What makes a portable computer join the ranks of the “best gaming laptop 2013“? What should you be looking for in gaming laptops A.D. 2013? Does a laptop make sense for your gaming needs at all? And what options do you have if you are on a budget – or really need to move your computer around a lot – these laptops tend to leave a dent on the scale.
Gaming is a very resource-intensive occupation for any computer and especially for a laptop with its limitations in size and weight; so normally a portable computer is not the ideal “box” for high end gaming equipment. Desktop PCs or even huge under-the-desktop PC towers are usually a lot better suited to offer the space for the top notch equipment Battlefield or Crysis need to really make these games show all they have to offer. And Desktop Gaming PCs are also much cheaper than gaming laptops.
Now many of you are traveling a lot, perhaps because you are a consultant who stays the week in a hotel in the city near your client. Or you are a student who, for now, can only afford one computer which you also need for your classes. Or you are hopping around between your place and your girlfriend’s. The reasons why we PC gamers need a laptop with great gaming capabilities are endless. Perhaps you are jumping from one LAN-party to the next; that is hard to do with any desktop PC – though many of you who have seen their 30s did just that “in the old days”. Not to forget the 17″ CRT…. ah, and having done that we are more than happy to spend the premium for the best gaming laptop 2013.
Best Gaming Laptop 2013 Features
So what makes the best gaming laptop 2013? Most laptops for students or professionals are not suitable and not built to run today’s Ego Shooters with any level of decency. Since a laptop has to be small and lightweight there are restrictions on the parts and mobile high end equipment is more expensive than for Desktop PCs.
But some reputed companies offer Laptop product lines especially designed for us PC gamers and our list of the potentially best gaming laptop 2013 is made up by these manufacturers. So what specs and features make a laptop suited for gaming? What can we expect from the best gaming laptop 2013?
- The CPU – You need the best CPU we can get. At the moment Intel’s i7 are the units of choice and seem to have an edge over AMD.
- The GPU or Graphics Processing Unit – Most laptops come with an on-board GPU and some shared RAM – You need a high end discrete GPU with at least 2 GB of exclusive RAM, better are 4 GB of Video Memory. The best gaming laptop 2013 must absolutely be the best contender in this department, no doubt about that.
- RAM – at least 8 GB, ideally 16 GB.
- Battery life – gaming sucks power from the battery like a vampire blood from the virgin and so you should never stray too far from a socket, but 2 hrs of game play without a jack should be possible.
- Audio – modern games offer an incredible sound universe, so a great soundcard or onboard chip with 5.1 Digital Dolby Live Surround Sound and the connectors are mandatory. To be honest most inbuilt speaker systems do not exactly offer an epiphany, so gaming with headphones or connections to your external computer speakers are much needed for your perfect gaming experience.
- Screen Size – for a gaming laptop a screen size of min 17″ is best. Bigger is better, though the bigger the more bulky, so you have to find a compromise between mobility and readability. Again, 17″ is the sweet spot
- Resolution – today’s sweet spot for screen resolution in a gaming laptop is 1920 x 1080 pixels.
This is no easy to do list for laptop manufacturers, and so only a small group of companies have devoted one or more product lines to us gamers. These companies are
- Alienware with the Alienware M17x R4 AM17xR4-8424BK 17.3-Inch Laptop (Stealth Black with Soft Touch Finish)
- Asus and the ASUS Republic of Gamers G75VW-AH71 17.3-Inch Gaming Laptop
- Samsung with their Samsung Series 7 Gamer NP700G7C-S01US 17.3-Inch Laptop
- Razer with their new Blade
The gaming laptop 2012 was a product of one of these companies (Alienware M17x), and in 2013 again these manufacturers offer the best packages for mobile PC gamers. So let us review their gaming laptops 2013 and come to a verdict. Please note that Alienware laptops are normally custom built by you but the version of the M17x R4 we test here is a consumer version created for amazon customers.
You also need to know that there are other companies which allow you to completely configure your personal best laptop 2013, but they do not offer pre-configured gaming laptops on marketplaces like amazon. If you are willing to shoulder the bill and are able to talk your landlord into forgetting about the rent for two or three months, you will have a gaming systems that will make our prebuilt consumer laptops take Microsoft Office courses to find a new call in life. If you are looking for an individual system like that, you might want to visit Alienware.com or Eurocom.com.
