How to choose a gaming laptop: Everything you need to consider

Articles: Guides
Feb 02, 2024 Written by:ROG Article

So you've decided to buy a new gaming laptop. Maybe your current one can't keep up with the latest games, or you’re brand new to the glorious world of PC gaming. No matter your reasoning, we’re here to help you narrow down your search. Understanding how to choose a gaming laptop is crucial, as this will be your main tool in the vast gaming universe. Here are a few key considerations that ensure you pick the exact right machine for your setup. 

A machine that moves with you: form factor and portability

A man sliding the grey Zephyrus G16 into a carrying case.

How important is portability to you? While it might seem like a 2.6kg ROG Strix SCAR 16 and 2.2kg ROG Flow X16 weigh nearly the same, if you’re carrying the machine from place to place in a backpack all day, every gram matters. If you’re on your feet less often, or the laptop will spend more time on a desk, this is less of a concern, and a larger laptop can get you a more immersive screen with better performance (or a lower price).  

Here’s another form factor consideration: will you have an external display? Our ROG Nebula displays are gorgeous, but a 13-inch Flow X13 simply doesn’t have the same amount of real estate as the larger Strix SCAR 18. If you plan to solely use the laptop’s primary display, consider whether all of your applications will fit comfortably on a smaller panel, or if you should opt for a larger machine. For those of you with a secondary monitor or portable display like the ROG Strix XG17AHPE, though, you have much more flexibility in form factor.  

What kind of battery life do you require? Anyone who spends most of their time with their laptop in the comfort of their gaming den, only occasionally taking their system on the road, might be best served by a laptop that prioritizes performance and screen size over battery life and portability. If that sounds like you, an ROG Strix laptop might be your best bet. On the other hand, you might be in the market for a laptop that's as ready to travel as you are. ROG Flow and Zephyrus laptops deliver great gaming experiences in thin-and-light designs that go anywhere, and they're optimized to give you longer active times away from a power outlet. 

Finally, it’s a good idea to sweat the little stuff. While not always the most glamorous features, a keyboard and trackpad can make or break the usability of a laptop, so you’ll want to consider them as well. While many cheap laptops have jumpy, inaccurate trackpads and inconsistent keyboards, all ROG laptops come with expansive trackpads that feature smooth and accurate tracking to keep you from ever missing a click. All our keyboards have deep travel and solid tactility, with backlighting that ranges from single color to 4-zone or per-key RGB. However, larger machines like the Strix SCAR 18 will have more room for large trackpads, as well as number pads and extra keyboard niceties. Other models like the Zephyrus Duo 16 and Strix G16 replicate that with a NumberPad built right into the trackpad for the perfect mix of space saving and usability. 

Ultra thin-and-light recommendations: Zephyrus G14, Flow X13, Flow Z13 
Immersive screens with beastly performance: Strix SCAR 16 and Strix SCAR 18 
Power meets portability: Zephyrus M16, Zephyrus G16 

Bring on the eye candy: refresh rate and resolution

The ROG Strix SCAR 16 on a table with two hands visible playing video games.

Size isn’t the only consideration when thinking about a laptop screen. Refresh rate and resolution are critical components of a gaming display, and depending on what you’re looking for, can dictate how much horsepower your system needs to take full advantage of the hardware. So next, it’s a good idea to narrow down your display options. 

Refresh rate dictates the amount of times a screen refreshes each second — higher numbers mean smoother motion. For example, a 144Hz display refreshes 144 times per second, which means it can show up to 144 frames per second (provided your PC can perform at that level). In fast-paced games like a first-person shooter, 144Hz will feel much more fluid and responsive than 60Hz, and 240Hz will feel like butter. Competitive gamers turn to high refresh rate displays for gaming to get an edge on their opponents, but even casual gamers can feel the difference. Anyone who enjoys high-octane gaming should consider a high refresh rate as one of their key display requirements. 

Response time is also an important consideration, especially for high-refresh displays. While the refresh rate determines how many frames per second a display can show, response time denotes how quickly the pixels can shift colors during that refresh. Slow response times can produce a trail of blur behind moving objects, making it harder to quickly aim and shoot at a faraway opponent. Most ROG laptops come with a response time of 3ms or less, ensuring crystal-clear motion that gives you an edge in battle. 

