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What to Look for in a Gaming Laptop

What to Look for in a Gaming Laptop

Reading time: 6 minutes
Searching for your next or first gaming laptop? There are a lot of aspects to consider before you settle on a gaming laptop that packs everything you need to game.
Discover all the key features and PC components that will supercharge your gaming experience, increase graphics performance, enhance your gameplay, and accelerate response times.
And take a look at our customizable HP OMEN gaming laptops and HP Pavilion gaming laptops that offer upgradeable options for all the hardware components specified, as well as cutting-edge gaming accessories.
What to Look for in a Gaming Laptop Infographic

1. Graphics card

Gameplay over graphics used to be a popular mantra in the gaming community. It still holds true today. Nobody wants to play a game that has great visuals but is as fun as watching paint dry. However, it’s clear that graphics have become an integral part of the gaming experience.
Modern PC games use intricate visual storytelling to create engaging narratives and striking atmospheres. There’s no doubt about it: high graphical detail makes PC games more immersive and more fun.
You’ll get the best visual detail when you play your games on their highest graphics settings, and you’ll need a capable graphics card to do that. A graphics card (also known as a graphics processing unit or GPU) is a processor that’s responsible for creating all of your game’s visuals.
Your graphics card uses stream processors - also known as CUDA cores - to process your game’s visual data. These small processors are tasked with creating all the visual details in your game, from lighting effects to character models. The best gaming graphics cards are equipped with hundreds, if not thousands of these processors [1].
The more processors that your GPU has, the more visual data it can process at once. And if you’re going to play modern games on higher graphics settings, you’ll need a GPU that’s able to process an extremely large amount of data. Otherwise, you’ll suffer from an extremely slow performance which could make your game unplayable on even its highest setting.
Dedicated graphics
When you’re browsing through laptop specs, you’ll see graphics listed as either integrated or dedicated. Integrated graphics means that your central processing unit also performs the graphics processing. There’s no separate graphics card. Most gamers prefer to have a dedicated graphics card. In other words, they like having both a central processing unit (CPU) and a graphics processing unit (GPU).
A dedicated graphics card is better for gaming because you’ll have more processors available to generate your game’s visuals.

2. Monitor

If you have a subpar monitor, you won’t be able to enjoy your game fully. Your high-quality graphics card is nothing without a top-notch gaming monitor. Your graphics card does a tremendous amount of work in preparing your game’s visuals, so you don’t want to have a monitor that can’t display those visuals in crisp and beautiful detail.
Here’s what to look for in your gaming laptop display:
  • Resolution
  • Contrast ratio
  • Refresh rate
Resolution refers to the number of pixels that make up your display. You’ll get a better image when you have more pixels, because more pixels will give you a greater variety of colors, which in turn gives you a greater amount of visual detail.
Look for a gaming laptop display that has Full High Definition (FHD), Ultra High Definition (UHD), or 4K.
Contrast ratio
Contrast ratio is another spec that involves the quality of your gaming visuals. It measures the difference between the brightest pixel and the darkest pixel that can be displayed on the monitor at the same time.
High contrast displays yield the most realistic images because our eyes see the real world with a high degree of contrast [2].
Look for a gaming laptop with a display contrast ratio of at least 1000:1 or even 3000:1.
Refresh rate
Refresh rate refers to how often your monitor refreshes the display with the new visual data from your graphics card. A good monitor should have a fast refresh rate. If you’ve got a high-end graphics card that’s processing your visuals at a rapid-fire rate, you need a monitor that’s able to keep the pace.
If your graphics card is too fast and your monitor is too slow, then your gameplay might suffer from a bad visual glitch called screen tearing where your screen appears split between mismatched halves. You can prevent screen tearing by getting a gaming laptop with a fast refresh rate.

3. Processor

While the graphics card gets the most interest from gamers, a good processor is just as critical if you want the best possible gaming performance. Your graphics card is only as fast as the processor that’s forwarding tasks to it.
The central processing unit (also known as the CPU or processor) is the component that’s essentially tasked with running your game. It also performs all of the mathematical computations that involve in-game physics and enemy AI.
A CPU contains processing cores just like a graphics card, but it contains just a few compared to the GPU. A good gaming laptop CPU contains at least 6 to 8 cores.
You should also look for a CPU that’s capable of overclocking. Overclocking is when your CPU operates at a faster speed than what it’s originally programmed for. HP OMEN gaming laptops are equipped with OMEN Command Center, which allows you to set overclocking parameters.

4. Memory

Memory (also known as random access memory or RAM) is a type of temporary storage that your computer uses while it’s carrying out tasks. The more memory that your gaming laptop has, the faster that your processors will be able to do computations for your game. Try to find a gaming laptop that comes equipped with at least 8GB RAM [3].

5. Keyboard

The keyboard is an often-overlooked component of a gaming laptop. You should try to find a gaming laptop that features a mechanical keyboard because these keyboards have more precise keystrokes with a faster response. Some HP OMEN gaming laptops have mechanical keyboards with zoned backlighting - so you can color-code all your most important keys.

Customizable gaming laptops

Now that you know what to look for in a gaming laptop, it’s time to find the perfect one for you. If you’re intent on bringing home the perfect portable gaming rig, then check out our customizable gaming laptops. These gaming laptops enable you to choose your preferred hardware that fits your gaming needs and budget.
Learn more about what makes for a great gaming laptop, which HP gaming laptops are best for you, and which gaming laptops are within your budget on HP® Tech Takes.
[1] Chron.com; What Is the Importance of Stream Processors in GPUs?
[2] CNet.com; What is TV contrast ratio?
[3] HowStuffWorks.com; How RAM Works

Infographic sources:

  • Laptop Mag; Gaming Laptop Buying Guide
  • Laptop Mag; How to Choose the Best Laptop Screen for You
  • LaptopNinja; The Five Main Things to Look for in a Gaming Laptop

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