Up until a few years ago, gaming laptops had been met with mockery and derision. The rationale for this was along the lines of “Why would you pay more money for a ‘gaming laptop’ than for a desktop that, for the same price, would have much more powerful specs?” Add to that the fact that gaming laptops aren’t that effective at eliminating heat and that they’re heavy and (usually) ugly, and you can see the argument.
Are Gaming Laptops Worth It | Guide 2023
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Up until a few years ago, gaming laptops had been met with mockery and derision. The rationale for this was along the lines of “Why would you pay more money for a ‘gaming laptop’ than for a desktop that, for the same price, would have much more powerful specs?” Add to that the fact that gaming laptops aren’t that effective at eliminating heat and that they’re heavy and (usually) ugly, and you can see the argument
But things can change a lot in the tech world in just a few years, and it’s safe to say that a few things have happened that changed the game to make gaming laptops more viable than ever (even if the best are still a luxury).
Here’s our take on the viability of a gaming laptop in 2023.
Are Gaming Laptops Worth It Guide
Gaming laptops have really fallen in price in recent years. While you should have previously spent up to $ 1200 to play the latest games at high settings, you can easily find cheaper ones today. At the time of writing, you can grab a Lenovo Legion with an RTX 2060 for under $ 900. This will give you access to entry-level raytracing as well (Don’t know what raytracing is? Check out our guide on the subject.)
At the budget end, you can find a laptop with a GTX 1650 (the cheapest GPU at this point that will still make most games playable) for around $ 700. The latest generation of laptops with an RTX GPU, available February 2023, starts at around $ 1100 with the RTX 3060 models. Beyond that, you can expect to pay up to $ 2000 for the newest and best gaming laptops, but the entry-level has gotten more affordable in recent years.
You have to ask yourself a few questions: Are you going to play a lot of games on the go or will you play mostly at home? Because if it’s the latter, for the same price as a powerful gaming laptop, you could get a great gaming desktop and a lightweight portable laptop for when you work on the go. Keep in mind that your gaming and laptop might be two separate things for the price of a gaming laptop.
If you like the idea of being able to play in different rooms in your home, remember that services like Steam Link allow you to stream between your home devices so you can continue playing from your powerful desktop PC to a laptop or even a telephone.
If you travel a lot or like the idea of taking your entire game collection to a friend’s house for a game night, then the case for getting a gaming laptop gets stronger.
On paper, gaming laptops come very close to matching their PC counterparts. For example, look at the laptop version of the Nvidia RTX 2080 GPU and the desktop edition and you’ll see that their benchmarks aren’t too far off.
However, that doesn’t tell the whole story, because laptops tend to have their components underclocked, sometimes quite drastically, to ensure laptops don’t overheat. Laptop OEMs have a lot of leeway with clock speed throttling on GPUs and can sometimes clock 30 to 50 percent lower than their desktop counterparts.
Furthermore, with the latest generation of Nvidia mobile GPUs, there is a lot of variation even with a GPU that has the same name and features in different laptops. Just look at this list of Asus laptops and their GPU specs.
As you can see, clock speeds, TGP (Total Graphics Power), Max GPU Power, and Dynamic Boost even on a single GPU model vary greatly between laptops.
The lesson here is to always check the GPU (and CPU) clock speeds when buying a new laptop because it will vary even if technically it is the same hardware and will almost certainly be clocked slightly lower than a desktop equivalent. Nvidia has muddled the waters with its latest generation GPUs and it’s important to keep up to date to get the best deal.
Also, keep in mind that the higher the graphics power, the louder your GPU is likely to be, probably louder than a tower PC, because the thermal setup has to work a lot harder to push all that heat out. This remains a widespread problem.
Weight and build
Until recently, many gaming laptops were just hopelessly ugly. Bright red or RGB keys, bulky designs and aggressive key characters are the order of the day. But things are slowly changing on this front as well.
For the most part, high-end gaming laptops will still contain GPUs and a degree of ventilation that will give them a great form factor. But there are exceptions. The latest Asus TUF DASH laptops squeeze RTX 3060 and 3070 graphics into incredibly small bodies, but as the table in the previous header shows, you’ll sacrifice some power. If you want long battery life and a truly portable device, though, then they’re the ones to get.
Until the TUF DASH series came along, it would be hard to find solid and thin gaming laptops. Thinner laptops tend to have integrated graphics, which is poor for gaming. The Razer Blade Stealth and book series, for example, are very expensive and not that powerful.
Gaming laptop: present and future
In the current state of affairs, we are in a period of transition. If until just a couple of years ago buying a laptop for videogame purposes was a question of compromise, today this condition is fading.
Those who look with interest to the world of laptops are dynamic people, always on the road who nevertheless do not want to give up gaming sessions in their free time.
For them, a desktop PC would represent nothing more than a burden, while a laptop would be the only way to satisfy their gaming needs.
The Desktop PC remains the best choice for several reasons: custom assembly capability, reduced price, easier repair, better overall experience.
However, the global lifestyle is increasingly lively and the possibility of carrying your console or your PC with you is something that an increasingly populated number of people look to.
Gaming laptops are a topic that has always been discussed, little explored, and does not enjoy particular consideration by gamers.
The technology in gaming laptops has come a long way and the dream of being able to play the best games wherever you are has come. If you’re looking to buy a used laptop, be sure to check out our guide on things to look for.