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Laptops come in all shapes and sizes nowadays. Most of the latest laptops also come with pretty high specifications even if they are made for regular usage. The modern processing units and graphics are pretty adept at handling most of the complex tasks that a user can throw at them, not to forget most of the recent laptops come with high enough amount of RAM. All of this can easily bring a question to your mind; “can I use a normal laptop for gaming?”
Yes, you can definitely use a normal laptop for gaming, provided the games you want to play are not too demanding towards high-end gaming gear. However, if you want to play some of the latest games with the best graphics settings, and some high FPS then you will definitely need a decent gaming laptop.
If you have a fairly decent normal use laptop, then there is a good chance it already has at least 4 – 8 GB’s of RAM, a decent CPU, and probably a low-end graphics unit. If that’s the case then you can rest assured that this laptop will easily handle most of the lower end or medium hardware requiring games. Most of the older games from 5 – 8 years back will also play well on such a laptop. You might have to use medium or low graphics settings and might not get too many frames per second on the display, but you can still enjoy your games nonetheless.
There are also pretty decent AMD APU powered laptops nowadays, and even if they are meant for normal use, they are still capable at handling most of the games with lower graphics output settings. If you have not invested in your laptop then, and you can’t go for even a lower-end gaming laptop, then you definitely want to consider a normal laptop with one of the recent AMD APU units.
AMD APU is a single chip that combines both a Processing Unit (CPU) as well as a Dedicated Graphics Processing Unit (GPU). Hence, enabling better handling of graphics-heavy applications like games when compared to laptops without a dedicated GPU.
Now let’s go down to understanding the difference between normal laptops and gaming laptops, and why a lower-end gaming laptop might still be a better choice over a normal laptop.
Can I Use A Normal Laptop For Gaming?
The Difference Between a Normal Laptop and a Gaming Laptop
When we say normal laptops or gaming laptops, we are only mentioning the intended purpose for the creation of the particular laptop model in question. As otherwise, any laptop can be used for both gaming and other regular use purposes, depending on the hardware configuration. Even the laptop with the lowest of hardware specs will still be able to play a lot of games, specially those from a decade ago.
With that established, let’s discuss what exactly is added to a laptop to make it a gaming-specific laptop when compared to a normal office or home use laptop.
Powerful Central Processing Units
Gaming laptops come with very powerful processing units which are often the best in class in what is available at that time. They will usually almost always come with at least 4 cores and a processing clock that is above 2.0Ghz on the least.
Normal laptops on the other hand are generally coupled with CPUs that are on the lower or medium end of the computing spectrum. The main intention behind using lower end CPU’s is generally to lower price as well as consume less power to prolong battery life. This also helps in reducing the overall profile of the laptop which is pretty thin and sleek as compared to most gaming laptops.
Decent Amount of Random Access Memory (RAM)
Gaming laptops come with a decent amount of RAM, which nowadays is at least 16 Giga Bytes and above. A lower end gaming system can still make do with 8 GB’s or less, but 16GB is the minimum recommended for modern games or for running some of the recent applications and multimedia. Some of the higher-end gaming models can even be seen with 32GB memory.
Regular use laptops on the other hand come with lower amounts of RAM. 4GB’s are quite common among the lower end systems, while 8GB or 16GB should be expected in middle to high range working or multimedia oriented laptops.
Good Processing of Graphics through a Dedicated GPU
One of the most important pieces of hardware in a laptop intended for playing games is the GPU. Games come with some of the high-end graphical computations to provide us with great visuals. As graphics in the games have improved, so has the need to buy systems with higher-end GPU’s that are able to show those visuals as and how they were intended. A decent modern gaming system will definitely need one of the latest model GPU’s with at least 6GB of dedicated graphics memory. Some might also carry lower amounts of dedicated GPU memory, but the more the better for games. Not to forget this dedicated GPU memory also plays a vital role in running other graphics-heavy applications, and even to run some of the latest AI-oriented software.
