7 Vital Things To Look Out For Before Buying Your Next Gaming Laptop
There was once a time when gaming laptops were almost universally seen as a drain on money. Their specifications and size made it hard to envisage a life playing high-end video games on anything other than a desktop PC or console.
However, where the very best of gaming laptops were routinely beaten by their desktop counterparts in days of yore, they're certainly starting to compete today. Modern innovations have meant that even 13" and 14" notebooks can really pack a punch in terms of possessing the power to perform as an excellent tool for playing even the most graphically demanding and processor straining titles.
This isn't to say that the buying process for a gaming laptop is a piece of cake, and there are still some big considerations to be made before deciding on the perfect machine for your needs. Here are seven vital things to look out for before buying a gaming laptop:
1. Under the bonnet specifications
First thing's first, getting a laptop with the right RAM and processor speed is pivotal for its usage and the amount of enjoyment you'll get out of the machine.
While graphics cards should be your number one priority, if you're looking to play high-end games with plenty of detail, you'll likely need plenty of horsepower to ensure your laptop doesn't baulk at the challenge at hand. The big hitters in this particular area of the industry are Intel and AMD, and while AMD is a credible alternative to the pricier offerings of its competitor, you can't go wrong with an Intel Core i7 or i5 processor.
Likewise, it's imperative to not skimp on RAM. 8GB of RAM will be the bare minimum to aim for if you're looking to play games like Call of Duty or Battlefield. Though if you prefer to keep applications open in the background or like to video your progress and edit while you go, then 12GB and 16GB of RAM will ensure peace of mind.
2. Get the graphics right
Once the mechanics are out of the way, the onus is on having the right GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) to make sure your games flow seamlessly without any problems - it's also this piece of hardware that most passionate gamers fork out the most money for when it comes to gaming laptops.
Here it pays to shop around. While AMD and NVIDIA are reputable names in the business, they have many different products that offer varying results. There are also steep price hikes towards the more luxurious graphics cards - while the cost of varying mid-range cards is relatively low, small upgrades on high-end incarnations of the hardware could set customers back £150.
A great way of making use of graphics cards without being stung by price to the same extent is to buy two cards and use them in tandem. This method is especially effective when it comes to running your games on a 4K screen display.
3. Battery life
Battery life is often overlooked in favour of raw power and graphics when most people decide to enter the market for a gaming laptop. But depending on how you envisage playing games, it could make a massive impact on practicality.
If, for example, you find yourself regularly playing remotely then it's imperative that you look towards battery life. The quality of your notebook's battery could become especially relevant if you enjoy dabbling in a LAN party or two - or like to game while on your morning commute.
Sometimes it's impossible to purchase a machine that caters to your every need, and if you find the perfect laptop that doesn't guarantee enough gaming time while disconnected from a power source, fear not. You can always invest a little bit more money on rechargeable power packs to make sure you're never caught out.
4. Keeping cool
Another surprisingly important thing to watch out for when buying a gaming laptop is the quality of the cooling system. Maybe you've noticed your old laptops would underperform, or even cut out unexpectedly in the past? There's a good chance that this is due overheating, and gaming laptops need to keep cool under plenty of pressure to operate at full capacity.
Be sure to investigate the cooling system for laptops that you're looking at buying - failing to do so risks having you end up with a machine that's fundamentally flawed.
5. Sound quality
The best games provide a fully immersive experience, both visually and aurally. To facilitate this, computers need to be equipped with high-quality speakers.
All too often laptops of the past have looked to simple audio setups to save space under the bonnet for smaller designs and other hardware deemed more important. But when you're playing a tense and competitive game, your ability to interpret sounds like footsteps and dialogue could be the difference between winning and losing.
6. Storage can be important
We've established that good graphics cards, RAM and processing power are the cornerstones of great gaming laptops. But we mustn't forget about the thankless job that memory plays.
For a dedicated gamer, there's nothing worse than having to delete games to make space for new ones. Luckily, we're a far cry from the frightful old days of 8MB Playstation One memory cards and trying to install intricate games on 2GB memory PCs, but with the amount of choice available on, it's still worth keeping an eye on the storage space of the laptop you're intending to buy.
7. Assess your needs
Fools rush in where angels fear to tread. Before making a purchase, stop and have a think about what your needs are. If you're looking to buy a gaming laptop to use solely on less graphically demanding games like World of Warcraft, Minecraft or Football Manager, then the chances are that you won't need to look very far to find something that'll fully support the specifications you need. It's also worth noting that games regularly list their minimum requirements to be played without problems.
There's also not much point in buying a glamorous 17.3-inch screen laptop if you're hellbent on gaming on the go. Take a look around and don't be afraid to use strict filters when online shopping to help resist the temptation of being lured in by a pretty model that doesn't quite do what you need it to do.