Although mobile gaming is now a force to be reckoned with, computer gaming is still one of the most popular forms of gaming, especially for more serious gamers. And for a gamer with an active lifestyle, nothing else will really do.
If you’re new to gaming, or if you’re hoping to get more serious about it, below we’ll discuss several factors you should consider when choosing a gaming laptop.
What’s Your Budget?
How much you can spend on a laptop will obviously be a huge factor in what type of laptop you can get. Most of the best middle-range gaming laptops on the market will typically cost around $800 to $2,000. But if you want to experiment with VR gaming, expect to shell out as much as $3,000 or more for a great laptop.
For example, one of the best gaming laptops for under $1,000 right now is the Razor Blade Stealth 13, which starts at $900. However, if you want to upgrade it, expect to pay as much as $1,800. The Razor Blade 15, though, is currently one of the best gaming laptops of all, and it starts at about $1,800.
Type of Gaming
Besides budget restrictions, the type of laptop that you’ll want to buy depends a lot on the type of gaming you want to do. For example, the system requirements for playing an online tournament on PokerStars are slightly different than the requirements for playing a multiplayer battle arena game like Dota 2.
With online poker, you can play on almost any operating system, but it’ll work best on Windows 7 or newer. You’ll also need at least 1GB to 2GB of RAM (but 4GB is preferable), 1GB of disk space, 512MB of memory, and a graphics card that supports at least Open GL 2.0. Dota 2, on the other hand, requires Windows 7 or newer as a minimum, a dual-core Intel processor, 4GB of RAM, 15GB of disk space, a DirectX Compatible sound card, and a graphics card like NVIDIA GeForce 8600/9600GT.
If you’re not totally sure what type of gaming you want to do, or if you want to mix it up now and then, keep it simple: Aim to get the nicest laptop possible within your budget, paying special attention to RAM and the graphics card. For VR gaming, look for a laptop with a NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti graphics card for the smoothest experience.
How does your day-to-day lifestyle affect which laptop you should choose? It really comes down to whether or not you plan to travel with it. First, you’ll want to think about how you interpret “travel.” That is, traveling from coffee shop to coffee shop is a lot different than domestic or international travel. Whether or not you travel, and what kind of travel you plan to do, should affect what size and weight laptop you choose. Because trust us — it’ll make a huge difference.
If you plan on doing a lot of domestic or international travel, stick with a 13.3-in laptop or smaller. Sure, it won’t be fun to compromise on the screen size, but when you’re lugging it around all the time, it just makes more sense. It’s easier to lift, transport, carry and fit into bags. With 15.4-in laptops and up, you’ll have a hard time fitting it in most backpacks.
Then there’s the weight to factor in. This isn’t much of an issue with modern laptops — which weigh next to nothing compared to the laptops of a decade ago — but it might be an issue if you choose to purchase an older model that’s refurbished. If you choose to get an older laptop model, don’t purchase one that’s more than a few years old. The newer the machine, the more likely it’ll support the latest software updates (not to mention games!).
Don’t plan to travel much, but screen size is important to you? Go for the 15.4-in laptop. If you plan to only use your laptop at home, a 17-in laptop — yes, they still exist — is still an option to consider. Regardless, no matter the size or type of laptop you get, you can always purchase an external monitor, mouse, and keyboard to enhance your gaming experience for when you’re at home. That way, you’ve got a portable machine and a solid home machine all in one.