The quest for the perfect gaming laptop is a journey filled with pitfalls. You’re bombarded with specs, flashy designs, and price tags that can make your head spin. How do you strike a balance between performance and price? Is spending more always the right choice?
In the ever-evolving world of gaming, the demands on hardware are relentless. Cyberpunk 2077, a game that pushes the boundaries of visual fidelity, can run at 50-60 fps on a laptop priced around £700. But what happens when the next big title arrives?
Will your investment stand the test of time, or will it falter under the weight of next-gen graphics? And let’s not forget about the nuances – the keyboard feels, the fan noise, the screen quality. These details, often overlooked, can make or break your gaming experience.
Fear not, for I’ve delved deep into the realm of gaming laptops, analysing everything from the budget-friendly MSI GF63 to the high-end ASUS TUF. With the help of benchmarks and real-world testing, I’ve uncovered the sweet spot of price to performance.
Whether you’re a casual gamer or a hardcore enthusiast, I’ll guide you to make an informed decision, ensuring that every penny you spend is worth the power you get.
Stay with me as we navigate this intricate maze, and together, we’ll find the gaming laptop that’s just right for you.
The Gaming Landscape
Gaming has evolved. It’s no longer just about pixels and basic graphics. Today, games demand more. They crave power, speed, and precision.
Take a look at the market. Games now offer lifelike experiences. They immerse players in worlds that blur the line between reality and fiction. This realism doesn’t come easy. It demands robust hardware.
Cyberpunk 2077: A Benchmark of Power
Consider Cyberpunk 2077. It’s not just a game; it’s a testament to where gaming is headed. Released in 2020, it pushed even the most advanced systems to their limits. With its intricate cityscapes and detailed character models, it set a new benchmark. Running it smoothly isn’t a luxury; it’s a challenge.
Manufacturers know this. They’re in a race. A race to keep up with games like Cyberpunk. But it’s not just about power. It’s about efficiency, cooling, and longevity. Gamers want the best. They won’t settle for less.
The gaming landscape is shifting. It’s demanding more from us and our machines. As games push the boundaries, our hardware must keep pace. It’s a thrilling time to be a gamer. But it’s also a time to be informed, to understand what’s at stake, and to choose wisely.
The Budget-Friendly Realm
In the vast world of gaming laptops, the MSI GF63 Thin stands out, not for its flashy design or groundbreaking features, but for its sheer value proposition. It’s a testament to the fact that you don’t need to break the bank to enter the gaming realm.
Price Point: Around £700
While many gaming laptops demand a hefty price, often stretching into the four-figure range, the MSI GF63 Thin challenges this norm. Priced around £700, it offers a gateway for both power users and entry-level gamers. It’s a beacon for those who want to game without emptying their wallets.
Performance: Cyberpunk 2077 at 50-60 fps
The real test of any gaming laptop is its performance. And the MSI GF63 Thin doesn’t disappoint, at least for its price point. With its Nvidia GTX 1650 graphics, it manages to run high-end games like Cyberpunk 2077. While it recommends medium settings at 1920 x 1080 resolution, it achieves frame rates between 35 and 60 fps. It might not offer the smoothest experience in intense firefights, but it’s playable. Switch to games with lesser demands like Fortnite, and you’re in for a treat with near-constant 60 fps at medium-high settings.
The Pros and Cons of Budget Gaming Laptops
Affordable: The most obvious advantage is the price. The MSI GF63 Thin proves that you can get a gaming laptop without spending a fortune.
Decent Performance for Most Current Games: While it might not run the latest AAA titles on ultra settings, it handles most of the current games decently. Games like Fortnite run smoothly, offering a satisfactory gaming experience.
Future-proofing Concerns: One of the major concerns with budget gaming laptops is their longevity. As games continue to evolve and demand more from hardware, there’s a question of how long such laptops can keep up.
Build Quality: To cut costs, compromises are often made in build quality. The MSI GF63, for instance, has a screen that isn’t particularly impressive, and its keyboard lacks tactility.
Limited VRAM: With just 4GB of VRAM, the GTX 1650 might struggle with more demanding tasks and games in the future.
The Pros and Cons of Budget Gaming Laptops
- Affordable: The most obvious advantage is the price. The MSI GF63 Thin proves that you can get a gaming laptop without spending a fortune.
