Gaming laptops are easy to carry around and perfect for homes with limited space. Unlike gaming consoles like the PlayStation and Xbox, they are available in a wide variety of configurations to choose from. So, with all the options available, what should you look for when choosing a gaming laptop? This guide will explore some of the key features gamers look for in gaming laptops.
Displays greatly impact the gaming experience because they affect color accuracy, contrast, and response times. While some gamers may opt to connect their laptops to external monitors, it’s still important to offer laptops with high-quality displays.
When assessing displays, here are the key features to look out for:
– Screen size: Most gaming laptops have 13, 15, or 17-inch screens. But, there are a few models with 14 or 18-inch displays. Generally, the larger the laptop screen, the more powerful it is. However, bear in mind that models with larger screens compromise on portability.
– Screen resolution: The screen resolution is the number of pixels a screen can display. The higher it is, the clearer the image. Most gaming laptops have screens with a resolution of 1920×1080. Also known as 1080p or full HD displays, 1920×1080 displays are sufficient for most gamers. However, gamers looking for superior image quality may prefer screens with a resolution of 1440p (2560×1440) or 4K (3840×2160).
– Refresh rate: A high refresh rate is essential for gaming laptops because it can make gameplay smoother. It can also allow gamers to react faster and give immediate feedback, making it a crucial feature for competitive online gaming. For most gamers, models with a refresh rate of 120Hz will be adequate. However, gamers looking for superior performance may prefer models with higher refresh rates of 144Hz, 240Hz, or 360Hz.
The graphics processor unit (GPU), also known as the graphics or video card, is arguably the most important component of a gaming laptop. It renders the images, scenes, and animations in games resulting in what’s finally seen on-screen.
While most non-gaming laptops have integrated graphics cards, gaming laptops usually come with dedicated graphics cards to render games.
There are two major dedicated graphics card manufacturers: Nvidia and AMD. Nvidia is renowned for its GeForce graphics cards, like the GeForce RTX 3060 Ti, while AMD makes the Radeon series of graphics cards.
Here are some key things to consider when checking out the GPU:
– Model: Generally, the bigger the model number, the better its performance. For instance, the Nvidia RTX 3070 is superior to its predecessor, the Nvidia RTX 3060.
– VRAM: Graphics cards have a special type of RAM called video RAM. Also known as VRAM, it’s the memory the GPU uses to store image data. It works with the GPU to render the images displayed on-screen. Graphics cards with higher VRAM offer better performance. As a rule of thumb, look for cards with at least 6GB of VRAM.
While the GPU is arguably the most important component of a gaming laptop, the central processing unit (CPU) isn’t far behind.
In gaming laptops, the CPU performs all the complex logic behind the scenes. It also performs tasks the GPU doesn’t excel at performing—such as controlling non-player characters (NPCs) in games.
Here are some key features to look out for when assessing the CPU:
– Core count: Gaming laptop CPUs have multiple cores that allow the CPU to process multiple tasks at the same time. The higher the core count, the more tasks the CPU can handle simultaneously. For gamers on a budget or those who don’t play intensive games, a CPU with four cores will be sufficient. However, gamers looking to play intensive games will want CPUs with at least six or more cores.
– Clock speed: Clock speed measures how many clock cycles a CPU can perform in a second. Also known as the clock rate or frequency, it is usually measured in Gigahertz (GHz) and determines how fast a CPU can retrieve and execute instructions. Generally, a higher clock speed signifies better CPU performance.
– CPU model: Intel and AMD are the leading CPU manufacturers. Intel is renowned for its Intel® Core™ processors like the i3, i5, and i7, while AMD manufactures the Ryzen line of processors like the Ryzen 3, 5, and 7. Generally, the higher the brand number, the better the performance. For instance, the i9 and Ryzen 9 are superior to the i5 and Ryzen 5, respectively, making them better suited for high-end gaming. Generally, laptops with Ryzen 5 or i5 processors are sufficient for most games.
Random Access Memory (RAM) stores the short-term data a laptop needs to operate. The higher the RAM, the more tasks a PC can perform at the same time, and the faster it can switch between programs.
For gamers on a budget, 8GB of RAM will be adequate for most games. However, gamers who play graphically intensive games while streaming on platforms like Twitch will need laptops with at least 16GB of RAM.
Games are becoming larger, with some games like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare requiring at least 246GB of storage space to run. Therefore, look for gaming laptops with at least 512GB of storage space.
Besides the storage space, consider the type of storage too. There are two types of storage drives: Hard disk drives (HDDs) and solid state drives (SSDs).
Gaming laptops with HDDs are typically more affordable than models with SSDs, making them ideal for gamers looking for a device on a budget.
On the other hand, while laptops with SSDs are pricier, they offer better speed. They transfer files and launch games faster than laptops with traditional HDDs. As a result, they are better suited to gamers looking for top-of-the-line gaming rigs. But for a middle-ground option, look for gaming laptops with dual drives.
When it comes to gaming laptops, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all model—particularly when it comes to design.
Gamers who are often on the move, like students, may prefer thin and lightweight gaming laptops because of their portability.
Conversely, gamers who won’t move around with the laptop may not mind a bulky device. Bulky gaming laptops are better suited for stationary setups, and some come with features excluded on lighter models like dual screens, additional ports, and advanced cooling systems.
While some PC gamers use game controllers to play their favorite games, many use keyboards. Here’s what to consider when checking keyboards:
– Backlighting: Look for models with LED backlighting. Generally, entry-level gaming laptops have white or red backlighting, while premium models have RGB backlighting.
– N-key rollover: Gamers often press multiple keys simultaneously when playing games. N-key rollover is a feature that allows the keyboard to detect each key separately, regardless of how many keys are pressed at the same time.
– Membrane vs. mechanical keyboards: Gaming laptops come with membrane or mechanical keyboards. Membrane keyboards have a rubber layer beneath the keys, so they produce minimal noise when pressed. Conversely, mechanical keyboards have spring-loaded switches beneath the keys, so they produce some noise when clicked. However, despite the noise, mechanical keyboards have better response times, making them better suited for gaming.
Gaming laptops for every gamer
Ultimately, the ideal gaming laptop will vary from one gamer to another. Gamers looking to play graphically demanding titles like Cyberpunk 2077, Halo Infinite, and Forza Horizon 5 will want premium gaming laptops with powerful GPUs, high-end CPUs, and at least 16 GB of RAM.
Conversely, gamers looking to play lightweight games like Age of Empires 2, League of Legends, and Among Us won’t need models with very high-end specifications.
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