one with assumed high-end specifications, which could be of no use to you, or buying one in the budget, which again won’t be a fit for you.
So, let’s work on the details and collect information on the specs to procure the best gaming laptop in your budget, according to your needs, and also of your best use, So, let’s move further.
The following are the key specifications for a gaming laptop.
1. Graphic Processing Unit (GPU)
CPUs can do all as we know, along with graphic processing for games, videos, and more. However, the more you ask your processor to do, the slower it gets, and for your requirements of heavy gaming, you will probably be asking a lot from it. Therefore, laptops today mostly have discrete graphic cards for separate processing and rendering of graphics, which takes the burden away from the CPU.
Therefore, the essential aspect of a gaming laptop is its Graphics Processing Unit (GPU). GPU’s are responsible for rendering of images, videos, and animations, which is vital for gaming and gameplay. They are even more crucial than the processing unit in many cases, where specific games demand heavy graphic processing like triple-A title (AAA) games today, which involves 2D and 3D graphics, mapping, rendering polygons, and a lot more.
Therefore, while you consider buying a laptop, make sure the specifications of the GPU matches with the game’s demand you play. For example, recommended graphic specifications to play Call of duty: Black Ops 4 is Radeon R9 390/AMD RX 580 or above, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970 4GB, and GTX 1060 6GB. Recommended graphic specification for playing PUBG PC is NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960 2GB / AMD Radeon R7 370 2GB or above.
2. Display and Refresh Rate
To play a smooth game, you need an equally capable display and its frame refresh rate to match with your high-performing GPU. Your display must keep pace with your pixel-pushing GPU and rapid movement in the games. A refresh rate of 144Hz or above is a must for optimum performance; otherwise, frame cut or screen tear is a common occurrence.
Along with a higher refresh rate, a display with lesser response time generates faster frames per second (FPS) with a low rate of latency, and it is important to keep pace with the Hertz rate. Therefore, paying attention to these features will definitely add a pleasant display experience for your gaming.
Also, if you are very keen on the visual experience and optimized frame rate, buying a laptop with G-Sync or Freesync is recommended. The Sync processor or technology establishes better sync between your GPU and your display, resulting in optimized and perfectly timed FPS free from screen tear and other glitches.
The size of the display quite matters in gaming, offering you a wide-angle of view and clarity. However, it is also a matter of preference, and the size of the laptop is directly proportional to its size and weight, which a user might consider. Size between 15 to 17 inches is optimum for playing games, and there are several options available larger upto 18-inches and smaller between 13 to 14 inches too. Look for a size, which appeals to you the most and also suits the type of games you play.
The other important aspect of the display of a laptop you choose for gaming is the panel. VA and TN display panels are advised in gaming laptops, and IPS displays are not as they have no potential to match the Hertz requirements of games. TN and VA panels are fast, offering faster display matching with your GPS and Hz rate it provides.
The TN panels offer faster display but have poor color production and poor viewing angles, which forces users to use it in a straight angle. However, VA panels provide the best of all the worlds with faster display paired with good colors and viewing angles.
Last but not least is the resolution of a display, and it makes or breaks the fun of your play. A high-definition display is a must to enjoy heavy graphics, animation, color, and other aesthetic display characteristics. Therefore, a full high definition display or above is a must for more excellent visual experience and, most importantly, for heavy-paced games of today.
3. CPU (Processor)
The processor is another vital component for the smooth operation of games after GPU. Also, both the components together bring the best experience and are important in their own right. A powerful processor enables a power-packed GPU to perform to its potential and also meet the requirement of higher FPS required by both display and GPU for gaming.
For the least FPS requirement of a game, you need at least an Intel i5 processor or above for better performance and similar performing processors in other brands. It is undoubtedly recommended to get the latest processor on your budget.
Apart from the purpose of gaming, you will surely need a laptop that launches everything fast and, most importantly, when you have massive games loaded into it. A processor compatible with heavy gaming and advanced software today, which takes no pain in launching them will be advised.
The cores and threads of a processor push it to perform multitasking efficiently, and with software and games today, getting one with many and latest will be wise. The base clock speed and turbo clock speed of the processor in your laptop will surely decide to push your game further or not. For a more professional level gaming experience, a CPU that has an impressive overclocking potential will be recommended to perform like a beast when demanded.
So, lookout for the best and latest in your budget for a smoother gaming experience.
