the best models to play

At a time when it is possible to play impressive 3D titles on smartphones, one wonders why most “classic” laptops, mainly intended for office automation, are incapable of running any game correctly at all. little greedy. The answer is the same as for desktop gaming PCs: design priorities have nothing to do!

An office-oriented “laptop” favors portability and autonomy, to the detriment of raw power. The embedded components thus have little to do with those that a modern PC game requires to impress! On the other hand, a portable PC intended for gaming is often heavier, handicapped by a relative autonomy, and much noisier than a generalist model which only needs to run an office suite, a Web browser and an email system.

In fact, to benefit from more power, laptops for gamers ship the most muscular processors on the market as well as separate graphics chips, intended to manage the 3D display almost as well as the huge graphics cards found on fixed PCs for gamers. This material, very greedy in energy, gives off an impressive heat when everything is fully used and it therefore requires an efficient cooling system, if not silent.

Note first of all that contrary to what passes for desktop PCs, there is no assembler portable PC. Only major manufacturers and a few specialists offer them. And sometimes with very rich ranges, which does not make the choice much easier! It must be said that the niche is buoyant, and that the competition is fierce.

Technically, the recommendations are the same as for desktop gamer PCs, but you have to juggle what the market offers. For example, if AMD is also making a strong comeback on laptops with the Ryzen 5000 range, many manufacturers continue to integrate Intel processors into their models, and it will take some time yet. No need to feel frustrated: the current offer allows you to enjoy a machine that can be easily moved, and that’s the main thing. Competition is coming and it will be good for prices, but manufacturers have to be given time to adapt.

On the graphics part (GPU), Nvidia offers a plethora of RTX 3000 series models in the machines. AMD is also returning to the front of the stage, but its Radeon models for portable PCs are still very rare on the market. However, there are some interesting chips on paper, such as the 6800M for example; and since the new Xbox Series S|X and PlayStation 5 are equipped with AMD chips, we know what they are capable of!

Small precision (of size): even if Nvidia calls its lines of mobile and desktop GPUs with the same names, they are different products. On average, an RTX 3070 GPU for laptops is 15% slower at 1080p than the same card for desktop PCs, despite having the same name. Worse, the Max-Q variant of Nvidia products for laptops, which consumes less energy, is downright sometimes 40% slower! And obviously, it is sometimes very difficult to know if a machine is equipped with a Max-Q version or not! Be careful if you are looking for maximum performance… For the curious, the explanation for this difference lies, among other things, in the power consumption limit of the laptop versions, which also reduces their maximum operating speed. An obligation not to end up with mobile machines that transform into a raclette device with a range of 10 minutes!

For storage, the SSD still reigns supreme. But be careful to take the maximum capacity from your purchase. These Flash memory chips are more and more often soldered directly on the motherboard and therefore impossible to change. Fortunately, some models have a free PCIe slot to install a second SSD in NVMe format. This is more rarely the case for random access memory (RAM), which can often be increased to 32 GB. Keep in mind that 8 GB is now a very painful minimum to use for gaming. Aim for 16 GB base. More than 16 GB is really only useful if your screen displays QHD+ or 4K or you do, in addition to gaming, video editing or high-end digital creation.

Then it remains to choose the format of your machine, according to your priorities. Aim for a 17 inch which allows you to have a comfortable configuration if you do not plan to move regularly with it. On the other hand, avoid this kind of product if you have to take it with you regularly. Nobody wants to move machines that sometimes weigh more than 3 kg in transport! The advantage of 17-inch gaming laptops isn’t just the size of their screen: they also have keyboards that are often nicer, and cooling systems that can take up more space and thus be more efficient.

On the screen side, most laptops for gamers are equipped with an IPS panel, a technology that offers a much better display than the classic TN. Moreover, in addition to anti-reflection treatment, most can operate with a refresh rate of 144 to 360 Hz and therefore offer faster updating of the image on the screen (1 Hz = 1 refresh / second). The image is thus more fluid, and more relaxing, provided that the graphics circuit keeps pace!

Don’t forget either that you will never really be able to play properly on a laptop with the basic trackpad: consider taking a special mouse with your machine! Finally, avoid “experimental” laptop PCs that integrate innovative functions or accessories (such as an additional screen in the keyboard part): of course, it’s nice and even practical in certain contexts, but software compatibility with games is not not guaranteed and your budget will be much better spent on larger components… On the other hand, the backlit keyboard, fortunately very common on laptop PCs for gamers, is highly valuable for playing in the dark or in the dark!

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