Digital Media Concepts/Gaming Desktop VS Gaming Laptop

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There are several advantages to both investing in gaming desktop and gaming laptop; however, gamers are still debating on which investment would be the best choice. There are multiple factors to consider when purchasing a new computer, for example, the performance aspect, customizability, and cost.

Performance[edit | edit source]

Performance is valued by computer gamers simply because having the highest possible frame rate (FPS) translate to better virtual condition and stability during gameplay which is crucial for both competitive and non-competitive gamers. There are a few factors in a computer that affects performance for both desktop and laptops alike.

Hardware[edit | edit source]

Computer hardware determines the power of a computer, in another word the ability to handle the different number of data processes whether it is used for smoother video editing with quicker rendering time or stable gameplay with consistent frame rate. Though laptop hardware has been evolving to a point where it rivals the bulkier desktop, there are several key differences that distinguish them from being too much alike. The main hardware components for a gaming PC are the central processing unit (CPU), graphics processing unit (GPU), and the power supply unit (PSU). By comparing both desktop and laptop with similar specification, it is evident that desktop components are more powerful, for instance[1]:

Specs Nvidia RTX 2080 (Laptop) Nvidia RTX 2080 (Desktop)
CUDA Cores 2944 2944
Base Clock Speed (mhz) 1380 1515
Boost Clock Speed (mhz) 1590 1710

The tables show the hardware specification for both laptop and desktop respectively. Firstly, the comparison between two NVIDIA’s flagship desktop and laptop GPU the RTX 2080 shows that even though both hardware has the same amount of CUDA cores, the desktop GPU however, is clocked at a higher frequency for both base and boost clock.

Specs Intel Core i7-8750H (Laptop) Intel Core i7-8700K (Desktop)
Number of Cores 6 6
Number of Threads 12 12
Base Clock Speed (ghz) 2.2 3.7
Boost Clock Speed (ghz) 3.95 5.2
Cache (mb) 9 12

Similarly, both desktop and laptop processor from Intel also shows the significant differences between them. Just like the GPU, the CPU also have the same number of cores and threads for both laptop and desktop but the clock frequency is lower in the laptop module with a decrease in 1.5 ghz on base clock and 1.25 ghz on boost clock. These data reflect the performance capability of desktop and laptop computers alike[2].

Cooling[edit | edit source]

Cooling is essential for any computers as it prevents unnecessary overheating issues which could lead to different hazardous disaster namely computer explosion. Cooling also helps significantly in the performance aspect since it helps prevent thermal throttling; Computer has been programmed to reduce performance whenever a certain thermal has been met in order to prevent the processor to get completely destroyed. The most common form of cooling is air cooling; however, there are various types of different cooling methods that can further reduce the thermal output of computers component like water cooling. This is where desktop has an advantage since laptops are only compatible with air cooling unit to compensate for portability. In contrast, however, desktop computers are able to take advantage of its larger form factor allowing for both cooling option; whether it is using fan coolers, AIO watercooler or even custom hardline watercoolers, all these options are available for desktop computers. Not to mention the fact that water cooling option has better hardware performance increased compared to air coolers due to the superior thermal control[3].

Noctua (Air Cooler) NZXT Kraken (AIO Water Cooler)
Performance Increase (%) 28% 41%

Overclocking[edit | edit source]

Overclocking is essentially further increasing the clock speed of computer hardware to over its stocked limit; thus, further increasing the computer performance but it will also increase the computer's hardware thermals at the same time. Though this process sounds dangerous, computer hardware manufacturer is now endorsing their products as overclocking capable. This process, however, is only viable for desktop components due to better thermal control. Since laptop is only compatible with air cooling, further overclocking is not recommended due to high thermal output[4]. The table below shows the performance increase when desktop computers are overclocked[5]:

AMD Ryzen 3 AMD Ryzen 5
CPU Stock (ghz) 3.5 3.6
CPU Overclocked (ghz) 3.9 4
DRAM Stock (mhz) 2400 2400
DRAM Overclocked (mhz) 3333 3333
GPU Stock (mhz) 1100 1250
GPU Overclocked (mhz) 1360 1400

The results show an increase of 0.4 ghz on both processors and 933 mhz for both RAMs; moreover, an increase in 260 mhz for Ryzen 3's GPU and 150 mhz for Ryzen 5. This highlights the capability of rendering more intensive software slightly faster compared to the stock speed.

