Choosing and finalizing the purchase of a new gaming laptop has never been an easy task, not for pro gamers even. Plus, with the terrific day-to-day technology elevations, it’s even more of an add-up in frustrations than delight in the PC gaming industry today. Of course, there’s a lot more to think about as regards what to look for when buying a gaming laptop nowadays.
But I literally don’t want you to be a part of that baffling buzz. So here’s an ultimate gaming laptop buying guide with all the key factors briefly outlined that you should consider getting one perfect machine from all hundreds of thousands out there in the market.
What to Look for When Buying a Gaming Laptop?
The key considerations for you when you are out there looking for a gaming laptop needs to be the laptop’s processors, especially its graphics chip, its display for sure, memory, and storage, and if you like, the keyboard as well.
#1. GPU Needs to be Your First Priority
Graphics is obviously the bedrock for gaming and unlike a standard laptop, it’s not CPU but the GPU that trumps everything else in a gaming rig. The graphics processing chip is the key determiner of the quality, performance, and class of a gaming laptop. And this is it only that decides how supreme your gameplay can become, end of the day.
What to Look for and How to Decide What GPU Do You Need?
Though it’s all up to you, the most important thing while deciding on a graphics chip is to ask yourself how much round-the-clock and intense a gamer you are.
At the highest level of gaming craze, you may need to consider every single thing including Ray Tracing, DLSS, Super Resolution, dedicated VRAM, GTX, and RTX technology, etc. in a GPU. While for the otherwise scenario, anything just appropriate could do the trick.
Note though, GPU is the key element in deciding the laptop’s pricing as well. Starting from below $1000, you may end up spending anywhere up to $4000+ even on a laptop and all that cost mostly owes to the GPU it packs inside.
If we take NVIDIA GPUs as an example, its GTX 10 series and versions of GTX 1650, 1660, or such GPUs are quite enough for an entry-level gamer as regards their specs and budget. Whereas for the mid-tier and super-crazy gamers, the GeForce 1070, 1080, GTX/RTX 20 series, and the ultra-advanced RTX 30 series GPUs are recommended, respectively.
#2. Screen and Display Quality Comes Next
What’s the point of buying a heavily punched and performing gaming laptop just to find out that it’s totally let down by screen? To find out that it’s in no way capable of displaying the buttery-smooth visuals rendered by your elite GPU? Of course, no benefit.
So if you’re planning on using the inbuilt laptop display for gaming and not connecting an external monitor, the screen needs to be your second key consideration while buying a gaming laptop.
What to Look for in Display?
- Size: The choice is purely yours whether you go with a 13” – 14” panel or a mighty 18” laptop. But I suggest getting a 15” or 17” screen when it comes to gaming laptops as that’s not only a mainstream screen size here but total fun to be gazing at as well. Remember though, the bigger the display size, the heavier, costlier, and less portable will be the laptop.
- Display Resolution: Always aim for a plain HD (1920×1080) display at the least. Otherwise, the higher, the better.
- Refresh Rate: Standard HD displays are usually paired with 60Hz refresh rates. Whereas, you can even find refresh rates up to 360Hz too. The more, the ideal.
- Response Time: 1ms is always better than 3ms which is subsequently better than 5ms.
- Screen Tearing: See if the display features auto-sync with the GPU i.e. V-Sync, G-Sync, or FreeSync facets.
Apart from that, make sure you never get a touchscreen laptop for gaming purposes.
#3. CPU, RAM, and Storage Are Also Important Considerations
There’s a bit more to check out in the driving hardware department as well.
Because it’s pretty uncommon for games to use CPU more than GPU, a pretty entry-level CPU paired with a premium GPU often does it well for your gaming needs. Nevertheless, as the CPU is essentially the brain of your laptop, it’s also an important consideration at the time of purchase.
For gaming purposes, a newer generation i5 CPU with at least 4 cores and high clock rates preferably is the strict minimum suggestion far and wide. Anything equal to or higher than a quad-core i7 is certainly appreciated.
