Gaming is entering a new golden age. Technology keeps getting better; parts keep getting cheaper and more people than ever before are entering the space. From casual gamers to the new hardcore E-Sports scene, gaming is taking over.
If you like the idea of building your own gaming laptop, you have come to the right place. We will walk you through the process, explaining the most important components, what they do, what you will need. Follow this guide, and you will be shooting baddies and fighting aliens in no time.
Gaming components can cost a pretty penny, so to help you guys out, we will approach this from three angles for different budgets. This means you will be able to work out exactly where to spend your money depending on your specific needs and budget.
Processor - CPU - The Brains of the Operation
Your central processing unit, CPU, or processor, for short, is the most important component in your computer.
This tiny chip is responsible for making thousands of complex calculations every single second. This is crucial for all of your parts. Without your CPU, your computer would not be able to do anything.
Your laptop processor needs to have sufficient speed. It has to carry the whole show. If any of the other parts are too demanding and your processor can't keep up, your computer will run slow. If your processor isn't strong enough for specific programs and tasks, you won't even be able to run them.
CPU choice is extremely important, especially when pairing with a GPU. These two components need to be equals in power and ability, or you will have a bottleneck, with one part capping its ability at 0-90% of its full potential.
There are three important specs to look for in a CPU: the generation, the clock speed, and the cores. Always looks for the newest generation, if possible, with as high a clock speed and enough cores to play the games you want.
Best Budget-Friendly Processor - Intel i3 9th Gen
Our top pick of processors for your budget-friendly build would be this 9th generation Intel i3 processor.
Last year we moved into the 10th generation of processors, which meant that the older generation had a price cut. This means that this is one heck of a processor for a very appealing price. It has 4 cores that can be clocked up to 4.2GHz, and it supports Intel Optane Memory.
Best Mid-Range Processor - AMD Ryzen 5 5600X 6-core, 12-Thread
The newest generation of Ryzen processors is really something else. This is the number 1 best seller processor on Amazon for a reason. With its 6 cores, Wraith Stealth cooler, and 12 threads, this processor punches way higher than its mid-range price tag would suggest.
In terms of raw performance per dollar, this is one of the best parts we have ever seen and will make the perfect addition to any gaming pc. It runs incredibly cool thanks to the Wraith cooling system, and the thermal paste is of exceptional quality.
For 100+ FPS, a 4.6GHz max boost, and 35 MB of data cache, this is also an overclocker's dream.
Best Powerhouse Processor - Intel Core i9-9900K Desktop Processor 8 Cores
If you want the very best that money can buy, the i9 is at the top of Intel's newest generation processor range. This is an 8-core monster, making it perfect for those who want to do demanding things like video-editing or machine learning.
This power also works really well when it comes to gaming. You can play even the most demanding games without this processor breaking a sweat.
It can be clocked to a whopping 5.0GHZ, has 16 threads, and supports both Turbo Boost Technology and Intel Optane Memory.
This is the pinnacle of processor technology right now.
Graphics Card - GPU - "THE" Gaming Component
If there is one component that is synonymous with gaming, it's the GPU or graphics processing unit.
This is the part that will control how high your graphics settings can be set and what games you can play. This makes it nearly as important as the processor. In terms of raw gaming, it is perhaps more important so.
A good graphics card will come with its own dedicated RAM, efficient cooling, and high-performance. Balancing these three is vital for your rig's health and capabilities, especially the cooling, as laptop cases suffer from less airflow and less space compared to a desktop.
Best Budget-Friendly GPU - GTX 1050 TI Low Profile
Although an older generation, at one point, the GTX 1050 TI was one of the most powerful cards on the market. Time has been kind to the GTX 1050, and prices have been slashed, making it an incredibly well-valued card, perfect for budget-busting gaming.
The low profile version is perfect for laptop builds, has a boost clock of 1442 and 4 GB of internal RAM.
