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Gaming Laptop Buying Guide

Gaming Laptop Buying Guide

With so many gaming laptops on the market, I thought this would be a good time to help create a general gaming laptop guide to help some of you pick the perfect gaming laptop.

1. Design

Gaming Laptop Buying Guide

The first thing you really want to think about when buying a gaming laptop is the design. Do you go 15-inch, or do you go 17-inch, 15-inch laptops have gotten to the point where they're very portable, they're light enough that you can carry them every single day. For example. I have two laptops the razor blade 17, and the main gear vector, the main gear vector for example packs a lot of performance in a chassis that only weighs 4.16 pounds that's lighter than the MacBook pro. The 17-inch razor blade pro stealth which is very well constructed but weighs over 6 pounds.

The benefit of portability is that you always have your gaming laptop on you. The benefit to a 17-inch laptop is you get more screen real estate, a desktop replacement, a bigger chassis for better cooling, and more storage slots to increase the overall storage size of your device. Now ports I wouldn't worry about too much. Most gaming laptops come with a good selection of ports.

2. Display

The display is also really important because you want to take advantage of the new high refresh rate displays that are readily available today. Usually, the sweet spot for 2019 and going into 2020 is going to be a 144 hertz if you're buying a 15-inch gaming laptop full HD IPS 144 hertz. Most of these panels that are on the mid-range - premium gaming laptops have good color representation, good color gamut, and most importantly that 144-hertz spot you want to be in. Now I wouldn't focus on 4k gaming because ideally what you want to happen is the GPU, CPU performing fast enough to give you the frame rates that match a 144 hertz.

If you want 4k there are 4k panels 15-inch laptops but most of them were only 60 hertz, and I feel you're just kind of hurting yourself going that route because the gaming experience is not going to be the same. If you must have 4k move up to 17-inches because there are a couple of laptops like the razor blade pro that offer 4k 120 hertz. I still feel even with the new GPUs coming out this year from Nvidia and AMD 4k gaming is still not going to be that relevant on laptops. Maybe more so on desktops but on laptops, the sweet spot is 1080p and QHD but unfortunately, there's just not a lot of QHD panels out there with high refresh rates.

3. Upgradeability

Usually, with gaming laptops, three things are upgradeable storage, ram, and wi-fi card. These are important because this allows you to buy the lowest spec of the gaming laptop you want and then upgrade things down the road. Now if you're buying a 15-inch gaming laptop there's about two spots for stores, sometimes you'll find three but usually, the average is one to two. With 17-inch gaming laptops, you'll have two to three spots for storage sometimes even four.

For example, I have a gaming laptop helios 300 which is a 15-inch gaming laptop. They decide to stick three in by sacrificing battery life, by sacrificing the battery life they were able to cut out space for a 2.5-inch drive. It can be a mechanical drive or a normal SSD. Now if you buy the base model, it comes with a nvme drive, but in the future, if I want more space, I have two slots to stick two additional drives.

4. Performance

Gaming Laptop Buying Guide

I think most people make their buying decisions based on performance. And GPU is one of the most important things for gamers. Buy i5 or the latest i7 it all comes down to the GPU. Whether you buy an i5 or the latest i7 it all comes down to the GPU. I think today if you are buying a gaming laptop the lowest you want to be is a GTX 1660 TI. Now I get it some people can't afford that, and they'll have to jump down to a 1650 but if you can get a 1660 TI.

This will guarantee you that you'll be able to play most of the games comfortably on high settings at 1080p. You can still do VR it won't be as good as an RTX card. But you can still do it. Now if you want to have like a good sweet spot an RT X 2060 is preferred and if you want to do high-performance gaming I'd probably skipped the RT X 2080 and go with an RTX 2070. I feel like it offers the best value for high gaming performance.

5. Ram

Now, most premium and mid-range gaming laptops come with two sticks or dual-channel memory. This is important because it does improve performance. If you're buying a budget gaming laptop sometimes it only comes with one. Now, if it comes with the one you're going to want to go out and buy a second stick to place inside because it will improve the performance of the laptop. Most gaming laptops will allow you to upgrade the RAM anywhere from 32 to 64 gigabytes.

6. Heat management

Gaming Laptop Buying Guide

Heat management is the most important for your internals. If you see a laptop with a single fan inside, don't buy it, because it will overheat and won't work as it should. If you see a gaming laptop with two fans on one side of it it will run fine but it's going to get hot. Usually, you want to look for a configuration like this there's obviously better out there.

But this is pretty much the standard you want the fans being on opposite ends, heat pipes running across the middle usually you don't want all the heat pipes being shared by the GPU and CPU you do want some separation and that will give you a better chance of having better thermals.

7. Keyboards

Gaming Laptop Buying Guide

Now I personally feel gaming keyboards are one of the most important things for a gaming laptop. This is what your hand is interacting with in order to move your character. Usually, you want a gaming keyboard that has a good travel distance. The lowest I'll absolutely go is 2 centimeters, but ideally, you want to be a 2.5 like take the razor blade pro 17 for example, beautiful laptop my favorite 17-inch gaming laptop but it doesn't have the best keyboard.

Great RGB but mushy keys and the tactile experience on it is not the best. Taking a laptop for main gear or other vendors that are using the SteelSeries keyboard. This design is kind of dated, but it has a nice tactile feel there's a good actuation force I can feel the keypresses while I'm gaming.

8. Touchpad

Touchpads I wouldn't worry about too much because if you're gaming you're going to be having an external mouse connected to your computer. However, if you're going to be doing productivity on it like you're using it for school as well make sure the touchpad is glass, it's big enough. Ideally, you don't want one with actual buttons. You want it to be like one piece of glass and just make sure it's using Windows precision drivers.

9. Sound

I'd probably pay the littlest attention to this because any gaming laptop you buy right now is going to be super loud when you're gaming. The fans kick on it has to keep it cool. It just drowns out the speakers on these laptops. Focus more on buying a good gaming headset because that will provide you a lot more value than the speakers on these laptops. 

10. Wi-Fi card

I feel this is important now because wi-fi 6 is out and I've upgraded my house to wi-fi 6 and trust me it makes a huge difference in terms of coverage and speed. Some of these gaming laptops don't have wi-fi 6 cards inside of them so being able to upgrade it down the road will future-proof your wi-fi capabilities.

So, I think that pretty much wraps up my first laptop gaming guide. Let me know how I did in the comments below. I'll place some suggestions for each category premium mid-range and budget to help you guys figure out what are the best picks for you. Things are going to change again in the next couple of months once we start getting our hands on the new AMD processors and the new ones from intel, but right now if you're buying a laptop today try to stick with intel.

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