There’s a lot to consider when buying a new PC for gaming. What components it needs, what kind of monitor you should pair it with, and just how big should you go? Especially if you plan to take it with you to LAN events or to a friend’s house for an intense gaming session.
Although there will always be some big questions you’ll need to answer when buying any computer, you can narrow down your concerns at least a little with a gaming laptop.
These gaming machines come complete with everything you need to start gaming straight away. And in 2021, gaming laptops are more powerful than ever before.
Better yet, they’re designed to be portable, so if you do want to game in different parts of the house, or take your new gaming machine with you to play somewhere else, all you need to remember is the charger, rather than a whole host of peripherals.
Here are five reasons to get a gaming laptop when you next upgrade.
1. Portable Gaming Power
If you’ve ever tried gaming on a laptop that wasn’t designed for it, you’ll know what a painful experience it can be. With slow storage, an underpowered or non-existent graphics chip, and a spongy, unresponsive keyboard, simply getting games up and running can be difficult, let alone playable at an enjoyable frame rate.
Gaming laptops aren’t like that at all. They’re portable powerhouses.
Mobile processing and graphical power have come on leaps and bounds in recent years, offering the kind of performance that was only available on high-end desktops a few years prior. You don’t have to make major sacrifices to get it, either, as even some of the most capable gaming laptops weigh just a few kilograms and can last for many hours on a single charge – recharging quickly too.
You’ll still get more battery life and a lighter laptop out of most non-gaming laptops, and those designed with efficiency in mind will go for hours or even days longer than the most powerful gaming machines. But modern gaming laptops are a wonderful blend of portability and performance.
Depending on your particular needs, you can target any part of that spectrum to find a laptop that is as powerful as you need, but lets you play away from a power socket for more than an hour at a time.
Featuring Industry-Favourite Parts
The latest generation AMD Ryzen 4000 and 5000-series processors and Intel 11th generation Tiger Lake processors offer amazing all-round performance for gaming and intensive tasks like video editing. Even the onboard Vega and Xe (respectively) graphics chips provide surprisingly powerful entry-level gaming performance right across the range. When paired up with a powerful discrete graphics chip, they’re even more impressive.
Nvidia’s new line of RTX 3000-series mobile GPUs are something special too, offering the kind of GPU power that just last year was only possible on top of the line desktop graphics cards.
There are even some laptops that come with some of those top-of-the-line desktop components under the hood, including CPUs and GPUs – though those laptops do suffer the most when it comes to weight and battery life.
Still, you don’t have to buy the best to get an amazing gaming experience on a modern gaming laptop. Look at the demands of the games you want to play, find a laptop that exceeds those performance targets, and you’ll be gaming away happily for years to come.
2. Faster Screens For Better Play
Alongside higher-powered internal components, modern gaming laptops have adopted one of the hottest trends in PC gaming in recent years: high refresh-rate monitors. These displays can “refresh” what the screen shows more times every second – given in a Hz rating – than traditional monitors.
That allows the laptop to take advantage of higher frame rates in games to give you more information every second. It can even improve your reaction time by lowering the input lag from when you press a button to when the action appears on the screen.
Where traditional laptops would have offered only a 60Hz display, today, gaming laptops often offer 120Hz or 144Hz screens as standard, with more expensive and performance-focused options offering 260Hz, 300Hz, or even 360Hz options. That can make a huge difference to your gaming experience, shaving tens of milliseconds off of your reaction time and giving you an important early look at what’s happening before your opponents on slower monitors.
A higher refresh-rate screen can be beneficial for single player and non-competitive gamers too. Animations and actions on a 120Hz screen look far smoother than on a 60Hz panel, making for a more immersive and lifelike gaming experience.
The only downside to greater refresh rates is that taking advantage of that extra headroom means you’ll need a more powerful system to output higher frame rates. Esports games like CS:GO, Fortnite, and League of Legends, don’t have very high demands, so you will be able to hit higher frame rates in those with ease. But, if you want to play newer AAA games and hit higher frame rates (especially at higher resolutions like 1440p, or even 4K) you’ll need a much more powerful gaming laptop.
3. All You Need To Get Started
One of the biggest advantages of a gaming laptop over desktops – even powerful gaming desktops – is that they include everything you need to get started playing right away.
If you buy a gaming PC then you’ll also need to buy a monitor, speakers or headphones, and a mouse and keyboard. With a gaming laptop, you don’t need to make any of those additional purchases. Depending on your preferences, this can save you money – although gaming laptops do tend to be a little more expensive than comparable desktops – and there are far fewer choices you have to consider.
Most laptop manufacturers offer a handful of pre-configured systems, with tiered performance that makes it easier to pick the kind of gaming laptop that’s right for you. You may want to do a little research for specific hardware options, or pick a certain resolution screen or display type depending on your preferences, but individual reviews can help you there.
