So you have the itch to buy a new laptop (again) and you’re wondering if gaming laptops are future proof or if it’s better to buy something else.
As someone who has bought gaming laptops, I thought I would weigh in with some thoughts. I’ll be covering the following topics in this article:
Are Gaming Laptops Future Proof?
No. Gaming laptops are not future proof because their GPUs (Graphics Cards) are only powerful enough to keep up with the next few years of video games and they can’t be upgraded.
What You Need to Know:
Does that mean buying a gaming laptop is a bad idea? No, not necessarily. Gaming laptops are quite powerful and (most of them) can keep up with the latest video game demands, the main downside is they get way too hot.
Less demanding video game titles such as Fortnite, CS GO, Valorant, and others, can run perfectly fine on a gaming laptop. Even the 2019 version of Modern Warfare can run great on new laptops.
But newer AAA titles will struggle, especially the ones that will be released in the next few years. Regularly playing games on a gaming laptop can also significantly reduce its lifetime because the components get much hotter due to restricted airflow.
Why Are Gaming Laptops so Expensive?
The main reason gaming laptops are so expensive is because the hardware is restricted to a very small, enclosed area where temperatures can be very hot. Gaming laptops are also pre-built and the hardware (for the most part) cannot be swapped out, upgraded, or replaced with other parts.
And then there’s the branding factor. Certain brands like to charge more for their gaming laptops which perform essentially the same as non-branded ones. For example, Razer gaming laptops are very expensive.
Gaming Laptops Under $1,000:
Actually there are some decent gaming laptops for under $1,000, here are some choices:
1- Acer Nitro 5
The Acer Nitro 5 is a best-seller on Amazon, and for a good reason. It’s a surprisingly cheap gaming laptop with very impressive hardware. Here are the basic specs:
- Intel I5-9300H (4.1 GHz)
- GTX 1650 4 GB
- 8 GB DDR4
- 256 GB NVMe SSD with Upgradable Slots
Note: there is a newer version of this laptop with a better CPU, graphics card (RTX 2060), RAM, and a 144 Hz display. Check that out.
2 – Asus TUF FX505DT
This laptop doesn’t really look like a gaming laptop because doesn’t have any special style, but it does pack a punch, at a very reasonable price.
- 15.6 inch display
- 120 Hz
- Ryzen 5 R5-3550H
- GTX 1650
- 8GB RAM
- 256 PCI SSD
3 – ASUS ROG G531GT
One of ROG’s mid-range gaming laptops, it’s a little pricey but comes with similar hardware as the ones above.
- 15.6 inch display
- i7-9750H (4.5 Ghz max)
- 8 GB of RAM
- 512 GB SSD
- GTX 1650
Is a GTX 1650 Laptop Good for Gaming?
A GTX 1650 laptop can run most modern games at medium to low settings. But it won’t be run any on ultra, especially the games that will be released in the next couple of years. The GTX 1650 only has 4 GB of VRAM.
GTX 1650 is a good mid-range graphics card for laptops, which is why the laptops above all have this card. You’ll be very lucky to find any laptop for under $1,000 that has a better graphics card.
Average game frame rates for GTX 1650 laptop at 1080P:
- Doom Eternal, High – 50-70
- Fortnite, Epic – 150 -190
- GTA V, High – 60 – 70
- CS GO, High – 150 +
- Modern Warfare 2019, Normal – 60 to 70
- Cyberpunk 2077 – Don’t even think about it. Maybe at 480P.
Note: You will likely need to use dual-channel RAM mode to get the most performance from your laptop, see the section below.
What Parts of a Laptop Can I Upgrade?
If you’re looking to future proof your laptop, there are a couple of upgrades you can consider.
The most important parts of a laptop, such as the CPU and GPU, cannot be upgraded. But you can upgrade the RAM and Hard Drive. These are very simple upgrades but you may need to unscrew some panels on your laptop.
Note: There are some models that allow you to replace the CPU and GPU but these are very rare, and about 99% of laptops don’t allow you to do that. Those components are soldered on to the motherboard.
RAM (From Single Channel to Dual Channel)
Most modern laptops come with at least a single 8 GB RAM module. If you want to future-proof your gaming laptop, you can consider installing an extra module. In most cases, laptops only have two slots for RAM, and to cut corners, only one chip is added.
The problem with that is with only one chip of RAM your RAM will be running in single-channel mode. Adding another chip of RAM activates dual-channel mode which can double the bandwidth of your RAM, improving performance noticeably.
So, if you only have one memory stick in your laptop, consider adding another one for a quick and easy performance boost. Most gaming laptops (like the ones I listed above) only have a single stick of RAM, and adding a second will give a very nice boost, especially on CPU-heavy games.
Hard Drive (From HDD to SSD)
Once again, most modern laptops already have an SSD (Solid State Drive) but some still use regular spinning hard drives. Moving from an HDD to an SSD is one of the best upgrades you can do to future proof your laptop.
SSDs are 10 – 20x faster than regular hard drives, which means Windows is much more responsive, boot ups are done in seconds, and videos games load faster too. Consider buying an SSD for your laptop!
Other than those two upgrades, there aren’t many ways to future proof a gaming laptop. Nevertheless, if you take good care of it, a gaming laptop should last for a long time, it just won’t be able to keep up with demanding video game titles.
Throttling & Overheating Issues:
The main problem with gaming laptops is they just get too hot when you’re playing games on them. You’ll have to move them to a desk to save your lap from burns. And if you are going to play games on a desk, why not get a PC? Pretty much every gaming laptop will get very hot when you game on it.
Most of the time, it’s normal for a laptop to get hot when under intense use, you don’t usually have to worry about them exploding or burning up, for reasons below:
See, modern components like the CPU and GPU are designed to protect themselves from exploding when they get too hot. They have built-in fail-safes, and one of the most obvious is called throttling which lowers the clock speeds to reduce power consumption and lower the temperature.
When a GPU gets too hot, particularly a laptop GPU, it will become slower, which means your performance in games will suffer. So if you notice that your frame rates in games start to drop after an hour or two, chances are it’s because your graphics card is overheating or at least throttling to reduce heat.
I ran into this issue many times with laptops over the years!
Easy Fix for Overheating Laptops:
One very simple way to avoid stressing your laptop more than necessary and keep temperatures under control is to limit frame rates in games. On games that don’t require very precise accuracy, you could also use settings like V-sync.
V-sync locks your game’s frame rate to your display’s refresh rate (which is usually 60 Hz). Limiting the frame rate on games is a good way to keep your graphics card from working too hard and getting too hot. I even do it on my PC.
Would I Recommend a Gaming Laptop?
Well, that depends. If you need something portable, and also want to play games from time to time, a gaming laptop is worth it. Gaming laptops are not future proof though.
I personally wouldn’t get a gaming laptop because I think PCs are much better for gaming (less hot, more powerful hardware, easier to upgrade, etc.) but it’s entirely up to you. I don’t think it’s worth dropping $2,000 or more on a gaming laptop when you can get a very good PC for that amount.
What do you think? Do you have a gaming laptop? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below!