While you might not be able to play the newest games with the settings cranked up, you will be able to get smooth gameplay on most games at "Medium" graphics.
Best Mid-Range GPU - RTX 2070 SUPER
The first-generation RTX cards shook the gaming industry. Raytracing made games so much more immersive, and when they finally brought out cards that could fit into laptops, everyone rejoiced.
This card has 8 GB of internal RAM and will allow you to play all modern games on "High" settings as well as extremely high FPS. If you want to maximize your FPS for E-sports games, this is the perfect card to do so.
This is also the right choice for those that want to run a single 4K monitor.
Best Powerhouse GPU - ASUS ROG STRIX NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3090
This is the GPU that gamers drool and dream about all around the world when they go to sleep. The pinnacle of the newest generation of RTX-enabled cards, this beast will be able to play every game on the market that is currently out and will come out for the next couple of years at the highest settings possible.
You get an incredible 24 GB of the newest GDDR6X RAM onboard. This is nearly 3x the average RAM found on a laptop, solely for the GPU.
The RTX 3090 has the newest architecture, the Ampere SM, which is the most efficient power delivery system ever. There are 3rd generation Tensor cores onboard, which can boost 2x speed utilizing AI technology that gets smarter the longer you play.
Then you have the Axial-Tech cooling system, which has a reversed central fan for increased heat dispersion. This, paired with the new super allow chokes and polymer capacitors make for some really efficient cooling, which is necessary for a card putting this much raw power out.
This is an article about gaming technology, and this card is by far the most advanced bit of gaming kit on the planet right now.
RAM - Random Access Memory - The Supporting Player
While the CPU and GPU are both showy animals, and rightly so, the RAM is a bit more reserved. Instead, this component works tirelessly around the clock to support your other parts.
Your RAM is where your central processing unit and your graphics processing unit store what they have learned.
When they need to work hard, your RAM allows them to work more efficiently by accessing the data it stores each time they make a process.
The stronger your RAM, the smoother everything else is going to run. In reverse, if you haven't got enough RAM, your other parts are going to have to work a lot harder. This makes your RAM as essential as both your GPU and CPU, especially for gaming.
We recommend that you get at least 8 GB of RAM at the minimum, preferably above 10+.
Budget-Friendly RAM Option - DUOMEIQI 8GB Kit (2 X 4GB)
The 8GB DDR4 kit produced by DUOMEIQI is perfect for those with a lower budget. Coming in at under $50, this will give you the minimum RAM that we suggest. It is, however, DDR3, not the newer DDR4.
You will still be able to play the latest games, but we highly suggest looking at our mid-range option. RAM is pretty cheap, so it's an easy way to boost your gaming performance without breaking the bank.
Mid-Range RAM Option - Crucial RAM 16GB Kit
Crucial is one of the biggest names in RAM technology and is the favorite choice for lots of gamers around the world. Their RAM is affordable and extremely efficient.
This 16 GB kit comes in at under $100, which is simply incredible in our eyes, considering that it is the DDR4 format we recommend.
This will allow you to play all modern games without much trouble.
Powerhouse RAM Option - Samsung 32GB DDR4
One of the biggest players in the memory and storage space is Samsung, and this 32 GB offering from them will allow you to absolutely maximize all of your other components.
For under $160, you will have enough RAM to support any high-end GPU and CPU without much strain.
We would try to stretch for this RAM in every build if possible. Price per performance, RAM is extremely cheap. This means you can upgrade to 32 GB of RAM for less than $60 compared to our mid-range option—a small price to pay for a significant increase in performance.
MotherBoard - The Backbone
Your motherboard is the backbone of your computer. It allows your components to connect to each other in the physical sense.
Each motherboard has slots for the different parts you need to make a computer.
This is where you plug in your hard drivers, storage drivers, power cables, GPU, CPU, and RAM.
When looking at motherboards, you will need to consider what other parts you intend to use, then make sure the motherboard you are considering is capable of working with them.
