The Abcs Of Gaming Laptop Specs
Start by familiarizing yourself with these acronyms, which you’ll likely come across in your hunt for a gaming laptop.
- CPU: Central processing unit or processor
- GPU: Graphics processing unit or video/graphics card
- RAM: Random access memory
- VRAM: Video RAM memory used by the video card
- FPS: Frames per second
- HDD: Hard disk drive or hard drive
- SSD: Solid state drive
- HD: 1280×720/1366×768 16:9 display resolution or 720p/768p
- HD+: 1600×900 16:9 display resolution or 900p
- FHD: 1920×1080 16:9 display resolution or 1080p
How To Pick The Best Laptop For You
So, what makes a laptop worth buying? First, it needs to offer excellent value for money. That means budget laptops below the $400/£400 price point need to still offer good performance and build quality.
Meanwhile, ultra-expensive devices need to justify their high price tags with best-in-class performance, premium build quality and lengthy battery lives.
If you want something to work on, a laptop with a modern processor, at least 8GB of RAM and a large screen are worth considering.
For gaming, you’ll want a gaming laptop with a dedicated graphics card and fast and responsive screen.
Check out our guide on what you should look for when buying a new laptop at the end of this page for more in-depth advice on buying a laptop.
Customizable Keys And The Right Ports
The keyboard and touchpad aren’t anything out of the ordinary, but they’re high quality. The keys have a moderate amount of travel but feel very responsive, and feature customizable backlighting with a multitude of colors and effects. The touchpad feels above average in quality and responsiveness, with very smooth panning and a premium feel. It also includes a fingerprint reader at top left for quick and secure login.
A modest port selection rounds out the physical build. The left flank holds a USB 3.1 Type-A port, a USB-C port with Thunderbolt 4 support, and the power connector.
On the right, there’s another USB-A 3.1 port and an HDMI connection for an external monitor. That’s not a huge number of ports, but it should give you what you need for most use cases without feeling too restrictive. The system also includes Wi-Fi 6 , Bluetooth, and a 720p webcam on the top bezel.
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Razer Thin: A Slim Metal Monster
A few years back, Razer modernized the Blade 15 with a squarer look and thinner screen bezels. Since then, it has seen only a few iterative changes, but that’s no cause for complaint. Its svelte build remains one of the sleekest among gaming laptops in terms of style, quality, and portability, all while ramping up the power under the hood. The all-black paint job, sharp edges, and clean look create a striking silhouette that several competitors have mirrored in their more recent designs.
The Blade 15 was one of the first high-end gaming laptops to be reasonably portable in a world of hefty slabs. This iteration measures 0.67 by 14 by 9.3 inches and weighs 4.4 pounds, plenty thin and relatively light while packing more power than before.
Slim competitors like the MSI Stealth 15M match this profile, while the Alienware m15 R4 focuses more on power. You can find more-compact laptops that really double down on portability, our favorite being the 14-inch Acer Predator Triton 300 SE. It’s worth noting that Razer’s power adapter is reasonably sized versus the bricks that accompany some gaming laptops, furthering the portability proposition.
Best Ultra Cheap Gaming Pc
See on NeweggCPU:GPU:RAM:Storage:Weight:Size:
These days, HP is better known for its value PCs that offer decent power at affordable prices. So, when it comes to budget PC gaming, its hardly a surprise that HP has something thats much cheaper than its rivals. For $1400 , you can get a Pavilion gaming desktop with a quad-core AMD Ryzen 3 5300G processor under the hood. Meanwhile the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 is a solid 1080p performer for competitive online games like Apex Legends and Valorant and AAA experiences.
The downside to paying that low price? Youre getting a boxy desktop PC with an unimaginative design and hardly any RGB lighting. The 256GB SSD also won’t hold a ton of games, but you should have no trouble adding in a cheap hard drive after the fact. If thats not a deal-breaker for you, then youve got a winner here.
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Gaming Laptop Storage: Stick With An Ssd
You should definitely give preference to a system with a solid-state drive as the boot drive, since prices have fallen considerably over the past few years. SSDs speed up boot time, wake-from-sleep time, and the time it takes to launch a game and load a new level.
Go ahead and get a gaming laptop with an SSD, but make sure you configure correctly. A small-capacity SSD with a roomy spinning secondary hard drive is a good start if you also download the occasional video from the internet. Higher-capacity SSDs are available, but choosing one will increase the purchase price of your gaming rig by a bunch.
SSDs are very fast, but in terms of capacity, your money goes much further with hard drives. Adding more SSD capacity can make the price rise very quickly. Still, recognize how big modern game downloads can be and shop accordingly. A too-small SSD can mean you’re forever shuffling games on and off the drive.
