How To Know if a Laptop is Good For Gaming? [Answered]

Every aspiring gamer or casual gamer is always met with a dilemma. That is how to tell if their laptop of interest is good or powerful enough for gaming.

No gamer wants to play games on low FPS. Not only that but also on low detail and resolution. Playing games on low detail to maximise FPS or low FPS sours the gaming experience.

Shopping for a new gaming laptop can be a difficult task. Because there are so many brands and models out there. You are stuck wondering which ones are good for gaming.

How to know if a laptop is good for gaming? This article will show you how to answer that question to get your gaming laptop.

How To Tell if a Laptop is Good For Gaming? [3 Obvious Tells]

A gaming laptop is called a gaming laptop for a reason. Their hardware components are very much different compared to normal laptops and are much more powerful. Here’s how to tell if a laptop is good for gaming.

Graphics Card

GPUs directly tell you if a gaming laptop can handle demanding games.

There two types of GPUs – integrated and dedicated.

Gaming laptops have dedicated graphics cards whilst normal laptops have integrated graphics card.

Dedicated graphics cards are much more powerful than integrated cards because they have their own video RAM.

And also were made for the purpose of playing games. Not only that they also perform better at graphics related work.

Software like Adobe Photoshop, CAD – to some extent – and crypto mining make use of dedicated graphics cards.

RTX 3060 Laptop Tested

The higher the video RAM the more powerful the graphics card in most cases.

In addition to that, graphics cards that have high video RAM allow you to connect to several external monitors, without any negative impact on gaming performance.

It also allows you to enjoy higher details and video resolutions.

Dedicated graphics cards are made by NVIDIA and AMD. NVIDIA graphics cards are common in laptops.

NVIDIA has the MX, GTX and RTX series.

NVIDIA MX cards, for example, the MX150 are entry-level cards that are only suitable for light gaming.

The NVIDIA GTX cards (GTX 1060, 1070, 1080, etc) are powerful cards that can handle most AAA title games on medium to high detail.

The NVIDIA RTX cards (RTX 20-series and 30-series) are even more powerful cards that have ray-tracing capabilities.

The RTX 30-series in laptops are highly-recommended if you want the best performance in gaming.

Ray Tracing

NVIDIA GTX cards might have ray tracing capabilities when their new drivers roll out.

AMD dedicated graphics cards are more common in desktops than laptops.

AMD dedicated graphics card are mostly paired with AMD CPUs. The current AMD GPUs are the AMD Radeon RX-series. Powerful graphics cards that offer similar performance to the NVIDIA RTX 30-series.

Laptops with dedicated AMD GPUs are not common. However, if you get your hands on one. You should get it. Because they offer comparable or slightly better performance at a cheaper price point.

When it comes to NVIDIA GPUs. If you want the best gaming performance, the NVIDIA RTX-series are your best choice.

If you want mid-range or decent performance, the NVIDIA GTX-series will suffice. Finally, if you are into casual light gaming the NVIDIA MX-series will be the best option.

Now for AMD GPUs. The AMD Radeon RX-series are very powerful cards.

They can’t be divided between high, mid-range or light gaming. But rather the display resolution you want to play games on.

AMD Radeon gives a good presentation on which display each graphics card provides the best performance.

Processor/CPU

Now for the CPUs

Gaming laptops have powerful CPUs. You would hardly see a gaming laptop with an Intel Core i3 processor.

Most gaming laptops are equipped with high-performance Intel Core i5 and i7 processors.

In addition, their suffix ends with H or HQ. This guide perfectly explains the meaning behind the letters in Intel CPUs or their naming schemes.

Intel CPU Letters Explained

The Intel Core i5s and i7s have higher turbo clock speeds, more cores, consume more power and are able to support a lot of RAM.

The same can be said for AMD processors. To be precise, AMD Ryzen processors. The high performance gaming laptops have AMD Ryzen 5 and 7.

AMD Ryzen Explained

This guide explains the different meanings behind suffixes in AMD Ryzen names.

Userbenchmark is also a great website where you can compare two different processors or graphics cards.

Gaming laptops with high-performance CPUs are paired with powerful dedicated graphics cards.

For example, the AMD Ryzen 7 is paired with NVIDIA RTX-series or AMD Radeon RX-series. This combination destroys AAA title games on high settings.

Display

Most gaming laptops utilize the same screens or displays as non-gaming variants with two major differences – refresh rate and response times.

The refresh rate is the number of times your laptop display is updated with new images. A laptop display with a 60Hz refresh rate is going to update the screen 60 times in a second.

Refresh Rates Explained

A 60Hz refresh rate is common in laptops. If the refresh rate is not provided or given in the specification sheet then it is a 60Hz refresh rate. Some gaming laptops also have a 60Hz refresh rate.

