Being a student who loves gaming can be a balancing act. You need a laptop that can handle essays, research, and video calls for school, while also packing enough power to run your favorite games during downtime. That's why choosing the best laptop for school and gaming isn't just about finding a powerful machine; it's about finding a laptop that can navigate both worlds seamlessly.
During my time as an avid gamer and student, I've learned a thing or two about what makes a laptop stand out in this unique category. My process involves diving into an extensive laptop spreadsheet of recent releases, comparing specs, and reading both professional and user-generated reviews. I then narrow down the top laptops based on school and gaming-specific requirements, as well as price ranges.
While the best laptop for school and gaming depends on your specific needs, there are some universal features to consider. Think about the power and performance needed for resource-intensive games and multitasking between academic apps. Consider the portability for carrying it around campus, and the display quality for those late-night gaming sessions or binge-watching study breaks. And of course, battery life is crucial for those long days away from an outlet. These details may seem minute but can drastically affect your user experience, making it vital to consider them when choosing your next laptop.
Powering up: Finding the Perfect Processor
What's new in the laptop processor market
The laptop processor market is constantly evolving, with new chips being released by major players like Apple, AMD, and Intel. Apple's recent introduction of their ARM-based M1, M2, M2 Pro, and M2 Max system-on-chip modules has brought exceptional single-core performance and battery life to their MacBook lineup.
AMD, on the other hand, has made significant strides in capturing 20% of the laptop CPU market. Their Ryzen CPUs, especially the 6th-generation models, have become increasingly popular. Recently, AMD has also started shipping laptops equipped with their latest 7th-generation Ryzen processors.
Intel, despite facing competition from Apple and AMD, continues to innovate. They have already released their 13th-generation Core processors, but the 12th-generation Core CPUs still offer great value, especially if you don't require cutting-edge performance.
Both Intel and Apple have adopted a hybrid performance/efficiency core design, similar to big.LITTLE architecture. However, Intel chips struggle to keep power consumption low enough compared to Apple's silicon chips.
For those who prioritize battery life in a PC laptop, Ryzen models are a solid choice.
Intel vs. AMD (pros/cons)
When it comes to choosing between Intel and AMD processors, there are a few factors to consider. Intel has long been known for its strong single-threaded performance and overall dominance in the market. However, AMD has made significant progress in recent years and is now a formidable competitor.
Intel processors generally excel in single-threaded tasks and have better integrated graphics performance. On the other hand, AMD processors offer better multi-threaded performance and value for money. Additionally, AMD CPUs often have more cores and threads, making them ideal for tasks such as video editing, 3D rendering, and streaming.
Ultimately, the choice between Intel and AMD will depend on your specific needs and budget.
Gaming laptops and CPU requirements
If you're in the market for a gaming laptop, the CPU is a crucial component to consider. While most students don't play games on their laptops, it's worth mentioning for those who want a laptop that can handle gaming.
For gaming laptops, it's recommended to look for an H-series processor from either AMD or Intel. These processors are designed with better thermal performance and higher wattage limits, making them ideal for gaming.
Another important feature to look out for is whether the processor supports Advanced Vector Extensions (AVX). AVX support can enhance gaming performance, especially in titles that utilize heavy computations.
How I rate processors and benchmarking
To rate processors accurately, I rely on popular benchmark websites such as cpubenchmark and PassMark. These sites provide up-to-date results for all current processors, allowing me to compare their performance objectively.
Benchmark scores are essential, but I also consider subjective experiences and real-world performance. This includes factors like multitasking capabilities, responsiveness, and overall user experience.
My recommendations for various price ranges and use cases
When it comes to choosing the right processor for your laptop, it's important to consider your budget and use case. To assist you in making an informed decision, here are my recommendations based on different price ranges:
Minimum: If you're on a tight budget, the Intel i5-11320H is a solid choice. It offers good performance for everyday tasks and light gaming without breaking the bank.