It’s perhaps the second most important hardware consideration after GPU while buying a gaming laptop. RAM is the hippocampus of your computer, and it’s something that the games rely most upon after the GPU.
As regards a gaming laptop, 8GB of preinstalled RAM is the bare minimum you should get, and it would be better if the memory is upgradeable, later on. That said, 16GB RAM is what’s usually recommended. Otherwise, the more, the ideal.
The read and write speeds of storage drives also affect the gameplay experiences. So it’s better to aim for SSDs always instead of HDDs, and 512GB is the least you should aim to get. But if the laptop has a combo of HDD and SSD, you may not need to think twice to get it.
Later upgradeability of the laptop as regards RAM and storage is also an important concern to check out. Never forget that.
Anything Else? What Further to Look for in a Gaming Laptop?
Keyboard and Trackpad?
In gaming laptops, you may easily sacrifice some aspects just to ensure you get enough power and punch for performance, and I believe keyboard and trackpad could be two of those aspects.
You’re going to be using external peripherals for gaming like an external mouse or game controller at least, if not an external keyboard. So you might never need to look deep into trackpad qualities, etc.
Anent the keyboard on a gaming laptop, you may need to look for facets like maximum key travel, backlighting, sensitive actuation, WASD, N-key rollover, anti-ghosting, etc. Some gaming laptops also feature completely mechanical keyboards so if you’re not planning on using an external keyboard for gaming, get one such piece of hardware.
Gaming laptops because of their extreme raw powers get hot as hades in no time and if not adeptly countered, the heat build-up can get devastating. And this is one of the key reasons why even extremely robust gaming laptops start underperforming.
So it’s recommended to make sure the laptop you’re getting has a fine heat dissipation and cooling mechanism.
The battery feature may also be easily overlooked when purchasing a new gaming laptop. No matter how elite a laptop you get, you’ll never get the battery strength of that class due to extreme resource-heaviness. These batteries hardly show a 5+ hour one-charge stand and gaming laptops usually love if they are used and connected to AC simultaneously.
This section matters nothing if you are already a freak of some specific brand. But if not, you may find a lot of brands in the market with one taking on the another in some aspect.
So if you find it hard to decide which one to go for, I suggest checking out and comparing ASUS ROG (TUF as well), Dell Alienware, MSI, Razer, Lenovo Legion, and Acer Swift laptops’ features with one another at one price point on multiple discussion/other portals. You’ll get the best idea, I believe.
In addition to all that, you may also want to decide one more thing i.e. whether you need a gaming laptop or a gaming workstation (in case you are a gamer cum content creator)? Plus, your budget range and other laptop features like portability, etc. might also be worth mentioning when it comes to what to look for when buying a gaming laptop.
Q1. What is a reliable gaming laptop?
Ans. Any gaming laptop that comes from a significantly biggie and reputed company, easily offers the raw powers you need for all your gaming sessions 24-7, and has great acclaim on different discussion and reviews portals online can be labelled a reliable gaming laptop.
Presently, ASUS’s ROG, MSI, Razer, Lenovo Legion, and some Alienware laptops by Dell are ruling the laptop market. So we can safely assume they are reliable laptops as that’s why masses are loving them.
Q2. What are the recommended specs for a gaming laptop?
Ans. It’s recommended that a gaming laptop should have at least a quad-core CPU, preferably a core i7 or at least a latest generation i5 chip. Other than that, 16GB of preinstalled RAM and a storage of anything equal to or above 512GB, preferably SSD or HDD-SSD combo, is what makes it to a sensible gaming machine.
The GPU choice wholly solely depends on your level of intensity and zest in gaming as well as on what types of games you like to play i.e. RTS, FPS/TPS, MOBA, Simulation, Sandbox games, etc. Some of these games may be happy even with an entry-level GPU, whereas others would need nothing less than an RTX 3080 or so. So this thing depends.