Talk about what do you want to replace. Do you want to replace a console? A desktop?
Buying a gaming laptop is the same with any other electronic. It becomes a good decision only if it fits your needs.
For example, most people don’t need a desktop PC, especially a powerful one, unless they play games on it or are work from home. Having an expensive desktop PC you only use 1-2 hours per day is almost a waste, and a laptop would fit far better into your purchasing ideas.
6 reasons why a gaming laptop is worth it
It’s an excellent all in one device
A gaming laptop is the only, true all-in-one device that offers true mobility, working capabilities as well as gaming & media consumption.
This is unique to gaming laptops. Any other type of electronic device can do 1, maybe 2, of these functions. But never all 3 at once:
Desktop PC: can work and game, but you’re stuck to one location.
Consoles: good for gaming, excellent as a media player, but also stuck in one location and you can’t use it for work functions.
Normal laptops: good mobility and work potential, but most normal laptops are too weak to play games on, especially newer ones.
More power to do work stuff
Gaming laptops are considerably more powerful than normal laptops or even weaker desktop PC’s. The extra computing powers makes regular programs such as web browsers, MS Word, Excel or Photoshop run far better than on normal laptops.
Software open faster, commands are more responsive, loading times are way shorter for basically everything, you can have 100 tabs open in Chrome and not worry about it etc.
If you plan to use a gaming laptop for work and other related tasks, then the more powerful hardware is absolutely worth the money.
The extra performance is immediately noticeable in terms of productivity and mental wellbeing.
It improves productivity since you won’t have to wait for the device to execute commands, and it helps mental wellbeing since you no longer have to “fight” your device to get productive stuff done.
More comfortable & versatile than PC’s and consoles
Portability is by far the biggest selling point of laptops. You can carry it to work, while travelling, when going to conferences, on holidays, when visiting friends etc.
Closely connected to portability is the fact that laptops are more comfortable to use (both for work and gaming) compared to consoles and desktop PC’s.
With a gaming laptop you can sit at a desk just like with regular PC’s but you can also take the laptop with you to the kitchen, relax in the bed or the sofa etc. You just have the flexibility to enjoy the stuff you want how you want it.
I got to the point where a dedicated PC just meant I didn’t get to play much anymore. If I had to lock myself in my office to game I would rarely get to game. So for me I love my gaming laptop for a few reasons:
I can play in bed or on the couch while spending time with my family
I don’t have to be at my desk to play
I can play in the car during road trips
I can take my VR rig to friends and families house
I can hook it up to any tv for couch co-op.
As an adult with a family and a career having a gaming laptop is HUGE.
But when I was a teen and in college? Not nearly as useful. I more needed private time away from people to play.
To get an equivalent experience from a laptop you’re paying 2x as much. And head becomes a major issue. Depending on where you are in life it’s either super worth it or a waste of money.Blog reader quote
Gaming laptops have far more games than consoles
Consoles are marketed as the best platforms for gaming, but in reality they have a far smaller library of games compared to Windows based devices such as PC’s or laptops.
In terms of raw numbers, the PlayStation catalogue boasts of having ~4,000 games in its library. Xbox consoles have similar numbers.
By comparison, Steam alone has 50,000+ Windows games in its store.
On top of that, many of the best, most popular games at the moment are not on consoles. This includes Escape from Tarkov, League of Legends, Dota 2, CSGO, Valorant etc.
Gaming laptops run games better than consoles & normal laptops
A gaming laptop with an Nvidia 3070 or 3080 GPU has a far better gaming performance than the latest consoles: the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X.
In fact, here’s what Gamer’s Nexus has to say about the latest generation consoles:
“Its not a high end gaming machine – Its a living room box with medium to high end graphics equivalent to 5 years ago. That’s where this is.”Gamer’s Nexus about consoles
In fact, when adjusting for video quality settings and the like, a PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X have comparable performance to an Nvidia 1060 6GB GPU, a mid range graphics card released way back in 2016.
