Friday, November 25, 2022

What Specs To Look For In A Gaming Laptop

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How About Battery Life

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The short answer is not to count on your gaming notebook being super portable.

If youre using your laptop to play games, you need to keep your laptop plugged in to get the full performance out of your GPU. And if you dont, youll be lucky if your laptop lasts an hour gaming. In our testing experience, most gaming laptops last only a few hours on a charge when performing other tasks, but never as long as ultraportables without discrete GPUs. If you need something to last 8 hours while you work, it wont be a gaming notebook.

Some do last long, but thats often at the expense of the display, and you dont want to play all your games on a dark, dim or inaccurate screen.

What Gpu Do You Need

While some games use the CPU, the majority of games are still GPU-bound, so this is one of the biggest decisions you make when buying a gaming notebook. At the moment, the majority of gaming notebooks come with Nvidia GeForce GTX or RTX GPUs.

The latest graphics cards on the Nvidia series are the newest RTX 30-series cards, from the RTX 3060 Max-Q through the RTX 3080. On the AMD front, there’s the Radeon RX 5000M series, which consists of the RX 5500M for budget systems, and the RX 5600M and RX 5700M for more performance. We are, however, expecting a new range of AMD discrete GPUs to hit laptops later this year.A note on Max-Q: It’s not always clear on initial RTX 30-series laptops if they’re using a Max-Q GPU until you buy it. Check how to tell if an RTX 30-series laptop uses a Max-Q GPU.

The RTX models command a premium. In the meantime, if youre looking for a deal on a current-generation gaming laptop, keep an eye on our Best Tech Deals page.

What If Both My Cpu And Gpu Are By Amd

While there is not much difference between having different or the same components of a company, there are a few benefits AMD users can enjoy.

1. AMD SmartShift technology

SmartShift is an AMD only power management system that will allow the CPU and GPU to consume power from a shared budget. AMD Smartshift decides the required power by the CPU and GPUs and evenly distributes it thereby giving at least a 10 per cent gaming performance boost. However, be aware that it requires an AMD CPU and a Dedicated AMD GPU.

2. Performance Per Watt Ratio

Another benefit that simultaneous AMD users will have is the amount of power saved. AMD has promised the sync between its various parts will increase its PPW ratio and the system will be more power-efficient.

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What Is A Gaming Laptop

Much like when researching gaming PCs, gaming laptops initially seem like regular laptops. However, laptops designed without gaming in mind don’t provide users with a dedicated graphics card. They often have pretty limited cooling systems, so they can’t handle the heat generated when playing games.

Instead, you need a gaming laptop if you want to play the latest games while on the move. Including hardware such as a dedicated graphics card, effective cooling, and enhanced specs elsewhere means a gaming laptop can provide the same experience as a gaming PC but on the move.

Which Processor And Ram Should A Gaming Laptop Have

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Intel and AMD are the two options for a gaming laptop when choosing a processor. Both offer powerful processors for gaming, and your budget is usually the deciding factor between the two.

The higher the number, typically, the better the processor is, as with graphics cards.

A processor is also called a CPU, and it’s the brain of your computer. It deals with interpreting and executing data before displaying the results on the screen. Modern processors offer multiple cores which work like processors within processors. These cores can multitask more effectively, with each core offering a certain speed. Most CPUs have between four and eight cores.

AMD has its Ryzen 5 series, which is commonplace in gaming, but there’s also the Ryzen 9 series for more high-end gaming. Intel has the i9 range for high-end gaming, while there is also the i5 and i7 for more affordable gaming. In terms of core and processing speed, aim as high as possible.

Computer RAM works like VRAM, but it helps the computer’s CPU instead of assisting your GPU. The more RAM you have, the more effectively your computer can retrieve temporary information, which improves your speed and performance. When gaming, it can mean levels load faster, and details load up in-game quickly.

For a gaming laptop, you need 16GB of RAM. While those buying a budget gaming laptop can make do with 8GB of RAM, 16GB is required for good performance and ensuring there are no bottlenecks when loading new data.

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Things To Consider Before Buying A Gaming Laptop

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A gaming laptop is a perfect way to enjoy playing the latest games while on the move or in a home where space is at a premium. It can be intimidating to know where to look first with numerous brands and different configurations to consider.

Our buying guide will help you figure out which gaming laptop to buy, looking at your specific needs, your budget, and other features you may need to consider.

Who Makes The Best Gaming Laptops

Part of the reason that modern gaming laptops are so exciting is because there is so much competition. There are no longer just a couple of decent brands.

The best brands for gaming laptops today are Razer, Asus, Acer, Dell, MSI, and Lenovo, though you’ll also find a few options from HP, and certainly Dell’s sub-brand, Alienware is always worth considering.

Most of these manufacturers have a few clean-cut dedicated gaming laptops, but some also offer more modest stealth designs, which are both lightweight and powerful, while others are more overt with a focus on bigger and more powerful systems that can even rival some gaming desktops.

