Gaming laptops: is now the time to buy one?
Gaming grade laptops that don’t cost a fortune do exist in sunny South Africa
Gaming laptops are a convenience for those with deep pockets and a passion for the gaming as a hobby, and are usually priced out of the average Joe’s league.
However, a range of manufacturers have produced laptops that are able to run modern games at acceptable settings. They won’t blow your hair back, but they don’t cost upwards of R20,000.
With a R12,000(ish) budget in mind, here is what you can get that’s good for gaming:
MSI GE70 gaming notebook
The absolute star of the article, the GE70 comes with a range of impressive features found on more expensive gaming notebooks, along with a respectable price tag. For just short of R12,000 you can own the GE70 with the following specifications:
- Intel dual core i5-3210M
- 8GB DDR3 1333MHz
- 750GB SATA hard drive
- 17.3 inch Full HD (1920 x 1080) screen
- Nvidia Geforce GT650M
A full HD resolution on a laptop used to be a feature limited to the most high-end and expensive laptops, though in the last few months it has appeared in more moderately priced systems.
The Dual Core i5-3210M isn’t the most powerful processor, but for the purpose of gaming it should offer enough grunt to keep you satisfied for a while.
The Nvidia GT650M steals the show though, offering a high-level of power capable of playing a range of modern games at high settings. The 8GB of DDR3 RAM and 750GB hard drive are good enough, though gamers can upgrade to 16GB and an SSD at a later stage – budget permitting.
Mecer JW6 Ultrabook
Mecer might not be synonymous with high-end quality, but their products can last if treated well. The JW6 Ultrabook is included in this list despite Mecer’s questionable build quality and the Ultrabook form factor because it stands out for very different reasons to the MSI above.
The Ultraportable is a barebone unit, meaning buyers can customize it to their liking. The following specifications come as standard however:
- Intel dual core i5-3317U low voltage processor
- 14 inch 1366 x 786 resolution screen
- Nvidia Geforce GT640M
The low resolution may not set the world on fire, but this is standard for most low- to mid-range notebooks, especially those in the 14-inch form factor class. On the other hand, the resolution means the moderately powerful GT640 will last longer since it does not have to render for high resolutions. The low voltage processor is average, and should handle most multiplayer games with confidence, though high settings may just be out of reach.
The good thing is that after kitting the unit out with 8GB of DDR3 1333MHz RAM and a 750GB hard drive, you’ll pay less than R9,000 for the machine. This means the Mecer is more the work machine with some gaming capability that you can take to LAN Dota 2 or CoD: Modern Warfare 3 at your mates place. The machine isn’t mind-blowing, but it is appealing to the right kind of gamer.
Dell Inspiron 15r
Dell also offers a gaming capable machine in the R12,000(ish) price range, the Inspiron 15r. It sports the following features:
- Intel quad core i7-3612Q
- 8GB DDR3 1,600MHz RAM
- 1TB SATA hard drive
- 15.6 inch Full HD (1920 x 1080) screen
- AMD Radeon HD7730M
The Dell is quite a powerful laptop, combining a quad-core Intel processor with fast DDR3 memory which is sure to benefit gamers. It features a high-resolution 15.6-inch screen, 1TB of storage and an AMD HD7730M to round off an appealing package.
While its GPU may not be as powerful as the one found in the MSI, the rest of the system trumps the MSI’s specifications. The smaller form factor, larger hard drive, and more powerful core hardware makes it an attractive option, especially at around R200 cheaper than the MSI.
There are a range of other options, including the Lenovo ThinkPad Edge T530, Gigabyte Q1742N, Dell Vostro V3560, and Acer TravelMate P653 to name a few, all with a mixed bag of features and different price points.
It will be a long time before a gaming laptop replaces your desktop system at an affordable price, though if the above is anything to go by, that might not be too far away.