On consoles, many high end games such as Red Dead Redemption 2, Cyberpunk 2077 and Microsoft Flight Simulator are locked on low to medium graphics settings in order to achieve stable frame rates and good performance.
A gaming laptop with a 3070 or 3080 GPU allows you to crank up the graphics settings all the way to ultra, while mainting better frame rates than the latest generation consoles.
While a gaming laptop isn’t as powerful as a desktop PC, it is a considerably better platform than consoles and normal laptops.
Can be connected to anything
Another versatility benefit of gaming laptops is their excellent connectivity. Gaming laptops have more than enough processing power to easily sustain 2 or even 3 extra monitors.
Regular laptops will quickly choke if you want to play a game on one screen, and have work programs open on another.
With the proper software you can use gaming laptops as media servers. Basically you dump any and all media files on the laptop, connect it to the Internet and then connect to the laptop from other devices like smartphones and tablets. You can then stream the media files directly to those devices.
The connectivity features of laptops also work great in more niche situations. For example you can always connect a laptop to a projector, sound system or TV.
This is incredibly useful if you ever find yourself in a situation where you have to give a presentation, put music at a party, or just hook up a laptop to a TV so you can see stuff at a bigger screen.
7 reasons why a gaming laptop is NOT worth it
Gaming laptops are expensive in terms of price-to-performance
A latest generation console costs $500-700 new.
A gaming PC with a 3080 GPU will cost around ~$1,000 to $1,500 to build,
By comparison, a laptop with a 3070 (so an inferior version) GPU costs anywhere between $1,500 to $2,000
So you’ll basically spend 1.2x to 1.7x as much money for a gaming laptop, but you’ll be getting 75% or so of the performance of a dedicated desktop.
There’s just no way to hide it. The price to performance ratio of laptops is not great, especially if you want to future proof yourself to play the latest and greatest games for longer than 4-5 years.
High end PC’s and Consoles have much longer lifetimes
One of the biggest problems with gaming laptops is that their gaming potential is often limited to around 5 years. Partly it’s because laptops in general are more prone to break down, but more importantly their components are too underpowered.
If you buy a top of the line gaming PC now, you can reasonably expect it to run the latest and greatest games at ultra graphics setting and good frames rates for at least 7-8 years, if not more.
Just as an example, the 980 Ti was a top of the line GPU launched way back in 2015. Even now, in 2022, it can still run very demanding games such as Call of Duty Warzone at 80-100 frames per second or Halo Infinite at 70-80 FPS.
When it comes to single player games such as God of War, the 980 Ti runs at a respectable 50 FPS at high settings.
So even if the one time investment in a gaming PC is rather high, you’ll be future proofed for a very long time.
However, laptops in general have a 25-30% performance penalty compared to the equivalent desktop component.
For AAA blockbuster games, that will often be enough to pull down frame rates into unplayable territory.
Either that, or it will force you to lower the video settings to the point where you’re not getting the full experience.
By comparison, consoles do not have this issue because they have very long lifecycles. The PlayStation 4 and Xbox One were released in 2013, while their successors came out in 2020.
As such, if you bought a console in 2013 you can expect it to run any and all games for a minimum of 7 years, since developers create their games based on that type of hardware.
If you buy a top of the line PC now, you can expect it to play the newest and greatest games for at least 6-8 years.
Not in my experience. I got one of the nicer gaming laptops, and it never ran anything too well. Newer games caused it to overheat and shut down. And now it’s only a few years old and basically no new game will run on it well.Blog reader quote
Gaming laptops honestly have an even shorter life than consoles do, especially the reasonably-priced ones. They are nice for the first couple years but you start to run into problems whether with hardware cooling or battery and everything but the battery is a bitch to replace, if not outright impossible. Take it from someone who made that mistake once and never will again.Blog reader quote
Laptops are not upgradeable
Unlike desktop PC’s, laptops cannot be upgraded. You’re essentially stuck with the original configuration until you either resell the laptop or mothball it.
