This question might seem stupid at first glance since most of us are familiar with the fact that gaming on a desktop is far superior to gaming on a laptop. On the other hand, there are certain advantages of playing games on a laptop. In this post, we will be looking at the advantages and disadvantages of playing games on a laptop and I will show you some tips and tricks on how to play games on a laptop more efficiently and without having to go through constant waves of frame drops and performance issues in general.
But first let us answer this frequently asked question:
Is gaming on a laptop really that bad?
Actually, it is not. The main reason people complain about gaming on a laptop is that it is not worth it from a financial point of view. While you can build your own gaming rig for a decent price by buying every piece of hardware separately, with gaming laptops you are much more limited since everything comes already built-in and you can not change components except for RAM modules and storage like Hard Drives and SSD.
It is not that gaming on a laptop is bad, it just is not worth it considering how much you have to spend on a decent gaming laptop in comparison to a gaming desktop. But that again depends on your priorities, how much money you are willing to spend and how much money you have. That is the main reason why gaming on a laptop gets so much hate. In the end, it ultimately depends on what kind of a gaming experience you want and if the advantages offered by a gaming laptop outweigh the drawbacks. Decide for yourself if the choice of buying a gaming laptop is justifiable and do not let anyone’s opinions make a decision for you.
The following advantages and disadvantages of playing games on a laptop are just general guidelines that are meant to help you make a decision if you are unsure whether you should invest in a laptop or desktop for your gaming sessions.
5 Advantages of gaming on a laptop
If you travel a lot and are constantly out of the house and want to enjoy your favorite games with decent framerates then it might be a good idea to buy a gaming laptop. From personal experience, I can confirm that moving around your desktop PC can be tough. It is not only the fact that you have to carry around your tower, sound system, monitor etc, but also the fact that you have to devote time in order to set it up properly and find a big enough desk to accommodate it.
With a gaming laptop, the only thing you have to carry with you is the laptop itself and your gaming mouse. It is not even necessary to buy a separate keyboard since most gaming laptops come with a great keyboard and some of them even have RGB lighting support so you do not miss out on anything. The only additional thing you should carry with you is your headphone or headset if you plan to play games at night or listen to music or movies without disturbing others.
Portability is a huge advantage of gaming laptops and it is the main reason why people prefer it over gaming desktops.
2. Laptops can be placed anywhere
Limited space can be bothersome when trying to play games on your desktop computer. You need to have adequate space in order to set everything up. The tower should always be placed on the desk to prevent dust accumulation and on top of that, you have to find room for other components like mouse and keyboard and a UPS which should always be running when your PC is on. While this is not a big problem, space limitation is also tied to portability and can be a problem if you are constantly traveling. Keep that in mind when choosing your preferred gaming system.
Laptops, on the contrary, can be placed on almost any surface. You can even take your gaming laptop to your bed and play games there before you call it a day. Pretty convenient if you ask me.
3. No need for future upgrades
This might be considered a disadvantage but again it depends on how you look at it and what you actually want. If you want to get rid of the hassle of having to worry about upgrading your PC and want something that works right out of the box, maybe you should choose a gaming laptop over a desktop, leading us to my next point.
4. Laptops are plug and play
Assembling your own gaming PC can be an enjoyable thing and something you will be proud of if you enjoy the process, of course. If playing lego with PC components is not your thing and you want something that works right out of the box, choose a gaming laptop. No chance of choosing wrong PC parts, everything is designed to work when you hit the power button. Desktop gaming demands lots of research and personal involvement in regards to finding out what components to choose and how to assemble your PC. You have to be passionate about it. If it is not what you are interested in and you just want to play your games, get a gaming laptop.
Additionally, take a look at my post in order to decide whether you should get a console instead of a laptop. Consoles are way cheaper and offer a great gaming experience for their price.
Laptops drain way less power from the wall than desktop PCs. Assembling a powerful gaming rig may not be as power hungry as a few years back since graphics cards, which are the most power hungry components, are way more efficient nowadays. Nevertheless, gaming laptops require way less power than desktop PCs. Not only that, but the GPU inside a gaming laptop offers exactly the same performance as the same desktop model although it is a compact version optimized for laptops. Go for the laptop if power consumption matters to you.
4 Disadvantages of gaming on a laptop
1. Gaming laptops can be expensive
The main drawback of gaming laptops is the fact that they are quite expensive for what they offer. When building a desktop PC, double the amount of money you need to spend on a gaming PC in order to match its performance with a gaming laptop. Be prepared to pay a premium price for the portability advantage of your gaming laptop. In case you want to check it out yourself, go to PCPartPicker and look at ready builds there and then go to Amazon.com and check out prices of gaming laptops with the same characteristics.
You will notice right away that prices of capable gaming laptops can easily cost more than $2000 while you do not need more than $1000 for a great gaming PC. Again, it depends on what you consider great and how much money you have and are willing to spend.
If you are not prepared to spend a good amount of money on your gaming laptop and price to performance is something you care about, stay away from gaming laptops.
