When it comes to gaming, ‘rigs’ definitely aren’t one size fits all. Some gamers prefer a large PC tower with a curved monitor and monster keyboard, while others prefer the elegant simplicity of a gaming laptop.
Technology has progressed so much now that it’s possible to have excellent gaming experiences on both a gaming desktop and a gaming laptop, but which is right for you? There are inherent pros and cons in each type of machine, but we’ll be taking a look at the affordability, performance, and portability of both to help you figure it out.
Assessing your needs as a gamer
First things first, it’s impossible to define whether or not a gaming laptop is better than a gaming PC or vice versa. Their suitability depends entirely on what you want from a new machine. Consider things like how much of a budget you have, how often you’ll be using it and for how long.
Be realistic about your gaming needs too. A professional eSports player, for example, will need a much more powerful device than a casual player with a preference for less intense games like Spin & Go Flash, Factorio or the hypercasual Party Animals.
One of the biggest deciding factors between whether to go with a gaming laptop or PC is how much you can afford to spend. The market is saturated when it comes to both, so it’s possible to purchase both affordable laptops and PCs without much price difference between them. For more high-performance machines, however, the prices aren’t as straightforward anymore.
Although, initially, a gaming laptop will seem cheaper to purchase than a PC (bear in mind that top of the range laptops can set you back anything from $750 to $3000+) since you won’t need to purchase any peripheries like a dedicated gaming monitor, mouse and keyboard, a DIY PC stack could actually work out cheaper in the long run. Building your own PC isn’t as complex as you might think and you can customize it for added value with a better CPU and additional RAM.
This is where you really do need to take your gaming needs into account. If you know you’re looking for something to play on occasionally then go with a budget gaming laptop. If you have more cash to spend, however, and are planning to attend LAN events you can choose between a high-performance laptop or a full gaming PC.
If you have some flexibility as far as budget goes, the next thing you need to think about is how much gaming power you’ll be needing. When it comes to power, a PC will always deliver a better performance than an equivalent laptop, even one built with the same GPU. This is because of thermal compromises; the amount of heat that a laptop produces means that a GPU can’t run at the same speed as it would in a PC. Laptop memories typically run at slower speeds and their processors just don’t match up to those of an equivalent PC. You may get good framerates on a laptop, but the results will be faster on a desktop PC.
Given that they do pack a punch when it comes to performance, one of the biggest drawbacks of a gaming PC is that they’re simply not as portable as laptops, being significantly larger and heavier. The thinnest gaming laptops on the market can easily fit into a backpack and weigh less than 2kg, while budget models will be heavier, but still much more portable than the combo of a gaming desktop, monitor and keyboard.
If space at home is limited, you’re planning to participate in LAN events and eSports tournaments, and you dislike the noise of a PC, a laptop would be the obvious choice. But don’t write PCs off just yet, as something like a mini ITX build would be portable enough to take to events, provided you have the facilities to transport your gaming peripherals too.
On the surface, gaming desktops offer the ultimate performance and can deliver more value for money in the long run. Laptops, on the other hand, are convenient, portable and don’t take up much space at home.
If you know you’re not going to fully utilise everything a PC offers, plan to game on the go a lot and aren’t too fussed about getting exceptional performance every time you play, going with a gaming laptop would be the smartest choice.
There are other situations, however, where a gaming PC is the best solution, particularly if you aren’t planning to move your machine often or if your gaming habits are much more demanding.