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What is a Gaming Laptop?

By Brad Cole
Updated: May 16, 2024

A gaming laptop is a small, mobile, personal computer with a built-in screen. It is primarily used to play computer games. Though any laptop can technically be one, newly purchased gaming laptops are usually distinguished from other models because they contain high-end hardware – a necessity when trying to run the latest graphic- and process-intensive computer games. Due to the high-end hardware, it is not uncommon for a company’s gaming laptops to cost at least three times as much as their entry-level laptop models.

Aesthetically, gaming laptops tend to be less conservative-looking than traditional computers. Many models feature bright colors, metallic finishes, large icons, and prominent ridges that give them a high-tech look. Because they are used in informal settings, some users even customize their gaming laptops with stickers and unique case modifications.

The four primary aspects of a gaming laptop are the operating system, screen size, processor, and graphics card. The operating system (OS) is important because not all games are released for all operating systems, meaning certain desirable games might not be playable on a gaming laptop with the wrong OS. A large screen size is desirable so that gamers can see all aspects of the games they are playing. The processor is arguably the most important feature of a gaming laptop, both because games can be extremely process-intensive and because a minimum processor type/speed may be required to play a game. Finally, the graphics card is also important, as it allows games to be played with higher graphics settings and with more visual effects enabled. Numerous other hardware aspects including total RAM, RAM speed, battery life, and hard disk speed should also be taken into consideration.

A gaming laptop is expected to support additional options that a standard laptop may not. A gaming laptop should be able to accept peripherals like a headset and a wireless mouse, often done via USB ports and Bluetooth® cards; it should be able to connect to the internet and to LANs, usually through WiFi and Ethernet; and it should have improved cooling options such as better venting or more powerful fans, since hardware pushed to its limits for long periods of time will generate significant heat.

Gaming laptops are often criticized as being inferior to desktop gaming computers, sometimes called gaming rigs. Because of their small size, the internal components of a gaming laptop are usually slightly less advanced and much more expensive than similar parts for a desktop computer. In addition, laptops are more difficult to upgrade compared to their desktop counterparts due to a lack of component variety and space limitations. On the other hand, they offer the benefit of portability, which many gamers find to be a desirable trade.

EasyTechJunkie is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By anon1004817 — On Apr 23, 2021

Whoa. Feels like an update is needed. CD drive? Yikes.

By anon966736 — On Aug 21, 2014

I am a fan of video games on my desktop, but I loathe the non portability. The gaming laptop I will probably get is an msi gp70 and I would customize the ram and graphics card if possible.

By croydon — On Jan 03, 2014

@Ana1234 - I'd rather just have a desktop, personally. I have a little laptop for study, but I wouldn't like to use one much for gaming. You can get just as much grunt for half the price with a desktop.

But I guess I'm not really a social gamer, so it's not really aimed at me.

By Ana1234 — On Jan 03, 2014

@Fa5t3r - It's not impossible to make your own gaming laptop, but I don't know how much cheaper it would end up being, since a decent graphics card is always going to be very expensive. That's what drives up the price really. I've seen them for thousands of dollars and a custom gaming laptop can run up to 10,000 if you get every kind of bell and whistle.

Whether it actually needs to have all those extras in order to play games well, I don't know. I'd rather spend that kind of money on the games themselves.

But I have to admit I really like the LED light displays that gaming laptops always seem to have. My favorite was a mouse that looked like it was made out of lava because of some red lights in the grip.

By Fa5t3r — On Jan 02, 2014

I really want to be able to buy a decent gaming laptop computer but they are all so expensive. I mean, I have a pretty good desktop that will play almost anything I want, but I don't want to have to haul it to conventions and things.

Unfortunately, you can't just make a gaming laptop the way you can with a gaming rig, because they are more complicated and difficult to put together.

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