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#1 Posted by liquiddragon (3281 posts) -

I've never thought about gaming laptops until yesterday. Not sure why but I started looking at some so I'm curious how the experience is if you ever had one or use one now. I'm not looking for comparisons to gaming desktops, more on how they compare agains regular laptops. What are the pros and cons? Is the weight a huge issue? Can you take it to places and use it daily? Which one do you have or used in the past? Thanks in advance.

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#2 Edited by Casepb (596 posts) -

I still have my old MSI GT70 that I bought in 2013, but only use it for work now. It ran games from 2013 pretty damn well, I enjoyed it when it was new. Hooked it up to a 50" TV and played a lot of Steam games that way. Biggest con is the heat. The thing could be used as a portable heater during the winter. Also when I had to bring it to wherever it was a pain due to the size. Getting an extra large laptop bag worked though. Gaming laptops are smaller today, so I wouldn't worry about the size and weight so much.

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#3 Edited by xanadu (2032 posts) -

I guess all I could ask is why do you need a gaming laptop? Where are you going where you need to game on the go? Since youre not asking about comparing them to Desktops I'll skip over the obvious disadvantageous. I'd say the biggest thing you seem to lose with gaming laptops over regular ones is battery life. They tend to be pretty poor with all that power they're trying to draw. There's definitely power settings to choose from to save battery but there really wont be any comparison to regular laptops.

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#4 Edited by MrGreenMan (175 posts) -

Unless you plan on traveling a lot and want to game I would advise against it. You are likely not going to find many for a decent price that under 5-6 lbs and have no more then maybe 4-5 hours of battery. Personally I got a Switch for this exact reason while they may not be the best version of most games they are more then playable and look great on that small screen. There are a ton of indie games on the switch that I tend to play more now then I do on PC even now. Unless you are really willing to spend a lot of cash there lot more cons then pros to gaming laptops.

The only portable gaming rig I thought actually did a excellent job was the Nvidia portable shield but that was in 2013. It played many PC games and kind of just worked with little to no hassle.

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#5 Posted by Justin258 (15581 posts) -

I don't think that comparing gaming laptops to regular laptops is really the best way to go. They're not meant to be compared to regular laptops because the advantage of a regular laptop is its portability, which is a contest that a gaming laptop will lose every single time because they tend to be big, bulky, and very expensive for what they do. If you need a lot of rendering capability and you need it to be mobile, then get a gaming laptop. Otherwise, go find a regular laptop with a good processor, 16GB of RAM, and in a lightweight and durable package.

Why do you want a gaming laptop? That's not me being a smartass, by the way. That's a genuine question. Gaming laptops have become leaps and bounds better than they were in the past, but they still cost considerably more than gaming desktops while using slower parts, producing more heat, and generally not lasting as long. If you're looking to replace a gaming desktop with a laptop and have wads of cash to throw around, you can do that these days, but it's generally not advised unless you need to be mobile or unless you simply want to save space.

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#6 Posted by Cameron (1050 posts) -

Don't bother unless you have a very specific use case where you need a powerful gaming computer on the go. They've gotten better in the past few years, but unless you're prepared to shell out a ton of money, a gaming laptop is going to be big and have relatively short battery life.

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#7 Posted by Notkcots (113 posts) -

I have an Acer with a 1070 in it, and I've been pretty happy with it. You're paying a premium for the form factor, but you're also saving on the cost of buying a new monitor, which defrays it somewhat. The biggest drawback to a beefy gaming laptop is the size and weight. They're technically "portable," but you really only want to move them from workstation to workstation. I only ever use it in two places: my desk and a comfy recliner, and I keep a power brick (which is also massive) at each one so I don't ever deal with battery life. It works well for my purposes, but seriously: don't think of this thing as a laptop so much as a movable desktop.

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#8 Posted by RetroMetal (870 posts) -

I used to have an MSI Ghost Pro 4K, it only had a GTX 970M which was pretty good, but I hated the laptop because it had a numeric keypad so, on laptops with the numeric keypad they shift the trackpads left to center it under the space bar, which I hated. SO, I bought an Alienware with a GTX 1070 in it which is really badass, but the laptop is huge and heavy. So, there have been things I didn't like about both. (I gave the MSI to my daughter, btw, she loves it)

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#9 Edited by Forrester90 (978 posts) -

I had a Dell gaming laptop about 10 years ago. It was to big, heavy, hot, and loud to take around campus so I just used it as a severely under powered (for its price) desktop in my apartment. This was 10 years ago of course so I can't give you any info on if they've improved.

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#10 Posted by Stonyman65 (3799 posts) -

They aren't as bad as they used to be but they are still very expensive for what you are getting. As a laptop they are also usually thicker and heavier due to increased heat. A better solution would be a regular laptop of whatever size you want and using a dock for an external graphics card over thunderbolt. That way you have the portability on the move but when you get home you can plug in and have a great experience.

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#11 Edited by _Brojangles_ (129 posts) -

As others have said, gaming laptops suck ass at actually doing of what you would expect of a traditional laptop while playing games.