Gaming and heating go hand in hand, and laptops are famous for turning into hot plates because of heavy usage, and no doubt, gaming is one. Therefore, when you pick a gaming laptop, the aspect of cooling, the heatsink, and the complete cooling system is an integral part of the checklist. An efficient cooling system is a key factor of a smooth-running processor, which results in better performance and better gaming experience free from lags.
The options you get for cooling in new age laptops are heat sinks, fans, heat pipes, and also metal chassis, which is a passive source of heat dissipation. All the options work fine, and the buyer must look into how efficient the system is. Range of beginner gaming laptops often has multiple fans along with heat sinks, and the ones in the high-end range have heat pipes running along CPU and GPU to keep the operating system cool.
Also, make sure of a practical vent system for better heat dissipation while you use your laptop on various surfaces and in different situations. The cooling system directly affects the performance of your gaming laptop, so be wise in picking one with an efficient system.
RAM of your gaming laptop is responsible for the fast retrieval of your gaming data for faster processing and output. It is responsible for the quick loading of the data and game in case here from the hard disk and SSD of your laptop. The RAM requirement to play games popular today is at least 8GB, and for a smoother experience paired with other top-notch specifications, you need more than that.
We mostly advise at least 16 GB or 32 GB of RAM for a more significant gaming experience and faster data retrieval for a fast loading laptop. Also, selecting a laptop with an option to upgrade RAM will be an advantage to help you with increased demand as per your use in the future. The RAM requirement of several games is at least 8GB, whereas you can still face some problems running them with the bare minimum requirement.
Also, 32 GB and 64GB variants are available for professional gamers, which are one of the highest in assembled laptops. Opt for maximum RAM you can afford and also look for upgradable options.
Storage is the need of the hour with games, which are of tremendous size and load. As we know that we have HDD and SSD of various sorts at our disposal for the need, but the selection and also combination makes a significant impact on your gaming and even in everyday use of the laptop.
HDD, the hard disc drives, works well for storing your game and also playing but not playing the games popular and played today, which even have a size of 100 GB for installation. And, HDD is also not fast enough for gaming because of the limitations its moving and mechanical parts come with. So, it is where the SSD, the solid-state drive comes into the picture.
SSDs are solid-state drives that use integrated circuit assemblies to store data and function as secondary storage after HDD. SSDs are preferable for gaming for many reasons, and one of the prime factors is the load time, which is due to no spinning part and its advanced making. It retrieves data faster, resulting in reduced load time.
SSDs offer plenty of advantages like almost silent operation, energy efficiency, and dynamic ways to store your data. They are small, powerful, and efficient. The options you get in SSDs are SATA, M.2, NVMe, U.2, and others, and they differ with price range and performance.
So, while choosing a gaming laptop for you will have the option of the only HDD in a beginner gaming laptop and mostly a combination of HDD and SSD in advanced and professional gaming laptops. The combination works great for gaming with storage and faster retrieval with SSD, and we highly recommend it.
Also, the option of SSD varies from the budget, where you can get a combination of HDD and SATA in medium-range, and with M.2, U.2 in little higher range and combination with NVMe cost you the most. The most advanced is the NVMe and also M.2 for the more considerable gaming experience. Also, note that the configuration of SATA, M.2, and NVMe differs from each other in case you look for up-gradation in the future.
7. Battery life
When we are talking about laptops, the critical concern is battery life because you have your laptop on the go and its mobile for a reason, and therefore, good battery life is indeed crucial. But, when you talk about a gaming laptop, the scenario faces new troubles with charge-eating games. A gaming laptop with an average battery life of a regular notebook is of no use because your game will eat that away in almost half the time. Therefore, looking for a gaming laptop with reasonable battery life for gaming is a must, and why reasonable because practically, you cannot ask much in the aspect of gaming.
The battery life of a gaming laptop lasts somewhere between an hour to three, and it is usually recommended to play games when you are connected to power. However, you can still hunt for a laptop that offers you a good backup lined with solutions like dual adapters for quick charging and laptops with multiple batteries for backup and fast charging. So, look for the one that offers the most.
The importance of a keyboard in a gaming laptop is significant with frequent use of keys, a combination of the same, and for efficient key rollover. Durability is a crucial concern with extensive and hurried use of keys while playing, and other significance lies in the gaming experience it provides. The tactical feedback of the keys plays a massive role in the gameplay, and the key travel time directly affects the game and your performance in it.
