What should a gaming laptop have?
There are some minimum requirements a gaming laptop must have. Minimum requirements that are undoubtedly marked by the investment capacity. However, I think there are some basic factors to know that we are buying a gaming laptop and that it’ll properly fulfill its task.
The first is definitely the screen. We all would like to have a very powerful laptop in a small size, but if we want to make a small investment and have a minimum of adequate size to play, I think the size should be a minimum of 15.6”. The screen must have a resolution of 1920×1080 points, an IPS panel and no brightness filter, flat is better.
The processor should be a powerful version, not low-voltage processors and have a minimum of 4 cores, with or without Hyper threading, and actual working frequencies above 3GHz. RAM must be at least of 8GB or it must be easily upgradable. The PCs we present today meet this feature, but it is important to keep in mind. To have expandable memory is something that we always end up longing for, something you always want to do and having this possibility is becoming increasingly rare and therefore, more important.
You have to offer storage room for improvement. We can buy a cheap gaming laptop, but if we cannot put a SSD then we will have lost half the battle. If you have a choice of two units, no matter the format, it will also be a very important option to consider.
The graphics card should be able to process the newer games to the native resolution of the screen. So, it is important to be honest with our needs. A 1080 screen will give us a proper definition and allow us to spend less on dedicated graphics. When combined with a reasoned use of the qualities of the games, we have guaranteed success.
Two magnificent options from ASUS
Two of my favorite machines in this product segment (gaming priced for mortals) are the ASUS GL552 and GL752. They are virtually identical laptops but the former has 15.6”and the second 17.3”. They cost almost the same so it is actually a matter of taste.
We can find both for around 1000 dollars. They include a wonderful 1080p IPS matte screen, an i7-6700HQ with four cores and eight threads, 8GB expandable to 32GB DDR4 RAM, and a GeForce GTX 960M with 2GB VRAM which is more than enough to run any modern game.
Their only weakness is the mechanical 1TB drive, but I tell you right now we can mount M.2 SSDs units in these small boys, however, limited to SATA drives. This will allow us, with an extra moderate investment, to add high-speed storage and combine it with the drive that comes as standard.
These models also offer WiFi-AC, Gigabit Ethernet, HDMI and USB 3.1 connectivity with USB Type-C interface.
The design is quite carefully done; they have keyboards illuminated in red with configurable intensity and expandable by removing a bottom cover with two screws that give us access to the memory slots and storage sockets. The 17” model adds 1.2 DisplayPort connectivity that we can use with 4K monitors with a refreshing rate up to 60Hz.
These models weigh between 2.5 and 2.8Kg, use a 120w power supply and have a thickness between 32 and 35mm. They are not very lightweight models, but for about 1000 dollars we can have a great notebook for work and play very fluently and with good expansion options. It may be our desktop device, with advanced video connectivity.
We can even find a variant with the i5-6300HQ in GL552VW, four cores without Hyper threading, for less than 900 dollars, but also reduces the RAM from 16GB to 8GB. If we think about expanding the RAM from the beginning, this can be a great alternative.
MSI is not that far behind
Last year I was quite critical of the prices of MSI some machines, and I think rightly so. The manufacturers translate gaming to more profit margins, but we customers must be smart. In fact, usually we are, that’s why I can write articles like this one.
MSI has some alternatives to the two ASUS models described above that are really attractive. In fact, the one I am going to show is even cheaper than ASUS. This is the new MSI GL62 6QF-893. This model costs less than 1000 dollars and has all the basic features that we have set as minimal.
Intel Core i7-6700HQ quad core processor, which are four real cores without hyper threading, 12GB DDR4 RAM, 128 GB SSD plus 1TB mechanical drive and a 15.6” display with 1920×1080 resolution points on completely flat Wide-view angle panel. All for less than 1000 dollars, but without an element that draws attention such as the Backlight keyboard.
The graphics card is adequate, a GeForce GTX 960M, so all you need to enjoy a high quality performance is met. Another great machine that can be used as a desktop replacement and, of course, supports M.2 type SSD and in this case is fully compatible with AHCI and NVMe units in PCI Express format.
Except for the Backlight keyboard, it is a very powerful laptop. Gigabit Ethernet, WiFi-AC, USB 3.1 Type-C, HDMI, 1.2 DisplayPort, etc. Good equipment for have a similar price than the alternative of ASUS, if the Backlight keyboard is not a “must have” in your list then this model is for you.
Other interesting options
The truth is that from 1200 dollars we can find a wide range of gaming laptops. Almost all traditional brands offer models in this price range, but finding powerful laptops for less than 1000 dollars is not so easy so the models that we’re showing are an interesting opportunity.
HP has a somewhat less attractive than those of ASUS or MSI model, but may offer an interesting alternative for some. The model I am talking about is the HP Pavilion 15, which can be found in several versions, but many will be familiar to the name since it’s one of those models with the “Star Wars” customization that HP has put on the market since the launch of the latest movie.
If you do not like Star Wars, just change the wallpaper when you get home. Although you will always have this weird feeling in the body, so you better think about it before you buy it.
Within this model we’ll find the combination we’re looking for. A good 15.6”screen, i7-6500U dual cores processor and 4 threads, 8GB DDR3 memory, 2 TB mechanical drive and ample room for improvement in RAM and storage.
The downside is that the connectivity is not as powerful as MSI or ASUS, not even WiFi-AC (stays in WiFi-N) and its graph unit is less capable. This is a GeForce GTX 940M with 2GB DDR3 VRAM. Still, I think that it would meet the expectations of many, but it is more expensive and offers fewer options we have given in MSI and ASUS.
My last recommendation is the Lenovo Y700, and we won’t really find many more alternatives around 1000 dollars. It is the last and perhaps my favorite because it combines acceptable prices with a much more elaborate design. More high-end portable gaming.
For that price we can obtain a configuration based on the i7-6700HQ, a 4GB GeForce GTX 960M, 8GB DDR4 RAM and 256GB SSD. The IPS screen is of 15.6” with full HD resolution, and has a catalog of ports we expect from a laptop with these features.
Gigabit Ethernet, WiFi-AC, various USB and HDMI connectivity ports in addition to a good capacity for internal PCIe M.2 port expansion. We can upgrade to up to 32GB of RAM and perhaps we’ll only miss to have a DisplayPort port to connect 4K monitor at 60Hz.
For me there are many interesting alternatives in this selection. Looking at the price, the MSI and ASUS are the most interesting alternative. If we are looking for the illuminated keyboard then the ASUS is the right choice, but if not, the MSI offers more capable graph connectivity through its DisplayPort port 1.2.
On the other hand, for me the most interesting is the Lenovo. It is more expensive, yes, but offers more complete equipment and a worked design. It is a series of proven quality. It has good expandability, more memory on the graphics and its price of 950 dollars is quite adequate.
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