You are going to be picking someplace to set up shop, within range of a wall socket and playing games there. Because running on battery is going to take a hit on your performance, and completely demolish your battery's charge.

If you are willing to put out the extra money, they make for really nice "mobile desktops." I bought one to play games on at my kitchen table near the outlet due to having very limited space in my current living situation.

You can save some money if you opt for a "budget" gaming laptop. They still aren't cheap purchases, but they run most games well. Mine has a 1050ti which gets me high and max settings on anything not super graphics intensive, and medium/low on things that are. Get one and you you can potentially save yourself a couple extra hundreds of dollars compared to stuff like Alienware laptops.

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#12 Posted by Zurv (997 posts) -

A few times a year i fly to Asia for work (from NYC) That is a day on the plane... each way... ugh..

I've been getting the razer blade laptops for awhile. (the latest with a 1060 and 4k screen.) They are really well build and not a huge monster. (just looks like a normal laptop.)

As with any gaming laptop, they cost a ton, and they perform like crap. :) (i think the one i'm using now was like $2,600 - this years model with the 1070/4k is $2,900! I wish they'd make a 1440p screen. 1080p is to low IMO for any laptop and 4k is overkill.) I only take the laptop for those long flights (and in the hotel room.) I could get a new PC sexy PC with a 2080 ti and still save money vs a laptop.

Laptops have gimped CPUs (less cores) and gimped GPUs. You see how big video cards are? note how small a laptop is. :) Then they take a huge perf dive when they aren't plugged in. (lucky business class has power plugs or the games would be unplayable. (and the battery would die in an hour or two.)

I would never suggest someone getting a gaming laptop if that is their main gaming system. I'd only suggest it if you travel a lot.

When the RTX cards make it into laptops i'll pick up another one. The Ray tracing is every more pointless than in the desktop (which is pointless there too) but the DLSS would help. (DLSS is the AI power AA. It should be great AA with a very slight perf hit. That said, the RTX are hot as hell.. and laptops are still small...

Mr Stonyman65 has a good idea. That said, you aren't going to be very mobile. The CPU is still gimped and you have to pay for the GPU case (which is pretty costly too.)

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#13 Edited by liquiddragon (3281 posts) -

@justin258: @xanadu: I just got curious 'cause it's a segment of the market I think we all have preconceived notions about. That's why I wanted get some input from ppl with 1st hand experienc. Atm it's not a serious consideration for me but the scenario in my mind was living abroad.

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#14 Edited by Ketta (108 posts) -

I used a budget gaming laptop in college. It was a great investment then because I could use it for school work in class and gaming on the weekends. However partially this was due to the school requesting all engineering students to have discrete GPUs. In actuality that was only barely useful for mechanical engineers who did a lot of CAD work. It was useless for me, but I definitely got a good couple years of Dota out of it. I eventually drove it to its limits and the hardware was starting to fail if I put it under a serious load. I still use it from time to time for programming while on trips, but that's about it.

Now that I have a place of my own and a desk I've been enjoying the full-sized PC life. As in the biggest case I could buy with as many hard drives as I could fill it with. Priorities change, y'know?

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#15 Posted by Eurobum (487 posts) -

@liquiddragon:

Gaming laptops are a perfect example for a product, that shouldn't exist, because it's a classic "fool me once" and never again type deal. Other examples are elaborate 7.1 Speaker setups, until the person figures out that headphones are much more practical and sound better to boot. Or two-stroke engine scooters that an idiot 17 year old buys to be cool... until he slides that thing off the wet pavement, best case scenario ending up in a cast.

Laptops really should be avoided at all cost. Not even considering the fact that they get dropped and stolen all the time, they are terribly overpriced and all fake. For instance an i7 in a laptop, is somehow a dual core CPU... Same thing with the Gforce XY80m cards. Even if you pay several grand and don't get neutered hardware with half the cores, it still will run at much lower clocks, especially the GPU.

Intel has figured out a way to create ultra-thins that can clock up to 4 GHz in a split second, to create good burst performance, but games need constant CPU use, and laptops with 35 W and 45 W TDPs are rarely ever produced any more, and it's still just a 1/5 or 1/10 of the thermal envelope a top of the line desktop.

Traveling professionals and MMO-fiends (been there, done that) are pretty much the only target audience, where it makes some kind of sense. But a gaming PC and a cheap-o laptop still will be less costly and offer better performance and experience, easier replacement, less risk, less noise.

My personal experience is with a mid to low range 17" laptop that a parent accidentally bought for work some years ago. I did play 30 FPS Skyrim on it and swapped out the HDD for an SSD. Performance creates heat, and that's not something that can really be dealt with in portable hardware, even though heat-pipes and energy management brought some relief. I also have built quite a few low power consumption desktops and have some documented experimental experience with OC, under-clocking and undervolting, and I do admire the efficiency, but it's just not cost effective. More importantly silent cooling requires space for huge radiators, laminar air flow and large slow spinning fans, something that laptops and consoles sacrifice for no good reason. Just to be tiny, sleek little - leaf blowers.