If you are in the market looking for the best gaming laptop, you will probably find a heap of options that you can choose from. It certainly is a good thing but any newcomer can easily be overwhelmed due to the sheer number of options available in the market.
In situations like that, people often resort to buying guides, or just asking seasonal PC gamers for help if they know any. More often than not, the buying guides are a lot more helpful when the decision making part comes in.
For anyone on the search for a good gaming laptop; we have accumulated some of the best pointers that will help you buy the best possible gaming laptop you can lay your hands on. This is great for people who are still not sure how they can get their hands on a good gaming laptop.
Before we go ahead and start looking at the guide itself, I would ask you to take a moment and keep the tips mentioned below in mind.
- When buying a gaming laptop, do not pay a high price to play titles that do not require a lot of hardware power.
- Touch screen gaming laptops will only cost you more money, and a higher battery drain.
- Gaming laptops with screens above 15.6 inches are normally more powerful, but less portable.
- Do not go for laptops that have an M series GPU.
- Do not settle for a laptop with resolution below full HD.
- An SSD is definitely a great option in a gaming laptop.
- Make sure that the processor in the laptop has at least the HQ suffix
The tips mentioned above are there to make things easier for you.
How to Buy The Best Gaming Laptop
Since you are in the market looking for a gaming laptop, the first thing that you would need to instil in your mind is that a gaming laptop does not have to look modern and aggressive. It can be subtle and sleek just like a MacBook or a Surface Book and still pack a lot of punch
After spending days, we finally managed to create some important points that will help you buy the gaming laptop that you have been looking for.
First things first, it is best if you consider the budget beforehand. This will help you in buying the gaming laptop with ease. Usually, gaming laptops start from $900, and go up to the $3,000 bracket. There are some more expensive options as well, albeit, they are impractical.
Under a $1,000, you can get a gaming laptop that should run everything. Sure, you might have to sacrifice on the settings. However, the value is hard to beat at this price point.
If you want to spend above $1,000, then there are options that are more powerful. However, at this price, you are likely to get a laptop that is heavier.
You can even hit the $3,000 mark; but at this point, the price to performance ratio does not make sense. You do get an insanely powerful laptop, but it also suffers from a lack of portability.
The Portability Factor
Whenever you are buying a gaming laptop, you need to consider the portability factor before you can go ahead and spend your money. Now when we put the portability into consideration, it largely depends on the size of the laptop, as well as how thick it is.
The Power Houses
If you want the least amount of portability, and you are okay with putting the laptop on your table without the need of moving it much, then buying a laptop with a screen size of 17 to 18 inch is ideal. Also, note that the best gaming laptops would be the one with the most firepower.
These laptops will also be the heaviest, so that is another thing that to keep a note of.
If you are looking for the sweet spot where you can find a decent level of portability, and still relevant gaming performance, then going for a laptop with a 15-inch screen is a great option. You can find these laptops moderately heavy, depends on the material that the company has used.
The Portable Ones
Last but not least, if you want a gaming laptop with maximum portability, then a laptop with a screen size ranging from 13 to 14 inches would be the best. These are not only small, but also lightweight, and still manage to give a decent performance in games like Overwatch, and Fortnite.
The Graphic Cards
Next up, we are going to look at the graphic cards that you should put into consideration whenever you are in the market for a gaming laptop. Now before the GTX 10 series, gaming laptops used to use mobility GPUs. However, that has changed with the 10 series.
Now you get desktop-grade GPU chips in gaming laptop that do give you an almost identical performance marred only by thermals and lack of proper overclocking. With that said, we can divide the graphic cards in laptops in different categories.
Nvidia has done a great job with their GPUs in laptops. So much so that you have options to buy their top tier GPUs. If you are looking for hardcore gaming without budget restraint, you can check your options below.
- Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080: the GTX 1080 is an absolute monster when it comes to delivering top of the line gaming performance. It can run games on 1080p at higher refresh rate without breaking a sweat.
- Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070: If you want a GPU that does not draw a lot of power; and still performs relatively brilliant. Then the GTX 1070 equipped gaming laptop is an absolute beast.
Both graphic cards above in any laptop will give you the ultimate gaming experience.
Mainstream gaming laptops have been getting a bad rep for some time. Due to the fact that you cannot hit the maximum performance numbers. However, these laptops are no slouches. You can save a decent amount of money on these laptops.
