Gaming Guides

Are Gaming Laptops Worth It?

Are you trying to decide if gaming laptops are worth buying? Check out this article to learn what they do, and don’t do best.

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When I think about gaming on the PC platform today, my thoughts are no longer drawn to the image of a giant desktop glowing in the dark. Instead, it is a laptop sitting in the corner powering one or more monitors. Sometimes, I even see an image of someone playing outside or on the road using their laptop. There is no doubt that many a PC game is played on gaming laptops today, but they still face their fair share of criticism from gamers and non-gamers alike.

As a gamer, I think I have a little bit of insight into what many modern gamers want out of a machine these days. In fact, I think it boils down to two main things:

  • Speed
  • Graphics

Sure there are other requirements many gamers have such as portability and controls, but really the two main issues that gamers look at when purchasing a computer are speed and graphics. So how do gaming laptops fit into this equation and are they really worth it to gamers? Let’s take a moment to dig deeper into these questions.

What Gaming Laptops Are Not

Before we take a look at what gaming laptops are really good at, I wanted to take a moment to highlight what they aren’t quite as great at doing.

First, gaming laptops will never run the latest and greatest video cards. It just isn’t going to happen. If you are a gamer that always must have the very best video card on the market then a gaming laptop isn’t for you. Sure they run some pretty great video cards in the laptops, but these cards are usually based on desktop card that has already been released. When card makers such as NVIDIA release a new video card, it is always made for the desktop platform first.

Second, gaming laptops aren’t great if you are expecting something lightweight and easy to carry with you when you travel. Most gaming laptops are bulky and heavy making them a difficult travel laptop if you are on the road all the time for work.

Third, they aren’t designed to be quiet. High end gaming generates a ton of heat and as you know heat is a computer’s number one enemy. To combat this heat, most gaming laptops have several fans to blow out that heat and cool the internal components. So, if you are looking for something that runs silently, you need to look elsewhere or consider using a desktop that will be at least a little quieter for your gaming experience.

Lastly, a gaming laptop isn’t all that upgradeable. What that means is every time something new comes out you won’t be able to update it. Sure you can add a bigger faster hard drive such as an SSD or you can beef up the RAM on it, but that’s about it. For the most part, the processor and graphics card you buy with your laptop will be the same one you have when you retire the laptop for something new. If you like to tinker and upgrade parts here and there, you will need to look at a desktop for that type of experience.

What Gaming Laptops Are Good At

Now that we got that out of the way, it’s time to take a closer look at what gaming laptops do really well.

Portable Experience

Now you are probably thinking that I just said they aren’t very portable, and that’s true. They are bulky and heavy and that makes them pretty bad for a daily carry around device. However, if you are looking for something to game on that you can take with you anywhere, then a gaming laptop is what you want. If you enjoy playing games with your friends in the same place that is then you are going to want something that you can carry with you. While it still may be heavy, a gaming laptop is much easier to transport than a desktop any day.

Sleek and Stylish

If you have checked out any of the gaming laptops out there, you know they look quite a bit different from their regular laptop counterparts. They are designed to look sleek and stylish and give you that cool factor on a laptop. While this may not be the most important aspect of owning a laptop, you have to admit that many people do enjoy looking at these devices. That makes this entry worthy of this list. If you want a laptop that just looks cool, then go gaming all the way.

Space Saving

While we are on the subject of looks, it is important to also consider their size. Laptops are, as you guessed it, smaller than desktops. That means that they take up a lot less room on your desk. You won’t have a big bulky box sitting on the floor or anything like that and you can even live without an external monitor if you so choose. That means that they take up a lot less space. If space is a concern or you just want a minimal type of look to your gaming space, a laptop is definitely the way to go.


Now we come to the first of the most important criteria that I talked about above. Are gaming laptops fast? The quick answer is yes most definitely. Again, you will find faster processors available on the desktop platform, but you can still find modern generation chips running at lightning fast speeds that are perfect for gaming. Often you will find the very best Intel i7 processors running on gaming laptops that will provide you with the very best speeds you can find on any laptop on the market. Trust me, they will do the trick for your gaming needs.


The next primary attribute gamers look for are graphics. Just think about some of the modern games we play today. The graphics are often stunning and so realistic you almost think you can reach out and touch the virtual worlds that have been created. They really can’t be beat. But can a desktop produce that kind of experience that you have come to expect from a desktop? It most certainly can.

Just like the processors, you will find the very best on the desktop platform as they are always released first there. Still, you would be amazed at what companies like NVIDIA have done for mobile gaming. Their mobile GPU’s are some of the best in the business and provide enough power for you to game on high resolution screens stutter free while providing some truly impressive detail in the games. This experience keeps getting better and better as well so you really can’t go wrong assuming you invest in the correct laptop with the right video card for what you want to do.

So Are They Worth It?

Now that we see what they do, and don’t do well it is time for the moment of truth. Are they really worth it? Like so many things in life the answer really isn’t black and white. In fact, it is more gray. It really comes down to what you want to do and how you want to use it. Doesn’t it always?

Let’s break it down real quick like. If you need a gaming machine that looks cool, doesn’t take up a lot of room on your desk and can be transported from one place to another relatively easily, then a gaming laptop is the way to go.

However, if you want something that always uses the latest and greatest technology, runs a little quieter and you don’t care about moving it from place to place, you may want to consider a desktop.

Does that about sum it up for you? Like so many things it comes down to how you want to use it. But do gaming laptops deserve their place in the gaming world? Most certainly YES! Are they worth it? For many people that actually make more sense to buy than a desktop, even with a few limitations here and there.

Would You Buy One?

You may be surprised to hear that I get asked this a lot, but I do. Many gamers looking at gaming laptops ask me if I would own one. My answer is always the same. Yes I would and I actually do. Do I use it for more than gaming? Yes. Do I have to take it with me a lot on my travels? No. I have another machine for those purposes.

For me personally the gaming laptop represents a smaller way given limited space that I can enjoy games without having to invest in a big desktop that sits on the floor. I don’t have to have the very latest processor of graphics card when it comes out, so a gaming laptop works for me. Do I miss the upgradeability? I would be lying if I said I didn’t. But to me losing that was worth it for all of the other benefits it brings to the tablet.

Parting Thoughts

So many gamers wonder if they should switch to a laptop for their gaming needs. My hope is that by reading this article you will gain a little insight into why you should consider a laptop for your gaming needs. Sure, they aren’t right for everybody, but they definitely deserve a place in the world of gaming devices. They are portable, fast and run games great giving you a gaming experience like no other.

Do you run a gaming laptop? If so let me know which one you like to run in the comments below. I would love to hear from any gamer that does their primary gaming on a gaming laptop or anyone that uses a gaming laptop as a backup machine or even an every day machine.

By Matt Garrett

Matt is an IT professional with over fifteen years experience supporting network infrastructure and computers. An avid gamer, Matt enjoys his time playing and writing about his experiences both in the IT world and in the gaming communities. You can find more of his writing on our sister ShopNinja sites where he enjoys talking about anything and everything tech.

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