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Best Gaming Pc For 2022

From cheapie computers that can just about handle HD to 4K PC monsters, we’ll help you navigate the terrain.

Lori Grunin

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.

There’s no shortage of options when it comes to new gaming PCs. Whether you’re on a stringent budget or you’re ready to splurge, we’ve gathered some of the best gaming PCs to complete your gaming experience.

But even with all of these options, gamers are among the hardest segments to recommend PCs for, at least if you’re in the 99% for whom price matters. There are just too many choices, especially if those looking to forgo a prebuilt PC and embark on a gaming PC build of their own.

Further, your buying decisions have likely been influenced by the pandemic, whether because you’re anticipating working from home for the long haul or because your budget has shrunk substantially. If you’re unsure, you may want to hold off for a little while before jumping in. In the meantime, you could fill the gap with a cloud-gaming service or a desktop-as-a-service like Shadow — provided your network connection is up to it.

How Much Should A Gaming Laptop Cost

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Gaming laptops typically cost more than a gaming desktop, but it’s still possible to spend a relatively low amount or a lot more, depending on your budget. Generally, it’s possible to spend $700-800 on a budget gaming laptop, but it’s also possible to spend $3,000 on one.

The more you spend, the better the components and other features are. Spending more also ensures your system can handle emerging technology and the next few years of game releases, so it’s often a good idea to budget as much as you can afford.

Price Range What You Can Expect
$500-$1000 Can handle games that don’t require high-end graphics and older gamesbest for users who don’t need to play games at high resolutions or quality levels. Note: Not suitable for graphically intensive games like Cyberpunk 2077 or Forza Horizon 5.
$1000-$1500 It can handle more modern games and tend to offer more storage space, a better graphics card, and other minor improvements.
$1500-$2000 An improvement once again and far more capable of running the latest games at a reasonable graphical level.
$2000-$3500 A future-proofed gaming laptop that can play all the latest games while also being set up ready for future games. It usually includes plenty of storage and a high-end graphics card.

For most players, the ideal price range is $1500 to $2000. Most gaming laptops in this range can play the latest games and are advanced enough to include some future-proofing.

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Key Features Of A Great Gaming Laptop

You’ll find the following features on most laptops, but they play such a critical role in a gaming laptop, it’s important to make sure you’re getting the right setup.

The graphics card is the beating heart of a gaming laptop. The goal is to pick a discrete graphics card that can deliver a great visual experience for your favorite type of game. If you plan to run Metro Exodus at 4K with the game cranked to its maximum settings, you’ll probably want a top-of-the-line NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 2080 Super. But most games will run just fine on the GTX 1650, or 1660 Ti. Likewise, the RX 5500XT from AMD’s Radeon series of GPUs, is a good choice for gamers who prefer strategy to strafing.

Pro tip: Avoid integrated graphics unless you’re a casual gamer.

As important as the graphics card is to a gaming laptop, the processor is just as key, because these two components work together to deliver the overall performance of the machine.

You’ll be offered a choice of Intel® processors, ranging from the Core i3, to the Core i7, with several clock-speed options. Consider the Core i5 your baseline, anything less will be unbearably sluggish. There’s very little a dual-core i7 chip can’t do, which makes it ideal for most gamers. Only step up to a quad-core i7 if your pockets are deep and your appetite for destruction is unlimited.

Best Specs And Performance

Are you getting ready to build you’re first gaming computer and don’t know where to start? The Web is filled with guides that can help you build your first rig. Some tutorials explain how to set up the hardware, others describe hot to install an operating system . You might prefer step-by-step videos, or maybe you’d like to go old school and discuss your options in a forum. Those can be great places to get specific advice, but what if you just want to know where to begin? Well get you started in the right direction with these 10 recommendations.

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How Many Cores Do I Really Need

How many cores do you need in a gaming laptop? For most people on a budget, a 4-core CPU with Hyper-Threading will function just fine in most games, especially when combined with a lower-cost and lower performance GPU.

Still, if you have the extra cash, a 6-core CPU with Hyper-Threading is likely the sweet spot for today and tomorrow. If you plan to stream your gaming live or edit it, investing in a 6-core is recommended.

Intels top-end 8-core CPUs will deliver the greatest benefit to those who might do other graphics-intensive tasks, such as 3D animation or video editing. If you also plan to record and stream video, the 8-core will offer a performance benefit there, too.

If youre thinking, great, let me buy a 4-core Core i5 CPU with a luxury laptop to save money, you usually cant, because PC makers typically only offer budget CPUs with other budget parts. Why? Well, most budget shoppers cant afford any luxury items, and most PC makers like to add in the extras to increase the profit.

A Gaming Laptop’s Gpu

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A gaming laptop’s GPU is one of its most important features. GPUs render the graphical fidelity of games, ensuring you get crisp, detailed images, effects, and animations, amongst other things.

