Some gamers prefer to play on their laptops or PCs rather than via a console connected to their television. It could be that their partner or parents are tired of them taking up the TV with their non-stop gaming or perhaps they like the idea of being able to game on the go wherever they are in the world. There are plenty of game specific PCs and laptops out there that are powerful enough to handle all the graphics and visuals that come with gaming and, whilst we never really see many Black Friday worthy deals on the newest consoles, we do see a fair few gaming pcs and laptops on offer in the November sales.
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Gaming PC & Laptop Buying Guide
Elsewhere on this site you can read about laptops that are likely to be used for things such as sending emails and typing documents, with this page being dedicated to PCs and laptops that have the specific function of allowing you to play games on them. In spite of the development of the likes of the PlayStation and Xbox, there are still plenty of people who enjoy playing games on their PC and manufacturers are more than happy to cater to them. If that is a category that you fit into then you will know what it is that you’re looking for, with this page giving some things to think about.
Anyone that has ever played a game on a computer that isn’t powerful enough to handle it will know that there are plenty of things that you need to consider when you’re looking at getting a gaming PC. Similarly, your own personal circumstances will dictate whether you’re going to be looking for a gaming PC or a gaming laptop, with each offering their own specific features to ensure that you get the most out of them. Whether it’s a long battery life or a quick processor, decent screen or top-of-the-range graphics card, we’ll explore what you need to bear in mind here.
Gaming Laptop or Gaming PC?
The first question that you need to think about is whether you want to get yourself a gaming laptop or a gaming PC. On first glance, you might not think that there is a massive difference, but the most that you look into it the quicker it is that you’ll realise that making this decision can impact lots of the other questions that you’ll need to ask. Laptops and PCs are both computers, but the way in which they work and the features that they offer differ massively. Laptops have one key thing in their favour over PCs, which is their portability thanks to their overall design.
A laptop is both a computer and a screen built in one, meaning that they are smaller and more compact than PCs. That is no different when it comes to gaming laptops, apart from what it is that you need to think about within the laptop itself. We will look into that in more detail shortly, but it is worth bearing in mind. The portability of laptops also means that they tend to be more expensive, but you tend to be able to get more out of a PC than a laptop because less of the design is given over to being smaller and more compact, instead thinking about the features they offer.
In truth, the gap between gaming laptops and gaming PCs is closing with every year. The pricing has become much more closely aligned, for example, whilst the very best gaming laptops are more readily able to handle what the best games will throw at them. There are pros and cons to each, depending on how it is that you’re going to be using them. The number one reason to buy a laptop over a PC when it comes to gaming is the ability to take them with you wherever you go, stopping you from being chained to your desk or wherever it is you locate your PC.
Think About the Performance
The reality is that the performance of your gaming device is going to be one of the most important factors, presuming that you’re not actually that bothered about being able to take it with you. Gaming PCs are always likely to out-perform their laptop counterparts, presuming that you’re spending roughly the same amount of money on each. The tricky thing when it comes to figuring out which one is best is not being fooled by the specs. The specifications of a gaming laptop might suggest that they’re the same as a a desktop PC, but that often isn’t actually the case.
Both machines might have the same CPU and GPU, for example, but the laptop will often use mobile-friendly versions of them. This means that they tend to be smaller and weaker, which will offer a lesser performance than the same specs inside a gaming PC. Desktop GPUs are quite large, so won’t fit inside a laptop very easily. On top of that, laptops can provide less power, so the GPUs need to be smaller not only because of where they’re being installed but also how they’re being powered. Laptops also can’t get too hot, so the GPUs that they use need to be able to stay cool.
It is entirely possible that the sort of gaming that you’re going to engage in won’t see much difference between a desktop GPU and the type of GPU used in a laptop, but if it would then the difference could be a major factor for you. The likes of the sort of display that you’ll be using for your gaming could be a deciding factor. If you want to be playing in 4K and having a resolution that boasts 60 frames per second, for example, then there is just no way that a gaming laptop is going to be able to handle it unless you’re spending huge sums of money on one.
Do You Want to Customise Things?
There are plenty of people out there that are more than happy buying a stock device and using it in the exact way it is intended. If that is the bracket that you fit into then you’ll be absolutely fine with whatever device you get, provided it ticks all of the boxes that you need ticked in terms of the likes of GPU power, portability and display. If, on the other, you are the kind of person that likes to tinker and customise the device that you’re using in order to get it performing exactly how you want it to, you’re likely to find that laptops don’t allow for much customisation.