Our focus here is on the best laptop deals for gamers, so we do not take custom built machines for up to $5.000 into consideration. With the Alienware M17x R4 we have a consumer market version running for the title of PCGamerHub Best Gaming Laptop 2013 though.
|Series||M17x||G75VX||Series 7 Gamer||Razer Blade|
17.3-Inch Laptop (Black)
|Model||AM17xR4-11053BK||Republic of Gamers G75VX-BHI7N09||NP700G7C-S02US||RZ09-00830500-R3U1|
|Release Date Amazon||February 3, 2013||December 27, 2012||October 12, 2012||October 31, 2012|
|Screen Size||17.3″ WideFHD 60Hz WLED||17.3″ Full HD 3D (1920×1080) LED Backlight||17.3-inch LED-backlit display with Full HD 1080p resolution||17.3-inch LED-backlit display with Full HD 1080p resolution|
|Screen Resolution||1920 x1080 pixels||1920 x 1080 pixels||1920 x 1080 pixels||1920 x 1080 pixels|
|Operating System||Windows 8® Home (64-bit)||Windows 8 Home Premium (64-bit)||Windows 8 (64-bit)||Windows 8|
|CPU||Intel® Core™ i7-3630QM processor (2.4GHz, with Turbo Boost to 3.4GHz, 6MB cache)||Intel® Core™ i7 3630QM Processor||2.3 GHz Intel Core i7-3610QM quad-core processor (3.3 GHz with Turbo Boost Technology; 6 MB L3 cache)||Intel Core i7 3632QM Quad Core Processor with Hyper-Threading, 2.2GHz (Base) / 3.2GHz (Turbo)|
|RAM||8GB (2 X 4GB) Dual Channel DDR3 at 1600MHz, max. 32 GB||8 GB DDR3 1600 MHz SDRAM, 4 x SO-DIMM socket for expansion up to 32 GB SDRAM||16GB DDR3 (1600MHz)|
Max. System Memory 16GB
|8GB Dual Channel DDR3 at 1600MHz|
|GPU||NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680M||NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 670MX||NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 675M Graphics||NVIDIA GeForce GTX660m|
|Dedicated Graphics RAM||2GB GDDR5||3GB GDDR5 VRAM||2 GB||2 GB|
|Audio||Creative Sound Blaster® Recon3Di with THX TruStudio Pro Software||REALTEK chip||REALTEK ALC269Q-VB2-GR (Built-in high performance 24-bit ADC & 24-bit DAC)|
|Audio Connections||3x Auto-sensing jacks for Line-out (2 line out; 1x SPDIF/Headphone)|
1x Microphone Input jack
1x HDMI-1.4 output with Audio
1x HDMI-1.3 input with Audio
|1 x Microphone-in jack|
1 x Headphone-out jack
1 x HDMI
1 x SPIDIF speaker out
|3.5 mm Headphone/PC Speaker, HDMI||Integrated Digital 7.1 Surround Audio Support|
(via HDMI 1.4) Dolby® Home Theater® v4 Audio, 1x 3.5mm Audio Microphone/Headphone
|HardDrive||256GB SSD SATA 6Gb/s||1024 GB 5400 RPM||1.5TB with ExpressCache™ Technology, 8GB iSSD, RPM 7200RPM, SATA2||500 GB SATA , 64GB SATA III SSD with NVELO|
|Speaker System||2.0 Speaker configuration|
Audio Powered by Klipsch®
|Built-in Speakers And Microphone|
|4 W Stereo Speaker (2 W x 2) sub-Woofer|
Sound Technology Dolby Home Theater®
On popular demand: Our Best Gaming Laptop 2013 MSI-G-Series-GT70-2OD-039US Review
Update: The New Razor Blade
read our review about the Razer Blade here
Razor, the ultimate PC Gaming Accessories brand just announced a new contestant in the race for the “Best Gaming Laptop”: The Razer Blade, “thinner than a dime”.
The specs look more than promising to threaten to dethrone our actual No. 1 (Dell’s Alienware M17x).
The Razer Blade employs a totally new 4th generation Intel CoreTM® processor (codenamed Haswell), comes with 8 Gigabytes of DDR3L 1600Mhz RAM, a 256 GB SSD HD and last, but not least, the GeForce® GTX 765M from NVidia. It features a 1600×900 HD+ backlit 14 inch screen and is very light. Though it has some impressive inbuilt speakers, we are waiting for the inbuilt ports to see if we can connect it to any 5.1 stereo, since we have so far not heard any inbuilt stereo system that could make up for the lack of speaker size.