How Much Ram Do I Need
We recommend a minimum of 16GB for most serious gaming PCs , but it isnt too costly to upgrade to 32GB these days, thanks to a recent pricing crash. That capacity will provide a hefty buffer if youre inclined to multitasking, creative or intensive apps, or, y’know, heavy Chrome tab usagecheck out our handy guide if youre wondering how much RAM you actually need.
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Why Buy A Gaming Laptop Instead Of A Standard Laptop
Gaming laptops offer much more than just futuristic designs and fancy lights. Unlike a regular laptop, which can typically handle only the most basic gaming duties, gaming laptops have the power to run and make the most of the latest and greatest games, from Assassins Creed to Cyberpunk 2077. They deliver a gaming experience thats free of crashes and frame stutters while serving up gorgeous graphics on big and beautiful screens. Gaming laptops dont just enable high-quality PC gaming, they make it a feast for the eyes.
Gaming Desktop Vs Gaming Laptop: Which Is Better For You
Gaming rigs arent one-size fits all. Some people love massive ATX towers with RGB lighting connected to a curved monitor and a mechanical keyboard. Others with less space may want a laptop that they can fold up and tuck away when theyre not using it.Weve reached a point where you can have an excellent experience on either one of the best gaming PCs or best gaming laptops. Whether you prefer upgradeability, portability or affordability, both laptops and desktops have options. So in the battle of gaming desktop vs. laptop, which is better for you?
Best Overall: Razer Blade 15 Gaming Laptop
The Razer Blade 15 is slim, has powerful internal components, and incredible display options. The model we highlighted here comes with an Intel Core i7-10750H CPU, NVIDIA RTX 3060 GPU, as well as 16GB of RAM. So long as your net connection is good enough for data streaming, this gaming laptop will let you enjoy Microsoft Flight Simulator without being tied to a desk.
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Cost Of Gaming Desktops Vs Laptops
While its hard to directly compare gaming laptops and desktops due to the huge number of configurations as well as the price of components, just checking a few examples points to some general trends.
For starters, we compared some close-to-entry level machines from Dells G series line.
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In this case, the gaming desktop comes in $200 cheaper when both systems are outfitted with a 9th Gen Intel Core i5 CPU, GTX 1660 Ti and 8GB of RAM . The desktop has twice the space of the laptop, albeit with a slower, clunkier spinning hard drive instead of a fast NVMe SSD.That desktop gets even cheaper, down to $679.99, for a Core i3-9100 and GTX 1660 Super with the same RAM and storage. A cheaper version of that laptop uses some last generation parts. But the desktop does have some additional costs when you first start out. If you dont have a monitor, preferably one of the best gaming monitors, youll need one. And the mouse and keyboard that comes boxed in with most prebuilts are pretty bad. If you built, it wont come with those at all. On top of that, you may need speakers or headphones. A laptop comes with the screen and speakers built in, as well as the keyboard. For gaming, youll just need a mouse , though the screen wont be as big as a desktop monitor..
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Best Gaming Laptops In 2021
The best gaming laptops manage to squeeze the power of a gaming desktop PC into a machine you can tuck under your arm and take with you. Well slightly less power maybe, but not far off. The benefits of having a portable gaming machine speak for themselves as wellthey can be a better option to bulky desktop PCs in plenty of areas. They’re not as easy to upgrade, but that’s about the only downside to modern laptops.
The newest models pack all the features you’ll find in big desktop gaming rigs too, including powerful multicore CPUs, the latest Nvidia RTX 30-series and AMD Radeon RX 6000-series GPUs, as well as speedy NVMe SSDs, oodles of RAM, and quality, super high-refresh screens. You can even enjoy mechanical keyboards on some models, although we’d still recommend having a proper keyboard and mouse for serious gaming suggestions.
There’s actually some good news for laptops in these silicon-starved times as well, in that they’re often the most immediate way of securing the best gaming hardwarehello GeForce RTX 3080. Stock levels are healthy too. And while high-end gaming laptops can be pricey, there are plenty of more affordable options out there too. If you’re on a tight budget, be sure to check out the best cheap gaming laptop deals.
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What To Look For In A Gaming Laptop
The best gaming laptops have come a long way in relatively little time. Power, portability, and price have all seen dramatic improvements in just the last 5 years, and somehow gaming laptops are getting thinner and adding even more features.
The newest gaming laptops are cramming RTX 2080 graphics cards inside of them. These ray-tracing capable cards from Nvidia are among our picks for the best graphics cards, at least the desktop versions. Fitting them inside of a gaming laptop, like the Asus ROG Zephyrus S, is no easy feat. Nvidia’s Max-Q tech makes it possible to run a powerhouse GPU inside a thin laptop frame without the whole thing becoming boiling hot.