First, look at laptops that have dedicated GPUs, all with their own independent RAM , called vRAM, and processor. Non-gaming laptops will have integrated graphics cards that just won’t be able to render games like Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla or Hitman 3 effectively.

When considering your gaming laptop’s GPU, look at:

  • The modelthe bigger the number, the better the GPU.
  • How much RAM it comes withideally either 6GB or 8GB of dedicated vRAM.
  • Its power usagethe higher the wattage, the better the performance but with increased heat and at the cost of battery life.
  • If it’s a “Max-Q” GPU.

“Max-Q” graphics cards are exclusive to NNVIDIA’s mobile GPUs. They are slightly less powerful versions of that model and fit into thinner gaming laptops, giving you a cooler, quieter gaming experience.

GPUs like NVIDIA’s RTX 30-series give an excellent gaming performance with visually appealing features, such as ray tracing, enabled.

However, at the time of writing, GPUs might be tricky to find with the ongoing electronic chip shortage, so you could look for the previous generation of NVIDIA mobile GPUs, the RTX 20-series, or AMD’s Radeon RX 5000M Series GPUs.

Your gaming laptop’s GPU won’t be upgradeable, so be sure to choose a laptop with a long-lasting, competent GPU for your gaming preferences.

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Which Laptop Should I Get

With so many laptops to choose from, selecting the best one to fit your budget can be like navigating a minefield. Even making sense of the ever-changing list of product specifications is no easy feat. Laptops vary greatly by CPU speed, graphics capability, size, drive storage, and RAM, among other things. Whats more, your laptop needs may be completely different to someone elses, only adding to the confusion.

For some, a flashy 4K screen may be important. Others may want a high-performing CPU, like AMDs new Ryzen 5000 processors, to give them a competitive edge in games. Getting value for money can be tricky too, since newer technologies dont always mean better performance. For example, older-generation CPUs can sometimes outperform newer products in benchmark tests. For these reasons it pays to do your homework before you purchase a laptop.

To simplify the process for you weve put together a list of 12 criteria that you can use as a guide for what to look for. It may seem laborious delving into each category, but there are a lot of things to consider. At the end of the day, taking time to research your new device will mean you avoid making a costly mistake and get a laptop thats just right for you.

Thunderbolt 30 And 40

Until recently Thunderbolt 3.0 was the gold standard fort USB-C ports on laptops. You can tell if a port supports Thunderbolt by the little lightning icon by its side. This means it offers 40Gbps theoretical maximum bandwidth, or 5000MB/s. That sort of speed lets the latest ultra-fast SSDs shine, or at least will do when external models that fast exist.

The Thunderbolt standard recently got a bump up to version 4.0, which is already common in laptops with Intel 11th Generation processors. This socket isn’t actually faster than good old Thunderbolt 4.0, but guarantees you’ll be able to hook up two 4K monitors or one 8K monitor.

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How To Check What Motherboard You Have

To find out what type of motherboard you have , the process is a bit different than above.

You could of course open up your desktop and check and see who manufactures your motherboard and what the model name is on the board.

However, motherboards are typically named something like ASUS Z370-A, or MSI B350M, or Gigabyte GA-AX370-Gaming5, where ASUS, MSI, and Gigabyte are motherboard manufactures, and Z370, B350, and X370 are the motherboard chipsets

So, if youre not somewhat familiar with who the main motherboard manufacturers are and what string of letters and numbers to look for that designate the chipset and motherboard name, you might want to go with an easier option.

For some users, you can try the following:

1. In the Windows search bar, type in System Information 2. Scroll down on the System Summary tab until you find Motherboard Manufacturer, or BaseBoard Manufacturer. 3. The information next to Motherboard/BaseBoard Manufacturer, Motherboard/BaseBoard Model, and Motherboard/BaseBoard Name, should give you the information you are looking for.

Although, in a lot of cases, the information youll find in these tabs might be kind of vague. For instance, on my desktop, the BaseBoard Manufacturer is ASUSTek COMPUTER INC., the BaseBoard Model is Not Available, and the BaseBoard Name is Base Board.

And Then There’s The Battery Life

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Gaming laptops are not renowned for their battery life, which, because of their demanding components, is rather short.

Less powerful components might give you longer battery life, but your gaming performance might suffer if you choose a laptop with underpowered components.

Conversely, that laptop might have a less powerful battery in it, offsetting the reason you chose a weaker gaming laptop. Gaming laptop batteries are replaceable but not upgradeable.

Though batteries are getting better in gaming laptops, don’t expect any gaming laptop to give you anything more than a couple of hours during intense gaming sessions. For that reason, if you can, game with your laptop plugged into a power source.

However, if you want to get a long-running gaming laptop, it’s best to take the product description with a pinch of salt and, instead, look at what owners or reviewers have to say of the models you’re looking at.

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