It can be difficult to know how to get started when choosing the Best Gaming Laptops. There is a range of features to consider, including the display, form factor, battery life, and of course the components that give it its power.
Upgrading a gaming laptop with new hardware is usually not feasible, so it is important to plan and think about how you want to use your system. The first step is to prioritize the functions that are most important to you.
We will cover these topics in more detail, but we start by reviewing some of the basic fundamentals.
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How to Buy The Best Gaming Laptop
Choosing the Best Laptop for Gaming: Key Features
- Screen. The size, resolution, and refresh rate can affect your gaming experience. Do you want to prioritize a high resolution or high refresh rate display, or do you plan to use an external monitor?
- CPU and GPU. Compare component specifications such as the number of cores and clock speed, and check benchmarks to see a comparison between different product lines.
- Memory and storage. Recognize the difference between SSD and HDD, and determine how much RAM you need for how you plan to use your system.
- Design. Lighter laptops can be transported better, but more powerful hardware can be a higher priority when playing demanding games at home.
- Ports and entrances. Plan the number of peripherals you anticipate using, including external storage and audio. Do you need more flexibility, more space, or extra high-speed ports?
Let’s take a look at the features you’ll find when looking for a gaming laptop, starting with the first thing you’ll see when you open it: the screen.
The right screen can have a significant impact on your gaming experience, but there are more factors to consider beyond screen size.
Laptop Screens: Key Features
- Resolution. The higher the resolution, the more pixels appear on the screen, and that can mean a clearer image. Newer laptops may include 1440p or 4K displays instead of the standard 1080p, but the hardware required to run games at these resolutions is likely to add cost.
- Update rate. A higher refresh rate display can make on-screen action smoother and easier to follow. It does this by redrawing the image more times per second. Many gaming laptop screens make use of this technology, with some refresh rates of 120Hz or 144Hz (or even higher).
- Screen size. The form factors of laptops and their displays vary, with the most common configurations being 13, 15, and 17 inches. With thinner bezels (the edges around the screen) you can get bigger screens in smaller form factors.
- OLED (Organic Light-Emitting Diode). Available on some gaming laptops, these displays use pixels that produce their own light rather than relying on a backlight. That means they can achieve deeper black levels and more contrast than most laptop screens, which are often LED-illuminated liquid crystal displays.
An easy way to enhance the laptop experience is by connecting to an external monitor. This allows the option of using a laptop with a portable form factor for travel and then returning home to a display with 4K resolution, 240Hz refresh rate, or an ultra-wide aspect ratio.
When considering an external display with a high resolution or high refresh rate, be sure to choose a CPU and graphics card capable of taking advantage of those features. Compare the components of the laptop you are considering against the recommended specs of the games you hope to play and prioritize your choice of components accordingly.
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The CPU or central processing unit acts as the “brain” of your laptop. It sends signals to the other components of your system and processes the instructions sent by all running software on your machine.
The choice of your CPU can have a significant impact on everything you do, from the framerates you see in video games to the response times of applications, and even the battery life of your laptop.
The most commonly cited CPU specs are core count and clock speed, but many other attributes come into play, including its potential for overclocking. The most important CPU features will vary based on how you use the laptop, and the basics are worth knowing.
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CPU: Key Features
- Clock speed. The clock speed defines the number of cycles that the CPU executes each second (measured in GHz). In general, a higher clock speed means a faster CPU, but many other factors come into play.
- A number of cores. Multiple cores help the CPU to multitask as each core acts as an individual processing unit that can work in parallel to deliver higher performance. CPUs using Intel® Hyper-Threading Technology can run more than one software thread per hardware core, for even more performance gains.
- CPU options. There are CPUs designed for almost every use case, so it’s worth taking the time to select the one that best matches how you plan to use your system. If you’re looking for higher core counts and clock speeds, the Intel® Core ™ H processor family might be for you. Unlocked CPUs (such as the Intel® Core ™ i9-10980 CPU ) can be overclocked 3 for more performance. If you prioritize portability, efficient CPUs like Intel’s U-series can help preserve battery life.
To maintain consistent gaming performance while streaming or recording the game, we recommend at least an Intel® Core ™ i7 processor. Higher clock speeds and core counts are particularly important if you’re interested in live streaming your games, as capture software often requires significant processing power to encode video.
A laptop’s GPU, or graphics processing unit, creates the pixels that make up the images on your screen when gaming. Along with the CPU, it is the key to enjoying smooth framerates and high-resolution gameplay.
If you are looking to play in 1440p or 4K, you need to have a capable CPU and GPU. Higher resolutions mean more pixels on the screen: running a game at 4K resolution, for example, increases the number of pixels of the 1080p standard by four times.
GPU: Key Features
- Framerate and resolution. Make sure your gaming laptop’s GPU and CPU can achieve consistent frame rates while offering the proper resolution for your external display or monitor. Compare the CPU and GPU in the laptop you are considering with the system requirements of the games you hope to play to get an idea of how they will run.
