Defending Gaming Laptops

John Byers, February 19, 2018

You often see stuff like this whenever someone asks about a gaming laptop on a forum. But gaming laptops can actually be a better choice than a tower. This is my defense of gaming laptops.

There are some valid cons of gaming laptops. They used to be terrible. In college, I saw many overheat and bluescreen in the middle of a game or project. They have also been overpriced, and some still are. The Razer Blade Pro for example, can easily top $3000. The small laptop form-factor is bad for air flow, and they can overheat, or have loud fans. The graphics cards weren't as good as a desktop card until recently. These are all valid problems with gaming laptops.

Razer Blade Pro

I also think that many PC-gamers have a personal problem against non-desktop systems, gaming laptops included. PC-gamers love to brag about how they "built" their PC and that PC's have way better graphics than consoles. Gaming laptops are like consoles in that you can't really "build" them, and you are pretty much stuck with the components they come with. I always counter that "building" a PC is not really "building" a PC at all. The cool PC guy makes it sound like he crafted a high-performance work-of-art computer from scratch, when in reality "building" a PC is more like putting together a LEGO-set. You pick your parts, and fit them together. (PC Part Picker is a GREAT resource for this, if you want to "build" your own). PC gaming on a desktop can be sad as well in that they aren't very good for playing with friends like a console is. Nobody wants to group around a computer desk to play a multiplayer game. It is more fun to play with friends, and I think this is why desktop PC guys put down consoles and laptops, to try to feel better about their choice of desktop gaming.

My favorite way to play a game is with friends. Not random online people, or online "friends" who you don't really know. It is fun to be in the same room with your friends, where you can yell and laugh and see reactions in real-time. This is why 4-player Goldeneye was great on the N64, and why Halo parties were great on the Xbox. The vibe of a LAN party is so much fun. My last few years of LAN parties have all been great, but lugging a desktop, monitor, and cords around can be a hassle after a while. Don't get me wrong, it is a lot of fun putting together a desktop, bringing it to the party, and seeing everyone else's cool computers. I highly recommend building a desktop to anyone interested. It is a lot of fun picking out the parts. However, I often found myself too lazy to get all the stuff together for game night, and would just show up with my terrible Macbook Pro and play games in low settings.

Another way around this problem is to build a compact, portable desktop, or "LAN box" as I've heard them called. These are a good option too, though you still have to bring a monitor with you. So I finally pulled the trigger and got an ASUS GL502VS, which I have reviewed here. It has a Nvidia 1070 graphics card, which so far plays all the games I want. It runs cool, has a nice screen, and most importantly, is easy to grab and take to a LAN party.

Asus GL502

There are a lot of great gaming laptops now, with desktop-caliber graphics cards. And while they are still expensive, they can be cheaper than building your own machine, especially given the insane prices on graphics cards and RAM lately. And while they aren't very upgradable, Moore's Law is over, and CPUs haven't improved much over the last few years. The GeForce 10 series graphics cards have also been out almost two years now, and are still top-of-the-line.

I think gaming laptops can be a great LAN party machine, just as good as a desktop. Make sure you do your research before choosing a machine, as some laptops that look like gaming laptops, won't play many games, or will have terrible reviews. I'm very happy with mine, and would recommend it to anyone who frequents LAN parties.