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The 3 most important specs to consider for gaming laptops

The GPU is definitely the single most important factor to consider in determining the type of games you can play.

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Image: KnowTechie

When it comes to choosing your next gaming laptop, you’ll probably notice a bunch of specifications associated with each laptop. RAM, Hard drive space, CPU, peripherals, touch screen, resolution…the list goes on. Quite frankly, it can be a bit overwhelming at times and add to further confusion when choosing your next laptop.

When it comes to a laptop for gaming, you have to be even more discerning when choosing which machine is right for you. 

Not all is doom and gloom though. When it comes to gaming laptops, some specifications are a lot more important than others. Given this fact, we’ve pinpointed 3 areas that you should focus on. Nail these areas and the rest should fall into place. The three components that you should give most attention to are: GPU, CPU, and RAM.

Let’s go through each one and what you should look out for.

GPU

The GPU or Graphics Processing Unit, is the processor which is responsible for rendering images on your screen. Without it, gaming is pretty much impossible.

When it comes to choosing a gaming laptop, the GPU is by far the most important specification. The big power players in GPU technology are Intel, Nvidia, and AMD.

Both Nvidia and AMD have primarily focused on dedicated graphics units while intel is mainly integrated (although they are launching themselves in the dedicated market soon).

To put things simply, a dedicated GPU has its own video ram. That is why you may notice laptops having say 8GB or another value before the name of the graphics card, indicating the video memory.

On the other hand, an integrated graphics card does not have its own memory and is actually built onto the same die as the CPU. It uses the memory from the computers own RAM.

As you might have guessed, a dedicated GPU is a lot more powerful than an integrated one. It’s also significantly larger in size and draws more power. If you want to get the most out of your gaming laptop, you should consider getting one with dedicated graphics.

Give that laptop technology (and GPU’s) are getting more powerful and more affordable every year, it is quite possible to be on a tight budget and still get a gaming laptop with a dedicated or integrated GPU.

That is not to say that integrated graphics are no slouch. You’ll still be able to play less intensive games like League Of Legends or DOTA. Just don’t plan on clocking up the settings much.

If you’re going to get a dedicated graphics card, look for at least 4 – 6 GB of video memory. We’d recommend getting at least an Nvidia GTX 1650 or AMD RX 550M.

CPU

The second most important factor to consider is the CPU or Central Processing Unit.

Universally known as ‘the brains’ of a computer, the CPU is responsible for executing and processing instructions. A slow CPU means a slow computer.

Most gaming laptops will come with an Intel CPU (they are now up to there 10th generation), although AMD CPU’s are becoming more popular since their mainstream inception in 2017. If you stick to intel, you want to consider either i5 or i7 chips (you’ll see it in the CPU description for any laptop you want to purchase). We would not recommend splurging on an i9 chip just yet. That money is better spent on a quality GPU.

In terms of the number of cores, quad-core was the default, but we’d venture to say 6 cores is becoming the new standard. Look for clock speeds around 3 GHz or higher.

RAM

Lastly, Ram, or Random-Access Memory, basically stores information that is currently being accessed by whatever program you are using. Bigger and faster ram means that information can be used more quickly which means a smoother gaming experience and faster loading times.

RAM is pretty inexpensive today and the most affordable laptops will have at least 4 GB of RAM. However; if you intend to play more demanding games go for at least 8 GB which meets the minimum requirements for most video games. Better still, we would recommend 16 GB if possible.

A common question asked around this topic is ‘If I get more RAM, will my integrated graphics card perform better since it uses system RAM?’.

It turns out, no, not really.

An integrated graphics card pretty much uses a set amount of RAM. So even with more RAM you will not necessarily increase what is being used by the GPU.

There are other factors to consider when choosing RAM like frequency and latency. However; most gaming laptops meet these basic requirements (including being DDR4) so we don’t really have to delve into them.

The GPU reigns supreme…

Whilst these three specifications are all important to consider, the GPU is definitely the single most important factor to consider in determining the type of games you can play.

Why?

Because RAM and CPU technology have come so far that purchasing any gaming laptop from a reputable brand will have plenty of power in these departments, and then some. Therefore, we would recommend first focusing on what GPU you want and taking it from there.

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