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Ask Arthur: Help me choose a gaming laptop

A reader wants to get into gaming, but friends aren’t being helpful. ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK gets advice from Acer and Lenovo.

Q: I want to start playing computer games seriously and maybe even enter esports competitions. My friends all give me conflicting advice. What should I know before making my choice?

A: You’ve come across the biggest stumbling block in buying tech: your friends’ biases. Everyone has different preferences, tech habits and brand loyalties. By all means ask friends for advice, but you definitely also need to get an objective viewpoint and, if possible, speak to the experts. 

Let’s face it, even at Gadget, we are biased, and we have a preference for certain brands. To avoid our own prejudices, we took advice from an expert, namely Bennie Budler, Acer Africa consumer business manager.

“We help many customers decide what they need, and it’s not a difficult process,” he says. “Start with knowing what kind of gamer you are. Very soon, you’ll find a laptop that gives you great mileage and experiences, whether playing, working, or creating.”

He reminds us that not every gamer needs to be at the cutting edge of the latest titles, engines, and graphics, but they expect a gaming system to deliver good visuals, responsive speeds, and longevity. He divides serious gamers into three categories:

The Socialite: Some people enjoy playing games on their own. But for you, gaming is a great way to meet new people and hang out with friends. You will play online and travel to LAN events near them. You want to primarily play multiplayer games with others, ranging from aggressive first-person shooters to collaborative adventure and role-playing games.

The Content Creator: There is more to gaming than playing games. You want to create images and videos, make memes for gaming communities, and stream your gameplay sessions online. Content creators need a laptop that makes gaming graphics pop out (after all, you want things to look good!) while also handling the heavy-lifting involved with streaming, and editing images and videos.

The Aspirant Pro and Hardcore Gamer: You want a serious gaming kit that will not compromise under any circumstances. You have likely owned gaming PCs before. Now, you need a real upgrade to a strong machine with the best hardware, software to tweak performance, customisable keycaps, fast connectivity, and a large, beautiful display.

“Hardcore gamers do not compromise,” he says. “Their gaming system is as much about pride as about performance, and they want the best. If that is you, you want a large laptop with a big display, serious amounts of memory, and the latest graphics chip. Typically, that means an Intel Core i7 or i9, 16 to 32 gigabytes of memory, 1 to 2 terabytes of storage, and an Nvidia RTX 4050, 4060, or 4070 with 8 gigabytes of video memory and the latest NVIDIA DLSS support for high frame rates. The screen should be 16 to 18-inches, with a 240Hz refresh rate.”.

Visit https://shopacer.co.za/gaming for Acer’s gaming options.

Lenovo, known for its Legion gaming laptops for elite players and the Loq range for aspirant pros, offers extensive advice at https://www.lenovo.com/gb/en/gaming/gaming-laptops/. Among the key tips are these: 

  • When it comes to selecting the right gaming laptop, the processor, or CPU, is the first thing you need to consider. It’s often referred to as the “brain” of the computer, responsible for executing commands swiftly and smoothly. A more powerful CPU means faster and more efficient game runtimes. As a rule of thumb, opt for a quad-core or higher processor for a  seamless gaming experience.
  • The graphics card, or GPU, is another crucial component to consider. It’s responsible for displaying the game on your screen and affects the quality of the game visuals you see. High-end GPUs render better, smoother, and more lifelike graphics, ensuring a visually immersive gaming experience.  So, be sure to get a laptop with a dedicated graphics card (versus an integrated one) if you want to play graphically intensive games.
  • In terms of RAM, you should aim for at least 8GB, although 16GB is best for most gamers. More RAM allows your laptop to run multiple processes at once and load games more quickly. When it comes to storage, you have two main options: HDD and SSD. SSDs are faster and more reliable than HDDs, but they also tend to be more expensive. If possible, look for a gaming laptop that offers a combination of both.
  • The laptop display is another key factor in your mobile gaming experience. A larger screen provides an immersive experience, but it can also decrease portability. For the best of both worlds, consider a 15-inch screen. Additionally, look for a high-resolution model (at least 1920 x 1080), and if you can stretch your budget, go for a system whose display has a 120Hz or higher refresh rate for smoother gameplay.
  • Finally, battery life is another important consideration for gamers on the go. Gaming laptops are known for their high-power consumption, which can result in shorter battery life. Look for a laptop with a battery life of at least 5 hours under heavy use. And keep in mind that you may need to compromise on battery life to get top-notch in-game performance.

* Arthur Goldstuck is CEO of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on social media on @art2gee.

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