Gaming PC vs Gaming Laptop: Which Should You Buy?

You’re all ready to buy some new gaming hardware. But, should you go for a gaming PC or a gaming laptop?

There are significant advantages to each option, but also disadvantages. So which one to choose?

5 Key Differences Between a Gaming Laptop and a Gaming PC

There are five key differences between gaming laptops and gaming PCs:

  • Equipment and features
  • Game performance
  • Upgrade options
  • Portability and space requirements
  • Cost

It’s a conundrum that every gamer faces when it comes time to upgrade their gaming hardware. A gaming laptop is obviously more portable than a gaming PC, but does it deliver the same performance? A gaming PC is more upgradable than a gaming laptop, but will it cost you more than a gaming laptop in the long run?

With these questions in mind, let’s take a look at the five key differences between a gaming PC and a gaming laptop and figure out which one you should buy.

1. Equipment and Features

Gaming laptops and gaming PCs are actually more similar than you might think when it comes to equipment and features. Interestingly, the biggest difference is actually in your out-of-the-box experience.

When you buy a gaming laptop, it comes with everything you need. You go online or to your local hardware store, choose a gaming laptop, and it comes with all the bells and whistles, including a webcam, built-in speakers, a Wi-Fi card, a battery, etc

When it comes to the gaming PC, you will have to choose between several variables. A gaming PC is almost endlessly customizable (which we’ll explore in more detail in a moment), but you also need more peripheral hardware to run it. For example, you will need a keyboard and a mouse at the bare minimum. Then you might want a microphone to talk to people and a webcam if you want to be seen. And the audio then? You will need speakers. The list can quickly grow.

2. Game performance

Next, what offers better gaming performance: a gaming laptop or a gaming PC?

Generally, the gaming PC will win out over the gaming laptop if you compare similar hardware. Indeed, although you can read about the same hardware on the product list for a gaming PC and a gaming laptop, there are differences in capabilities between the two.

For example, a laptop GPU is not the same as a discrete desktop GPU. The laptop’s GPU is likely limited for thermal control, which like it or not has a knock-on effect on gaming performance. It’s a similar story for computer CPUs. laptops. Adding powerful hardware to a confined space will always lead to compromises, and unfortunately gaming performance suffers.

The best way to see these differences is in the following video comparing an Nvidia RTX 3080 in a desktop computer and an RTX 3080 in a laptop computer.

Jarrod’s Tech also compared the RTX 3070 in a desktop and laptop, coming to the same conclusion.

You see, a gaming PC running the same hardware as a gaming laptop will always win.

Now is that a problem? Probably not for most people. If you’re still shooting 120FPS in Call of Duty Warzone on your gaming laptop, you’re unlikely to care about a few missing frames per second.

3. Upgrade options

Gaming performance brings us directly to another key difference between a gaming laptop and a gaming PC: upgrade options.

Simply put, upgrading a gaming laptop is next to impossible in most cases. You certainly won’t be upgrading the CPU or the GPU, the two main components behind a gaming laptop experience. There are modular laptop designs, but they’re generally not focused on building computers gaming laptops (at least not yet).

On some gaming laptops, you’ll have the option of installing faster RAM or a faster storage device, like an M.2 SSD. But that will be the absolute limit of what you can upgrade to on a gaming laptop. Gaming laptop makers spend a lot of time streamlining their designs and making sure they’re efficient at transferring the heat out of the case and don’t want end users doing anything to compromise that design, even if you do it with the best of intentions. .

When it comes to upgrading a gaming PC, you are only limited by your budget and previous PC building decisions. What we mean here is that you can decide to upgrade your existing hardware to a faster processor. If so, you will be limited by the processor socket on the motherboard, which dictates the generation of processor you can install. For example, when AMD releases its new AM5 socket, it will not be compatible with older AM4 processors. This might cause some to upgrade from AM4 to AM5, but you’ll also need a new AM5 compatible motherboard.

On this point, it’s a similar story for your system’s RAM. You can upgrade your memory, but you’ll be limited by the type of memory your motherboard is compatible with, whether it’s DDR3, DDR4, or DDR5.

You may have noticed one hardware feature that pops up more than most: the motherboard. As the motherboard connects all of your PC hardware to run your gaming PC, it is the heart of any gaming machine. If you think your gaming PC is getting old, you can swap out the motherboard and possibly salvage some bits from your old game machine for your new version.

A gaming PC is infinitely more upgradable than a gaming laptop, and it will remain so until modular laptops seriously catch up.

4. Portability and space requirements

Just as there was only one clear winner in the upgrade section, there is only one clear winner in the portability section. One of the driving forces behind the popularity of gaming laptops is their portability. Who wants to walk away from their gaming rig at the end of a weekend when you could pick it up, throw it in your bag, and take it with you?

Although some gaming laptops are bigger to accommodate more hardware and better cooling, the overall footprint of a gaming laptop is smaller than most gaming PCs.

In terms of space requirements, this is actually an interesting comparison. Sure, a gaming PC case will take up more space overall, but for most people the tower lives under a desk or similar, and the only thing in front of you is your mechanical gaming keyboard and a gaming mouse. game. Not forgetting your monitors, of course.

A gaming laptop has a smaller overall footprint, but you can hook it up to a secondary monitor, use a USB keyboard, gaming mouse, additional speakers, etc., so the comparison between a PC of game and gaming laptop in terms of space is not completely demarcated.

But, yes, when it comes to portability, a gaming laptop wins, hands down.

5. Cost and value

The final category of comparison is cost and value. Which is more expensive: a gaming laptop or a gaming PC?

Typically, a gaming desktop will cost less than a comparable gaming laptop. There are two key factors behind this.

First, a gaming desktop computer doesn’t require as much development and streamlining as a gaming laptop. it does not overheat and it can still work properly.

Second, although this is about expandability, a laptop’s performance will decrease as it ages. It’s also not helped by a performance deficit in gaming desktops to begin with, which further reduces the long-term value of a gaming laptop.

In terms of cost and value, a gaming desktop is often the best option.

Gaming Desktop vs. Gaming Laptop: Which Should You Choose?

The biggest factor that will tip your decision between a gaming laptop and a gaming PC will be portability. If you’re not regularly stationed at the same desk in your home, commute regularly for work, school, or whatever, or just want the extra freedom that comes with a gaming laptop, you’ll probably have feeling that the extra cost is a worthwhile investment.

On the other hand, if you’re gaming at home, don’t need to travel, and want extra value and customization options, a gaming desktop is the right option for you.

Robert P. Miller