For a long time, I was convinced that I needed a desktop PC in order to enjoy my gaming. Gaming laptops were getting better, but the changes were incremental and they still came nowhere close to a good desktop. Then my laptop was stolen at the worst time possible. Money was tight and I had only just started saving for a new desktop PC, with my old one on its last legs.
Fortunately, I had good insurance for accidental laptop damage and theft and my claim was processed efficiently. Almost immediately, I had cash to spend on a new device. It wasn’t a lot of money, considering I had never splashed out on my laptop, and I had to make savvy financial decisions.
A new laptop was non-negotiable, so I had to give up on buying an expensive gaming desktop. I could have gone for a cheap laptop and a cheap desktop, but I reckoned that a good gaming laptop would do a better job.
Over the past year, I have gotten used to using a laptop for gaming and I think I now prefer it. Of course, this comes with caveats. Not just any gaming laptop will do, and you will have to spend some cash on getting the specs necessary. Here’s what you need to get a good laptop gaming experience.
When it comes to buying a gaming laptop, you are going to need to find an option with a great GPU. Most laptops come with built-in GPUs, and the better the GPU, the higher the price. In fact, the price can go up extremely quickly, and you may have to compromise on the best you can afford.
An entry-level gaming laptop will cost at least $800, and it will come with a GTX 3050 or RX 5500M GPU. It will let you play most games but on the lower settings. On the other side of the spectrum, you can get a gaming laptop with an RTX 3080 or RTX 3080 Ti that will allow you to play VR games with the best possible experience. However, if you can get one for $2,000, you’ve found a bargain.
I used my insurance money along with what I’d already saved to ‘build’ a laptop with an RTX 3080 Ti card. Needless to say, it works great, and I find the experience better than what I got from my old desktop.
Choosing a display is tough, because you have to sacrifice either quality or speed. The fastest displays go up to a 1920 X 1080 resolution. If you want a 4K screen, you have to deal with speed issues. The reality is that you don’t need a 4K screen, and with the current options, I don’t recommend it.
Refresh rate is important. 60Hz is good enough for many gamers, but you can get displays with 144 Hz, 240 Hz, or 360 Hz refresh rates. If you’ve got a great graphics card, you may be tempted to get one of these displays, but they will cost and it may be in your best interests to settle for the middle ground.
The next crucial consideration is the keyboard you need to choose. There are a number of things to look out for. These include the key travel, which is how far you can press a key down. You should look for a laptop with at least 1.5mm of key travel. Then there’s actuation, which is how hard you need to press the keys. Actuation of between 65 and 75 grams is the sweet spot.
Anti-ghosting is another important feature for good performance. It refers to the ability of the keyboard to register all the key-presses when you mash for combos. Finally, backlighting may not be your highest priority, but the best keyboards have RGB backlighting. It is up to you whether this is important or not.
Those are the basics you need for a good laptop for gaming on the go. If you choose well, you can get performance from your laptop that exceeds your current desktop setup. If you’re in need of a new device, consider a laptop. If you need a laptop regardless, this may be the way to go.