Recommended: For a balance of performance and value, the AMD Ryzen 5 5600U is an excellent option. It provides strong multi-threaded performance and is capable of handling more demanding tasks like programming and content creation.
High-end: If you're willing to invest in a higher-end processor, the Intel i5-12450H delivers impressive performance for gaming and resource-intensive applications.
Remember to take into account other factors such as laptop size, weight, and power requirements, especially if you're considering a gaming laptop with a dedicated graphics card.
With these recommendations, you can find the right processor that suits your needs, whether you're a student looking for a laptop for school or a gamer seeking optimal performance. Happy laptop hunting!
Power up your gaming experience!
The graphics card is a crucial component to consider when choosing a laptop for school or gaming. While integrated graphics are typically sufficient for most students, those looking to enjoy a smooth gaming experience will need a dedicated graphics card.
Nvidia currently dominates the laptop GPU market, with their RTX series being widely popular. Although the new RTX 40 series cards have been released, the RTX 30 series still holds a significant market share. It's important to note that desktop GPUs have become more power-hungry in recent years, resulting in a widening gap between laptop and desktop graphics performance.
One notable change from Nvidia is the discontinuation of the Max-Q label for their RTX graphics cards. Instead, the exact GPU wattage is now determined by laptop manufacturers (OEMs). This has led to variations in graphics performance even among laptops with the same GPU chipset.
To determine the performance level of a GPU, we need to rely on the model name rather than a clear distinction between efficiency-oriented and performance-oriented GPUs. While benchmarking tools like 3DMark can be helpful, they may not account for all hardware variations that can impact performance.
For the best gaming experience, consider a laptop with an Nvidia G-Sync panel. This technology ensures that your display isn't limited by the graphics chip's performance, although it's not as good as using an external display with FreeSync.
When deciding on a graphics card for your laptop, it's essential to consider your specific needs and budget. Here are some recommendations based on different price ranges:
|Price Range||Recommended Graphics Card|
|Minimum||GeForce RTX 3050|
|Recommended||GeForce RTX 3060|
|High-end||GeForce RTX 2080 SUPER|
Please note that the availability and prices of these graphics cards may vary over time. It's always a good idea to check with reputable retailers or manufacturers for the latest options and pricing.
In summary, choosing the right graphics card for your laptop depends on your intended use, budget, and desired gaming performance. With the recommended graphics cards listed above, you can find a suitable option that balances performance and affordability.
Boost Your Performance with Ample RAM
What has changed in the laptop memory market
In recent years, laptops have become more powerful and versatile, making them an essential tool for both schoolwork and gaming. As a result, the demand for faster and more efficient memory has increased. Most mid-range laptops now come equipped with 16 GB of RAM, while high-end models boast 32 GB or even more.
RAM requirements for school and gaming laptops
RAM is one of the most crucial components in a laptop, especially if you're a student. You'll need it for running multiple applications simultaneously, handling resource-intensive tasks, and ensuring smooth multitasking. When it comes to schoolwork, 16 GB of RAM should suffice for most students. It allows you to comfortably run productivity apps, browse the web, and handle typical assignments without experiencing slowdowns.
For gaming laptops, the RAM requirement can vary depending on the games you play. While most games can run smoothly on 8 GB of RAM, it's recommended to have at least 16 GB to future-proof your laptop and ensure a seamless gaming experience. Some modern games and AAA titles may even benefit from having 32 GB of RAM.
Is DDR5 worth it?
Currently, laptops primarily use DDR4 memory, which has been the standard for several years. Although DDR5 is on the horizon, it is still relatively new and expensive. Additionally, it will take some time for DDR5 technology to mature before it becomes a viable option for most consumers. As such, there's no reason to consider DDR3 or DDR5 when purchasing a laptop right now.
How to know if your RAM is high-quality
When choosing a laptop, it's essential to consider the quality of the RAM. High-quality RAM modules offer better reliability, compatibility, and performance. Look for reputable brands known for producing reliable memory modules such as Corsair, Crucial, Kingston, or G.Skill. Reading reviews and checking user feedback can also help you determine the reliability and performance of the RAM in a specific laptop model.
