In decades past, most techies saw gaming laptops as a questionable value at best, but those days are long behind us. In 2022, mobile hardware has advanced to the point that the best gaming laptops can now hang with desktop PCs thanks to AMD and Nvidia laptop GPUs that are more than capable of running the latest games. Many gaming laptop displays even offer vertical sync and high refresh rates for smoother play, features typically found only on gaming monitors. You don’t have to empty your bank account to get a good one, either, and our roundup of the week’s best gaming laptop deals proves it. Here’s your chance to score a beefy portable battle station and save a wad of cash:
Today’s best gaming laptop deals
How to choose a gaming laptop
The two main considerations when choosing a good gaming laptop are naturally going to be what you’re willing to spend and which graphics card you want (considering the GPU is what actually makes a laptop a “gaming laptop”), and these two are closely linked as your budget is going to determine what graphical performance tier you can afford. However, don’t overlook some of the smaller things that you might personally want in a gaming laptop – convenience features such as programmable button macros, customizable RGB keyboard backlighting, and so on – so that you don’t jump on that great deal only to end up with something that doesn’t actually meet your needs. For more detailed hardware analysis, read on.
What makes a good gaming laptop?
A good gaming laptop should first and foremost be affordable, but you don’t want to go for the first deal you find that simply happens to meet your budget. You can expect to pay at least $600 (usually closer to $700) for a gaming laptop with a dedicated graphics card, although you can find a few that have AMD APUs with built-in Vega graphics for less than that. Also bear in mind that Nvidia recently released its new line of 16-series GPUs which have completely replaced the older 10-series graphics cards as the entry-level and midrange GeForce GPUs. In 2020, you’re better off avoiding older laptop models with these 10-series cards and sticking with the best modern GPUs ones, as the price is about the same and they will generally come with more up-to-date CPUs as well.
In the budget-friendly price brackets, the most powerful graphics card you’re likely to find in a gaming laptop right now is arguably the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 or AMD Radeon RX 5600M, although you can expect to spend nearly your full budget for a laptop with this kind of graphical horsepower. If you’re going cheaper, though, then you’ll see cards in the GTX 16-series and RX 5000-series, pretty much all of which are still very capable of running modern titles at 1080p/60fps at good to high in-game settings.
For memory, 8GB of RAM should be the bare minimum (unless you’re going really cheap), and 16GB is a better mark to aim for in a modern gaming system. A higher refresh rate of 144Hz on the laptop display will also ensure a smoother experience when playing at higher framerates, but that’s something that you’ll typically find on gaming laptops sporting nicer GPUs like the GTX 1660 Ti or RTX 2060. That’s one of the sacrifices you’ll make with a gaming laptop, but if you know what to expect, you shouldn’t end up disappointed.
Should I get a gaming laptop or a gaming PC?
The primary difference between a gaming laptop and a gaming PC is portability. If you want a gaming computer to set up at a battle station, never to be moved again, then you should probably spring for a gaming PC deal instead. Since gaming PCs are bigger, they can hold more hardware, use bigger fans, and be easily customized. Laptops have the advantage of moving with you. To that end, a gaming laptop can be more than just a gaming laptop. You can take it to lecture classes for notes or use it as a work computer.
Are gaming laptops good for work?
A gaming laptop is still a laptop and can do everything that a laptop computer can do — that includes work. In fact, even a gaming laptop can offer some advantages: Faster processors and increased RAM will make all of your non-gaming software run noticeably faster, and graphical work such as video editing and rendering will go much more quickly with a dedicated graphics card. Even if you mostly use your PC for work first and only light gaming, it might be worth it to shell out a little more cash for a gaming laptop for the better hardware you’ll be getting.
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