Laptops have provided the world with the flexibility and portability to do all of their work and computing away from home. With all of the new technology, laptops have been unleashing new gaming benefits and potential to all who feel chained by their desktop towers. The age-old question still remains: Are laptops or desktops better for gaming? We have broken it down into 5 pretty important categories to make it simple.
First up is portability, and it is no surprise that laptops take the win in this category. Laptops were invented because of the need to be on the go. Over the past few years, gaming laptops have slimmed down creating new ease of mobility for gamers. Almost gone are the days when you would have to pack half of your house, 5000 cords, and your cat in order to play your game outside of your house.
Interestingly enough, the desktop does get some slack here. It may not be as portable, but you never have to worry about the battery dying on you, or forgetting your beloved power cord at home. Even though laptops are improving, limited space inside the device means their battery life isn’t.
Overall, the laptop takes the win for this one.
Defining performance is a challenge when talking about laptops and desktops. In the gaming world, performance is all about loading speed and graphics. Laptops have a definite disadvantage in this category. Because of their portability and size, you just can’t fit two graphics cards and an SLI bridge into the small device. In a desktop, there is room to spread out all of your parts and make sure there is enough space for that beautiful hardline liquid cooling system and LED lighting that you have so carefully chosen for your rig. From this point of view, the desktop is a clear choice.
Laptops are actually gaining on desktop power – and rapidly. CPU chips have become more powerful than ever, requiring less cooling and even less space in a computer. With the integration of CPU and GPUs, designers have been able to pack more in less space, while achieving first-rate power, like the Intel Core i7 processors. The graphics available on laptops is pretty up to speed with what desktops can do, especially in 1080p. It won’t be long before 4K gaming laptops are the norm, and are competing for side by side against desktops. For now, the desktop takes the nod.
This may seem like a weird category, but not for gamers. Being able to upgrade parts is a vital piece to gaming life. Eventually, parts become obsolete or stop working altogether, making it absolutely necessary to upgrade and replace parts. Laptops usually have their motherboards and CPUs soldered into the laptop, making it virtually impossible to change. They are, however, becoming increasingly changeable in terms of battery, RAM, and drivers of all varieties. The desktop takes the win here for obvious reasons. It doesn’t take a quantum mechanic to pop out a graphics card and replace it with a new one, or to change the motherboard because you upgraded your CPU. With a desktop, you can upgrade anything, at any time as long as it is still compatible with the other parts in your system.
Every gamer has their dream rig, the one that if they had a million dollars, they would buy in a heartbeat. Most of the time, it has all kinds of crazy lights, hardline liquid cooling systems that glow in the dark, 5 graphics cards, and the most impressive CPU that you can imagine. In the laptops vs. desktops battle, customization goes to desktops, hands down. With laptops, there is little room for customization inside or out. The things that you can select in your internal configuration are very limited compared to the bigger and badder desktop equivalent. With a desktop, you can pick exactly which case you want your rig to be in and change it if you decide that you don’t like it anymore. Plus, the internal configurations are limited only by the size of the case that you have, so your computer will be unique to you inside and out. Customizing your gaming rig is a huge highlight to many gamers, and can become the center of the conversation, or competition to see who can build the most unique rig as we did for the Intel Extreme Rig Challenge this past year.
Even though laptops have progressed tremendously in performance and power, they are still more expensive than their desktop counterparts. Gaming laptops can cost upwards of $1,800 on the mid-low end range, and go upwards of $4,000 or more. A good gaming desktop will cost significantly less, depending on what kind and how you configure your rig. Considering that you are getting less upgradability, and a little less power and performance, is it really worth it to buy the desktop instead?
Not necessarily. When you add the price of the desktop, regardless of how you configure it, you still have to also purchase a monitor, mouse, and keyboard. The benefit of the laptop is that you purchase all of this in one device, not 5. If you think of the price in terms of the value of the machine that you are getting, the laptop is a better deal for your money. As an overall price, it can be hard to justify getting a laptop over a desktop, unless that is what you really want to spend your money on. For the price, it is a tie, since the amount you pay depends heavily on configurations, model years, and the value you perceive you are getting.
The Verdict: It’s a Tie
With all of the technological improvements over the years with graphics, CPUs, and sizes of laptops, it really is hard to decide which is better for you as a gamer. Everyone wants different things out of their gaming computer, and with both, there is a little bit for everyone. Desktops provide clear advantages such as customization and upgrading easily, but the performance gap is closing rapidly between the two kinds of computers. So which will you choose?