In comparison, a desktop gaming PC can demand specific choices for every component and accessory you might buy for it. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, especially if you want to maximise your budget for every aspect of your new PC, and pre-built gaming PCs can streamline the process too, but gaming laptops cover more bases in a single purchase.
Flexibility Is Key
As long as your new laptop meets the minimum requirements for the game(s) you want to play, all you need to do is download them and start playing wherever you like. There’s less setup and you can take your new gaming system to play wherever you want. Desktops have more demands on power sockets and space and are far less flexible in how and where you want to play.
That’s especially important if travelling to friends’ houses or to a LAN party where a gaming laptop can be set up and taken down in mere seconds.
The only caveat to all this is that there is some benefit to gaming peripherals over those included with even good gaming laptops. A gaming mouse, in particular, is worth considering as touchpads are not ideal for fast-paced games and aren’t necessarily that comfortable to use over long gaming sessions.
Gaming keyboards, especially capable mechanical keyboards, offer some advantages of their own and are worth considering for serious gaming, but they’re not as portable as a gaming mouse and don’t provide the same night and day difference over a good gaming laptop keyboard. Some gaming laptops even include mechanical keyboard designs of their own, making the difference much less stark.
4. Sounding Good and Running Cool
The default speakers on anything are rarely great, whether you’re talking about your smartphone, a desktop’s monitor, or most laptops. They’re tinny, lack depth, and at high volumes can even reverberate through the chassis making for unpleasant additional noise.
Not so with gaming laptops.
Along with improvements to internal hardware and display technologies, gaming laptop manufacturers have made huge improvements to laptop audio quality, offering larger speakers that actually sound pretty good considering the small chassis they’re packed inside. In some cases, this has meant teaming up with audio wizards like Bang Olufsen or Waves Maxx, to really add breadth and depth to the sound which just isn’t present in most generic, non-gaming laptops.
Improved Internal Design
Part of the reason this has been possible is because of better placement, giving greater room for larger speakers. In the case of laptops like the Razer Blade, the speakers have been moved to the top sides of the keyboard and better mounted to remove chassis vibration.
In other cases, like the Asus ROG Zephyrus S17, they’ve been equipped with their own amplifier to improve sound quality considerably. Asus even managed to fit a third speaker into its G75 and G750 gaming laptops to act as a miniature subwoofer to give a wider dynamic range to its sound output.
Even when gaming laptops don’t have stellar speakers, they tend to come fitted with a powerful headphone amplifier, so you can enjoy excellent sound quality through your favourite set of headphones instead.
Also adding to your auditory experience in an indirect manner is better laptop cooling. Many gaming laptops now employ enhanced systems which not only help keep the laptop cool, but quieter too. If you want you can spin up the fans to high levels to enjoy the additional performance, but if you like a quiet gaming experience (especially to enjoy the improved sound of your gaming laptop speakers) then there are gaming laptops that now offer that.
With bigger heatsinks, smarter heatpipe networks, larger fans that spin slower but still output plenty of air; there are now plenty of gaming laptops that sound nothing like the hair-dryers of years gone by.
5. Great for Work and Play
As much as gaming laptops are designed with that singular hobby in mind, it’s not all they’re good at. In fact, the high-powered processors, memory, and even graphics cards they come equipped with make them fantastic at other tasks too.
Are you a big web browser opening twenty tabs at a time? The high-powered multi-core processors in modern gaming laptops will handle that with ease. Want to watch Netflix on a screen that’s as gorgeous as the best TVs? Modern gaming laptops often employ wonderfully rich, colourful, and high-resolution displays making them great for watching your favourite films and shows on, wherever you are.
Even more professionally-targeted tasks like video editing and office work can be improved by a gaming laptop. A faster processor and memory can load up Excel spreadsheets more quickly and make them more responsive when transiting around the cells or applying complicated filters and formatting.
Modern CPUs make video editing far easier too, able to handle higher-resolution real-time playback, and discrete graphics cards can make it easier to employ 3D effects and more complicated transitions for a seamless editing experience.
Added Comfort and Speed
Even typing on a gaming laptop can be more enjoyable and accurate than traditional laptops. Gaming laptops are typically designed with responsive, comfortable keyboards – many have backlighting to make it easier to use them in dark – which can help ward off repetitive strain injury during long typing sessions. Many typists and writers swear by their mechanical keyboards for work on desktop PCs, and though most gaming keyboards don’t include a mechanical keyboard option, many of them get very close.
All modern gaming laptops come equipped with high-speed SSDs too – many of them, the latest-generation NVMe drives. That means that not only do games load faster, but Windows comes back from sleep and shut down far faster than traditional hard drives. They also make the whole PC experience feel snappier and responsive, and ultimately more enjoyable than almost any laptop more than a few years old.