Are Gaming Laptops Worth the Price of Admission?


For years, the idea of a proper gaming computer has conjured up the image of a hulking desktop system that towers over the player and hums with the sound of the fans required to cool its powerful components. Notebook computers were always seen as the “little brothers” of their desktop counterparts: great for general computing, word processing, and web browsing but nowhere near powerful enough to run the same software as your desktop.

This perception has changed in recent years due to the overwhelming advances in micro-computer technology. Notebook computers have grown more and more powerful and advanced even as their size and cost have been reduced. Today, the idea of a true gaming laptop is feasible, and plenty of companies have offered their units on the marketplace as proof of this. While it may not be as convenient as gaming on a dedicated desktop computer, it is now possible to enjoy the latest computer game releases on a portable system.

Gaming Laptops Worth

What are some Benefits of Gaming Laptops?

Why, you ask, should you bother with notebooks for gaming when desktop systems are so readily available? Gaming laptops do have their decided advantages. Their reduced size can be a huge plus for gamers. When you factor in a computer case, monitor, keyboard and mouse, speakers, printer, and other peripherals, a standard-size desktop computer system can fill up an entire desk or table surface. Today’s Laptops have become so advanced that they can be seen as desktop replacements. As everything from speakers to keyboards is incorporated into a notebook computer’s body, the space required in your home is comparatively minimal. A dedicated computer desk becomes largely unnecessary when discussing a system as small as a laptop; any table or surface will do.

Laptops’ smaller size also lends itself to their portability, another obvious advantage. There is something to be said about using your computer in any location you like. Laptops allow you to work or browse the web wherever you want, and gaming laptops take that idea even further by allowing you to play the latest games wherever is convenient. After all, Unreal Tournament is probably a more worthwhile distraction for many people than Hearts. Moreover, the portability of laptops makes them ideally suited for community gaming. As anybody who has ever dragged their desktop system to a LAN party can attest, gaming with others locally is not always the easiest or most convenient. Having a smaller-scale, self-contained gaming system makes this process exponentially easier. Besides, many laptops’ wireless capabilities make connecting to other systems locally or online a cinch.

Which Gaming Laptops Are Best?

Given the advantages of gaming notebook systems, what are some of the more successful entries in the marketplace? Upon first glancing at a laptop’s specifications, it is not always immediately evident whether it is suited for gaming. CNET (c is widely considered an industry leader in computer and technology reviews, and they list several models as the best options for laptop gaming.

– Dell XPS M1710 – Dell’s XPS laptop line was designed specifically for high-end gaming, and the M1710 model is a testament to that. The XPS M1710, when configured to the highest degree, carries such lofty specifications as a 2.13GHz dual-core Intel processor, 2GB of RAM, and a 512MB mobile Nvidia video card. Dell even takes the unheard-of step of including an internal subwoofer. In terms of raw power, this is one of the most powerful gaming laptops on the market today–and one of the most expensive, clocking in at just over $4000 fully configured.

– Toshiba Satellite P105-S921 – Toshiba’s offering into the laptop gaming fray is priced considerably lower than the Dell XPS, but its performance is nonetheless admirable. At just about $2000, the S921 includes such features as a 1.83GHz dual-core Intel processor, 1GB of RAM, and a 256MB mobile video processor. While the S921’s performance pales compared to the Dell M1710’s, it has more than enough power to run the latest games at medium to medium-high graphical settings, and it represents a substantial value of $2000 less than the Dell.

– Alienware m7700 – Though this model is not listed on, and Dell recently acquired it, its name has long been synonymous with high-quality gaming hardware. This notebook model is no exception. For roughly the same price as the Dell model, you can take advantage of such features as a 64-bit dual-core AMD processor, 2GB of RAM, and a 256MB Nvidia mobile graphics card. Moreover, the external casing of Alienware models is generally quite a bit more interesting than most companies’ offerings. As with the Dell M1710, you can run most games at their highest graphical settings.

So, What’s the Catch with Gaming Laptops?

Surely, there are some drawbacks to gaming on laptop computers. As you have undoubtedly noticed above, the cost of a high-quality gaming notebook is generally much more than that of a desktop. For as much as the Dell M1710 costs, you could purchase a monstrous, dual graphics card-powered gaming powerhouse. And in most cases, you can easily find a suitable desktop gaming rig for under $1000.

Another detriment to including such advanced technology in such a small package is that gaming laptops tend to be much heavier than their non-gaming counterparts, and their battery life is generally nowhere near as long. It’s not unheard of for gaming notebook systems to clock in at eight pounds or more, and when you’re toting this weight around for significant amounts of time, it can be prohibitive. Additionally, it is rare for a dedicated gaming laptop battery to last for more than a couple of hours; the technology inside puts such a drain on the battery that it usually goes dead within a short time. If you plan on using a gaming laptop specifically as a desktop replacement, this ceases to be an issue. However, anybody planning to use their laptop exclusively on the go might find the reduced battery life slightly off-putting.