What to look for in a gaming laptop in 2021

A gaming laptop is a much deserved luxury for online gamers. Nothing competes with the andreline rush that you get when gaming from a Gaming laptop. Know what all specifications you must look at to get the best gaming laptop for the budget you have allocated towards it.

Trying to find the best gaming laptop that will play all your favourite games, but at a budget, the price can be an exceptionally tricky feat. It is especially true with the vast amount of graphic cards and processors that are competing to outperform each other.
Gaming laptop
That's not all. As a laptop can have a varying build quality with companies competing to ensure they have the largest display and the best battery life. Everything can have a massive role to play in the world of gaming laptops, so we have decided to break down a few of the major components you may come across.

Below you will find each component that is essential to get the best performance for gaming on a laptop. Read on to discover our recommendations and what to look for in a gaming laptop. Whether this is helping you decide between a chosen memory type or explaining the differences between a laptop or gaming desktop, we have you covered. We have also briefly explained what effect each component has on your favourite laptops games!

Consider Choosing the right Gaming CPU

Commonly referred to as the "brain", a CPU controls every expect of your laptop and ensures that it is performing as well as it can. The higher the frequency and the more cores a processor consists of, the better it is at control tasks. In the world of gaming, a powerful processor is one of the main things a gaming laptop will try to include. It is because most modern video games require a powerful CPU to reach the best gaming performance and the highest FPS you can get.
Gaming laptop CPU
When it comes to finding the most powerful CPU's available on the market, you have to consider whether you are willing to sacrifice some performance for a lower cost or not. If you are, then the best budget CPU's on the market come from AMD. Processors developed by AMD are fast becoming one of the most popular choices on the market, especially when it comes to finding a functional but cheap gaming experience. Some of their processors such as the Ryzen series outperform the top-end Intel processors at a fraction of the cost. AMD is especially decent for budget systems as they offer excellent graphics performance at a much lower wallet hit than their main competitor.

However, when it comes to a lot of the top gaming laptops available today, you will find they tend to use Intel processors. It is usually due to AMD CPU's reaching A far higher temperature which can be uncomfortable to sit on your lap. Higher temperatures mean manufacturers will tend to invest more in an effective cooling system which can slightly increase how much you will need to spend on the laptop. They also tend to draw more power which can sadly reduce your overall laptops battery life and reduce some semblance of mobility.

The most common CPU's you tend to find within a gaming laptop are typically a Core i5 processor or an Intel Core i7 processor. It is because they offer some of the best PC game performance you will find, especially at a 1080p resolution. If you pair an i7 with a decent GPU card, you will easily reach the best graphics settings!

Two measurements to be aware of when it comes to finding the right CPU for PC gaming is the clock speed of a processor and the amount of cores present. As previously mentioned most decent CPU's will offer 4-cores, known as quad-core, however, 6-cores or 8-cores now can be found amongst gaming notebooks.

Finding the best clock speeds for a gaming notebook is typically just the higher the number, the better. Accompany this with at least a quad-core processor, and you will easily reach high-end configuration options.

Graphics Cards for Gaming

Perhaps the most important feature of a laptop when it comes to running the games you want to play on high settings with the highest frame rates is your laptops graphics card. Trying to find a powerful graphics processing unit (GPU) in a budget gaming laptop can be reasonably difficult. Both Nvidia and AMD offer cheaper versions of their more powerful graphics chip. The best graphics cards found in gaming notebooks are perhaps the Nvidia GeForce GTX series that offer high-end gaming within a low price range.
Gaming laptop graphic card
Modern gaming systems will now require a lot more video memory than usual as AAA titles tend to rely on it quite a lot to ensure your frame rate doesn't drop. For now, graphics chips offering 3GB of video memory will be able to run most games. If you want to ensure you can run all the upcoming AAA titles on the max settings on a high display resolution, you should consider looking into getting at least 6GB of VRAM.

Gaming laptops tend to use Nvidia cards as they typically make powerful graphic cards specifically for gaming. A variety of PC games like Disco Elysium that are available today will offer a lower graphically based laptop setting. It allows you to play your favourite game without worrying about low FPS and poor graphics quality getting in the way. Keep your eyes peeled for the GTX 1650 or the GTX 1660 TI, the mobile counterpart to the GTX 1060, as it offers a good gaming experience at a budget price. It makes it perfect when you are looking for a laptop for gaming.

Sadly, although it is not becoming a popular graphical option, ray tracing will be extremely difficult to run on most budget laptops. GeForce is yet to offer a budget variant of their RTX GPUs such as the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 and RTX 2070 models which were built specifically with raytracing in mind, so expect to wait a little while before this option is accessible on gaming notebooks.

