The age-long debate, let's find out.
Gaming in 2023 is a high-tech affair. The industry has developed at breakneck speed over the past few decades, with new technologies and innovations driving its growth and ensuring widespread popularity among global consumers. For PC gamers in particular, there’s now more choice than ever before, especially when it comes to the devices on which they can access and play bleeding-edge gaming experiences.
Choosing between a gaming laptop and a gaming PC is a common dilemma here in the digital age. In previous decades, laptops simply didn’t have the processing power needed to get through the most basic of computer games, but all that has changed with the rise of the gaming laptop. Nowadays, many gamers are torn between investing in an all-new gaming laptop or a more traditional gaming PC, but which delivers the ultimate experience overall?
Whether you’re a budding eSports pro or a newbie, this article will help you decide which machine is right for you.
PCs vs Laptops – How Do They Compare?
Generally speaking, the right machine for you should provide you with all the power and performance that you need to play your favourite games. For instance, a desktop machine should provide blistering power, while gaming laptops need a good balance between portability and visual fidelity.
To help you make your decision, we’ll break down the key things to consider when investing in a new way to play PC games.
First and foremost, before you make any decision on what to buy, it’s important to have a budget in mind. There’s no point looking at high-end gaming rigs if you only have the funds for a lightweight machine; meanwhile, going straight for a cutting-edge gaming laptop when you only intend to play at home a few times a month won’t give you the most value either.
Surprisingly, gaming PCs that you build from scratch can be significantly cheaper than either pre-built models or laptops. It’s all down to where you source the parts from: manufacturers like Origin will obviously be a lot more expensive than lesser-known brands. You’ll also need to either have previous experience of putting a PC together or the confidence to do so using online resources.
Pre-built general-use PCs typically fall into the mid-range price category, but some can reach in excess of $5000 if they’re loaded with the latest top-of-the-range GPUs and CPU. A modest pre-build with adequate cooling, processor and graphics card that will ensure long-term use can be picked up for anywhere between $500 and $1000, depending on the manufacturer.
Surprisingly and despite their smaller stature, gaming laptops capable of delivering 60fps with 4K resolution can be more expensive than desktops. Portability often comes at a premium, so the more lightweight a machine is and the greater battery life it can deliver, the higher the price tag will likely be.
Of course, prices will vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, and even high-end brands like Alienware have more wallet-friendly options in their lines, while customizations across product ranges can also help keep costs down.
Performance is where gamers will typically experience the difference between playing on a desktop and playing on a laptop. At first glance, it could seem like they both offer the same performance, especially when models have similar processors, RAM, and storage. There are, however, noticeable differences between the two, even if they’re both built with the same Intel CPUs or NVIDIA graphics cards. This difference becomes more evident when playing the multitude of digital games like online roulette or top FPS titles available today, where you need to rely on performance to get the biggest rewards.
Even the most cutting-edge GPU in a laptop will typically perform at a rate that’s 20-30% less than that same card in a desktop PC. This also plays out across CPUs too, leaving players with a noticeable difference between gaming on a portable device and a PC. Furthermore, games run a lot smoother on desktop machines, even when compared to the performance of a premium-priced laptop.
Performance is all relative to the titles that you want to play, but if you’re into innovations like Ray Tracing and want to spend hours exploring the virtual worlds of games like Hogwarts Legacy, a gaming desktop will be most suitable. Older games like Final Fantasy XIV will run just as well on gaming laptops, however.
When it comes to choosing between a laptop or a desktop, there’s no single wrong or right answer. Both have their inherent advantages and disadvantages, meaning the choice is entirely depending on your needs as a player. Many gamers are more than happy with the performance that inexpensive Dell or Lenovo laptops provide, while others prefer the meaty power of a budget gaming rig.
As well as buying within your budget and having a clear idea of the performance and power you need, other things to take into consideration include design, portability and longevity. On the design front, laptops can push ahead due to offering everything that players need for gaming on the go in a portable package.
They clearly take the lead when it comes to portability, too, since PCs are intended to stay in one place, while the gaming rig takes the edge when it comes to longevity (PC components are generally easier and more cost-effective to replace).
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