Building or buying a gaming PC is a very personal matter, which is only made more complicated by the deliberation between desktop and laptop gaming. Until recent years, the thought of a gaming laptop was enough to make gaming enthusiasts scoff. After all, how could manufacturers fit so much power into such a small form factor? Nevertheless, the notebook sector is advancing, and gaming laptops are proving the dubious wrong by leaps and bounds. Laptops aren’t as modestly powerful as they used to be, which presents a particular problem when deciding between the two. XOTIC PC compares the pros and cons to help you decide with confidence.
Graphics Processing Unit (GPU)
Let’s face the facts – gaming laptops are constrained to the tenets of portability. Desktops inherently have more room to let their core components breathe, resulting in more power and more flexibility. Laptop GPUs are quickly narrowing the divide though. NVIDIA is leading the way by building chips that are only 25 percent less powerful than those in a desktop counterpart. One of the main disadvantages to laptop graphics is that you typically can’t swap them out.
Gaming desktop graphics are interchangeable, making it all the more possible for you to upgrade when a beefier card hits the market. There might be some dual-GPU options in the gaming laptop sector, but certainly not four-way mobile GPU options. Thanks to manufacturers such as NVIDIA, laptop graphics are a viable option for gamers that might like to play most games with high degrees of detail. However, the impending 4K gaming revolution will pose a problem for gaming notebooks. Simply put, notebooks won’t be able to render as many polygons in the same amount of space.
Central Processing Unit (CPU)
Next-gen gaming laptops typically come fully-loaded with quad-core i7 CPUs, but they just can’t compare to the CPU performance of a gaming desktop. One of the greatest pitfalls to mobile gaming is that you can’t water-cool a laptop, and CPU performance will suffer as a result. Manufacturers try to counteract high temperatures by designing laptop CPUs that throttle themselves, or else they can sound deafeningly loud. This is where modularity plays an important role. Desktop CPUs can be swapped out over time. Games tend to be held back by graphics performance more than CPU performance, and mobile quad-core units are designed to be quick enough to let mobile graphics shine.
Random Access Memory (RAM) and Storage
Although laptop GPUs and CPUs aren’t traditionally modular, you can upgrade your RAM configurations to as much as 32GB in many of the latest models. Thin laptops make it difficult to access RAM slots, but dismantling runs the risk of voiding your warranty. With a gaming desktop, you can always upgrade the amount of available RAM.
While solid state drives grow smaller and smaller, prices decrease and storage space increases. A lot of notebooks come with mSATA drives to avoid compromising on lightweight portability for storage space. Most gaming desktops on the market come with multiple SATA ports for expandable storage – all you need is a single SATA cable.
Gaming Desktop vs. Laptop Verdict
There’s no denying that gaming notebooks have come a long way, especially in recent years. However, desktop PCs outperform laptops in graphics, processing, storage, and much more. Laptops may have the competitive edge when it comes to keyboards, monitors, and portability, but the lack of upgradable features makes the decision a bit easier for gaming enthusiasts that only want to spend a marginal amount today with plans to upgrade components later.
Your decision will depend on the kinds of games you regularly play, as well as how much you depend on portability for gaming or everyday tasks. To some gaming enthusiasts, the competitive cost of a modern-day gaming laptop is totally worth it. Laptops come with monitors, keyboards, and mice already built in, whereas gaming desktops might need to be customized and optimized over time. We hope that this guide provides the practical insight you need to make the right decision.