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Buying a gaming laptop can cost you a pretty penny. So when you pick one, you better be sure it is the right one. You do not want to spend over $1000 on a laptop and then find out it can not run your favorite games properly.
But how do you know which gaming laptop is right for you? With a wide variety of GPUs, CPUs, RAM size, and storage options available, it can be hard to parse out which gaming laptop best suits you.
Well, to make the choice easier, we have come up with a list of the 10 things to consider when buying a gaming laptop in 2022.
Detailed Buying Guide Factors for Gaming Laptops
A strong GPU is probably the most essential component in a gaming laptop. A dedicated and powerful GPU is part of what separates gaming laptops from regular laptops.
We recommend getting a laptop with at least Nvidia’s 1680, 2080, or 2080 Ti graphics card. Better yet, if you can buy one with a GeForce 30 series GPU, go for it.
These days, you can get gaming laptops with the latest generation Nvidia 30 series GPUs like the 3050 and the 3050 Ti for under $1000. These cards are a huge upgrade from the last-gen 20 series and the 10 series cards.
For example, these cards have Nvidia’s RTX or ray tracing technology, allowing for more realistic gameplay. There is also DLSS which improves the GPU performance at higher resolution using AI. Since these features are supported by popular titles like Minecraft, Fortnite, and Doom Eternal, etc., they can take most people’s gaming experience to the next level.
There are other differences between the newer 3000 series and outmoded GPUs we could go into. But suffice to say, go with a gaming laptop with the 3000 series card if you can afford one.
Word to the wise, though, you should keep an eye on the GPU’s TGP or Total Graphics Power rating. This rating makes a ton of difference when it comes to performance. In fact, it can make so much of a difference that a gaming laptop with the Nvidia 3070 can outshine one with the more premium 3080 GPU. Why? Because the 3070 may have a higher TGP rating than the 3080.
Oh, and a quick word about AMD’s GPUs. There are some great ones out there, like the Radeon RM 6000M. But Nvidia’s GPU features like RTX, DLSS, etc., make its GeForce GPUs the better choice.
Storage- SSD vs. HDD
You have to go with an SSD, preferably a PCIe drive, when it comes to storage. It is faster than HDD and becoming more and more common among budget gaming laptops.
But we should mention that choosing between the two is not always necessary. Many gaming laptops come with both a large HDD drive and a relatively small SSD. The SSD serves as the boot drive and helps reduce the loading times.
You can easily find 1TB HDD drives on gaming laptops. But make sure that it is a faster 7200 rpm one rather than a 5400 drive. As for SSDs, they come in storage options from around 128 GB all the way up to 1TB+. We would suggest getting the largest SSD option you can afford.
Oh, and if you have to choose between a gaming laptop with better storage and a laptop with mediocre but upgradable storage, go with the latter. This is because better storage options can often fetch higher price tags. So rather than spending more on non-upgradable specs, buy a laptop you can upgrade later on.
CPU and RAM
Gaming laptops often feature the latest and most powerful tech, especially when it comes to processing power. So whenever you are choosing one, make sure that the CPU is up-to-date and comparable with the best.
At the moment, Intel’s Alder Lake CPUs are the best you can get your hands on. Some of the best processors in this generation include the Core i5 12600K and the Core i9 12900K. AMD’s Ryzen 5000 series processors are also quite good. In fact, they were the better choice until Intel’s Adler Lake processors came out.
Generally, we would advise going with an Intel processor from the ninth generation and up. However, a laptop with an AMD 5000 series Ryzen processor catches your eye, that will do okay as well.
For the RAM, we suggest getting at least 8-16 GB of DDR4 or DDR5. If you can upgrade it later on, that is even better.
Now that we have mentioned GPUs and CPUs, we should also talk about cooling systems. Laptops are limited in their processing power by their heat generation. Since they are such tiny machines, ventilation becomes an issue.
This is especially true for gaming laptops because their dedicated GPUs can just go crazy on processing. The more power they provide, the more electricity they consume. And the more electricity they consume, the hotter the insides of your laptop get.
