We have entered into a golden era of gaming. E-sports events have packed out stadiums on a scale that is hard to believe, and prize funds have reached the millions. This means we are seeing an entirely different kind of athlete competing in a world that isn't biased by race or body genetics.
As more people become interested in gaming, more money enters the space. This means that the technology becomes cheaper. You no longer need a big bulky desktop to play the most recent AAA+ games. Now you can play them on mid-range laptops.
For those looking at entering the gaming world, this article is here to teach you the tips and tricks of the trade for optimizing your laptop's performance.
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Gaming Laptops Vs. Gaming Desktop: How They Differ
The main problem with computer performance innovation is the size factor. Technology originally starts big before being scaled down in cost and size. This means that the only people who had access to affordable parts in the past were those who owned desktops that could house the cost-friendly components.
Nowadays, we have technology that is both powerful enough to play high-end games and small enough to be installed into a laptop case.
Desktops are usually cheaper for the same level of performance, but they are large and bulky. Many of us need our computer to be portable, so opt for a laptop that can be transported.
Gaming Laptops are the industry's answer to the problem. These laptops are usually a bit bulkier but come with vastly improved power and gaming ability.
Considerations When Initially Choosing a Gaming Laptop
GPU / Graphics Card
We will start with the part that defines a gaming laptop. GPU's or Graphics Cards are the processing unit responsible for your graphics, visuals, and model loading. This means that everything you see in your games has been processed by the GPU. The stronger the card, the better it does. This results in better graphics, slower loading times, and higher FPS.
FPS can mean two things in the gaming world, First Person Shooter or Frames Per Second. When used to describe performance, it usually means Frames Per Second. This is how many still images your computer can display per second.
Humans see in the 30-60 FPS range, and 60 is the widely regarded sweet spot to avoid any jarring eye motion or laggy gameplay. To get this kind of FPS, you need a dedicated GPU, which means the GPU has been designed with gaming in mind by a 3rd party company such as Nvidia. These cards are vastly superior to the integrated GPU intel usually installs into their laptops.
A gaming laptop MUST have a dedicated GPU unless you are only looking to play very low-tech games like Minecraft or Roblox.
Your screen display quality will depend on your budget and the power of your other components. If you have a good graphics card, you might be able to use a 4K monitor, which is of a much higher quality than the typical 1080p display that has become the norm.
One thing to consider with screen display is the effect it has on battery life. The better the quality and the higher the brightness of the screen, the quicker the battery will drain. This may or may not be necessary to you, but it's worth considering if you plan to use your laptop on the move or away from a power socket for a prolonged period of time.
Your CPU is the MVP of any laptop or computer. Your CPU or central processing unit is the brain, the control room, and the ship captain. It makes thousands upon thousands of important decisions every single second without rest. This is what allows your components to work; without the CPU, they cannot do anything.
The better your CPU, the better your computer will perform in every single aspect. This means this is the most important part to prioritize alongside your GPU. A poor CPU will actually act as a bottleneck if the GPU is stronger. This means you need to make sure your CPU can handle the demand of your GPU.
Look for the newest generation of a processor for the best possible performance.
Your RAM is the unsung hero of your machine: the lowly healer, the one keeping the whole party alive during the hardest boss fights. Essentially, your RAM is a lightning-quick data transfer and storage system.
Every time your CPU makes a decision, it stores a cheat sheet in the RAM. The next time it needs to make the same decision, it uses that cheat sheet to perform the task more efficiently. This means that the stronger your RAM, the stronger your machine will run and the smoother your experience will be.
For modern gaming, you should be looking at a minimum of 8GB of DDR4 RAM for a smooth experience, and if you can fork out for 10+, you will definitely not regret it.
There are two types of storage used for computing, HDD and SSD.
HDD stands for hard drive. This is the storage device we have been using for the last decade or so. It works with a laser and disc and is capable of holding vast amounts of data for minimal cost. The only problem with HDD's is their speed. They simply cannot keep up with modern down computing tasks.
SSD stands for solid-state drive. This is the same type of memory used by your RAM. SSD has the benefit of being blisteringly quick. They load games, programs, boot up and transfer files at a speed that leaves the HDD in its dust. With all-new tech, the main problem is always cost, and an SSD storage system costs a lot more than an HDD storage system.
For gaming, you need to have at least some SSD functionality. Pairing a smaller SSD, say around 256-512GB, with a 1TB HDD is a common way that gamers make use of both storage devices and their strong points.
As a gamer, your keyboard will need to be more advanced than the average one. You will need keys that have better tactile resistance and anti-ghosting. When you are using a laptop keyboard, you already have to sacrifice a lot of the space you have with a plugin keyboard. This means it is imperative that the keyboard is well designed.Look for mechanical switches wherever possible; ideally, the keyboard will be designed by a 3rd party gaming peripheral company like SteelSeries or Razer
How to Improve Gaming Performance on Laptop
1. Settings, Upgrades & Cleaning
The very first thing you should do if you intend to game on an older laptop is to give it a serious clean. When running games, your laptop is going to run a lot hotter than usual. If your fans and dust pipes are clogged with dust, then your temperatures may reach a level that damages the components inside.
The best way to clean your dust vents is to use an aerosol air cleaner. These only cost a couple of dollars. You could also take your laptop to a laptop repair shop, and they should be able to offer a health check and clean the inside of your laptop for a relatively low price.
