Things to consider when buying a gaming laptop in 2022. Here are the most important factors to consider when buying a gaming laptop to help you decide on your next gaming machine.
There are many problems you can run into while buying a gaming laptop. You might be confused between the various types of graphic card terms and how they affect performance. Perhaps you don’t know which display panel to pick. Or maybe you’re unsure of the difference between DLSS and Ray Tracing. Find answers to these questions and more with this handy list we have created that has all the tips you should keep in mind while purchasing a gaming laptop.
When it comes to laptops, they will serve many purposes for each individual. In some cases, it’s the thing you need every day to get your work done, while for others, it will be a way to stay in contact with friends and family from across the world.
With a number of processor options, screen sizes, and other elements, buying a new laptop is hard already, and when you’re out looking for a gaming laptop, things get harder. Should you focus on the processor, the GPU, the cooling system, or the keyboard? Here are some important pointers to keep in mind when you’re out to buy your own gaming laptop.
Top Things to Consider When Buying a Gaming Laptop in 2022
This list contains not only general tips for common components but a host of other things people easily forget to notice. Use the table below to read the section you want to know more about.
1. Display and Graphics Cards
Of course, a crucial aspect of playing on a laptop is the visual element. You need a screen that is big enough and clear enough to ensure you really appreciate the graphics of the game. That means the first thing to consider is the size, with 13 to 17-inch screens the most common, so you should generally be seeking 15.6 to 17-inch screens.
Additionally, the resolution has to be considered, with more pixels resulting in clearer images. Having said that, 4K screens can take a lot to power, which may cause the machine to slow down in other areas, so it’s something to consider.
Gaming laptop displays will come with various configurations of displays. Some displays will be lower resolution panels at only 1080p but will support higher refresh rates of 144Hz, 240Hz, or even 360Hz. A great GPU will also be required to make full use of these high refresh rate panels.
Alternatively, you can opt for high-resolution panels that will stick to a 60Hz refresh rate. These include display options that go up to 4K panels.
This is where graphics come into play. Many laptops will boast high-end specs, SSD hard drives, and i7 processors, but even with all of that, integrated graphics cards will only get you so far. Even the lowest-spec dedicated GeForce cards will easily outperform integrated intel graphics, so this should be a joint consideration when pursuing increasingly demanding displays. For reference, 4K gaming is incredibly demanding, so a high-spec dedicated graphics card with at least 4GB of virtual memory is a must.
2. CPU and GPU (Graphics Processing Unit)
The central processing unit, or CPU, is a crucial aspect of any laptop as it will determine how quick and effective the machine is. For gaming, an Intel Core i5 processor would be recommended as the minimum requirement, ensuring you can run games at the capacity needed. AMD equivalents work just as well, and if you want to ensure more advanced dedicated GPUs aren’t bottlenecked by your processor, i7s and above are recommended.
Obviously, each game has different hardware demands, but it can be hugely frustrating if your CPU isn’t up to the standard. Decent processors also have practical advantages outside of gaming. For instance, followers of sports may want multiple tabs open, streaming matches live while viewing stats and placing bets all at once. Having a processor that won’t let you down will help, ensuring that using an online sports site with bet slip functionality and placing in-play bets at vital moments won’t be interrupted by struggling hardware.
Needless to say, your CPU and GPU are the performance drivers of your new gaming machine and the most important parts of the laptop for you. The better the CPU and GPU, the better the overall performance your gaming laptop will be able to dish out. Currently, look for at least a 10th or 11th Gen Intel Core-i7 processor. You can even consider an i9 processor.
For the GPU, the Nvidia GeForce GTX or RTX GPUs are some of the best ones to look at right now, with the RTX 30-series being your latest option. On the AMD side of things, you have the AMD Radeon RX 5000M series and the RX 5500M, 5600M, and 5700M.
A keyboard could be your primary input method on gaming laptops, especially if you plan on playing a lot of shooting or strategy-based games. It is hence, important to look at key elements like key travel, actuation, and support for features like anti-ghosting and n-key rollover (allowing you to press multiple buttons at once for combos and not miss out on any).
The ideal key travel distance should be between 1.5mm and 2mm. Meanwhile, look for keys that are not too soft or too hard to press. Coming to backlighting, most gaming laptops will have backlighting of some kind on the keys. While most will feature a single red/white/ backlight, some will have RGB lighting that can be configurable on a per-section or a per-key basis. These not only look cool but can also quickly help you find the right keys when gaming.
Finally, when it comes to buying a laptop you may read about the Random Access Memory (RAM) it has, and you may not know what it’s referring to. Essentially, it stores data for the CPU, and the more you have, the more processes that can run at a single time. So, if you’re planning on playing games and using the laptop for various different things, you need more RAM.
