What is a gaming laptop?

A gaming laptop is a small and mobile personal computer which has its own built-in screen. Gaming laptops are basically the same as standard or business laptops only with upgraded features – but it’s these upgraded features which make all the difference.

A gaming laptop means high speed, huge memory, better graphics, and fast processing power. That’s it in a nutshell. But let’s examine these features a little more.

Gaming laptops are designed and manufactured specifically with advanced gaming needs in mind so that you can go into battle armed with the power you need to ensure success. With high-end hardware included, gaming laptops are generally much more expensive than entry-level laptops.

Modern computer games usually require additional processing power, and one of the most significant differences between a standard laptop and a gaming laptop is video processing. Gaming computers have a video card which is a PC component used to enhance the quality of images shown on a screen. They also have their own dedicated RAM, a GPU and a cooling system where a typical PC generally uses an onboard graphics controller.

So, in simple terms, a gaming laptop contains additional power and has all the attributes which mean you can play games in high quality at high- speeds.

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Do gaming laptops look different?

There are lots of gaming laptops which look pretty much like a standard laptop, but gamers do tend to like to play on computers which have a ‘gaming look’ about them. So more and more gaming laptops are decorated by bright colours, metallic finishes, large icons and prominent ridges which give that high-tech look. Gamers are increasingly going for a look which differentiates a gaming laptop from a standard one. It’s cooler to be a gamer than an office worker isn’t it?

What are the main aspects of a gaming laptop?

There are four primary aspects of a gaming laptop. These are: The operating system, screen size, processor, and graphics card.

Operating System

The operating system (OS) is important as not all games are released for all operating systems. This means that certain games you want to play might not be playable on your system, so it’s worth checking out which games you can play on which gaming laptop before you spend any of your money. There’s nothing more frustrating than buying a gaming computer and not being able to play the game you’ve actually bought it for!

The Graphics card

The graphics card or GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) is the most important specification as it allows games to be played with higher graphics settings and with more visual effects enabled. It delivers the images on your screen by processing the data and transmitting the signal to the monitor. Due to how stressful this process can be when running games, you need a GPU with its own dedicated memory, called VRAM (video memory). Of course, there’s no need for you to get bogged down with tons of technical detail. When your gaming laptop arrives it’s all ready to turn on and play.

Most people will tell you that when it comes to memory, “the more the better” but the truth is that the average gaming enthusiast should be able to do everything they want with 4GB of VRAM. But 6GB would be even better.

A 9th or 10th generation Nvidia graphics card will do everything you need to ensure you can game at the level you want to.

The Screen

It’s common sense, if you’re playing some earth-shattering game with brilliant graphics and sound effects, that you’ll want to experience the action on the biggest screen size available in whichever format you decide to go for. You can link a bigger screen to your laptop via an HDMI cable, but performance is affected and if you were going to do that you might as well just buy a desktop PC.

Screen brightness

This is often an area which is overlooked, but it’s important that you get a screen with a bright display because it will stop you squinting when the sun shines on it. If you’re one of those gamers who play in your dark dungeon, and basically never see the light of day, then screen brightness won’t be your main consideration. However, if you want to find out more about what is called ‘brightness metrics’ it’s not always straightforward, as some specification sheets don’t give the details.

A good maximum display brightness is 320 nits (usually that means 300 nits average brightness). Anything below 240 nits of maximum (220 nits of average brightness) is not good for a laptop.

What’s an IPS?

IPS stands for ‘in-plane switching’ – and having an IPS panel is recommended for the best experience. An IPS allows you to see non-distorted colours no matter what angle you’re viewing from. Premium quality displays usually have an IPS.

Resolution

1920 x 1080 is the minimum resolution you need for a any gaming laptop. Anything less and you’ll get graphics which aren’t sharp enough for effective gaming.

Touch Screens

Some gaming laptops now have touch screens, which is a definite benefit if you’re playing games such as Candy Crush, Darkest Dungeon or Galaxy of Pen & Paper. While touch-screens make sense for particular types of games, a touch-screen is unnecessary on most gaming PCs.

Peripherals and more

A gaming laptop is expected to support additional options which a standard laptop may not. A gaming laptop should be able to accept peripherals such as a headset and a wireless mouse, often connected via USB ports and Bluetooth cards. A gaming laptop should be able to connect to the internet and to LANs (local area networks), usually through WiFi and Ethernet.

Improved cooling

Gaming laptops have improved cooling options such as better venting or more powerful fans, since hardware pushed to its limits for long periods of time will generate significant heat.

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What is G-Sync?

No, it’s not the name of a boyband. G-Sync is a piece of NVIDIA tech housed in certain gaming laptops to increase their performance, with a focus on reducing input lag and eliminating screen tearing. AMD’s FreeSync also does the same job. Both G-Sync and FreeSync offer even faster rendering without introducing stutter.

Are gaming laptops inferior to desktop gaming computers?

Gaming laptops are sometimes criticised as being inferior to traditional desktop gaming PCs, but gaming laptops are advancing at a fast rate. So there’s a growing number of gamers who are moving on to laptops.

As gaming laptops are smaller, the internal components of a gaming laptop are usually slightly less advanced and more expensive than similar parts for a desktop PC. Laptops are definitely more difficult to upgrade compared to desktop PCs – due to a combination of lack of component variety and limitations with space. On the plus side, gaming laptops are portable, which is a huge benefit.