- Decent Performance for Most Current Games: While it might not run the latest AAA titles on ultra settings, it handles most of the current games decently. Games like Fortnite run smoothly, offering a satisfactory gaming experience.
- Future-proofing Concerns: One of the major concerns with budget gaming laptops is their longevity. As games continue to evolve and demand more from hardware, there’s a question of how long such laptops can keep up.
- Build Quality: To cut costs, compromises are often made in build quality. The MSI GF63, for instance, has a screen that isn’t particularly impressive, and its keyboard lacks tactility.
- Limited VRAM: With just 4GB of VRAM, the GTX 1650 might struggle with more demanding tasks and games in the future.
The Mid-Range Powerhouses – Acer Nitro 5 and Gigabyte G5.
Acer Nitro 5
The Acer Nitro 5 is not just another budget-friendly gaming laptop; it’s a statement. Packed with Intel’s latest 12th Gen “Alder Lake” Core i5-12500H processor, it promises speed and efficiency. The 16GB of RAM ensures smooth multitasking, and the 512GB SSD guarantees faster load times and ample storage.
Price Point: Under $1000
In the competitive world of gaming laptops, finding a machine that offers a balance between performance and price is a challenge. The Acer Nitro 5, priced under $1000, strikes this balance beautifully.
The Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti GPU is the heart of this machine. While it might not consistently hit the golden 60fps mark in the most demanding titles, it offers commendable performance for its price. For those looking for a consistent 60fps experience, the RTX 3060 is an option, but it pushes the laptop out of the budget category.
Our rigorous testing regime includes both synthetic benchmarks and real-world gaming tests. Using UL’s 3DMark, we assess the graphics capabilities through Night Raid and Time Spy simulations. Additionally, GFXBench 5.0 provides insights into OpenGL operations.
For a more practical perspective, we turn to in-game benchmarks. Titles like F1 2021, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, and Rainbow Six Siege offer a diverse range of gaming experiences, from simulation to open-world adventures and competitive esports. These tests, run at 1080p, ensure a fair comparison across different systems.
The Gigabyte G5 KE is a compelling entry in the gaming laptop market, offering a blend of performance and value. With two variants available, the G5 KE and G5 ME, Gigabyte aims to cater to a broad spectrum of gamers. Our focus here is on the G5 KE, which boasts the Intel Core i5-12500H CPU and the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 Laptop GPU.
The G5 KE’s Core i5-12500H stands tall, closely matching the performance of the G7 KE and even the AMD Ryzen 7 6800H in the XMG Core 15 (M22). However, it does trail the Core i7-12700H in the Asus TUF Gaming F15 by about 15%. Sustained performance remains consistent, with only a minor hiccup observed in our Cinebench R15 multi-core loop test.
In terms of overall system prowess, the G5 KE doesn’t disappoint. Its PCMark 10 scores are comparable to laptops powered by the Core i7-12700H. Notably, it even outperforms the Ryzen 7 6800H-powered Schenker XMG Core 15 (M22) in CrossMark tests.
While the G5 KE boasts better DPC latency than many rivals, it’s worth noting that the values are still relatively high, which might be a concern for some users.
The G5 KE we reviewed came equipped with a 512 GB Gigabyte NVMe SSD. Interestingly, the 1 TB variant found in the G7 KE outperforms this drive in most benchmarks. A significant concern is the severe throttling observed during our DiskSpd read loop test. On the brighter side, there’s an option to add a second NVMe SSD, but sadly, no room for a 2.5-inch SATA drive.
The 115 W Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 Laptop GPU in the G5 KE holds its own, delivering expected results in 3DMark tests. It even manages to outshine the HP Victus in synthetic benchmarks, thanks to the latter’s 95 W TGP configuration.
When it comes to in-game performance, the G5 KE shines. Its capabilities are in line with other RTX 3060-based laptops, and it even surpasses the G7 KE in several titles. Our tests with The Witcher 3 at 1080p Ultra settings were smooth, with no noticeable frame drops.
The Gigabyte G5 KE is a formidable contender in the gaming laptop arena. While it has its shortcomings, like the SSD throttling and slightly elevated DPC latency, its performance, especially in gaming, makes it a worthy consideration for gamers on a budget. If you’re in the market for a laptop that offers a balance between price and performance, the G5 KE deserves a spot on your shortlist.
