Ultimate Guide to What is a Gaming Laptop? Everything You Need to Know

What Is A Gaming Laptop

What is a gaming laptop, and how can one help you? 

A gaming laptop is a portable computer designed to play video games. They have their own screens, are much faster and more powerful with better graphics cards, faster processors, more RAM, and have a larger storage capacity than regular laptops.

Wait, there’s more, in this guide, I will break down what is a gaming laptop. I will also highlight which components matter the most and the different features gaming laptops have.

So, keep reading so you can make a better-informed decision.

How Will Gaming Laptops Fare In 2023?

Powerful gaming laptops offer the benefits of both worlds. Gaming laptops pack enough firepower to run the latest AAA games while still being portable enough to take with you on the go. 

2023 is shaping up to be a big year for gaming on laptops. For one, we’re starting to see a new crop of next-gen graphics cards, the NVidia RTX 4090’s. Hopefully, this will mean the performance gap between desktop computers and gaming laptops is now much smaller.

There are also loads of new games that will introduce brand-new requirements for hardware. Which the latest gaming laptops will be more than capable of handling. In addition, we’re also seeing an influx of fresh entrants into the market, from the likes of Corsair. But still, well-established brands like Alienware and Razer are continually releasing very high-end models.

One thing is for sure: gaming laptops are here to stay, and they’re only going to get better in the next few years to come. So, if you’re in the market for a new gaming rig, and portability is key, a gaming laptop should definitely be on your short list. I know it will be on mine.

Razer Blade 15 Gaming Laptop
The new Razer Blade 15 gaming laptop

What Are the Key Components in A Gaming Laptop?

The defining characteristics of a gaming laptop are its high-performance hardware, including a powerful processor, essential for running the latest games. High-resolution graphics capabilities delivered by dedicated graphics cards with detailed visuals and improved frame rates that gamers crave.

While a high refresh rate display ensures an immersive gaming experience. Moreover, a cooling system is also necessary to prevent the laptop from overheating. Finally, a gaming laptop needs an operating system and a comfortable keyboard with customizable backlighting to give gamers the edge.

Although many mainstream laptops can also be used for gaming. Most mainstream laptops lack the required performance levels and features that gaming laptops typically have. Gaming laptops can cost more than regular laptops, but the increased performance they offer justifies the higher price tag.

Now, let’s dive into each component in more detail and other features.

What is the Central Processing Unit

A CPU is the general term for a Central Processing Unit and the brains inside your gaming laptop. The CPU is a small silicone chip soldered to the motherboard and performs calculations on the data you are sending it. Then it will create outputs like spreadsheets or graphics that you see on screen.

What is a CPU in a gaming laptop

Processor Cores

The CPU has different processors called Cores. The cores work seamlessly with the clock speed to quickly process the tasks you are doing and will then send the results to the RAM (Random Access Memory).

If the processor has more than one (Core). Your gaming laptop would be able to do multiple tasks at once. However, the CPU can also decide to streamline the processes, so they do not take as long.

Most gaming laptops now have multi-core processors. (Between six and fourteen cores). For example, my Razer Blade 15 comes with a fast Intel Core i7 processors which has 14-Cores. Which means it can run any program, app or play any AAA game title all while running multiple other tasks.

Clock Speed

The processor’s clock speed (measured in gigahertz, GHz) determines how many calculations per second can be done by a single core. The higher the clock rate, the faster your gaming laptop will run and will help it do more things at once. If it is too slow, your gaming laptop may start to lag.

For example, when you open a file or installing a new piece of software. The CPU will execute those commands and create an interactive appropriately sized window for you to interact with.

However, some programs require more processing power from the CPU. For gaming, not all games are CPU intensive and require more power from the graphics card.

What is the Graphics Processing Unit?

The graphics processing unit (GPU) is arguably one of the most important specs to consider when choosing a laptop for gaming. The GPU is responsible for speeding up the rendering of images and videos. GPUs are widely used in graphic-intensive tasks like gaming allowing programmers to make computer games seem more realistic with advanced shadows and lighting.

Whta is a graphics processing unit

More about powerful graphics: See the best Razer laptops for video editing tasks. These have powerful graphics cards like the NVidia GeForce RTX 3080 TI, and RTX 3070 TI cards.

Dedicated Graphics

Dedicated GPUs or discrete graphics are standalone graphics cards that have their own memory, and they also generate a lot of heat, so additional cooling is needed to keep them cool. One of the reasons why laptops are usually more expensive than desktop computers is due to the engineering required to squeeze powerful components like the GPU and CPU into tight spaces.

Integrated Graphics

Gaming laptops can also have integrated graphics, that are soldered to the motherboard and share the same chip as the processor. This also means the power they can generate is limited.

