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How to Use a Normal Laptop for Gaming

How to Use a Normal Laptop for Gaming

Harry Stewart
A gaming laptop isn’t the cheapest bit of kit. A manufacturer must cram high-end hardware into a slimline case and cool the GPU while rendering 3D images in real time. All that costs quite a bit of coin, which begs the question, “Can a normal laptop be used for gaming?”
The short answer is “yes.” But don’t expect to play the latest Call of Duty on 4K. A myriad of casual, older, and less resource-intensive titles suit non-gaming laptops, and there are ways to optimise your device.
Yearning to learn more? We’re covering how to use a normal laptop for gaming in this guide.

Understanding laptop specs

The first step towards gaming on a regular, run-of-the-mill laptop is understanding its specs and limitations.


Also known as a central processing unit (CPU), this fundamental integrated circuitry chip interprets and responds to basic input-output instructions. Think of it like a tiny silicon brain. Superior CPUs with more cores offer higher frame rates and scalable gameplay settings, improving the overall experience.
The two major processor-producing players include Intel® and AMD. Each company designs a range of laptop CPUs:
  • Intel Core™ i3, i5, i7, and i9
  • AMD Ryzen™ 3, 5, 7, and 9
The upper-tier models have more cores, larger caches, and faster clock speeds, all of which enhance performance. You typically want a Core i7/Ryzen 7 or better to play modern, resource-intensive titles. Slower processors (Core i3-i5/Ryzen 3-5) will suffice for simple games only.
Lower-tier CPUs, like Intel Celeron and Pentium, aren’t suitable for gaming.


The graphics processing unit (GPU) is an electronic circuit that accelerates image rendering by crunching rapid calculations and freeing up the CPU to focus on other tasks. While it’s no “brain,” the GPU is a laptop’s most vital organ for gaming.
Integrated GPUs attach to the CPU and share the same memory cache. A dedicated GPU, on the other hand, is a separate entity with its own memory bank.
Integrated graphics come standard on all non-gaming laptops, besides workstations designed for animation, 3D modelling, and the like. The better built-in graphics cards, which typically accompany faster processors, provide acceptable performance for older titles and indie games.
Recent Triple-A (AAA) blockbusters require a modern dedicated GPU - a premium one to crank up the settings. The best non-gaming laptops for gaming have a quality GPU.


Random access memory (RAM) is your laptop’s short-term memory. The processor stores data here temporarily to rapidly run applications, open files, and respond to commands. More RAM can lead to a smoother, faster-flowing gaming experience. If you get frequent lag and stuttering, there’s a good chance a lack of RAM is the underlying issue.
So, how much RAM do you need for gaming? It depends on what you’re playing.
  • 4GB RAM will suffice for simple Indie games or decade-old AAA titles (anything pre-2013 should be okay).
  • 8GB RAM lets you play modern titles with toned-down graphics or 2016 (or earlier) games with cranked-up settings.
  • 16GB RAM is the benchmark for modern gaming.
  • 32GB RAM is only necessary for multitasking (i.e., streaming) while playing demanding modern games.


Storage is a bit simpler. You have enough free gigabytes to install a game, or you don’t. Most modern titles occupy 40GB to 160GB each, while decade-old games average 20GB or less. Indie titles might be just a few gigabytes.
Modern solid-state drives (SSDs) offer significantly faster load times than older hard disk drive (HDD) counterparts. Remember to leave 10% to 20% empty to allow space for system backups and temporary files.

Understanding minimum and recommended requirements

Understanding game requirements
You’re up to speed on the vital laptop gaming specs. Now, let’s examine the minimum and recommended requirements.
The minimum requirement is the rock-bottom specs you’ll need to install and play the game. If you only just meet it and don’t crank the settings right down, expect stutters, tears, and sluggish frame rates. Should your laptop not meet the minimum, don’t bother installing the game - it won’t be worth your while.
At the risk of stating the obvious, the recommended requirement is what the game developer thinks will provide acceptable performance. You should get smooth-flowing action (at least 30 frames per second, or FPS) on moderate-to-high graphics settings. Meeting or exceeding the recommended requirements doesn’t necessarily mean you can crank the graphics up to the max and achieve a decent frame rate.
Not sure how your hardware specs compare to a game’s minimum/recommended requirements?
On Windows 10 or 11, click Start / Settings / System, then scroll down and click About to see your laptop’s RAM and CPU. View your available storage space by clicking This PC on the left-hand column of Windows File Explorer. Click Start / System / Display / Advanced Display to check your CPU.
Next, compare this information against the minimum/recommended requirements on the relevant game’s box or website.
Sounds like too much bother? There’s a faster, more efficient method. Although far from infallible, Can You Run It is a handy free tool that compares your specs against many popular game requirements. Steam also has an in-built system requirements checker.

What games can I play on a non-gaming laptop?

Most older titles will run fine on a modern non-gaming laptop with a decent integrated GPU.
Go-to old-school titles include Portal 3 (2011), Borderlands 2 (2012), GTA V (2013), Rocket League (2015), Civilization VI (2016), Rainbow Six Siege (2015).
Plenty of competitive eSports titles also run well on decent non-gaming rigs. Favourites include League of Legends (2009), Counter-Strike GO (2012), Overwatch (2016), and Fortnite (2017). However, you probably won’t get the silky smooth frame rates needed to play at a professional level.
You’ll need to rewind time if you’ve got an old or low-end non-gaming laptop (say, an Intel Core i3 with 2GB to 4GB RAM).
Classic retro titles include Diablo II (2000), Baldur’s Gate II: Shadows of Amn (2000), Max Payne (2001), Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos (2002), Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (2003), Half-Life 2 (2004), and The Sims 2 (2004). You could also consider contemporary indie titles like Darkest Dungeon (2016) and Cuphead (2017).