2. Gaming laptops do not offer the best gaming experience
Getting used to playing on a laptop after having spent some decent amount of time playing games on a desktop PC can be difficult. Desktop PCs offer by far the best gaming experience and no laptop can match playing games on a PC with a big high refresh rate monitor. Gaming on a laptop is limited and although playing games on a gaming laptop are far superior in comparison to a console, desktop PC is still the king of gaming. That is why it is called the “PC Master Race”.
If you are searching for the best gaming experience, refrain from a laptop and invest in a gaming PC.
Check out this link to learn why high refresh rate monitors offer the best gaming experience.
If you want to buy a great monitor for your system, check out my best gaming monitors for 2018, HERE.
3. Laptops are difficult to troubleshoot
Desktop PCs may be bothersome and time-consuming to set up but the fact that you need to actually build your PC yourself or have someone build it for you means that you can also indicate the faulty PC component should it come to that. Troubleshooting your desktop computer is easy once you get to know the steps and you might even fix the problem yourself instead of having to send it back to the manufacturer and wait for a couple of months before you can get back to gaming.
Laptops, on the other hand, are way more difficult to troubleshoot and require you to be much more knowledgeable about computers in order to fix the issue yourself. Since all parts are integrated, getting to the inside of your laptop can be frustrating and the trouble of damaging your laptop increases proportionally if you do not know your way around it. In the end, you will be forced to send it back for repair and let the technician do it for you.
Personally, I always want to seize control of the situation and do everything in my power to fix the issue myself before relying on external help. Google and Youtube university are the best places to get a grip on how to troubleshoot your PC or laptop, but, as I mentioned before, PCs are much easier to get around because they can be assembled and disassembled at will, while the same thing can not be said about laptops.
Check out my PC Troubleshooting Guide and fix your PC yourself easily. Click here for more information.
4. Future upgradability
Whatever you choose to game on, whether it is PC or laptop, the need to upgrade parts at some point is inevitable. PC parts can be changed and upgraded easily since every component is removable. The same principle does not apply to laptops whose components cannot be swapped out. Most laptops allow you to only change out RAM modules and storage. Some laptops, like the DELL Alienware, give you the ability to change out the GPU but they carry a pretty heavy price tag and are not worth investing in if your primary reason for buying them is the ability to swap out the GPU.
Components like the motherboard and CPU are not interchangeable and your best bet is to buy a new laptop if you feel like it is time for an upgrade.
12 Tips and Tricks On How To Play Games On A Laptop
Playing games on a laptop can be enjoyable if you know a few tricks and are willing to apply a few tweaks which will be explained below. Suffering from low framerates and stuttering while in-game can be frustrating, trust me, I have been there. If you intend to get rid of the majority of the issues related to playing games on a laptop, check out 5 tips you can implement right now to improve your gaming experience:
1. Update your BIOS
Mamy issues can be resolved by just updating the BIOS. BIOS stands for “Basic Input Output System” and is the “brain” of your laptop, responsible for the communication between all your laptops’ parts. Without the BIOS, your laptop would simply receive electrical signals without knowing how to use of them. BIOS updates contain important tweaks and bug fixes by your laptop’s manufacturer essential for the operational capability of your laptop. How long has it been since you updated your laptop’s BIOS? If you are having trouble getting through your favorite game, start by updating your BIOS.
2. Update your graphics card and other drivers
Your graphics card is the component that is responsible for the graphical performance of your games. The better GPU you have the more frames your laptop will be able to output. The driver lets your motherboard and other components communicate with your GPU and without the driver, your GPU would not function since your laptop would not recognize it. Updating your GPU driver is essential and can give you a great FPS boost. Always check for the latest GPU driver at either NVIDIA’s or AMD’s website.
In order to upgrade your GPU’s driver, always use a program called Display Driver Uninstaller (DDU) which you can download here.
What DDU does is removing all registry traces of previous driver installations which might interfere with your current driver version. DDU is a free-to-use program and one that I have been using for many years now without problems.
Updating other drivers might as well solve issues in games. In order to update drivers, I recommend you use these 2 free tools:
These two driver update tools will ensure that all the necessary drivers for your operating system will be installed. Simply let the tools run and they will find the missing or outdated drivers and install them quickly.
3. Upgrade to Windows 10
Windows 10 has come a long way since its release back in 2015 and has only improved with time. Windows 10 is the best Windows version for gaming and is the only operating system officially supported by Microsoft. Besides gaming, Windows 10 will definitely improve your Windows experience since it is getting constantly optimized. Windows 10 also offers you individual customization options meaning that you can turn features on and off according to your liking.
Check out how to download and install Windows 10 for free by clicking here.
Check out the video below to optimize Windows 10 for gaming with easy and comprehensible steps:
4. Keep Windows 10 up to date
Many times the solution to low framerates is right in front of our eyes but we fail to recognize it. Keeping your Windows up to date is crucial for your OS and games. Never underestimate what a simple Windows update can do. Keep checking for Windows updates and install them as soon as possible. Windows 10 has become pretty stable and while some updates could mess up your OS in the past, it will definitely not happen in 2018.