The High-End Beasts
ASUS TUF F15
The Asus TUF Gaming F15 (2022) emerges as a dominant force in the gaming laptop arena, boasting an Intel Core i7-12700H and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 GPU. With its 6 GB of GDDR6 and a max graphics power of 140W, the Gaming F15 sets a new benchmark for 1080p gaming, leaving competitors like Acer Nitro 5 (2022) and Alienware x14 in its wake.
In real-world gaming tests, the Gaming F15 consistently outperformed its rivals:
- Hitman 3: Smooth gameplay at 54 fps.
- Control: With RTX settings and DLSS, it maintained a fluid 56 fps.
- Grand Theft Auto V: Impressive 90 fps.
- Far Cry 6: Topped the charts with 97 fps.
- Borderlands 3: Led the pack with 65 fps.
- Red Dead Redemption 2: Highest frames at 59 fps.
In the Metro Exodus stress test, the Gaming F15 averaged 67.85 fps, showcasing its resilience under prolonged gaming sessions.
While the Gaming F15 is a gaming juggernaut, it faced stiffer competition in productivity tasks:
- Geekbench 5.4: Achieved a single-core score of 1,781 and a multi-core score of 12,705.
- Handbrake Test: Fastest to transcode a 4K video to 1080p, finishing in just 4 minutes and 49 seconds.
- File Transfer Speed: Lagged behind with a speed of 607.64MBps, making it the slowest among the tested laptops.
Hardware and Build
The Gaming F15 we reviewed was equipped with an Intel Core i7-12500H, 16GB of DDR5 RAM, and 1TB of SSD storage. During stress tests, the CPU and GPU maintained an average temperature of 78.7 degrees Celsius, indicating efficient cooling mechanisms.
The Asus TUF Gaming F15 (2022) is a testament to Asus’s commitment to delivering top-tier gaming performance. It excels in gaming benchmarks, consistently outpacing its competitors. However, while it holds its own in productivity tasks, it faces stiffer competition. Overall, for gamers seeking a powerful machine that can handle the latest titles with ease, the Gaming F15 is a top contender.
Gigabyte Aorus 17
The Gigabyte Aorus 17 stands out as a formidable contender in the gaming laptop arena, boasting a robust i7-12700H processor and an Nvidia RTX3080 GPU. While it may not be the absolute top performer in its class, it offers a balanced blend of power and potential for upgrades.
The Aorus 17’s i7-12700H processor shines in multithreaded tasks, as evidenced by its performance in the Cinebench R20 benchmark. While it doesn’t outpace the Core i9-equipped competitors, it holds its own commendably.
For everyday tasks like web browsing and Microsoft Office, the Aorus 17 performs on par with other 12th-gen Core i7 laptops.
In 3D gaming benchmarks, the Aorus 17 showcases its prowess, though it slightly lags behind some competitors, likely due to its 130W TGP power envelope. In the Rise of the Tomb Raider benchmark, it delivers a respectable 149 FPS at 1080p/Very High settings.
Despite housing a large 99Whr battery, the Aorus 17 struggles to deliver extended battery life. It manages just under six hours in a 4K video loop test. For tasks like movie watching during long flights, having the charger on hand is advisable.
The Aorus 17 offers a promising upgrade path. Alongside the pre-installed 1 TB NVMe SSD, there’s an additional M.2 slot for storage expansion. The laptop also features socketed RAM, with the stock configuration boasting 32 GB of DDR5-4800 RAM.
Build and Feel
The laptop feels sturdy, with its blend of slim design and expansive deck size. The plastic chassis ensures a stable keyboard experience, devoid of any noticeable flex even during intense typing sessions.
The Gigabyte Aorus 17 is a well-rounded gaming laptop that offers a blend of solid performance and future upgrade potential. While it may not top the charts in every category, it provides a reliable and expandable platform for both gamers and power users.
Navigating the vast landscape of gaming laptops can be a daunting task, with a myriad of options spanning various price points. However, the crux of making an informed decision lies in understanding one’s individual needs and aligning them with a suitable budget. Whether you’re a casual gamer seeking a cost-effective solution or a professional gamer chasing the pinnacle of performance, there’s a laptop tailored for you.
It’s paramount to remember that a higher price tag doesn’t always equate to a better experience for every user. The value derived from a device is intrinsically linked to how well it serves its purpose for the user. Thus, spending more than necessary might not always yield tangible benefits, while underspending might lead to a subpar experience.