A picture of a gaming laptop.

Gaming Laptop Buying Guide

A gaming laptop is a great alternative to a traditional gaming PC. A gaming laptop takes up far less space than a desktop and is so much more portable. This buyer’s guide will give you all the information on what to look for in a gaming laptop.

We will provide an overview of the types of gaming laptops available, as well as important hardware and other considerations to keep in mind when making your purchase.

Types of Gaming Laptops Available

High-end Gaming Laptops: These laptops are designed for the most demanding games and to give you the highest levels of performance. Typically they will have the latest processors, high-end graphics cards, and a lot of RAM and storage. You should also expect a high-resolution display and other advanced features!
Mid-range Gaming Laptops: These laptops offer a great balance between gaming performance and affordability. The processors and graphics cards will be slightly older, but will still be capable of running most games at higher settings.
Budget Gaming Laptops: These laptops are the most affordable option and designed for more casual gamers. Generally they have lower-end processors and graphics card, less RAM and less storage. However, despite this and other cost saving features, they offer you a great option to game on a budget.

Quick Tips For Buying A Gaming Laptop

When your laptop is manufactured the GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) and CPU (Central Processing Unit) are soldered onto the motherboard. This means they cannot be removed or upgraded in the future.
If you need to save some money now, consider upgrading to a bigger hard drive or installing more RAM in the future.
Gaming is resource intensive so battery life won’t be great and will drain quickly. When using the laptop for things such as general web browsing, it should be okay for a few hours.
You’ll have an idea of what games you want to play. Check the system requirements for these games. Aim for purchasing a laptop that at least meets the recommended requirements to ensure you can game for years to come.

Hardware Considerations For Buying Gaming Laptop


The CPU (Central Processing Unit) is the ‘brain’ of the laptop. It processes all the data. Gaming laptops will usually have an Intel Core i5 or i7, or an AMD Ryzen 5 or 7. These processors will be able to hold their own in most games. If you are also streaming or video editing, look at CPUs with more cores and threads to make running these tasks easier.

Graphics Card

The GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) is responsible for giving you smooth a detailed visuals. Your decision on which GPU will mainly be based around two things: budget, and what games you want to play.

If you want to play high end titles such as Cyberpunk 2077 or Red Dead Redemption 2 on maximum settings with no problems, expect to pay more for a high end GPU. If your games are less resource intensive or you want to play games with the settings notched down a little, a mid-range card should see you through fine.

And if you are really restricted by budget, there are plenty of entry-level GPUs that can still pack a punch when graphics settings are turned down in the games. You may also see some budget laptops opting for integrated graphics.

Memory (RAM)

Memory (also known as RAM, Random Access Memory) allows your laptop to run many tasks at once. Therefore it plays an important role in gaming and high end applications. The more memory, the more you can do at once.

As a minimum you should aim for 8 GB of RAM for gaming. 16 GB or more is recommended for high-end gaming, or for running resource intensive programs. DDR4 is the current standard, and you will find DDR5 in a lot of high-end laptops.

Storage – SATA SSD or NVMe SSD

For storage in your gaming laptop an SSD (Solid State Drive) is crucial. SSDs are faster than legacy mechanical drives, are becoming increasingly lower in price, and weigh less too. 

With the size of games now reaching 80GB and more, it is recommended that you have a minimum of a 500GB SSD installed. Most laptops will also have a spare slot for another 2.5” SATA or M.2 SSD for any future storage expansions.

As for whether you purchase a SATA or NVMe SSD, you won’t see any performance differences when gaming, so go with what you can afford.  

Screen Size, Display and Portability

A higher resolution display will also give better visuals. A higher refresh rate will make games look smoother. IPS provides wider viewing angles and better color reproduction

The next big decision you will have to make is what screen size you want on your gaming laptop. The two most popular standard sizes are 15.6” and 17.3”. There are a number of smaller screen sizes available which will increase portability of the gaming laptop, but will also reduce how immersed you will get in your games. Likewise there are larger screen sizes available too. Whilst more immersive, bigger sizes will impact on the portability and weight of the laptop, as well as be more expensive.


Every laptop has a built in keyboard, most of which include RGB backlighting. Most high-end gaming laptops even have mechanical keyboards which are the choice of many gamers due to how smooth the movement is compared with the traditional rubber dome keyboards.

Touchpads and Mice

Like keyboards every laptop has a touchpad. Touchpads are great for everyday tasks such as web browsing but are totally unsuitable for gaming. Therefore it is strongly advised to invest in a gaming mouse so you can make the most out of your gaming laptop.

Speakers and Headsets

Almost all laptops have speakers integrated into the chassis of the laptop. Generally speaking these will only offer limited sound quality leaving you wanting more. Most people find that investing in a good quality headset not only improves the sound quality, but leaves you more immersed and built in microphones allow you to chat with your friends (and enemies!)

Ports and Inputs

Every laptop these days comes with at least one video output connection. If you plan on using an external monitor, don’t forget to make sure the port type is compatible with your monitor. Similarly you should have more than enough USB ports, but it’s always worth double checking if you are using many peripherals.

Cooling and Noise Level

Laptops with a high performance can generate a lot of heat and noise. You need to ensure that the laptop has a good cooling system and can run quiet enough to suit your needs.

