Home » Gaming laptop vs. desktop: Which should you buy?

Gaming laptop vs. desktop: Which should you buy?

With Nvidia’s highly effective GeForce 30-series now accessible in laptops, it’s time to revisit the everlasting desktop-versus-laptop-PC query—targeted on gaming, as a result of most taking a look at GeForce 30-series computer systems would in all probability put gaming on the prime of their activity listing.

The query is much more sophisticated today. Dramatic leaps in CPU and GPU efficiency have led to unprecedented demand and risky pricing. Nevertheless, if we stroll by the first standards, there’s a clear winner for many of them—and your individual priorities ought to lead you to the perfect reply. To skip to what issues to you most, click on one of many hyperlinks beneath (or to the left): 


With its 8-core Ryzen CPU and tiny eGPU, the Asus ROG Flow X13 may be probably the most highly effective and transportable gaming laptop computer on the town.


Gaming laptops are usually the heaviest of all laptops, with weight usually working from 4 to eight kilos. Laptops on the higher finish of that scale are about as a lot enjoyable to hold as an engine block, however even the heaviest is simpler to tote than a desktop. And then there are disruptors just like the upcoming Asus ROG Flow X13, which is a scant three flabbergasting kilos of Ryzen 5000-powered gaming chops. 

Start by taking a look at the place and the way you utilize your gaming PC. Portability in a pandemic might sound much less essential, however who wouldn’t profit from the flexibility to relocate rapidly from the kitchen desk to the deck on a wonderful spring day? Maybe you need to sport or edit video within the peace and quiet of the den, or use your highly effective gaming laptop computer to report your one-nerd band within the storage?

Basically when you just like the sound of being unshackled, chances are you’ll actually need a gaming laptop computer as an alternative of a desktop.

Winner: Gaming Laptop

geforce rtx 3060 ti asus tuf 9 Brad Chacos/IDG

The worth proposition of gaming desktops has all been worn out as a result of GPU shortages.


Just as portability is a no brainer for a gaming laptop computer, worth is usually a gimme for desktops. Desktop elements nearly at all times value lower than constructing a complete laptop computer.

Unfortunately for patrons, the scarcity of desktop GPUs has made this one loads nearer than you’d anticipate. To examine worth, we configured an 8-core Core i7-10700K CPU with GeForce RTX 3060 Ti, 1TB M.2 PCIe SSD, 32GB of RAM, case, OS, mid-motherboard, 750-Watt PSU and cooler on PCPartPicker. To make it honest, we additionally bundled a 240Hz, 24-inch 1080p panel, mechanical RGB keyboard, mouse, and audio system—to match the equipment a laptop computer consists of.

With the entire equipment you’d have to purchase ranging from scratch, you’re taking a look at about $2,600 for the gaming desktop. The laptop computer equal, an MSI GE76 Raider laptop computer with 8-core Core i7-10870H, GeForce RTX 3080 with 16GB of video RAM, 32GB of RAM, 1TB PCIe M.2 SSD, OS and a 17.3-inch 300Hz panel, comes out to $2,900.

That’s a a lot narrower hole than we’ve ever seen earlier than—and that’s utilizing a GeForce RTX 3060 Ti within the desktop. If you moved as much as a GeForce RTX 3080 since you’re into the entire model-number parity (please learn our efficiency part), then the desktop would value you $3,300.

The quick story is that sure, when you skip all of the equipment, the desktop might be the higher worth. Unfortunately the insane worth inflation in desktop GPUs has really made gaming laptops way more aggressive on worth for now.

Winner: Surprise tie

ryzen 3 1200 gaming pc 84 Brad Chacos/IDG

There’s actually nothing that beats the open requirements of the PC for straightforward upgrades.


The desktop didn’t win the worth class as we anticipated, however when you prefer to squeeze most life out of {hardware}, a standards-based desktop PC is the final word expression of that. You can improve something on a desktop PC after it has worn out or reached its finish of life.