Below, you will find graphic cards that are for mainstream gaming. These are much cheaper as well, so you should not worry.
- Nvidia GTX 1060: The Nvidia GTX 1060 is great; especially for people who want decent full HD gaming. It comes equipped with 3 or 6 gigs of VRM. Most modern titles also run without any issue on this laptop.
- Nvidia GTX 1050Ti/GTX 1050: The GTX 1050Ti/1050 are great for people on budget. These are the commonest GPUs you will find on gaming laptops. The performance is decent. You can run most games without breaking a sweat.
After the GPU, CPU should be on the consideration. Mobile CPUs are powerful enough to handle workloads. However, when buying a gaming laptop, always go for quad-core chips. The reason being simple, more cores mean your laptop will handle everything properly.
Previously, only Intel CPUs were available in laptops. However, with the success of AMD, you can go for AMD powered laptops as well. Also, know that clock speeds matter; a chip with higher clock speed will perform better.
Ideally, people say that 8GB RAM is more than enough for gaming. However, my testing of a number of games suggests otherwise. You need 16GB RAM to play without any issues. Sure, the 8GB RAM would work fine as well, but there are games that demand more.
If you are on an Intel platform, then the frequency of RAM should not be a concern. However, AMD users can benefit from a higher frequency. One more thing to make sure of is that your laptop should have upgradability.
Unless you own a full-sized monitor, you will have to pay attention to the display. Whenever buying a gaming laptop, pay close attention to how the display is. You can start by looking at a number of different factors. These factors will aid you in finding the laptop with the perfect display.
If this is your first gaming laptop, consider the following pointers when considering the display.
- The Resolution: I think the minimum resolution for a gaming laptop is 1080p. Anything less than that, and you will have ugly graphics in games. If you want more, you can go for 2K and 4K screens as well. However, the higher the resolution, the more expensive the laptop. Not only that, but higher resolutions are difficult to drive by the GPU.
- The Finish: Laptops come either of the two different finishes on the screen. You can get glossy finish or matte finish. Glossy finish is good if you want vibrant colours and high brightness. However, it is susceptible to fingerprints, and glare. Matte, on the other hand, is without glare but shows washed out colours.
- The Panel: You have to consider the panel you are getting. You have to choose between IPS and TN. IPS panel is great for colour reproduction but is on the expensive side. TN panels are cheaper, offer higher refresh rate, but with washed out colours.
- Nvidia G-Sync or AMD FreeSync: Gaming laptops are equipped with either of these technologies. Laptops with G-Sync are more expensive than the ones with FreeSync. The purpose of this feature is to reduce tearing and ghosting. Tearing happens when the frames in game surpass the refresh rate of the monitor. Additionally, if your game is giving you 40 frames, then a G-Sync/FreeSync equipped monitor will lower the displays refresh rate to match the frame rate of the game. This will result in a smoother gameplay experience.
The Keyboard And The Touchpad
People often overlook the keyboard and touchpad after checking the specs. When buying a gaming laptop, do check if the keyboard is mechanical or not. As for the touchpad, you need to be sure it uses Microsoft Precision drivers.
Additionally, you should put into consideration a few more factors.
- Mechanical or Scissor Switches: Scissor switches are popular in most laptops. However, laptops with mechanical keyboards are now becoming mainstream.
- Backlighting: You can either go with laptop keyboards with backlighting. Alternatively, you can just buy a laptop with a standard Backlighting does drain more battery, but helps typing and navigating at night. Especially if you do not have a muscle memory.
As for the touchpad, there is not much to consider. Especially since you will be using an external mouse for the best gaming experience. However, you should consider the surface area of the touchpad.
When buying a gaming laptop, you must pay attention to the storage. You can choose from SSD only, SSD + HDD, or HDD. If you want super-fast storage with practicality, go for HDD + SSD combination. However, if you are short on money, you can opt for HDD only and upgrade in the future.
Most laptops I have used so far use NVMe SSD. However, option for cheaper, SATA SSD is also available. As for HDD, make sure you get a laptop that has a faster HDD.
Buying a gaming laptop is not a difficult task. However, if it is your first time, it can be overwhelming. The key is to be patient and look at all the options you have. The purpose of this buying guide is to aid those who are looking to spend.
There are a limitless number of gaming laptops available. Buying the right one is the key because the wrong laptop can cause troubles. Hopefully, this buying guide will be of some help to you.