Gaming Laptops: What to look out for vs What to ignore.
One of the best things about gaming laptops is that they are powerful. The gaming laptop space is filled with machines with over-the-top spec sheets, but information on the sheet only tells one story.
So, here are the features you need to look out for and ignore when looking for a gaming laptop:
Firstly, one of the most important things to look at in a gaming laptop is cooling. The cooling system defines whether or not the laptop can live up to expectations and deliver on that impressive spec sheet.
Gaming on recommended settings on a laptop can cause the temperature to spike. Once temperatures reach the maximum threshold, the CPU and GPU throttle performance to ensure the hardware doesn’t overheat. Now, it is close to impossible to completely stop CPUs and GPUs from throttling, but keeping it down to a minimum is a fundamental requirement.
So, while Intel, AMD and Nvidia maybe responsible for engineering and producing the internal hardware, laptop manufacturers – Asus, MSI, Dell, Lenovo, and HP to name few – are solely responsible for how well that hardware performs in their machines. The cooling system in a laptop is quintessential to get optimum performance out of its CPU and GPU.
The refresh rate on gaming laptop screens can vary from 60Hz, going all the way to 240Hz. But the main thing to look out for when deciding on a panel’s refresh rate is to understand whether or not the screen’s refresh rate can match the frames per second put out by the video card. If the card spits out more frames than the monitor’s refresh rate, screen tearing could occur, especially while gaming.
If you buy a gaming laptop with an Nvidia GTX 1650 graphics card and a 60Hz screen, you need to ensure games don’t run on above 60fps. This is because, beyond 60fps, more frames are being rendered than the monitor can handle. So, even if you can go all the way to 100 fps, you’d have to limit fps or max out the settings to avoid screen tearing.
Another thing to note about the screen is that if you are paying a premium, which is anything upwards of Rs 2.5 lakh (In India), ensure you’re getting a G-Sync display.
Although there are ways to get around this, it’s still pretty important. Gaming laptops often cost more than ordinary laptops, which is why you should have all the ports you need at your disposal without requiring external hardware. One of the most essential ports on a gaming laptop is an Ethernet port for wired gaming.
If you’re looking to buy a budget gaming laptop in and around the Rs 60K to Rs 70K mark, the top priority would be an Nvidia GTX 1650 graphics card and 9th Gen Intel Core i5 processor coupled with 8GB of RAM and an SSD.
For a mid-range laptop that will set you back Rs 1,10,000 to Rs 1,40,000, the minimum requirement would be a 9th Gen Core i7 CPU and Nvidia GTX 1660 Ti or RTX 2060 GPU and about 16GB of DDR4 RAM.
Lastly, for a high-end gaming laptop, go with at least 16GB of RAM, a 9th Gen Intel Core i7 processor and an Nvidia RTX 2070 or 2080 Max-Q graphics card. The over-the-top gaming laptop beyond mid-range and high-end that serve as a desktop replacement should pack a minimum Intel Core i9-9900HK CPU, RTX 2080 Max-Q and 32GB of RAM. Beyond the budget space, you want a laptop to have at least one PCIe NVMe SSD.
This is one of the most important areas in a gaming laptop. And, while chiclet keys with LED backlighting are unavoidable on most laptops, gaming or otherwise, there are a few things you need to look out for when buying a gaming laptop.
When it comes to key travel distance anywhere between 1.5mm to 2mm is excellent for gaming and typing. While we’ve seen some over-the-top laptops incorporate mechanical keys, they are either too expensive or scarce. You also don’t want pushing-down on a key to be too hard or too soft, which makes 65 to 75 grams a perfect actuation point (the force applied to a key to register a press).
Anti-ghosting is another useful feature to have in games where you need to mash on several keys to execute a combo or perform several actions as they allow all the key presses to register. While RGB backlighting isn’t something you need to improve gaming performance, it gives the device a really cool aesthetic appeal to your device and distinguishes a gaming machine from a regular notebook.
Features you can skip :
Now that you know what to look out for in a gaming laptop, here are a few things you need to ignore.
Battery – Gaming laptops tend to have generally poor battery life, primarily because high-end hardware requires power. Battery life is one area you just need to overlook when buying a gaming laptop.
Trackpad – If you ever hear a reviewer bashing a touchpad on a gaming laptop, just skip past it and get a mouse if one isn’t included. We’ve often just deactivated the trackpad because it gets in the way.Speakers – Despite reviewing laptops with some great speakers, it shouldn’t be something you should prioritise in a gaming laptop. Loud fans can easily be silenced by a headset or external speakers, but thermal throttling isn’t an easy fix.Get access to India's fastest growing financial subscriptions service Moneycontrol Pro for as little as Rs 599 for first year. Use the code "GETPRO". Moneycontrol Pro offers you all the information you need for wealth creation including actionable investment ideas, independent research and insights & analysis For more information, check out the Moneycontrol website or mobile app.