How To Pick A Cpu In A Gaming Laptop
The processor is the heart of a PC, and in most gaming laptops that released back in 2020, you’ll likely find Intel’s 10th Generation Core H-Series processors . You’ll still see plenty of these processors available in 2021 , even though they’re technically no longer the latest and greatest offerings. Intel launched its first 11th Generation “Tiger Lake-H” processors in early 2021 , with some newer, higher-powered chips debuting in May. The first ones “only” included four cores and eight threads, but thanks to improvements in Intel’s manufacturing technology, that shouldn’t always equal lower performance, especially on less multi-threaded tasks. They also have the advantage of using less power and running cooler.
Even better for gamers, that second wave of Tiger Lake-H chips are hitting a range of gaming systems in the second half of 2021. They include enthusiast Core i9 CPUs, Core i7 processors for thin-and-light gaming laptops, and fresh Core i5 chips for budget machines. Unlike the processors from the initial wave, these more potent chips have at minimum six cores and 12 threads, and the Core i7 and i9 units boast eight cores and 16 threads. We haven’t reviewed any laptops with these chips just yet, but should have performance numbers soon.
A Gaming Laptop’s Cpu
A gaming laptop’s CPU is as important as its GPU. In gaming, a CPU reads the game’s instructions and registers player input.
Your gaming laptop’s CPU will work with its GPU in order to run and render your game smoothly. You could have an amazing GPU, but if you don’t have a good CPU or vice versa, this could compromise your gaming experience.
When deciding on your gaming laptop’s CPU, look for at least an Intel Core i7 10th generation processor, or an AMD Ryzen 7 mobile processor, such as a Ryzen 7 4800H.
This should allow you to keep running modern games at decent settings and easily manage older titles. If you’re looking to run resource-eating games at the highest settings, consider CPUs such as an unlocked Intel Core i9 processor or a Ryzen 7 or Ryzen 9 5000-series mobile processor.
Like its GPU, your gaming laptop’s CPU won’t be upgradeable, so make sure you choose the right processor for your gaming needs and budget.
Options For Improving Game Performance Without More Ram
Of course, you cant always buy the best, most expensive system on the market. If price or availability forces you to buy a new PC with less RAM than you would prefer, there are still some things you can do to improve gaming performance:
- Try to find a system that allows you to expand your RAM later — whether by adding a RAM card or stick to an empty slot on the motherboard or by inserting a bigger card into the sole/primary slot. This adds some future proofing but without forcing you to make the full investment up-front.
- Take steps to reduce how other programs are consuming your available memory. Closing open programs and browser windows, removing programs from the Start menu, and other simple steps might free up small increments of RAM that your system can instead apply to running your game.
When youre ready to buy a new gaming PC with the right amount of RAM for the games you play, be sure to check out Lenovos broad line-up of gaming laptops and gaming towers. Or visit our Accessories section if you just want to add more RAM to your existing set-up.
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Reliable Build For Vr Gaming
Theres no need to spend a large amount of money to play games with reasonable detail and high frame rates. With case, motherboard, power supply, and solid state drive updates, you can get a great value and better performance.
- CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 1600
- GPU: GeForce GTX 1070
- Motherboard: MSI B350M Gaming Pro
- Storage 1: Crucial MX500 250GB SSD
- Storage 2: Seagate Barracuda 2TB HDD
- Power Supply: EVGA GQ 650W
- RAM: 16GB DDR4
- Operating System: Windows 10
Now You Know What To Look For In A Gaming Laptop
If you’re looking to get a gaming laptop, those are the key points you should consider!
It’s not necessarily about getting the most powerful gaming laptop you can find, but one that meets your gaming requirements without breaking the bank. There are always things you can do to get the most out of the laptop you have for a satisfying gaming experience.
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Future Ready & Powerful
They are built to run the games that have already been trending and the ones that are yet to be released. To do that, these machines are outfitted with future-ready components that stay compatible with newer tech for years.
That means if you look at things from an investment perspective, you are spending money on a laptop that will stay functional for much longer than an average laptop.
How To Buy A Gaming Laptop
It’s a jungle out there. Start here for guidance on hacking your way through the confusing mass of CPU, GPU, storage and other specs.
Senior Editor / Reviews
I’ve been writing about and reviewing consumer technology since before the turn of the century. I’m also a photographer and cat herder, frequently at the same time.
Gaminglaptops have evolved to keep up with the needs of even the most intense gamers, making them a serious alternative to desktop PCs for all but the highest-power setups. Almost everything you need to start gaming is in that one chassis you definitely don’t want to use the touchpad, though, so an external mouse is a must-have. Another bright spot is that battery life, at least for 14- and 15-inch gaming laptops, has gotten significantly longer, and hopefully the 16- and 17-inch models will soon follow suit.
But the all-in-one attraction of a laptop also imposes trade-offs that a desktop doesn’t. At most, you can beef it up with an external mechanical keyboard, great mouse, extra external storage and multiple monitors, but over time you’ll still be stuck with the GPU and CPU, and possibly the memory and storage if it’s not upgradable.