5. Change your laptop’s power settings to “High Performance”
Laptops might reduce framerates in order to save power. To prevent that you want to set your laptop’s power settings to “High Performance”. In order to do that head over to “Settings<System<Power Settings<Additional Power Settings” and choose “High Performance” instead of “Balanced”. If you have an SSD installed choose “Samsung High Performance”.
“High Performance” will ensure that your laptop will always favor performance over power consumption which is very important for your games and could be the cause for frame drops and bad gaming performance over a longer period of time since your laptop automatically reduces performance in order to save power.
6. Turn off “Hibernation” and “Sleep Mode”
Hibernation and sleep mode are many times the reason for in-game crashes which may occur if you leave your laptop running and do not use it for a couple of hours. Game lags and crashes can be avoided if you turn those features off. In order to do that, head back to the power settings tab as described above and click on “Choose what the power buttons do”<“Change settings not available at the moment” and untick every box at the bottom of the page. When you turn off the laptop the only options available should be “Turn Off” and “Restart”. This will prevent your laptop from going into hibernation or sleep mode when you happen to not use it for a while.
Additionally, at the power settings tab click on “Never” to avoid your screen going black after a certain amount of time. Sometimes, a black screen can cause unexpected crashes, too and your laptop on default turns off the screen after 30 minutes, which you want to change to “Never”.
7. Use CCleaner to clean up unnecessary files
CCleaner is an excellent free-to-use tool which deletes unnecessary files from your computer and your registry. Using CCleaner on a daily basis will make your laptop run more efficiently by getting rid of junk files. Use CCleaner before logging into your game to delete files which might interfere with gaming performance.
Dust accumulation is the primary reason for increased temperatures which will impact your laptop’s performance and longevity. Cleaning your laptop from time to time and getting rid of the dust will make sure that your laptop will stay nice and cool and last longer. Clean your laptop by unscrewing the screws on the back and use compressed air to clean off the dust that has accumulated inside. Check out the video below for a detailed look at how to efficiently clean up your laptop:
9. If gaming issues persist, clean install Windows
If your games still not perform the way you want them after applying all those steps, it is time to wipe out your Windows 10 copy and install it from scratch. A clean Windows installation will put everything back in place and deal with any software related problem. A clean install will also speed up your laptop because it gets rid of all files and fixes broken apps and programs. A Windows clean install is your last resort to sorting out software related problems but sometimes can be less time consuming than finding the problem itself. The only downside to that is that you have to re-install all your programs again which takes time. The clean install process itself is very easy and quick. Do not forget to back up your important files before you wipe out your Windows installation and check out the video below on how to do a proper Windows 10 clean install:
10. Turn off your Antivirus program(s)
Turning off your antivirus might be the solution for frequent game crashes. Especially having more than one Antivirus programs running might cause the programs to overlap and cause your laptop to malfunction. Turning them off completely is your best option to ensure that they do not interfere with your gaming activities.
11. Close frame-capturing programs
Many people use frame capturing programs like MSI Afterburner (the most used program) which display your framerate, RAM, CPU and GPU usage and many other things while in-game. Some game engines do not tolerate third-party software causing the game to crash. Try turning those programs off to see if it resolves your problem. I know for a fact that games like Destiny 2 and Rising Storm 2 Vietnam do not tolerate third-party software and crash immediately. By turning off MSI Afterburner, the crashes stopped and did not happen again.
12. Buy a better gaming laptop
Buying a better gaming laptop should always be your last resort since all the steps described above are free. In case, however, that you are still not satisfied by the gaming performance of your laptop, getting a better one might solve the problem. Sometimes this is the best alternative especially if your current gaming laptop is more than 5 years old. As games evolve, the graphical demand increases too and a new laptop with a better GPU might turn out to be a necessity.
But even if you have the money to spend on a new gaming laptop, it is worth checking out the source of your problem. If you are happy with your current laptop’s performance, and your issue is the constant frame drops and bluescreens, your problem might be software related and can be solved either by a technician of yourself.
It ultimately depends on what you want and it is better to look at all your options before making a decision you may regret.
Whether you choose a gaming PC or laptop is up to you. It all depends on what your priorities, budget, and preferences are. I only wanted to provide you with a list of pros and cons to make your decision easier. If you aim for the best gaming experience, definitely get a gaming PC. However, if you travel a lot, a gaming laptop is your best friend for great gaming sessions while on a trip or simply wanting to relax at a cafeteria.
The question of how to play games on a laptop can be answered easily by implementing a few tweaks which will drastically improve gaming performance. Sometimes the root of our problem is right beneath our nose and we do not even realize it. The majority of you will benefit by just applying each step individually. If framerates still persist and you had been thinking of getting a better laptop, at least now you know that your decision is justified since you have excluded all alternatives.
What do you prefer? Laptop or desktop? If you liked my post, please feel free to leave a comment in the comment section below. I will be happy to get into a coversation with you.
Hi, everyone, my name is John Bochtis and I share a genuine passion for PC hardware and games. I have helped many people set up and fix their PCs and I have established this website to help out as many people as I can in my respective niche. Check out my websites for news, reviews, top 10 lists and lots of content around computer hardware and games. I hope to see you around!