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How powerful does a laptop need to be to play games?

When buying a laptop, it’s worth considering whether it’s possible to play games, whether you want to jump into Call of Duty on your lunch break or your children are pining to play the likes of Fortnite and Minecraft.

However, it’s not always easy to determine whether a PC is powerful enough for gaming. For that reason, we’ve decided to write up this guide to help you out. So here’s everything you need to know when buying a laptop that’s capable of gaming.

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How powerful does a laptop need to be to play games?

This is a hard question to answer, as every game has different requirements. For example, virtually any modern day laptop is capable of playing Minecraft due to its simplistic graphics, whereas Elden Ring requires a dedicated GPU which is generally only found in proper gaming laptops. It’s worth searching for a specific game’s system requirements to see if it matches up with your laptop’s specs.

The most important spec to consider for gaming is the GPU. Every single laptop has a GPU, but it’s often integrated into the processor. Such GPUs are generally not capable of a high gaming performance, although the latest AMD and Intel chips are at least powerful enough to play major games with dialed-down graphics settings.

However, if you want a fast gaming performance that can match (or even surpass) a games console, then you’ll need a laptop with a discrete GPU, which is an independent PC component with the prime focus on boosting graphics performance.

What is a GPU?

Both AMD and Nvidia currently offer a wide range of GPUs, so look out for their GPUs in the spec list of a laptop. You’ll then need to check out your chosen game’s minimum specs requirements to determine whether the specs are powerful enough to run it.

Most major games will also require around 16GB of RAM and a high-end CPU. The Intel Evo program now includes laptops with high-performance Intel chips, although it doesn’t factor gaming performance into the accreditation. This means Intel Evo is best looking out for in regards to productivity laptops rather than gaming systems.

You also need to be aware that both ChromeOS and macOS are poor operating systems for high-end gaming. Despite being very powerful, the MacBook Pro is not capable of delivering a satisfactory performance for the majority of games. This means it’s worth sticking with Windows if gaming is a priority.

Asus ROG Zephyrus M16 01
Asus ROG Zephyrus M16 2022

The easiest way to see if a laptop is powerful enough for gaming is to check whether the manufacturer labels it as a ‘gaming laptop’. Most companies have created their own gaming-specific brands: Dell has Alienware, Asus has ROG, HP has Omen, Acer has predator and so on.

However, not every gaming laptop is capable of running the most demanding games on the market, so it’s still important to check out the specs. If you find spec lists daunting, there is a second option. When we review a gaming laptop, we always provide benchmark data for a select few games.

If a laptop is capable of playing the likes of Horizon Zero Dawn and Borderlands 3 at a 60fps performance or beyond with ultimate graphics settings, then you can be sure it’s going to offer a fantastic performance for virtually every single PC game available. So before hitting checkout, it’s worth searching to see if we’ve reviewed the laptop you’re thinking of buying. And if you haven’t decided on anything just yet, you can have a look at our Best Gaming Laptop list.

Intel® Evo™ – Laptops.  evolved

Intel® Evo™ – Laptops. evolved

Enjoy a premium laptop experience with the Intel® Evo™ range of laptops. Get the features you need to help you get it all done.

Check out the range at Intel

  • Intel Evolution
  • premiumexperience
  • From £549

shop now

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