Gaming on a laptop or desktop computer is one the most discussed topics amongst intending, beginning and also veteran gamers who have been gaming only on laptops or on desktops for a very long time.
Are gaming on laptops and gaming-desktops the same thing or are there differences that could facilitate a change in a machine? Are the differences between gaming laptops and gaming desktops enough to result in a preference? Should you get a gaming laptop or a gaming desktop?
These are some of the most asked questions amongst gamers and we’ll have these covered here.
In this post, I am going to give details on the differences between gaming laptops and gaming desktops from their definitions down to how they perform. Breaking the segments of this comparison, the comparison will include build/portability and their performance.
What Are Gaming Laptops & Desktops
A gaming laptop can be defined as a regular laptop that was built with the ability to play high-end games at minimum 60 frames per seconds. While designing such a laptop lots of things are considered such as a high GPU, high-end CPU, the cooling system and most times the CPU used here are unlocked and might be overclocked.
A gaming desktop also has a similar definition with a gaming laptop, only that a minimum value of 60 frames per seconds for a gaming desktop is really not fashioned by most desktop gamers owing to the possibilities surrounding gaming desktops.
Here on, one has a greater ability for customization and can easily swap parts, new GPU and so on. More on that later.
Build and Portability
Considering Gaming Laptop Build & Portability
Purchasing a gaming laptop, you are offered with a portable build, although some laptops may be very heavy, they still have an upper hand in mobility when compared to gaming desktops. Some of the things one considers in this aspect include the offer for an inbuilt display, inbuilt keyboard and the trackpads. Most of these parts are fixed and not easily removed and removing them is mostly facilitated by replacement after damage as their manufacturers do not think they are parts you should easily swap.
Moving on to the internals, Rams, hard drives and SSD’s can be replaced, not only for replacement after damage but for improved performance. The core power of gaming laptops, the processor and graphics processing unit have no option for replacement either because of damage or upgrade, they are fixed.
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Considering Gaming Desktop Build & Portability
On gaming desktops, the reverse is the case. Everything about a gaming desktop is quite modular. Monitor, keyboard, mouse even the CPU box is modular. With the gaming desktops you are at liberty to swap your monitor or keyboard for a better one, change your processor, graphics cards, fans, RAMs and for the ambitious fancy gamer, you can include RGB lighting in your CPU box and a better water cooling system to improve your thermal results when gaming.
At this point it is comfortable to say that for you want to reproduce the same high-end gaming desktop experience on a gaming laptop, you will need to sacrifice the main reason gaming laptops were made.
Performance on Both Gaming Machines
Portability/mobility may be the first thing intending gamers looks at but for veteran gamers who are thinking of switching machines, it’s an entirely different story. Performance is the obvious and first thing they think about first.
Is there any possibility that gaming laptops can replace gaming desktops? Do gaming laptops offer the same performance with gaming desktops? Are gaming desktops as fast as they claim to be?
These questions will be answered shortly.
In this era of immense technological advancement, it is very difficult to tell if desktops still have upper hands in performance when compared to gaming laptops and there are reasons I tend to say this.
Part of the reason is because gaming laptops have started featuring desktop grade Graphics Processing Units, ability to connect more than one GPU in SLI and even some high-end gaming laptops feature desktop grade processor. A perfect example of a gaming laptop that features desktop grade processor is the Sager MP98 gaming laptop from 2017.
The reason behind all these featuring desktop grade components on a gaming laptops is to give the them the ability to play intensive games with 4k resolution, just like their big brother the gaming desktop does without stress. But like they say there is no smoke without a fire. The reason gaming desktops have big components is because manufacturers expect them to run big games, intensive games with very high-resolution, hence they feature big fans and big vents which allow for excellent ventilation without experiencing thermal throttling.
Improving Build on Gaming Laptops
Though you cannot change the graphics cards and processor on your gaming laptop, most of the other components can be improved using external solutions. Thanks to USB type-c thunderbolt technology, you can connect an external monitor to your gaming laptop. Same thing goes for mouse and keyboard. You can connect a mechanical keyboard with RGB lighting and a gaming mouse to your gaming laptop.
For the aspect of water cooling, it’s possible to feature it on a gaming laptop externally, but the possibility lies in the original decision of the manufacturer. Water cooled gaming laptops actually exist, but they exist because the manufacturer actually intended for them to support water cooling. When buying such laptops you are sold alongside the gaming laptop an external water cooling system that your gaming laptop will be docked on via a special port. An example of such gaming laptops that is the Asus ROG GX800, which was as at last year the most powerful water cooled laptop.
Gaming laptops manufactured without the intent of supporting water cooling currently do not have a remedy, except you are willing to put your gaming laptop on ice. It’s possible to make your gaming laptop a bit modular by connecting external components via USB ports, but by doing so you will crushing the main purpose of owning a gaming laptop, which is for mobility, courtesy it’s portability, to facilitate gaming on the go.
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Thermal Throttling: An Issue for Gamers
Thermal throttling is the biggest problem faced by gaming laptops today. Gaming laptops are designed to work at a particular clock speed, but at the end, laptop gamers find it difficult to keep their processors at that speed because it frequently goes down due to poor thermal management.
Apart from games being GPU dependent, a large part is dependent on the CPU and if gaming laptops cannot attain the needed clock speed to make games play smoothly, the aim of replacing gaming desktops, ends in futility.
Gaming laptops like the Acer predator 21X and the Asus ROG GX800 which have gone a long way in reducing thermal throttling have ended up being heavy and loud. Though mobility is still possible, gaming on the go with a loud and heavy laptop is totally unbearable for many.
So even though gaming laptops may feature desktop grade components, it is most times impossible for such laptops to keep up the performance when gaming, hence gaming desktops still end up having better performance.
NOTE: Despite the fact that some gaming laptops support some desktop grade components, there are still some graphics cards that cannot be featured on gaming laptops. Graphics card like the Nvidia Titan z and Titan x are not laptop compatible at the moment, but you can connect them to your gaming laptops via external graphics card casing like the Razer core.
One other thing that intending gamers should note is that gaming laptops with beefy specs are most likely to have poor batteries, because the CPU and GPU requires a lot of power which is gotten from the batteries.
You want better batteries? Then you will have to make your gaming laptop even heavier.
If you read through this article, you would have by now understood the fact that gaming laptops have improved to the point where they could rub shoulders with gaming desktops, though it’s difficult for them to maintain their performance. The inability for them to maintain their performance doesn’t mean they suck, they are still going to be able to play games at pretty decent frame rates.
Gaming on a laptop or gaming on a desktop is just a matter of your preference as a gamer. But you have to keep in mind that gaming on a desktop is much better than gaming on a laptop in terms of performance and modularity, but when it comes to the portability game, you might want to still stick with your gaming PC.