Laptop for gamer - what should you know?

Laptop for a gamer is an increasingly popular device. Many models no longer scare so absurd prices and severely limited performance in comparison with desktops. However, there are a few things you should know before buying a laptop for a gamer.

PC Master Race enthusiasts are probably still balking at the thought of ditching their desktop in favor of a gaming laptop. After all, laptops, despite falling prices, are still quite a bit more expensive than traditional desktops with comparable capabilities. Despite that the popularity of gaming laptops is growing all the time. More and more people appreciate their mobility and constantly growing functionality. If you've been thinking about buying a portable computer for gaming, I've got a few tips for you, which you should be guided by while choosing a particular model.

Laptop performance is key

There's no doubt in anyone's mind that performance is the most important thing when it comes to gaming computers - portable or desktop. It depends on it, what games we'll be able to run and in what graphic setting. The higher the power, the nicer and newer productions we'll play. But what really affects performance? Which elements are key?

Processor - it is difficult to describe in a few words what is most important in the case of processors. It is worth paying attention to the generation of systems (the latest are Core 10 generation and AMD Ryzen 4000), the number of cores (a minimum of four for games), base clocking and Boost, as well as markings. In the case of the latter, it is worth knowing that the letters H and HQ are reserved for Intel's most powerful mobile processors. In the case of AMD they are H and HS. On the other side of the barricade are the U and Y chips, which are energy-efficient and thus less efficient. The letter K is placed next to Intel models with an unlocked multiplier, which means easy to overclock.
The most efficient mobile processors for gamers at the moment are: AMD Ryzen 9 4900H, AMD Ryzen 9 4900HS, AMD Ryzen 7 4800H, AMD Ryzen 5 4600H, AMD Ryzen 7 3750H, AMD Ryzen 5 3550H, Intel Core i7-10875H, Intel Core i7-10850H, Intel Core i7-10750H, Intel Core i5-10400H and Intel Core i5-10300H. Previous generation designs such as Intel Core i7-9750H are also a great choice. Increasingly, manufacturers are also choosing to use desktop chipsets, which feature even better performance.

Graphics card - first of all, it should be a dedicated model. Yes, today even integrated systems have quite good performance, but they are still far from dedicated designs. In addition, it should have at least 4 GB of VRAM. This is the minimum today, at which we can talk about reasonable GPU capabilities. Unfortunately, we do not have much choice. Store shelves are dominated by laptops with Nvidia GeForce graphics cards. What's the best choice?
For the cheapest laptops for gamers that can handle Full HD games at 30 frames per second, we can choose from models: GTX 1050, GTX 1050 Ti, GTX 1650, GTX 1650 Ti and GTX 1060.

The GTX 1660, GTX 1660 Ti, GTX 1070, and RTX 2060 can handle higher settings.

For the most demanding are reserved: RTX 2070, RTX 2070 Super, RTX 2080 and RTX 2080 Super.

It's also worth knowing that Nvidia offers mobile cards in standard and Max-Q versions. The latter are more energy efficient, but thus minimally weaker.

RAM - in the case of RAM, the matter is a bit easier. The most important thing is its amount. For the latest games I recommend at least 8 GB, and preferably 16 GB. But the amount, although crucial, is not all we should pay attention to. The clocking is also important. The rule is simple - the higher, the better. Most laptops have DDR4 RAM at 2400 or 2666 MHz. It is better to choose the latter. Despite appearances, it has a significant impact on performance in games. Also important is the possibility of expansion, i.e. easy addition of RAM in the future. And it is necessary to have dual-channel RAM, e.g. 2 x 8 GB, not 1 x 16 GB. Dual-channel memories are characterized by higher performance.

What is worth knowing about the screen?

The screen is in my opinion one of the most important elements of any laptop, not only the one for gamers. Firstly, because it indirectly affects many other aspects of the portable computer, such as its size. Secondly, which is probably obvious, it's the element on which the image is displayed. What should we pay attention to first of all in the context of the screen?

The matrix - in case of screens the technology of the matrix production itself is of a great importance. The best colour reproduction is offered by IPS panels but they are the slowest. The fastest are TN, but they do not deal with colours very well. As a kind of compromise and the golden mean can be considered VA matrices. The choice depends on your preferences and wallet.
Screen diagonal - it is difficult to talk about one and the best display size in a laptop. Everything depends on individual needs. However, not without reason, the most popular models are those with 15.6-inch screens. They are a compromise between the comfort of use and mobility. More and more often 14-inch models appear in manufacturers' offers. On the other hand, constructions with a diagonal of 17 inches and more are usually too large and heavy to be moved freely from place to place.

Screen resolution - here the matter is rather simple. The minimum is Full HD 1920 × 1080 pixels. According to the data provided by Steam as many as 65% of the platform's users play in this resolution. It is also worth considering a slightly higher resolution of 2560 × 1440 pixels, but then the computer components must be more powerful to cope with the graphics. In turn, 4K Ultra HD (3840 × 2160 pixels) is reserved only for the most expensive and powerful laptops.
Screen refresh rate - a contentious issue for many people. As a user of a 144Hz monitor I can't imagine switching back to 60Hz. The difference is really colossal. However, there's no denying that we use this frequency mainly in low-demanding online games such as CS:GO, Valorant or League of Legends. So many frames per second in The Witcher 3 or Death Stranding will be able to display only a really powerful graphics card (and a very expensive one at that). That's why I recommend laptops with refresh rates of at least 120/144 Hz to everyone, but I know they're not for everyone.
Screen response time - this is a parameter that has given rise to so many myths that a separate article could be written on it. First of all, it is a nonsense that we should only look for laptops or monitors with a response time of 1 ms. This is completely unnecessary for us. Besides, finding such a laptop for a gamer is very difficult. Manufacturers give different variants of response time, for example, between shades of gray, which have little to do with reality. Besides, why 1 ms when a 144 Hz monitor refreshes the image once at almost 7 ms, and a 240 Hz monitor once at 4.2 ms? Therefore, there is no need to go to extremes. The response time should be as low as possible, but 1 ms can be thrown between the pages of fairy tales.

What else should be taken care of in case of laptop screens? I would not forget about such an important issue as a matte coating on the matrix. Thanks to it you won't see light reflections on the display which can be distracting while playing. You should also invest in a model with the highest possible brightness. A matter of individual preference, however, are the refresh techniques, such as Nvidia G-Sync and AMD FreeSync. This is a nice addition, but in my opinion not necessary.

Drive in a laptop - HDD or SSD?

Many people may think that the disk in the laptop for gamers does not matter much. It's enough that it's capacious and capable of holding as many games as possible. But let's be honest - I can't imagine a modern computer without a solid state drive. In my opinion SSD is an absolute requirement for comfortable use of both portable and desktop PCs. In an ideal world we could completely resign from outdated and slow HDD drives. Unfortunately, we don't live in an ideal world and compromises are necessary. If the laptop for a gamer with a capacious SSD is too expensive, a good alternative are two drives - a small, solid-state drive for the system and the most important programs and a capacious HDD for games. In the case of the former, a reasonable minimum is 120-128 GB. This amount of space is sufficient for Windows 10 and a few applications. In turn, the HDD should be at least 500 GB, and preferably 1 TB.

Remember also that not all SSDs are equal. In today's laptops you can find mainly the fastest ones, i.e. constructions with an M.2 NVMe interface. However, you can still find SATA versions in the offer of many manufacturers. They are still much faster than HDD, but not as fast. It is worth remembering and checking this before purchase.