Up until recently laptops with only integrated graphics were not good enough for playing games. However, we now how graphics solutions such as Intel Iris X or AMD Radeon Vega. Now budget conscious gamers can experience immersive graphics in laptops without a dedicated GPU.

Who Needs a Dedicated Graphics Card?

You will need a gaming laptop with a dedicated graphics card if you want to play the latest competitive game titles and experience the highest frame rates. The bare minimum would be a dedicated graphics card with at least 4GB of virtual memory.

If you want to experience Ray Tracing and DLSS, you need at least a NVidia GeForce RTX graphics card like an RTX 2060, or RTX 3050 graphics card. However, older NVidia GeForce GTX GPUs would still offer a decent gaming experience. The problem is in a few years they may not be powerful enough to keep up with the demands of new game releases.

Gaming laptop Features To Consider

What is G-Sync?

G-sync is an advanced technology that will help take your gaming experience up a notch. It works by synchronizing the monitor’s refresh rates and your dedicated GPU. With G-sync enabled, expect smoother graphics and an overall improved gaming experience. G-sync also helps eliminate screen tearing. G-sync also helps improve in-game scenes because they will look much cleaner and sharper.

What is Raytracing?

Raytracing is a rendering technique used in 3D computer graphics. It works by producing images by tracing the path of light. The algorithm traces rays against pixel boundaries at every point where they intersect until the point where they are either absorbed or emit another Ray back out onto the rendered scene. This process makes your game scenes look more realistic on screen. 


The Size of the Display

Gaming laptops are available in three common screen sizes, 14-inch, 15-inch, and 17-inch. However, the 15-inch screen size offers the best balance of portability and gaming power.

When it comes to choosing the best screen size, it really depends on what you’re looking for. If you want the most immersive gaming experience, then you’ll want to get a laptop with a larger 17-inch screen.

A laptop with a larger display (17-inch) will give you the most field of view. However, 17-inch gaming laptop are also less portable. So, if portability is key, you might want to consider a smaller screen size.

A laptop with a smaller display will be easier to carry around and won’t weigh you down as much. Ultimately, the best screen size for a gaming laptop is the one that best suits your needs.

What is the Screen Resolution?

A laptop’s screen resolution is the number of pixels horizontally and vertically. So, a gaming laptop with a 1920 x 1080 resolution has 1920 pixels on the horizontal axis and 1080 pixels on the vertical axis.

The higher the screen resolution, the more detailed the image will appear on the screen. This can be important if you want to be able to see fine details or work with complex images.

For gaming, however, the go to resolution is still 1080p, while 2440p resolution is now becoming more common. But the higher the screen resolution the more resources the system will need to deliver the images and videos on the screen.

What is the Refresh Rate?

The refresh rate of a display is the number of times per second the image on the screen is updated. The higher the refresh rate the faster the image will be update and the smoother the image will look.

The minimum refresh rate of 120 Hz is required for most computer games, anything less that 120 Hz leads to a poor gaming experience. Currently, the highest refresh rate on a laptop is 360 Hz. However, most gaming laptops will have a 144Hz refresh rate display.


What is the Cooling System?

A gaming laptop cooling system is designed to keep internal components like the GPU and the CPU running at a safe temperature while running demanding applications.

Unfortunately, gaming laptops generate a lot of heat when playing games. The cooling system must dissipate heat quickly and effectively. If the cooling system is not able to disperse the heat, it could lead to all sorts of issues, including a shorter lifespan.

Types of Cooling System

There are a few different types of cooling systems that are used in gaming laptops. The fan and heat pipe combination is the most common type of laptop cooling system. The fans provide direct cooling by blowing hot air away from the internal components. Heat pipes use evaporation and condensation to move thermal energy away from the CPU and GPU.

Another thermal system that is commonly used on high-performance gaming laptops is the vapour chamber cooling system. Premium gaming brands like Razer utilise this system in their Razer gaming laptop range. So do ASUS and Dell, with their newly released Alienware models.

What is Vapour Chamber Cooling?

Vapour chamber cooling systems use evaporation and condensation of liquid to help keep the gaming laptop cooler. The liquid is contained within a metal chamber, when the laptop computer heats up, the liquid evaporates, and the hot air created by the laptop is drawn up into the metal chamber and then pushes the heat out through the top of the laptop, mainly the keyboard area.

Razer Uses Vapor Chamber Cooling
How the Vapour Chamber Cooling System works

Interesting Read: Some users think Razer laptops can overheat. This is not true; it is mostly because of how vapour chamber cooling works, it pushes the heat out through the top of the chassis.