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Best Gaming Laptop Deals Heading Into The Holidays
Razer Blade 15 Advanced | Nvidia RTX 3070 | Intel Core i7 10875H | 360Hz 1080p | 16GB RAM | 1TB SSD |
The latest spin of the Razer Blade 15 once again improves on one of the best gaming laptops ever made. It has the same gorgeous CNC-milled aluminum chassis as its predecessor, only this time it can house one of Nvidia’s latest RTX 30-series GPUs and an Intel 10th Gen CPU.
We’ve played with the Razer Blade 15 Advanced with a 10th Gen Intel chip and RTX 3080 GPU inside it. And we fell in love all over again. These latest models up the graphics processing even further, with support for up to the 8GB RTX 3080, which is incredible in this small chassis. You will get some throttling because of that slimline design, but you’re still getting outstanding performance from this beautiful machine.
One of the best things about the Blade 15 is the number of configurations Razer offers. From the GTX 1660 Ti Base Edition to the RTX 3080 Advanced with OLED 4K panel, there’s something for almost everyone. It’s one of the most beautiful gaming laptops around and still powerful.
Whatever config you pick, we think the Razer Blade 15 is the overall best gaming laptop on the market right now, though you will be paying a premium for the now-classic design.
Add in some Nvidia RTX 30-series graphics power, and you’ve got a great mix of form and function that makes it the most desirable laptop I’ve maybe ever tested.
What Else Do You Need To Up Your Game
Given that high-end components tend to drain battery life, don’t plan on taking any of these gaming rigs too far from a wall socket very often. Cutting-edge ports like USB Type-C and Thunderbolt 3 are beneficial now, and will only be more so down the road, but look for at least two ordinary-shaped USB 3.0 ports so you can plug in an external mouse and a hard drive for your saved media files.
If you want to attach a VR headset to your GeForce GTX 1660 Ti-or-better rig, look for the right loadout of ports to accommodate it. You’ll need a well-placed HDMI or DisplayPort video out and enough USB ports for a possible hydra-head of cabling. Other video ports, like DisplayPort or mini-DisplayPort , will be helpful if you want to play games on an external display, but they aren’t absolutely necessary if your laptop’s screen is large enough.
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You Dont Need A Powerful Laptop For Writing
Here at TechRadar, we do a lot of writing, so you can take it from us: you dont need an absolute beast of a laptop to get your writing done. As long as you have 8GB of RAM even 4GB if you’re cash-strapped you should be more than fine most of the time. This is especially true if youre only working on one or two projects at a time, as individual Google Docs tabs wont really eat up too much of your system resources.
However, we will acknowledge that there are certain people that like to have 30 browser tabs open while listening to Apple Music . If thats a luxury you cant live without, the bump up to 16GB of RAM is worth the price of admission.
Then, lets talk about your processor. If youve been shopping around for a laptop for a while, youve likely seen plenty that advertise an Intel Core i7 or Core i9 processor, likely coupled with a four-figure price tag.
You dont need one of those, either.
For most people, an Intel Core i5 processor is going to be more than enough to get your work done, especially if you get an 8th-generation Intel Kaby Lake Refresh or Whiskey LakeUltrabook chip. Youll get four cores and high enough clock speeds to power through whatever you need to do.
The Microsoft Surface Go, with a Type Cover keyboard to go with it, should be your ultimate companion in fields of study in the liberal arts and possibly even design, thanks to its touchscreen and surprisingly large storage for its size.
Which Is One Is The Best For You
For most users, desktop gaming PCs are a far better option than laptops. Comparatively, desktops cost slightly less and offer better performance. They can be more durable depending on the case, and users can upgrade or replace components whenever needed.
On the other hand, gaming laptops are better for people who require a portable solution. They are compact enough to fit into a bag and allow users to play on the go. While they are expensive, there is no substitute for the on-the-go gamer.
Between the two options, desktops are the best option for users who want the best performance and customization and repair options. Laptops are best for users who frequently travel or need a degree of portability when they commute to work and back.
This article includes affiliate links, which may provide small compensation to Dot Esports.
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A Tower Of Compromises
There are plenty of advantages to opting for a gaming PC, but there are also several areas of compromise.
Desktop PCs will always be larger and heavier than equivalent laptops. If you dont have much space at home or if you want to game at LAN events and esports tournaments, a PC just wont be very portable and thats still true even if you opt for a smaller form-factor.
Desktops can potentially be noisier than gaming laptops too it all depends on what components and cooling you have. And theres also the simple fact that some people just wont need a desktop because they arent interested in tinkering or upgrading.
Also, the performance advantages delivered by more powerful desktop components are moot if you dont want to play games at huge resolutions. If youre a casual player if youre happy at 1080p or if you play less-demanding esports games, then a laptop offers all of the performance you need.