Larger gaming laptops are typically probably the most ‘upgradable’ of all laptops, however even then you definately’re normally restricted to the RAM and storage. The CPU and GPU are usually built-in onto a motherboard, which makes upgrades out of the query. Some Intel-based laptops do have the choice of exterior graphics through Thunderbolt, however when you’re going to do this, the desktop in all probability made extra sense.

Because only a few folks ever really make main upgrades, solely those that suppose very long-term care about upgradability. For them, desktops stay on the prime of the listing.

Winner: Gaming Desktop

ge76 raiderstandard21 MSI

Who knew that RGB really makes it go quicker? The MSI GE76 Raider with GeForce RTX 3080 GPU gives blistering graphics efficiency.


In our worth class above, we in contrast a laptop computer with a GeForce RTX 3080 with 16GB of RAM in opposition to a desktop construct with a GeForce RTX 3060 Ti with 8GB of RAM. We did this as a result of the restricted energy and thermals of a laptop computer nearly at all times influence efficiency.

In reality, with this technology, Nvidia has gone again to that includes completely different dies between the GeForce RTX 3080 and the GeForce RTX 3080 Laptop GPU. On paper, the GeForce RTX 3080 laptop computer has a couple of extra cores than a GeForce RTX 3070 desktop GPU. Once you restrict its energy and thermals in a laptop computer to 150 watts—efficiency is just a little decrease than a desktop 3070 in most gaming duties. In reality, it’s proper between the RTX 3060 Ti and RTX 3070 desktop GPUs in gaming.

Despite the identical mannequin numbers, a GeForce RTX 3080 Desktop will merely eat a GeForce RTX 3080 Laptop. 

As for the CPU, common gaming laptops (not these Mack-truck sized laptops with desktop chips) prime out at 8 cores, whether or not the CPU comes from Intel or AMD. Desktops don’t have that limitation.

Before you make this your sole resolution for a desktop, do not forget that efficiency solely issues when you use it. For gaming and for the overwhelming majority of purposes folks use, at this time’s gaming laptops are stupidly quick. Throwing cash at efficiency you don’t use is a waste.

With that out of the way in which, the desktop is the suitable solution to go for the performance-minded.

Winner: Gaming Desktop

aorus 17g vc p008 Gigabyte

Gaming laptops corresponding to Gigabyte’s Aorus 17G with GeForce 3070 accessible might be purchased, whereas the GeForce RTX 3070 desktop GPU is seen much less usually than Bigfoot.


If you’re nonetheless torn between a gaming desktop and a gaming laptop computer however you’re able to spend that cash proper now, the following query issues what you may really purchase. As we talked about within the Value part above, the newest Nvidia GeForce 30-series GPUs are both insanely priced or just not accessible. That GeForce RTX 3060 Ti that has an MSRP worth of $400—good luck discovering it. If you do discover it, chances are you’ll pay twice as a lot as its listing worth. We seemed for a GeForce RTX 3080 on Newegg.com and noticed nothing however the customary “out of inventory” warning. 

Looking at Newegg for GeForce 30-series laptops, we discovered at the least 20 for order, with one other 5 accessible for pre-order. Whether that holds long-term is difficult to say, however clearly having the ability to purchase it fairly than window-shop is a bonus. Our roundup of the perfect gaming laptops could make some suggestions. 

Winner: Gaming Laptop


If you’re tempted so as to add up the winners and losers in every class to resolve what to purchase, don’t. As all PCs are private, they need to be tailor-made to your wants. You ought to as an alternative weigh every class in a different way. If, for instance, you need to use the identical pc for the following 10 years, the desktop offers you probably the most flexibility and upgradability. If the thought of getting an ungodly quantity of computing energy that you would be able to additionally use within the yard, then clearly the portability of the gaming laptop computer issues.

The key standards of worth and efficiency may change by the week if not the day. More efficiency means more cash. With the present drought of latest desktop GPUs, gaming laptops and the efficiency they provide have by no means seemed higher.

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