Other Considerations For Buying Gaming Laptop

Battery Life

As touched on in the ‘Quick Tips’ at the beginning of this article, you shouldn’t expect miracles from the battery in a gaming laptop. On battery power you should only expect an hour or two whilst gaming, and your system may automatically throttle performance to save battery charge! And don’t forget, having your laptop plugged in whilst playing games will allow your hardware to perform at its maximum.

Price and Budget

Let’s be honest, gaming laptops can be very expensive and are a major purchase. Therefore it’s important to prioritise which features are important to you. Latest hardware will come at a higher price, while lower specifications won’t last you as long.

Brand Reputation and Customer Support

As we’ve touched on, gaming laptops are a major purchase. Look for well established brands that have a good reputation, such as Acer or Lenovo. Be sure to read reviews before buying and check warranty options just in case you have any issues in the future.

Additional Features

You’ll find there are a whole host of additional features with most laptops. Backlit keyboards, built-in webcams, and card readers to name just a few. Decide what’s important to you, and whether they are required when buying your gaming laptop.

Top Gaming Laptop Picks

Here are our top gaming laptop picks for each of the three types:

High-end Gaming Laptop Pick

High End Pick
Lenovo - Legion Slim 7 - Gaming Laptop
9.4/10 Our Score
  • AMD Ryzen 7 5800H processor
  • 16GB 3200 MHz DDR4 memory
  • 2 x 1TB M.2 NVMe PCIe SSD storage
  • NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 series graphics card
  • 165 Hz, 15.6″ display with Dolby Vision and AMD FreeSync support
  • Exclusive Lenovo Legion AI Engine

Mid-range Gaming Laptop Pick

Mid Range Pick
Acer Nitro 5 AN515-55-53E5 Gaming Laptop
8.6/10 Our Score
  • 10th Gen Intel Core i5-10300H processor, your Nitro 5 is packed with incredible power for all your games
  • NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 (4GB dedicated GDDR6 VRAM)
  • 15.6″ widescreen LED-backlit IPS display with 1920 x 1080 resolution, 144Hz refresh rate and 80% screen-to-body, 16:9 aspect ratio
  • 8GB DDR4 2933MHz Memory (2 DDR4 Slots Total, Maximum 32GB)
  • 256GB NVMe SSD (2 x PCIe M.2 Slots, 1 x 2.5″ Hard Drive Bay Available)
  • Acer CoolBoost technology increases fan speed by 10% and CPU, GPU cooling by 9% compared to auto mode, overall increasing thermal performance by 25% for better gaming comfort

Budget Gaming Laptop Pick

Budget Pick
MSI GV15 Gaming Laptop
7.4/10 Our Score
  • 11th Gen Intel i5-11400H 6-Core processor
  • 8GB DDR4 RAM at 3200 MHz
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Series Graphics Card 
  • 256 GB NVMe SSD
  • 15.6″ 144Hz FHD Display, IPS-Level 

Gaming Laptop Accessories to Consider

When buying your gaming laptop, there are other accessories that you need to consider. For example, do you need a cooling pad to help cool your laptop? Or do you need a strengthened laptop bag to protect your pride and joy?

Gaming Laptop Cooling Pads

Make no mistake, gaming laptops don’t have the same space for airflow like a traditional gaming desktop, so can often get quite hot. These laptop stands have fans embedded to provide extra airflow, thus giving your gaming laptop a boost in the cooling department. Some even allow your laptop to tilt making use more comfortable.

Gaming Laptop Bags

Once you’ve spent your good money on a great gaming laptop to suit your needs, you need to make sure you invest in a good quality bag, and make sure it fits your chosen screen size! Not only will this help protect it against damage, but it’ll be perfect for taking your laptop with you, whilst also conveniently store your power charger, mouse, headset etc.


In this article we have provided you with a comprehensive buying guide for gaming laptops. We’ve discussed the different types of gaming laptops available, as well as important hardware and other considerations to keep in mind. In summary when purchasing a gaming laptop, keep in mind your budget and what types of games you want to play. Ultimately, this will guide you to your ideal gaming laptop purchase.

We hope you find this gaming laptop buying guide useful and has everything you need to help you make your decision. Make no mistake, you are about to make a big purchase here, If you can afford it, get something mid – high range so it will last you for a few years at least.


Can you use a gaming laptop for everyday use?

Yes of course! A gaming laptop can do the same tasks as a regular laptop, it’s just more powerful.

Is it worth buying a gaming laptop in 2023?

This depends on what you will be using it for. If you are planning on gaming and video editing, then a gaming laptop is very much worth buying. If you are only going to be doing basic tasks, consider a cheaper alternative.

Are gaming laptops a waste of money?

Gaming laptops are more expensive than gaming PCs for comparative performance. However, if you’re looking at a gaming laptop you may need the increased portability or to save space, then it definitely is worth the money.

Do gaming laptops last long?

A high end laptop should last you a minimum of 5 – 6 years, as the higher specification components are more future proof to ever increasing system requirements for games. For a mid range laptop expect around 4 years, and a low end laptop 3 years upwards, but it really depends on the system requirements of the games you play.