Gaming Laptops vs Gaming Desktops? Technical Specs Compared

For a number of years, the consensus was that if you were any sort of serious gamer, you were going to play on a desktop. The idea of playing games using a laptop was met with scorn and disbelief. How would it be possible to fit the power needed to operate high-end games into a laptop?

Technologies continued to advance. Now, we have reached the point where laptops of today are a lot more powerful than the desktops of years past. Many companies are releasing gaming notebooks. But what about the power gap between a desktop and a laptop? Can a laptop really stand up to a desktop? There is only one way to find out and that is by comparing them side-by-side.

GPU Power

Whenever you discuss gaming systems, the first place you have to start is with the GPU specs. It is not difficult to fit a high-end processor into a laptop. However, it is a completely different story when we are talking about a GPU.

A high-end graphics card is large. That is not a big problem when dealing with a desktop. However, one of the biggest advantages of using a laptop is that it is small. This makes it challenging trying to fit a large graphics card inside of the thin plastic frame of a laptop.

Mobile versions of GPUs are always going to have less power than their desktop counterparts. At the same time, they are going to be more expensive.

Larger GPU’s are going to run hot. There is a reason why gaming desktops have triple fan coolers and heatsinks. It’s not just for show. Fitting a larger graphics card as well as a cooling system into a laptop is difficult, if not impossible.

You just cannot compare the raw power that you get with a desktop with what you get from a laptop. And the fact that you have to pay two times as much for a laptop that has comparable specs to the desktop makes the situation even more frustrating.

This does not mean that the situation is hopeless for someone who is determined to use a laptop. You can purchase an external GPU and use that to transform your regular laptop into a gaming laptop. You just want to make sure that your CPU can handle the additional requirements, and you have to realize that you are going to be carrying around a little extra bulk.

Portability

This is a no-brainer. If you are an avid gamer or you enjoy playing in tournaments, you know that you are not going to be able to take your desktop with you wherever you go. Laptops, on the other hand, by their very nature are designed to be portable. With a desktop, you are going to have a bunch of wires for yours peripherals. This problem is not going to exist with a laptop.

There are a couple of things to keep in mind when you are considering a gaming laptop. Sure, it is going to be lighter than a desktop, but it’s going to be a lot heavier than your traditional laptop. Still, you should be able to fit it into your backpack.

Sound

Just a few years ago, laptop speakers were junk. Modern laptops, while not able to please the most critical audiophiles, are able to produce amazing sound. A number of them offer a 2.1 set up with bass speakers. And what is great is that you don’t have to spend an arm and a leg to get good sound from a gaming laptop.

This does not mean that it is an automatic win for laptops. Laptops make a lot of noise with their fan. Some laptops have fans that are designed to work in silent mode. However, a number of gaming laptops have overpowered fans to try to compensate for the heat generated by the GPU. They can be so loud that they drown out the laptop’s speakers.

RAM

One of the biggest selling points for a desktop gaming set up is that desktops are customizable. There is plenty of room for you to access the computer parts and switch them out.

Laptops are not known to be modular. Still, most of them make it possible for you to switch out the RAM. Some gaming laptops will allow you to install up to 32 GB of RAM. This is more than what you will need to play even high-end games.

When you compare different laptop models, you see that many laptops make it difficult for you to access RAM slots. Usually, you have to completely unscrew the base of the laptop. And once you do this, you have voided the warranty of your machine. For our money, because of its ability to be customized, we are giving our nod to the desktop.

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Monitors

There is a lot of variance in quality when talking about laptop monitors. We have seen a number of ultra-high definition monitors on laptops. Still, because of their size and power, they are able to provide the brilliance of colors and the smooth screen action that you can get with a desktop monitor. With a desktop monitor, you’re able to choose the style of display that you want. Desktop monitors can be as large as you want them to be.

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Most gaming laptops will have a display that is between 15 inches and 17 inches diagonally. They have HD screens with a 60 Hz refresh rate. So you have to ask yourself if you want to limit your gaming experience to just 17 inches diagonally.

The other side of the argument is that you can attach an external monitor to your laptop. But that creates a whole host of other problems, including where to put the monitor.

And even here, a desktop has the advantage because you can only connect your laptop to a single external monitor. Conversely, gaming desktops allow you to do multi-display gaming.

Keyboard

Most laptops, even most gaming laptops, do not have keyboards that are designed to stand up to the continuous pressing you do when you are playing games. Especially if you are in the middle of an intense game, you’re going to be pressing down hard and for a long time. Ideally, you want a mechanical keyboard. Mechanical keyboards are a standard option with the desktop. There are a few gaming laptops that come with mechanical keyboards, but these are few and far in between. You can purchase an external keyboard, but then that kind of defeats the purpose of having a laptop, doesn’t it?

Conclusion

The biggest plus for a laptop is its portability. In one machine you have everything that you need without worrying about peripherals. However, with a gaming PC, you’re going to have the space that you need to add components, increase storage, improve airflow, and have a more powerful GPU.

Gaming laptops are definitely reaching the point where they are giving desktops a run for their money. Still, their processors are nowhere near comparable to their desktop counterparts. You will never get the same performance from a GTX 980 M that you’re going to get from a GTX 980.

Laptops overheat. They just are not at the point where they can stand up to heavy hardware usage. We feel that there is no comparison when it comes to performance and speed. You are always going to have a better experience with a desktop as compared to a laptop.

We would love to hear from you. What do you prefer using, a gaming desktop or a gaming laptop? Let us know in the comments section below.

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