It is interesting to see a company which so far has focused completely on creating top notch PC gaming accessories entering the highly risky hardware business. So far we can only speculate that Razer watches the slowing PC sales with worry and thinks that the growing laptop pc gaming market is not served sufficiently.
The contestants for the PCGamerHub Best Gaming Laptop 2013
So without further ado you find a chart below comparing the specifications of the three top gaming laptop blacksmiths and their 2013 market versions for us gamers.
All these laptops offer a fantastic gaming performance, and all of them have their pros and cons. As you can see above, the Samsung Series 7 is a bit aged and comes with an older Quad-Core Intel processor, but is equipped with 16 GB of RAM and has a newer graphics card than the Asus G75VX.
Considering the price, the Alienware M17x R4 is the most expensive, but also comes equipped with superior sound, graphics and connection technology. The Samsung and the Asus both cost the same, but have some important differences in their specs.
The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
Screen Size & Resolution
All come with similar 17.3″ screen technology and the same resolution.
The Asus and Alienware come with the better CPU, released in Q3/2012, while the Samsung is powered by an older and slower chip.
Alienware and Asus are created equal, while Samsung here offers the best bang for the buck. But 8 GB of RAM are more than enough, so Samsung 16 GB does not push the Series 7 ahead of the other two
The graphics processing chip is the most important aspect of any gaming laptop. And in this category we have a clear winner distancing the others by far. The Alienware M17x comes with a nVIDIA GeForce GTX 680M, which is the mobile version of NVIDIA’s flagship card. This card is employing the Kepler technology (28nm technology compared to 40nm as the older cards use), improving the card’s speed and performance dramatically.
To give you an idea, the GeForce GTX 680M has a Passmark speed index of 3.826 (the more, the better), made up by thousands of tests on different computer configurations. The Samsung Series comes with the older, non-Kepler GTX 675M (Passmark 2.305) and the Asus “only” with the GTX 670MX (Passmark 2.028). Since the passmark test is performed on every laptop configuration under the sun it is a very reliable speed test, and Alienware’s M17x puts the other two contestants to shame. This round goes clearly to M17x R4, with the older Samsung having an advantage over the Asus Republic of Gamers G75VX. Asus makes up partly for this disadvantage by treating the GPU with an extra GB of video RAM.
Alienware’s M17x is equipped with a high quality Sound Blaster card and all the connectors gamers could ever want. The inbuilt speakers are certified by Klipsch, but honestly no inbuilt speakers can create surround sound and game environment worth of games like Battlefield 3. Not to mention that true Surround Sound improves your performance in the game by leaps and bounds.So if you are traveling the Alienware offer OK sound though a little weak on the bass side of frequencies, but if you are close to a home theater system the M17x really really puts the other contestants to shame with a variety of connectors (HDMI and S/PDIF) and 7.1 Surround Sound…Wow!
Samsung and Asus come with good inbuilt speakers, including a sub-woofer and an on-board REALTEK sound chip. Ironically the chip itself in the Samsung is well fitted for good audio, but the Series 7 laptop does not provide any connectors to let the REALTEK show what it is able to do. With the Samsung you either listen to sound on the OK inbuilt speakers, or you connect a headset or PC speakers with the 3.5mm headphone jack. But whatever you do, you will never get better sound than 2.0 stereo. A big turn off for any serious gamer.
Asus’ Republic of Gamers laptop is said to have some problems with the inbuilt sub-woofer but is much better equipped connector-wise, offering a S/PDIF jack for surround sound on your home theater. It is also equipped with a REALTEK chip though we could not reach Asus for clarifications about the chips qualities.
And The Winner Is…The Best Gaming Laptop 2013
The verdict: It is the most expensive of the three, but the title of the best gaming laptop 2013 cannot be awarded to any other machine than the Alienware M17x. It is the newest setup coming with the best graphics processing unit, audio card and connectors for high end gaming.
If you are on a budget we would prefer the Asus Republic of Gamers G75VX, which is great gaming laptop and the same CPU as the Alienware laptop: Since the GPU is much more important in a gaming laptop than the CPU the Samsung Series 7 even has an advantage to the Asus, but more than looses this advantage with its inferior sound connections. If you were willing to invest in an external sound card, the Samsung might be the better choice, but considering what is in the box FPS (first person shooter games) players would miss surround sound too much.
We hope this article helps you to find your personal best gaming laptop 2013 and please share any comments with us below.