As the resident ‘gamer geek’ in my immediate circle I often get asked whether or not a gaming laptop is ‘worth it,’ but the answer is never a simple yes or no. Whether or not a gaming laptop is worth it or not depends on a large number of factors, and the question becomes even more complicated if you’re someone who plays competitive games at a high level.
In this article, we’ll go over the most important considerations and arguments in order to try and answer the question: is a gaming laptop worth it?
The number one reason to get a gaming laptop is obviously for its portability. If you’re someone who never leaves their room and you’re always gaming and working in the same spot it’s easy: you probably don’t need a gaming laptop. But if you’re someone like that you’re probably not looking to buy a gaming laptop anyway, so I’ll assume that this question has already been answered.
I will add some nuance, though. Even if you’re someone who never leaves the house to game it can be nice to have a gaming laptop. If you have children, for example, a gaming laptop allows you to just sit down and play your games in the same room that your children are playing in. It’s probably not a good idea to get too invested in a serious competitive game if you’re watching your children, but it’s just an example of how having a device that you can place pretty much anywhere in your house can be a serious advantage, even if you rarely leave said house.
That being said: a gaming laptop can still be quite cumbersome to carry around. Due to the amount of hardware they need under the hood in order to deliver satisfying results, gaming laptops are often heavier and a little bit unwieldy when compared to sleeker laptops that are just focused on browsing and content consumption. Still, even the heaviest and bulkiest gaming laptop is ten times more comfortable than a desktop PC to carry around, so that’s not really a con if you’re asking me.
A gaming laptop of course isn’t just for gaming. It’s basically a term for a very high-powered laptop with top tier components, so if you’re someone who likes to create content or you need your (work)laptop to be able to handle multiple large files while having a bunch of heavy programs running then you can definitely look towards gaming laptops.
Gaming laptops these days come in a variety of sizes and configurations, so you can definitely get one with a top tier panel that’ll allow you to consume and create content in high resolutions without any hiccups. If your laptop is great for gaming, it will be absolutely fantastic for work, studying, and other applications.
Laptops such as the Razer Blade and Dell’s XPS laptops have long been considered among the best portable options for power users, and with today’s laptops you’re certain to find one that matches your preferences.
Competitive gaming performance
Competitive gamers demand the best of the best. We know that. Things like a high refresh rate panel and a GPU that can drive enough frames towards said panel are absolutely necessary in this day and age, and luckily gaming laptop manufacturers know this too. You can buy gaming laptops with a 360Hz panel, an RTX 3080 Ti, and a 12th gen Intel CPU, for example.
Gone are the days where you needed to make compromises if you were a mobile gamer: you can get laptops that can effortlessly keep up with today’s standards for competitive gaming so that you can get your gaming fix on the road without feeling as if you’re being handicapped.
There’s really no escaping it: a laptop will probably cost you more than its desktop equivalent, so that’s absolutely something to consider. Luckily, with more and more manufacturers entering the laptop scene, we’ve seen prices go down a significant amount when compared to just five years ago. You can absolutely get yourself a more than decent gaming laptop for a democratic price, and due to the amount of options out there it’s possible to mix-and-match somewhat. Want a laptop that’ll run the latest single player games in 4K? There’s a laptop for you. Want a laptop that’ll deliver competitive-grade framerates with a high refresh rate screen at 1080p? Sure, that’s possible.
Due to recent technological advancements you can also definitely get yourself a lower tier laptop that runs older games (or more recent ones with the graphics turned down) without any hiccups whatsoever. The days where you had to pay thousands in order to get even close to the performance of a desktop computer are well and truly behind us.
Gaming laptops might meet today’s competitive gaming standards with ease, there’s still the fact that they’re almost impossible to upgrade. With a gaming PC (definitely if you’ve built if yourself) you can remove and add new components as you go, so if you want to replace broken components or upgrade your RAM and what not you can do so without having to buy an entirely new machine. This is a lot more difficult to do with a gaming laptop.
Some gaming laptops allow some degree of tinkering, but generally it’s not really possible to make any big changes to your configuration. Of course dedicated professionals can repair gaming laptops, but that will of course come at a cost. This is definitely something to consider when you’re thinking of going for a gaming laptop.
Of course this is mostly subjective, but I don’t think anyone will disagree that gaming laptops used to look rather ostentatious. If you came into a serious meeting with one, you might as well have worn an esports jersey and a hat saying ‘GAMER’ along with it, but luckily those days are over.
Sure, those designs are still out there (and I’m not knocking people who like those designs: you can’t argue about taste) but there are now a lot of more subtle looking alternatives available. Pretty much all PC manufacturers are making gaming laptops these days, including the more serious ‘business-like’ companies, so if you’re after a sleek and modern look you can definitely get a gaming laptop like that. And of course the opposite is also true: if you like your RGB and gaming-aesthetics there are definitely options for you out there too. There’s something for everyone these days.
The good thing about a gaming laptop is that it’s a portable PC. This means that it comes with a variety of ports and possibilities. You can hook it up to your TV, for example, and use a wireless mouse and keyboard so that you can use your laptop instead of a console. Or if you want that full console experience you can connect a controller. Once you’re done gaming you can watch some Netflix, either on the laptop or on your TV. Time to go to work? Bring the laptop, and keep watching your shows on the train or bus. You can then use your laptop at work, and connect it to a beamer for a presentation.
None of this might be applicable to you personally, but you get the idea: a gaming laptop offers a lot of versatility and is not just a machine meant for gaming. As a kicker, PC gamers have a lot more games to choose from than console gamers, so that’s always a bonus.
Heat and noise
Gaming laptops used to get so hot that you could (probably literally) fry an egg on them if you were running demanding games, but that is getting increasingly rare. Manufacturers are finding more and better ways of cooling the components inside of laptops so that noise and heat levels remain bearable. How noisy or hot a laptop gets obviously depends on the laptop itself, but we’ve tested a couple ourselves and found that those were a far cry from the hissing and heating machines of a couple of years ago.
Of course a gaming laptop will always produce more heat and noise than a slim laptop meant for web browsing and light work applications, but in this day and age we find that the heat and noise levels of most laptops remain very bearable.
So, is a gaming laptop worth it? Whether you should get a gaming laptop or not is a personal question, and while there are certainly pros to getting one there are undoubtedly also going to be cons. If you really don’t need the portability then you’re probably better off going with a desktop. but if you’re someone who is often on the move or you need a PC that is portable and usable everywhere (work, studying, content creation and consumption, gaming, …) then a gaming laptop is the ideal solution for you.