Table of recommended RAM configurations for each price range
Here's a table summarizing the recommended RAM configurations for different price ranges:
|Price Range||Recommended RAM Configuration|
These configurations strike a balance between performance and affordability. Of course, if your budget allows it, you can always opt for more RAM to future-proof your laptop or meet specific requirements. It's worth noting that some laptops have their RAM soldered onto the motherboard, making it impossible to upgrade later. If you plan on upgrading your laptop's RAM in the future, ensure it has an accessible SODIMM slot.
Remember, RAM is just one aspect to consider when choosing a laptop. You should also consider other components such as the CPU, GPU, storage, and display to ensure a well-rounded computing experience that suits your needs.
Answering Your Burning Laptop Questions
Q: What is the best laptop for school and gaming?
The best laptop for both school and gaming depends on your specific needs and budget. However, some popular options in the market right now include the Lenovo Legion 5i Pro 16, ASUS ROG Strix Scar, and the MSI Titan GT77 HX.
Can you recommend a laptop for school and gaming?
Absolutely! Based on your budget and requirements, I can suggest a few options. For a budget-friendly option, consider the HP Victus which offers a great balance between performance and affordability at around $900. If you're willing to spend a bit more for a higher-end experience, the Lenovo Legion Pro 7i 16 is an excellent choice at $3,390. And if you're looking for the absolute best, the MSI Titan GT77HX priced at $9,340 is a powerhouse that can handle any task you throw at it.
What are the top laptops for school and gaming?
The top laptops for school and gaming right now include the Lenovo Legion 5i Pro 16, ASUS ROG Strix Scar, and the MSI Titan GT77 HX. These laptops offer a balance between performance, portability, and affordability, making them excellent choices for students who want to game and study on the same device.
What laptop specs do I need for school and gaming?
The required laptop specs for school and gaming vary depending on the specific games and tasks you'll be undertaking. However, as a general guideline, you'll want at least 8 GB of memory to handle multitasking, a capable processor such as the i5-11320H or AMD Ryzen 5 5600U, and a dedicated graphics card like the GeForce RTX 3050 or higher. For a smoother gaming experience, consider opting for a laptop with a higher-end processor like the i5-12450H and a more powerful graphics card like the GeForce RTX 3060 or even the GeForce RTX 2080 SUPER.
Is it possible to find a budget-friendly laptop for school and gaming?
Absolutely! With advancements in technology, it is now possible to find budget-friendly laptops that offer a decent gaming experience while also being suitable for schoolwork. The HP Victus is a great example of an affordable option that provides a balance between performance and price at around $900. It may not have the most powerful specs, but it can handle most modern games at moderate settings without breaking the bank.
Can you suggest a durable laptop for school and gaming?
If durability is a top priority for you, I recommend looking at laptops from brands known for their build quality and reliability. Lenovo, HP, ASUS, and MSI are some of the brands that have a reputation for producing durable laptops. The Lenovo Legion Pro 7i 16, for example, is known for its robust construction and sturdy build materials, making it an excellent choice for students who want a laptop that can withstand the rigors of daily use.
Is it better to have a dedicated graphics card for school and gaming?
Having a dedicated graphics card is highly beneficial for both school and gaming. While integrated graphics can handle basic tasks and some less demanding games, a dedicated graphics card provides a significant boost in gaming performance, allowing you to play more demanding titles at higher settings and framerates. Additionally, a dedicated graphics card can also accelerate tasks that require GPU processing, such as video editing or 3D rendering. So if gaming is a priority for you, investing in a laptop with a dedicated graphics card is definitely worth considering.
How much RAM is necessary for a laptop for school and gaming?
