Depending on the type of Windows gaming systems you are looking for, there are two main markets for gaming-oriented PCs, gaming laptops or gaming desktops. Depending on your needs, either is a viable option for playing video games or completing productivity work.
If you are on the go or don't stay too long in a given place, you may see more benefits in a laptop. However, putting your money into a gaming desktop would be more advantageous if you consider having a stationary setup with a dedicated space for an extended amount of time.
This article discusses the pros and cons of custom gaming PCs and laptops and where to draw the line when considering them.
Laptop Characteristics With Their Drawbacks and Strong Suits
Laptops are usually sold for a premium not exhibited in the low-end desktop market. Lower-end laptops for under $1,500 can have a GPU/CPU combo with a 120htz or 144htz display to match. While this comes at cost savings, these models often are limited in their customization options at checkout with hard drives or different set RAM options that cannot change.
A high-end gaming laptop costs anywhere from $2,800 to $3,300 in extreme cases, with many quality of life features not taken advantage of depending on the game.
Our Apex X2 series offers cost savings by completely customizing components that complement each other's capabilities in a manageable, performant, and mobile package for under $3,000 with M.2 storage and support up to 32GB of RAM on a 144htz display.
An Initial observation between Laptops vs. Desktops is the scope of modifiable components. CPUs and GPU combinations on most mass-produced laptops are paramount in their production lifecycle. Depending on the chip and heat generated, its performance varies.
Laptops often have an uphill battle trying to display to external monitors depending on your GPU while gaming. It can become apparent in the amount of heat generated from the system. This makes them locked in their integrated displays for the best performance.
Laptop Mobility and Battery Life
While it's nice to have a gaming PC in your backpack capable of playing most games, battery life is essential if you want to play for extended periods.
Gaming laptops are often criticized for their short to non-existent battery life, which is expected when you have the most power-demanding components in a system. While this is a problem for many computers in the industry, most laptops can handle around 60 to 80 minutes of intensive gaming time without a charge.
Laptops can hold their own at any LAN event, but make sure to bring your charging cable to not have the battery limit your gaming ability.
Heat and Noise
While being in an efficient and mobile package. Laptops often hit their components' TDP (Thermal Design Power) significantly faster, causing heat generation to hamper performance and generating noise from the cooling fans.
Heat is the most combative variable in a laptop's effectiveness in a set of games. Some games are not as intensive as others and do not need to eliminate excess heat. Depending on the workload, other intensive 3D games and render programs require cooling at 100% or thermal throttle of the CPU and GPU.
Laptops are a powerful tool for those looking to render in CAD programs and intensive 3D simulation, albeit slower than a conventional desktop.
Apex's QC process observes events like thermal throttling and reducing or eliminating by making minor adjustments to the component's clock rates without sacrificing too much performance.
Desktops and their Benefits and Drawbacks
Desktops are more popular for gaming due to their performance and hardware capabilities. While taking up more space, desktops provide a central feeling of control and accessibility not often seen with other gaming options like consoles, handhelds, and laptops.
Desktop Modifications and Component Interchangeability
A vice in the PC enthusiast world is the constant life cycle of components. Due to the current release schedules of popular brands like Intel, AMD, and NVIDIA, the tech industry has the potential to be flipped on its head every 12 to 18 months, depending on the latest CPU/GPU releases.
These new hardware releases can bind a motherboard/CPU combo (especially Intel sockets) into a specific set of CPUs or RAM types. BIOS updates can accommodate this behavior (especially for AMD CPUs and their AM4 socket). Most other components can be upgraded incrementally in greater detail from storage to the PSU than most consumer laptops.
Those looking to have a completely different experience in incremental upgrades with bolstering performance should choose a desktop. However, upgrades can come at a cost over years to stay on the bleeding edge of performance.
Accommodation for Your Hardware Needs
Desktops PCs, on average, often support more devices than laptops can. Features like PCIe, SATA ports, or extra USB ports allow for expanded storage and devices like capture cards, WiFi cards, or other expansion equipment.
While not taken advantage of by most users, desktops can fit specific programs or hardware needs better than most conventional laptops.
Recently, laptops supporting thunderbolt type C ports have had many abilities such as charging pass through, HDMI/Display Port support, and USB type A support for both 2.0 and 3.1 available in a dongle type device like below.
The same came to be achieved for USB devices, capture cards, and WiFi antennas with PCIe expansion slots. Depending on the board, you can have up to 3 PCIe lanes for additional devices.
Setting up a desktop takes a lot more space than you might think. Things can become cramped quickly between the case, monitors, keyboards, mice, and other peripherals.
There are neat tricks like using monitor arms to eliminate monitor stands and allow more space for a keyboard-mouse combo or even controllers. In addition to the monitor stands, cable sleeves for organization and grouping are great practice for prioritizing thick and thin cables leading to the back of the PC or laptop.
Which Setup is Better?
Depending on your lifestyle and gaming habits, both Desktop and Laptop solutions could work for you. Laptops offer a mobile experience for gaming, with the byproduct being abundantly more heat than a low to medium-end desktop. Overall, if you can afford the space peripherals for a desktop PC, multiple tools and organization tactics cut down on the required space for a desktop.
This does not mean laptops and their expansion capabilities with type C should be underestimated in their ability to display on monitors and competitive performance to desktops for being in mobile form.
At Apex Gaming PCs, we have laptops and desktops, no matter your gaming needs. Check out our gaming Laptops and our customer builder, offering a variety of form factors and cases for the setup you are looking for. No matter your gaming PC type, we hope to fulfill it at Apex!
Written by William Wilson
Photo Credits: Pavan Bhakta