What is a Gaming Laptop?
Compared with the standard laptop, gaming laptops are all about performance. The difference between them is akin to what sets apart a standard sedan from a sporty hot rod zooming at 200 km/h on a straightaway. Beyond the convenience of a portable computer that handles your typical web surfing and office applications, gaming laptops offer a more immersive digital experience. They house powerful dedicated graphics cards and uber speedy processors so you can run demanding 3D games without severely taxing your CPU. Simply put, they’re designed to provide the computing muscle you need for truly rich gaming.
Why a fast processor is important
The central processing unit (CPU) is the heart or brain of your laptop – the “core” that drives performance. A fast processor can handle more demanding tasks like HD content, gaming or video editing. High-powered CPUs like AMD or Intel Core processors are specifically designed for graphics-intensive jobs, as well as quad-cores or more, since they can process huge amounts of data without breaking a sweat.
It’s all about the graphics processing unit (GPU)
While an integrated graphics card uses part of the computer’s RAM memory to do its job, a dedicated GPU uses independent video memory. This means it has more horsepower to tackle demanding 3D games and HD movies, as well as handle multiple displays. With more monitors, you can play several games at once, or chat or surf on one monitor and play on another.
Tips for Buying a Gaming Laptop
1. Get as much RAM as you can afford.
Random access memory (RAM) provides the space from which the computer can access and interact with data. It determines how quickly you can open multiple apps and get them running smoothly, all at the same time. You’ll need more than 4GB of RAM and ideally 8GB for snappy multitasking performance.
2. Seeing is believing with a great display.
A great GPU is more than just a number. Its pivotal role in gaming has a tangible effect on what you actually see on your screen, especially when you’re expecting fine, vivid detail and lifelike colours. With high-end graphics being a compelling factor in a video game’s appeal, it only makes sense to judge a panel by its display so you can fully appreciate AAA games. A 1600 x 900 display is adequate for a 14- or 15.6-inch laptop. If rig size isn’t an issue, visuals will pop out more with a 1080p resolution. A note of caution: larger displays deliver higher resolutions but they can also jack up the laptop’s weight, size and price.
3. Get right down to business with an efficient SSD.
Hard disk drives (HDD) and solid state drives (SSD) do the same thing with one crucial difference: SSDs are all about speed. They cut down the amount of time your system takes to boot, slashing loading time to 10 seconds or less from 20 to 30 seconds. They wake from sleep, launch apps and transfer data a lot quicker than HDDs. Don’t spend any more time tapping your fingers in boredom as you watch the loading progress bar inch its way across the screen.
4. Nice-to-have items: storage, battery and audio card.
Consider a decent amount of storage in your hard drive space so you can store all your games. At least 256GB of storage capacity is best if the SSD is your laptop’s only hard drive. Battery life determines how long you can play when a power source isn’t readily available; although, if you plan to stay put, an AC outlet is all you need. A good audio card packs serious acoustic punch; coupled with a quality monitor, your gaming experience becomes a feast for the senses.
Want more info about gaming laptops? Check out some of our resources:
Laptop Buying Guide
Acer Nitro 5 review: an affordably-priced gaming laptop
How to get the best PC gaming experience: desktop PC or gaming laptop