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According to one recent report, more than three billion people worldwide enjoy playing interactive video games.

Moreover, 48% of gamers engage with programs on their personal computers.

Are you looking for a new laptop to help you crush the competition and reach your personal best score? If so, then it pays to know the specific features and specifications to look for. Today, we’re sharing what to look for in a gaming laptop so you can make a more informed buying decision.

Graphics Processing Unit

As you look for the best gaming laptop, pay close attention to the GPU on each model. Standing for Graphics Processing Unit, it’s also labeled as a graphics card or video card. Most games require a robust GPU for operation, and you can’t upgrade this feature once it’s installed in a laptop.

Every laptop uses a GPU to deliver the feature-rich media that makes gaming such an immersive and interactive experience. This includes features such as:

  • Images
  • Videos
  • 2D animations
  • 3D animations

When your laptop needs to display these items all at once, it can strain your CPU. A GPU takes over, performs quick calculations, and takes care of the media portion to free up space and memory. There are two main types of GPU, including:

  • Integrated GPUs: Located on a CPU and share memory with the laptop processor
  • Discrete GPUs: Located on a separate card, with separate video memory (VRAM)

Discrete GPUs are ideal, as they don’t need to tap into your laptop’s existing RAM for graphic processing. Modern graphics cards are usually rated on a metric called GDDR SDRAM. This long acronym stands for Graphics Double Data Rate Synchronous Dynamic RAM.

Cards with lower-numbered GDDR SDRAMs are considered sub-quality, while those with higher numbers offer premium performance. The options will range from GDDR2 to GDDR6.

CPU Specs to Consider

While the GPU is of top importance, it’s also helpful to understand the CPU capacity of your gaming laptop. When you’re ready to get your laptop, the key features to jot down are clock speed and core count.

Clock speed measures the number of individual cycles a CPU can execute in one second. Measured in GHz, a higher clock speed usually means a faster laptop, though this isn’t always the case.

Core count refers to the laptop’s ability to multitask. Multiple cores enable you to perform different tasks at the same time, which can be important in gaming. Essentially, each core acts as a mini CPU and they can work in tandem with one another.

Monitor and Display

When you’re buying a gaming laptop, don’t discount the i of a high-quality display. After all, this is the feature that makes gaming so enjoyable! You don’t want to squint to see your graphics or settle for fuzzy videos and images.

With a premium display, you can enjoy hours of gaming without straining your eyes or hurting your head. Some of the key specs to check out include:

  • Display size
  • Display resolution
  • Refresh rate

Let’s break these down a little.

Display Size

Size-wise, it’s best to stick to a 15-inch or 17-inch screen. However, you can find monitors that are around 18 inches if you want a slightly larger one. While this is largely a personal preference, keep in mind that a larger display also means a heavier and more cumbersome device.

Some gamers prefer to hook up an external monitor. These are usually around 25 inches in diameter, though you might have to give up some degree of clarity. Smaller screens usually boast denser pixels, which makes images and text easier to see.

One advantage of using an external monitor is that you can disconnect it as desired. This means you can unplug your laptop and take it with you on the go. Then, when you get home, you can connect it again and enjoy all of the robust features that a bigger display can provide, including a higher resolution, quicker refresh rate, and ultra-wide aspect ratio.

Display Resolution

For resolution, we recommend sticking with anything above 1920 x 1080 and under 3840 x 2160. The higher your resolution climbs, the greater number of pixels you’ll see on the screen.

While the highest resolution might sound ideal, these laptops can drain other parts of your system. You may find that you have to turn down other settings to accommodate it.

Refresh Rate

Refresh rate refers to the number of times per second your laptop display can draw a new image. Manufacturers measure this metric in Hertz, or Hz. For example, laptop displays with a refresh rate of 60Hz can refresh an image 60 times per second.

A high refresh rate is helpful if your games include lots of activity and fluid action. It will be smoother and easier to follow with a refresh rate of at least 60Hz or 120Hz.

Standard gaming laptops will usually come equipped with 1080p resolution and a 60Hz display. If smooth gaming is a top priority, then you can find some manufacturers that will offer a much higher refresh rate of 240Hz or 360Hz. If you go this high, then you’ll need a robust GPU to keep pace.


Most laptops rely on a backlight to power the lighting on your games. However, you can find some specialty gaming laptops that use an Organic Light-Emitting Diode, or OLED instead. In these modes, special pixels produce light instead.

If you want your games to have sharper contrast and deeper black levels, then it’s worth looking into an OLED model. Standard LED liquid crystal displays can’t offer the same performance, but they’re usually adequate for most mid-level gamers.

Keyboard Features

Are you asking yourself, “What laptop should I buy?” If so, then don’t forget to check out the keyboard specs of each model you review.

Basic, budget-friendly gaming laptops typically include conventional keys, powered by LED backlighting. If you want to upgrade to a premium version, then there are a few metrics to keep in mind. Let’s take a look.

Key Travel Rate

This measures how far down a user can depress a keyboard key. Most people prefer a key travel rate of at least 1.5 millimeters, even if you’ve never considered that feature yourself. If you can go a little further, at 2 millimeters, then the experience is even better.

A higher key travel rate means there’s more space between the top of the key and the internal keyboard frame. Inexpensive keyboards with low rates will often wear out faster than their counterparts. If you’re a serious gamer, then look for a high-end laptop that features mechanical keys, which boast the best longevity of all.


Have you ever pressed multiple keys at once, only to do find that your laptop didn’t register the command at all? Anti-ghosting features prevent this from occurring.

If your games require frequent keyboard combos or simultaneous actions, then this spec is critical. If your laptop includes anti-ghosting capabilities, then you can press several different keys at the same time, resting assured that the command will register.

Key Rollover

Similar to anti-ghosting, key rollover means that each key on your keyboard operates independently of the others. This way, you can be confident that it will register every time you press it, even if you’re also pressing other keys at the same time.

What About Storage?

There’s no denying that games can take up a ton of space on your laptop. To this end, it’s important to choose a model that has plenty of space to accommodate your needs.

While some laptops will run on older mechanical drives (HDDs), modern versions use Solid-state drives (SSDs) for better performance. These drives use a different type of flash memory called NAND.

While HDDs rely on motor-driven mechanisms to read and write gaming data, an SSD can do so without any type of moving parts. This means less strain on your device, as well as a higher read/write speed. In addition, SDDs usually last longer without any type of internal mechanism.

The benefits of this alternative include:

  • Quicker data access times
  • Quicker loading times for programs and files
  • Quicker startup times

One caveat to keep in mind? An SDD usually comes at a higher price point per gigabyte than an HDD. Knowing this, manufacturers will often augment SDDs with HDD components to cut costs. A supplemental HDD is also ideal for storing large files that could overrun an SDD.

While storage is a key component to consider, keep in mind that it’s also upgradeable. While you obviously want as much space and capacity as possible, you don’t have to blow your budget on the best-performing SDD just yet.

Now You Know What to Look For in a Gaming Laptop

Whether you’re new to the gaming space or you’ve been honing your craft for years, you need the right tools at your fingertips. Now that you know what to look for in a gaming laptop, you can choose a device that meets your needs, budgets, and future plans.

As you shop around, we’re here to keep you up-to-date on the latest tech and business news. Check back often for more informative guides!

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