The main benefit of laptops is portability. You can have significant computing power in a laptop and you can carry it anywhere you want. We have everyday laptops ideal for students to work on documents and content consumption. Then we have business laptops, where security and reliability are utmost important. We also have gaming laptops that often have very powerful processors and graphic cards with maxed out specs, features and functionality. Laptops are generally more expensive than desktops. If you bring a gaming spec laptop into the picture, then their price is even higher than everyday laptops. You might be wondering: Are Gaming Laptops Worth It?
We will try find the answer to this question in this guide. We will take a look at gaming laptops in general, when to purchase and when not to purchase a gaming laptop.
What Do You Mean by a Gaming Laptop?
The PC gaming is a multibillion-dollar industry. Technological improvements in hardware combined with multiple game developing companies pouring millions of dollars into designing and developing games, the gaming market is expected to double within 4 to 5 years.
Whenever we speak of gaming on a computer, we usually get a desktop PC in our mind. This is because, with desktops, you can get the most powerful consumer processors (from both Intel and AMD), the beefiest graphics cards, latest and fastest RAMs and several other hardware.
If you build your own PCs, then you have a ton of options to choose from for each and every piece of hardware and if money is not an issue, then boy you can build a powerful gaming PC with modern hardware.
But things change quite a lot if you want a powerful computer that can play AAA titles but offer you portability at the same time. These are called Gaming Laptops. But how are gaming laptops different from regular laptops? And are gaming laptops worth it?
The first important difference is the specifications. Yes. A gaming laptop also has a processor, graphics card (which might be an option in regular laptops), RAM, storage, wireless connectivity etc. But the difference between a gaming laptop and a regular laptop is the specs of that hardware.
A gaming laptop will offer you with the most powerful mobile processor in the present market. Coming to the important hardware for gaming, the graphics card, a gaming laptop will come with the powerful GPU that can push hundreds of frames on to the laptop’s display without breaking sweat.
The case is similar with respect to other hardware as well. While regular and business laptops might not even come with an ethernet port, some gaming laptops come with 2.5 Gigabit ethernet ports. Do you want Wi-Fi 6E for fast wireless connectivity? You may or may not find regular laptops with this spec, but some gaming laptops have it. Another important difference is ports. With gaming laptops, you can have the latest and fastest connectivity such as HDMI2.1, Thunderbolt 4, USB4 etc.
In simple, in a gaming laptop, you have the option of powerful hardware and ports that a regular laptop cannot offer.
As gaming laptops come with powerful (and power hungry) CPU and GPU, they have to deal with a lot of heat. Hence, the design of the chassis, implementation of cooling and fans is quite different from regular laptops.
While designing the motherboard PCB and the chassis of a gaming laptop, designers and engineers take the significantly higher power consumption into account. As a result, we can see powerful processor and graphics cards in gaming laptops that can draw much higher power than a regular laptop.
The chassis of a gaming laptop will be rugged and generally strong when we compare it with normal laptops. As display is an important part of gaming experience, gaming laptops usually have good quality displays with higher refresh rates (144Hz is slowly becoming the bare minimum even in entry level gaming laptops).
In case of regular laptops, they have one or two heat pipes and one/two cooling fans to dissipate the heat. In contrast, most modern/powerful gaming laptops come with vapor chamber for CPU and GPU. This allows for an efficient transfer of heat from the CPU/GPU to the heat pipes.
Speaking of heat pipes, some gaming laptops come with 6 or 8 heat pipes for the CPU and GPU and the cooling fans can run at 12V when we compare to normal 5V.
When you have a powerful CPU/GPU with very good cooling and maxed out specs, the prices of the system obviously skyrockets. This is exactly the case with gaming laptops. Generally, laptops are slightly expensive when we consider the performance of a desktop with similar specs.
The price of gaming laptops is even more than regular laptops. There are some gaming laptops that cost more than $2,000. Considering this price, many will wonder: Are gaming laptops worth it? Let us find out now.
Are Gaming Laptops Worth It?
