Advantages and Disadvantages of Gaming Laptops [2021]

Updated as of

There are Xbox players, Playstation players, Wii players… there’s a lot of gamers out there, playing on all kinds of consoles. But you, you’re a different breed. You’re in the market for a gaming computer–a top-notch system for the ultimate gaming experience.

Back in the day, a gaming desktop was the obvious answer. I mean, gaming laptops were a generation behind in CPUs and GPUs than their desktop counterparts, offered a poor gaming experience, and they were pricier. So purchasing them wasn’t worth it unless you needed portability.

Today things are a bit different. Though gaming laptops may still be more expensive from a price to performance perspective, it’s safe to say that the performance gap is closed, especially since releasing the Nvidia RTX 20 series and 30 series of graphics cards.

Now that gaming laptops are a legitimate option, you’re in a bit of a pickle for the best PC choice. Your heart may be leaning toward a gaming laptop but, you’re just not sure if it’s right for you. Let’s get this sorted by assessing the pros and cons so you can make the appropriate decision.

Advantages of a Gaming Laptop

Acer Triton 300 Gaming Notebook

There are a few advantages of gaming laptops that are worth noting. However, it’s also worth noting that, to an extent, these “advantages” are subjective. For example, if you plan on sitting in your chair and not moving around much, portability, though a plus, isn’t that valuable to you.

Take these perks with a grain of salt for that reason. Think about how each advantage helps your life specifically and how it may improve or worsen your gaming experience.

Portability

It’s impossible to beat a gaming laptop in portability. After all, even the wide-screen 17-inch displays can still fold up and fit in a bag.

Since you don’t have to lug around a hunky desktop, monitor, keyboard, and mouse to carry around, you can travel effortlessly and play virtually anywhere you want–all you need is stable internet.

A gaming laptop also offers you maximum mobility because of the little wiring. At most, you’d be temporarily anchored by a charging cable or ethernet.

Functional Versatility

Gamer playing on the Acer Aspire E5

If you’re purchasing a gaming laptop, then you can use it for more tasks other than gaming–like school, work, zoom socials, and whatnot. This is a huge advantage compared to consoles that often only can handle playing games.

Now, one can argue that a desktop PC can do the same, but again, it’s about portability. The fact is that you can’t take desktop computers to work or anywhere else for other tasks. You can’t get that paper done on the bus, et cetera.

Additionally, gaming laptops come equipped with a video camera, microphone, mouse, and keyboard all-in-one. That integrated hardware system allows you to complete more tasks with a laptop than a desktop counterpart. For example, to join a simple Zoom call on a desktop gaming PC, you’d need to go out and buy a working microphone and HD video camera to wire in.

Disadvantages of a Gaming Laptop

You’ll see that this section of disadvantages of gaming laptops is longer than the advantages section. Obviously, computing performance depends on specs, but generally, gaming desktops are overall better equipped to handle hardcore gaming.

But, the disadvantages shouldn’t necessarily dissuade you from purchasing a gaming laptop because, again, for you, the advantages may outweigh these overlookable downsides.

Limited Upgradeability

Upgrading a laptop

Because gaming laptops are so compact, many internal components only work with each other and are irreplaceable. For example, many laptop processors and graphics cards are soldered onto the motherboard–making them incredibly difficult to access.

Though the structural simplicity and seamlessness are great, it limits the computer’s hardware upgradability. Sure, RAM and storage may be upgradeable depending on the gaming laptop, but, in general, when purchasing one, assume that you’ll be stuck with most of the same internal components in its lifespan. If you need for example a more powerful CPU you’ll need a new laptop.

Aesthetics-wise, a pre-built gaming laptop isn’t going to look any cooler than its current build design. There’s simply nothing structurally possible to take apart and replace. The only decorative measures you’re looking at are stickers. You can do a lot with a desktop, building it from the ground up, though.

If you would like the freedom to customize every aspect of your PC if need be–from looks to performance specs upgrades, you’ll have a much easier time doing that with a gaming desktop PC.

Limited Power (Needs to Be Charged)

A silver laptop getting chargedLike any laptop, gaming laptops require a charger when the battery is low. That may very well hinder your gaming experience. The fact is that when gaming long hours-on-end, we’re limited by the power supply and may need to remain stationary in one place–an uncomfortable place, I might add, bound by the charger.

A connected charger has its own risks. In a public place, someone may trip and fall and bring your laptop down with the cable. Also, unlike desktops, you can’t hide away your wires and station the computer in a secluded, dedicated PC area.

The last thing you want is to forget about your gaming laptop’s battery percentage–which is extremely common when gaming for longer periods. Your dedication may go all down the drain if the laptop dies mid-game. Poor teammates. Keep an eye on that. The good thing is most laptops will notify you of low battery – even in-game.

If you compare a gaming laptop against a normal laptop, you’ll find that the normal laptop generally has better battery life. This is because the latest gaming laptops have powerful gaming hardware and other advanced features such as 144hz screens that will drain the battery much faster than a standard laptop.

Compromise Performance & Overheating

There are some pretty hefty gaming laptops out there that can take on a ton of computational pressure. But, the truth is that an on-par gaming desktop will out-perform a laptop because of its constant power source (computer performance decreases as battery lowers to sustain power), heavy-duty, upgradeable internal components, and superior cooling system.

When running resource-heavy games gaming laptops will often get warm and can in the worst-case scenario overheat despite the cooling fan. Usually, this is attributed to the very nature of using a laptop–flat on a table, which traps the heat from escaping. Desktops don’t usually face this problem since they’re stood upright, and the vents aren’t as blocked.

Smaller Screen

Asus L203MA notebook on a white desk

If you like big screens, you should get a 17-inch (usually the biggest laptop screen available). However, if you want a larger screen than that, then a laptop is not suitable.

If you’re used to or prefer more screen real estate, a gaming laptop’s screen may be too small and restricting from what you’re used to. That can and will impact your gaming performance.

Parting Words

The pros and cons listed in this article should help you come to a decision. Although the disadvantages beat the advantages in quantity, the pros may very outweigh the cons of a gaming laptop in quality. Portability and versatility are, after all, huge upsides for some people. If you want to get started with gaming laptops, make sure to check out the best gaming notebooks under $500, and if you’re looking for some new game recommendations check out 5 upcoming PC games to look forward to in 2021.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are the disadvantages of a gaming laptop?

These are the main disadvantages of gaming laptops to consider:

  • It’s not possible to upgrade certain internal components like the GPU and CPU
  • Limited power supply (8-hour battery-life in most gaming laptops)
  • Lower performance for the price
  • More prone to overheating
  • Smaller screens

What is the advantage of having a gaming laptop?

Two key advantages of a gaming laptop are its portability and versatility. You can take your gaming laptop pretty much anywhere with an internet connection, start a work session, hop on a call, write a paper, and, of course, game.

Is a gaming laptop a bad idea?

Generally speaking, a good gaming laptop is not a bad idea. It may be a worse alternative according to your specific needs (a desktop PC may be better for your stay-at-home, long-term gaming needs, for example).

Still, it will, nevertheless, satisfy your gaming and performance needs.

What is the difference between a gaming laptop and a gaming PC?

In pop culture language, a gaming PC is usually referring to a Windows desktop. Gaming laptops are often more versatile and portable while gaming desktops are larger and have better upgradability.

Should I switch to a gaming laptop?

If you prefer portability and versatility, it’s definitely worth switching to a gaming laptop. A desktop will provide you with better performance for the price, so if you’re on a limited budget it might be worth sticking to a desktop PC.

What’s most important in a gaming laptop?

Remember that since a gaming laptop is harder to upgrade, you want to ensure your GPU and CPU (i7+) will match your needs perfectly and last you 4-6 years. To avoid future upgrades from the get-go, you should try and get enough RAM and storage.