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Gaming Laptop vs. Gaming Desktop — What’s Your Perfect Match?

20 July 2023

Gaming Laptop vs. Gaming Desktop — What’s Your Perfect Match?

 

In the ever-evolving world of gaming, the battle between gaming laptops and gaming desktop PCs has raged on for years. As gamers seek to maximise their in-play experience, the question of which hardware reigns supreme continues to spark heated debates. Both gaming laptops and desktop PCs boast unique advantages and cater to different gaming needs, leaving gamers at a crossroads when deciding which path to choose.

 

We’re here to delve into the realm of gaming laptops and gaming desktop PCs, dissecting their respective strengths and weaknesses. By exploring key factors such as performance, portability, customisation and affordability, you’ll get an insightful comparison to help you make an informed decision when it comes to your gaming setup.

Performance

When it comes to performance, gaming desktop PCs generally outperform gaming laptops. We delve into some of the specifics below.

Raw processing power

Gaming desktop PCs tend to have more powerful processors, often offering higher core counts and clock speeds compared to their laptop counterparts. This increased processing power can significantly impact gaming performance, especially in CPU-intensive games or applications.

Graphics performance

While gaming laptops can feature dedicated graphics cards, they are generally not as powerful as the ones found in desktop PCs. Gaming PCs can accommodate larger, high-end GPUs with more VRAM, resulting in better gaming performance and higher frame rates. This difference becomes more noticeable when playing graphically demanding games or utilising VR technology.

Display options

Gaming desktop PCs often offer more flexibility when it comes to display options. They can be connected to multiple monitors, including ultra-wide or high-resolution displays, enhancing the overall gaming experience. Laptops, on the other hand, typically have a built-in display with limited size and resolution options.

 

It's important to note that while gaming desktop PCs generally outperform gaming laptops, there are high-end gaming laptops available on the market that can provide excellent performance. These laptops often come at a premium price and may still have limitations compared to desktop PCs, but they offer a level of portability that desktops simply cannot match.

Portability

We all know how this one is going to go — it’s no secret that one of the biggest advantages of gaming laptops is their portability. You can reap the benefits of high-performance gaming, streaming and editing on the fly, not to mention with the right peripherals you can set up your laptop at home to recreate the PC experience — things like mice, keyboards and a monitor can really take your experience to the next level.

 

On the other hand, gaming PCs are generally a bit too hefty to be easily moved from place to place. While some dedicated folks will transport their gaming PC for something like a LAN party, it’s accepted that PCs are built to stay in one spot. That being said, the advent of mini PCs means that you don’t necessarily have to hit the gym before lugging your PC around — but when you add your peripherals into the mix, it still ends up being quite a headache.

Customisation

When it comes to customisation, gaming desktop PCs have the upper hand over gaming laptops. Let’s explore the reasons why.

Component selection

Gaming PCs offer a wider range of options when it comes to selecting components. You have the freedom to choose from a vast selection of processors, graphics cards, RAM, storage devices, power supplies and cooling solutions — basically, you can mix and match to create your dream setup with very few constraints. In contrast, gaming laptops typically have fewer options for component customisation, with brands pre-configuring the hardware to optimise performance and form factor.

Upgradability

Desktop PCs excel in terms of upgradability. As tech gets better over time, you can easily swap out or upgrade individual components in a desktop PC, such as the CPU, GPU, RAM, storage drives and even the motherboard. This flexibility ensures that your system stays relevant and capable of handling the latest games and software. Gaming laptops, on the other hand, often have limited upgradability options. Some laptops allow for RAM or storage upgrades, but significant component replacements are generally not feasible thanks to form factor and compatibility constraints.

Cooling

If cooling customisation is important to you, a desktop PC should be your first choice. You can choose from plenty of aftermarket cooling solutions, including larger heatsinks, liquid cooling systems and additional case fans. This level of customisation helps maintain optimal temperatures for high-performance components, reducing the risk of thermal throttling and ensuring stable performance during intense gaming sessions. While gaming laptops have built-in cooling systems, their compact designs limit the scope for customisation, leaving you with fewer options to improve cooling efficiency.