The answer to this comes down to three things:
- Personal Preference
If you are often on the move and want a power machine to play games that also offers portability, then gaming laptops are the only choice. While regular laptops and business laptops are suitable for everyday usage such as working with documents, video conferencing and occasional media consumption, you cannot game on them (even if you could, the experience will be mediocre at best).
Even entry level gaming laptops offer all the bells and whistles of regular laptops but have the benefit of slightly better CPU and GPU. We recommend the ‘H’ series of mobile processors from both Intel and AMD (such as Intel 12th Gen 12500H and AMD Ryzen 5 6600H, these are entry level and you can even more powerful processors) as minimum requirement for gaming laptops in terms of CPU.
In the GPU side, NVIDIA RTX 3060 and AMD Radeon RX 6600M should be the bare minimum. As you go higher in terms of specs, the price also climbs equally.
Speaking of price, we mentioned earlier that gaming laptops are generally expensive than regular laptops. So, if budget is not an issue, then gaming laptops are generally better due to their superior specs.
If you can extend your budget slightly above than a regular laptop (considering you are looking for an everyday laptop), we recommend you to go for an entry level gaming laptop as it offers better CPU, RAM, Storage, Connectivity than regular laptops.
Even though the primary use case of gaming laptops is, well, gaming, considering the performance it offers, you can use it for video editing, photo editing, running powerful CAD applications (PCB Design, SolidWorks, Blender etc.) and other similar CPU/GPU intensive tasks (other than gaming).
Of course, a gaming laptop is worth it only if you need something portable without compromising on performance.
When to Buy and When Not to Buy a Gaming Laptop?
If you are an avid gamer who is looking for a powerful computer with portability, then gaming laptops are the only choice. Another reason why you might want to buy a gaming laptop is if you are a student who does freelance video/image editing, then a gaming laptop definitely serves you well.
You can game on it, edit videos or images, carry it around your campus and also do regular college work as well.
Generally, gaming laptops tend to have better CPU, GPU and other hardware when we compare it with everyday laptops. This in turn leads to better performance. So, if you do not have space to build a desktop PC but still need good performance from your computer, then gaming laptops are a good choice.
If gaming is your main criterion, then gaming laptops are a better investment than consoles. With gaming consoles, you can only game (while some allow you to watch movies on Blu-Ray). A gaming laptop on the hand, allows you to game, watch movies (from streaming services only as most laptops now-a-days do not have an optical drive) and also do any other productive/computer related task.
The main reason not to buy a gaming laptop is price. Gaming laptops are significantly expensive than regular laptops. So, if budget is an issue, then it is better not to buy a gaming laptop.
Due to its powerful hardware (CPU, GPU, Fans etc.), the power consumption of a gaming laptop is generally more than a regular laptop. So, the battery life of a typical gaming laptop is very less than low-power and business laptops.
If battery life is your main concern and you want to run your laptop for a long time on battery power, then it is better not to invest in a gaming laptop.
The powerful hardware in gaming laptops means more heat. Do not even think about placing the laptop on your lap while gaming. For gaming, you have to use a gaming laptop on a desk and add a cooling pad help dissipate the heat.
With the rate at which modern tech is changing now-a-days, we cannot guarantee anything as ‘future proof’. Even if you invest thousands of dollars on powerful gaming laptops, there is a significant chance that its hardware becomes outdated in just a couple of years.
This and the fact that you cannot upgrade the hardware on a laptop in general (you can upgrade RAM, Storage, Wi-Fi Card in most gaming laptops but not the CPU and GPU), you don’t want to invest on a gaming laptop as future ready.
Gaming laptops offer you with powerful CPU, GPU, excellent connectivity, decent number of ports. But they are significantly costly than everyday and business laptops and even some desktops. An important question every gaming and PC enthusiast gets now and then is: Are Gaming Laptops Worth It? They are worth it only if you need it. You get good performance and portability with gaming laptops. So, if you need performance on the go, then invest in a decent gaming laptop. If budget is your constraint and you don’t need high-end CPU/GPU, then a regular laptop is more than sufficient.