With PC gaming more accessible than ever, many will be looking forward to picking up a new rig on Black Friday thanks to all the deals and new models going on sale with next-gen components. But whether to buy a gaming PC or a gaming laptop will be the first question for gamers.
the The best gaming computer It should feature bubbling power with room to push performance even further. Meanwhile, some The best gaming laptops Balance transfer capability with the potential for respectable visual fidelity in games.
To make your purchase decision a little easier, we’re breaking down a few things to consider when choosing between a gaming desktop and a gaming laptop so you can make the right choice for your needs and budget.
Gaming PCs vs. Gaming Laptops: Price and Availability
When deciding whether to get a desktop computer or a gaming laptop, one must keep their budget in mind. At the lower end of the spectrum, gaming desktops built from scratch are usually cheaper depending on how one obtains their components.
A couple of years ago, building a gaming desktop that could run console-quality current-generation games in 4K at 60 frames per second would have cost a small fortune. Now, a similar setup can cost just under half that if one can find a good deal on the parts.
Pre-builds from manufacturers like Alienware and Origin will cost significantly more due to factors ranging from build design to labor to extras like warranties. These are great for people who don’t want to think a lot about setting up their gaming desktop. Depending on various options for CPU, GPU, storage, cooling, and manufacturing-specific features, some pre-built PCs can start at under $1,000 and go upwards of $6,000, especially if loaded with the best graphics card and processor on the market.
Gaming laptops in the 4K/60fps range are usually more expensive than their desktop counterparts due to their portability. Then there are other things to consider including display resolutions, refresh rates, battery life, and warranties as well. Many of these options are customizable depending on the make as well which can help with cost.
Gaming PC vs. Gaming Laptop: Design
PC gaming is about personal customization. This extends to both desktop and laptop games on Windows. The idea of functionality when making a decision really comes down to gaming needs.
Due to the static nature of desktop computers, the functionality is basically limitless. Pre-build or building one from the ground up allows for a high level of customization. There are dozens of design factors to choose from when considering desktop chassis alone. Once internal components are out of the way, accessories from monitors to input devices drive the point even further.
Laptops offer more than just portability, but an all-in-one solution when trying to game on the go. Gamers who travel a lot may appreciate these compact devices. Since most gaming laptops offer HDMI ports, it is also easy to set up games on a hotel TV as well as input devices such as a console or mouse and keyboard.
When traveling on a plane or when not gaming, there is another task that can be done such as general word processing or video and photo editing. High quality gaming laptops feature touch screen and stylus support for graphic designers or artists as well.
Gaming PC vs. Gaming Laptop: Performance
Individuals who want ultimate power and high visual fidelity will get their best experiences from their desktop. This is because the latest CPU and GPU versions are considered first. Laptop versions of these chipsets usually come a little later.
Although the NVIDIA RTX 40 series of GPUs has been released, the laptop version is not available yet. Performance tuning options such as overclocking require better cooling capabilities such as multiple large fans or liquid cooling options that are not available in gaming laptops yet. You can always use a laptop cooling pad, at least.
This doesn’t mean that laptops can’t perform great in games because hardware including the Lenovo Legion 7, Corsair Voyager a1600, or Alienware X14 are very powerful. These laptops can easily run AAA titles like Cyberpunk 2077 and Doom EternalAnd Forza Horizon 5And Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, and more in HD with max settings while maintaining high frame rates.
Gaming PC vs. Gaming Laptop: Portability
When it comes to portability, there is a very clear winner. Even with the small gaming PCs in the market like Intel NUC and others, they don’t provide an all-on-one gaming solution like a gaming laptop does.
And while gaming laptops can easily be desktop replacements thanks to powerful internals and the ability to output to a gaming screen, it doesn’t work the other way around, so traveling with a gaming PC won’t always be a sensible choice.
Gaming PC vs. Gaming Laptop: Upgradeability
Outside of potential SSD storage and RAM modules, most gaming laptops can’t be upgraded for obvious reasons. Internal components are usually soldered together and not hole-driven like their desktop counterparts. This means buyers will have to upgrade their laptops once every three to four years to match the evolving system requirements of top-tier AAA games.
On the other hand, gaming desktop computers are designed to be upgraded in every way over time including CPU, GPU, RAM, storage, cooling, and more. This doesn’t even count other accessory-based upgrades from display to input controls.
Gaming PC vs. Gaming Laptop: Which Should You Buy?
PC gamers debating whether to buy a gaming PC vs a gaming laptop should understand what they are looking for in their gaming experience.
If the only things that matter are high-end visuals and performance, the desktop is probably the best. You’ll be able to upgrade it to keep up with the latest games and customize a lot of it to your personal taste. Gamers who want a mobile device they can play on may want to look at a laptop for obvious reasons. Yes, you’ll sacrifice some performance, but you’ll still be amazed at what you can do with a gaming laptop and get the benefit of an all-in-one gaming device.
Among these choices, other considerations such as resolution and performance preference come along with feature set, not to mention budget, but the primary question is between better performance and portability. Everything else should stem from there.