Next, you should consider whether you want to upgrade your basic tech. If your laptop has the ability for additional RAM or an SSD, these are both very valuable upgrades to make for gaming performance. You might also utilize an eGPU, and an eGPU is a graphics card that you plug into your system instead of installing it.
This is a great way to seriously boost your gaming potential as you can install any card, regardless of size. Ensure that you do your research to make sure that the component you want to install is compatible with the rest of your parts.
Next, you should look into a simple overclock. Overclocking is the name given to the process of removing the factory stock settings and using optimized ones. If you plan to do this, make sure you follow a good guide online as a bad overclock can lead to serious problems if not done correctly.
Many free programs will give you a simple overclock that should be mild enough not to need additional expertise. Here are the best ones:
2. Tips for Windows 10
One of the most important tips we will give you is to keep your laptop up to date. This means that you should always listen when the annoying "Your computer needs to update" warning pops up. Many of us reschedule it for another time, pushing it back over and over again. This causes your computer to run using old technology and software, leading to a dramatic decrease in computing and gaming power.
It isn't just updates you need to keep on top of either. You should always make sure that your drivers are up to date. Sometimes things go wrong, and driver updates do not install automatically. When this happens, you can run into significant problems, especially while gaming.
Updating your drivers is a straightforward and simple process. Simply head to the box at the bottom left of your screen and type in "drivers." This will bring up a list of all of the drivers that your computer uses, allowing you to click on each individually and manually check for new updates.
Automatic updates are always the best way to go, so if you have software such as Nvidia GeForce, make sure that you tick the automatic update button on the settings.
Occasionally laptops will have smart power tech on board. This allows the laptop to reduce computing power in order to save battery life. To change this, go to settings>power and sleep>Additional power settings and then click the "High Performance" button.
The final tip you can use if you are on Windows 10 is activating Windows "Game Mode." To do this, simply press WIN+G. This will cause your computer to suspend some unnecessary background tasks to shunt power to your gaming.
Other Must-Have Laptop Accessories: For Better Gaming Performance
In order to play games at a reasonable level, you need to use a mouse, more specifically, a gaming mouse. Gaming mouses have massively increased sensitivity and technology designed to give you pinpoint accuracy over your movements.
Often, certain gaming mouses are designed specifically for a type of game. A MOBA mouse will be simple with two buttons and an extremely high sensitivity ability. An MMORPG mouse might have up to 16 additional buttons on the side to allow you to map custom commands.
If you are playing multiplayer games, you will need a way to talk to your teammates. A good gaming headset will have a microphone that is good at picking up your voice and translating it into crystal clear audio for your team. Your gaming headset will also play the sounds of the game, so finding one with high-quality audio is a must.
Due to their size, it is hard for gaming laptops to come equipped with a fully functional gaming keyboard. The best way around this is to simply buy a plugin. Gaming keyboards come with mechanical switches that are much better to type on than your standard keyboard. They might also have additional buttons that you can remap.
If you plan to stream, you might want to consider getting a standalone webcam. Unfortunately, gaming laptops don't tend to prioritize webcams, so they tend to have low quality 720p versions. This simply isn't good enough for modern streaming.
The best gaming laptops come with incredibly well designed cooling tech. This allows them to play high-end games without frying the components. Adding a cooling pad is a great way to help your system out. They are incredibly cheap and can massively increase the cooling capabilities of any laptop.
If you have bought an amazing gaming mouse, you will need to get an equally strong mouse pad. Gaming mouse pads have specially designed surfaces that pick up the laser and allow for smooth gliding. This will help you with accuracy as well as preventing RSI.
A good wrist rest is an investment. Gamers spend huge amounts of time at their computer, and Repetitive Strain Injury is a real worry. A good gel wrist pad will allow you to game for longer and will stop you from injuring your wrist.
People Also Ask (FAQs)
How do I increase FPS on my laptop?
First, you should try a mild overclock and a clean-up of all of your system's air vents. After this, you should make sure that there are no apps stealing resources that are not necessary. If these don't work, you should consider upgrading your hardware or purchasing an eGPU.
Why do I keep getting FPS drops?
The main reason for FPS drops is when your hardware cannot handle the strain your game is placing on it. When this happens, you should try all of the tips above to bring it back up again.
Are dual monitors worth it for gaming
This will depend upon the game. While not necessary, sometimes it is helpful to have information on one screen, such as the map or items you need to buy and the game on the other screen.
Why do gamers use three monitors?
Again, this is to allow them to display useful information or their streaming on another monitor from the one they are gaming on. They also might watch television on one.
What does RGB lighting mean?
RGB is short for red, green blue and is the term used to describe the fancy light systems commonly used in gaming rigs and peripherals.
Hopefully, we have given you some handy advice here. By utilizing the tips above, you should be able to squeeze every last bit of juice from your laptop.
Andrew White is the founder of TechGearoid, a leading technology review & information website that is designed to help consumers make better decisions when it comes to their IT purchases. As a specialist tech writer (nerd) with over 10 years of experience, he enjoys writing about everything there is to do with modern technology & the newest market innovations. When he isn’t providing value for his readers, he’s usually drinking coffee or at the beach. Andrew lives in Sydney, Australia with his wife and family.