Do I Really Need a Gaming Laptop?

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For a long time, there were just four words to describe gaming laptops: big, heavy, loud, expensive. In the past few years, though, this has changed, and today they can be a really great option for gamers on the go, college students and those who just want to own a single computer for both work and play. Let me explain.

Gaming laptops versus desktops

Upsides

First up, gaming laptops, while often big for laptops, are still more portable than a dedicated gaming desktop (or even a games console). If you like to game with your friends, travel a lot or live on campus, being able to carry your computer in a regular backpack is a big plus.

Second, portability means gaming laptops can be your one and only computer. If you have a gaming desktop, you also probably need a laptop for work or school. It’s hard to get by without a computer you can bring to meetings or group projects.

Third, fully configured gaming laptops are available right now in 2022. Due to the global chip shortages, a lot of components you’d build into a desktop gaming PC—like high-end PC graphics cards and RAM—aren’t. If you really want to upgrade your gaming experience now, a gaming laptop might be the way to go.

Downsides

There are just two: Battery life isn’t great, and the price can be pushing your budget.

All those high-spec built-in components draw a lot of power. Especially when you’re gaming, you’ll need to bring your power adapter so you can stay charged. While the latest standard ultrabooks and work laptops can get 12+ hours of battery life, most gaming laptops won’t let you go 8 hours without a charge.

Price-wise, high-end components don’t come cheap and, unlike with a gaming desktop, you don’t really have the option to buy them one by one. You have to purchase your whole gaming setup in one go. Top gaming laptops can cost well over $3,000, depending on how you spec them.

What to look for in a gaming laptop?

The gaming laptop features that matter most to you will depend on the kind of experience you’re looking for. Do you want to go all out with the best gaming laptop money can buy? Or settle in with a less expensive gaming laptop that will let you play retro games as well as do some work?

In general, these are the decisions you’ll need to make:

  • What size laptop screen do you want? 13” or 15” models are lighter and more portable than 17” models, but obviously give you less screen real estate.
  • What resolution and quality of screen do you want? A 1080p screen model with 120 Hz refresh rate will be better for gaming than a 4K model with a slower refresh rate, but the 4K model will be better for work or school.
  • How much are you prepared to pay for a GPU? A graphics processing unit (GPU) helps to display graphics quickly. It will be one of the most expensive components of your gaming laptop and a major factor in gaming performance.
  • Do you need your computer to run quietly? If so, you might need to compromise on raw power to get a computer with better thermal management and quieter fans.
  • What about the CPU? The central processing unit (CPU) does exactly what it sounds like it does—it processes and controls the operations of the computer. While it might not be the most relevant for gaming, it will affect everything else you do with your laptop.
  • How much RAM do you need? The newer and more graphically intense the games you play are, the more important it will be.
  • What about storage space? Solid state drives (SSDs), which provide a data storage function similar to hard drives, allow for the best gaming performance, but high-volume drives can be pricey.

There are no right or wrong answers to any of these questions. In fact, many computers from top gaming laptop brands like Razer, ASUS and Alienware can be configured in a wide range of different specs. It just depends on what you’re looking for from your PC.

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What gaming laptop to buy?

Gaming laptops are available in pretty much every configuration you can imagine. Some of the best gaming laptops at the moment are:

The MSI GE76 Raider has the latest generation Intel processors and Nvidia GeForce RTX 30 Series graphics cards. The base model is equipped with a 3.5 GHz Intel Core i7-12700H CPU, 16GB of RAM, a 1TB SSD, Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 Ti GPU and a 1080p 17.3″ screen with a 144 Hz refresh rate.

Razer Blade 15 does have a Base Model, but it’s the top-of-the-line Advanced Model that has us most excited. It packs a 1.8 GHz Intel Core i9-12900H CPU, 32GB of RAM, a 1TB SSD and a Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Ti GPU into a still-portable 4.4-pound package that’s just 0.67” thick. If you want the ultimate work/gaming machine that you can bring anywhere, this is it.

If budget is your biggest concern, it’s hard to beat the Dell G15 Gaming Laptop line. You can get models with either the Intel or AMD Ryzen CPU and dedicated Nvidia GPU at a very reasonable price. Sure, you might not be able to play all the latest games on the highest possible settings, but you’ll still have an incredibly capable gaming machine.

And if none of these strike your fancy (or aren’t available), some of the most reliable gaming laptop options to check out are:

Gaming laptops are so much better and more widely available now than they were a few years ago that you can even just consider grabbing a gaming laptop from Walmart that fits your needs and be able to have a good experience.

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Product features and availability may have changed and are subject to change.

2 responses to “Do I Really Need a Gaming Laptop?”

  1. sharon gatson says:

    i need a work laptop or gaming

  2. Mary Lopez says:

    Need one.

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