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How to choose a gaming laptop?

gaming on a laptop (1)

Gamers look for a variety of things when they look for a gaming laptop. For instance, choosing the right graphics card for a smooth and detailed gaming experience, and what about the processor or type of screen. With so many options out there it can be overwhelming to know what to pick. To help you with the right knowledge and the right decision, I read and watched all kinds of helpful guides to help you answer: How to choose a gaming laptop?

Buying advice in a nutshell

Gamers want the highest FPS and most detailed output for the best gaming experience. These factors heavily depend on the key components, like the right CPU, GPU, and the amount of memory. Besides the key components, a great gaming experience also depends on the display used, and the smoothness of the peripheral used.

The best advice I can give you is to save up money to around $1100 – $2500. Then get semi high-end key components, like the AMD Ryzen 7 or Intel I7 CPU with an RTX 3070 GPU, 16GB of RAM, and 1TB storage to make sure your laptop is ready to handle any game for the next 3-4 years! To maximize your gaming experience get a WQHD screen with a 100Hz refresh rate and an 80% sRGB color accuracy.

AMD RYZEN 7

5800

PROCESSOR
NVIDIA GEFORCE RTX

3070

GRAPHICS CARD

16GB

MEMORY

1TB

SSD STORAGE
lenovo legion 5 pro reviews

Popular Gaming Laptop of 2021

Although you’ve many options for a gaming laptop, the most popular gaming laptop of 2021 is the Lenovo Legion 5 Pro. It was introduced last year and reviewers love it. If you want to know why here’s 15 Expert Tech Reviewers Take on the Lenovo Legion 5 Pro of 2021

When do you choose a gaming laptop?

Do you need high speeds and great performance for your programs? Are you gaming at home and somewhere else? Don’t you mind upgrading a whole device once every 4 years? Then maybe a gaming laptop is something for you.

Gaming laptops are great for playing games (obviously) and can do some heavy content creation. The higher-tier gaming laptops are thicker and bulkier than consumer-focused laptops. By being bigger and heavier, they can cool the components better and maximize the performance by using chilling thermal cooling. Besides the components, they usually have enough ports for peripherals like your mouse, keyboard, external storage, and are able to connect multiple displays.

What Are Gamers Looking for in a Laptop?

When it comes down to the gaming experience, the first thing gamers looking to buy a gaming laptop look at is high FPS and a detailed and immersive gaming experience. There is nothing so satisfying as setting your favorite games to Ultra settings and really being immersed in the flow of the game, without any stutters or hiccups. To do this, a gaming laptop should have great matching hardware, for instance, the processor, graphics card, memory, display, etc. Although the highest frame rate and the most detailed gaming environment give the best experience, it can get quite expensive. For more information about what is best, I suggest you read the rest of this blog post.

High Fps Makes Things Go Smooth

FPS means frames per second, and the higher the FPS your laptop can support, the smoother your gameplay is, and the better the experience. A high FPS gives the gamer as much control over the game as possible. Thus, it is extremely important for gamers to know how much FPS a laptop can support, so they can adjust their games accordingly. A high FPS depends on the hardware of the laptop. The key components of giving the gamer a high FPS is depended on the graphics card, the processor, hard drive, and the memory. You get the Highest FPS if you buy a gaming laptop that has the latest hardware, but for a good enough experience, you can get an Fps in the 60 to 120 range, and don’t have to break the bank.

Detailed Output Makes the Games Immersive

In addition to high FPS, gamers also want their laptop to give them the most detailed gaming experience. Details in a game give them an accurate depiction of the game and an overall more immersive gaming experience, which in turn, makes the game more fun. You can see details within a game as a finer movement within the graphics, or as advanced and smoother physics within the game. Details depend on the size of the screen, the screen resolution, and the monitor’s display technology working together with the processor, graphics card, hard drive, and memory.

How to pick the right gaming laptop?

Now that you know what a gamer wants from its laptop, it’s time to find out what to pick. To help you with selecting the best laptop, there is a list of features to consider and qualities to look for in a gaming laptop. How a laptop performs in gaming tests will largely depend on the type of games you play, but at the very least, you need to make sure it’s tested against other popular laptops in the same price range.

What platform do you need for gaming Windows, macOS?

Choosing the right operating system (OS) is very important when you want to play specific games. You can mainly choose between Windows, macOS. If you want to be able to play most games and have the most possible choices in laptops, go for Windows.

When to choose Windows for gaming?

For most gamers, I would suggest Windows. Why? Because Windows offers the widest selection of games, games usually perform better on Windows than on macOS and, Windows gaming laptops offer the biggest price range from any OS. The only reason I wouldn’t choose Windows is that I use macOS-only software or like the play iPad games on my laptop or I only play browser-based games.

When to choose macOS for gaming?

Go for macOS if you really like the macOS experience or have some macOS-only applications like a sketch and like to play iPad games (since the M1 announcement in 2020, this is available for you, but they don’t work well on laptops… yet). Know that you’re stuck in a higher price range than windows.

What GPU do you need?

Most games you’ll play need a dedicated graphics card (GPU) so this makes or breaks your gaming experience on a laptop. It isn’t possible (yet) to upgrade your GPU after buying (ok maybe a little with an external GPU over Thunderbolt 3). 

