Years ago a gaming laptop was a bit of a misnomer, as these early systems were so much slower than a gaming PC that you could only play games at low quality settings. However, in the last few years GPUs have become much more power efficient, meaning we can now squeeze high performance graphics cards inside our gaming laptops, ensuring you get a brilliant gaming experience. At the same time, CPUs have also got more power efficient, meaning longer lasting batteries. Read on to find out what makes the perfect gaming laptop.
The best gaming laptops are powered by NVIDIA GeForce graphics cards. The graphics card is the most important component in a gaming laptop as it’s responsible for rendering games, with a more expensive card producing a smoother more enjoyable frame rate. NVIDIA GeForce graphics cards are available in several different models, depending on your budget and the sort of games you play.
|GEFORCE||CORES||MEMORY||VR READY||BEST FOR|
|940MX||384||2GB||No||Low to Medium Quality Settings in games|
|GTX 1050 Ti||768||4GB||No||High Quality Settings in games|
|GTX 970M||1280||3GB or 6GB||No||High Quality Settings in games|
|GTX 980M||1536||8GB||No||High Quality Settings in games|
|GTX 980||2048||8GB||Yes||Maximum Quality Settings in games|
|GTX 1060||1280||6GB||Yes||High Quality Settings in games|
|GTX 1070||2064||8GB||Yes||Maximum Quality Settings in games|
|GTX 1080||2560||8GB||Yes||Maximum Quality Settings in games|
We also offer some laptops that have a pair of NVIDIA GeForce graphics cards inside running together in SLI. Depending on the game these can provide an even higher frame rate, but do require a larger chassis to keep both graphics cards cool.
To give you an idea of each cards relative performance we’ve tested them all using the 3DMark Fire Strike benchmark, with a higher score indicating faster performance in games.
1920 x 1080 (Full HD)
2x GTX 1080 in SLI
2x GTX 980M in SLI
2x GTX 970M in SLI
We recommend Intel Core i7 CPUs in all our gaming laptops as they provide the best performance per pound and have very good power efficiency. Apart from choosing which particular model of CPU you want you should be aware that some laptops have laptop CPUs while other laptops have desktop CPUs. You can usually tell which CPU is used by the form factor of the laptop, with thin and laptops using laptop CPUs and desktop replacement laptops featuring desktop CPUs. You can also look at the model number of the CPU, with processors with an ‘HQ’ or ‘HK’ on the end being true laptop CPUs, while CPUs with no letters or simply the letter ‘K’ being desktop CPUs.
Laptop CPUs tend to run at a much lower clock speed than desktop CPUs in order to save power and boost battery life, but have a high Turbo Boost frequency, which will help to speed up games as many of these are only lightly multi-threaded. In contrast, desktop CPUs will deliver more consistently high performance in multi-threaded applications than laptop CPUs, but consume much more power, and so require larger fans and have a much higher drain on the laptop’s battery. The table below summaries the principle differences the two most popular CPUs that we offer.
|Intel Core 7700HQ||Intel Core 7700K|
|Cores||4 Physical + 4 Hyper-Threaded||4 Physical + 4 Hyper-Threaded|
|Typical Laptop Form Factor||Thin & Light||Desktop Replacement|
Historically speaking, even if you bought the most expensive graphics card in your gaming laptop you would still experience tearing and stuttering games. This happens when the graphics card sends a rendered frame to the laptop screen while it is refreshing, so only the part of the screen that still hasn’t been refreshed would be updated with the new frame. The image above shows the effect of tearing, with objects split into vertical sections, which is extremely jarring when gaming.
