How to choose your next gaming laptop

It was not too long ago when considering a laptop for gaming was something you were laughed at for. Over the years though, brands such as MSI, Dell and Acer have taken huge strides with their gaming-focused laptops. Today’s gaming laptops are capable of giving the user portability as well as some power-packed specifications.

Now like most products, gaming laptops require the experience to value ratio to be considered. If you have enough money in the bank to splurge on the Acer Predator Triton or the MSI Titan GT83VR, then this article isn’t for you. However, if you wish to keep your budget in check and get the most bang for your buck, considering the following factors before making your purchase could be key.

Processing power (CPU/GPU)

Processing power is the only aspect of gaming laptops that you can consider slightly flexible. Ideally, you want to choose the latest Intel quad-core i7 processors, if the games in consideration are power-hungry such as Assassins Creed or Watch Dogs. Nevertheless, switching down to a quad-core i5 isn’t a bad option either. You might end up with slight choppiness while playing power-consuming games, but you would also end up saving quite a bit of money while making your purchase.

While the CPU is obviously critical, its partner the GPU, or graphics processing unit, is important too. The Nvidia Geforce GTX series has been in the lead for a while now and should be one of your top considerations among gaming laptops. The latest in the series is the Nvidia Geforce GTX 1080.

If you are trying to future-proof your purchase you will want to consider the GTX 1080 or 1070 but if your budget does not allow it then the 1060 or 1050 should be loads of fun as well.

RAM

When considering a gaming laptop, RAM is crucial. Twelve and 16GB options would be best, but an 8GB should suffice. Don’t forget that RAM can always be upgraded if and when necessary. Whatever anyone tells you though, do not settle for anything less than 8GB of RAM.

Storage

While deciding on storage, there are two things you need to consider. First is the size. You want to get at least 500GB of storage space since games using 20-50GB of space are not uncommon. Over a period of time playing multiple games, you are going to need a minimum of 500GB. That said, 1TB of storage is quite inexpensive right now so this isn’t your biggest issue.

The trick in terms of expense comes in the battle between HDD (hard disk drive) and SSD (solid state drive). A HDD is quite a bit cheaper compared to a SSD and can always be upgraded if needed. A SSD on the other hand provides faster boot times, reading speeds and is much tougher (in the case of a drop) compared to
a HDD.

If you can shell out the extra cash for a SSD, then go for it.

Keyboard

The keyboard is another important factor to consider when looking for a gaming laptop. It is absolutely essential that you are comfortable while using the laptop’s keyboard.

Try to go to a brick-and-mortar store and have a go at using the keyboard. Be aware of key travel, which is the distance between keys and the time it takes you to move from one to another while using the laptop. Also, see if you can find laptops with programmable backlit keys. This makes it very easy to customise keys for usage with different games.

 

Display

Unlike TVs, I would not suggest running towards a 4K display for your next gaming laptop. A good Full HD (1,920 x 1,080) display would be sufficient for most gamers out there right now. It’s also a great way of keeping the budget in check.

Nevertheless, if you’ve got the money to shell out, there are expensive high-end laptops that offer fantastic QHD (2,560 x 1,440) or even 4K (3,840 x 2,160) displays that offer an extremely immersive experience for users.

With displays you will also need to consider size. While gaming on a 17- or 18-inch display is gorgeous, it is also a drain on your CPU, GPU and battery. If you have to choose between two laptops with the same internals but different displays, you might want to consider the smaller displays in sizes of 14 or 15 inches.

Lenovo Legion Y520 Laptop

What else do you need to consider?

If you’ve made the effort of going to the store, do check out the laptop’s sound output. A great set of speakers can seriously help in enhancing your gaming experience wherever you might be. In case you’ve selected a laptop and it’s got all the internal specs you need but the speakers are a bit weak, fret not. You can go buy a pair of gaming headphones such as the Sennheiser PC373D, which provide great audio quality as well as noise cancellation.

Another factor to be considered is the trackpad. While most high-end gaming units have seriously improved and customisable trackpads, budget laptops tend to skim a decent trackpad to keep costs down. Again in this case, there’s no need to worry. You can put a little extra money into a gaming mouse such as the Logitech G502.

Battery life will vary from laptop to laptop but having a huge battery might not always be a good thing. If you’re looking for longer battery life you’re also talking about getting a machine that is heavier and produces more heat.

Other accessories you can buy to enhance your gaming experience include a decent gaming mouse pad, a laptop cooling fan, and a cleaning kit.

As a customer, if your budget is restrictive, you need to use the above factors as well as understand what kind of a gamer you are and then make a decision. n