If you're a hard-core game you want dive into your favorite game wherever you are. Gaming laptops are the mobile solution for playing Half Life, Call of Duty 4, Halo, and other highly immersive massively multi-player role-playing games. But gaming laptops are not cheap, and finding the perfect balance of performance versus cost and portability takes a lot of factors into consideration...
How to Choose a Laptop for Gaming
Cramming high-performance hardware into a laptop form factor is an expensive engineering problem. A gaming laptop will always cost significantly more than its desktop equivalent. But still, you can buy a good gaming laptop in the $1,200 to $1,500 range.
Most gaming laptops feature dual or quad-core processors, unlike ordinary laptops that minimize costs with single-core CPUs. The extra performance of dual-core or quad-core processors makes games designed for this technology more responsive, so you can blast that opponent before he can draw his light saber. However, not all games are designed to take advantage of multi-core technology, so your performance increase may vary. (See my related article Which CPU is Best? for more info on how to choose the right processor.)
The video controller is a critical component in gaming. It's tough to cram a high-performance video card into a laptop, but today's gaming laptops can support video cards with 1GB or more of VRAM, and some even support next-generation dual-card configurations. Far Cry 2 and Fallout 3 are games that get a boost from dual video cards. High end gaming laptop video cards include the GeForce 8800M and 9800M, and the Radeon HD3870. For a few hundred extra dollars, you can bump up to the Radeon HD 5800 series, which sports over 1 teraFLOP of computing power, and offers "astonishing realism and explosive HD gaming performance." How can you NOT want that? J
Display size is the biggest compromise in gaming laptops. If you plan to cram your laptop into a standard briefcase, a 17-inch screen is the biggest you should buy. Some gaming laptops have 20-inch screens, but that's getting into the "portable desktop" size range. Screen resolution, refresh rate, contrast and brightness controls are important features to consider, too. By the way, if you plan to watch a lot of DVD videos on your laptop, get one with a 16:9 aspect ratio. That's the native aspect ratio or DVD movies, so you'll be able to watch movies as they were intended to be seen.
More Recommended Gaming Laptop Specs
The bigger and faster your hard drive, the better. Modern games can take up 15 GB of hard drive space. Having lots of empty space on a hard drive improves performance significantly. Anything less than 200 GB is too small for gaming laptops, and a 1 TB (1,000 GB) hard drive is not overkill. A 7,200 rpm rotation speed provides one-third faster read/write performance than a standard 5,400 rpm drive.
Solid-state hard drives are the ultimate in gaming laptop performance. A SSHD uses technology similar to RAM or a USB flash drive. There are no moving parts so read-write operations are blindingly fast. But SSHDs are still very expensive. You may want to wait until their prices drop.
Cooling is always a concern with laptops, and it's a bigger problem with high-performance gaming laptops that generate above-average heat. A big, powerful, user-controllable fan is essential. An external lap desk with extra cooling fans built into it is also a good idea.
If price is no object, the Visionman Widow WGMI-4SG200 Gaming Laptop ($6295) is a top of the line gaming rig. It features a quad core CPU, 18.4-inch display, 4GB of RAM, 80GB SSD Boot Drive, an additional 640GB SATA hard drive, and dual GeForce 1GB video cards. A more economical choice would be the Dell Alienware M15X ($1199), a 15.6-inch model that comes with an Intel i3 dual core processor, 3GB of RAM, a 512MB video card and a 250GB SATA drive.
Do you have a gaming laptop? Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 20 Oct 2010
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Gaming Laptops (Posted: 20 Oct 2010)
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Most recent comments on "Gaming Laptops"
03 Nov 2010
I'm not a gamer (at least in the sense your article means the term) but I am a forex (foriegn currency exchange) trader.
A trader has similar needs (it seems to me) in his computer to that of a gamer. The ability to handle tons of graphical detail which can be changing rapidly, is a critical requirement. Having this in a portable package is important for those traders who enjoy one of the great aspects of this business - one can travel anywhere that a fast wireless connection is available and continue to make money while contemplating the ocean view over the top edge of the laptop screen.
It is hard though for us traders to find anyone in the technology fields who will write about these trader specific hardware issues.
04 Apr 2014
I have been looking for the best gaming laptop, performance to value, for a few weeks now. I saw what you said about the Visionman Widow WGMI-4SG200 Gaming Laptop ($6295) is a top of the line gaming rig. While that is more than I can afford to pay (looking in the $2-3000 range) I thought a lesser Visionman would fit my requirements.
The tricked out, top of the line Visionman is now the Ghost WNBI-3SGR01 Gaming Laptop ($7884.99). I looked all through the Visionman web site http://www.visionman.com/ but I couldn't find anything to justify that sort of price for what appears to be at best a mediocre laptop. Maybe I'm missing something, but look at what they are using.
The Visionman is using i7-965 @ 2.66 GHz, passmark rating 5942, a 6 year old architecture compared to i7-4960HQ @ 2.60GHz, passmark rating 10270.
The Visionman GPU is nVIDIA GeForce GTX 280M w/1GB, passmark rating 644, a 5 year old architecture compared to nVIDIA GeForce GTX 880M w/4 or 8GB, passmark rating 4449.
The Visionman best hard drive option is Intel SSD2 160GB for $915.00, other laptop manufactures offer Intel SSD2 160GB as the boot disk and a 1TB HDD 7200rpm for storage at half the amount.
The Visionman memory..3GB DDR3 1066 SDRAM (3x1GB) included, upgrade to 6GB for $89.00, or 12GB for $2,168.00, not a $168.00, but $2,168.00. Visionman is right proud of 6 more GB.
The Visionman makes no mention of their cooling, 1 fan or 2? Copper heat sinks or pipes?
Ok, so what is it that I'm missing with the Visionman laptops?
I have been leaning toward the MSI GT70 DominatorPro-890 $1900.00, but I'm a little concerned with 1 fan cooling.
2.7 GHz Intel Core i7-4800MQ (Haswell)
12GB of 1600 MHz DDR3L RAM
1TB 7200 rpm Hard Drive
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 880M Graphics (8GB)
17.3" Full HD Non-Reflective Display
1920 x 1080 Native Resolution
Blu-ray Disc Burner
802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0
Built-in Stereo Speakers & Subwoofer
I know this is rather long, thanks for taking the time to read it. Can you help me out, whats the best gaming laptop rig. The MSI I listed above has everything I think I need and want, they have a nice copper heat sink and pipe system covering the cpu and gpu, but only one fan.