a young gamer playing on his laptop in a dark room

How to choose the right gaming laptop

Now that the shortage of GPUs is letting up, it has never been easier for gamers to get their hands on a quality machine. The only issue is how to choose the right gaming laptop for your needs. The devices come in all shapes and sizes, but can it hold its own against other gaming machines? Desktop computers are often preferred as they have more options to upgrade your hardware and make improvements to extend its lifecycle or inject more performance from the existing specification. But as desktops are large devices that needs to be connected to a monitor, keyboard and other peripherals, you can only play where your PC is set up.

If you are keen to have high-spec hardware and the opportunity to play wherever you like, then a laptop is the device for you. Although purchasing a laptop sounds like an easy task, there is more than just the battery life you need to consider before pressing the buy button!

Screen display

If your main gaming location is at home, you may have an additional monitor you use to game. But when you’re away from your external monitor (or if you don’t have one at all), having a good laptop screen is a must. The common screen sizes are 13, 15 and 17 inches. If you were to choose the larger screen it would make the laptop much less portable, but the bigger the better, right?

Once you have decided on the screen size, another important aspect is the resolution, or the number of pixels that appear on the screen. In all cases, the higher the resolution, the clearer the image. Newer laptops boast a 1440p/4K screen, obsoleting the 1080p models.

If you thought that was enough, think again! The refresh rate is also a huge factor to consider when deciding on a laptop screen. Refresh rate is how many times per second the screen can show a new image, this is measured in hertz (Hz). Each hertz equates to one image. To put this into perspective, a 100Hz screen will display 100 images every second. When it comes to your refresh rate, higher is better. We recommend at least a 144Hz for silky-smooth gaming.

Although having a high-performance screen sounds awesome, this is only the tip of the iceberg. To access optimal output on the screen, you will also need both a high-specification CPU and GPU.

CPU

The central processing unit (CPU) is the brain of your laptop. The CPU sends signals to the computer components as well as processing instructions sent by the software on the system. There are a handful of specifications that you can look at when deciding what CPU you would prefer, such as clock speed and core count along with a few others.

  • Clock speed: Will determine how quickly the CPU retrieves and carries out instructions. Generally, the higher the clock speed the faster the CPU. (Measured in GHz).
  • Core count: A CPU can have multiple cores, each core acting as its own individual processing unit. The more cores, the more tasks your CPU is able to handle.

There are plenty of CPUs on the market to choose from. If you’d like something a little punchier, you can purchase unlocked CPUs in which you can overclock for additional performance. Overclocking means to push your clock speed of your processor past its limits. Clock speed is the number of cycles your CPU can complete in a second. DIY overclocking will produce much higher clock speed. But please bear in mind that the faster your CPU goes, the hotter your CPU gets which can cause many problems within your system, especially with a laptop where cooling may be compromised! So, in order to not reduce the life span of your new laptop, make sure you are following your hardware guides on how to overclock and stay within the safe margins.

GPU

A GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) creates the pixels that form the picture on the screen. It works hand in hand with the CPU to produce smooth frame rates and high-resolution gaming.

All laptops have a GPU, but most are integrated into the motherboard and in most cases, this will suffice for the standard user. But if you are a gamer and would like something with a little more power, you can plump for an upmarket GPU. Most gaming laptops are easily purchased with a GeForce GTX GPU factory fitted. These GPUs are generally a less powerful version of a desktop card of the same series, but optimisations mean they would definitely perform to a similar level to plug in systems.

Storage

Solid-state Drives (SSDs) outclass their older mechanical counterparts, hard disk drives (HDDs) in almost every aspect of gaming. SSDs are much faster than HDDs which means the system will be able to load files and programs much quicker to reduce start times for games as well as the system itself. SSDs also come with no spinning parts which means they will produce less heat than their HDD relative.

Almost all gaming laptops now will come with an SSD. And they come in different interfaces, the fastest being the PCIe NVMe M.2. Your choice depends on how much storage you would like. A large number of laptops will also give you the opportunity to upgrade or add another SSD, which is definitely something you should look for as you can improve your system overtime with upgraded parts.

If you require any additional storage after the purchase and you have a laptop with an M.2 NVMe port, Kingston provides a fantastic option tailor-made for gaming! The Kingston FURY Renegade SSD, leveraging the latest Gen 4x4 NVMe controller and 3D TLC NAND, provides a cutting-edge performance in high capacities for gaming and hardware enthusiasts seeking extreme performance for PC builds and upgrades. With speeds of up to 7,300/7,000MB/s read/write1 and capacities up to 4TB2, you won’t have to delete data to find space for a very long time.

RAM

RAM (Random Access Memory) is memory that stores data temporarily but makes it much easier and quicker for your CPU to retrieve. You can purchase gaming laptops with a good amount of RAM already installed, it will just depend on your budget. Some laptops do come with the freedom of being able to upgrade the existing RAM into something faster at a later date.

An option we can recommend is the Kingston FURY Impact DDR5, an Intel® XMP 3.0 certified SODIMM with speeds of 4800MT/s3 and capacities of up to 64GB. A fantastic upgrade to a gaming laptop!

When buying a gaming laptop, consider all the above before making your decision. Although storage and RAM are incredibly important, these can be upgraded at a later date if you do not have the sufficient funds to get the best. Don’t be afraid to focus on other aspects to get the best possible laptop you can. Just make sure you are able to upgrade whichever model it is that you decide to get!

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