Note* this is only viable for desktop computers

Disclaimers* Overclocking may void the warranty and shortens hardware lifespan

Customizability[edit | edit source]

Upgradability[edit | edit source]

The ability to upgrade a computer's hardware is very convenient for gamers since it provides a form of customizability. Whether it is because the current hardware components are outdated or even to further upgrade to better performing hardware, being able to simply switch computer hardware effortlessly is a benefit for computer gamers. Unlike a desktop, laptops have restrictions as to what can be upgraded or switched since, in order to compensate for its portability, most of the hardware like CPU, GPU, Coolers, and RAM (not all but certain laptops) are all integrated onto the motherboard; hence, allowing it to only upgrade a certain part of the computer like storage, and wireless network card. In contrast, a desktop is able to upgrade computer hardware without any of this restriction in mind; for instance, if gamers wanted to upgrade the CPU, simply switching the hardware would have sufficed instead of purchasing a whole new computer like a laptop.[6]

Peripherals[edit | edit source]

Unlike laptops, desktop computers do not have an integrated peripheral like a monitor and keyboard. Regardless of this, desktop gamers have the ability to choose between which peripherals are needed for them. Even though laptops have integrated peripherals, it is very common for it to be either low quality or not as good performance wise to external peripherals. For instance, laptops keyboards are only limited to chiclet style keyboard (there are some with mechanical keyboard) compared to an external keyboard which has the option for a mechanical, membrane, and optomechanical keyboard. likewise, the majority (not all) of the monitor integrated into laptops comes with a 60hz refresh rate panels with high input lag compared to the choices of 120hz, 144hz, and even 200hz refresh rate panels with low input lag (as low as 1ms response time) that external monitor offers.[7]

Cost[edit | edit source]

Both gaming desktop and laptop are priced differently; for instance, the cost of a gaming desktop is determined by the prices of each hardware component like CPU, GPU, and etc. Unlike a desktop, however, gaming laptop's cost is fixed since it is incapable of taking apart certain hardware components. In other words, laptops are sold as a whole unit meaning every piece of hardware component are built-in and non-removable or non-upgradable. By comparing the prices of a similarly specced gaming desktop and gaming laptop, it is evident that the cost of purchasing a gaming laptop is more costly compared to building a gaming desktop. These are the specification for both gaming desktop and laptop (by comparing the most similar specification possible)[8]:

Gaming Desktop Razer Blade 15
CPU Intel Core i7-8700k Intel Core i7-8750H
GPU Nvidia GTX 1060 Nvidia GTX 1060-Max Q
RAM 16 GB 2666MHZ 16GB 2600MHZ
Storage 128GB + 1TB 128 + 1TB

And the table below illustrates the total cost of both gaming computers[9]:

Custom Built Desktop (Cost) Razer Blade 15 Laptop (Cost)
CPU $ 299.99 -
GPU $ 199.99 -
RAM $ 89.99 -
Storage $ 44.89 -
PSU $ 32.67 -
Others $ 295.74 -
Total Cost $ 963.27 $ 1599.99

On the 'others' column, we factored in external monitor, a case, external keyboard and mouse, air cooler, and operating system (OS) to make the comparison as identical as possible. The data shows that gaming laptop is conspicuosly more expensive to a similarly specced gaming desktop with a cost difference of $ 635.73. Note that the prices may fluctuate depending on the time of purchase; visit The Razer Store and PCpartpicker for the most updated prices.

External Links[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Graphics Card Comparison - Head 2 Head. (24 February 2019). Retrieved from
  2. UserBenchmark: Intel Core i7-8700K vs i7-8750H. (24 February 2019). Retrieved from
  3. tomshardware (24 February 2019). Liquid vs. Air Cooling - Liquid Wins, but Not for the Reason You Think. Retrieved from,4597-4.html
  4. Overclocking a laptop bad idea?? | Overclockers Forums. (24 February 2019). Retrieved from
  5. Gavin Bonshor, I. (24 February 2019). Overclocking The AMD Ryzen APUs: Guide and Results. Retrieved from
  6. 5 reasons I still use a big, heavy desktop that sits in one room while everyone else is going mobile. (24 February 2019). Retrieved from
  7. accessed 28 February 2019
  8. Razer - For Gamers. By Gamers. (24 February 2019). Retrieved from
  9. Pick parts. Build your PC. Compare and share. - PCPartPicker. (24 February 2019). Retrieved from