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Desktop vs. Laptop

Desktop vs. Laptop

Photo Credit: BagoGames

Over the past several years, computer manufacturers have been trying to entice gamers with highly portable, reasonably powerful gaming laptops. On the surface, these machines seem like a good choice for the jet-set gamer and they can offer some decent in-game performance. However, laptops lack a lot of the high-level customization many enthusiasts and pros are looking for. Here’s how your setup can affect your gaming abilities.


Photo Credit: Thomas W

When in a competitive setting the biggest thing a gamer worries about is lag which can come from any number of sources, including:

  1. Graphics card
    This is one of the most integral parts of a gaming rig. It handles nearly everything that a gamer is interacting with on-screen. Desktops allow a gamer to choose between a variety of powerful cards in a number of different setups. This is important because a poor setup can cause stuttering, dropped frames and slow-downs that can mean the difference between a kill and a death. Small form factors on laptops also mean that gamers can’t take advantage ofCrossfire or Scalable Link Interface (SLI) setups.

  2. Monitor
    Most high-end laptops come with pretty decent displays these days, but few can match the speed of a 120hz+ monitor that has been developed specificallyfor gaming. Higher speeds mean more frames being pumped out, less tearing and not only a better experience, but a more competitive one.

  3. Heat
    Gaming laptops have definitely advanced in processor options (some are even starting to include top of the line offerings), but a small form factor means that cooling is an issue. Desktops have the option of large heatsink and fan setupor even elaborate water cooling systems that are not available nor feasible in a laptop. This can contribute to a processor or graphics card underperforming and even limiting your ability to overclock your machine for even more power.

  4. LAN
    More and more manufacturers are choosing to forgo Ethernet ports on laptops these days favoring WiFi, but this poses problems for serious gamers. WiFi can be prone to interference, drop-outs and slow downs while a hard-wired connection is much more reliable in terms of performance and consistency.

It’s not to say that good gaming laptops don’t exist—they do. Razer’s blade series of laptops offers great packages for serious games and also happens to be one of the best laptops on the market. Coming in at around $3000, they’ve done a pretty remarkable job of stuffing top of the line hardware into a reasonably small form factor with outstanding build quality.


Photo Credit: MSI

Not to be outdone, early in 2015 MSI released a bonkers laptop with a mechanical keyboard and the option for SLI graphics cards. The GT80 Titan comes with an 18” screen, GTX 980M graphics card and a minimum 16GB of ram—all packaged with aCherry MX Brown keyboard.

Sounds convenient and conventional. The downside? Even though these machines are technically portable, they’re still better described as desktop replacements. Their internal components have serious power requirements requiring bulky adapters and because most gamers will choose external cooling options, monitors and peripherals, their portability becomes awkward at best.

The other big problem with laptops for gaming is that many gamers like the ability to swap out parts with newer ones every couple years, ensuring the best performance at all times. Once you buy a laptop there is little opportunity for upgrades beyond a full system replacement, ultimately making a desktop set up more versatile.

Both desktop computers and laptops come with positive and negative variables. The biggest question you have to ask yourself is what you want your gaming experience to look and feel like. So keep doing research and keep this information in mind if or when you decide to change up your setup.

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