Our highly trained sales team hears this question a lot, especially from students and heavy travelers. Should I buy a gaming laptop or a desktop PC? Is the portability of a gaming laptop worth dealing with battery life and worse performance over a gaming desktop? If you’re a short-session gamer (IE 3-4 hours a day), then a gaming laptop will do fine, much more than that, and you’ll likely want to invest in a desktop to get the most out of your components.
Gaming Laptop vs Desktop PC
Gaming laptops offer incredible performance, all in a tiny package. The latest and greatest releases from NVIDIA are typically available in laptop GPUs within a few months of release, so you absolutely can order an RTX 3090 powered Laptop if you’d like the best graphical performance available. The slight downside is that a desktop PC will always perform a bit better, even with similar specs as a gaming laptop. Why?
Packing all that power into something so small tends to limit airflow, meaning your components will run much hotter under a heavy load. Hot components tend to burn out faster than components kept cool under operation, so you can expect less of a lifespan gaming laptop.
The other comeuppance desktop PCs have on gaming laptops is the ability to upgrade and swap out component easily. Even as a custom PC manufacturer, there’s a limit to the components we can swap out and replace with gaming laptops. With a desktop PC, we have 600 case options and almost as many graphics cards to choose from. Our gaming laptop options depend on the manufacturer, but typically result in few component choices.
Gaming Laptop Pros
Don’t get us wrong, gaming laptops are great. We have quite a wide variety to choose from! Portability paired with those high-end components will make editing videos, note-taking and running multiple tabs a breeze. They’re great at multitasking and with the right specs can run some of the latest games at 4K 60FPS (this Gigabyte Aorus features an Intel i7 and an RTX 3080). Who doesn’t want to finish up their latest Apex Legends match, close their 10lb laptop up and head to class? A student living in a dorm room doesn’t really have the desk space for a big old tower PC (although you can make a desktop tower work).
Gaming Desktop Pros
Okay, so desktops obviously come out a bit on top. Other than not being able to pick it up with one hand and carry it with you, there’s not much more that a laptop can do that a desktop can’t. Your components will last longer under heavy computing loads due to improved airflow, and if something does go wrong, it’s much easier for you to repair/replace a component in a desktop than a laptop. Also, you can try building out or ordering a Mini PC or Small Form Factor build if size is a concern, although they still are a bit of a hassle to move around as you need to bring a keyboard, mouse and monitor with you.
Gaming Laptop vs Desktop Conclusion
If you plan to game every day for multiple hours at a time, you’ll likely prefer the increased performance and longevity of a desktop PC. If you’re worried about dragging a desktop PC to class, there are a ton of tablet alternatives to pair with your desktop PC that will automatically transfer your notes between platforms.
Only have time for a couple of hours of gaming a day? Then enjoy the powerful but portable gaming laptop. Who doesn’t want an RTX 3080 they can pull out of their backpack? ;D