As far as laptop specs for gaming are concerned, no two gamers have the same needs. Novice gamers can skimp on advanced features that pro gamers absolutely need. So, when buying a gaming laptop, you’ll have to consider what games you will play.
That is, if you play browser-based games, a feature-rich built-in display will work just fine, and you won’t need an external screen. Alternatively, high-performance CPU and GPU are crucial for pro gamers that tend to play the latest AAA games. So, what specs to look for in a gaming laptop? Let’s find out here.
Table of Contents
- What Specs to Look For in a Gaming Laptop: The Top 11
- What Type of Gamer Are You?- 2 Important Questions to Ask Yourself
- What are the Suitable Laptop Specs for Casual Gamers?
- What are the Suitable Laptop Specs for Average Gamers?
- What are the Suitable Laptops Specs for Pro Gamers?
- Frequently Asked Questions
What Specs to Look For in a Gaming Laptop: The Top 11
You’ll need to consider the gaming laptop’s processor, graphics card, memory, storage, display, keyboard, cooling system, and portability. A powerful processor and dedicated graphics card are essential for smooth gameplay, while plenty of RAM and an SSD will ensure fast load times.
While different types of gamers need different laptop specs, there are certain specs that you can’t go without. Here’s a list of those important specs that you should consider when buying a gaming laptop:
1. Graphics Processing Unit (GPU)
Your laptop’s GPU is responsible for creating the pixels of the images you see while gaming. So, a quality GPU is a must for enjoying high-resolution gameplay. Mostly, you have a choice between NVIDIA RTX 30 and Radeon RX 6000 series. While the latter may offer better value for money, it doesn’t have access to features like ray tracing or DLSS.
2. Central Processing Unit (CPU)
A laptop’s CPU is important for gaming as it affects frame rates and streaming. Laptops with a higher thread count and faster clock speeds will provide a better gaming experience. Intel and AMD are both good options. Intel offers powerful laptops with Thunderbolt 4 and PCIE4, and AMD laptops are best known for their long battery life.
A quick tip: any laptop with a good GPU will have a decent CPU.
You need an adequate cooling system for a gaming laptop to prevent it from heating up. But you don’t have to compromise the laptop’s sleekness and portability. Most modern gaming laptops feature meticulously designed cooling systems with fans, vents, heatsinks, and cooling pipes while maintaining a compact and lightweight design.
4. Random Access Memory (RAM)
RAM is one of the few things you can upgrade later, so don’t overspend on RAM when buying a new gaming laptop. Typically, 16 GB RAM is enough for most games, and you can always upgrade it later to improve your gaming performance.
5. Solid-State Drive (SSD)
An SSD is another upgradable component of your gaming laptop. While AMD is limited to PCIE3 (still sufficiently fast), Intel allows access to PCIE4. You don’t need a premium SSD for everything, only for your main/OS drive. You can use your Gen 4 drive on Intel to install your most frequently played games.
While laptops typically do not come equipped with mechanical keyboard switches, you can enhance your gaming experience by connecting an external mechanical keyboard to your laptop via USB. This will allow you to enjoy the benefits of a mechanical keyboard, such as precise and responsive keystrokes, while still being able to use your laptop for gaming.
Typically, a laptop includes USB, USB-Type C, Ethernet – RJ-45, HDMI, display, DVI, and VGA ports. They also have an audio jack, Thunderbolt 3, and an SD card reader. You need to look for a gaming laptop with ports to attach all the necessary peripherals that you may want to use to play games.
While most gamers use an external mouse for gaming on a laptop, having a trackpad improves its versatility. So, a trackpad on your gaming laptop can make it more convenient to use for a range of purposes. You may not use the trackpad for gameplay, but a gaming laptop is still a laptop, so you can use the trackpad for everyday use.
9. Battery Capacity/Life
What battery size suits you depends on several variables, like the screen size, processor type, the game being played, gaming time, and more. A gaming laptop runs fine for a good 4 hours on a standard battery playing low-demand games. However, this can also vary based on your gaming laptop’s specific hardware and usage patterns.
The portability of a laptop is one of the least essential laptop specs for gaming. Most gamers don’t carry around their laptops, and a 17-inch laptop with some mass is fine for sitting on your desktop. But if you find yourself traveling a lot, you might want to consider a more portable option.