There are fewer options for motherboards that are suitable for laptops. For that reason, we suggest the following.
This motherboard offers lightning-fast gaming and m.2 SSD capabilities, making it the perfect choice for most builds.
Storage - HDD Or SSD?
When it comes to computer storage solutions, there are only two choices. You can go for the older format, the HDD or Hard Drive Disk, or the newer SSD or Solid State Drive.
The older format, the HDD, is capable of storing vast amounts of data for a very low cost. The only downside to this is that they run pretty slow and are slowly being phased out.
SSD drives, on the other hand, are lightning quick. This is what you will want for gaming as it will allow you to spend less time on the loading screen and more time in the fight. Your computer will also boot faster with an SSD.
The only downside is that SSD storage costs double, if not triple, that of an HDD. Unfortunately, most modern gaming runs a lot smoother on an SSD, so we highly recommend one, depending on how much storage you need.
Budget-Friendly SSD Option - Samsung 870 Evo 250GB
Samsung is one of the leading edges of storage solutions, and their 250GB SSD offering is both affordable and effective.
While it is only 250GB, this is enough for several games and extra storage for your other content. If you want a little bit more, for an additional $30 or so, you can upgrade to the 500GB version. These SSD's are SATA III which makes them a good fit for most systems too.
Mid-Range SSD Option - Samsung 970 EVO 1 TB M.2
Samsung makes a second appearance here. The 970 EVO is the big bad brother to the 870 EVO. This time it comes with a whopping 1 TB of space and runs via the M.2 architecture, which is the premium creme de le creme.
The 970 EVO utilizes low latency, high bandwidth, and V NAND technology to allow for high-quality gaming and 4k content. This should be more than enough for 95% of gamers out there. The only reason to get more would be if you had other uses outside of gaming for your SSD, like video editing or AI.
Powerhouse SSD Option - WD Black 2 TB M.2 Gaming SSD
When you need the best you can buy, you look to Western Digital. Their Black range of gaming SSD's will allow you to devastate any task. You will get the quickest load times, large amounts of bombproof storage, and M.2 2280 functionality.
This will be overkill for most of you, but if you have the need, Western Digital has the speed.
Barebones Laptop - Eluktronics N-Series
The final thing you will need to look at will be the barebones laptop that you use as your base.
A barebones laptop is one that has the essentials like a power supply, laptop case, keyboard, and screen, but none of the other powerful components we have listed here. They are designed as a base for you to craft your rig on.
We really like the N series from Eluktronics. This laptop has the space for the latest generation of CPU's GPUs, RAM, and Storage. The screen is a 15.6" FULL IPS screen, and the keyboard comes with nice backlighting too.
It has also received massive praise for being a simple and easy to configure barebones base for laptop building. It also has its own power supply and ample space for a larger graphics card.
- 1The first step is to position the barebones case so that you can access the bottom panel. Undo the holding screws and remove the case. The first thing you will be installing is your CPU. Once you have located the CPU section, you should be able to pull up the holding arms into a vertical position. This will allow you to install your CPU.
- 2The next step will be to install the motherboard. During this process, it is crucial that you are working on a dust-free surface that has ideally been cleaned. Any small amount of dust could get into the chipset, and the resulting static could ruin your motherboard.
- 3Once you have installed the motherboard and CPU, it is time to install your graphics card. To do this, find the relevant slot inside the case on the motherboard. This needs to be done with finesse as graphics cards can be notoriously difficult to maneuver.
- 4Next, it is time to install the RAM. These should be the easiest ones of all to install. Simply find their slots on the motherboard and push your RAM sticks in gently until they click.
- 5Now you are going to install your SSD storage drives. Makes sure you get your connection right here because a loose connection can cause serious problems later on.
- 6That's it for the parts. Now you just need to replace the protective case lid, replace the mount screws and boot up your computer!
Tips And Tricks
Building a gaming laptop can be tricky, but you are becoming part of a huge community. This means there is a wealth of experience online to take advantage of. Here are some of the tips and tricks we have found.