Normal systems will come with either no dedicated graphics hardware or a lower-end GPU. If you have a choice, you should always settle for a laptop with a dedicated GPU on board, which is usually always better than the graphics unit embedded in the CPU. However, AMD’s APU is an exception as it carries a dedicated GPU along with the CPU on the same chip. Hence, if you get a choice between an AMD APU normal laptop or an Intel laptop with no dedicated graphics hardware. Then the AMD APU carrying laptop will be a better choice, provided the APU is decent enough to compete with Intel’s CPU.
Faster HardDrive Storage
SSD’s (Solid State Drives) have become an essential part of a modern-day gaming laptop. SSD’s help in the fast retrieval of data from the storage, and also helps write or transfer the same data much faster than a regular spinning hard drive would. Hence, a decent-sized SSD unit or a pair of SSD units is quite crucial for higher-end gaming laptops.
Yet, at the same time, SSD is not required nor essential to be able to play games and most games can be played just fine on regular hard drives. The only difference is often the load times and responsiveness of the system in general.
If you are going for a normal laptop or already have one, then getting one with an SSD, or considering replacing the regular hard drive with an SSD might be one of the quickest ways of making it fast and game ready. However, sometimes, when the CPU or RAM might not be that great, then switching to an SSD just won’t make much of a difference. After all, SSD’s help fast retrieval of data, but without enough RAM to store that data and without a fast enough CPU to process it, it simply goes to waste.
A gaming laptop is often quite bulky and heavy compared to a normal laptop. There are some latest models out there that are thin and sleek but still, they have to make a compromise somewhere to bring the dimensions down to a normal work laptop’s size.
Gaming laptops are bulky and heavy because they carry higher-end computing hardware which is often larger than their normal and slower counterparts. This hardware also gets hotter sooner and more than the normal hardware, and hence extra spacing and cooling is often necessary to keep the laptop from burning itself inside out. This is also the reason most gaming laptops go pretty hot in your lap and send out hot air from their ventilating sides. I have often used my own heavy gaming laptop as a room heater at night to keep the temperature down to where I needed to. Yet, at other times it has affected the performance of air conditioning in the room.
Normal laptops are thin and sleek as they carry lower or mid-tier computing hardware. This hardware mostly doesn’t need extra cooling and hence can be constrained to a thin side pretty easily.
Gaming laptops usually come with a Full HD display screen which is often one of the better ones at how it treats the colors and light for the visuals. 2k and 4k Laptop screens have also become quite a trend nowadays, however, smaller screens don’t need to be that high in resolution to provide decent visuals.
Regular laptops often come with lower than Full HD screens while some of the mid-top tier laptops will carry a Full HD display. If you are buying a regular system that you intend on playing some games with, then you definitely want to consider getting one with at least 1080P resolution (1080p is also referred to as Full HD, while only HD refers to a resolution of 720p only.
So with all things discussed, let’s consider how to enable a normal laptop to be able to play some games.
Converting a Normal Laptop into a Light Gaming Laptop
This is where customizable laptops play a major role. If your laptop has options to customize various hardware, then you should be able to make some changes that can definitely help you play more games than you could on the default setup.
Things you want to consider and check are:
1) Does the laptop allow you to install a dedicated GPU? If it already has a dedicated GPU, then does it allow you to switch it out for a better one?
2) Does your AMD APU laptop allow you to pair it with a dedicated Graphics unit to link both in crossfire configuration where both work simultaneously?
3) Does your laptop allow you to add more and faster RAM to it?
4) Is swapping out your hard drive for an SSD an option with your laptop (This is almost always doable with any laptop).
5) Are you able to link your laptop with an external monitor screen with a better display? This becomes important when your laptop might carry the right hardware to support gaming and yet the screen might not be good enough for displaying the visuals.
If your laptop has all or some of these options. Then you can easily switch out the regular hard drive for an SSD to improve the overall responsiveness and load times of your laptop. Add some extra RAM to enable your laptop to run some heavy applications including games. Add a dedicated GPU or swap the existing one for a better GPU to play more demanding games.