A graphics card comes in three flavors. Integrated into the CPU, Nvidia GeForce, and AMD Radeon. If you really want a gaming laptop go for an Nvidia GeForce MX, Nvidia GeForce GTX, Nvidia GeForce RTX, AMD RX Vega or AMD Radeon dedicated graphics card (you can find them in the specifications). Though most laptops will have an Nvidia GeForce GTX or Nvidia GeForce RTX.

When choosing a laptop with the right graphics card onboard, you have to consider what type of games you play and what the recommended specifications are for playing the game on the settings you like. If you just want to play a game like League of Legends, then you are ok with going for a lower-end graphics card. On the other side, if you’re a AAA gamer and want to play everything on the highest settings possible, you have to go with a high-end graphics card.

For my recommendation go with a laptop that has an RTX 3060 or RTX 3070. Those graphic cards are powerful enough to run any game.

What CPU do you need?

Gamers are always looking for the best gaming laptop CPU to give them the edge in their favorite games. There are many different options on the market, but some are much better than others. If you are looking to buy a gaming laptop I highly recommend going for at least an Intel Core I7 or an AMD Ryzen 7.

Both processors have just the right amount of power to give you the best gaming experience on a laptop for a reasonable price.

How much memory do you need?

You know that you need the best of the best to get your gaming laptop running smoothly, so make sure it has enough RAM. Most laptops come with at least 8GB, if on a tight budget then don’t worry – You can always upgrade later! The recommended amount for optimum performance is 16 GB; this will ensure smooth gameplay from start to finish (or until those pesky zombies take over).

Nowadays, not all laptops have upgradable RAM. See the specifications if your notebook has soldered RAM or not.

How much storage do you need?

You might be running around all day, but that doesn’t mean you don’t want to take a break with your favorite game from time to time. To get the best gaming experience for on-the-go play, make sure you have enough storage space! A graphics card and processor are great investments in themselves; however, if they’re not backed up by plenty of data capacity it’s no use. With games taking huge chunks of hard drive memory these days (some going as high as 20 GBs), try at least 512GB or 1TB capacities to give yourself a bump when playing remotely away from home base.

What are gamer specific laptop brands?

There are many laptop gaming brands to choose from. All brands have their own typical gaming line, like the Asus ROG series or the Acer Nitro series. Others brands are specifically known for their gaming laptops, for instance, Razer, or MSI. To be honest, I didn’t know there were so many series and brands focused on gaming. To make it easy, the best-known gaming brands are Razer, ASUS ROG series, and the Lenovo Legion series.

2560px lenovo logo 2015 onwards 2.svg

More about Gaming laptop brands?

Each brand has a specific benefit over the others. If you want to know more read my What gaming laptop brand is best for gamers? Post

What can I expect at a price range or minimum needed settings?

There are two ways to approach buying a gaming laptop in my opinion. One is going for a price range the other is trying to save as much money as you can for a minimum amount of gaming experience/in-game settings. Below is a quick overview of what you can expect for a certain price range or setting.

Low settings

$500 – $800 price range, expect MX350 or RX Vega 10

On low settings, you’ll find some cheaper gaming laptops with an Nvidia GeForce MX350 or AMD Radeon RX Vega 10 and will cost you between $500 and $800. With these graphics cards, modern games should be playable when the setting and resolution are set to low. Casual gamers will be happy with these GPUs.

Game benchmarks of the MX350 on Notebookcheck.

Game benchmarks of the MX350 on Notebookcheck.

Check out my favorite laptop for low settings

Acer Aspire 5 (2021)

$747.42
5.3
2 reviews

Medium settings

$800 – $1100 price range, expect GTX 1650 or RX 5500 M

When going into medium settings, you’ll find a gaming laptop with an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 or AMD Radeon RX 5500 M and will cost you between $800 and $1100. With these graphics cards, you’ll play modern and demanding games at medium settings and HD resolution.

Game benchmarks of the GTX 1650 on Notebookcheck.

Game benchmarks the RX5500M on Notebookcheck.

Check out my favorite laptop for medium settings

Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 (2020)

15%
$1,147.99
8.9
27 reviews

Mainstream

$1100 – $1500 price range, expect RTX 2060 or RX 5700 XT

Now we’re talking business, with the mainstream graphics card options you’ll find gaming laptops with an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 or AMD Radeon RX 5700 XT. These graphics cards will let you play the most modern and demanding games in high settings with a good enough FPS. If you’re looking not to spend the most money on a laptop but to have an affordable laptop with great graphics, this is for you!.

Check out my favorite mainstream laptop

Lenovo Legion 5 Pro (2021)

$1,409.00
9.2
15 reviews

Highest settings

$1500 – $3000+ price range, expect RTX 3070 or RX5500M

When you want to play all games on the best gaming experience possible, these are the laptops to pick. You’ll get unmatched performance and can expect to play almost every game in full HD with everything set to the highest setting. Some will even do 4k with a 100Hz screen.

Check out my favorite laptop for highest settings

Razer Blade 14 (2021)

$1,799.89
8.5
23 reviews

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