The big differences between traditional heat pipe methods and vapour chamber cooling systems are that the vapour system transfers heat in two directions. Heat pipes can only spread the heat in one. Vapour chamber cooling systems are also lighter and occupy a smaller space.

What is RAM
Random Access Memory

What is Random Access Memory?

The random-access memory or RAM is where the data is stored, so the system can access it quickly albeit on a short-term basis. Much quicker than if the data was stored elsewhere, such as on the hard disk drive. The RAM is vitally important for gaming laptops.

The amount of memory your gaming laptop has can make all the difference in how your system performs. For instance, if you play games like League of Legends, then you will need about 4GB RAM.

However, there are some computer games that need more RAM. Take Call of Duty Warzone for instance, your gaming laptop will need at least 12GB of RAM for the game to run smoothly.

If you are some who likes to run other programmes and apps while playing games, like video recording software or the vital system monitoring software. Then 16GB of RAM would be needed.

Having said that, most video games will run OK with just 8GB of RAM. So, it depends on the games you play and what else you do with your laptop to how much RAM is best. 

PRO TIP: Ensure you research the recommended system requirements of the games you intend to play so you have enough memory. Did You Know? Increasing your laptop’s RAM is one of the most affordable ways to improve your gaming laptops performance.

A memory module is a circuit board that holds the memory components, and the gold pins provide a connection to the motherboard. The type of memory module used in laptops is called a SODIMM (small outline dual in-line memory module). These are about half the size of the ones that you get with desktop computers (DIMMS). Suitable for gaming laptops because of their smaller form factor.

Standards of RAM

The latest standard of RAM is DDR5, which delivers the highest possible performance. You will find this new standard on most newly released gaming laptops. However, older memory types include DDR3 or DDR4 and you will still find DDR4 memory types in some gaming laptops. 

Most gaming laptops will have two slots for the RAM unlike desktop computers that commonly come with four slots. The average gaming laptop will come with 8GB of RAM already installed. This will be 2 x 4 GB of RAM (two separate sticks).

The good thing is you can also upgrade a gaming laptop with more RAM. Some laptops can take as much as 16 or 32 gigs of RAM. In some cases, laptops can accommodate up to 64GBs of RAM.

However, if you want to improve the performance of your new gaming laptop, you should always replace the original 2x4GB of RAM with 2x8GB or 2x16GB of RAM. And make sure that you purchase the same RAM speed and brand of RAM as well. Since performance depends on both numbers. (size/speed).

Recommended RAM

  • 8GB of RAM – Minimum Required for Gaming on Laptops.
  • 16GB of RAM – Offers the Best Balance. (The sweet spot)
  • 32GB of RAM for Multitasking and Streaming. (Overkill for most users)
Laptop Storage

What About the Storage Space?

Gaming laptops with HDD as the main storage solution is seen less often. Nowadays, there are many more options where you can preserve your data. Like, solid-state drives. Gaming laptops with SSDs are much better because they offer faster performance and zero wait times when loading games.

However, an HDD would still offer much more storage space for less money than an SSD. Hard disk drives are also prone to breaking down due to moving parts, like spinning platters. SSDs don’t have that problem and there is less chance of losing data with an SSD compared to an HDD.

SSDs or HDDs Which is Better for Gaming?

There are pros and cons to both SSDs and HDDs when it comes to gaming. An SSD will give you faster load times for games. As games get bigger the need for an SSD as the main storage solution is greater.

On the other hand, HDDs will give you more storage space for your money. If you have a lot of computer games stored on your laptop, you’ll need a lot of storage space, so an HDD is a good option.

However, some of the newer games like Call of Duty Warzone are as big as 150 GB in size. If your gaming laptop only had a 256GB or 512GB SSD there would not be much space left over. In this case, having an HDD as the secondary storage solution can be helpful.

If you’re looking for the best performance possible, go with an SSD. They’re significantly faster than HDDs, and this difference can be especially noticeable in gaming laptops. A good combination is having an SSD as the main storage and an HDD as the secondary storage.

With my new gaming laptop, I have two SSDs a smaller drive (512GB SSD) to store my OS and the programmes I use most often. The larger SSD (1TB SSD) I use to store all of my games.

Another laptop I own, has a 256GB SSD and a 1TB HDD, again using the SSD for the operating system and games I play often. The HDD is used to store games I don’t play as often. Both systems work well.


What Are the Key Features of Gaming Laptops?

Gaming laptops have a range of key features that are designed to make gaming a more immersive experience. Including, G-Sync technology, which helps to reduce screen tearing and stuttering.

Most gaming laptops also feature RGB-powered keyboards that allow you to set the mood and are great for playing games in low-light conditions. Some have anti-ghosting technology that ensures each keystroke is registered, which is vitally important in first person shooter games.

