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3 Reasons why Gaming Laptops Are Expensive

by Jason Clarke
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They say, if you’re a hardcore PC gamer, the three biggest purchases you’ll ever make are your house, your car and your PC. For those not part of the community that’s somewhat bewildering; why would anyone want to spend that much money on a computer?

To gamers, however, it’s a no-brainer. You want to experience gaming at its finest. Minimal load times, no lag and the graphics turned up to 11 – just the way the developers intended. Much in the same way a car enthusiast sees the price tag of an Aston Martin as entirely reasonable for what you get – so does a PC gamer when they buy themselves a Fusion Dreadnaught X299. It’s an investment in engineering perfection.

Image of the Chillblast Fusion Dreadnaught X299 RTX 2080 Ti SLI Ultimate PC

However, unlike an Aston, the Fusion Dreadnaught isn’t designed to leave the house.

For most gamers, this isn’t a problem, but for those who want portability with their pwning then a gaming laptop is the obvious solution.

Why Gaming Laptops?

Your average laptop can handle a moderate amount of gaming. This is because most modern laptops benefit from a respectable amount of RAM, a decent processor and usually a good quality screen. If you’ve got slightly deeper pockets the screen will be full HD too.

Like a desktop, they are capable of running all day and can, when needed, run some fairly meaty software. So, if you’re partial to the odd bit of Civilization of an afternoon (read weekend), then your bog-standard off the shelf laptop may do fine. It’ll get hot and noisy, but it’ll cope.

If, on the other hand, you want something that can run any game you want while still being mobile, then you’re going to have to invest in something with a little more muscle.

There are reasons for this – the main one being: non-gaming laptops aren’t designed for gaming. Sure they can just about cope with it, but they just aren’t designed for periods of heavy hardware utilisation. By running the laptop that hard for extended periods of time, performance will start to be impacted and it’ll cause overheating problems. Eventually, it’ll kill the laptop altogether.

Gaming laptops, on the other hand, have the chops to cope with that increase in utilisation and still perform to a high standard. That means you can play the games you want without fear of cooking your laptop (or your lap) in the process.

This does come at a cost though. Performance and portability have never made good bedfellows when it comes to laptops, so we shouldn’t expect the gaming versions to be any different. Gaming laptops are, after all, a premium product featuring some of the best computer components on the market.

So, while expensive, your average gaming laptop is anything but average…

Image of the Chillblast Phantom 17" RTX Gaming Laptop

1. Components

One of the big issues with laptops is that they are designed to be as compact and as functional as possible – that means integration everywhere. It’s how devices like the MacBook Air can be so thin, yet still be good for anything at all. Gaming laptops, on the other hand, need to turn this functionality up to an 11. They still need to be portable, of course, but performance is the name of the game.

One of the biggest differences in both build and performance is that the graphics card is dedicated, rather than integrated within the CPU. This, in turn, means more space is needed within the chassis for the separate components and that even more heat will be produced by their high power output.

Whereas desktops are built from an array of compatible components and the assembly is largely the same, a gaming laptop’s design, layout and specification can vary wildly from system to system. Despite the common components used in desktops, laptop components are smaller and often feature custom PCBs (Printed Circuit Boards) to fit properly. This extra process takes both time and money. Additionally, because of this lack of standardisation, much of a laptop is hand made rather than by machines, which again results in the increase in cost.

There’s also the matter of having a better quality screen and needing more powerful batteries so that it can run for a decent amount of time away from mains power. However, a bigger and better screen, a more powerful graphics card and bigger batteries all create a lot of heat which needs to be addressed or you’ll end up facing the same issues as your bog-standard laptop from a high street retailer.

2. Cooling

This is why putting adequate cooling into a gaming laptop is arguably one of the most important stages of the engineering process. It is also one of the reasons gaming laptops cost as much as they do. Engineers have to design everything from the chassis to the layout of the components solely around the cooling system. This is to keep the laptop’s components at or as close to optimal temperatures as possible. Because gaming laptops have more powerful components which throw out more heat than those of a regular laptop, this becomes a real challenge.

The transistors on the laptop’s CPU generate a lot of heat which needs to be dissipated and vented out of the computer – if the heat builds up the CPU can experience a critical failure, killing your computer. This is where CPU coolers come in.

CPU coolers make use of thermal conductivity to dissipate the heat away from the chip as quickly as possible. This is traditionally done by a series of metal structures with liquid in them working in conjunction with a fan that blows the heat out of the laptop’s vent holes.

With inadequate cooling (if your computer doesn’t die a fiery death) it will experience thermal throttling (reduced performance due to overheating) or even permanent damage to the computer itself. To offset this, manufacturers have to allow for sufficient cooling solutions that can cope with the excessive heat emitted by high-power components of the laptop.

Image of the Chillblast Defiant 15" Gaming Laptop that shows the multiple vents along the sides and back of the laptop chassis

3. Warranty and Support

As is often the case with products of this nature, part of its high cost is due to who made it. Providing this translates to good service, warranty and support – like the ones we offer – then it’s money well spent. If you’re just paying for a name or a logo on a lid then you may want to reconsider. Especially as you’ll be paying well over the odds for a gaming laptop compared to the desktop equivalent. 

It is important to understand that if you’re investing significant money in a gaming laptop, you need to know that you’re covered if there’s ever a problem. That means a decent product warranty, tech support and some means of getting the laptop fixed if, for whatever reason, a glitch makes it past quality control. Remember, this is an investment, not just something to browse the internet with. So make sure, before you hand over your hard-earned cash, that you are well covered should anything go wrong. Check your consumer rights too while you’re at it.

And there you have it…

The truth is gaming laptops are very expensive because far more time, effort and technology goes into building them so that they come close to performing as well as a desktop (which costs a fraction of the price.) It’s a hard truth but a truth nonetheless. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get one; if portability and stowability are genuine considerations then they make sense for your needs.

Keep in mind, however, that it is not something you want to skimp on. Cutting corners on cooling, graphics or the quality of the screen completely defeats the purpose of getting a high-performance laptop.

You’re investing in the way you want to play games. So have fun with it.

If a dedicated gaming laptop is something you are interested in, make sure to get in touch with a member of the Chillblast team and they’ll help point you in the right direction and discuss your exact requirements!

More resources:

Check out this article that details what specs you should be looking for when buying a gaming laptop!

Not just using a laptop for gaming? Check out this article that examines what else you can do on a gaming laptop!

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