Optimising your existing laptop for gaming

Struggling to achieve an acceptable frame rate? There are a few things you can do to optimise your laptop for gaming.
Start by closing all other programs. You’d be surprised how much memory a browser can hog, especially with multiple tabs open. Use Task Manager (CTRL + Alt + Delete) to identify other sneaky, memory-stealing apps running in the background. If you haven’t done so recently, reboot your laptop to clear all temporary files.
Consider upgrading your RAM if you’ve closed all unnecessary programs and still lack temporary memory. Most modern laptops let you slide in an extra 4GB to 8GB chip with easy, tool-free access. Unfortunately, upgrading your CPU or GPU often isn’t viable.
Overheating is a common culprit for subpar performance. If your laptop feels hotter than usual or its fans start making a racket, it’s probably too hot. See this post on how to check your PC temperature for a more methodical approach. If your laptop frequently overheats while gaming, a prudent solution is to purchase a third-party cooling pad.
Finally, updating drivers, especially graphics drivers, may add a notable performance boost.

Tweaking the graphics settings

If you’ve done all the above and still suffer less-than-ideal performance, it’s time to tweak the graphics settings.
Many games provide pre-set configurations, such as low, medium, and high. Bumping them down a notch might be all you need to achieve an acceptable frame rate. Other games let you (or make you) adjust individual settings.
Resolution is the first port of call, as lowering it leads to an instant performance boost. Other performance-affecting settings to experiment with include:
  • Anti-aliasing (edge smoothness)
  • Ray tracing (lighting, shadows, reflections)
  • Geometry quality/tessellation (the number of triangles per 3D model)
  • Texture quality
Aim for a frame rate of at least 30 FPS for standard single-player gaming. Online players prefer a smoother 60 FPS to remain competitive. Some games have an in-built tool to display real-time frame rates. For those that don’t, click Win + G and open the Performance tab.

Adding gaming accessories

While they won’t affect frame rates or visuals, gaming accessories can bolster the overall experience.
A high-quality gaming headset helps streamline collaboration, providing crisp, latency-free communication in fierce, teamwork-based games. Gaming mice are more comfortable and responsive, perfect for first-person shooter fans seeking a competitive edge. Gaming chairs enhance comfort and reduce neck strain during those long, drawn-out sessions.
Of course, all these add-ons cost extra money. If you’ve read this far, you might be better off spending your hard-earned dosh on a new gaming laptop.

The best HP gaming laptops in the UK

HP manufactures a plethora of gaming laptops, from budget-friendly Victus to high-octane OMENs. Here’s a short list of some of our best sellers:

Victus Gaming Laptop (15-fa1004na)

An excellent low-cost option, this Victus Gaming Laptop is perfect for budget-orientated players happy to stick with less demanding titles. With a portable 15-inch screen, it’s also an enticing option for gamers on the go.
Victus Gaming Laptop 15-fa1004na
  • CPU: Intel Core i5 13420H (13th Generation)
  • GPU: NVIDIA® GeForce RTX™ 2050 (4GB)
  • RAM: 8GB RAM
  • Storage: 512GB SSD
  • Display: 39.6 cm (15.6”), FHD (1920 x 1080), 9 ms response time

OMEN 16 Gaming Laptop (16-xd0003na)

Crank your gaming experience up a notch with this mid-range OMEN 16 Gaming Laptop. Boasting a Ryzen 7 and a 6GB GeForce RTX 4050 plus 16GB of RAM, it’s got enough grunt to run all the latest games.
OMEN 16 Gaming Laptop 16-xd0003na
  • CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 7840HS
  • GPU: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4050 (6GB)
  • RAM: 16GB RAM
  • Storage: 512GB SSD
  • Display: 40.9 cm (16.1”), FHD (1920 x 1080), 144 Hz

OMEN 17 Gaming Laptop (17-ck2002na)

Gaming laptops don’t get much more potent than the OMEN 17-ck2002na, a 17-inch monster with cutting-edge specs across the board. Play all the latest AAA titles on maximum settings and future-proof your investment for many years to come.
OMEN 17 Gaming Laptop 17-ck2002na
  • CPU: Intel Core i9 13900HX (13th Generation)
  • GPU: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4090 (16GB)
  • RAM: 32GB RAM
  • Storage: 2TB SSD
  • Display: 43.9 cm (17.3”), QHD (2560 x 1440), 240 Hz, 3 ms response time


Can you use a regular laptop for gaming? Playing on a normal laptop is possible. But it does require some sacrifice.
Without a speedy CPU/GPU and ample RAM, you’ll need to stick to older/indie titles or crank the graphics way down. Closing background programs, resolving overheating issues, and updating your drivers may improve performance to an extent.
If you don’t want to compromise on visuals, your best bet is to upgrade to a custom-designed gaming laptop like the HP OMEN or HP Victus.

About the Author

Harry Stewart is a contributing writer for HP Tech Takes. He covers everything from laptop reviews to how-to guides.

Disclosure: Our site may get a share of revenue from the sale of the products featured on this page.


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