Gaming Laptops for Noobs
I want a PS4. I also want an Xbox One and a Nintendo Switch. But I, like most people, can’t afford all of these consoles. I also move around a lot, so the idea of having these consoles and not ever having a good amount of time to play them didn’t appeal to me.
My laptop breaking was the final straw, and I decided to get a gaming laptop. Most PC gamers would say that a laptop can’t ever really help one join the “PC Master Race”. However, with a strong knowledge of technical components and the capabilities of different parts inside a laptop, one can easily get a good laptop at a manageable price that can handle popular games off steam and emulators.
I don’t have that, so I did a bunch of research and did my best. What I found were the most important things to consider are: Graphics card, Processor, RAM, and Hard drive. Let’s explore each as simplistically as we can.
Graphics Card (GPU) – Affects images, videos, and resolution.
Processor (CPU) – Controls the laptop, running the operating system and all applications.
RAM – Allows you to multitask, so more means you can have multiple things open without slowing down the laptop.
Hard Drive – Memory. There are two types, HDD and SSD, that simply affect how much memory you have and how quickly your laptop can retrieve that memory.
For a Tl;Dr of what some great choices are for each, just skip to the end.
The graphics card is what makes playing the games possible. It displays the images, manages them, and keeps up the resolution.
There are two types of GPUs, discrete and integrated. An integrated chip will be slower because it works with the CPU and shares RAM with it. A discrete GPU has its own small supply of dedicated RAM (VRAM) that allows it to work faster and more efficiently at its job.
The stronger it is, the better the resolution and graphics the laptop can muster. The majority of PC games, such as Overwatch, LoL, and GTA V will run with no problem with an NVIDIA GeForce 10 series (so anything that says GeForce 10__).
You might not be able to crank up every aspect of the game to the max, but there should be little to no loss in the difference between the console version and yours.
For a detailed list of options, here is a site that lists most graphics cards on the market by its capabilities. Right now, the best GPU for a laptop is likely the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080.
The CPU controls the laptop and runs it. The operating system, all the applications, and just general activities. There’s no need for extensive details here. Go with Intel.
There are 3 generations that are usable. The 5th generation is usable, but barely, and you can’t expect too much out of it. The 6th is good enough for most anything and 7th (the newest) will have no problems with anything available on PC.
To know the difference, simply check which number is missing in the following: Core i5-____U. The first number will denote which generation it is (IE: Core i5 6200 is 6th gen). Also make sure to pay attention to the clock speed (measured in GHz), as the higher it is, the faster the CPU will be.
This is the simplest part of choosing the laptop. To avoid any problems just get at 8GB. A 4GB laptop will certainly be usable, but may falter somewhere. 16GB and above is for those looking to create portable powerhouses.
Like GPU, there are two types. Unlike the GPU though, each has its pros and cons.
Without going into what each means, there are Hard Disk Drives (HDD) and Solid State Drives (SSD). An HDD can (at least for now) store more, are cheaper, and are more common to find. SSDs are faster and safer.
If you want your laptop to have a massive storage capacity, in addition to being gaming-capable, you’ll want at least 1TB with 7200 RPM speed. For an SSD, 256 GB should be enough to have no problems.
However, with only 256 GB, the storage is pretty limited if you want to save a lot of stuff to your laptop. This option will work for gaming, but only if you don’t intend to save lots of games on your laptop itself, so it may be best for online gaming. For those who can’t decide, there are some options that combine the two within a laptop.
Other things to consider include the screen resolution, the size of the laptop itself, it’s battery life, and whether or not you want a touch screen. For gaming laptops, which tend to move around a lot, a touch screen is not a good idea. The other three aspects should each be decided by the user’s personal desires.
Tl;Dr what to look for to buy a gaming laptop that shouldn’t have problems running games.
CPU – Intel Core 6th Gen
RAM – 8GB
Hard Drive – 1TB HDD, 256 GB SSD
While there are plenty of behemoths that contain the best of each of these aspects, it’s not always a good choice to go for them. Remember, the point of the laptop is to play on the go, and shelling out a huge sum for something that can easily be broken/destroyed isn’t a great idea.
What is the best gaming laptop on the market right now? Let me know in the comments!