When buying a gaming laptop, you should consider the screen size, resolution, refresh rate, and response time. Laptops with 13, 15, or 17-inch screens are common. Thinner bezels can provide more screen space. And the higher resolution means clearer images, but it can also increase the cost of the system.
A higher refresh rate is important for smooth gameplay, with options ranging from 120Hz to 144Hz or higher. The response time, or the time it takes for the screen to shift from one color to another, should be between 1ms and 5ms for optimal performance.
What Type of Gamer Are You?- 2 Important Questions to Ask Yourself
You can be a hardcore/pro gamer, a casual gamer, or a newbie. Casual gamers enjoy playing casual games in their spare time, while pro gamers are more dedicated. On the other hand, newbies may experience both and become one of them with time. It really depends on your personal interests and preferences.
Another thing that you need to be clear on is what type of games you plan on playing. Do you prefer to play the latest AAA games or browser-based games? So, let’s take a quick look at each gamer type and their essential gaming laptop requirements.
1. What Kind of Games Will You be Playing?
The AAA games, like God of War, typically need higher graphics settings for a better visual experience than browser games like Online Solitaire. This is because AAA games often have more complex graphics, and higher settings can enhance them for a more immersive experience.
So, pro gamers require high-tech specs compared to newbies. While casual gamers can skimp on more expensive components and add-ons, like better RAM. You should consider your gaming needs and preferences to weigh the trade-offs between game, performance, and cost.
2. What are the Minimum and Recommended System Requirements for Games?
The minimum specs for a gaming laptop are the lowest possible settings needed to run the game without crashing, but they don’t offer the best gaming experience. While the recommended requirements are usually higher and represent the ideal version for pro game players.
For instance, the minimum requirements for a game to run are 30 fps on a 1366×768 or 800× 600 screen. But the recommended requirements for the same game will be 60 fps on a 1366×768 screen.
You can do a quick online search for the game you want to play + system requirements, e.g. GTA V system requirements. It will give you results for minimum and recommended system requirements.
Here are a few specific scenarios to get a better idea:
What are the Suitable Laptop Specs for Casual Gamers?
Entry-level gamers and newbies consider gaming a good pastime. They don’t enter competitions or run gaming marathons. Since their usage isn’t demanding, they can easily get away with an average, over-the-counter gaming setup.
The best specs for a gaming laptop for a casual gamer are as follows:
What are the Suitable Laptop Specs for Average Gamers?
Most average gamers take gaming more seriously than beginners but less seriously than pros. They play AAA games, so their systems are equipped with high-quality GPUs for clearer graphics for better gameplay.
An average gamer should look for these laptop specs for gaming:
What are the Suitable Laptops Specs for Pro Gamers?
For Pro Gamers, gaming is almost a matter of life and death. They enter competitions and usually stream their gameplays, too. So, they need top-notch gaming laptop specs for a premium gaming experience.
If you’re a hardcore gamer wondering what specs to look for in a gaming laptop, here’s a quick list for you:
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the most important spec in a gaming laptop?
You should consider the most important gaming laptop specs: the processor, graphics card, storage, and memory. Also, you need to know the trade-offs between cost, performance, and the game you want to play.
Which specs are necessary for a gaming PC?
For a gaming PC, you should look into the processor (CPU), graphics card (GPU), memory (RAM), storage, and cooling that you’ll need to play a particular game. A high-performance CPU and GPU are essential for smooth gameplay, and at least 8GB of RAM is recommended.
How many cores are good enough for a gaming laptop?
For gaming, a processor with at least four cores is generally considered a good starting point, but more cores can be beneficial for more demanding games or for those who multitask while gaming. Some gaming laptops may come with processors with six or more cores.
What’s the best processor for a gaming laptop?
According to my experience, some of the best gaming laptop processors are Intel Core i5-12400, Intel Core i9-13900K, and AMD Ryzen 7 5800X3D. However, this really depends on your specific gaming needs.
Essentially, the best processor for your gaming laptop would be the one that can process your games at the fastest speed. So, research the system requirements for the games you plan to play and compare the features of different processor models before making a final decision when buying a gaming laptop.
What gaming laptop specs you can save money on?
If you want to save money when buying a gaming laptop, you can consider compromising on specs that can be upgraded later. But you shouldn’t skimp on soldered components, like CPU and GPU, as they cannot be upgraded later.
Typically, investing in high-quality options can help ensure that your system is capable of running games smoothly for the long term. So, you won’t have to go and buy a gaming laptop for another AAA game to play, costing you double the money later.