Generally, 8GB should ensure you can play the basic games out there, but anything lower can be a problem. Then, if you’re going to use the laptop for more advanced gaming, you should really be looking at 16GB or 32GB models.
Ultimately, the advancements in technology in recent years have made this a great time to be a gamer, with so many options available to you. One of those includes playing on a laptop, but you have to know which one to buy to ensure you get the best gaming experience possible. As you can see, there are many factors that should be taken into consideration before you make a decision.
Whether you are able to upgrade your RAM in the future will be a key factor as gaming can be heavy on your machine’s RAM. An ideal gaming desktop should have at least 16GB of RAM. However, if you are looking for a laptop, you could get by with an 8GB RAM variant, but it will be ideal if you can swap that out for 16GB tomorrow.
5. Battery life
Try not to focus too much on battery life when going for a gaming laptop. Gaming machines are resource-heavy and will often deplete battery quicker when in action. A decent gaming laptop will be able to give you 8 hours of juice off the plug and anything more could be too much to ask. However, this shouldn’t matter a lot because, during most gaming sessions, you will be continuously connected to a power source anyway to run your gaming laptop in its performance or turbo mode.
There are many factors that can affect your battery life. These include:
- The type of power sources you have, such as a power outlet or USB port
- How old the battery is and whether or not you use it often
- The kind of programs you’re running
- The brightness and color settings on your screen
- What kind of keyboard backlighting do you have
- Main importantly how much mAH your gaming laptop has.
While screens & ports may not seem to have a direct impact on you, they do nonetheless. For instance, if you buy a laptop with too few ports to accommodate your peripherals, such as a gaming mouse or headset, within a short time the experience will no longer feel right & it will have an adverse impact on your work.
Although you can work through such a situation with dongles and other accessories, this process is usually stressful. Rather than trying to add extra USB ports to your laptop, it’s better (and cheaper!) to find a model with them in the first place. This directly means you have to give your new gaming laptop ports a scan earlier before you buy it.
Weight is an important factor when choosing a laptop. Laptops come in different shapes and sizes. It is possible to find a laptop that will suit your needs and weight preference. The Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 is a powerful gaming laptop that is also slim and light. In fact, it’s the slimmest gaming laptop, weighing in at just 1.7 kg.
A lightweight laptop, for instance, is perfect for any gamer or people who travel often. They are also easier to carry around than heavier laptops. The downside of these laptops is that they have shorter battery life and may not be as durable as other laptops, so be careful when buying.
What GPU do you need?
While some games use the CPU, the majority of games are still GPU-bound, so this is one of the biggest decisions you make when buying a gaming notebook. At the moment, the majority of gaming notebooks come with Nvidia GeForce GTX or RTX GPUs.
The latest graphics cards on the Nvidia series are the newest RTX 30-series cards, from the RTX 3050 through the RTX 3080 ti. On the AMD front, there’s the Radeon RX 6000M series, which consists of the RX 6300M for budget systems, up to the RX 6700M and 6800M for mainstream and premium systems, as well as the top-of-the-line RX 6850M XT. for more performance. We are, however, expecting a new range of AMD discrete GPUs to hit laptops later this year.
A note on Max-Q: It’s not always clear on initial RTX 30-series laptops if they’re using a Max-Q GPU until you buy it. Check how to tell if an RTX 30-series laptop uses a Max-Q GPU. The best way to tell if you’ll get an Nvidia GPU meeting your requirements is to check the specs, with more and more manufacturers have been listing in full.
- Entry-level gaming: If you don’t need to play on the highest settings, you can go for a GTX 3050 or RX 5500M, which will let you play most games, albeit on middling settings. A GTX 3060 will give you a bit more power, and we generally think it’s noticeable and worth the investment. A laptop with these cards will roughly cost you between $800 and $1,100, though recently we’ve seen them being slightly more expensive, likely due to the component shortage.
- Mainstream Gaming: Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 3060 is a good middle-of-the-road card that will let you play most games on high settings, though the RTX 3070 or 3070 Ti will give you a meaningful ump On the AMD side, the RX 6700M isn’t as strong as a performer but will get the job done. Expect laptops with these cards to fall between $1,100 and $1,500, but again, the component shortage is still going on.
- VR and the Highest Settings: An RTX 3070 will let you play through just about anything on high settings, while the RTX 3080 or RTX 3080 Ti are the most powerful 30-series cards out there and will allow for smoother VR and special effects. These are the cards that will let you start pumping up effects like Nvidia Gameworks. Laptops like this can start around $2,000, and, depending on what other specs you need, go over $3,000. But with the new RTX series, you can play ray-traced video games and get faster frame rates. An RTX 3070 or RTX 3080 Ti may even be enough for you to play games in 4K, depending on the settings that you use.