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Are gaming laptops as good as desktops? Do they offer the same value for money?
If you had asked me these questions only five years ago, I would’ve answered — desktops are better, end of discussion. But, in recent years, laptop manufacturers have significantly improved their game by creating powerful and affordable gaming machines. Hence the rise of the gaming laptop.
In this article, we’ll take a look at — yup, you guessed it — gaming laptops VS gaming desktops.
By the end, you’ll be able to make a better decision for the best possible gaming experience for your specific needs.
So, let the clash of titans begin.
Table of Contents
- What are the Main Differences between Gaming Laptops and Gaming Desktops?
- When to Choose a Gaming Laptop over a Gaming Desktop?
- When to Choose a Gaming Desktop over a Gaming Laptop?
- Common Questions about Gaming Laptops and Gaming Desktops
- Portable or Not, Choose Your Best Gaming Rig
What are the Main Differences between Gaming Laptops and Gaming Desktops?
The most obvious difference is portability. Laptops are super-portable, while desktops are not, period.
Laptops are small five-pound devices that can fit into any backpack. On the other hand, desktops are large and heavy. You also have to connect them to peripherals (monitor, keyboard, mouse, speakers, etc.). So in terms of portability, laptops have the definitive edge.
However, gaming desktops have cheaper components and deliver better performance with AAA games and other resource-intensive tasks. So if price/performance is more important than portability for you, a nice gaming desktop setup might be the right choice.
But we can’t stop there. There are other things to consider before choosing the best device for your gaming expeditions.
We put together a comparison table below that will paint a clearer picture of the gaming laptop VS desktop dispute:
|💻 Gaming Laptop||🖥️ Gaming Desktop||Winner|
|Performance||To avoid overheating and fit in a small chassis, CPUs and GPUs in laptops are smaller and have power restrictions.||Desktop versions of the same CPU and GPU series usually perform much better and have higher clock speeds. This is mainly because of lower power restrictions and a more efficient cooling system.||Desktop |
(in most cases)
|Portability||Not the most portable laptops because they can be heavy, but still much more portable than desktops.||Not portable at all because they are large and heavy and must be connected to peripherals. ||Laptop|
|Upgrade options||Limited upgradeability (in most laptops, you can only upgrade the RAM and storage).||Very upgradeable – almost any part can be replaced and upgraded in a desktop PC.||Desktop|
|Cost||Laptops are more expensive to make. Hence they are pricier than desktops with the same specs.||Cheaper than laptops with the same specs.||Desktop|
|Repairs||Tough to repair and replace old parts due to the limited availability of spare parts.||Easy to repair or replace, since replacement parts for desktops are more available.||Desktop|
|Power Consumption||Due to the power restrictions, laptops are more energy efficient and consume much less.||Powerful desktop PCs consume a lot of power, 4-5x more than their portable counterparts.||Laptop|
|Customization options||Very limited.||Unlimited customization options (there are also pre-built desktop PCs).||Desktop|
|Cooling system||Gaming laptops come with built-in cooling fans (sometimes they can get overwhelmed under heavy-duty gaming).||Much more efficient cooling systems are available for desktops.||Desktop|
|Typing||Gaming laptops come with built-in keyboards and cannot be replaced. But you can connect an external one if you dislike the one you get.||You are free to choose any keyboard that suits your gaming needs.||Desktop or Laptop, depending on preferences|
|Display||Gaming laptops come with a built-in display. Sizes range from 13 to 17 inches.||Desktop monitors can be much larger than laptops’. The only size limitations are your budget and desk area.||Desktop|
When to Choose a Gaming Laptop over a Gaming Desktop?
In terms of portability, gaming laptops have the upper hand. There are many gamers (students, travelers, digital nomads, etc.) for whom portability is super-important.
It’s also much easier to connect a LAN party with a device you can just throw in a backpack. So if you are one of those users, get a gaming laptop.
Laptops are also more practical for use around the house, like changing rooms mid-game. I don’t know about you, but I personally don’t like being stuck in the same spot every time I need to use my PC.
Moreover, you won’t have to spend extra cash on peripherals like an external monitor, a keyboard, or speakers. You get the whole thing conveniently packed together.
Some gamers argue that gaming laptops can never deliver the performance of desktops. This is true, but gaming laptop manufacturers have come a long way in recent years. They brought us super-powerful machines capable of running even the most demanding games at high settings.
Have you already made up your mind about buying a gaming laptop? We’ve already reviewed them, and these gaming laptops turned out to be the real beasts this year.
When to Choose a Gaming Desktop over a Gaming Laptop?
Price and performance give an edge to desktops. If you disregard portability, there are many good reasons why you should get a desktop.
What do I mean by the price? Simple — in most cases, it’s cheaper to get a desktop than a laptop with the same specs.
Moreover, saying that a laptop has the same specs as a desktop is a bit tricky. For example, take the NVIDIA RTX 3060 graphics card. If you run the same game at the same settings, the desktop version will deliver more FPS and better lighting effects, which translates into smoother gameplay.
Another cool feature about desktops is how easy they are to upgrade. Whenever you feel a component (CPU/GPU/RAM etc.) is outdated or isn’t worth repairing, you can easily buy a new one and replace it yourself.
In most laptops you can only upgrade the RAM and storage capacity, but not the CPU/GPU or other components. On that note, it is safe to say that desktops are more future-proof.
But the show doesn’t stop there. Another benefit of buying a desktop computer is the high level of customization. You can build a PC from scratch by selecting the components you want to combine.
So if you intend to use your computer only at home, you are probably better off buying a desktop.
If you’re set on buying a desktop, check out some of the best pre-built gaming PCs. Or, if you feel that gaming laptops are the way to go but still want to consider the budget, see what we’ve got in store with these powerful laptops under $1500, for the best of both worlds.
Common Questions about Gaming Laptops and Gaming Desktops
Most people have similar concerns when it comes to gaming laptops and their use. In the section below you’ll find the most common questions people ask us.
Can I play even the most demanding AAA game on a gaming laptop?
You absolutely can. Yet, when it comes to performance, desktops usually win. But that doesn’t mean you cannot play modern titles on a gaming laptop. If you are a casual gamer, you probably won’t even notice the difference. Now you can even upgrade some specs of your gaming laptops too.
Why are gaming laptops more expensive than desktops?
Gaming laptops are more expensive to make. Developing compact hardware components that deliver outstanding performance takes more time and resources, which ultimately translates into a higher price tag.
Are gaming laptops actually bad?
Of course not. Gaming laptops these days are incredible machines that can handle anything you throw at them. Yes, they are usually more expensive and don’t reach the same level of performance as desktops. But if you are someone who is often out and about, buying a laptop is the way to go.
… and last but not least: Are Gaming Laptops worth it? We have the answer for you in this guide.
Portable or Not, Choose Your Best Gaming Rig
In the gaming laptop VS desktop race, desktops come out as winners in most cases. They are usually cheaper and deliver better gaming performance. Moreover, desktops have much higher levels of upgradeability and customization.
But size and portability can be major drawbacks. Especially if you lack the space or need a computer that you can carry in a backpack. In this case, getting a gaming laptop is the better choice.
Interested in finding a gaming laptop that costs about as much as a desktop? We’ve already covered the best budget gaming laptops. So come and check them out.