Best Gaming Laptops – The Ultimate Buying Guide

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What are the Best Gaming Laptops? I have spent much of my life building PCs but, as the world has evolved, people are on the move a lot more. So people have started to look towards devices that can still give them the high-end experience of a gaming PC but can then be shoved into their bags and transported with no hassle at all.

This is where gaming laptops come in, and there is a large selection of these so-called computers on the market. However, not all of them are up-to-scratch for your gaming needs, so I’m here to tell you the Do’s and Dont’s when it comes to choosing a gaming laptop.

Best Gaming Laptops : Screen Size

Screen size is a hotly debated but important thing when it comes to gaming laptops, as it is an area where you can save money.

Best Gaming Laptops
Best Gaming Laptops

The bigger the screen, the more you are going to have to pay, but what is the most suitable screen size for gaming on the move? Well, from my experience I would say stick to about 17” as this will cover you for any other things you may want to do with the laptop, such as watching movies on the go or just working on business documents.

Of course you can go bigger, which will give you a more immersive feeling in most games, but 17” seems just right as it’s not too small and won’t ruin the quality of your game and it’s not so big that it stops being portable.

The final thing to think about with your screen is whether to go with Plasma or LCD. Plasma versus LCD is like the tube versus solid state war in audio. It’s difficult to tell someone what’s “good” for them.

The only way to know is if someone has experience with both techs, so I will just give you my opinion as I have used both,

  • LCD lasts a lot longer for me and actually uses less power than a plasma, but it is said that
  • Plasma gives you a better quality image but to me it makes no difference.

I would go with LCD as it uses less of the battery power when on the move and just (from my experience) lasts much longer without dropping any quality.

Best Gaming Laptops : Video Cards

When it comes to video cards in a gaming laptop you are very much restricted compared to your PC at home. The better standard in most gaming laptops is a 1GB video card, which is just fine when playing most games but you really want to think towards the future as technology never really stops advancing.

Most games only use 1GB of memory in a graphics card to render their graphics but games are getting better graphically and 1GB is becoming too small to render the HD (High Definition) graphics of future games.

Having dual video cards is basically a way of compensating, as it is very rare to find a 2GB card in a laptop .

You should probably go with a laptop that has dual cards, which should cover you for a few years without having to upgrade. When I got my first gaming laptop I was very foolish and went for a weaker graphics card to save money but trust me, if you cheap out here you will notice the difference when compared to other laptops.

Just a side note here: If you ever want to connect your laptop to your TV or any other screen then I would use an HDMI connection but I warn you:

Some graphics cards can not handle being hooked up to a larger screen.

Though it is rare to find a card that can’t do this anymore, I’m just throwing the warning in there. The best gaming laptops have no problem with bigger screens at all.

Best Gaming Laptops : CPU & RAM

This is where there is no if or buts. When it comes to your CPU and RAM there is pretty much a standard for gaming laptops.

So lets start off with your RAM, the biggest decision you are going to have to make is which DDR (Double Data Rate) you go for: DDR 1, DDR 2 or DDR 3.

The standard is currently DDR 3, as it has the highest data rates available in the commercial market.

Now for the size of the RAM you need: Go with at least 8GB! You can go higher as that, especially if you are planning to be doing video editing with your new laptop.

But 8GB RAM today is a benchmark now and most games struggle to run optimally with anything under that, so do not wimp out when it comes to your RAM.

Moving on to your CPU there is pretty much a benchmark here too as most gaming laptops don’t actually have anything under the hood other than an Intel Core i7. I have seen a few laptops with a dual i5 but I would just stick with the plain old simple i7 CPU.

Best Gaming Laptops : Hard Drive Size

When it comes to the size of your hard drive, it’s pretty straightforward and you go for what suits you best.

Of course there are still basic benchmarks which are:

Do not buy a gaming laptop with a hard drive size of less than 320GB as you will struggle to save your games on it.