You should also consider if you are interested in purchasing a VR headset such as the oculus rift or other competing models. For gaming on a VR, you will need a powerful GPU. So check what you need for Virtual Reality before making a purchase.

Must-Have Memory (RAM)

RAM may not be the most glamorous item featured in your gaming laptop, but it can be one of the most essential. If you tend to open a vast amount of Google Chrome tabs or want to run your games with music in the background, then RAM is important.
Gaming laptop RAM
Although RAM doesn't necessarily have a direct impact on gaming performance, as in reducing screen tearing, it is a vital piece of hardware. Gaming models and levels will be stored on the RAM so they can be accessed much quicker and reducing blank or washed out textures. It is also needed so your laptop can multitask if you like to have things on in the background while gaming then RAM is a must.

Another form of Random Access Memory is VRAM. It is attached to GPU's and is required to improve the special effects and texture streaming speed and ensure that your gaming technology runs as smoothly as possible. I have covered this in more depth in the GPU section of this guide, so make sure you read through that to read about this more in-depth!

You may find a high-end gaming PC advertising 32GB RAM. It isn't necessary at all, with almost all modern games requiring a maximum of 16GB for the highest settings. We would recommend that you buy a gaming laptop that has at least 8GB RAM as this should cover you for a majority of games, but if possible, consider spending slightly more for 16GB. RAM also plays a large role outside of gaming as it can help you run productivity tasks in the background while you keep playing your games.

Storage Capacity for Large Online Games

As time goes by, more and more games are taking up a large amount of your storage space, it is especially true when it comes to most modern multiplayer games. Examples such as Dota 2 taking up to 35 GB and Call of Duty Warzone taking up a whopping 120 GB. Finding the right storage device has never been as important as it is today if you have a big steam library.

One of the best methods of ensuring both high performance and large storage space in the world of gaming is to pair a hard disk drive and a solid-state drive together. The most common method you will find will be a 128GB SSD used for your operating system alongside a 1TB HDD for your gaming library. It should be more than enough for hardcore gamers to store all their favourite games.

Solid-state drives have the advantage of massively decreasing load times, which make them a perfect choice for your boot drive or to store a couple of your favourite games. They do tend to have a lot less storage space than their hard-drive counterparts. If you don't plan on playing a big open-world game or the latest instalment in the total war franchise, then a laptop that only contains a hard drive can help you save some money in the long run. If it comes down to it, however, you will notice an incredible difference if you install your operating system on an SSD.

However, if you want a premium feel while still staying in budget, you can then look for a dual setup for a gaming laptop to play games. You will thank us down the line. Most gamers will agree that pairing up an SSD storage device and an HDD is a way to go.

Screen Size and Resolution

Not necessarily an advantage regarding performance, but still a big part of any gaming notebook you may be considering buying. The monitor size and resolution of a laptop can massively impact how your chosen game will look, a lower resolution and the game will look more pixelated. Another factor you should also consider when it comes to laptop screens is the refresh rate as this can dictate how many frames per second your laptop will manage to reach.

The most common display size you will find will typically be between a 14 inch and a 15-inch display as this offers both impressive viewing angles while still maintaining portability. Although it may be tempting to purchase a gaming laptop with a much larger screen, you should always consider where you will get your gaming pad. If you plan on using it on the go then perhaps a larger screen isn't required?

Regarding resolution, you should try to look for a decent quality 1080p laptop that utilizes some form of anti-ghosting or G Sync technology as opposed to the latest 4K technologies. We will happily go on record and say that 4K looks incredible, but when it comes to gaming laptops, it is hard to find one powerful enough to run modern games at 3840 x 2160 pixels. It's worth saving yourself some money and looking for a laptop with a better keyboard quality or built-in Windows 10 instead.

A lot of modern notebooks also utilize a touch screen function that can seem exceptionally useful. When it comes to a gaming laptop, touch screens may not be worth the extra price of admission. Few modern games offer touch functionality due to how inaccurate they can be. When it comes to choosing between a touch display or a better Gen Core CPU, then perhaps opt for the latter.

As mentioned previously, you should also check out what refresh rate your chosen laptop features as this will impact the maximum FPS you can reach. If you are comfortable at 60-FPS, then look for a laptop that features a 60Hz screen, which most thankfully do. Gaming purists tend to recommend a 144Hz laptop since it will cover a host of FPS frequencies. Just be aware that laptops featuring a 144Hz display will tend to cost a lot more so may not fit within your price range.

Final Thoughts

We have broken down a few of the things you should consider when it comes to finding the right budget gaming laptop for you. Make sure to check the specifications of each potential gaming laptop to see what internal components it has. Do this by checking on Amazon website. But if you are unsure, make a note of the gaming laptop model number and check out the manufacturer website.


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