The greatest advantage of a desktop PC is that you can swap and upprade components whenever you want (most of the times).
If the motherboard allows it, you can change a mid range CPU from 2-3 years ago, to a top of the line, newly released one.
GPU’s in particular are so easy to replace they’re practically “plug-and-play”.
This can greatly extend the lifetime of a desktop PC. So if you buy a top of the line desktop PC now, and do a single replacement of the GPU or CPU, you can reasonably expect for it to play games at high quality and good frame rates for 8-10 years.
If you just update a part a year its pretty easy to keep a desktop PC relevant. The only time it can be a pain is when new ram is rolled out, because that usually involves doing the RAM, motherboard and CPU all at once.Blog reader quote
Laptops have reliability issues and are hard to fix
Reliability is a big problem for laptops. This is because all of the essential components on a laptop are soldered directly to the motherboard, such as the CPU, GPU and even memory.
Thus, if one component fails, it usually takes the entire laptop down.
Laptops also have trouble with heat management. It’s a downside to having so much computing power in a small form factor – there’s nowhere for the heat to go.
When you combine soldered components and poor heat management, hardware failures are to be expected.
By comparison, desktop PC’s are modular, so if one component fails it almost never affects the other ones.
On laptops, even the beefiest GPUs will struggle, because laptops don’t have usually have good cooling. So many times you will start playing game on max and suddenly after 30 mins you have frame drops because the hardware is performance throttled to limit temperature increase.Blog reader quote
All but simplest of upgrades are impossible (many laptops have soldered memory now, you should check before purchasing) and if something breaks you have to toss the entire unit or spend way more than with a desktop to fix the problem. EX: if your motherboard has an issue, the CPU and GPU HAVE to get replaced with it because they’re soldered on.Blog reader quote
Screens are rather small and in just one form factor
Most gaming laptops have screen sizes of 15.6 or 17.3 inches. While it’s certainly workable, the screen size will really feel restrictive and not as immersive compared to 24 or 27 inch monitors.
In more competitive games like CSGO or League of Legends, the extra screen real estate really helps since it improves visibility by making targets bigger, or allowing you to increase field of view settings so you have increased peripheral sight.
Another benefit you probably haven’t thought about is that gaming laptops don’t have curved monitors. While they might seem gimmicky, research indicates they make for a much more comfortable viewing experience and cause far less eye strain compared to normal monitors.
You’ll be at a disadvantage in competitive games
When you combine the somewhat lower performance of gaming laptops with their restrictive screen sizes you end up with a setup that puts you at a competitive disadvantage compared to adversaries with desktop PC’s.
Depending on the game and how you manage your settings the disadvantage may not that big, but it will still be noticeable and can make the difference between an A+ performance or a mere B one.
Regular laptops will often have insanely good battery life. Purely as an example, the Asus ExpertBook B9450 can last 10-11 hours of screen on time.
By comparison, a gaming laptop will usually last 2-4 hours of active gaming time.
This basically force you to game while having a charging cable connected to the laptop at all times, so in a way you are anchored to game somewhere with a power supply nearby.
Gaming laptop are not worth it to me since their battery will last less than an hour when you play intensive games so you’ll need to keep it always plugged in. What’s the point of a laptop then? Also they are more expensive than building your custom desktop PC, they overheat and run at lower clock speed than desktop, so even if they now have full Nvidia GPUs and Intel CPU they’re still slower than the desktop ones. In the end I’d say that unless you are someone who has to travel a lot staying at hotels and things like that, it’s not really worth it to invest on a gaming laptopBlog reader quote
Is it worth buying a gaming laptop?
If you move around a lot and need a device that can both game and work, then a gaming laptop is an excellent choice and is absolutely worth the money. However, if gaming is an important hobby and you game in the same location, then a gaming PC will offer much better value for money.