When it comes to gaming, there's plenty that a Gaming PC can offer that a Gaming Laptop and vice versa. This makes it challenging to choose which is a better fit, especially when all factors are constant.
There’s more to choosing the best gaming rig than going portability and price. If you want to guarantee the gaming experience, the choice between a gaming PC or laptop is one you have to take very seriously.
There are various factors you have to consider when making a choice. We've made it easier by analysing some of the factors to see how each option stacks up against the other.
It’s impossible to talk about a gaming system without mentioning the GPU. It’s probably one of the first specs you want to know about when buying new gaming hardware.
The best high-end graphics cards don’t favour laptops. They are large and can easily fit inside the desktop computer.
- Size and weight – For good graphics, laptops use special versions of graphics cards designed to fit inside the limited space of the laptop. These types of GPUs are not as heavy but, having them in a cramped up space poses other challenges.
- Temperatures – High-performance GPUs get quite hot. That's why you have massive heatsinks and raving fans fitted inside the case. Space is not the only concern when fitting a large GPU inside the tiny body of a laptop. The cooling system needs to be tweaked to accommodate the extra heat produced by the GPU.
- Performance – reducing the size and heat produced by a GPU isn’t without consequence. The performance takes a hit and expectedly, laptop GPUs pale in performance compared to the desktop varieties.
While gaming laptops put up a spirited performance with regards to the GPU, they are no match for gaming desktops which have bigger and better-tuned GPUs.
Desktops take the lead in GPUs but, how to do they compare to laptops when it comes to other essential specifications?
- CPU – just like GPUs, there are mobile CPUs designed for energy efficiency and reduced heat generations. This has the same effect as having mobile GPUs. The laptop CPUs have limited performance compared to gaming desktops.
- RAM – Out of the box, Laptops have lower RAM. It’s possible to have additional RAM modules even though it’s often unnecessary. In this field, the two options go toe to toe.
- Storage – because of the limited space, you can't add extra HDDs or SSDs to the laptop. But you have the option of replacing the existing option with a higher capacity one or using external storage.
Gaming laptops don’t do much to gain on the ground that gaming desktops have on them. Lack of ample space limits expandability.
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Peripherals are not the core of gaming. But, they provide a better experience and more comfort for you.
Unlike gaming desktops, laptops come with built-in displays, touchpads, and keyboards. This can be a good or a bad thing.
As much you don’t have to pay extra for the built-in features, you might not be content with their performance and end up buying external alternatives rendering those in the laptop useless.
- Display – Most laptops have full HD screens with 60Hz refresh rate and the screen size is limited to about 17-inches. These specs are perfect if you’re looking to take your gaming rig in a backpack. But, when you want to have higher resolutions with a faster refresh rate, you will need an external monitor.
- Keyboard – gaming laptops have a regular low profile keyboard. It’s rare to find a laptop with a backlight mechanical keyboard. You might have to buy that one separately as well.
- Mouse/ touchpad – Touchpads are a titbit inconvenient. Those that have used them can attest to this. Gaming requires rapid clicking and dragging and a touchpad isn’t designed for this kind of use. You will have to buy a mouse for your gaming separately unless you intend to use a controller exclusively.
- Speakers and microphone – this is the one area that gaming laptops excel. The built-in speakers and microphone are quite good. Even if you prefer using headsets, you don't have to worry about having a dedicated microphone.
Customisability and Portability
The biggest advantage of having a Gaming PC is how customisable it is. With minimal PC knowledge, you can easily open the PC and make adjustments. It's easy to replace the components as you wish with minimal effort. In most cases, all you need is a screwdriver.
With a laptop, you need to be more careful. You can open and change the parts. But you need specialised tools and components which are not readily available.
Laptops win this category hands down. Even if the gaming laptop is heavier than the average laptop, it’s easier to stuff into a bag and get on the road. The same can’t be said for a gaming PC. Actually, most gaming computers cases are heavier than the laptop.
Other than the weight, a gaming PC is larger with more peripherals and cables that you need to carry along for it to work. Needless to mention transporting all the components can be a hustle.
All factors considered, it's safe to say a gaming desktop better than a gaming laptop in most fields like;
- Better performance to price ratio
- Better overall performance
- Easy to customise, upgrade and repair.
Gaming laptops only have portability going for them. But, when it’s your main priority when you travel often, it can significantly influence your decision.