You may never have played a Call of Duty game in your life and you might think a Steam library has something to do with railroad literature, but we’re here to tell you that a gaming laptop might be the perfect PC for you. Sure, “gaming” might be the intended use and main reason behind their design but these notebooks can be a smart choice even if you only need a PC for serious work.
Let’s take a closer look at the reasons why people who don’t play games should consider buying a gaming laptop.
Gaming notebooks are visually distinct thanks to their cutting edge and even outlandish designs. Alienware notebooks are perhaps the most famous for this thanks to their stealth aircraft-inspired looks and multi-zone LED lighting systems. Other gaming notebooks such as those from Origin PC, Sager, Eurocom, and AVADirect have adopted more professional appearances with sleek yet defined lines and subdued colors. Either way, being visually distinctive is more or less one of the main attractions of a gaming notebook.
Another area where gaming notebooks typically carry an advantage over standard consumer-class notebooks is their construction. The advanced eye-catching designs typically require the use of better materials to complete the look. Brushed aluminum, magnesium alloy, and rubberized “soft touch” surfaces are just a few of the materials you’ll commonly see used in and on gaming notebooks. These materials make gaming notebooks stronger and more durable. Soft-touch rubberized surfaces for example are more wear-resistant than regular plastic surfaces especially on places like the palm rest which sees increased use. Additionally, aluminum-backed lids are typically more flex-resistant than plastic and better protect the display panel.
In short, gaming laptops are often made of the same materials used on semi-rugged business notebooks … but without the boring appearance of a business notebook.
Gaming notebooks carry a greater degree of customization than standard consumer notebooks from the factory and in terms of the user experience. Gaming notebooks often have fully configurable specifications from their processor and memory to the graphics card. We toured AVADirect’s facility and saw how they hand-assemble all notebooks to the exact specifications ordered by the customer, down to the brand of memory and storage devices. AVADirect also offers custom paint on many of their models.
The gaming notebook user experience also tends to be of a more personal nature. It’s not uncommon for gaming notebooks to include customizable LED lighting; Alienware pioneered this with its AlienFX lighting system which has many separate zones and can be set to an array of different colors. Take for example the Alienware 17 which has nine distinct zones.
An immersive audio experience is an integral part of gaming but can be just as or more valuable for music and movies. It’s common for gaming notebooks to feature name-brand audio solutions. Lenovo uses JBL speakers in its IdeaPad Y-series lineup, Alienware uses Klipsch and Toshiba harman/kardon. Some of the 15.6-inch and up gaming notebooks even integrate a small subwoofer on the underside of the chassis to complete the setup.
The value here is that you wouldn’t necessarily need to bring speakers or headphones with you to get satisfying audio. This can work out even better when you’re the only person in the room with a notebook that has speakers powerful enough for everyone to hear and enjoy that one YouTube video everyone’s talking about.
We’ve reviewed hundreds of notebooks over the years and out of them all, the ones we’re least often complaining about a lack of ports on is gaming notebooks. Gamers tend to place a higher value on being able to connect to numerous external devices and accessories like mice, storage devices, and multiple monitors simultaneously, so it makes sense that their computers could work with the most accessories.
Notebooks built for gaming aren’t just for show – they have to pack high performance components to play demanding 3D titles. The hallmark performance indicator of any gaming notebook is its graphics card. If you edit movies at work or home and need to transcode them for uploading to YouTube or Vimeo, having a powerful dedicated graphics card can pay off because it will dramatically decrease the amount of processing time required. Even an entry-level gaming notebook will be oodles faster than a generic consumer notebook in this regard.
The performance improvements don’t end at the graphics card. Gaming notebooks include powerful processors (usually quad-core), ample memory to match their powerful graphics cards, and either a fast hard drive or an even faster solid state drive for high-speed access to your applications and data.
The other part of the performance equation is cooling. It would do gamers little good if their notebook performed at its peak level for five minutes before getting too hot and throttling back performance. The cooling systems in gaming notebooks are engineered to run continuously for long periods of time at full load without suffering performance setbacks. Consumer notebooks may be able to run under full load continuously but typically aren’t designed for it in the same fashion a road car isn’t designed to run full tilt for extended periods like a race car.
The outstanding benefit for a non-gamer purchasing a gaming notebook is that you’re buying a system that is much more capable performance-wise than everyday consumer notebooks. An additional benefit is because the computer is more powerful, it will be relevant for a longer period of time – you’ll be able to keep it longer without having to buy a replacement as often because it can still run the latest apps.
One final area where gaming notebooks typically enjoy an advantage over standard consumer notebooks is in user upgradeability. Gamers are much more likely to have increased storage and performance needs. It’s the norm for gaming notebooks to have four memory slots and options for more than one internal storage drive. Some of the larger 17.3-inch gaming notebooks can accommodate three or more storage drives.
Gaming laptops also usually have large access panels that make it easy to upgrade components without needing to disassemble the entire notebook. On the other hand, budget laptops, premium thin-and-light Ultrabooks and even MacBooks typically have sealed chassis designs (or an overabundance of screws) to discourage users from accessing the hardware inside. The ease of upgrading is something else to keep in mind if you want to stay at the cutting edge of performance but don’t want to buy a new laptop every other year.
We detailed the notable differences between consumer and gaming notebooks in this article, shedding light on how spending a little extra for one can be worthwhile even if you have no intention of playing games. Besides improved performance, gaming notebooks are typically better built, have more engaging designs, increased customization and better quality audio. These benefits add up and can collectively make a gaming notebook a sensible choice for serious work.