Who doesn’t love video games? PC gaming has been around ever since the invention of the first personal computers. Of course, it’s come a long way over the years, as has the technology we use to play them. Choosing a gaming laptop can be a difficult process if you aren’t an expert on hardware.
Today let’s focus on how to choose a gaming laptop so you can find the best laptop available that meets both your needs and your budget.
The graphics card, or GPU, is the single most important piece of hardware that will you need for a high-quality gaming laptop. The better the card, the better your game performance and the higher you can set your graphics settings. While better graphics doesn’t equal better gaming experience, you can’t deny how amazing it is to view high detailed graphics when you’re playing.
In addition to a higher quality GPU, you also need to consider how much memory the card has. While the amount of memory doesn’t affect performance, it does impact how much detail your card can render. That means for the best performance possible, you need the highest quality video card possible along with the most RAM you can find.
Currently, NVIDIA’s GeForce 1080 line of graphics cards are the industry standard, and there are many different options available. To learn more about how each card performs, you can check out this benchmark from FutureMark.
CPU and RAM
Once you have selected your video card, it’s time to examine the second major piece of the gaming laptop puzzle – CPU and RAM. The central processing unit, or CPU, is the heart of your computer. It controls anything and everything that you do on your laptop, even gaming. While video games offload much of the graphics work to your graphics card, your CPU will still be doing its fair share of processing while you are playing. RAM, on the other hand, dictates how much can be loaded into memory for processing. That means the more you have, the more your CPU will be able to access quickly.
When selecting a gaming laptop, you need to look for a processor that’s up to the task and enough memory to give your CPU the advantage it needs to perform at its best. In today’s market, you just can’t beat Intel processors. For gaming, I recommend the Intel i7 eight generation series of processors. When looking at your processor model number, pay attention to the letters at the end, as not all i7 processors are created equally. For gaming, I recommend investing in one of the K line of processors as it will give you more power compared to other i7 processors.
When looking at RAM, never go lower than 8GB of memory, and that’s the absolute minimum I would ever recommend for gaming. Ideally, you will want a laptop that has at least 16GB of memory and if you are truly serious about your gaming, anything over 16GB is not necessary for a dedicated gaming laptop.
Storage can always be a challenge for gamers. Games can take up a lot of space on your hard drive, but larger hard drives tend to be slower. There are two basic types of hard drives today: HDD and SSD. The SSD, or solid state drives, are much faster with their read and write times, making them perfect for installing your operating system and your games. However, they tend to be smaller. An HDD, or hard disk drive, is a traditional hard drive that has been around for decades. These drives tend to be much larger giving you more than enough room for your games, but they spin slower so their read and write times aren’t even on the same playing field with an SDD.
If possible, I recommend grabbing a laptop that has both. A 512GB SSD is really ideal in today’s market with a 7200 rpm HDD installed alongside it to give you plenty of storage for your files and maybe even a few games that you don’t play as often or ones that don’t require lots of frequent load times in order to function.
If you have to make a sacrifice, I recommend the largest SSD you can get and nothing else. This will give you the best of both storage and speed without having to invest quite as much money to do it. Thankfully, times are changing, but as of this writing, I do believe this is the best option for you.
Now that you have the most critical aspects of your gaming laptop figured out, it’s time to look at a few of the other accessories or added features you will be able to get on a good gaming laptop. Not every laptop will have every option, but the more options you can get the better your laptop gaming experience will be.
The first accessory you should look for is a DVD drive. While it’s easy to find laptops today without them, many gaming laptops still come with them, but not all of them. However, some games may still require you to install them with a DVD before you can play them. This won’t be always be the case, but it’s definitely something to consider when buying a new gaming laptop.
After the DVD drive, there are many types of accessories for you to look for. Things like a SD Card reader, for example, make it easy for you to plug in your storage for a digital camera or other devices. While these features aren’t critical to gaming performance, they do make your laptop much more useful for other tasks other than gaming.
Finally, you should consider the design of the laptop. In this section I would also include the look and feel of the keyboard, as well. We all want our gaming keyboards to look cool, and features such as a backlit keyboard are almost a must for serious gaming. I love turning down the lights and gaming in the dark, but when I can’t see the keyboard, it can be tough to control my character at times. A nice looking backlit keyboard easily solves that problem. On top of that, you want your gaming laptop to look good, and many gaming laptop makers go out of their way to design gaming laptops that look like they mean business, but that’s not always the case.
Sure this isn’t really crucial to overall performance, and you may not care what it looks like, but for many gamers the overall look and feel of the laptop is almost as important as how well it performs. So try to find a laptop that looks great while still keeping up with the latest hardware on the inside.
Choosing a gaming laptop shouldn’t take a degree in computer science. By following this guide, you will know what you need to look for in a new gaming laptop so you can choose a laptop that’s right for you and the games you want to play.