Desktops may be the bulk of the gaming fleet since they are the fastest and strongest out there. But lately, gaming laptops have been making a large appearance. These machines are amazing; they can do pretty much anything a gaming desktop can do while remaining portable. But are they worth it?

Now let’s be frank with each other, gaming laptops are not for everyone. Laptops can maybe do all that a desktop can, but there is something that has to be made clear: laptops shall remain laptops. With their major advantage being their portability because you can game anywhere, anytime. But this advantage is like a double-edged sword. This portability laptops boasts is also their biggest flaw. Now I won’t say you should forget about playing the Witcher 3 anywhere, anytime on a trip. What I will tell you is that you can forget that dream of playing the Witcher on your sofa with an untethered computer. It just won’t happen. You need to have a stable connection for continuous power and a mouse (I got friction burn once for trying to play StarCraft 2 with the mousepad, friction burns on the tip of your fingers are no fun) for comfortable gameplay.

Buying a gaming laptop is no small task, since it is a significant investment it demands significant research. Money well-earned must be well spent and, of course, you want to be sure to get the one that is just right for you. So in my opinion, if you can last a few days without gaming -for example during a short trip- you definitely should go for a gaming desktop. It is the more cost-efficient way to go.

Now, if you do travel a lot, let’s get to it!

When going for a laptop the first thing you should take in consideration is its weight, and its size.

A long time ago, when I ordered my 17”, 8.9 lbs, MSI gaming laptop/desktop hybrid monstrosity, I didn’t expect it to be that… HUGE… The box it came in probably reached my hip in height. The laptop felt huge, it felt like I was carrying an encyclopedia. At first it didn’t bother me that much. But after a year or two, it started to dawn on me. It was pretty rough to carry around. It was heavy, it was bulky, it was fragile, but it still was and remains, my favorite laptop. It never overheated -MSI has always had a knack for cooling systems- it never lagged, and it never gave me any major issue. But I travel a lot, so when a fatal hit happened, I changed to a 15” gaming laptop. I love it, but it is so small that I feel like it will overheat a bit too fast. So when it comes to deciding on size, you need to find your happy middle. Would you rather a big laptop that is rough to carry around, but doesn’t overheat, or a quick to pack, can-go-everywhere laptop that is so jam-packed inside it gets hot kind of fast? That decision is up to you. The changes in price between screen sizes are usually negligible. The big changes in price come with hardware differences.

The portability is also a huge advantage for you console gamers that wish to make a switch to PC gaming.

Laptops are very easy to set up. They are super simple to use, just plug in the AC charger and the mouse and that’s it! Laptops are great for people who want that initial taste of the glorious cake that is PC gaming. And gaming laptops are great for people who live in dorms with minimal space. Want to play on your bed? No problem! On the floor? Weird, but why not... Upside down? I guess it could be done.

The second thing you need to check for is hardware. The hardware is inevitably different from their desktop compatriots since it needs to fit in that cramped up, airless case. Which is why when you see GPUs (Graphics Processing Unit) with an “M” in it like “Nvidia GeForce GTX 970M” , it means that it is a more compact variant designed to fit laptops and not overburden them with excessive energy demands or heat issues. Even though it somewhat has the same name as its big brothers Nvidia GeForce GTX 970, they are nowhere near each other in matters of performance. It can almost run as many games as the normal variant, but with lower graphics and lower overall performance.

Gaming laptops usually come with some screens that are quite advanced. They are designed to be on par with most monitors. Most, if not all, have a native resolution of 1920 x 1080p, which is the resolution aimed at by the current standard. The next step, which I welcome with open arms is 4K resolution. Some newer laptops have the possibility of running games, programs or just everything in 4K, and I must say, it is quite the beautiful sight to behold. This means that 4K is no longer a reserved right to desktop users.

Also, depending on the brand of laptops, speakers may also be very high quality, which can, at the very minimum, replace a headset and even then you should use one. A good example for both would be the Zenbooks from ASUS being partnered with Bang & Olufsen and ICEpower (yes, Bang & Olufsen AND ICEpower, the famous high-class audio product manufacturers and designers) which provides you with the highest grade of audio and all MSI laptops being partnered with SteelSeries which provides them with some of the more advanced keyboards.

Finally, laptops have a shorter life cycle. Games are always released with new technologies which demand higher-end and stronger hardware each time. This leads laptops to lose effectiveness at faster speeds than desktops. Laptops to an average life span of 2 to 3 years, 4 if you clean it often, 5 years if you went with high-end gear.

PROS

  • Great for console players who want to try PC gaming
  • Hassle-free
  • Takes barely any space
  • Can go everywhere with you
  • High performance
  • High quality screen
  • High quality keyboard

CONS

  • Not as performant as desktops
  • Bigger laptops are tougher to transport
  • Mousepads are just Horrible
  • Small life cycle
  • Mobile variants
  • Can get really expensive
  • Needs to be plugged in to play reliably