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Close to the Metal Ep 28: The tricky art of building a gaming laptop

The idea of a gaming laptop is one that’s often romanticized by PC gaming enthusiasts. There’s an allure behind taking your gaming experience away from the desk, and out into the world. Whether that means some living room couch gaming, or a trip around the world without missing a round of Overwatch, taking your computer to go is tempting on sunny days and winter evenings alike.

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So what’s stopping you? As it turns out, quite a lot. Gaming laptops are much more finicky to build and bring to peak market than everyday drivers, and there’s a lot that can go wrong — or, more accurately, one wrong move can jeopardize a whole system.

For some systems, it could be an issue of battery life. It’s all too easy to forget that gaming hardware requires a ton of power, and the only way to overcome that is a bigger battery. Laptop manufacturers are stuck with a choice: bulk up in order to store more energy, or slim down and face heat management issues. There are some systems that strike a balance between the two, although that’s a tricky middle ground to strike perfectly.

Other systems fall prey to bloatware and the quick payday associated with bundled trial software. While that can help keep system costs down, it also has a detrimental effect on the usability of the system, and can often result in undesireable compatibility issues.

This week on our in-depth computing podcast Close to the Metal, we’ll show off some of our recent review units with a critical eye towards figuring out exactly what makes or breaks a gaming laptop. The line between the perfect mobile gaming rig may be thin, but we’ll get down to it and figure out exactly where it is, and what compromises are the right ones.