For a Gamer, No High Tech Gift is Cooler Than a Gaming Laptop
What gives a gaming laptop its cool cred?
For anyone who enjoys playing video games (and who doesn’t?) this is a golden age. Gaming consoles are reaching the point where the latest generation is beginning to support HDR and 4K graphics. Desktop gaming PCs have incredible power, with hardcore gamers able to set up rigs that drive multiple big screen 4K monitors. Mobile gamers are enjoying the hundreds of titles available for Nintendo’s 3DS and smartphones have turned casual gaming into a monster hit.
However, despite the popularity of handheld game systems, smartphones and tablets, arguably the biggest development in mobile gaming has been the huge leap forward in gaming laptops.
PC manufacturers have been able to squeeze increasingly powerful components into these highly specialized laptops. Mobile video cards, the latest generation Intel Core i7 CPUs, faster RAM, SSDs and 802.11ac Wi-Fi all add up to big performance gains. Specialized keyboards including backlighting, programmable macros and in some cases even mechanical switches ensure fast, precision game control. Advanced design keeps things cooler, while efficiency gains make batteries last longer. Many gaming laptops now offer massive 17-inch displays and some go so far as to pack a stunningly high resolution 4K display. You can even find gaming laptops that are VR-ready, and fully capable of supporting virtual reality headsets for gaming.
In other words, we have reached the point where a gaming laptop is the ultimate mobile gaming experience, able to keep up with or blow past many desktop PCs. Even if you never leave your desk, a gaming laptop can be a high-powered, self-contained PC gaming centre.
You can’t ever really go mobile with a desktop gaming PC. But with a gaming laptop at the core of your rig, you get mobility, plus the option of spreading out. You can add a big screen monitor, a Bluetooth gaming keyboard and mouse, and connect to a wireless speaker system. Some gaming laptops now offer the option to connect to a box housing a full-sized PC video card, equalling the graphical firepower of a desktop gaming rig.
When you talk about a cool high tech gift, for gamers, nothing is cooler than a new gaming laptop.
Some Great Gaming Laptop Gifting Choices
We’ve established that a gaming laptop makes a killer gift. How about a few suggestions to make picking one a little easier? There are plenty of options—Best Buy alone carries over 100 different models—so I’m going to feature three popular models. One each for the affordable, midrange and hardcore gamer categories.
Affordable Gaming Laptop: ASUS ROG GL552
The ASUS ROG GL552 is on the higher end of affordable, but it’s still a 15-inch laptop that offers mobile gaming for less than many Ultrabooks. What kind of specs are we talking?
That 15.6-inch display is a Full HD, matte-finish IPS panel. Power is supplied by a 2.6GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 CPU with 12GB of DDR4 RAM on tap. An Nvidia GeForce GTX960M graphics card with 2GB of RAM is pushing the pixels. ASUS includes a very cool, red-backlit keyboard with specially marked WASD keys, just for gamers. Future upgrades are a matter of popping open a panel to access the RAM and a free slot to install an M.2 SSD for faster storage.
This laptop provides what’s needed for mobile PC gaming, but for most of the latest titles the setting will need to be dialled back to keep the frame rates up.
If you want to learn more about the ASUS ROG GL552, including a video overview of this affordable gaming laptop, be sure to read my review from this summer.
Midrange Gaming Laptop: ASUS Republic of Gamers G752
The ASUS ROG G752 is a nice step up from the ROG GL552, and a midrange gaming laptop choice that’s popular with Best Buy customers. It currently ranks 4.1 out of 5 stars, with 16 reviews.
Here’s what you get by spending the extra on the ASUS ROG G752. The same sixth generation 2.6GHz Intel Core i7-6700HQ processor is at the heart of the system, but this time there is 16GB of DDR4 RAM available. Naturally, the graphics see a significant boost, moving to Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 970M, with 3GB of dedicated video RAM. It also features Nvidia’s advanced G-Sync technology for smoother graphics.
Storage is dramatically improved with a 1TB, 7200 RPM drive for mass storage combined with a 128GB SSD for speed. The keyboard is backlit, with WASD and 1234 keys marked for FPS games, and 30-key rollover anti-ghosting protection.
The display moves up to a 17.3-inch Full HD IPS panel.
For most mobile gamers, this should be all the laptop they need.
Gaming Laptop for the Hardcore Gamer: Alienware 17.3-inch Epic Silver Gaming Laptop
Shopping for a hardcore gamer? Mobile PC gaming doesn’t get much better than with this Alienware 17.3-inch gaming laptop.
This laptop is loaded. The Intel Core i7-6700HQ quad-core processor can hit 3.5GHz with Turbo Boost and has 16GB of DDR4 RAM. The 17.3-inch Full HD, IPS, anti-glare display delivers a stunning picture. Storage is taken care of by the combination of a speedy 128GB SSD for rapid system response and a 1TB, 7200 RPM hard drive for mass storage. Connectivity is the best it gets with Killer 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Killer Gigabit Ethernet. Construction is premium, with aluminum, copper and magnesium alloy and an advanced hinge-forward design.
But what makes this big Alienware gaming laptop really rock is the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 video card with 8GB of dedicated video memory, along with futuristic Tobii eye-tracking technology. Whoever receives one of these gets a screaming fast mobile gaming rig with massive graphics firepower that’s VR-ready out of the box.
If that graphics muscle somehow isn’t enough, the hardcore gamer can also plug this laptop into Alienware’s Laptop Graphics Amplifier to tap into full-sized desktop PC-class video cards.
Is a powerful gaming laptop the coolest tech gift this holiday season? If you’re shopping for someone who love playing PC video games, you bet it is!