What is a good gaming laptop? A buying guide

Gaming laptops have become the real thing in the last few years. Tech Giants like Dell, HP, MSI, and Razer offers a large variety of gaming laptops with different specs and features for a different type of users. Finding a good gaming laptop is kind of a headache and that’s where we come in. So whats a good gaming laptop? In this guide, we will share the different aspects and features to consider when buying a gaming laptop and at the end of this guide, you will be able to find your dream gaming laptop.

Portability

Portability is a very important factor when it comes to choosing a good gaming laptop. Laptop companies offer different sizes of gaming laptops from 13-inch gaming laptops to large screen 17-inch laptops. We can divide the portability into 3 different categories: Minimal portability, Regular Portability, and Best Portability.

Minimal Portable laptops are 17-inch gaming laptops which are also very heavy. Large screen laptops are not good at portability because of their heavy size, their size can vary between 4 and 8 KG depending on which laptop you choose.

Regular Portable laptops are 15-inch gaming laptops which are between 3 and 5 KG. Regular Portable Laptops also offer respectable screen size which is also good for gaming.

Best Portable Laptops are 13-inch gaming laptops which offer extreme portability. 13-inch gaming laptops usually have a small screen size and sometimes you also have to compromise on the overall performance of 13-inch gaming laptops usually don’t have powerful Processor and GPU.

Processors (CPU)

The processor is the brain of any computer and your processor should be able to handle everything. We all know that the performance of games depends on the GPU but the performance of non-gaming applications depends on your CPU. When it comes to CPU you should consider some important points. If you want to make your investment future proof then go for Intel’s latest Hexacore Coffee-lake processors (8th Generation), these processors offer 30% more performance than their predecessors.

If you are a creator or do professional work which involves the use of heavy software then you should choose the 8th Generation i7 or i9 processors. If you need good overall performance then you can go for an i5 8th generation or i5 7th generation processors. If you are not a power user and looking for a casual performance you can go for 6th generation processors but keep in mind that the processor should be i5 or i7.

Another important point is to check the Clock speed, for example, 3.4 GHz i5 processor will offer much better performance than 2.6 GHz processor.

Graphics (GPU) Card

Good gaming laptop should have good graphics card as the performance of games depends on the Graphics Card. There are two main graphics cards makers in the market right now,  Nvidia and AMD. Most gaming laptops come with Nvidia GPUs because they offer much better performance. When choosing a GPU, make sure to check its VRAM because it will affect the overall performance of GPU. Normally, 4 GB VRAM is enough for casual users but if you want to run 4K titles then you can go with higher VRAM options.

If you are looking for good gaming performance then you can go with Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060. It can handle almost all modern days’ titles with 60 FPS and if you are planning to use the 4K games then you will have to tweak the setting to make the game playable. If you are looking for a budget gaming laptop with respectable GPU then you can also pick Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti but make sure to choose the “Ti” version. A good Gaming laptop with 1050 Ti will cost you around $1200-1500.

If you are looking for top-notch performance then you can go for Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 or Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 as both graphics cards come with 8GB GDDR5 VRAM which can handle ant modern days’ game easily. These cards can also handle 4K gaming so if you want the best you can choose either of them. Also, note that these cards are not cheap and it will increase the cost of your gaming laptop.

RAM

Sufficient RAM: As with most computer rigs, having enough RAM makes a difference. A good gaming laptop should have at least 8 GB of RAM. Although difficult in the lower price range, you should look at having 16GB of RAM. More than 16 GB  is not really necessary, better invest in a better graphics card.

Display

When choosing a good gaming laptop, you can compromise on other factors but you should never compromise on the screen. Gaming Laptops comes with a variety of screen options and when choosing a screen you should consider the following factors.

  • IPS vs. TN Display: Companies these days mostly prefer the IPS display because these displays have better color accuracy and wider viewing angles but some companies also choose the TN displays to cut down the cost of the device. So if you are going for a budget laptop then make sure that your laptop should have the IPS display as it offers much better performance and color accuracy.
  • Resolution: Screen resolution is also a very important factor when deciding the display. Minimum screen resolution should be 1080p but if you want the best display then you can go for 1440p (QHD) and 2160p (4K) display. When choosing the screen resolution also keep in mind that the battery size of your laptop. For example, a laptop with the 4k display will consume more power than a laptop with a 1080p display. However, if you are planning on using a laptop in your house where you have the power adapter available then go for 4K or QHD display as it will make your gaming experience more enjoyable.
  • Matte or Glossy: Gaming laptops comes with two options: Matte or Glossy finish. Both have their own pros and cons but you will have to pick one according to your use case. For example, Glossy finish screens have more vibrant colors which enhance the gaming experience but they also have glare which can be annoying if you are using a laptop in the direct light or outdoor. Matte finish screens remove the glare but they also wash out the colors which can be annoying. In our opinion, Glossy finish screens are best because most gamers use their laptops in the dark so you should go with Glossy Finish screens.
  • Screen Brightness: When it comes to screen brightness most gaming laptops often compromise on screen brightness to cut down the cost and you will often see that budget gaming laptop usually have low brightness. When buying a laptop, make sure that your laptop must have 300 Nits brightness as it will make the laptop usable in outdoor conditions especially if your laptop has a glossy finish.
  • G-Sync or FreeSync: These technologies are designed with the aim to provide the better frame rates which improve the overall gaming experience. Both Technologies are good but if you want the best then go for Nvidia G-Sync Technology as it is much more refine technology but you can also go with Free-Sync Technology. Normal displays run at 60 Hz refresh rate which is good but if you want faster rendering time then you can for 120 Hz display which will improve the gaming experience.

