The video game industry is projected by Newzoo to reach $86.1 billion in 2016, providing a healthy market for a plethora of gaming devices. While gamers may turn to desktop computers for the ability to build their own machine or the cost, plenty of gaming laptop companies provide a way to take your gaming on the road.
While laptop computers are more expensive than a similar desktop setup would be, the mobility of laptops justifies the splurge for many consumers. When you’re selecting a gaming laptop, the main considerations to take into account for your purchase are the graphics card, processor, cooling system, memory and user upgradability.
The Graphics Cards
The graphic card in a laptop is the first thing to take a look at in your potential machine. The GPU does a lot of heavy lifting in many computer games these days, as most big name titles have stunning 3D graphics that are demanding on your card. In addition, computer games often have the option to add mods to the base game installation, with graphical mods making the game even prettier. Notebook Check’s benchmark reports show that the Nvidia 780M in SLI configuration is the top performing card. The AMD Radeon HD 8970M Crossfire comes in a close second. SLI and Crossfire are features provided by Nvidia and AMD respectively to allow you to use two video cards in tandem.
You want to buy as close to the top of the graphics card curve as possible, since you want your laptop to stay on top of the gaming system requirements curve for as long as possible. Whatever you do, make sure that your laptop uses a discrete graphics card instead of an onboard card. Onboard cards aren’t powerful enough to run many modern games.
Central Processing Unit
While the graphics card rightfully gets a lot of attention in a gaming laptop, the CPU needs heavy consideration as well. Some games aren’t particularly graphically intensive, such as Dwarf Fortress, Minecraft and Terraria, but they require a great deal of processing. An under-powered processor ends up bogging down the entire process and making your gaming experience a frustrating one. The Intel i7s are on their fourth revision and lead the way in processing. The Guardian reports these are the best selections, although the i5s aren’t bad if you’re looking for a better value for your budget. Another important consideration is your Internet speed, such as one with FIOS availability, since the main distribution channels for PC games are digital downloads.
There aren’t a lot of games out there that take advantage of massive memory numbers, but having eight gigs of RAM or so is a good idea to future proof your laptop. If you can’t get the maximum amount of memory for your system to start out with, most laptop manufacturers make it easy to upgrade. If you want to perform other memory intensive tasks such as creating large Photoshop files with multiple layers or video rendering, get as much memory as fits in the machine.