From here though it’s your choice. If you know you are going to be having hundreds of games, movies and music on it make sure you buy something with enough space to hold all of that information.

Make sure you have at least 2700 RPM (Revolutions Per Minute) to get a quick response time.

Just because this section is called ‘Hard Drives’ does not mean you are limited to a hard drive, as you can instead go for a SSD (Solid Sate Drive) which gives you faster transfer times but will cost you more money for the speed.

SSD is made up of a series of flash drives instead of any physical equipment. Flash drives are completely different from those which are used in thumb drives (small USB drives) and may store more than 16 times the data of thumb drives.

Both HDDs (Hard Disc Drive, the standard hard disc in most PCs and laptops) and SSDs are designed to be well-protected against failure but SSDs can operate more efficiently in harsher environments whereas HDDs are more likely to fail.

By the way: Most HDDs fail while doing read operations (getting data from the disc), while SDDs more often fail during write operations.

Your data is more likely to become corrupt during failed read operations, so we can say that SSDs very rarely fail compared to HDDs, which makes SSDs much safer. And believe me, I have lost many HDDs over time. They are like car brakes – One day they break.

For me the best gaming laptops use SSDs,  because I like the idea of having a more reliable place to store my data and save the hassle of data recovery every few years.

However, if you are trying to save money then go for an HDD. They still do a great job for the price advantage.

Keyboard and Mouse

What about the keyboard and mouse of the best gaming laptops? Did you buy a nice, powerful laptop that can support all the games you are playing but now you have problems with stress on your wrists because the keyboard is too small?

When it comes down to the size of the keyboard and the feel of it, it’s completely up to you. Just make sure before you buy your laptop that you try the keyboard out in the shop to make sure you are not making a poor decision that will put you in pain whenever you use it.

If you buy your laptop on the web though, follow my suggestion about the 17″ screen as the keyboard will most probably be big enough. And I have huge hands.

Today all laptops come with a touchpad, which is just fine for some people but I personally like to just use the mouse from my PC at home because for me a touchpad is simply not accurate enough when playing your favorite Egoshooter (or First Person Shooter – FPS). There are mice designed especially with the gamer in mind. You can easily connect the gaming mouse to a USB port, so there is nothing to be worried about when buying the gaming laptop.

Best Gaming Laptops : Sound System

When you buy a gaming laptop you want to be able to plug in your headphones or stereo and get an immersive surround sound experience in your games, so don’t buy any laptop that has less than a 5.1 surround sound system.

5.1 means that the sound system is able to work with 5 satellite speakers (normal frequencies) and one subwoofer (bass). Modern games (and videos) support the best home theater systems, so make sure your laptop does too.

As an optional step you can go up to 7.1 (7 satellite speakers, one subwoofer), but of course it will cost you more.

Honestly, I have 7.1 on my machine and it is the most immersive sound you can imagine…if, and only if, your headphones or home theater system can handle it.

Yes, the inbuilt speaker of your gaming laptop should also support the experience, and you can get laptops with inbuilt Bose systems, which have a great sound.

In all honesty: To really experience immersive sound you need either an external home theater system to connect your laptop to or, and this makes much more sense for a gaming laptop, you get yourself great gaming headphones which support the digital sound standard of your high-quality soundcard.

You should make sure that your headphones are built for 5.1 surround sound or better, else you will just be getting the standard stereo output, and that is just not acceptable for gamers.

Okay, now to wrap it up, here is my print-out list of what makes the best gaming laptops:

My buyer’s guide to finding the best gaming laptops 2013

  • Screen- 17” LCD
  • Video Card- Dual 1GB
  • CPU- core i7 processor
  • RAM- 8GB DDR3
  • Hard Drive- 320GB+ SSD
  • Keyboard and Mouse- whatever size suits you the best, and you can easily plug in a mouse if you do not like the feel of the touchpad
  • Sound System- 5.1 surround sound

I hope this buying guide will help you to find one of the best gaming laptops 2013 for you!

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