When you’re shopping for a laptop computer, compare it to designing a room in your home. It’s important to ask yourself, “What different things will I use this computer for?” When purchasing a laptop for gaming, even casually, this question becomes even more important. The past several years have seen the gaming laptop industry bloom and expand in large ways!More computers are available at more diverse price points.
The term “gamer” sounds simple, but it carries a diverse reputation. Whether you like graphically intense games such as Rise of the Tomb Raider or browser-based titles like Candy Crush, you are a gamer. Your choice of computer is going to differ, however, because graphically intense games require much more computing power.
The price tag of a computer doesn’t necessarily speak to its ability to play games. Different types of hardware can affect a laptop’s cost, and it’s important to know which hardware is important for gamers.
Integrated vs. Dedicated Graphics Processing Unit (GPU)
The first factor you should examine is the laptop’s graphics options. An “integrated” graphics setup is built onto the motherboard of the computer. Integrated graphics share memory with the CPU. This type of graphics setup is much more affordable, but it’s also far less capable of rendering complex graphics.
New titles such as Fallout 4 and Rise of the Tomb Raider will be difficult to play on a computer within tegrated graphics. Any extended attempt to do so may produce damaging amounts of heat inside of the laptop.
A dedicated, or discreet, GPU has its own memory, which is not shared with the CPU. The dedicated GPU in a laptop is frequently housed off of the motherboard. This allows its heat to be dispersed away from critical parts of the laptop. Graphically intensive titles require a dedicated GPU from a reliable manufacturer such as NVidia or Radeon.
However, this is where the question of purpose comes into play. If you are a gamer who enjoys less demanding games, an integrated graphics setup may suit you just fine. A laptop with a dedicated GPU may cost more than one without, but most new games are going to require one.
A good gaming laptop needs an effective way to keep cool. When processing complex graphics at high speeds,the GPU and CPU will generate a lot of heat. This can be damaging to a laptop’s internal hardware if not ventilated properly. Several elements of a laptop’s construction be able to ensure that heat is less of a risk in a gaming laptop.
A laptop’s fan design is the most important feature, here. Many laptops built for intense gaming will feature two fans built into their chassis—one for the GPU, and one for the CPU. These fans spin at alternating speeds to meet the demands of each hardware component’s workload.While this drains a laptop’s battery faster, it’s better for the overall health of the computer.
Several cooling features are less visible than the laptop’s fans. Copper tubing and a well-designed heat sink also help to move electrical heat away from the computer’s hardware. Some gaming laptops may advertise these features, but you will often have to dig for the details. As expensive as a gaming laptop can be, it’s important to ensure that yours comes equipped to keep cool.
Hard-Disk Drive (HDD) vs. Solid-State Drive (SSD)
Graphics are king when choosing your gaming laptop, but storage space matters too! Like other features, this can affect your laptop’s price, so it pays to know the benefits and drawbacks of each storage type.
Hard-disk drives (HDD) have been a standard for data storage in computers for several years. They remains the most economical way to acquire more storage space on one’s computer. HDD units feature a spinning disk drive that writes and re-writes data to a physical surface, and are often inexpensive to produce.
While the HDD remains less expensive, recently popularized solid-state drives (SSD) are faster and more efficient. Solid-state drives have no moving parts, and are therefore quieter and easier on your battery. They are also capable of accessing data much faster. For the gamer, this means that games will run better. In addition to games, all of your computer’s applications will load in a fraction of the time required by an HDD.
These benefits are not without drawback, however. SSD units are more expensive than HDD components, and often feature less available storage space. However, for those serious about computing efficiency, there are few methods to acquire more speed in one’s experience.
Other Important Factors
While graphics, heat ventilation, and data storage are the most affecting factors in the laptop gamer’s experience, other qualities are important as well.
Screen size is important to all laptop users, and gaming laptop screens range from 13” to 17”. Though a few inches’ difference in screen size may not seem like a big deal, it can affect many other things. Larger computers tend to weigh more, but also have more room for high-end components. Smaller laptops often can’t include the best graphics hardware, as they lack the space inside of the chassis to ventilate the built up heat.
As with the GPU, a higher end CPU will result in greater gaming potential. A quad-core Intel Core i7 will typically offer faster processing speeds than an Intel Core i5, for example. Advances in CPU efficiency and potential are happening rapidly, which means that very good CPUs can actually be quite affordable.
When shopping for a gaming laptop, it’s important to know that the market is constantly shifting and evolving. New laptop models are released every year, but that shouldn’t dissuade you from buying a computer that you really love.Good gaming laptops are built to last, and even as upgraded features are released, you’ll still be able to play the newest games at high settings for several years.
The best manufacturers have their own takes on the gaming laptop. From Dell’s Alienware to ASUS’s Republic of Gamers series, choices abound at varying price points. With the above guide in mind, you’re well-equipped to find the best gaming laptop for your needs.