Technology has come a long way in the past few years. Manufacturers have figured out ways to fit better components into smaller spaces. We’ve also taken leaps ahead in terms of the battery life and build quality of portable devices.
These advancements raise a fair question in many of our minds. Have gaming laptops finally become complete, viable replacements to their desktop counterparts? Well, let’s jump into the topic and find out.
Understanding Gaming Laptops
The world of gaming laptops is fascinating. However, it can also be pretty overwhelming to beginners. Let’s break this down into smaller parts and understand what lies here.
Gaming laptops exist for a very simple reason. Portability.
Once upon a time, PC gaming was confined to a big, bulky desktop. You had limited options if you wanted to play with other gamers. You would have to either play online or carry around your gigantic setup and fix it up in the place you’re going to play. This, obviously, proved to be very inconvenient and time-consuming. Not to mention the danger of destroying your multi-thousand dollar PC Build. Computer manufacturers took note of these issues. They came up with a solution—gaming laptops.
Companies made more powerful, specialized laptops for gaming; these had better CPUs, cooling systems, computing power, and GPUs. These upgrades allowed them to run the latest games.
Notable early gaming laptops include the Alienware Aurora m9700. Talk about a chunky beast. It was released in 2006. Then we have the Razer Blade. Razer released this laptop in 2012. Also, it comes closer to modern gaming laptops in terms of size and power. Now they had their shortcomings. They were mainly overheating and had poor long-term quality. These laptops were indeed significant developments in portable PC gaming.
Gaming laptops rose in popularity throughout the 2010s. It was also during this period of time that we saw significant improvements in their performance, usability, portability, space management, and design.
Gaming laptops have become uber-capable machines. They now have multiple uses apart from just gaming. They’re now used for designing graphics, editing videos, visual effects, 3D animation, and also developing games. The latest laptops in the market are ready to go head to head against desktop PCs. Companies like Nvidia and AMD also pay specific attention to the development of gaming laptops and their required hardware/software.
The future seems bright for gaming laptops. The reason being, they’ve proven to just get better and better as each year passes by.
Also read: 6 Best Gaming Laptops for League of Legends
Considering One in 2021?
Now let’s get down to business. I’m going to write arguments in favor of and against buying gaming laptops in 2021, hoping to clarify the choice for you.
Argument For Gaming Laptops
Gaming laptops have gotten insanely good recently. So much so that you don’t even need a separate laptop for work and replacing your desktop. Your gaming laptop can do it all, alongside providing you with a grand gaming experience. Moreover, high spec laptops have become common at accessible prices. In other words, gaming laptops are serious contenders in the battle of legitimately capable machines.
Simply said, 2021 is a great time to buy a new gaming laptop. This is primarily because of the releases of brand new GPUs (NVidia RTX3000 Series & AMD Radeon 6000s Series), CPUs from AMD and Intel, and newer processors. As a result, gaming laptops are currently priced pretty competitively. In addition, new chips are unlikely to arrive before 2023. So you should be set for the next few years if you purchase a gaming laptop right now. Therefore, making them a good option.
Gaming setups with laptops don’t have to make heavy sacrifices like they had to in the past. You no longer have to be at a desk to get the most from your gaming laptop. Improved battery life and connectivity options are slowly making true wireless gaming a dream come true. For instance, the introduction of 5G has undoubtedly helped in remote connectivity. Starlink’s 20-millisecond internet latency is also a fantastic addition to gaming laptops. Advancements in technology have made them thinner and lighter than ever before.
Most high-end gaming laptops in 2021 can even beat new next-gen consoles in performance levels, primarily due to their high refresh rates, better GPUs, processing power, and Dual-screen setups. You can even get fancy Quad-HD laptops now. They look amazing.
Modern gaming laptops also provide great flexibility in choice. Much more compared to their earlier models. Now, there is a wide variety of gaming laptops to choose from. Some companies even let you customize your own laptop!
Unlike a few years ago, you aren’t really missing out on much by choosing laptop GPUs over desktop ones. Laptop GPUs offer similar features, like access to AMD’s FSR. They now have ray tracing support, DLSS, and shadow plates with Nvidia; having a built-in hardware encoder also helps. Separate GPUs for desktops have become notoriously scarce in 2021. Owing to their shortages in supply to the Covid-19 pandemic, cryptocurrency boom, and the rise in PC demand due to remote work. This shortage has made desktop GPU prices soar out of the grasps of the average gamer. Gaming laptops, however, are still readily available in stock online and at non-inflated prices.
In a nutshell, gaming laptops appear to be more value for money in 2021 than their desktop counterparts.
Also read: Top 7 Best Gaming Laptops Under $800
Argument Against Gaming Laptops
Let’s face it. Gaming laptops are just not as powerful as high-powered desktops. There’s still a noticeable gap in their GPUs. Which in turn brings about a gap in game frame rates. Gaming laptops also provide way less upgradability than desktop PCs. with desktop PCs being totally modular. These laptops also have a higher long-term cost of ownership compared to desktops. Hence. It’s not uncommon that a gaming laptop becomes obsolete in around five years or so. Safe to say that if you aren’t moving around a lot, desktops prove to be a better overall choice.
Another glaring issue in gaming laptops is their size. How, you ask? Well, basically, while their small size is great for portability, it brings about an issue in the cooling department. Their compact size is a hurdle for internal components like thermals, acoustics. They’re too cramped for proper airflow. Therefore leading to heating issues. Most new high-power gaming laptops regularly reach temperatures like 90° F due to poor cooling. The excess heat also reduces the silicon lifespan and overall longevity of your device.
The cooling fans might help with heating issues, but they bring along their own problem. The annoying whirring sound that irks most people. While it is less noticeable in expensive laptops, the problem worsens as you head down the price ranges. To fix this, you can lower the power in some gaming laptops, but at the cost of decreasing your fps.
Another option is to get a larger gaming laptop that allocates more space for cooling. However, a large, heavy laptop beats the point of portability, doesn’t it? This issue makes headphones a must for an immersive gaming session.
Although battery life in gaming laptops has come a long way since 2011, even now, there are limited laptops with excellent battery life. Plus, the batteries don’t deliver enough wattage without having a damaging effect on performance. Sure, gaming laptops can provide mobility. However, many still require charging cables and an AC connection for true, uncompromised gaming.
The answer to whether gaming laptops are worth it in 2021 really depends on what you want. They make sense if you are always on the move or want to pick up your laptop and game anywhere. The answer isn’t so clear if portability is not one of your primary concerns. In that case, a desktop might be the PC for you.
Gaming laptops today are much better than in the past. They make for great upgrades to older PCs. Just go through all the advantages and disadvantages and compare them to your needs.
In conclusion, purchasing a gaming laptop in 2021 is an intelligent choice.