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When deciding on your new gaming laptop’s specs, consider the GPU, CPU, cooling features, and RAM size first to ensure great performance. These will be your most important specs to look for.
Also, closely review the display and things like size, screen resolution, refresh rate, and response time, as they’ll affect your gaming experience.
SSD storage, keyboard, ports, trackpad, battery life, and portability are a few other things to consider.
Keep reading as we dive deep into what specs to look for in a gaming laptop and how exactly you should review them.
Table of Contents
- What Are the Most Important Laptop Specs for Gaming?
- Choosing the right specs: Let’s Start with You…
- Laptop Specs for Average Gamers
- Laptops Specs for Hardcore Gamers
- What Should You Consider Saving Money On?
- Wrapping it Up
What Are the Most Important Laptop Specs for Gaming?
Below are the specs to look for in a gaming laptop in order of importance.
When deciding on your laptop specs, ensure it has a powerful GPU with large graphics memory, (also called vRAM) i.e. 8GB. Currently, the #1 laptop GPU is the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4090 with 24GB vRAM.
A good CPU is just as important for a good gaming experience on your laptop. It processes various game activities and affects how many frames you get every second (aka FPS).
The CPU you get should offer satisfactory benchmarks for your favorite games and pack at least 6 cores for a good gaming experience. At the moment, the latest CPUs are 13th Gen of Intel Core processors.
If you get a powerful GPU, it’ll always be paired with a strong CPU as well. So look for a good GPU and don’t worry as much about the CPU.
Recommended reading: Comprehensive Guide of Intel Core, AMD Ryzen, and Apple M Chips
Your laptop’s hardware heats up during intensive gaming sessions which can cause the performance to plummet faster than Lara Croft doing a swan dive off the Great Wall of China.
Choose a multi-fan laptop or a well-designed air passageway to ensure the laptop doesn’t overheat.
RAM temporarily stores game files for quick access so more RAM can improve your laptop’s performance.
When choosing a new gaming laptop, go for a minimum of 8GB RAM to simultaneously handle your gaming workloads. Graphics-intensive games will require 16GB or 32GB RAM to run smoothly on your laptop, especially if you add mods. If you can, opt for DDR5 RAM, since it’s faster than DDR4.
As you view your game on the screen, the components like size, resolution, refresh rate, and response time come into play – unless you hook your laptop to a second gaming display. If you are not sure how big your screen size is we can help you!
This is kinda obvious, but a bigger screen makes your gaming experience better but lowers your laptop’s portability and battery life. Even If you care about portability, we recommend not going below 14’, unless you will use an external monitor for gaming.
We recommend going with a 15” laptop, but 16” and 17” works if you don’t care about portability.
Resolution refers to the horizontal number of pixels on your laptop’s screen multiplied by the vertical.
A higher resolution means more details and a more immersive gaming experience. A 1080p display fits most gamers, but you can opt for a 4k laptop if you want a better gaming experience.
Refresh rate is super important for gaming laptops since it affects the speed with which the image changes.
In other words, if you’re playing Counter-Strike or GTA 5, a high refresh rate will let you notice enemies coming in much faster.
75Hz, 120Hz, and 144Hz are typical and recommended refresh rates for most gaming laptops. The highest refresh rate you can get is 480Hz and Alienware x17 R2 is the first laptop with this refresh rate.
Read this article to find out if 75hz is good enough for gaming and this one to find the top 144Hz laptops.
Displays with low response times can shift colors faster, offering less image blurring or ghosting. A gaming laptop with a response time of under 5ms is preferable, as it’ll respond to incoming display signals faster than your reflexes.
SSD drives read and write data up to 10 times faster than traditional (HDD) hard drives, making them a preferable solution for gaming laptops. Most modern gaming laptops are shipped with an SSD nowadays.
Your SSD’s storage size also counts. Go for at least 500GB or 1TB of storage to comfortably store your favorite games.
You’ll need a sturdy and robust keyboard for your gaming laptop to ensure it survives burst outs while gaming. Further, opting for a laptop with mechanical keys will improve your gaming precision and comfort, but there are only a very few gaming laptops with a mechanical keyboard.
You don’t need a variety of ports on your gaming laptop but be sure it packs the ones you’ll use frequently. For instance, if you’re connecting a second display to your laptop, look for laptops with HDMI ports or USB-C. And be sure to check how many displays it supports.
Most users prefer an external mouse for optimal gaming precision and comfort, but a responsive trackpad is still essential. It lets you use your laptop for everyday tasks, like browsing and multitasking.
Most gaming laptops have a very short battery life. Expect around 2-5 hours vs 8-10 hours on a regular laptop on a single charge.
Battery capacity will also depend on what you do on the laptop. Gaming will deplete the battery a lot faster than browsing for example.
If you also want portability in a gaming laptop, make sure it’s compact, lightweight, and easy to carry around. It’s hard to find an outstanding balance between portability and performance in a gaming laptop, but avoid those weighing over 7 pounds.