Pick Your Faction
Deciding upon your chosen brand between AMD and Intel will make your hardware choices a lot simpler. AMD works better with other AMD parts and vice versa. This will also have a big effect on the motherboard you choose, so pick wisely.
Not all parts work well together or even at all. Make sure you do your due diligence on your parts by heading over to a site like a part picker. This will allow you to test different configurations and builds without buying the parts.
Thermal Paste - The Unsung Hero
One of the best tips you will get is to buy high-end liquid metal or thermal paste. The thermal paste that comes with most CPUs is garbage, and by applying higher quality thermal paste, you can easily bring your temperatures down for a very low cost, which is much harder later on.
Don't Wear Socks
This might sound strange but static electricity is your enemy. A single discharge can render your expensive parts absolutely useless during installation. One way to avoid this is to get rid of your socks if you have carpeting.
Don't Force Anything
Computer parts usually fit where they are supposed to. They will often click when located properly. They are also very, very fragile, so never force your parts no matter how frustrated you are. This can cause them to break and could cost you a fortune to replace.
Pro PC builders are absolutely anal when it comes to cable management. Unruly cable management can lead to higher temperatures and a more significant build-up of dust. This might not be an immediate problem, but over the lifespan of your laptop could add up to a system failure in the dust.
Check Your Peripherals
Make sure your peripherals work before you build your computer. You wouldn't be the first person to finish their build and spend days frustrated, only to find out their monitor isn't plugged in or is malfunctioning.
Enjoy the Process
Finally, make sure you enjoy the process. Building a computer is rewarding but requires patience. Most of the time, you will run into lots of problems before successfully completing your build. Don't lose your cool; use the huge database of education online and follow the steps given to the letter, and you will be fine.
People Also Ask (FAQs)
Is it easy to build your own gaming laptop?
Building your own gaming laptop is not an easy task. It requires a lot of knowledge or patience to spend a good amount of time educating yourself on the process; if you have not built a computer before, you will need to put a lot of effort into this.
Is it worth it to build your own gaming laptop?
Even though it is difficult, there is something to be said about building the rig that you game on. It's almost like a right of passage. There is nothing more satisfying than when you slot in that final piece, boot up your laptop, and it boots up correctly. Whether this appeals to you or not will depend upon you.
Is it cheaper to build your own gaming laptop?
It's no secret that gaming laptops can get expensive. It's always cheaper to build your own gaming setup than it is to buy a pre-made one. You always pay extra for the parts, and you also pay a premium for the labor to build it.
When you build it yourself, you can shop around for the best current deals or buy one expensive part at a time over a few months. This makes building a gaming laptop a much cheaper experience, albeit a much more stressful one.
Is building a laptop more difficult than building a gaming pc?
Yes. Building a laptop takes skill and finesse. You have a lot less room to play with, and the parts are a lot smaller and more fragile. You also need to be really aware of airflow and cooling. If you do not set your laptop up correctly, it will overheat quickly, causing huge problems.
How can I make my gaming setup look better?
One of the best ways to make your gaming setup look better is to invest in a good set of RGB peripherals. Razer makes the best, and they offer RGB lighting on their mousepads, keyboards, mice, speakers, headphones, and webcams. If you want a setup that looks like you mean business, this is where you should head.
Building a high-end gaming laptop can be cost-effective and fun. Hopefully, now you are armed with the knowledge, it should be a whole lot easier.
Jake Redman is a UK-born-digital nomad & founder of Ultimate Quality Content, a collective of high-end copywriters formed to provide detailed insight into everything technology-related. Jake is the definition of a man-nerd. He gets excited over things like processor architecture, ray-tracing, & is an avid E-Sports fan, specifically League of Legends. When he isn’t writing detailed tech-related articles, Jake can be found performing fire-breathing shows & wields a dragon staff, or on the sofa playing Mario Kart.