With most gaming laptops, the main things that you’ll be able to mess with are the storage and the RAM. Pretty much everything else is going to be soldered in place, so you will really need to know what you’re doing if you’re going to start messing around with that side of things. On top of that, laptops need to use ‘mobile’ versions of the hardware, which tend to be more expensive and tougher to get hold of. Building a custom laptop is not only a tedious task but also a more costly one, with very little reward for the time and money that you’ve spent putting it together.
Desktop PCs, on the other hand, are much more customisable. There is virtually no part of a desktop gaming PC that you won’t be able to fiddle with and upgrade, presuming you know which of the pieces you’re looking to upgrade with are compatible with what you’ve already got. It means that a top-of-the-range gaming PC can be put together more easily and more cheaply than a gaming laptop ever will be. Even if you wanted to buy a stock machine and then upgrade certain bits of it later on, you’re going to be find it easier to do so with a gaming PC than a gaming laptop.
Why Gaming Laptops Are Better
There are definitely arguments one can make to suggest why it is that a gaming laptop is the better option. For starters, everything you need is built-in to the device. With the exception of an actual mouse, which can be added on after the fact if you want to, a gaming laptop has a screen and a keyboard, so you don’t need to buy anything other than the device. This, of course, explains why gaming laptops are so much more expensive than gaming PCs tend to be. Even the mouse isn’t a necessity, given the fact that they will have a touchpad that you can use instead.
You will absolutely be sacrificing certain qualities if you opt for a laptop instead of a PC for your gaming needs, so you will need to consider for yourself whether what you gain outweighs what you lose. The ability to simply close the lid on the laptop and take it to your next port of call might be enough of a benefit for some users to mean that it will always be the device that they choose for their gaming needs, content with using the stock screen and keyboard and maybe just adding their own ergonomic mouse, for example, and some headphones in terms of personalisation.
Why Gaming PCs Are Better
If you want to buy a device that is not only going to give you the best possible performance from the word go but also be upgradeable and improvable then you’d be silly to look anywhere other than at gaming PCs. Once you get over the fact that it isn’t portable, other than taking the entire thing with you including your peripheral devices, you can relax into using a machine that is designed for the exact purpose you’re using it for. You can improve virtually every aspect of a PC should you wish to, whilst obviously needing to buy an external keyboard, mouse and screen.
Of course, if you’re playing games with incredible graphics then you’re going to want to make sure that you’ve got a screen that can show them off at their best. This is all but impossible with a laptop, unless you’re happy to spend more money on external screens and so on that you’d then connect it to, which will effectively just turn it into a expensive PC anyway. Laptops have batteries that allow them to be portable, but that run out and will also begin to degrade over time. The same isn’t true of gaming PCs, which are constantly plugged in and always powered for use.
Think About the Specs
Whether you have decided to buy yourself a PC or a laptop for your gaming needs, the most important thing you’ll want to consider is the specs that the machine offers. Which GPU level you’ll need will be dictated by what sort of gaming it is that you want to engage in. If you only want to be playing entry-level games then you’ll be fine with a mediocre GPU, which will allow you to play pretty much any game as long as you’re using the middling settings that it offers. If you’re wanting to engage in more mainstream gaming then you’ll need a better GPU to be able to do so.
If you’re the sort of person that is hoping to play VR games or crank all of the settings up to their highest levels, you will be needed to looking for the most powerful GPUs out there. These cards will ensure that you can get your settings pumped right up, allowing you to play games in 4K without any stuttering or issues. That, of course, is dependent on your having a display that is capable of playing such high-quality settings. Laptops tend to be limited in terms of the size of the display as well as the refresh rate and even whether or not it offers you a touchscreen.
The three other things you need to think about are the CPU, the RAM and the storage. The storage is important if you’re hoping to have a load of different games that you can play at any given moment, as opposed to having them on disc and needing to take a load of discs around with you if you want to play a different game at any point. When you play games, you tend to use up a lot of RAM, which is why getting a gaming PC or laptop with good RAM is important. The CPU, meanwhile, allows for the smoothest possible playing the better it is, which is crucial for some people.