Gaming laptops are powerful pieces of hardware, there’s no question about it.
However, despite the major advancement in gaming laptop tech, especially over the past few years, these specialist devices still have some major drawbacks. Depending on your situation, these could range from inconveniences to deal-breakers.
If you’re considering a gaming laptop as your next purchase, here are five disadvantages to consider.
1. Gaming Laptops Don’t Have the Best Battery Life
Though it varies from model to model, the battery life of most gaming laptops is a bit on the short side.
Gaming laptops require powerful and demanding components, namely their CPU and GPU, to run games as best as they can. However, the more powerful a component gets, the more energy it requires, hence the shorter the battery life of a gaming laptop.
A key issue in this is that manufacturers haven’t upgraded gaming laptop batteries to the same level as their CPU and GPU components. Most gaming laptops struggle to last beyond four to five hours, unplugged, and less during an intense gaming session.
When compared to non-gaming laptops, gaming laptops fall far below the standard. A major reason for this is that most non-gaming laptops can use their power more efficiently because of the lack of demanding components that gaming laptops have.
If you’re comparing the average gaming-laptop life to the 17-20 hour battery life of Apple’s compact M1-equipped MacBook Pro, then the difference is stark.
What this all means is, if you get a gaming laptop, regardless of where you are, you’re probably going to want to play plugged into a power source.
2. Gaming Laptops Lack Upgrading Options
There are plenty of brands that supply gaming laptops, with many offering multiple models and varying specs. However, one thing they all have in common is a lack of upgrading options, especially when compared to gaming PCs.
If you’re a console gamer, you’ll enjoy a few additional upgradeable areas if you switch to a gaming laptop, such as being able to upgrade your RAM and a little more freedom in upgrading your hard drive. If you’re a desktop PC gamer, not so much.
The principal components at risk of bottle-necking your gaming laptop—your CPU and GPU—are not upgradeable, besides a few select cases. The same applies to other major components, such as your laptop battery and internal cooling system.
It’s all about how manufacturers attach these components, their dimensions, and their power consumption. Unlike with a PC, these are not interchangeable parts. You can’t just remove them and then attach the newest version of said component.
Though there are ways to improve performance on your gaming laptop, the only way you can upgrade your machine once it becomes outdated is to buy a newer device.
3. Gaming Laptops Are Hot and Noisy
A standout disadvantage of gaming laptops is the heat and noise they produce under stress.
While internal cooling systems in gaming laptops are improving, and builds that facilitate improved air-flow, you’re still going to get a lot of heat and fan-noise as your gaming laptop works hard to prevent overheating during intensive gaming.
This is a big problem in thinner gaming laptops, gaming laptops that have poor build designs, and also gaming laptops with powerful components.
With thinner gaming laptops, you’re cramming the same components into a smaller space which is going to create more heat by default. You can’t add a large internal cooling system because that would defeat the point of a “thin” laptop.
Poor build designs on gaming laptops speak for themselves. There are several examples of poor design, such as placing the air vents, cheap materials being used, or poorly arranged and spaced components. What this leads to is poor air ventilation, which will do nothing to help cool or quieten your gaming laptop.
With top-spec gaming laptops, the problem lies with their components. Powerful components need—well—lots of power, which generates a lot of heat. Unless your gaming laptop has a sophisticated cooling system in place, this will lead to hot temperatures when gaming or under stress.
Though it’s common practice to invest in a cooling pad, alongside never putting your laptop on a soft surface—ironically, including on your lap—these will only reduce the problem as opposed to remove it.
Right now, with gaming laptops, high heat and noise are a common association. So, if you get a gaming laptop, make sure you’re not using it in a quiet public space or, if you’re a creative, to record music.
4. For Console Gamers, Gaming Laptops Are a Lot More Expensive
If you’re a console gamer looking at gaming laptops, the first thing that’s probably going to stand out to you is their price.
A mid-range gaming laptop is going to set you back at least around $1000, double the $500 price for both Sony and Microsoft’s flagship offerings. And, if you’re looking at getting a gaming laptop with roughly PS5 or Xbox Series X specs, then you’re looking at above $1000.
A potential argument is, as improved laptops come out year after year, you just have to wait a few years to buy a gaming laptop that’s better than current-gen consoles. Or wait for a gaming laptop equivalent to a PS5 or Xbox Series X to go down in price.
However, there are two problems.
First, with newer gaming laptops, you’re still paying upwards of $1000 for a decent model. Also, you never know if the newer devices next year could be a gigantic step up from your laptop.
We have seen this happen this year, as the latest gaming laptops are coming with a complete overhaul to both their CPUs and GPUs. Not only that, but at the same price points as last year’s entries.
Second, it’ll be a LONG time before you find a brand new gaming laptop touting near current-gen, console-level specs for $500. Though the price of current gaming laptops will decrease as newer laptops take center stage, the prices don’t decrease as quickly as you might think.
While perhaps a gaming laptop is a lot more versatile than a console, it’s still a bitter pill to swallow, thinking that you’ll have to dish out more than twice the cash to get a gaming laptop with roughly the same specs.
5. For Desktop PC Gamers: It’s More Cost-Effective to Build and Upgrade a Gaming PC
If you’re thinking about making the move from desktop PC gaming to a gaming laptop, know that, despite the extra convenience, you’re getting a machine that is limited in nature.
Also, your desktop PC build will be upgradeable, allowing you to replace dated components instead of buying a brand-new device every time it exceeds its shelf-life, as you would do with a gaming laptop.
The hardware in gaming laptops is also an adapted version of the type seen in desktop PC hardware, to allow for their more compact and portable nature. These laptop-orientated components are less powerful than their PC counterparts and are, therefore, less future-proof.
With fewer upgrading options and a shorter lifespan, it would be more cost effective to build your own gaming PC than get a gaming laptop.
Gaming Laptops Are Improving
Gaming laptops have some major setbacks which are worth considering if you’re thinking of making the switch to mobile gaming.
However, it’s not all bad news. Gaming laptops are improving, with their makers trying to work out more effective solutions to their shortcomings.
Though we’re not there yet, the potential that gaming laptops have for the future is exciting.
If you’re not sure whether a gaming laptop is right for you, here are all the benefits of these powerful portables.
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