Gaming laptop. What an interesting concept.

When I think of this (almost silly) combination of words for a computer, I think of my cousin who “built” a gaming laptop and showed it to me once; he brought over an Alienware laptop.

It must have been $2,000+. Pretty nice haul for a then highschool student. This was a few years back, so I know at that time you were limited to what GPU you could put into a laptop. I remember looking into them a bit (even though they were way out of my price range at the time) and all the GPUs were slim factor? Was that the phrase? Anyways, he brought it over and showed me Assassin’s Creed Black Flag. I think we set it up onto display on my TV. It was pretty cool, but was huge and gamer-y. Big, chunky and lit-up. Flash forward a few years and here I am with my Asus ROG Strix GL503VM. RGB keyboard and all.

I wasn’t initially going to even look at gaming laptops. After it hit me that my laptop was about 7 or 8 years old and could barely run Chrome (I have barely used it over the years, so it’s still seems new to me), I decided it was time to start looking. I took basically an entire Sunday and researched what I wanted.

For tech (mostly computers, monitors and TVs), I always look to Best Buy. Overall, their prices are pretty terrible (much like everything else, Amazon beats them); I think they still sell single movie Blu Ray’s for $30+…Anyways, I like using them for the tech I mentioned above, because when they have sales, they REALLY have sales. The old laptop I told you about. I picked it out a couple of months in advance and waited until that Sunday circular came around with that baby on sale. I believe I saved $150 (I think I spend around $400). I do the same for family members when they come to me. I find something then we go grab it when it goes on sale.

Back to me and my laptop situation:

I had narrowed my search down basically to a single laptop. It was around what I figured I’d spend at $800 (decided I needed to step up a bit from the “budget” bracket). It was a nice Asus laptop; had i5, 8gb of Ram and I think an SSD in addition to a TB HDD. Seemed good to me; found some nice reviews on it.

But then I started to think; is it enough? Now let’s backtrack a bit. Over the past summer, I had built my own PC for the first time (with help from a friend). I think it wound up around $1,600, not counting the 2 G Sync Monitors I picked up. What I’m getting at; I don’t need a laptop to play games. I have a beefy PC, an Xbox One, a PS4, a Switch, and basically everything before that. Tons of games and not enough hours to play. What I did want the ability to do, was use my new laptop as a capture device. I might mess around with some streaming, but I really wanted it to be able to capture with an elgato HD60 s. To do that, I would need a quad core CPU. And to make myself feel good and futureproof, 16GB of RAM.

This brought me into a whole other bracket for PC’s. Everything (that wasn’t a gaming PC) in this bracket now was a “2 in 1”, touch screen, special-hinged, half tablet that I didn’t want. This was an unnecessary expense for me. If I’m going to spend more, which I don’t mind doing, I want to get exactly what I want.

Maybe I should look at gaming laptops. I know that GPU’s can be used in some cases for rendering video or taking on tasks if the CPU is underpowered (I’m no expert in this stuff, so bare with me). I figured “why not?” Now I saw that 8th generation i7’s were out soon, so I did a TON of research. It looks like the i7-8850H is a beast of a processor. It is the first six core processor to be put in a laptop and from my research, seemed to be 40% more efficient and faster than the 7700. That’s pretty insane. Now that performance comes with a disadvantage, price.

A PC with all the specs I would want with that processor would cost me $1,600 minimum, plus tax. That’s about double what I wanted to spend. Now there is a Dell G7 laptop that comes in around $1,200, but I’ve heard mixed feelings on dell laptops. One of my big wants this time around is a laptop that doesn’t feel cheap and that has a really nice keyboard, since I would like to do a lot of typing on it. I did consider waiting for this Dell, since I would need to see some reviews first, but it was hard. There is a sale going on right now!

Now I had a big decision. I almost found the perfect laptop after reading and watching review after review; that laptop was a HP Omen. The review’s I read love it and it had the exact specs I was looking for. i7-7700HQ, GTX 1060, 16 GBs of RAM, 1 TB HDD and a SSD. Great! I loaded up Best Buy’s website, since they are having a nice sale and buying directly from HP looked like a rip-off. I did not see that build. Bummer. I found something that was close.

i7 – Check
GTX 1050ti – sadface
8 GB RAM – tears
1 TB HDD & 128 SSD – Nice
$950 – Nice

I was trying to convince myself that it would be worth it, but I couldn’t. For just a little more I would jump up to 16GB of Ram and a 1060. Enter, my new laptop. The Asus ROG Strix GL503VM.

GTX 1060 3GB (wish is was 6GB)
1 TD HDD & 128 M.2 SSD
Price – $1099.99 (on sale from $1,399.99)
Extras – G-Sync 120hz IPS Screen

I couldn’t pass this up! This gaming laptop received rave reviews. The only negative I read was it didn’t have the best track-pad, but I was sold. Sure there is an almost exact version coming out with the new i7, but that was $1,599, way over what I wanted to spend. Plus, if I was spending that much, I feel like I should have a 1070 in there.

I’m loving my laptop so far. I was able to capture with it (see the video below), edit in Premiere, render in Premiere and upload to YouTube with 0 issues and all off the battery! Sure it gets a little hot (I expected that from a gaming laptop), but I’m getting high 50’s to 80’s FPS on Far Cry 5 on High and Ultra. More testing and quirks to find in the meantime, but I know I’ll enjoy it.

If I have to leave you with any advice if you’re looking for a new laptop upgrade it would be;

Figure out what you want before you start looking.

Make a list of what you need; what would be nice to have, what you could live without and what you couldn’t. Really consider looking at Best Buy. They really have great deals. They make it easy for you too; once you have your handy list of specs, you can check off the boxes for every one. For me one upgrade over my old laptop I couldn’t live without was a backlit keyboard. I checked that off even before price. Priorities.