What Gaming Laptop to Buy In 2021 | Buying Guide
What Gaming Laptop to Buy
With so many gaming laptops on the market, I thought this would be a good time to help create a general gaming laptop guide to help some of you pick the perfect gaming laptop. The first thing you really want to think about when buying a gaming laptop is the design. Do you go 15 inches or do you go 17 inches? 15-inch laptops have gotten to the point where they’re very portable. They’re light enough that you can carry them every single day. For example, I have two laptops here, the Razer blade 17. On the bottom and the top is the main gear vector. The main gear vector, for example, packs a lot of performance in a chassis that only weighs 4.16 pounds.
That’s lighter than the MacBook Pro. On the bottom, you have the 17-inch razer blade pro stuff, which is very well constructed but weighs over 6 pounds. The portability benefit is that you always have your gaming laptop on you, the benefit to a 17-inch laptop as you get more screen real estate, a desktop replacement, a bigger chassis for better cooling, and more storage slots to increase the overall storage size of your device. Now, ports, I wouldn’t worry about too much. Most gaming laptops come with a good selection of ports. The next thing is upgradeability. And usually with gaming laptops, three things are upgradable storage ram and Wi-Fi card. These are important because this allows you to buy the lowest spec of the gaming laptop you want and then upgrade things down the road.
Now if you’re buying a 15-inch gaming laptop, there are about two spots for storage. Sometimes you’ll find 3, but usually, the average is 1 to 2. With 17-inch gaming laptops, you’ll have 2 to 3 spots for storage, sometimes even 4. For example, I have the Helios 300. This is a 15-inch gaming laptop. They decide to stick 3 in here by sacrificing battery life, by sacrificing the battery life, they were able to cut out space for a 2.5-inch drive. This can be a mechanical drive or a regular SSD. Now, if you buy the base model that comes with one and nvme Drive, but down the road, if I want more space, I have two slots to stick in two extra drives.
The next thing is RAM. Now, most premium and mid-range gaming laptops come with two sticks or dual-channel memory. This is important because it does improve performance. Now, if you’re buying a budget gaming laptop, sometimes it only comes with one. Now, if it comes with one, you’re going to want to go out and buy a second stick to place inside because it will improve the performance of the laptop. Most gaming laptops will allow you to upgrade the RAM anywhere from 32 to 64 gigabytes. The next thing is a Wi-Fi card. I feel this is important now because Wi-Fi six is out and I’ve upgraded my house to Wi-Fi six. And trust me, it makes a huge difference in terms of coverage and speed.
Some of these gaming laptops don’t have Wi-Fi six cars inside of them. So by being able to upgrade it down the road, will future proof your Wi-Fi capabilities? Last is heat management. This is the most important for your internals. If you see a laptop with only one fan inside, do not buy it because it’s going to be overheating and not performing as it should. If you see a gaming laptop with two fans on one side of it, it will run fine, but it’s going to get hot. Usually, you want to look for a configuration like this. There’s obviously better out there, but this is pretty much the standard you want the fans being on opposite ends, heat pipes running across the middle.
Usually, you don’t want all the heat pipes being shared by the GPU and CPU. You do want some separation and that will give you a better chance of having better thermals. The display is also really important because you want to take advantage of the new high refresh rate displays that are readily available today. And usually, the sweet spot for 2020 and going into 2021 is going to be 144 hertz. If you’re buying a 15-inch gaming laptop, full HD IPS 144 hertz. Most of these panels that are on the mid-range to premium gaming laptops have good color representation, good color gamut, and most importantly that 144-hertz spot you want to be in now. I wouldn’t focus on 4K gaming because ideally what you want to happen is the GPU, CPU performing fast enough to give you the frame rates that match 144 hertz.
If you want 4K there are 4K panels on 15-inch laptops, but most of them were only 60 hertz. And I feel you’re just kind of hurting yourself going that route because the gaming experience is not going to be the same. If you must have 4K move up to 17 inches because there are a couple of laptops like the Razer Blade Pro that offer 4K, 120 hertz. I still feel even with the new GPU is coming out this year from NVidia and AMD 4K gaming is still not going to be that relevant on laptops, maybe more so on desktops, but laptops. The sweet spot is ten. And but unfortunately, there’s just not a lot of good panels out there with high refresh rates, then they’re sound. And I’d probably pay the littlest attention to this because any gaming laptop you buy right now is going to be super loud.
When you’re gaming, the fans kick on. It has to keep it cool. It just drowns out the speakers on these laptops. Focus more on buying a good gaming headset because that will provide you a lot more value than the speakers on these laptops. Now, I personally feel gaming keyboards are one of the most important things for a gaming laptop.
This is what your hand is interacting with to move your character. Usually, you want to game keyboard that has a good travel distance. The lowest will absolutely go is two centimeters. But ideally, you want to be a 2.5, like take the razer blade pro 17. For example, Beautiful laptop, my favorite 17-inch gaming laptop, but it doesn’t have the best keyboard. Great RGB. But Mushie Keys and the tactile experience on it is not the best. Taken a laptop for Main Gear or other vendors that are using the steel series keyboard. This design is kind of dated, but it has a nice tactile feel. There’s a good actuation force. I can feel the keypresses while I’m gaming touchpads.
I wouldn’t worry about too much because if you’re gaming, you’re going to be having an external mouse connected to your computer. However, if you’re going to be doing productivity on it like you’re using it for school as well, make sure the touchpad is glass. It’s big enough. Ideally, you don’t want one with actual buttons. You want it to be like one piece of glass and just make sure it’s using windows precision drivers. So let’s talk performance because I feel like this is what most people base their purchase decisions on. And for gaming, the most important thing is the GPU. Whether you buy an iPhone 9 or the latest is 12, it all comes down to the GPU. I think today if you buying a gaming laptop, the lowest you want to be is 1660.
Now I get it. Some people can’t afford that and we’ll have to jump down to a1650. But if you can get an a1660, this will guarantee you that you’ll be able to play most of the games comfortably on high settings at 1080P. You can still do VR. It won’t be as good as an artist’s card, but you can still do it now if you want to have a good sweet spot and RTX 2060 is preferred and if you want to do high-performance gaming, I’d probably skip the RTX 2080 and go with an RTX 2070. I feel like it offers the best value for high gaming performance.
So I think that pretty much wraps up my laptop gaming guidance. Let me know how I did in the comments below. I have already written some suggestions for each category, premium, mid-range, and budget to help you guys figure out what are the best picks for you. Check my other blogs also.
Things are going to change again in the next couple of months once we start getting our hands on the new AMD processors and the new ones from Intel. But right now, if you’re buying a laptop today, try and stick with Intel. That wraps up this article.