Choosing a laptop is often a matter of features. We take a look at what’s on the box or summary beside the product and make our buying decisions based on them. But what are the most important ones to look for in a gaming laptop? Here, we decided to round it off to nine items to look for when you head to the store or on an online website to shop around. Some features have more impact than others, but the important thing here is to not forget to consider one of them to then be disappointed when you open the product at home and see that something is missing or is below-par for the games you want to play.
The processor is probably the first thing you should look at in a gaming laptop. It’s the core of the system that will either make the gaming laptop be up for the task, or make it lag behind. Don’t hesitate to check the benchmarks online to see what kind of performance to expect on your next purchases. Right now, i7 Intel processors are especially good choices for gaming. If on the other hand you purchase cheaper laptops that aren’t tagged as “gaming laptops”, check on the strength carefully so that you can run the games you want to run.
Powerful graphics card
Of course, games are about graphics and there’s no way to get around the subject. On mid-range and more expensive laptops, having an especially powerful graphics card will allow you to reach higher graphical settings inside your games, allowing you to admire the best graphics that the game designers are trying to put forward. On the other hand, a weaker graphics card will force you to settle for the low/medium visual settings in your games. This will mean sacrifices either in the quality of the environment of the levels you move in, the effects or the characters themselves. Also, a weaker graphics card will provide less FPS (frames-per-second) than a stronger one, resulting in a less fluid experience.
Also don’t forget that balance between the processor and graphics card is often overlooked in laptops as we tend to get excited as soon as we see some good parts, but their balance is also important. If you get your hands on a laptop that has a great processor, a little graphical power, we hope that you’re ready to use it more as a laptop for work, because your games are about to hit a plateau as soon as the graphics card reaches its limit and the processor won’t be able to totally compensate for that. Some laptops from companies like Toshiba and HP have slightly weaker graphics cards. Go for companies that put more focus on this area.
Plenty of storage
Games nowadays are especially large and you don’t want to underestimate the hard drive size needed to install all your favorite games and their patches. The bare minimum in the moment would be of about 500 GB, but the optimal size would probably be 1 TB. If you don’t want to have to switch all the time between the games you install or to be surprised that you’re out of space when you’re about to install some DLC, get a laptop with a 1TB hard drive. You will be thankful for one less worry concerning your games.
Expansion bays / SSDs
Extra bays aren’t found in all gaming laptops, but you should feel very happy when you see that feature on that laptop you chose. When gaming, our needs change quickly and you never know when you might need some more RAM or storage to get a laptop that fits your needs again. SSD hard drives aren’t necessarily for gaming, but gamers generally enjoy speed, so the fit is natural. The feeling of speed in all your tasks with an SSD hard drive is very noticeable and worth the extra money, and it can act as additional storage for everything you want to access with more speed.
Weight is a big factor to consider as well. Gaming on the go can be tiresome if you place the laptop on your lap. A laptop that’s too imposing could also discourage you from bringing it on the go under different circumstances. You don’t want your gaming machine to feel like a hassle to bring around. And naturally, the weight is affected by how slim your gaming laptop is. Some gaming laptops present a slim design that really takes some weight out to allow you to play and carry it around with more ease.
Well, this certainly doesn’t affect the way you play, but it does affect the satisfaction you get out of your purchase! And after all, gaming is a lifestyle that should be represented in the way that your laptop looks. There are companies like Alienware, MSI and ASUS that generally try to pull off a little more eye candy on the outside than other competitors. The most extravagant looks are usually paired with the most expensive devices, but you can make a few interesting finds in other price ranges too.
A lot of people probably aren’t aware that this feature is indeed present in a few gaming laptops. After all, plenty of gamers buy backlit keyboards of over $80 for their desktop computer, so it’s only logical that they get one when they buy a gaming laptop of $1000 and over. On top of the style it gives you, a backlit keyboard allows you to get superior control (or sense of control at least) in the dark. It’s one of those features that once you get your hands on it, you won’t be able to go back.
And make sure your touchpad and keyboard are above-average for gaming. This isn’t generally a feature that’s put forward in a straightforward way, but it’s an aspect you want to keep an eye on when you read reviews. The touchpad and keyboard are what you will be playing with (unless you use a mouse), so they better be positioned right, feel good and be durable. Don’t settle for a sub-par keyboard or touchpad with the excuse that you could always buy a USB keyboard to make up for it afterward – we all like to play directly on the keyboard of our laptop, so choose something that’s worth your money.
Of course, the parts themselves aren’t really good investments if they’re not backed up by the proper warranty. ASUS is especially good as a company on that aspect, as they provide protection against all sorts of damages upfront. Their ASUS 360 feature is really interesting and you can certainly get the same type of coverage with all sorts of companies.
And finally, absolutely do not forget to check on the sound quality of the laptop you’re looking to buy. Laptop speakers generally aren’t the things that will pull off the most amazing sounds, but if you’re going to game a lot you should at least get something above-average to live your games to the fullest. Look for special mentions and trademarks concerning the sound quality of the laptops you buy.