So making sure your gaming laptop has a good cooling system is crucial. Look for laptops with a good ventilation system and power-efficient components. While dual fans are better, a single powerful fan can also do the job.
You can also use cooling pads with your gaming laptop to boost performance. But we would prefer you get a laptop with a powerful cooling system already built-in.
These days you can find a gaming laptop with a good 1080p, 144Hz display under $1000. These displays offer good gameplay, and you are not missing out on too much with the higher refresh rate.
However, if you can afford it, a display with a higher resolution and 165 Hz refresh rates is even better. For example, some gaming laptops offer quad HD displays with refresh rates up to 240 Hz. Screens with this kind of specs can help response times and provide better color accuracy for an immersive gaming experience.
Generally, we would advise going with a screen with at least 2K resolution and a 144 Hz refresh rate.
As for the size, most gaming laptops have screen sizes between 15 and 17 inches. This is the sweet spot, and you should have no problem with laptops this size. However, there are some outliers on the upper-end with18-inch displays and also some on the lower end with 14-inch displays.
Whichever size you go with is up to you but remember that gaming laptops with bigger screens are less portable and may drain the battery faster.
Other than that, laptops that come with Nvidia’s G-Sync are preferable to those without. This feature keeps the screen and the GPU in sync, so you do not run into any lags.
You will spend a lot of time on your keyboard, so making sure you get a good one is crucial. Ultra-sleek notebooks can have keyboards with shallow key travel. So if you are looking for a comfortable typing experience, you may be better off staying away from slim gaming laptops.
Generally, you should look for a keyboard with at least 1.5 mm of travel and above. The more travel, the better. Another important spec is the actuation force, which measures how hard you should press. We would look for an actuation force between 65-75 g.
Gaming laptops also stand out because of their eccentric backlit keyboards. This feature helps when using the laptop in a dimly lit environment. The best backlighting is full-RGB, while other laptops have solid red or white backlighting. Full-RGB is not really all that necessary, though, so it is expendable if you do not care much for that aesthetic.
Other features you should look for include n-key rollover, which ensures each key gets registered when you are typing in a hurry.
Let’s face it, gaming laptops are not meant to last all day. The kind of horsepower they have just is not meant for battery savings. So you might end up with your laptop plugged in most of the time.
Even so, we would recommend getting a laptop with a battery life of around a couple of heavy gaming hours.
Avoid laptops that offer longer battery lives at the expense of a less powerful processing system or a dimmer display. These laptops will take away from the gaming experience even if they can run for longer.
Gaming laptops are powerful machines. So while they are generally meant for gaming, they can also be used for other processor-heavy tasks, especially graphic ones. For example, you can use a gaming laptop for rendering, video editing, or CAD work.
Nvidia’s GeForce GPUs also give you Tensor cores for better AI performance. You can utilize this in certain apps with features like ‘Auto Reframe’ in Premiere Pro and Davinci’s ‘Smart Reframing.’
These GPUs often also come with two built-in driver settings for switching between game mode and studio mode. The studio mode optimizes the laptop for workstation tasks like the ones we mentioned above.
So if you have use for the extra graphics processing power gaming laptops have, we recommend getting a laptop with built-in driver options.
Portability and Connectivity
You can find some ultra-slim gaming laptops in the market. Although they are more portable, they can also cost more and may not have the biggest battery, the beefiest GPU, or the best cooling system.
Generally, you should expect a gaming laptop to be on the bulky side. So if you are looking for a laptop you can have on you all the time, a gaming laptop can be a drag.
As for connectivity, you should look for HDMI, USB-C or thunderbolt, and audio connections. Generally, the more ports there are, the better. But since a lot of connections can be Bluetooth or wireless, you can do without some ports like the audio jack. The WiFi and Bluetooth connection tech should also be top-notch.
Another factor you should look for in a gaming laptop is the latest windows 11. Since these laptops have recent Intel core processors, they are compatible with Windows 11. Why is the new Windows OS good for gaming?
Well, there are a couple of reasons. Firstly, the Auto HDR option significantly improves on the recent HDR implementations on Windows. With the new RTX GPUs, this feature can help deliver high-definition gameplay on games like Cyberpunk 2077.