Another important aspect of your gaming keyboard will be looking for anti-ghosting and N-key rollover to avoid keyboard locking and also to ensure every keystroke is recorded for a phenomenal gaming experience. Look for a keyboard with good tactical feedback, rigidness, durability, and, most importantly, an excellent backlit. Also, a mechanical keyboard will offer a longer lifespan, high feedback, and even easily repairable. Try the keyboard of the laptop once before you buy it.
9. Operating System
While the widely used operating systems are Windows, Linux, and macOS for notebooks and gaming laptops, Windows is undoubtedly the king in the aspect of gaming. The availability of a more extensive game range makes Windows an indisputable winner when it comes to choosing an operating system for a gaming laptop.
While you opt for a Windows gaming laptop, what matters is the series of the gaming system, and if you are buying a new gaming laptop, then Windows 10 is only advisable. While most of the games today run fine on Windows 8 and above, buying configuration of the latest one is advised. The Windows 10 home version is sufficient for gaming and also friendly.
Other essential shopping tips for gaming laptops
- Keep in mind that a powerful laptop will be less portable and visa versa.
- Gaming laptops are stuffed for performance and usually weigh heavily.
- The size of your laptop is directly related and proportional to its performance.
- Different brands have different USPs; look for one which appeals to your interest more.
- Look for optimum specifications in your budget.
- Do not get attracted to unnecessary features like flip screens, screen touch, and more.
- Invest in high-quality headphones and a mouse for the better gaming experience
- Do not expect much battery life from your gaming laptop.
- Looking for superior specifications is advised if it is affordable by you.
- Reliable brands and gaming laptop range are ASUS ROG, Alienware, Lenovo Legion, Acer Predator, MSI, and a few others.
- Top-notch specifications of gaming laptops available today are 4K display, Intel i9 processor, 36 GB of RAM, and many others.
- RAM is not upgradable in many laptops, therefore make a wise decision with enough RAM for future use or an upgradable one
- Storage is non-upgradable on many laptops, be wise with that decision too.
- GPUs are non-upgradable in laptops; therefore, get one that suffices your needs in the future too.
- A 4K display right now cannot offer an impressive refresh rate for gaming. We hope it is not the case in the future.
Well, if you are relatively new to the world of gaming or gaming laptops, we have a jargon buster for you to help you understand the terminologies related to gaming and laptops. This will help you get a better understanding of the guide above and also know-how of the world of gaming.
Refresh Rate – Refresh rate is the number of times a display refreshes that is updated in a second. It is the number of times data is drawn on the display from top to bottom.
Refresh Time – Refresh time is the time refresh rate of a display takes. For example, a refresh rate of 60 Hz takes about 16 milliseconds.
FPS – FPS stands for frame per second. FPS is the rate or frequency of whole frames appearing on display in a second. It is also referred to as frame rate.
Latency – Latency is simply delaying the transfer of data causing disrupting or slow data with interference, lag, and more. In gaming, latency can be seen in the display, RAM, network, and more.
G-Sync and Freesync – G-Sync is adaptive sync technology by Nvidia, and Free Sync is an open-source sync technology developed by AMD. Both the technologies are aimed at minimizing screen tearing by syncing display with the GPU.
Triple-A title (AAA) – The Triple-A title (AAA) and other such tiles are unofficial gaming titles referred to in the gaming industry and outside. AAA title is for high-quality games, which involves substantial development along with marketing and is considered to be blockbusters just like in the case of movies.
Hz / Hertz – Hertz or acronym as Hz is a derived unit of frequency and is defined as one cycle per second. In gaming, Hz is used to determine refresh rate, clock speed, and more other such frequencies.
Clock Speed and Overclocking – Clock speed is the speed of CPU performing clock cycles in a second. It is measured in GHz that is GigaHertz. Overclocking is running the CPU or GPU over its clock speed, which is increasing its clock rate.
A quick guide to different brands of gaming laptops
The quick guide below about different gaming laptop brands offers a peep look for a better understanding of the world of gaming laptops. The guide aims at providing you with a brief knowledge of the brands and what best they offer for the better know-how of your options.
