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As is the case with any big-ticket purchase, the search for a good gaming laptop can be daunting.
Finding the best one for your needs can see you spending the thick end of a grand, sometimes well into the thousands of pounds. So how can you narrow down your search? What makes a good gaming laptop? Let’s delve into what you should be looking out for.
What should I look for when buying a gaming laptop?
Utilized to temporarily hold information that your gaming laptop will need, RAM ensures that everyday tasks can be performed. For most systems, this would be word processing or internet browsing. Usually between two and four gigabytes (GB) of RAM would be sufficient but, for gaming laptops, you’ll be looking for more.
Most mid-range games will be able to run off 8GB – a minimum system requirement. However, if you’re looking to run the very latest and most intensive games you’ll be needing at least 16GB of RAM. It’s always worth consulting a game’s system requirements and comparing them against what the gaming laptop is capable of.
Central Processing Unit
The central processing unit (or CPU) is the ‘brain’ of any computing system – and perhaps the most important component. Ultimately, it is responsible for the running of your gaming laptop. It continuously runs calculations and performs actions that help process tasks set by programs such as video games.
So the laptop is able to carry out multiple tasks at the same time, the CPU will have multiple cores – each serving as an extra processor. This helps it handle tougher workloads. Some will have four or six cores but the good gaming laptops will tend to have eight. Like RAM, it’s worth taking note of the games you’ll be playing and their requirements. This will help you narrow down your decision.
Graphics Processing Unit
To truly unleash the potential of the most graphically demanding games such as Cyberpunk, Far Cry or Crysis you’ll need a decent graphics processing unit (GPU). This serves to take the pressure off the CPU – helping to run at optimum performance and play at faster frame rates and higher resolution. When it comes to brands, NVIDIA is widely considered to be the best brand – so be on the lookout.
The two options available when it comes to storage are solid-state drive (SSD) or hard drive disk (HDD). A good gaming laptop will usually have an SSD because of their size – they are much smaller than a HDD, and generally considered to be more reliable. This is because they have no moving parts. SSDs use less power because of this and so will provide the laptop with a longer battery life.
One drawback is that they typically have less space than a HDD – with most only offering around 256GB of storage. So, with this in mind, you may want to consider getting an external hard drive. This can then be used to store video games that you’ll want to play at a later date.
Ultimately your laptop’s display can be the make or break of your gaming experience. This can be broken down into three features; resolution, refresh rate and screen size.
Screen resolution is typically measured in pixels – width x height. The higher the resolution, the more pixels appear on the screen, meaning a much better picture. It’s important to know that you should never settle for anything less than a resolution of 1920 x 1080. Good gaming laptops nowadays will offer up to 3840 x 2160 (4K) – the most clear image resolution you’ll need for video games in 2021.
The refresh rate for gaming laptops is much higher than what you may expect from a standard display. Providers of good gaming laptops will offer systems with rates of up 144hz and 240hz. This means the on-screen gameplay will be displayed much smoother.
This comes down to personal preference, it won’t make much difference to how you perform in-game. Most vendors will offer screens of 15 or 17 inches.
So on the face of it, the search can be simplified. It’s a very similar process to when you may look for a PC. A good gaming laptop will still not compete with the overall performance of its desktop counterpart, but they do offer greater portability. Ultimately, you may be heavily influenced by the price. In this case, the question will be; are you willing to sacrifice some of the specs to get a good deal?
Oliver Griffiths has a passion for film, video games and technology. He can be found at Tillison Consulting running a number of clients’ digital marketing campaigns across all sectors and platforms.