How do you use a gaming laptop?

This may sound like a stupid question, but there’s more to this than meets the eye. A gaming laptop can be used like other laptops which we use for the usual day-to-day tasks and entertainment purposes. These laptops have the same operating systems which we use on our normal laptops or PCs.

Internet surfing, web browsing, emails, chatting, and other activities are pretty much like when you use a standard laptop. In addition, some gaming laptops have hard keyboards like PC keyboards due to the demands of gamers who like special keyboards and mice to control their play.

People who buy gaming laptops are buying them primarily for gaming, so they want a laptop which is going to deliver the best performance, with high-quality graphics, sound and speed. They possess advanced features, system specification, and durability make gaming laptops unique.

If you’re a gamer, you can’t run your games on standard laptops because they just don’t have the power or speed you need. Gaming laptops are popular with professionals, such as graphic designers, as they possess high graphics / video cards which deliver high-quality results – not just for gaming.

How much RAM do you need for gaming AND work?

8 GB RAM should be your starting amount of operational memory (RAM). If you’re a multitasker who operates with a number of applications, heavy-duty games and tabs open in your browser at the same time, you may need up to 16GB. Check to see if the gaming laptop you’re looking at is upgradable.

SSDs of HDDs for gaming?

When it comes to hard drives, they are decent for gaming. You can find cheap models with 1TB of capacity, meaning that you will have plenty of space to install and run all your games. They are also easier to find and there are a lot of versions available.

All gamers do need plenty of space, so we can deduce that the minimum size of an HDD should be around 512GB. When it comes to reliability, HDDs are reasonably reliable and durable.

While HDDs are a good choice, SSDs are the ideal choice. They will make your computer run much faster, and therefore gaming will be more satisfying. They use less energy and they are more durable, while they produce less heat and noise. All of this makes them ideal for all users, not only gamers.

The pros and cons of gaming laptops against normal laptops

Pros

High Speed: Gaming laptops are designed and manufactured to give you speed. You need as much speed as possible when you’re gaming so that you can overcome your opponents. Just like when you play games, there are lots of tasks being processed simultaneously which need high CPU to function effectively.

RAM: RAM allows your computer to perform many of its everyday tasks, such as loading applications, browsing the internet, editing a spreadsheet, or experiencing the latest game. Memory also allows you to switch quickly among these tasks, remembering where you are in one task when you switch to another task. As a rule, the more memory you have the better. And more memory also gives you speed a boost, as your computer can handle more actions effectively.

Graphics: Gaming laptops have high-quality graphics cards which provide

high-resolution quality images and are a huge contributor to the game experience. Graphics cards provide support to games and graphics related software so that without any interruption or hang, tasks can run smoothly.

Sound: The sound quality on gaming laptops is generally much better than on a standard laptop. Audio quality is really important when gaming. It’s no good having razor-sharp, fantastic animation but tinny or lacklustre sound. Basically, gaming laptops have superior sound.

Upgradable parts: Some gaming laptops are now more flexible and have upgradable parts. Processors, memory, mouse, touchpads and peripherals can be easily changed. This means you don’t have to replace your laptop as time goes by, you can just upgrade it. However, that only applies to “some.” Most gaming laptops are NOT great for upgrading. Check out what you CAN and CAN’T upgrade, before you buy.

Durability:  Gaming laptops are built to be sturdier and more durable than normal laptops.

Cons

Battery: Gaming laptops tend to have much less battery power than normal laptops. You really need to be near a power source to get the most out of your gaming laptop. Something to think about before you start your gaming as you don’t want to be going in for the kill on the battlefield when your screen goes black.

Weight: Gaming laptops weigh more than standard laptop. Make sure you have an appropriate gaming laptop bag to carry the extra weight. They can be bulky as they have to prioritise function over design, since additional exhaust fans need to be installed on laptops in order to compensate for all the heat built up whilst games are running.

Performance: Gaming laptops do not provide the same level of performance as a desktop PC. They use mobile versions of graphics cards and other components which provide lower performance. It may be that some of the more demanding games, such as Witcher 3 might not be as effective.

Screen size: Your screen size is going to be limited on a gaming laptop as they are portable machines. Yes, you can connect a laptop to a screen through an HDMI cable, but this will put a greater load on your laptop’s graphic card. If you’re happy to play on a smaller screen then happy days.

Extra costs: As a gamer, you’ll also need a specialist gaming mouse, keyboard and other accessories to make the experience as good as it can be. This will mean you’ll incur additional costs. If you’re serious about gaming, then buying a backlit keyboard is a must if you want to throw an ‘all-nighter’!

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Can you use a gaming laptop as a regular laptop?

Yes, you can. It’s a simple answer to a question which many people ask. A gaming laptop can do anything a normal laptop can do.

Like we said at the start, a gaming laptop is pretty much like any other laptop in that it has a CPU, temporary storage space (RAM), permanent storage space (hard drive, SSD or cloud storage) and more. The difference is that a gaming laptop typically has more powerful components and more RAM and storage as games are very demanding on hardware resources.

Both types of laptops are capable of doing all the usual day-to-day home and office admin tasks, internet shopping and watching BBC iPlayer. If you want to game, then a standard laptop might be able to handle it depending on what the game is. You’ll need to seek advice on specific games. The latest games need a lot more power and functionality all round – so for those you’ll need a gaming laptop to experience them at their best.

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