The amount of RAM you need for a laptop for school and gaming depends on the specific tasks and games you'll be running. For most students, 8 GB of RAM is usually sufficient to handle multitasking and schoolwork. However, if you plan on running more demanding applications or playing graphically intensive games, it is recommended to have at least 16 GB of RAM. This will ensure smooth performance and prevent any potential bottlenecks when running multiple applications simultaneously or tackling memory-intensive tasks.
What is the ideal battery life for a laptop for school and gaming?
The ideal battery life for a laptop that will be used for both school and gaming depends on your usage patterns and requirements. If you primarily use your laptop for gaming, it's common for gaming laptops to have shorter battery lives due to the power-hungry nature of high-performance components. However, if you prioritize long battery life for school and productivity tasks, look for laptops with larger battery capacities and efficient power management features. Aim for a minimum of 6-8 hours of battery life, although some high-end laptops can offer even longer endurance.
Are there any specific brands that are known for their laptops for school and gaming?
5 Best Laptops for Best Laptop for School and Gaming
- Delivers smooth gameplay at 1080p.
- Fast SSD.
- User-replaceable memory and storage.
- Good port selection.
- No variable refresh rate to reduce screen tearing.
- Some performance loss on CPU under load.
The HP Victus 15 is a great laptop for gaming and school. It offers smooth gameplay at 1080p, a fast SSD, and user-replaceable memory and storage. However, its 144Hz display has a slow response time and lacks variable refresh rate, which may cause noticeable ghosting and screen tearing.
- Extremely affordable
- Capable in mid-range games
- Rivals are routinely faster
- Single-channel memory
- Lightweight and well-built
- Good selection of inputs and ports
- High refresh rate display
- Powerful performance
- Some quirks affecting everyday ergonomics
- Ports squeezed together on the left edge
- Be cautious of the FHD 144Hz screen option
The ASUS TUF Dash F15 is a well-built and lightweight laptop that offers a balanced performance for school and gaming. It features a good selection of inputs and ports, as well as a high refresh rate display. However, be cautious of the FHD 144Hz screen option.
- Stylish, sleek form factor
- Gorgeous display
- Webcam quality is poor
- No biometrics for added security
- Sturdy construction
- Fast Wi-Fi 6E
- Excellent performance with Core i9-12900H and RTX 3070 Ti
- Wide color gamut coverage with Dolby Vision support
- Limited display angle
- No biometric login
- Heavy SSD throttling during continuous reads
- High heat and noise emissions under load
The ASUS ROG Strix Scar offers impressive performance for both gaming and schoolwork, with a sturdy construction and fast Wi-Fi 6E. However, it has limited display angle, no biometric login, and high heat and noise emissions under load.
- Fantastic value
- Top-tier gaming performance
- Middling screen
- A bit heavy
- Strong overall performance
- Big, bright, and fast display
- Per-key RGB lighting
- Some flex to keyboard deck
- Poor battery life
The Lenovo Legion Pro 7i Gen 8 is a powerful laptop equipped with a 13th-gen Core i9 CPU and RTX 4090 graphics, making it an excellent choice for both school and gaming needs.
- QHD display with 165 Hz
- Expandable working memory
- Slightly below-average performance for a RTX 4080
- High noise level
- Excellent 4K display with AdobeRGB
- High-quality case
- Thunderbolt 4 PCIe 4.0
- Very high system performance
- Lower graphics performance than the predecessor
- Performance not completely stable under combined load
- Not Wi-Fi 6E compatible
- 720p webcam
The Dell XPS 17 9720 is a high-performing laptop with a stunning 4K display and Thunderbolt 4 & PCIe 4.0 connectivity. However, it falls short in terms of graphics performance compared to its predecessor and the cooling system could be improved.
- Excellent mechanical keyboard
- Class-leading Mini-LED display
- Uninspired design
- Short battery life
Table of the Best Laptops for Best Laptop for School and Gaming
|ASUS TUF Dash F15||$1,160|
|ASUS ROG Strix Scar||$2,050|
|Lenovo Legion Pro 7i 16||$3,390|
|Dell XPS 17 9720||$5,600|