Higher-end laptops may feature Thunderbolt 4 ports, which allow data transfers at speeds of up to 40Gbps. Some also have HDMI ports for connecting an external display. However, the Thunderbolt 4 port is a better option for connecting a display, something I have done with my new Razer Blade 15.

Other key features include killer Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.2 technology. Advanced audio software such as DTS:X and THX Spatial Audio. And Windows Hello compatibility helps secure your devices.

In the end, a gaming laptop with the features I have mentioned above, will deliver an amazing gaming experience. Though not all completely necessary. But you will miss out if you don’t have them.


What Peripherals And Accessories Do You Need?

Talking about what is a gaming laptop would not be complete without discussing what peripherals and accessories you will need to complement your gaming notebook and complete your setup.

Most gamers will be ok with just using a gaming mouse, gaming headset, and a laptop cooling pad. Talking of laptop coolers see the best cooling pad I use for the Razer Blade 15, the Thermaltake model.

Depending on how many USB ports your gaming laptop has, it will determine how many accessories you can use. You also have the option to use a Thunderbolt docking station, if you are short on ports.

Apart from the three best gaming laptop accessories listed above, you might also want to consider an external keyboard. This can help prolong the life of your laptop keys and help protect your eyes.

Lastly, if you are not too keen on using a mouse and keyboard for playing games, a gaming controller is a viable alternative. Especially if you have been used to playing on Xbox or PlayStation consoles.

What is a Gaming Laptop: FAQs

What is the difference between a gaming laptop and a regular laptop?

The main difference between gaming laptops and regular laptops is gaming laptops are designed for playing video games. They generally have several specific features to maximize performance. Some of these features include a powerful dedicated graphics card, large memory capacity, and plenty of storage space. Faster processors with higher clock speeds and more cores than those inside regular everyday laptops.

What is the most important feature of a gaming laptop?

The graphics processing unit is one of the most critical features of a gaming laptop. But without a good processor, plenty of RAM, and an updated operating system. The GPU would not be able to work correctly.

How do I know if a laptop is good for gaming?

If the laptop has sufficient hardware, such as a dedicated NVidia or AMD graphics card. With an Intel Core i5 or AMD Ryzen 5 processor or above, at least 8GB of RAM and a sizeable SSD or HDD, the laptop will be good for playing computer games.

How much does a gaming laptop cost?

The price of a gaming laptop will vary depending on the hardware inside and the brand. Generally, budget gaming laptops range anywhere from $400 to $700. Mid-range gaming laptops can cost up to $1500, and high-end gaming notebooks can cost as much as $4000. The higher the price, the more advanced the hardware is.

Can gaming laptops be used for work?

Gaming laptops are designed to run computer games, but you can also use a gaming laptop for work related reasons like heavy-duty number-crunching or running complex software. Keep in mind gaming laptops are generally heavier than regular laptops and have much worse battery life. So, they are not the best for working without access to an AC outlet or carrying around in your work bag.

Are gaming laptops worth it?

Gaming laptops are more expensive than regular laptops, so if you do not play video games then it is not worth investing your money in a gaming laptop. However, if you’re looking for a powerful laptop that can handle graphics-intensive tasks such as video editing, then gaming laptops are definitely worth it.

Are gaming laptops good for everyday use?

Gaming laptops are great for everyday use, such as emailing, browsing, and writing documents. They usually have better hardware and gaming-specific features than regular laptops, which makes them faster and more powerful. The only downside is they do not have the best battery life and are heavier than normal laptops.

The disadvantages of gaming laptops

The main disadvantages of a gaming laptop are poor battery life. They are also prone to overheating and can make excessive noise when running computer games. Generally, gaming laptops are more expensive than other portable computers, and the hardware can quickly become obsolete as new technologies are released.

Conclusion..

In this blog post, I have explained; “what is a gaming laptop” and mentioned their components. Highlighting what you should consider helping you decide whether a laptop for gaming is right for you.

Hopefully, you have found this post informative. If not, please let me know in the comments section below, and we will be sure to expand on any points of confusion or questions that may arise.

Please also consider subscribing to my newsletter for updates about future blog posts, useful guides and interesting news from the portable laptop gaming world.

Until next time, Cya!! 🙂

Looking for a new gaming laptop? I have written a gaming laptop buying guide, if you have any further questions or concerns, his article is worth a read.

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Owner at Jimmtech
Avid tech lover since the days of the Sega Master System. Owned my first gaming laptop back in 2006. Since then, dissecting laptops became what I did best. Including models from MSI, HP, Dell, and now Razer. Plus, seven years in IT management and Digital Marketing.
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