Getting a gaming laptop can be very overwhelming with all the different options that there are on the market. It does not really have to be all that complicated once you figure out what you need and you know the essentials of a laptop in 2019. In this gaming laptop buyers guide we are going to walk you through the different aspects of buying a gaming laptop and what you should keep in mind when in the market for one.
What to Look for in a Gaming Laptop
There are plenty of factors that you need to consider when in the market for a new gaming laptop but there are a few essentials that you will need in 2019. Here are some basics that you should have in a gaming laptop which is priced around $750. We will get into the details later.
The following are some factors that most people would consider a must in 2019:
Laptops with 12.5 to 14-inch screens are considered a good balance between usability and portability, but if you are looking for a gaming laptop, then you should stick to 15-inch displays. You could get a 17-inch display, if you are not planning on taking your laptop with you everywhere.
Talking about screen resolution, a 1080p panel is a must in 2019. You can get 4K options as well, but you will need better hardware to play games at the higher resolution and you really cannot appreciate what 4K has to offer with a small screen. That is why we recommend going with a 1080p display. Nothing more, nothing less. The Dell G5 and G7 are perfect examples of laptops with 1080p displays that can run pretty much any game. If you are interested in learning more about these laptops, then you can check out our Dell G5 vs G7 comparison.
For around $750, the least that you should have when it comes to the CPU is a Core i5. There are AMD Ryzen options as well, if you are interested, but the Core i5 is the benchmark here. These CPUs offer a great balance between gaming performance and productivity.
When it comes to memory, 8GB is the bare minimum that you should have in a gaming laptop but more is always great. Some laptops have the option to expand memory down the line if needed.
Graphics performance is a vital factor when it comes to a gaming laptop. Integrated graphics can run some games, but if you are interested in playing all the AAA titles, then you are going to need a dedicated graphics solution. Entry-level graphics solutions include the Nvidia MX 150, but you can get a decent graphics solution like the GTX 1050 Ti or the GTX 1660 for around $750.
When it comes to storage, you should get a laptop that comes with a SSD. It does not need to be a massive one. You only need to have your OS and some games on it. You can have a secondary HDD for mass storage. Some laptops come with SSDs out of the box but have empty storage bays for storage expansion. That is what you should be aiming for, if you are on a budget because you can expand storage whenever it is feasible.
Gaming laptops do not have a decent battery life, but if you plan on working on the device as well, we recommend a laptop that has a rated battery life of around 10 hours so that you can get 7-8 hours of work done without having to charge. Obviously, if you are gaming, then the battery life is going to drop to 1-2 hours.
2-in-1 devices are very useful and you can opt to get one. Remember that these devices do not have very powerful graphics solutions and, if you are serious about gaming, then it is better to get a standard clamshell notebook. If you are a casual gamer, then you can opt to get a 2-in-1 device.
For gaming and productivity, Windows 10 is a very safe bet. You have access to all kinds of games and all sorts of platforms. There are other options such as ChromeOS or MacOS but the former is limiting when it comes to hardware and the latter can get very expensive indeed.
Other Factors to Keep In Mind
Now that we have the essentials out of the way, we can look into different aspects of a gaming laptop that you need to know about. Here are the main factors that you should keep in mind when in the market for a gaming laptop in 2019:
AMD Vs Intel
Intel used to be the only player in the CPU market, but AMD now has some killer CPUs that compete with Intel. You can pick the Intel 9th generation of CPUs or the AMD Ryzen 3000 series. Both are great for gaming in 2019. AMD offers better value for the money, but Intel has the edge when it comes to single-core performance.
If you are interested in the best possible gaming performance and money is no object, then you can go with Intel. If you are looking for value for your money and want the additional cores and threads without paying the premium, then AMD Ryzen 3000 series CPUs are going to suit your needs.
As mentioned above, the Intel i5 is the benchmark for gaming. You can go with that or pick the equivalent AMD Ryzen option. The AMD Ryzen 5 3550H is a decent alternative that comes with 4 cores and 8 threads. It also comes with AMD Vega 8 graphics.
Ports selection comes down to the devices that you are interested in using with your laptop. 3 USB ports are essential and come with pretty much any laptop. You might also want USB Type-C, which has become a very popular standard in 2019. You might also want an SD card reader if you are interested in moving pictures from your camera to your laptop. Other useful ports include an HDMI.
What you should be looking for is a laptop that comes with at least 2 USB 3.0 ports and a USB Type-C port so that you can have your mouse and another device plugged in at the same time. USB Type-C can be used for all kinds of things and a variety of devices so is useful to have, especially if you are planning to keep the laptop for the next few years.
If you go with a 2-in-1 device then you will get a touchscreen display, but you can also get that on a regular laptop. Whether or not you should go with this option depends on your personal preference. I for one rely on the mouse and keyboard for input and have never really felt the need to have a touchscreen for work or play. If you need a touchscreen for your work or games, then the option is there.
The resolution and the size of the display are not the only factors that you should take into account when buying a gaming laptop. You should also look at the type of screen that the laptop comes with. There are two popular screen types, TN and IPS. IPS is the safe bet here for the general consumer. IPS displays are bright, color accurate and have better viewing angles.
In 2019, you can get laptops with OLED displays that produce well over 100 percent of the sRGB color gamut. The images on these displays are bright and look very realistic, but it is going to cost you as well. An IPS panel is something that we can recommend to the masses.