In almost all the major gadgets available we have their gaming versions which are tailored for gaming. Be it desktops, laptops or smartphones, we get few specially designed devices from some brands for gaming. Gaming phones are new to the field and not as popular as gaming PCs or laptops.
With the introduction of Nvidia GTX 800M series, gaming laptops entered the race alongside their desktop counterparts. They weren’t really worth considering until the introduction of GTX 900M series in 2014. With GTX 1000 series in the game, gaming laptops nowadays can give some respectable performances.
Gaming laptops are good and at the right price, you can run any game on your device. However, the question of performance arises when they are put up against gaming PCs.
Are gaming laptops actually good enough for competitive gaming? Do they justify their price tag? Will you get the best experience upon investing money in a gaming laptop? To answer these questions, we need to analyse and compare gaming laptops in different criterias. Before jumping into our comparison let’s acknowledge the significance of the gaming laptop.
Why a gaming laptop?
The purpose of a gaming laptop is to give that raw power, but it doesn’t have the liberty of using components over a limited size. The biggest challenge is to fit everything in a compact environment. For that, manufacturers like MSI, Acer, Asus and Dell use mobile versions of components like CPU and GPU (No they aren’t used in mobile phones!). These CPUs and GPUs are super efficient in terms of heat released and size-to-power ratio. The mobile components definitely pack a punch more than their weight.
While buying a gaming laptop is easier for some users than assembling a PC, there is not much scope of hassle once you get your laptop; just a trip to the service centre and it’ll be either repaired or replaced. On the other hand for a PC, either you have to find the faulty component and get it repaired or wait for someone for a home visit. So gaming laptops are certainly more convenient than desktop PCs when it comes to getting started and maintenance.
If you are a frequent traveller or in a work field where you get transferred a lot, then gaming laptops are your best friends. This is why manufacturers make these devices portable enough for on-the-go gaming. So portability is definitely the main advantage here. Gaming laptops are ideal for travellers and people who live in temporary residences like hostels.
If gaming for you is something which can take the second priority in your lifestyle, then you are good to go with a gaming laptop. And I think this is the case with the majority of us. For most people, gaming is just a casual entertainment. Having a laptop in that case can be versatile as it will be handy for a presentation at work or anything like that.
But what about those who take gaming passionately and squeeze some time out of their busy schedule for a few hours of competitive gaming? The performance they get for the price they pay, is it justified?
Why not a gaming laptop?
Let’s talk in terms of performance now. No doubt we get some exceptional performances from the likes of Acer Predator 21X with GTX 1080. But is it justifying a mammoth price tag of $9000?
Also these laptops are not exactly the ones you can carry around at all times. They are few times thicker and bulkier than normal laptops and are prone to getting damaged too.
Even if we go to mid-range segment of gaming laptops which can range from $1500-$3500, we usually get GTX1060 and GTX1080. As mentioned earlier, these GPUs punch above their weight and are really efficient in terms of heat emission. But mobile counterparts of GPUs and CPUs are not as powerful as the full-sized ones. Also the heatsinks and exaust fans are way smaller than what’s available on a PC. Heavy games like PUBG, COD etc. can cause the laptop to get overheated and we usually need a cooling base.
The performance is not the best you can get for price when it comes to gaming laptops. A gaming laptop within the price range of $2000 will come with Nvidia GTX 1060. This will provide a decent gaming experience but it’ll struggle to go past 60 FPS in most demanding games.
The size does compromise with power and it’s a serious downgrade from a prebuilt or custom made gaming PC in same price range. External graphic cards can be an option; you can get an eGPU and install it with the help of an eGPU case. This setup can cost more than 3 times a regular GPU of same specs, also it’ll be weaker by 30-40%. All the money spent on this adds on to the total price of your gaming setup.
Another problem is that there is no option of upgrading CPU. Heavy gaming can easily overheat a laptop and force them to their limits. VR gaming can be even more painful for these devices and prepare for potato gaming if you choose to stream.
Gaming laptops are not as future proof as custom-built PCs are. You get a screen which is fixed and there is no chance of upgrading that, and the FPS will never improve with time and the resolution will be same. We can’t upgrade the components part by part as we can do on a desktop. The only way of upgrading is to get a new laptop. In desktops, the cutting edge components can be acquired easily and we don’t have to change the whole setup. Adding external aids like GPU, keyboard, mouse, monitors etc. affects the portability which holds the most importance for a laptop.
Is gaming laptop for you?
To sum everything up, gaming laptops can be a barrier if you are a hardcore gamer. It will give you a decent performance in heavy online multiplayer games but your opponents might have an edge over you. It is going to cost a lot more than a built PC and the performance won’t make up for it.
On the bright side, what it offers is a very compact machine which can give you some great gaming experience on the go. If you don’t want to play heavy games at high resolutions and want something which fits in your backpack then gaming laptops are for you.
Even though gaming laptops are behind their desktop counterparts of same price range, they are the future as they push companies to create something compact yet powerful. Gaming laptops are going to get better with time and it’ll be fun to watch what manufacturers will bring next.
Upgrading to a Gaming PC?
You might want to check out the best gaming laptops of 2020 if you’re looking to upgrade to a faster gaming PC.