Gaming laptops are slowly gaining traction among many gamers around the world, but it remains to be a matter of debate on whether you should invest in these machines. The main reason laptops are a contentious issue in the gaming community is their cost (see our gaming laptops under $1000 guide) and general under performance when compared to desktop computers. Also, components, like graphics cards, are not upgradeable in most gaming laptops. For this reason, you may have to replace them within a short period unlike when working with desktops. The latter allows you to switch out virtually any gaming component that may need an upgrade. With that in mind, read on to find out whether you should invest in a gaming laptop and what circumstances should encourage or discourage you from purchasing one.
- Desktops deliver better performance than gaming laptops
- Gaming laptops cost a fortune when compared to desktops
- Gaming laptops come in handy if you are a gamer who is always on the move
- We recommend going for a desktop if you need a dedicated gaming machine
- Most gaming laptops are not worth their prices
Laptop vs. Desktop
In the recent past, very few gamers would welcome the idea of a gaming laptop being practical. Technology did not allow fitting of powerful gaming hardware into a small space like the form factor of a laptop. However, we now have gaming notebooks, such as the HP Omen and the Acer Predator, which are much thinner than you would expect in a gaming laptop. The gap that separated GPU performance in laptops and desktops is narrowing faster than ever before as manufacturers strive to attract gamers into notebook gaming. Nevertheless, the best pre built gaming PC’s come out on top on most aspects of gaming, although their laptop counterparts continue to get better by the day.
Battery Life and Portability
Having batteries is probably one of the few things that make laptops better than desktops when it comes to computer gaming. Desktops require you to have a constant power supply, and any setback on this front would interrupt your gaming. On the other hand, laptops will always have some juice in them to push you through a few extra hours of gaming where you have no direct power supply. Couple this aspect with the portability that a laptop promises, and you have a machine for a gamer who is always on the move.
Desktops are not practical if portability has to be on the checklist when looking for a gaming computer. These machines restrict your gaming to one position in a room since the monitor is separate and the component housing is usually too bulky to move around in a house. Also, you must have an uninterruptable power supply system (UPS) to ensure any power failure does not make you lose your gaming process. Other peripherals, like keyboards and mice, also must come into play.
Even though the graphics cards for gaming laptops are becoming stronger, they still lag behind those in desktops. The more substantial form factor of desktops allows you to cram more components to enhance graphical performance. Conversely, laptop manufacturers often have to be creative to work with the limited real estate that the portable computers have. However, the future looks bright for laptop gaming, thanks to mobile GPUs. You can carry these around with you to provide extra graphical power to offer you a gaming experience closer to that of a desktop.
Related: See our review of the best RTX 2080 laptops for gaming in 2019.
Looking at the numbers, NVidia’s 480M GPU from 2010 only managed to provide 40 percent of the graphical power that its desktop equivalent delivered. Five years later, NVidia’s 980M for laptops managed to produce between 70 and 80 percent performance of its 980 GTX flagship at that time. These figures suggest that at some point in the future, the portable gaming machines may be able to hold their own against desktops. Nevertheless, a challenge that may need immediate attention is the upgradability of the stock GPU in gaming laptops. At the moment, you have to stick with the stock GPU and rely on mobile cards. For desktops, whenever a new graphics card hits the market, you can easily swap it out with your old one. Considering this fact, you can use a single desktop unit for many years to come, which would make a lot more economic sense than getting a new gaming laptop.
Heat and Noise
Gaming laptops are notorious for becoming too noisy and overheating during gaming. These problems arise due to their limited space, which forces manufacturers to fit in smaller fans and other components that should control the level of heat and noise. The sad thing is that you cannot find a practical solution for overheating and noise issues. You have to live with them every time you run a demanding game on your laptop. Desktop users don’t have to worry about problems, like overheating, due to the extra space available for airflow and bigger fans.
Value for Performance
You will be paying more for less performance if you choose to follow the gaming laptop route. Gaming laptops are significantly more expensive than desktops since you will be paying for additional components like the battery, charger, and the screen. Despite coming with an inbuilt mouse, you would also find yourself having to buy a dedicated gaming mouse. The touchpad on gaming laptops is not ideal for playing most computer games. Overall, desktops also perform better in most gaming aspects. For this reason, gaming laptops are not worth the extra bucks with their relatively poor performance, especially in the graphics card department.
Related: See our best gaming laptops under $800 for great performing machine on a budget.
Investing in an ordinary high-end laptop for other tasks, including gaming, makes much more economic sense. Such a computer would offer portability and decent performance in light gaming besides being a lot cheaper than a dedicated gaming laptop. Desktops would always have value for performance since they have more room to house the best and most potent gaming components.
Related: Check out our top 5 gaming laptops under 1500 dollars for 2019.
In general, a gaming laptop isn’t a wise investment. Laptops do come with some benefits, like portability and sleek designs among other additional features, although their demerits outweigh these advantages by far. For this reason, we recommend going for a desktop if you need a reliable gaming machine. Get a standard laptop if you need to game on the go as not too many games will fail to work on a good high-end PC. Only go for a dedicated gaming laptop if you are willing to burn through some few thousands of dollars.