VR Ready Laptops

Virtual Reality (VR) slowly but gradually taking over the gaming world and many companies are focusing on developing VR games as VR games can take the gaming to the next level. So if you are interested in VR gaming then you should look for “VR-Ready Laptops” that have enough computing power to perform well.

Keyboards & Touchpads

The keyboard is the also very important when it comes to show-off your device. As we all know, gamers prefer to use the special gaming mouse for gaming so you can compromise on the touchpad however sometimes you also need to use the Touchpads when you don’t have access to your mouse. So when picking your gaming laptop make sure that it’s touchpad should have windows precision drivers as they offer much better performance than synaptic drivers.

When it comes to the keyboard, you should consider the following factors.

  • Your Keyboard should have the good key travel, in ideal cases, keyboards have 2mm key travel but keyboards with more than 1.5mm key travel are also acceptable. If you pick the keyboard with less than 1.5mm key travel then you will face issues in typing and it is hard to get used to.
  • Actuation is important to some people but some people don’t care. In my case, I usually prefer the keyboard which shouldn’t have the shallow feel. Ideally, a good keyboard has the 60 grams of force to depress a key.
  • Lighting is also another important feature which is important for many people. Usually, a good gaming laptop comes with RGB lighting or RGB Zones lighting and budget gaming laptops comes with simple backlit lighting. I prefer the RGB lighting because it can make your gaming experience much better, in RGB lightning you can give individual color to the specific key. Zone Lighting is also acceptable but RGB lightning is best. Budget laptops come with fixed backlit lighting normally Red one or White one but in 2018, budget laptops are coming white backlighting.
  • Anti-Ghosting is also an important feature which is used by hardcore gamers. In this feature, your keyboard should be able to register the number of keys at once which help the gamers to execute their special moves.
  • Functional Keys are also becoming a trend in modern gaming laptops where gaming laptops come with dedicated Functional keys which are programmable to different actions.

Storage: HDD vs. SDD

Storage is also very important when it comes to a good gaming laptop. Whether you select an SSD or HDD for gaming can make quite a difference in performance. HDD is best for saving a lot of data but they are generally slow and SDD are expensive but they offer much better performance and also allow the games and programs to open faster. Premium Gaming Laptops comes with SSD options where budget laptops come with SSD & HDD combination where you get the 128 or 256 GB SSD for storing windows and games. 1 TB HDD for storing other data. However, if you want the best performance then go for SSD options.

Battery Size

Fast processors and a high-resolution screen are tough on the battery life.  The battery in a conventional office notebook may last 6 to 8 hours the one an in a good gaming laptop may last only three –  sometimes even less.
The battery capacity is usually specified in milliampere-hours (mAh)which give an indication of how long the battery can deliver the maximum performance.  A good gaming laptop should be in the range from 4000 to 6000 mAh, this can provide enough power for a 2- 3-hour gaming session when on the move.   A larger battery will, of course, increase weight and bulk of the laptop so you have to compromise on portability vs battery life.

Thermal performance

Gaming Laptops are powerful with fast a CPU and GPU, that produce a lot of heat.  Proper ventilation and adequate cooling are important so CPU and GPU keep cool during a gaming session.  If your laptop is not good at managing high temperature then it will throttle down at high temperatures which will affect the gaming performance.
Dust and dirt are the laptops enemies.  It’s tiny particles settle on fans and cooling fins and prevent proper heat exchange. Make sure the exhaust air slots and cooling fins are clean and not blocked. When buying a new laptop, make sure that parts like the CPU, GPU, and cooling fans are easy to access so you don’t have to completely dismantle the device just to clean those components.
Laptop Cooling Pad may be a good investment if you regularly have problems with thermal performance or if you live in a very hot and humid climate.

Audio

The audio performance of gaming laptops are usually not high quality and most of the times you will be using the high-Res headset for gaming but sometimes you will also need your laptop’s speakers. Many gaming companies use exclusive audio software to make the audio performance better. Some notable audio Software are MSI-exclusive Nahimic audio which offers surround sound experience on speakers and headphones and Dell’s Alienware Audio Software. Additionally, if your laptop has the branding like “Powered by Dolby” or “DTS surround” then in most of the cases, the laptop will have good sound.

Connectivity

All gaming laptops come with tons of ports so you will not have any problem but just to be on the safe side make sure that your laptop should have at least one USB 3.0 port and Mini Display Port or HDMI port to connect an external monitor. Also, make sure that it should have an Ethernet Port.

So, whats a good gaming laptop?

Gaming laptops are getting better and more powerful every year. We hope that while you were sitting in your gaming chair and have read this guide, you now have enough information to buy your dream gaming laptop. If you have any questions please do ask us in the comment section below also visit our post about the latest gaming laptops for more useful info.

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