1. ASUS:– The gaming laptop range of ASUS, Republic of Gamers, is also abbreviated known as ROG. The brand doesn’t compromise on quality and offers top-of-the-line specs paired with some of the best configurations. ROG also offers comparatively sleek gaming laptops and have various series for different ranges. The ROG Gaming software is impressive, along with RGB and backlighting the brand provides.
The brand also offers motherboards, Graphics Cards, Smartphones, and monitors in the gaming series.
2. Dell Alienware:- Alienware is a synonym and is considered a beast in the world of gaming laptops. Alienware 15 and 17 are still ruling the markets and are considered classic. However, the new offerings from the brand are not as impressive as others. Still, the brand offers specifically to the ones looking for the USP of Alienware that is heavy build for the gamers.
3. Lenovo:- Lenovo offers its Legion range for heavy gaming and its Ideapad gaming range for budget constraint gaming. Both the series offer value for money and performance along with brand assurance. With the AMD partnership, Lenovo launched new models with top of the range Ryzen CPU and Nvidia GPU for heavy paced gaming along with other top-notch specifications.
4. MSI:- MSI has been a much-sought gaming laptop brand in recent years due to its dedicated offering to gaming avid and also innovative and experimental takes on laptops it offers. They were the first to introduce rapid mechanical keyboards and even two full-size GPUs in one single laptop. They offer great gaming laptops and some top-of-the-line, however, the brand doesn’t cater to a broader customer base and keeps its offerings dedicated, which is why finding the budget range in MSI is tough.
5. Acer:- Acer joined the gaming race recently but came with a bang through their Predator series, which is quite impressive. Acer Predator gaming range offers a complete package in its products and provides a wide range in different budgets.
6. HP:- HP offers a quality gaming experience with its Omen series and serves various budgets along with impressive specs. Omen gaming laptops are praised for their faster operations and gaming but are frowned upon their battery life.
7. Gigabyte & Aorus:- Aorus of Gigabyte and Aorus, a sub-brand offer high-end gaming laptops with industry-leading specs and also next-gen solutions. Not known to many, the brand offers a substantial gaming experience along with neat looks. You can always look for heavy specifications with Aorus and beginner-level gaming laptops in the Gigabyte range.
8. Razer:- Razer is one brand that offers you performance with style and portability. The brand makes amazing gaming laptops to play and also the sleek and clean looks, which gaming laptops tend not to have. With a limited range, the brand still offers you the best of both worlds, that is notebooks and gaming laptops.
9. Samsung:- Samsung introduced its gaming laptop Odyssey in 2019 with impressive specs and design ideal for gamers of beginner’s level. The gaming line of Samsung doesn’t offer much today, and we hope they come with a good range in the future.
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Can I use my gaming laptop for normal work?
Yes, definitely. Gaming laptops are nothing different from standard work laptops except for better and more efficient processors and performance. So, if you want to use your gaming laptop as your work laptop as well, there is nothing that is stopping you. On the contrary, you might have a better work experience on a gaming laptop as opposed to a standard business laptop.
Is it worth buying a gaming laptop?
If you are into gaming or you want a laptop with slightly superior configurations for better performance, gaming laptops are worth giving a shot. They are extremely efficient, not to mention that it takes your overall gaming experience to next level, something that you can’t expect from the standard laptops.
Should I get a gaming laptop even if I am not into gaming?
People have this misconception that gaming laptops are only for gaming. That isn’t the case at all. On the contrary, you’d be surprised to know that gaming laptops are often a go-to option for users who are into video editing, photography, and the whole lot. So, yes, even if you don’t play online games, it is feasible if you buy a gaming laptop for your needs.
Can gaming laptops last for 10 years?
This is extremely hard to suggest, especially because it depends on how the user is using and maintaining the laptop. If you are using it with caution, updating the software on time, and taking care of the backend work, chances are that your gaming laptop can easily last for 10 years. However, at the end of the day, it all comes down to how people are using their gaming laptops over the years.
So, here we are at the end of the guide, which will help you buy the best gaming laptop according to the specifications you will need for the best gaming experience. The guide is aimed at providing you with the relevant information to help you buy one that suits your needs the most and to help you get an impressive laptop in your budget.
Also, with an evolving gaming industry and constantly apprising games, you cannot always have the latest one with top-notch specifications. So, try and get a gaming laptop that allows you to enjoy the games you want to play. Take special note of the specs above as they are listed carefully to help accentuate your gaming experience along with the essential tips we accumulated for you and bring home a laptop best for your use.