Aesthetics and case mods

Gaming desktop PCs offer extensive customization options for aesthetics and case modifications. Let your creativity run wild with PC cases of different sizes, shapes and designs, or customise your case with LED lighting, unique paint jobs, window panels, cable management solutions and more. These mods allow you to create a visually stunning and personalised gaming setup. In contrast, gaming laptops have limited customisation options for aesthetics, as their designs are typically fixed by the manufacturer.

Features and functionality

Determining which platform, a gaming laptop or a gaming PC, has better features depends on your specific requirements and individual preferences. Here’s a basic overview of how 

Gaming laptop key features

  • Portability
  • Built-in display
  • Integrated peripherals
  • Optimised power management

Gaming PC key features

  • Raw performance
  • Customisation and upgradability
  • Multiple monitor support
  • Enhanced cooling
  • Peripheral options

 

Ultimately, the choice of better features depends on your individual needs. If portability, built-in displays and integrated peripherals are essential, a gaming laptop may be the preferred option for you. Conversely, if raw performance, customisation options and extensive peripheral support are crucial, a gaming PC is likely the better choice. Consider factors such as gaming requirements, mobility needs, available space and long-term upgrade possibilities to make the decision that aligns with your gaming aspirations.

Power consumption

For power consumption and energy efficiency, gaming laptops generally have the edge over their PC counterparts. Here's why:

Power optimisation

Gaming laptops are designed with power efficiency in mind. Manufacturers strive to balance performance and battery life, employing technologies such as power-saving modes, dynamic voltage regulation and intelligent thermal management systems. These features help optimise power consumption by adjusting performance levels based on the workload, conserving energy when high-performance capabilities are not required.

Components 

All laptops are built with mobile-specific components that are often designed to be energy-efficient. Mobile processors and graphics cards are engineered to deliver performance while minimising power consumption. Additionally, manufacturers may use lower-voltage versions of components to reduce power requirements.

Portability and battery life

The whole point of a laptop is portability, so these machines are designed to run on battery power. This makes them more energy-conscious compared to desktop PCs that rely solely on direct AC power. Although gaming laptops consume power while gaming, they are still engineered to provide reasonable battery life during less demanding tasks, such as web browsing or video playback. However, it's worth noting that when gaming on a laptop, the power consumption will be significantly higher than during regular use, as the system is running at full performance.

Idle power consumption

When idle, gaming PCs generally consume more power compared to gaming laptops. Desktop PCs often have additional components such as multiple storage drives, larger cooling systems, and RGB lighting that consume power even when the system is not under heavy load. In contrast, gaming laptops are designed to be power-efficient even during idle periods, ensuring better energy utilisation.

 

The final verdict

In the battle between gaming PCs and gaming laptops, both platforms have their unique strengths and weaknesses. The choice ultimately depends on your specific needs, priorities and gaming preferences.

 

Gaming PCs offer unrivalled performance and customisation options. They provide the raw power needed to tackle the most demanding games and offer the flexibility to upgrade components over time. Gaming PCs excel in delivering cutting-edge graphics, high frame rates and the ability to connect to multiple displays for an immersive gaming experience. However, they come with the trade-off of being less portable and consuming more power.

 

On the other hand, gaming laptops provide the convenience of mobility and portability. They allow gamers to enjoy their favourite games on the go, making them a great choice for frequent travellers or those who value flexibility. Gaming laptops have made significant advancements in recent years, offering impressive performance, sleek designs and high-refresh-rate displays. While they may not match the raw power and upgradability of desktop PCs, they offer a compromise between performance and portability.

 

Whichever path you choose, it's essential to consider factors such as budget, gaming requirements, portability needs and long-term plans for upgrades. Ultimately, both gaming PCs and gaming laptops offer exciting gaming experiences. With the constant advancements in technology, both platforms continue to evolve, pushing the boundaries of what's possible in the world of gaming. No matter what you decide, Mwave has got your back — as Australia’s largest and most trusted gaming laptop and PC retailer, we’re here to support your journey. 

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