Laptop Buying Guide: How to Choose the Right Gaming Laptop

Is it time to upgrade your gaming laptop? With titles wanting more from your machine than it’s capable of, it was only a matter of time before you had enough of inferior load times and a degradation in graphical support. Or perhaps some games just don’t support your specifications anymore.

So the time has come to see what’s out on shelves and available online. But do you decide to follow what the experts are telling you about the latest specifications? Or is there a laptop buying guide that can support you on this quest?

If you need a walkthrough to figure out what to look out for and the obstacles to avoid, then you’ve come to the right place. Let’s take a look at everything you should consider when buying your brand new laptop for gaming.

Every Laptop Buying Guide Starts With the GPU

Sure, the CPU is important when buying a laptop. But what’s even more important is the GPU. Especially as most games use this card to visualize their experiences.

The two most common types of GPUs at this time are the Nvidia GeForce GTX and RTX cards. Choosing the right model really depends on what type of gamer you are. Your budget is also a consideration as the RTX models are a high-quality piece of hardware, and the cost of the product reflects that.

If you’re new to the PC gaming scene and don’t plan on playing with the highest settings, an RX 5500M or GTX 1650 will give you a fine experience. A GTX 1660 is also worth considering if you’ve got a decent budget. It provides more power, and the difference in quality is noticeable.

For more experienced gamers, you’re going to want to check out the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060. It will let you play most titles on high settings and is the minimum requirement for VR rigs. But if you just need something that will boot up the games in your library and run them well, get yourself the RX 5600M.

The hardcore gamers want to cast their eyes over the RTX 2070, RTX 2080, and RTX 2080 Ti. These let you play almost anything at the highest settings and give you a smooth virtual reality experience that you’ll forget you’re wearing something on your face. You are paying an extra premium for these cards, but you’ll also be ready for 4K gaming when it becomes more common.

What Other Laptop Specs Should You Consider

While the GPU is important in every laptop buyer’s guide, it’s not the only specification you should inspect when looking for a new PC. These other items can determine whether you’ll pwn or be the one getting pwned.

The CPU

While most games rely on a quality GPU, you should make sure your CPU can support your machine. You won’t be able to upgrade it, so it’s best to go with a Core i7 or Core i9-9980HK. Just avoid anything older than Intel’s 10th Gen Core products.

The RAM

You shouldn’t go any lower than 16GB for a gaming laptop. Many will only come up with 8GB, but this is only helpful for normal productivity tasks. If you can’t find a machine with 16GB, consider upgrading it yourself.

The Storage

Most gaming laptops come with an SSD as a boot device. However, try to score yourself a larger SSD as the load times for games significantly reduce, and they will run a lot faster. They are expensive, but if you keep your eyes open for the best gaming laptop deals, then you’re bound to find a diamond in the rough.

What Type of Display Do You Need?

If you don’t have a quality monitor, then you’re going to be relying on your laptop display. So it’s important to know the jargon and buzzwords in order to see what you’re really getting.

Monitor Size

Firstly, you need to decide if you’re going for larger than life or portability. The thinnest and lightest laptops are 11 to 12 inches. But if you want something more powerful and for high-end games, then you’ll want to go for a display that’s 17 to 18 inches. 

The most popular size is 15 inches. It’s large enough that you’ll get a great gaming experience out of it and light enough that you can carry it around without throwing your shoulder out.

Resolution

1920 by 1080 is the absolute minimum requirement for any laptop for gaming. For more powerful machines, you might want to consider a 2560 by 1440 screen or invest in a 4K alternative, so you’re ready for the future of gaming.

Refresh Rate

You’ll find that most gamers settle for a 60Hz display. But if you’re after a smoother experience, then you should consider 144Hz or 240Hz. Just make sure that you’ve got the right GPU to support these refresh rates.

Touch Screens

If you’re serious about your gaming, then you should never purchase a touch screen. All they’ll do is drain your battery at a rapid pace and provide you with an overly glossy display that doesn’t play well with games.

Picking the Right Keyboard

Keyboards have advanced significantly, especially as they become more essential in PC gaming. Whether it’s a first-person shooter or real-time strategy, it’s important to know how you’re going win with your keyboard. 

Key Travel

This determines how hard you can press our keys. 2mm is perfect as it stops you from battling with the keyboard frame. These might be difficult to find, so you can also settle for 1.5mm, which also works well.

Actuation

If you like some resistance on your keyboards, then you’re going to see what the actuation rate is. You want to find a keyboard that sits between 65 and 70 grams. You don’t need to be too rough with them, but they also don’t feel like a delicate petal.

Macro Keys

Some gaming laptops won’t include the macro keys. If you can’t find a rig with these on the keyboard and your favorite game commands it, then check to see if the manufacturer offers software as an alternative.

N-Key Rollover and Anti-Ghosting

Have you ever mashed a bunch of keys, and only some of them register with the game? Well, these features ensure they will perform the actions that are expected. N-Key recognizes that every key is independent and always provide a response, while anti-ghosting will let you button mash to your heart’s desire and perform the relevant actions and combos.

Backlighting

If you enjoy gaming in the darkness, then backlighting is a feature to consider. Look for RGB options as they can light up different colors for various areas on your keyboard. You can even change it according to the game that you’re playing so that your fingers always push the right buttons.

Do You Need to Consider Battery Life?

If you’re only playing games at home and your gaming laptop is plugged in all the time, then you don’t need to worry too much about battery life. But if you’re regularly on the go and playing at work or on your commute, then you should do some research into how much juice your machine has.

Seven to eight hours is ideal for most games, but titles that require a lot of hardware power may halve that time. Also, don’t take the word of the box when it comes to how long a battery will last. Do some research from independent sources to ensure your laptop will never shut down while you’re in the middle of saving the world.

Don’t Forget the Audio

While graphics are one of the most important considerations when it comes to finding the right laptop for gaming, it needs to be perfectly paired with a device that produces quality audio to complete the atmosphere. It’s not only important that your speakers work, but you’ve also got a quality headphone jack.

Software is where it makes a real difference, though. One of the best ones to consider is Nahimic, as it provides quality surround sound for both speakers and headphones. Dell Audio and Dolby Home Theater v4 are also strong contenders, with all three providing superior sound and some handy presets for your favorite games.

Make Sure You Stay up to Date With the Latest Technology

While a laptop buying guide might evolve as new technology arrives, the criteria rarely change. As long as you consider all of these factors, you’ll end up with something that will bring new life to old titles and be ready to boot up any new releases when they arrive. It might even inspire you to clear out your shame pile.

Are you worried about falling behind with the latest changes in technology? Thankfully, we’re here so that you never miss a trend. Be sure to follow our blog, so you never fall behind with the latest advances in computing.

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