Their power brick is usually a lot larger as well, so be sure you’re OK with this, especially if you frequently travel with your laptop.
Choosing the right specs: Let’s Start with You…
What Type of a Gamer Are You?
The variety of gaming laptops makes them suitable for different types of users, both casual and pro gamers. So, your needs come first when choosing a gaming laptop.
If you’re a casual gamer who likes classic, minimalistic, and browser-based games, you don’t need a high-end gaming laptop that costs buckets of money. But if you’re a gaming professional or into the latest AAA titles, you’ll need a high-spec gaming machine.
What Kind of Games Will You Be Playing?
If you want to determine the specs you need, check out the system requirements of the games you’ll play.
Research the most resource-intensive game you want to play to see its minimum and recommended system requirements.
If you can afford to, opt for a gaming laptop that supports its recommended system specifications. This way, you can rest assured it’ll run your favorite games on high settings.
Understanding Minimum vs Recommended System Requirements for Games
If your laptop barely meets the minimum system requirements of your desired game, it might run the game on low graphics settings, resolution, and FPS. Though your gaming experience will be poor, the game will be playable.
On the flip side, a game’s recommended system requirements are the specifications to run it on max graphics settings with optimal FPS.
If you truly want to enjoy a game, your gaming laptop should exceed its recommended system requirements.
Let’s go over a few specific scenarios:
Laptop Specs for Casual Gamers
If you’re a casual gamer, you don’t need a high-end gaming laptop to enjoy your games. Instead, an entry-level gaming laptop with minimum specs will work fine. Find the right laptop specs for Minecraft gameplay.
|Recommended specs for Casual Gamers|
|Processor (CPU)||10th generation Intel Core i5 or 4000 series Ryzen 5 AMD processor|
|Graphics Card (GPU)||NVIDIA GeForce RTX 1650 with 2 GB VRAM or equivalent|
|Display/Resolution/Refresh Rate||1080p (Full HD) display with the standard 60 refresh rate|
|Ports||HDMI 1.4 and USB 3.0 (Type A)|
|Expected Price Range||$700 – $1,000|
See our recommended gaming laptops for under $800.
Laptop Specs for Average Gamers
Average gamers may not compete in professional events, but they run intensive games on their game systems now and then. Below are the minimum laptop specs for average gamers:
|Recommended specs for Average Gamers|
|Processor (CPU)||11th Gen Intel Core i5 or i7 or above, or AMD Ryzen 5 5000 series|
|Graphics Card (GPU)||NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 with 6GB VRAM|
|Display/Resolution/Refresh Rate||1440p or 1080p (Full HD) with 74Hz or 120Hz refresh rate|
|Ports||HDMI 1.4 or 2.0 and USB 3.1 (Type A)|
|Expected Price Range||$1,000 – $2,000|
See our recommended gaming laptops for under $1000 and under $1,500.
Laptops Specs for Hardcore Gamers
Generally speaking, gaming enthusiasts and hardcore gamers need a portable powerhouse to run their resource-intensive games effortlessly for hours. Here are the minimum hardware specs you should look for if you game a lot:
|Recommended specs for Hardcore Gamers|
|Processor (CPU)||12th or 14th generation Intel Core i7, or i9, or AMD Ryzen 5 or 7 series|
|Graphics Card (GPU)||NVIDIA GeForce RTX 40 series or higher 30 series with at least 12GB VRAM, AMD Radeon RX 6000 series, or equivalent|
|Memory (RAM)||32GB to 64GB|
|Display/Resolution/Refresh Rate||4k (Ultra HD), 1440p, or 1080p resolution with 120Hz or 144Hz refresh rate|
|Ports||HDMI 2.0 and/or Thunderbolt (USB Type-A)|
|Expected Price Range||$2000-$3,000+|
What Should You Consider Saving Money On?
If your budget doesn’t allow getting a gaming laptop with the desired hardware specifications, don’t worry! You can always save up on the hardware parts that you can replace or upgrade down the road.
For instance, you may get away with a smaller RAM and upgrade it later on (most laptops allow up to 32GB or 64GB of RAM!). You can also consider a lower-storage variant of your desired laptop and upgrade its storage. You don’t have to upgrade the storage, as you can store your games on an external drive.
Be sure to check whether the laptop’s parts can be upgraded. Not all laptops come with replaceable RAM and storage.
Further, avoid premium-display laptops if you’re connecting an external monitor to your gaming laptop.
That said, never compromise on a performance-packed CPU and GPU, as you can’t replace them later. You can connect an external GPU to your laptop if supported, but it won’t be cost-effective or convenient.
Wrapping it Up
The laptop specs you need for gaming depending on the type of games you’ll run. As a rule of thumb, AAA titles require more hardware juice from your gaming laptop than casual, classic, and browser-based games.
Search for recommended system requirements for your most intensive game to see what hardware specs you need. A gaming laptop with the same or equivalent configuration should be a great solution.
Are you ready to buy a new Gaming Laptop? Check out our top 7 pick for in 2023.