Even though gaming has been better on desktops since dinosaurs, laptops can give you the benefit of mobility. There will always be a gamer on the go, traveling, needing a laptop that can turn a hotel room or a campus into an advanced gaming experience. So, if you are the kind of person who needs to shoot his daily 50 headshots in Counter-Strike Go, or needs to continue the grind of his life on World of Warcraft but always on the go, you certainly need a gaming laptop.
But choosing a gaming laptop is not always easy, especially when you’re not such a geek. When it comes to specs, features and performance, people may feel a little overwhelmed. Not everybody is welded to tech experience. There are people that just want to play some games and don’t care so much about “the best” God damn laptop on the market. I will talk about how to choose a gaming laptop, linking needs to specs because after all, not all specs are crucial for a gaming laptop.
Which specs are crucial for a gaming laptop?
What are you gaming about?
Well, first of all we have to talk about your needs. Are you buying it for a specific game or are you just a maniac that wants to play all the games in the world? It you are the kind of gamer that wants a laptop to continue his frustrating Diamond 5 journey in League of Legends, you don’t need a gaming laptop with high specs. There are gaming laptops that start from 700$ and for specific games they are perfect.
But if you are the kind of guy that wants to play at high details every game in Steam Store, you will have to be prepared for one thing: declare bankruptcy to your credit card and buy some 3000$ beast. Taming it will be also fun and will bring a lot of joy and smiles on your face. If you want to play GTA V at high details, ARK: Survival Evolved, Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, Metro Last Light, Batman: Arkham Knight, even Crysis 3, you will need a lot of horse power.
Where are you going to game?
Usually, there are two simple situations. You can play games on a laptop if you travel a lot, or in a campus where you are going to college. If you are traveling a lot, you would better look at the display size. Carrying around a huge laptop while traveling is not always an easy task. So with that being said, you’d better go with some 15.6 inch display.
If you are going to college though, you could go crazy with some 17.3 inch laptop. It will probably sit on your desk all day long and some extra inches will bring you close to the desktop gaming experience. There is quite a niche expanding day by day called desktop replacement laptops. So, there is quite normal to have a 17.3 inch laptop in 2016.
Which components are the heart and the soul of a gaming laptop?
Even though laptop components are designed for mobile use and desktop components will always be better, the idea of performance is the same. Better processor = better performance. Better graphic card = better performance. The processor and the graphic card are the heart and the soul of a gaming laptop and frankly, it’s everything you need to look at.
In 2016, be sure you have at least an i7- 6700HQ Skylake processor and at least a GeForce GTX 970M graphic card if you want to enjoy some medium wildness on your gaming laptop. Even though modern games can run on dual core processors, to avoid any bottlenecks, you should always go with quad cores. Remember, laptop CPUs are weaker than desktop CPUs, so, if you want to get closer to desktop performance, you need much more laptop horse power.
Does display specs matter?
The size doesn’t matter, resolution is the X Factor… Don’t go with 4K displays. Not yet. 4K means more power for display, less horse power for gaming. Go for 1080p laptop and you will be satisfied with the performance. If you have a crazy budget, you can go with 4K gaming laptop, but you have to know that battery life will be affected by the high resolution display, the gaming performance will also be affected if you go with 4K display and low entry graphic card.
How much memory a gaming laptop should have
Games don’t need a lot of memory, but if you want the best gaming experience, be sure you have at least 8 GB of RAM in your gaming laptop. You won’t hit bottleneck with just 8 GB of RAM for most of the titles. Of course, you can go with 16 GB of RAM if you want to do some screen recording multitasking while gaming, streaming, etc.
As for the storage capacity, there is no reason to have a hard drive. 256 GB SSD will be enough for all your games and will make your laptop snappy and fresh. Memory is not crucial for gaming laptops, you could really save some greens in your bang for the buck struggle. Processor and graphics are the most important.
I want a powerful gaming laptop with good battery life
Well, don’t be so optimistic. High hopes could turn into disappointment when it comes to battery life of power hungry gaming laptops. Having a powerful laptop with good battery life is like having your own unicorn. Gaming laptops are intended to sit on a desk, plugged in anyway. Nobody wants to get disconnected from ranked League of Legends because their laptop ran out of juice. Don’t even think about battery life if you want to buy a gaming laptop. They are meant to be used indoors and to deliver great performance. Of course, if you want to spend 2000$ on an Alienware for the 5 hours battery life, you can do that too… Or some Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Series with 7 hours battery rundown but with only Core i5 processor.
Wi-Fi does matter! Sometimes…
Since we are talking about laptops, mobility and games, Wi-Fi performance HAS TO BE THE BEST if you are traveling. In hotels, there is Wi-Fi signal, not Gigabit cables. Even though for the lowest latencies you will need a Gigabit connection, Wi-Fi signal can bring you satisfying gaming experience when traveling if your laptop has a good Wi-Fi card. Just look after gaming laptops with 802.11ac (2.4+5.0 GHz Dual-band) Wi-Fi cards.
Gaming laptops are loud and get really hot. If you think you will find a gaming laptop that won’t scream like a beast when it’s under load, or a gaming laptop that won’t spit fire when you have 5 hours gaming sessions, you’re probably dreaming at the same unicorns people dream about when they want great battery life out of gaming laptops. Comfort is not compatible with gaming laptops. They are bulky and heavy too.
Bottom line – Which specs are crucial for a gaming laptop
Specifications that really matters are glued to CPU, GPU and display size/resolution. You can do your own investigation about what CPU or GPU works better for your needs, for your games that you want to play. Just make sure you don’t go over budget. You don’t have to be concerned about battery life, memory or comfort. You just can’t have them all. Gaming laptop means compromise in many ways, but offer great fun.