- Screen update frequency. If you’ve invested in a 144Hz display, you’ll want a GPU that can consistently hit 144 FPS (or higher) to get the maximum benefit from the higher refresh rate.
- Ray tracing. If you plan to enable hardware-intensive rendering techniques such as ray tracing technology, check the relevant benchmarks beforehand to judge how it will affect performance.
Solid State Drives (SSDs) outperform old mechanical drives (HDDs) in most gaming impact areas. SSDs use a type of flash memory (NAND) to read and write blocks of data electronically without any moving parts. On the other hand, HDDs use mechanical platters rotated by a motor, which you access with a moving drive head.
One of the key advantages of SSDs over HDDs is a high random read/write speed, which means that they can quickly access data stored in different places on the drive. They generally load programs and files faster than a comparable size HDD and can help reduce system startup times.
Because SSDs don’t use moving parts, and they have processes to equalize wear between memory blocks, they also have more longevity than traditional HDDs.
SSDs typically cost more per gigabyte than a comparable size HDD due to higher manufacturing costs. For this reason, some systems have a high-capacity SSD and HDD for storing large files, although more and more modern notebooks rely only on SSDs.
Laptop Storage: Key Features
- NVMe SSD. These drives use the high-speed PCIe bus instead of the older SATA interface, allowing for comparatively fast random read or write speeds and higher performance.
- SATA SSD. These drives use the same SATA connectors as traditional HDDs. They are typically faster and more durable than an HDD, but slower than modern NVMe drives.
- Intel® Optane ™ memory technology. Intel® Optane ™ memory is a compact NVMe-based solution that combines new storage technology with intelligent memory that archives frequently used programs and files for quick retrieval. This technology is designed to quickly load key applications and data, making it an excellent choice to use as a boot drive.
- External storage With limited built-in storage, external hard drives or SSDs can provide affordable additional space.
Random Access Memory or RAM is a memory that temporarily stores data for rapid retrieval by the CPU. Unlike an SSD or HDD, it does not permanently store data, and it resets itself whenever it loses power, but it also makes the availability of frequently used data greater than a storage unit.
The additional RAM allows a computer to run more processes simultaneously and allows a system to more quickly switch between programs while running background services.
How much RAM you need in your laptop depends on how you plan to use the system.
- 2-4GB of RAM may be enough for browsing the internet, lightwork applications, or older games.
- 8GB of RAM can be sufficient for mid-range video games and most work applications. Many modern PC games require 8GB of RAM or more as a minimum system requirement.
- 16GB of RAM enables a system to run newer and more resource-demanding games at higher settings, multiple background applications (such as voice chat or video recording), and streaming software.
- 32GB of RAM is ideal for resource-intensive multitasking, including gaming, content creation, and anyone who frequently uses memory-intensive processes such as video editing or rendering.
Although the amount of RAM available to your system is probably the most important metric for the average user, other RAM features are also worth considering.
RAM: Key Features :
- Speed. Measured in MHz (or millions of cycles per second), RAM frequency measures the speed at which your RAM can access memory when it receives a request from the CPU.
- Update. Some gaming laptop designs allow access to the internal SO-DIMM slots where the RAM is installed. This is still fairly unusual, however, so consider how much RAM may be required for your preferred experience. It may not be practical to add more later.
- SO-DIMM. Please note that laptop and desktop RAM are not interchangeable. Laptop RAM is often smaller, has a different pin configuration, and fits into the SO-DIMM (Small Dual Inline Module) slots rather than the DIMM slots that you would find on most motherboards. desktop.
There are gaming laptops of all shapes and sizes. Entry-level options can struggle to balance portability and performance, while more powerful gaming laptops traditionally take up more space. However, in recent years, that compensation has become less universal. Premium notebooks with advanced thermal designs can be relatively thin and light using high-performance components.
Consider the difference between power, price, price, portability, as well as available ports and performance-enhancing extras when thinking about laptop design.
Design: Key Features
- Build quality. The aluminum housing can allow for more elegant and durable designs than traditional plastic.
- Bezels Choose screens with a narrow bezel to reduce the overall size of the device. By reducing the size of the screen boundaries, manufacturers can make the notebook smaller while preserving a similar screen size.
- Weight. A slimmer and lighter design means more portability. However, thicker and heavier gaming laptops, also known as muscular equipment, often include features that are beneficial for a stationary home setup, such as more input and output (I / O) options, or particularly cooling solutions. powerful.
- Esthetic. Premium laptops can have a metallic finish, user-controlled RGB lighting, and other eye-catching design features worth considering.
- Additional features. Although less common, high-end notebooks can include multiple displays, ultra-wide aspect ratios, overclockable layouts, upgradeable hardware, or even keyboards with mechanical switches.
- Wireless connectivity. Most laptops incorporate wireless cards that allow you to connect to hotspots and home routers on the 2.4GHz or 5GHz bands. To access the fastest wireless internet speeds, look for Wi-Fi 6- enabled components. Another common wireless feature to look out for is Bluetooth connectivity, which uses the 2.4GHz band to connect peripherals like headsets or controllers to a system.
More ports mean more options to expand the functionality of a notebook. Some gaming laptops may reduce the number of ports available to achieve a smaller form factor, so keep this in mind when comparing.
Laptop Ports: Key Features
- Screen. Connect external monitors or HDTV using these ports, the most common are HDMI and DisplayPort.
- Thunderbolt ™ 3 technology. This versatile connection technology can transmit video and audio to monitors using the DisplayPort standard. It can also transfer data four times faster than USB 3.1, and even supply power. This connection can be especially useful for multi-monitor setups, or for transferring large amounts of data to external drives. Not all laptops support Thunderbolt ™ 3 technology, so check it out if you want to take advantage of the system.
- USB. The USB ports can be used to connect mice, headphones, external hard drives, and countless peripherals. Version numbers like 2.0, 3.0, or 3.1 reflect the data transfer speed of the port, while classifications like “Type-A” and “Type-C” refer to the shape of the connector.
- Audio. Most laptops have a 3.5mm headphone port, as well as USB ports for compatible headphones and speakers.
- Ethernet. An RJ-45 Ethernet port can provide a fast and stable connection to your system and can be a great alternative to relying on Wi-Fi at home. If the laptop does not have an Ethernet port, a USB adapter can potentially be used.
- SD. An SD slot allows you to easily expand storage with SDXC cards and allows you to quickly transfer data between devices that support this form factor. This can be particularly useful in fields that require frequent media transfer, such as photography and videography.
If the laptop you want has limited ports, consider using a multi-port USB hub or docking station. If you’re having trouble connecting a mouse, headset, webcam, external hard drive, or other peripherals to a slim laptop with just two USB ports, these options can provide new connection options.
For more ideas on how to build a laptop-centric gaming station, check out our Laptop Setup Guide.
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Improvements in cooling have allowed laptop manufacturers to overcome the old stereotype of thick and unwieldy notebooks. Some of the most powerful systems on the market today are slimline portables with meticulously designed cooling systems.
Although its internal functionalities are complex, the fundamentals of laptop cooling systems still consist of vents, fans, cooling pipes, and heat sinks. That said, huge strides have been made in how these cooling tools are designed and implemented, allowing for the smaller form factors that we see in modern notebooks.
Comparing the cooling of one system to another can be difficult from the manufacturer’s description alone, so it’s worth taking a look at reviews and reviews to see the actual performance and how it may relate to your usage needs.
Taking full advantage of a laptop’s input and output options can enable a desktop-like gaming experience at home. Connect a gaming mouse, more responsive keyboard, or quality speakers to create a fully equipped gaming station that revolves around a laptop.
Laptop Peripherals: Key Features
- Mechanical keyboard. Although most gaming laptops don’t use mechanical switches, you can easily connect an external keyboard via USB to enjoy a full-size keyboard layout with the switches and aesthetics you prefer.
- Gaming mouse. Notebook touchpads have come a long way, and are specifically designed for comfortable everyday use. When gaming, however, it may be preferable to connect a mouse with additional input options for more precise and customizable movements.
- Headphones and audio. A gaming headset with a built-in microphone that allows game audio and voice chat audio to be adjusted separately can be very useful for multiplayer video games. Many have both stereo and digital surround sound setups. They generally connect via a USB port, Bluetooth, or a 3.5mm audio jack.
- Speakers. Upgrade your laptop’s built-in speakers and create a rich soundstage with desktop speakers or a soundbar. Connect traditional speakers via USB or audio cable, or use a lightweight Bluetooth speaker or soundbar for a more immersive audio experience.
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What is the most suitable laptop for you?
When choosing a laptop, what matters most is how you plan to use it.
If you plan to play on an external monitor, it might make sense to prioritize the CPU and GPU over an integrated display with performance features. If you’re editing video or creating content, 32GB of RAM, a solid CPU, and a high-resolution display could be more important than the latest GPU architecture.
It’s not just about comparing components or form factors from one gaming laptop to another: It’s about identifying the features you value the most, and finding the machine that has everything you’re looking for.
What laptops have VR enabled?
Check the performance of a laptop against a manufacturer benchmark like the SteamVR Performance Test before launching yourself. Most VR-equipped laptops feature powerful gaming hardware.
Can I upgrade the GPU of my laptop?
Although there are notebooks designed to be upgradeable, it is relatively rare. When choosing a laptop, consider that you will probably use the internals included in the initial purchase, and you may not be able to easily upgrade them.
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Can you broadcast from a laptop?
A powerful enough notebook should be up to the task. Keep in mind that you will need a CPU powerful enough to encode video while you play and that connecting a second screen can make it easier to monitor other applications such as chat.
What are some good laptops to start with?
Unlike gaming computers, it is usually not practical to upgrade or build a laptop yourself. Fortunately, there is a wide selection of notebooks designed by trusted brands for almost every user.