Then theres the question of peripherals, too. Your PC may be cheaper than a laptop, but you may still have to shell out on a monitor, keyboard and mouse. Thats going to cost more, and it may be an extra shedload of research that you just dont fancy doing.
Reasons Not To Buy A Gaming Laptop
In a nutshell, gaming laptops have shorter battery lives, heating issues, and are more costly, than regular laptops. They offer limited usability in situations where you could benefit from a larger battery pack or better portability in standard laptops.
Lets look at these cons in a bit more detail.
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What Specs Make A Laptop Good For Gaming
Before specs, I always recommend deciding how much you want to spend — even if the sky’s the limit. You need some way to narrow the field initially, and it’s the best way to figure out what your options are for a given price range. Plus, it gives you a framework for deciding where you’re willing to make trade-offs. You can always throw it out the window once you’ve figured out exactly what you’re looking for, but it’s the easiest thing to start with.
For gaming, the GPU is probably the most important thing to care about, since it’s the primary driver of frame rates. If you’re planning on using the internal display rather than an external monitor, then the screen’s specs run a close second. Pairing an RTX 3060 with a 360Hz 1080p display can be a mismatch, for example you won’t get exceptionally high frame rates with that GPU, so the screen refresh rate is overkill. You also need to pay attention to how much video memory it has, since that can be a limiting factor for loading large textures and high-resolution play.
Unless you’re a power sim player, you don’t need a top-end CPU, but I wouldn’t underbuy, either. A lot of other genres of games don’t rely heavily on the CPU, but that’s changing over time as the chips, development tools and operating system programming interfaces get better at load balancing between the CPU and GPU, especially when it comes to offloading GPU-intensive tasks where possible.
Don’t sacrifice ports for size.
Mind The Graphics Card
Much like how a laptops CPU handles various instructions, its GPU performs the same function for graphical intensive processes like video output and gaming. A good GPU is an important asset for a gamer looking to get those smooth framerates and a good experience. However, GPUs come in two forms. Lets sort them out:
An integrated GPU refers to a graphics card that shares its space and memory in the same place as a CPU. The term integrated means they are housed together on the same chip. So a CPU with integrated graphics will be able to handle both CPU and GPU processes together.
Because of the shared memory and other features, integrated GPUs are weaker in performance when compared to a dedicated GPU. Therefore, Integrated graphics are better suited toward casual gamers looking to play games with low graphical requirements and who mostly focus on video outputs such as Netflix or YouTube. Serious gamers should stick to dedicated GPUs.
Dedicated Graphics refer to a graphic card that comes installed from your CPU. This card works has independent resources and does not share any memory which comes in the form of VRAM with your CPU. So whenever you see an RTX 2070 with 8 GB VRAM, that memory will be used just for gaming and other video processes.
NVIDIA vs AMD
Some GPU terms you might read about and what they mean:
AMD FidelityFX Super Resolution
GTX vs RTX
2070 vs 2070 SUPER
3080 vs 3080ti
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Dont Waste Money On Unnecessary Ram
Weve tested systems like the Alienware Area-51 R5, which come with as much as 64GB of system RAM. Thats overkill for gaming.
A good baseline for modern gaming systems is 16GB, especially with how far prices have dropped in recent months. But you can get away with 8GB if youre playing older games, or dont mind sacrificing detail or frame rate to make additional savings.
After all, memory is one of the easiest things to upgrade later and one of the most affordable.
Heres the current memory requirement landscape for six popular games to give you an idea of what you need in a desktop:
- Fortnite 8GB minimum, 16GB recommended
- Doom Eternal 8GB minimum, 8GB recommended
- Destiny 2 6GB minimum, 8GB recommended
- PUBG 8GB minimum, 16GB recommended
- Overwatch 4GB minimum, 6GB recommended
- Half-Life: Alyx 12GB
That said, additional memory beyond 16GB merely sits unused. Any money that might be spent on RAM beyond 16GB should instead be put toward a component that has a bigger impact on performance.
But keep this in mind: System memory isnt only used by games. Everything running on your PC requires memory, from the operating system to your mouse and keyboard drivers. If Destiny 2 alone uses 6GB of system memory while its running, you need ample memory available for everything else. This is why developers recommend higher amounts so your PC has room to breathe while the game remains active.
Hardcore Build For Vr Gaming
Prepare your PC for VR games that havent even hit the market yet and achieve 90 FPS in any game made for Rift or Vive, all while staying within a budget of $2,000 or less.
- CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 1600X
- GPU: GTX 1080
- Motherboard: MSI B350 PC Mate
- Storage 1: Crucial MX500 500GB SSD
- Storage 2: Seagate Barracuda 2TB HDD
- Power Supply: EVGA 850 G2
- RAM: 16GB DDR4
- Case: Corsair Crystal 460X or Enthoo Pro
- CPU Cooler: Noctua NH-U12S SE-AM4
- Operating System: Windows 10
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