Gaming Laptop vs Desktop PC: Which Should You Buy?

With Nvidia’s powerful GeForce 30-series now available in laptops, it’s time to reconsider the eternal question of desktop versus laptop and PC – with a focus on gaming, as most people who look at GeForce 30-series PCs likely To put games at the top of their task list.

The question is more complicated these days. Huge jumps in CPU and GPU performance have led to unprecedented demand and volatile pricing. However, if we apply the basic criteria, there will be a clear winner for most of them – and your priorities should lead you to the best answer. To skip the one that interests you the most, click on one of the links below (or on the left):

Asus ROG FLOW x13 Primary Asus

With its eight-core Ryzen CPU and micro eGPU, the Asus ROG Flow X13 might be the most powerful gaming laptop in town.

Mobility

Gaming laptops are usually the heaviest of all laptops, generally weighing four to eight pounds. The laptops at the higher end of this scale are just as fun to carry as a block of engine, but even heavier ones are easier to carry than a desktop. Then there are disruptive agents like the upcoming Asus ROG Flow X13That’s a staggering three pounds of Ryzen 5000-powered gaming chips.

Start by looking at where and how you use your gaming PC. Portability in a pandemic may seem less important, but who wouldn’t benefit from being able to quickly transition from the kitchen table to the deck on a beautiful spring day? Perhaps you want to play games or edit video in peace and quiet in the den, or use your powerful gaming laptop to record your band in the garage?

Basically, if you like the sound of unblocking, you might really want a gaming laptop instead of a desktop.

Winner: Gaming Laptop

geforce rtx 3060 ti asus tuf 9 Brad Shakos / IDJ

The value proposition of gaming desktops has been wiped out due to the lack of a GPU.

Values

Just as portability is a no-brainer for gaming laptops, value is usually a boon for desktop PCs. Desktop parts always cost less than building a complete laptop.

Unfortunately for buyers, the lack of desktop GPUs has brought this device a lot closer than you might expect. For a value comparison, we configured an 8-core Core i7-10700K CPU with a GeForce RTX 3060 Ti, 1TB M.2 PCIe SSD, 32GB of RAM, case, OS, mid-range motherboard, 750W PSU and cooler on PCPartPicker. To do it fair, we’ve also bundled a 240Hz, 24″ 1080p panel, RGB mechanical keyboard, mouse, and speakers—to match the accessories included with the laptop.

With all the accessories you have to buy starting from scratch, you’re looking at around $2,600 for a gaming desktop. Laptop equivalent, an MSI GE76 Raider laptop with 8 cores Core i7-10870H, GeForce RTX 3080 with 16GB of video RAM, 32GB of RAM, 1TB PCIe M.2 SSD, system Power on, 17.3-inch 300Hz panel, $2,900.

That’s a much narrower gap than we’ve seen before – and that’s using a GeForce RTX 3060 Ti in a desktop. If you’ve upgraded to a GeForce RTX 3080 because you’re about the same as the entire model number (please read our Performance section), the desktop will cost you $3,300.

The short story is that if you skip all the extensions, the desktop can be the best value. Unfortunately, the insane price inflation of desktop GPUs has made gaming laptops more competitive in terms of value at the moment.

Winner: Surprise tie

Ryzen 3 1200 gaming pc 84 Brad Shakos / IDJ

There really is nothing that beats open PC standards for easy upgrades.

upgrade

The desktop didn’t win the value category as we expected, but if you want to minimize hardware lifespan, a standards-based desktop is the ultimate expression of that. You can upgrade anything on your desktop computer after it is worn out or has reached the end of its life.

Gaming laptops tend to be the most “upgradeable” laptops, but even then they’re usually limited by RAM and storage. The CPU and GPU are usually integrated into the motherboard, which makes upgrades out of the question. Some Intel-based laptops have the option of external graphics via Thunderbolt, but if you’re going to do that, a desktop probably makes more sense.

Since very few people actually made major upgrades, only those who think long-term really care about the upgrade. For them, desktops remain at the top of the list.

Winner: desktop gaming

GE76 RiderStandard 21 MSI

Who knew RGB makes it run faster? The MSI GE76 Raider with GeForce RTX 3080 GPU delivers superior graphics performance.

performance

In the value category above, we compared a laptop with a GeForce RTX 3080 with 16GB of RAM with a desktop build using a GeForce RTX 3060 Ti with 8GB of RAM. We did this because the limited power and heat of a laptop always affects performance.

In fact, with this generation, Nvidia is back to offer different blocks between GeForce RTX 3080 and GeForce RTX 3080 Laptop GPU. On paper, the GeForce RTX 3080 laptop has a few more cores than a desktop GeForce RTX 3070 GPU. Once you limit its power and laptop temperatures to 150W – performance is slightly lower than the desktop 3070’s on most gaming tasks. In fact, it fits between RTX 3060 Ti and RTX 3070 desktop GPUs in gaming.

Despite the same model numbers, the GeForce RTX 3080 desktop will simply eat the GeForce RTX 3080 laptop.

As for the CPU, gaming laptops (not Mack truck-size laptops with desktop chips) excel at 8 cores, whether the CPU comes from Intel or AMD. Desktops do not have this limitation.

Before you make this your only desktop decision, remember that performance only matters if you’re using it. For gaming and for the vast majority of applications people use, today’s gaming laptops are very fast. Spending money on performance that you don’t use is a waste.

With that out of the way, the desktop is the right way to go for a performance mindset.

Winner: desktop gaming

AORUS 17G VC P008 GB

Gaming laptops like Gigabyte’s Aorus 17G can be purchased with the available GeForce 3070, while the desktop GeForce RTX 3070 GPU is seen less frequently than Bigfoot.

Availability

If you’re still torn between a gaming desktop and a gaming laptop but are ready to spend that money right now, the next question is what you can actually buy. As we mentioned in the value section above, the latest Nvidia GeForce 30-series GPUs are either insanely priced or simply out of stock. GeForce RTX 3060 Ti MSRP $400 – good luck finding it. If you find it, you may pay double the list price. We searched for a GeForce RTX 3080 on Newegg.com and saw nothing but the usual “out of stock” warning.

Looking at Newegg’s GeForce 30-series laptops, we’ve found at least 20 to order, with five more available for pre-order. It’s hard to say if it lasts in the long term, but being able to buy it in lieu of a window store is clearly an advantage. Our roundup of the best gaming laptops can make some recommendations.

Winner: Gaming Laptop

Conclusion

If you tend to collect winners and losers in each category to decide what to buy, don’t. Since all computers are personal, they must be tailored to your needs. You should instead weigh each category differently. If, for example, you want to use the same computer for the next 10 years, the desktop gives you the most flexibility and upgradability. If it’s the idea of ​​having an improper amount of computing power that you can also use in your backyard, then obviously the portability of a gaming laptop matters.

Key parameters of value and performance can change by week if not today. More performance means more money. With the current drought of new desktop GPUs, gaming laptops and the performance they deliver have never been better.

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