When you go to buy a gaming laptop, you can be overwhelmed by the technical characteristics of the equipment, since if you do not understand the hardware, they probably do not mean anything to you and you end up falling into the usual marketing traps.
Obviously, and although the hardware is the most important aspect to take into account when buying a laptop, there are other factors that you will surely want to take into account, such as the size of the screen, that it is light enough to be able to move it from one site to site, etc. Those factors are left to your choice since it will depend on what you need it for.
For example, it is not the same to buy a gaming laptop that is rarely going to move from its site and in which dedicated graphics matter more than its weight and size than one that you intend to take with you on a trip. In this case, you will be more interested in it being light and having a good battery life.
Consider Laptops for High-End Games
This is the first question you should ask yourself because there are many form factors and each of them has common features. If you buy a gaming laptop it will have a screen of 15 inches or more, will weigh around 2 kg, and will consume more power. On the other hand, if what you are looking for is a small screen and a low-cost laptop to carry with you, then you cannot choose a system designed for gaming.
The processor is the brain of the machine, so it is certainly one of the most fundamental factors to consider when buying a laptop. Needless to say, laptop processors seek to have low power consumption to improve battery life and not need cooling systems as large as desktop PCs, but even so, we can find laptop processors with excellent performance.
Processors today are divided into different ranges depending on the type of laptop, usually qualified by the TDP. So it is important to look at the name of the processor, but usually:
- If the name of the processor ends in H, then it is a high-performance one, with a TDP of 45 W and, therefore, intended for portable workstations or gaming.
- If it ends in U, it is the opposite of the previous case, a TDP of 15 W that marks an extremely light and portable computer.
- Lately, ultrathin gaming ones are appearing, which are found with processors around 28-30 W and are between both worlds. They usually have hardware like the type H, but at reduced speeds and in much finer computers.
Keep in mind that unlike when we buy a tower, in a laptop the processor is soldered to the plate and we cannot choose it. In addition, there are many names that are confusing and that is why we recommend you look for them on the manufacturer’s website ( Intel or AMD ). That a manufacturer tells you that it has an Intel Core i5 processor will not tell you much, but if you search for the specific processor on the Intel or AMD website you will find all the data.
As a general rule, and unless you are going to use the laptop for professional or editing purposes, the amount of RAM you should look for is 8 GB. Today 4 GB is going to be insufficient for you, so don’t even think about it, and 16 GB may be fine if you are going to use the equipment with heavy tasks and for gaming, but again, 8 GB is a valid figure for the vast majority of users.
Avoid laptops that have amounts of RAM that are not multiples of 4 (8, 16, 32, 64…) because in that case they are either using RAM soldered to the board or they use different modules, which in the end can result in lower performance. It is unfortunately common to see manufacturers that want to sell you a laptop with 12 GB of RAM, and that usually means that they have 4 GB soldered on the board and an 8 GB module. In this case, although they work in dual-channel, only the first 8 GB will do so, and if you use more RAM then you will be losing performance.
Let’s not talk about laptops that sell with a single memory module working in a single channel. When looking at the features, always try to make sure that it includes pairs of memory modules to guarantee that they will be working in dual channels, since the difference in performance is very noticeable.
By the way, ultralight laptops usually have LPDDR memory, which is the same as that of mobile phones. It is not slower or worse than normal DDR in terms of performance, but it has the peculiarity that it is soldered on the board and cannot be expanded. This allows them to skip SO-DIMM slots and make notebooks lighter.
Depending on what you are going to use the laptop for, the dedicated graphics card may or may not be important. Obviously, if you want to use the laptop for gaming you will need to look for dedicated AMD or NVIDIA graphics in your laptop, which will increase its price considerably. But if this is not your case, with the integrated graphics that come in the processor you will have enough for almost everything, even for simple games if you intend to play sporadically.
Don’t worry: if you’re not going to play games (or render video, etc.), an integrated graphics will do the job well in multimedia environments, but if you want to play, then you will have to consider buying a laptop that has graphics dedicated, with the consequent budget increase that this entails.
In the event that you are going to do it, do not get carried away by the graphics model of the laptop to buy. We say this because you can find an RTX 3070 model in one model that performs better than an RTX 3070 Ti in another. The reason? One has a lower consumption than the other and, therefore, works at a lower speed. So pay attention to this aspect, since it is a very common practice of manufacturers.
Nowadays it does not make much sense to buy a laptop that does not have an SSD, so the recommendation is that if the laptop has a conventional hard drive, do not consider buying it because you will notice that it is slow from day one. Even those laptops with SATA 3 SSDs are going to give you much better performance and power-up times, so the recommendation here is to always look for options that have SSDs.
Today none of the laptops are sold with a conventional hard drive anymore, yes, we suggest you flee like a soul that the devil is chasing from those that integrate eMMC memory, which is slow and has the speed of a card of memory for mobile phone. A laptop with a storage memory that is not an NVMe SSD is one that brings a bottleneck, to say the least.
Be careful with the screen resolution
The resolution of the screen is also a factor that you should take into account. Some manufacturers still sell (or rather intend to get rid of) laptops with 1366 x 768 resolution screens, and this is something you should avoid. This resolution is very low, and today most web pages are optimized for Full HD resolutions. Let’s not talk about games anymore or when you want to watch a series on Netflix.
In short, buying a laptop is not simply about getting the one that best fits your budget (which is also), but you must analyze your needs and match them with what the laptop offers you, or you will potentially regret buying it in the future.