This is caused by the laptop screen having a fixed refresh rate, typically 60Hz, while the graphics card will output frames at different times depending on how hard it’s having to work to render the graphics. However, some new NVIDIA GeForce graphics cards support a feature called G-Sync, which synchronises the refresh rate of the laptop screen with how quickly the graphics card is rendering, resulting in a silky smooth experience. The table below highlights which Scan 3XS gaming laptops support NVIDIA G-Sync technology.
|940MX||No||LG15 Performance GT|
|1050 Ti||No||LG15 Performance GTX|
|GTX 1050 Ti||No||LG17 Performance GTX|
|GTX 1060 or GTX 1070||Yes||LG15 Vengeance G-Sync|
|GTX 1060 or GTX 1070||Yes||LG17 Vengeance G-Sync|
|2x GTX 1070 or 2x GTX 1080 in SLI||Yes||LG17 Cyclone SLI G-Sync|
|GTX 1080||Yes||LG17 Carbon Extreme G-Sync|
Another big factor to consider when choosing a gaming laptop is the form factor. Most gaming laptops can be neatly divided into two categories: thin and light or desktop replacement.
Thin and light is pretty self-explanatory, the benefit to you being a stylish laptop that is easy to store and travel with. Thin and light laptops are more ergonomically friendly too, as the keyboard isn’t elevated above the desk as much as on a desktop replacement laptop, so is more comfortable for typing. The downside to thin and light laptops is that due to the limited space inside the laptop, they tend to use slower CPUs, which could be important if you also use your laptop for creating videos, graphics or music. See the section on ‘Gaming Laptop CPUs’ for more information. In contrast, desktop replacement laptops are larger more substantial affairs. While not as portable they tend to have more powerful CPUs than thin and light laptops.
The table below compares the physical and performance specifications of two of our most popular high-end gaming laptops, the thin and light LG15 Vengeance G-Sync versus the desktop replacement LG15 Carbon G-Sync, both of which are available with the same graphics card options.
|LG15 Vengeance G-Sync||LG17 Carbon Extreme G-Sync|
|Form Factor||Thin & Light||Desktop Replacement|
|Battery Life in Windows||325 minutes||150 minutes|
Whichever form factor suits your requirements and lifestyle you can also choose what size screen you want. We offer laptops with 13.3in, 14in, 15.6in and 17.3in screens. Obviously the larger the screen the larger and heavier the laptop, although you can still get thin and light laptops with larger screens. The most popular screen size for a gaming laptop is 15.6in, as this size strikes a great balance between screen comfort and portability. Most gaming laptops have a FullHD screen with a native resolution of 1920 x 1080, although we do also offer some with higher resolution 4K screens with a resolution of 3840 x 2160.
Where possible we specify all our gaming laptops with IPS panels as these have better viewing angles, a wider gamut and colour accuracy than the TN panels found in other gaming laptops.
Every Scan 3XS gaming laptop also includes at least one output for connecting your laptop to an external monitor or projector.
A hot running and noisy gaming laptop is not only distracting, but could be uncomfortable to rest on your lap if you don’t have a desk or other surface to place it on. For this reason we repaste the graphics card and CPU with high quality Arctic Cooling MX-4 TIM (thermal interface material). This improves the conduction of heat between the processors and heatsinks, lowering the processor temperature by around 10°C, making your laptop run cooler and quieter.
Sometimes you just need a laptop right now. Maybe your existing laptop has kicked the bucket or you’ve found that your old workhorse can’t hope with the latest game you just bought. We pride ourselves on having your bespoke gaming laptop built, tested and delivered within two working days, twice as fast as most of our competitors.
With so many characteristics and configuration options to consider from we’ve put this table that summaries the principle differences between all the different Scan 3XS gaming laptops, including links to the individual configurators so you can customise your chosen laptop. If you’re still having trouble deciding please call us on 01204 474747 or email [email protected].
|Graphics Performance||CPU Performance||Form Factor||G-Sync Support||3XS Laptop|
||Thin & Light||No||LG15 Performance GT|
||Thin & Light||No||LG15 Performance GTX|
||Thin & Light||No||LG17 Performance GTX|
||Thin & Light||Yes||LG15 Vengeance G-Sync|
||Thin & Light||Yes||LG17 Vengeance G-Sync|
||Desktop Replacement||Yes||LG17 Carbon Extreme G-Sync|
||Desktop||Yes||LG17 Cyclone SLI G-Sync|