There is always some kind of a possibility on how you can make small changes to your business or home use laptop to enable it to play games. All you have to do is to know what you are looking for in your laptop, and what are your customizability aspects in it, in the future.
Looking for a decent Normal Laptop that can also play games while staying away from gaming laptop costs?
Normal Laptops to consider for Regular Use and Light Gaming
ASUS F512DA-EB51 VivoBook 15 Thin And Light Laptop
This 15.6″ laptop comes with a Full HD 1080p 4 way NanoEdge bezel display with an amazing 88% screen to body to ratio. It carries a very powerful AMD CPU in the shape of AMD Quad Core Ryzen 5 3500U Processor (2M Cache, up to 3.6 GHz), which is coupled with an AMD Radeon Vega 8 dedicated graphics chip. The RAM is 8 GB and the primary storage is a 256GB SSD. The keyboard is designed to be ergonomic and comfortable for long typing hours. The keyboard is also backlit to not only help you type in dark, but also give you the feeling of sitting on a premium gaming machine.
All in all, this is a perfect regular use laptop that is quite potent for gaming due to the presence of dedicated graphics along with a powerful AMD CPU. A 512 GB SSD version is also available on Amazon for those who need an extra amount of storage. Besides, the storage can always be upgraded at home as well.
Quick Summary of Specs
|Screen Display Size||15.6 Inches|
|Screen Resolution||1920 x 1080 Full HD|
|Memory Speed||2400 MHz DDR4 SDRAM|
|Graphics Coprocessor||AMD Radeon RX Vega 8|
|Number of USB 2.0 Ports||1|
|Number of USB 3.0 Ports||2|
|Laptop Weight||3.5 pounds|
|Laptop Dimensions||14.1 x 9.1 x 0.78 inches|
|Color of the Body||Slate Grey|
|Processor Units Count||4|
|Main Storage||256GB SSD|
Acer Aspire 5 is one of the most highly rated laptops and has been reviewed over 21,000 times on Amazon alone by actual buyers. It’s rating from 21,904 actual buyers is 4.6 out of 5, which speaks volumes about the quality of this laptop at its price range. It’s probably one of the best laptops you can have for its price category.
The screen is Full HD IPS at 15.6″. It is powered by an AMD Ryzen 3 3200U CPU, which is coupled with Vega 3 graphics as the dedicated GPU chipset attached to the CPU on a single chip called APU. It also comes with a pretty fast 128 GB SSD for main storage and the keyboard is also backlit, making it an amazing all-rounder for regular use. The only limiting factor on this laptop is the 4 GB RAM, which even though is not bad is still slightly less for modern-day standards. Especially if you want to do light gaming on it, then you will definitely want to consider upgrading the RAM to at least 8GB’s or consider the above-mentioned laptop with better overall Specs for gaming and regular usage.
All in all, it’s a decent laptop for light casual gaming if you are on a tight budget.
Quick Summary of Specs
|Screen Display Size||15.6 Inches|
|Screen Resolution||1920 x 1080 Full HD|
|Processor Speed||3.5 GHz|
|Graphics Coprocessor||AMD Radeon Vega 3|
|Number of USB 2.0 Ports||2|
|Number of USB 3.0 Ports||1|
|Average Battery Life (in hours)||7.5 Hours|
|Laptop Weight||3.97 pounds|
|Laptop Dimensions||14.31 x 9.74 x 0.71 inches|
|Laptop Body Color||Silver|
|Computer Memory Type||DDR4 SDRAM|
|Main Storage||128GB SSD|
If you are on a tight budget or already having a regular use laptop, then you must always consider what small upgrades are there that can enable your laptop to play some games. If not, then the next best thing is to buy laptops that come with dedicated graphics and a good amount of RAM. Having an SSD can always be helpful as well, while the screen needs to be a Full HD display for you to enjoy the best visuals while gaming or while doing your regular laptop chores.