Secondly, there is the direct X 12 ultimate support and direct storage for cutting down on loading times, especially if you have an NVMe SSD.
Some Quick Tips
Lastly, we should mention a couple of short tips you should keep in mind.
- Don’t underestimate a gaming laptop. If you think a gaming laptop is necessary for any game, you are wrong. Many online games do not require all the beefy specs a gaming laptop offers, even a budget one. So keep in mind the kind of titles you want to play on a gaming laptop before you buy one.
- Mind the touchpad. A lot of gamers would prefer getting a joystick or a mouse for the best gaming experience. But a good touchpad can make a ton of difference as well. The bigger the touchpad is, the better.
- Avoid touchscreens. You are not buying a studio laptop here, and touchscreens drain the battery, so we would advise generally avoiding them.
Buy separate mice or joysticks. Laptops make all the things you have in a PC smaller. While this does work miracles for portability, it also has some drawbacks. These drawbacks include having a small touchpad instead of a mouse. Getting a separate gaming mouse will enhance your gaming experience and make it more snappy.
- Sleek bezels: Many gaming laptops have excellent displays with slim bezels and great color accuracy. While a great display is not necessary for gaming, it does make the experience better. So the overall look and aesthetic of the laptop counts as well, especially if you plan on taking it places.
Before we wrap things up, we want to address some of the questions you may have when buying a gaming laptop.
Which Brands Should You Go With?
Like other laptops, some brands command a larger share of the gaming laptop market. Let’s look into some of the most popular brands around.
- Razer is a brand based on gaming technology, including mice, chairs, laptops, etc. Their laptops stand out with unique green accents on a black background.
- Asus’s ROG series is one of the most prominent gaming device line-ups around. Both their phones and their laptops offer unique and innovative features.
- Alienware by Dell is another established gaming equipment brand. They make both laptops and PCs and focus on gaming equipment.
- Omen is another big name in the market. Its parent brand, HP, holds a large piece of the general laptop and PC industry.
- MSI‘s laptops are black with red accents and offer a great lineup of gaming options. You can spot them by their Dragon logo.
- Gigabyte, Auros, and Lenovo’s Legion series are also some names worth mentioning in the top-tier manufacturers of gaming laptops.
How Much Should You Spend on a Good Gaming Laptop?
Budget gaming laptops are getting better. In fact, every smart device you know about is probably getting better, especially at the budget end. One example of this is better refresh rates in smartphones. At first, it was a feature reserved only for high-end phones. Then it flowed down to the budget-end smartphones, and now it is becoming pretty ubiquitous in budget Android phones all around.
The same concept applies to gaming laptops. Nowadays, you can get a pretty capable gaming laptop for under $1500. However, if you want the best, you will still have to shell out $2000-4000.
The sub-$1500 category has laptops that can comfortably run most titles at high settings. So unless you do not want to settle for anything less than astounding, you do not have to pay much more than $1000.
Will a Gaming Laptop Make Me Look Unprofessional?
Gaming laptops can often have a distinct gamer aesthetic. They are flashy, heavy, and eccentric. So if you plan on using one on the job, you may think a gaming laptop can look a bit odd to your colleagues. And in some cases, that definitely is the case. People are unlikely to consider an RGB keyboard and noisy fans very professional.
But all gaming laptops are not the same. For example, Razer’s gaming laptops and Acer’s Triton SE series look much more professional than the stereotypical image of a gaming laptop people may have. So crossing off gaming laptops is not necessary if you plan on using one for professional work.
Wrappings Things Up
So there we are. Those were the 10 things to consider when buying a gaming laptop in 2022 we think you should keep in mind.
It is important to remember that tech moves fast. According to Moore’s law, the number of transistors in a dense integrated circuit doubles every 24 months or so. We have seen that trend manifest itself recently with Apple, AMD, Intel, and Nvidia. So information regarding buying the evergreen laptop market can get outdated quickly.
Whenever you plan on buying a gaming laptop, make sure you have the latest information about the relevant tech. There are plenty of online resources for this, making the job much easier for you.
We hope this buying guide clarifies what you should look for in a laptop. Good luck and happy shopping.