Are Gaming Laptops Worth It

Are Gaming Laptops Worth It

A gaming laptop is absolutely worth buying for a specific kind of user. If you have the money to spend and prize portability overpowering anything you get out of a MacBook, I wholeheartedly recommend going for it.

One of the biggest reasons for the gaming laptop sub-culture is a video for Rawlings in their commercials.


YouTuber Rawlings Randall seemingly uploaded himself playing a video game. He kicked his friends in the nuts with a dresser as they watched. People defended him saying he was exercising the self-control to not tune out his friends but it’s okay to mute out yourself when you are playing a video game if that’s what you want to do. It’s not like you are a kid and playing Candy Crush is a bad habit.

I agree with taking the time to moderate yourself while enjoying some mindless fun, but when that play is an hour away from becoming a full-blown habit and it’s at home, I think it’s time to take a step back.

Weekends, especially, are optimal periods for gaming. The Netflix deal means that skimming through the news each day won’t cut it — you need to own a TV of some sort or invest in a console (or switch to YouTube). Weekends are also the perfect time for any serious athlete to combine training with gaming, since watching a 4K stream can consume the whole day while you are playing.


Are Gaming Laptops Worth It

We’re fortunate to live in a time where the added cost of having a dedicated graphics card is a relatively minor drawback compared to the budget-saving daydream. Unfortunately, the road to a gaming PC might not be the path you’re hoping for.

I joined the gaming industry in 2017 after working in printing since the late 2000s. At the time, there were many advantages to having a PC at home for my gaming build. Although gaming laptops by definition cost over twice as much as a typical laptop, the extra RAM, hard drives, and cooling systems allow for a more complete experience.

In 2018, Intel released the new generation 6th generation Core i5 and i7 CPUs. I’ve played around with a few new machines recently, and it’s pretty evident where this trend is going — even cheaper Intel Macs are getting strong support for graphics and CPU power.

Gaming laptops tend to be powered by dedicated graphics cards. Sure, a graphics card bought out of the box will be more than capable for a decent laptop without any extra spending, but other machines only require a dedicated graphics card or a choice of graphics cards. 

Something like the AMD RX 550 is used in the cheapest machines, while more expensive machines might have dedicated graphics cards such as the Nvidia GTX 1060 or RTX 2070.

Performance, fancy RGB lights on the keyboard, and you don’t care too much about power-hungry specs, then there is a high-value win to be had in the excellent state-of-the-art gaming laptops available today. It’s important to pick one that matches your personal tastes and needs. Rather than having Dell’s pick your components, I’m going to outline what you need to consider when looking to buy a gaming laptop with some crucial considerations I missed when making my own choices which also help keep costs down.

Before I get into the laptop specifics, I want to acknowledge that this topic is tremendously vast. A full discussion on the pros and cons of laptops would be an article of its own, and this article is only meant to address a relatively narrowed slither of it. So rather than try to sum up a bunch of nuanced and opinionated thoughts on laptops with bullet points, I’m opting for a listicle format.

I share a lot of my thoughts on technology right here on my Twitter page, and many of them can help answer some of the questions you may have about laptops or anything technology in general.


Are Gaming Laptops Worth It

Hardware is rarely the deciding factor when it comes to choosing a gaming laptop. Other factors make the final decision when buying a laptop — such as iMac, phone, or “computer” you use to keep busy and accomplish things. It doesn’t matter how capable the GPU in your gaming laptop is if you can’t calibrate HDR on the iMac pro while using sub-par internet about FaceTime, or how unfathomably powerful an Intel Core i7–9800X processor is if you are only gaming on OneDrive (and don’t want to go outside). Whatever percent chance you have of winning the vitamin A argument in school doesn’t matter if you can’t increase your vitamin B intake because broccoli sucks.

I should know because I’ve been down this path. In 2012 I picked up the Razer BlackWidow when I was visiting friends in the Philippines (this virtual gathering was not regretable). All I remember (apart from saying “wow” while looking spy-style at the non-touch laptop) was turning on the keyboard and using it to play The Sims 3. Of course, I proceeded to download all my Windows games.

I didn’t care about the screen or typing experience, and I couldn’t really say the same for my playing the game on that laptop. The bottom-right corner was a cheap surface, forcing me out of my comfortable ergonomic reading stance.

Features at the top of your list, the Surface Book 3 could be the machine for you.

But we’re here to talk about the other kind of gamer, the one who might want a bit more screen real estate but won’t let go of portability. If you’ve read all the way to this point, you’re interested in whether you should go for a Surface Book 3 over the was-this-a-good-analog-to-digital-reader Surface Book 2 or if you’ve grown tired of large modular computer screens and that big 8K screen on previous Surface Book models.

Modern computers are filled with powerful, premium hardware. Starting at $1,000, most machines will give you all the Photoshop, Premiere, and graphic design functions you can throw at them; after that, there’s a whole host of upgrades: heavier hardware, higher-resolution displays, and even persistent SSDs for faster boot and application launching. But if you can’t spend that much money, sometimes finding a great value on a device can feel like shopping at Costco instead of Apple or Best Buy.


Are Gaming Laptops Worth It

The primary reason is price. While a Surface Book 3 will run about $1,400, and it’s available in various colors, you’re still paying a premium for the premium materials used for the chassis and components. Microsoft also increased the overall size from 22.5 to 24 inches, but it’s a bit smaller than the old model, coming in at 25.1 inches. The battery is slightly smaller at 48 watt-hours, but the Surface Book 3 can also be configured with up to 256 GB of storage, which makes the overall package feel like a whole lot more of a steal.

All told, a Surface Book 3 with 256 GB of storage ($1,597) and an 8K display ($1,299) would be a great value, even over the turn-based keyboard stand and pen that the standard version comes with. But what if you have $1400 to blow on a new computer?

Between the Surface Book 3 and the i7–8650U-powered Lenovo Duet with GTX 1650, we think the Duet is the better buy. Despite its smaller form factor, the Duet is still a surprisingly capable machine. With a GeForce MX150 GPU strapped to the chassis, the Duet can handle most modern games and CAD workflows with ease. And if you’re design-minded, it has a gorgeous, 16:10 aspect-ratios touchscreen that comes on extremely faint blue OLED technology and a backlit keyboard. For $1500 less, you can get the Intel UHD600 integrated graphics system on the Surface Book 3, but that still won’t help you crank out AAA work like Final Cut Pro.