Choosing the latest processor isn’t quite as necessary, but it’s a nice to have. When shopping for a gaming laptop be sure the Intel processor has a model number of Intel Core ix-9xxxH , this denotes that it’s one of Team Blue’s latest Coffee Lake H-series processors. If the gaming laptop you’re eying has an AMD processor, ensure it’s model number has a three at the start of itsuch as AMD Ryzen 7 3750Has it lets you know its one of AMD’s latest 3rd Generation processors.
Another big disadvantage a gaming laptop has compared to a gaming desktop is price. It costs quite a lot more to stuff all those components into an easy-to-carry shell. When considering a gaming laptop over a gaming desktop, ask yourself, is the premium in price worth it over and would it be cheaper to buy these all separately?
Best Cheap Everday Gaming Laptop
Display: 15.6 FHD IPS 240Hz CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 4800HS GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 RAM: 16GB DDR4 Storage: 1TB NVMe SSD Weight: 4.60 lbs Size: 14.2″ x 9.9″ x 0.8″
The Asus ROG Zephyrus G15 is an amazing laptop for just about everything, and that goes doubly for gaming. This laptop packs a quality, IPS display that will work well for general use, meanwhile 16GB of RAM will give you plenty of memory for multitasking if you need to use this laptop for work as well.
Inside, the ROG Zephyrus G15 is running on the potent combination of an AMD Ryzen 7 4800HS and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060. That’s an eight-core processor paired with a GPU that will easily chew through games at 1080p, which means you’ll actually get to take more advantage of the display’s 240Hz refresh rate. You heard that right this laptop display hits 240Hz for ultra-smooth gaming. All that for $1,699 is a deal.
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Testing The Rtx : Potent Portability
Just as important as the design is what’s inside this compact machine. Our test model is the only configuration, sold exclusively through Best Buy. For $1,399.99, it includes a quad-core Intel Core i7-11375H processor, 16GB of memory, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 GPU, and a 512GB solid-state drive. That’s a pretty good value on paperâthough I’d say that more storage would be welcomeâbut it will all depend how these parts perform.
For our benchmark charts, I compared the Predator Triton 300 SE to four other gaming laptops detailed below. It’s a varied field, including RTX 20 and 30 Series GPUs as contrasts to the RTX 3060. This mix of competitors should show by how much the RTX 3060 outperforms the RTX 2060 and how two 14-inch gamers stack up against larger 15-inch and smaller 13-inch competitors.
Display Size: Do You Need A 17
In terms of display size, a 15-inch screen is the sweet spot for a gaming laptop. You can buy models with larger 17-inch displays, but this will almost certainly jack up the weight to well beyond 5 pounds and put portability in question. In terms of resolution, however, it’s less of a question: A full HD native-resolution screen is the default minimum at this point, whatever the screen size.
Larger displays are capable of giving you higher-than-1080p resolutions, but choose wisely, as a resolution of QHD , QHD+ , or 4K will boost the final cost twice: first for the panel, and second for the higher-quality graphics chip you’ll need to drive it to its full potential. As mentioned, look for increasingly common G-Sync or high-refresh-rate screens if you want smoother visuals.
Because they require the most potent GPUs for smooth gameplay at native resolution, gaming laptops with a 4K screen are still an exception, and still expensive. And keep this in mind: Only the most powerful graphics cards can render complex game animations at playable frame rates across the full screen at 4K, so a 1080p screen may actually be a better use of your money if all you do is play games . Even though the RTX 3070 and RTX 3080 can handle 4K gaming much more reasonably than any laptop GPUs before them, we still don’t think it’s worth the cost to seek out 4K gaming in laptops. The screens sure do look nice, though, especially since they’re often paired with OLED technology.
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Quick Gaming Laptop Shopping Tips
- Focus on the GPU: Most games are dependent on the GPU, and those arent upgradeable. If you splurge on a powerful GPU now, youll be gaming comfortably for a few years.
- You can upgrade some parts later: While CPUs and GPUs are almost always soldered down, most gaming laptops let you replace the RAM and storage, so you can buy cheaper now and add more memory and a bigger hard drive or SSD down the road.
- Battery life will probably be bad: Very few gaming notebooks get 8 hours or more on a charge, and you need the power supply to get the best gaming performance anyway. However, we’ve seen some strong times from AMD’s Ryzen processors, and Nvidia suggests its improved Optimus technology may help turn the tide.
Best gaming laptops at a glance
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
For enthusiasts who want a gaming laptop to replace a desktop, the MSI GE76 Raider has it all. It’s a performance gaming machine with up to an Intel Core i9-11980HK and Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080, with a 360 Hz display that’s ready for esports like League of Legends or Dota 2.
Reasons to avoid
The battery life is also surprisingly long for a gaming notebook and the keyboard is clicky and comfortable. The fan, however, sometimes goes off even when just sitting on the desktop, and this system doesnt come equipped with a built-in webcam.
Reasons to avoid