Gaming laptops have higher refresh rates with some being 120Hz, 144Hz, 240Hz and 300Hz.

As soon as you see a 120Hz, 144Hz or 240Hz in a specification sheet of a laptop then you are looking at a gaming laptop and a powerful one at that.

Some gaming laptops do not have their refresh rate written in the spec sheet so you have to look at the graphics card and processor to determine if it is good for gaming.

High refresh rates are highly beneficial in gaming hence the reason why a lot of people pay attention to display refresh rates. Because the higher the refresh rate your smoother your gameplay.

Screen Tearing

You won’t have visual distortions. If your FPS becomes higher the refresh rate your display won’t be able to keep up and there will be screen tearing and stuttering.

Screen tearing and stuttering occurs when your display shows multiple images at once. This can negatively affect the gaming experience.

RAM

RAM is not a direct indicator of whether a laptop is meant for gaming or not.

Because most at times higher-end non-gaming laptops have a lot of RAM. The thing about gaming laptops is that their RAM have high speeds.

ram speed
RAM Speed

The clock speeds are in MHz. If you look closely at the spec sheet of a laptop you can find the clock speeds of the RAM.

In the picture above, the gaming laptop has a RAM clock speed of 2666MHz. A 2666MHz means that it is able to perform 2666 cycles in a second.

The same applies to 1600MHz. RAM speed is not as important as RAM size or the amount of RAM the laptop has.

NB: RAM speed is very important in AMD laptops.

This is because insufficient RAM can affect gaming performance. That’s why most gaming laptops come with 16GB RAM right of the bat.

Keyboard And Design

Another obvious tell of a gaming laptop is the keyboard. Gaming laptops have backlit keyboards. Some even allow you to customize the colours of the backlit keyboards. Those are the RGB keyboards.

rgb backlit keyboard
RGB Backlit Keyboard

This gives it a flashy “gamer” look. There are also gaming laptops that have mechanical keyboards.

They are high quality and have spring-like mechanical switches under their keys instead of the rubber membranes found in normal keyboards.

They have superior tactile feedback and are comfortable to type on. The downside is that they make a lot of noise when typing.

The design is also another tell of whether it is a gaming laptop. Gaming laptops have that flashy design with stripes or lines running through on the body of the laptop.

Some of the lines are red or green. The body of the laptop also looks aggressive. The exhausts look badass and the edges of the laptop are sharp.

ASUS Strix Scar Design

The design is not always flashy and depends on the model and manufacturer. They have taken the minimalistic approach.

Most gaming laptops do not have the flashy designs anymore. And have opted for the simple designs devoid of lines and stripes.

How To Choose A Laptop For Gaming?

The differences between a gaming laptop and a normal laptop have been covered. So how do you choose a gaming laptop?

You can check a guide on how to find the best laptop for your needs. It fully breaks down the various components of a laptop and the role they play.

You should determine if you are going to use the laptop for light or intense gaming.

If you going to use it for light gaming, laptops with NVIDIA MX graphics cards and Intel processors with the U suffix will suffice.

If you are on seriously tight budget laptops with AMD APUs will get the job done. But don’t expect stellar performance.

Intense gaming is going to require powerful components so you should be looking at the NVIDIA GTX, RTX and AMD RX-series graphics cards in laptops.

For processors, you should be looking at Intel and AMD Ryzen processors that have the H and HQ suffixes.

In addition to that, the laptop should have a high display refresh rate of 120Hz or more and the RAM should be at least 16GB.

Keep in mind that the gaming laptops that can run AAA title games on high settings more often than not have bad battery lives.

Because of the powerful hardware in their chassis. Though this is quickly changing.

For example, the Gigabyte Aero 15x is a powerful gaming laptop. And has one of the best battery life out of all the gaming laptops.

Why Buy A Gaming Laptop?

Gaming laptops are more powerful than their normal counterparts. There are those that say why buy a gaming laptop when you can build a gaming desktop.

Gaming desktops are superior to gaming laptops in a lot of ways. But you can’t take a gaming desktop with you when you are travelling.

With a gaming laptop, you can carry it anywhere with you and game as long as you have a power source.

This benefit makes gaming laptops a much-preferred choice amongst a lot of people than building or buying a gaming desktop.

Final Thoughts

Hardware components basically determine if a laptop is meant for gaming or not. The quickest way to tell if a gaming laptop is good is by reading or watching reviews about your laptop of interest.

Laptops that have dedicated graphics cards are gaming laptops. Although not all graphics cards are equal.

That’s everything on how to know if a laptop is good for gaming.

You Might Also Like

Leave a comment