Should you choose a gaming laptop vs desktop for your next rig?

If you’re setting up a new gaming station, this is an excellent place to start! Both have their pros and cons when it comes to gaming. Performance, price, specifications and more are all things you’ll have to consider. It’s a major decision, and it shouldn’t be made lightly.

This guide will walk you through the advantages and disadvantages of each option and help you get set up with the perfect new gaming machine.

How Do Laptops and Desktops Compare?

First let’s take a look at how gaming laptops vs gaming desktops measure up. We’ve broken down our comparison into 5 areas of consideration.

Performance

The ultimate test of a gaming machine’s worthiness, performance is what truly counts! If your system can’t keep up, then what’s the point?

Let’s start with the laptop. Getting solid performance from your gaming laptop can cost a fair bit of money. Low-end gaming laptops typically start with an i3 or Ryzen processor, an integrated or inexpensive graphics card, 4 gigs of RAM, and a standard hard drive. If you want more than that, prices start to rise very quickly!

While these specs will allow you to play many modern titles, you can only expect decent quality gameplay. Plus, graphically intensive titles are off the table if you’re wanting even basic performance from a lower end gaming laptop.

By choosing a laptop, you’re largely trading simplicity for performance, and finding the sweet spot between the two can be tricky.

However, a desktop that costs around the same as a decent laptop will outperform it tooth and nail. The reason? Gaming desktops are built to perform.

Think about it. You get to pick your parts or specs and customize them as you choose. Plus, desktops are modular and they’re specifically designed to pack as much performance as possible!

When it comes to competitive gaming, you need all the performance you can get! Every bit of power can make or break your groove as you take down enemy after enemy on the battlefield. Even a hint of lag and and your streak will end!

Go the distance and pick a desktop.

Gaming Desktop vs. Laptop

Winner: Desktop


Ease of Use

When it comes to actually buying and using a gaming laptop or desktop, there are a few things to consider.

For the most part, a laptop is going to get you in the game very quickly. When you buy a laptop, it comes set up with everything you need to play. You can literally take it straight out of the box and launch into your favorite game in a matter of minutes. So simple!

If you’re using a desktop, it is definitely not that easy. Whether you’re buying a prebuilt PC or designing a custom gaming computer, there are a lot of factors involved in getting it ready for gameplay.

Things you’ll need if you’re building a PC:

  • Motherboard
  • CPU
  • RAM
  • Hard Drive
  • Computer case
  • Power supply
  • Cooling system
  • Ports and cables
  • & more

And that’s only the very beginning! Once it’s all set up you have to consider your peripherals like monitor, keyboard, mouse, and all the extra gaming equipment.

There’s really no comparison.

Gaming Laptop vs Desktop

Winner: Laptop


Flexibility

Flexibility is a huge factor when it comes to choosing a gaming laptop vs desktop.

Generally speaking, laptops offer a great deal of flexibility out of the box since they come equipped with everything you need to get started!

Plus, they’re extremely portable. You can take them on the go and play wherever you want. And if you’ve got a gaming station at home, you can plug in a USB hub and be instantly connected with all your gear. Ready for action.

That said, most laptops simply can’t match the internal flexibility that desktops manage. They’re not nearly as modular.

gaming monitor

If you build your own desktop PC, you have ultimate creative flexibility! Anything you want in a system is yours, as long as your budget allows for it.

Want an i9 processor with 32 gigs of RAM and the newest GeForce graphics card? Go for it! That’s the power of the desktop. You have total control over your gaming experience. From the motherboard, to the computer case, to all your peripherals, you are in charge.

But with great power comes great responsibility. Customizing your PC doesn’t come cheap, and the best PC builds can be difficult to configure. Plus, it’s not like you can just take it over to a friend’s house for a late-night LAN session.

For hardcore gamers, this isn’t an issue. And if you’re looking for a rig that gives you a competitive edge over your opponents, a desktop is for you.

Gaming Desktop vs. Laptop

Winner: Desktop


Peripherals

Peripherals or accessories are an important part of the gaming experience. You need to make sure you’ve got cutting-edge gear if you want to compete.

Gaming Laptop vs. Desktop Peripherals

Common peripherals include:

  • Monitor
  • Mouse
  • Keyboard
  • Audio system
  • Gaming gear

What’s great about laptops is that they come preconfigured with your standard array of peripheral equipment. You have your screen, keyboard, and mouse already built-in to your system! It doesn’t get much better than that.

Plus, you can pop in a USB hub and connect all your external gear from there. Pretty cool.

That said, when you think of epic gaming setups, I’ll bet desktops come to mind. Not only have they been around much longer, but they’re the weapon of choice for most hardcore gamers.

Why? Think about it. Desktops are designed to work with your chosen accessories. They simply cannot function without them.

Laptop Keyboard Gaming Desktop vs Laptop

Want an epic sound system with a badass bass? No problem. The best gaming mouse and keyboard for perfect control over gameplay? Duh.

Not only that, but desktops usually come with a huge number of ports for adding as many peripherals as you want. And since they’re designed to work well with all your additional gear, you don’t have to worry about power drains or lackluster performance when the load gets heavy.

However, while desktops offer lots of customization, the fact that laptops come equipped with peripherals out of the box (and let you add more) is a major win.

Gaming Laptop vs Desktop

Winner: Laptop


Price

Of course, price plays a major role in choosing the best gaming rig.

Suitable gaming laptops range in price from around $500 at the very low-end, to thousands of dollars for competitive-grade systems. That’s a huge discrepancy, and you’ll find varying specifications depending on your budget.

Lower end laptops can usually play a number of modern games, but not on high settings. And when you’re looking at top-of-the-line games, you’re not going to get very smooth gameplay at all. It costs a lot of money to game with the pros!

A major saving grace for laptops is the fact that you don’t have to purchase a monitor or many accessories. A huge boon!

Desktops are a different story. You can build a low-end gaming desktop for very little money. However, every little upgrade spikes the price higher and higher.

But it’s worth it. The customization options are incredible. You can swap out parts, upgrade components over time, and ultimately build a dream machine! There are tons of tutorials for building a solid rig, and you can take advantage of lots of offers and sales to bring the cost down.

Gaming Desktop vs. Laptop

Winner: Desktop


Choosing a Gaming Laptop vs Desktop 2018

We’ve gone over the major areas of consideration for choosing between a laptop and desktop. They both have many advantages and disadvantages to consider when making your final choice.

Gaming Laptop

To recap the results here are the gaming laptop vs desktop pros and cons:

PROS of gaming laptops:

  • Simple and a breeze to use
  • Portable
  • Easily add peripherals
  • Also functions great for productivity and work

PROS of gaming desktops:

  • Totally customizable
  • Performance powerhouses
  • More bang for the buck
  • Perfect for competitive gaming

A gaming laptop offers total portability and the ability to just dive right in and start gaming!

Gaming Desktops Beat out Laptops in Terms of Value

But a desktop allows you to truly build a gaming machine! You can customize it to be exactly the way you want, adding on performance parts and any peripherals you choose.

There is a reason competitive gamers use desktop computers. They’re powerful, customizable, and optimized to help you kick ass. Start with the right foundation, and your computer will last for years of hardcore gaming!

The question remains: gaming laptop vs desktop: who reigns supreme?

Gaming Desktop vs. Laptop

Our Recommendation: Desktop!

If you want more help deciding on the best desktop for your new gaming station or laptop for on-the-go, check out our guides below!

Further Reading: