With so many gaming laptops on the market, buying a 15-inch gaming laptop is a difficult decision so I thought this would be a good time to help create a general gaming laptop guide to help some of you buy the perfect gaming laptop. There are multiple components that need to be considered while purchasing any laptop but if you are purchasing a gaming laptop then you better be a lot of care as you may not get the next machine in 2-3 years.
So I have summed up all the factors that need to be considered while buying the best gaming laptop in your budget.
1) The Design of Gaming Laptop-
The first thing you really want to think about when buying a gaming laptop is the design. Do you go 15 inches or do you go 17 inches? The 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 MacBook Pro. The 17-inch razor blade Pro stealth which is very well constructed but weighs over 6 pounds.
2) The Portability of Gaming Laptop-
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.
3) The Most Important and Neglected Factor- Ports
Now ports, I wouldn’t worry about too much as most of the gaming laptops come with a good selection of ports. The next thing is upgradeability and 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.
4) Storage Space
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 the Helios 300 which is a 15-inch gaming laptop where the manufacturers decided to stick three in here by sacrificing battery life.
By sacrificing the battery life they were able to cut out space for a 2.5-inch drive this can be a mechanical drive or a regular SSD. Now if you buy the base model it comes with one nvme drive but down the road, if I want more space I have two slots to stick in two extra drives.
5) The RAM- Higher the Better
The next thing is 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. Now if you’re buying a budget gaming laptop sometimes it only comes with one RAM block (mostly it will be 8 GB). If it comes with the one you’re going to 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) The WiFi Card-
The next thing is the 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 the 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.
7) Heat Management-
The most crucial is heat management. This is the most important for your internals. If you see a laptop with only one fan inside, do not buy it because it’s going to be overheating and not performing 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 multiple powerful cooling fans, liquid cooling if possible and definitely a breathable chassis. 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 display is also really important because you want to take advantage of the new high refresh rate displays that are readily available today and usually the sweet spot for 2019 and going into 2020 is going to be a 144 Hertz. Always try to buy a gaming laptop with 15-inch screen and 60 refresh rate to get good performance if low on budget.
8) The Display Refresh Rate-
If you’re buying a 15-inch gaming laptop full HD IPS 144 Hertz, most of these panels that are on the mid-range. The 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 is 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 have to buy a gaming laptop that has 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 then their sound and 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.
9) Headsets, Keyboards, and Mouse-
Focus more on buying a good gaming headset because that will provide you a lot more value than the speakers on these laptops. 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 good actuation force I can feel the keypresses while I’m gaming touchpads. I wouldn’t worry about too much because if you’re gaming you’re gonna be having an external mouse connected to your computer. However, if you’re gonna 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.
10) CPU and GPU- Components that Make Gaming Laptop
So let’s talk performance because I feel like this is what most people base their purchased sessions on. For gaming, the most important thing is 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 an 1650 but if you can get an 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 RTX 2060 is preferred and if you want to do high-performance gaming I’d probably skipped the RTX 2080 and go with an RTX 2070 TI, feel like it offers the best value for high gaming performance.
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 gonna 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 and stick with Intel.
Now that you have gone through basics of how you can select the right gaming laptop for yourself, look into my suggestions below for the gaming laptops according to the budget.