That covers motion, but the quality of each frame is determined by resolution, or the number of pixels in each frame. Higher resolutions mean sharper, higher-fidelity graphics, and is usually measured with two numbers: the number of pixels along the top by the number of pixels along the side. Assuming an aspect ratio of 16:9, a 1920x1080 (also called Full HD or 1080p) display has 2,073,600 total pixels, while a 2560x1440 (also called QHD or 1440p) display totals 3,686,400 pixels, and 4K (3840x2160) comes in with a whopping 8,294,400 pixels. Each jump in resolution has a significant increase in visual quality, with the hike from 1080p to 1440p nearly doubling the total amount of pixels in each frame. And since most ROG laptops come with extra-tall 16:10 displays, you actually get some extra space on the top and bottom of the screen (e.g. 2560x1600 instead of 2560x1440). 

So buying a machine with a higher resolution display is the clear winner, right? Well, kind of. Each additional pixel requires a bit more graphics power to render, so doubling the number of pixels doubles the graphical power required for the same refresh rate. This is why super high refresh displays are often paired with lower resolutions: as resolution increases, you will generally see a lower ceiling for your games’ framerate.  

Finally, is HDR on your radar? High Dynamic Range, or HDR, widens the range between the brightest whites and darkest blacks on screen, adding incredible realism with its ability to reproduce both incredibly bright highlights like the sun and dark-yet-detailed shadows inside of caves and other dimly lit areas. If you want to enjoy the most immersive content possible, with an image that truly pops off the screen, look for laptops with our stunning Nebula HDR displays powered by Mini LED panels, or our brand new Nebula Display featuring an OLED panel, available on the 2024 Zephyrus G14 and Zephyrus G16. 

Best high refresh rate gaming laptops: Strix SCAR 16, Strix SCAR 18, Strix G18, Strix G16 
Best HDR gaming laptops: Strix SCAR 16, Strix SCAR 18, Zephyrus M16, Zephyrus G14, Zephyrus G16 

Keep your gaming laptop cool: thermal performance and fan noise

Before you pick your hardware configuration, there’s a truly unsung hero in the equation: the cooling solution. Anyone can put the latest hardware into a sleek chassis, but without an equally high-powered cooling system integrated into the machine, you run the risk of thermal throttling and leaving performance you paid for on the table. (Or dealing with the loud screeching of your fan as it tries desperately to cool an overheating machine.) ROG machines leverage more than a decade of research and design to enable all our machines to run with unbridled performance. We call it ROG Intelligent Cooling

Strix machines lead the pack in terms of their cooling capacity. Thanks to their larger form factors, they can fit more fans, full-width heatsinks, and heatpipes than our other machines. They also use Thermal Grizzly’s liquid metal thermal compound on the CPU and GPU, a revolutionary material that can reduce chip temperatures by more than 15°C compared to traditional thermal pastes. As you can see in our TGP chart, Strix laptops leverage their incredible cooling potential to offer up to 175W of performance on the GPU, letting NVIDIA’s 40 Series GPUs truly shine. 

As machines get smaller and lighter, cooling becomes more difficult. But while some brands may settle for less-than-stellar cooling in a thinner form factor, we at ROG choose to get creative. Whether it’s the innovative Active Aerodynamic System Plus 2.0 system on the slim Zephyrus Duo 16, the vapor chamber on our 13- and 14-inch devices, or a strategically placed third fan, both the Zephyrus and Flow families of laptops outperform similar machines in their thin-and-light class without added noise or weight. While they won’t offer quite the same thermal and performance headroom as a Strix laptop, rest assured that ROG Intelligent Cooling will blow you away. 

Stay connected: wireless chips and port selection

A man playing games at his desk with an external monitor, keyboard, and mouse with the ROG Flow X13 hooked up to the XG Mobile external graphics card.

Your current laptop most likely uses Wi-Fi 5, a now-congested standard featuring two frequency bands filled with wireless devices, all competing for that limited spectrum. ROG laptops from 2022 and later come equipped with Wi-Fi 6E, the latest standard with access to the newly-unlocked 6GHz band. If you live in an area with multiple Wi-Fi networks or are struggling to keep a stable connection amongst your plethora of devices, upgrading your router to WiFi 6E and pairing it with a new ROG laptop may offer tangible benefits to your wireless workflow.  

As a final note, we recommend thinking about what kind of I/O you’re looking for. Do you only need a few USB ports, or are you willing to use a USB-C dock for larger ports like Ethernet? Is a dedicated HDMI port a must? Do you want as large a variety of ports as possible on the laptop itself? As a rule, Flow devices tend to have the fewest on-deck ports, but can be used in a wireless setup or with docks or like our XG Mobile for I/O expansion. Zephyrus laptops are the middle ground, with the most important ports like USB and HDMI in tow, while Strix machines have the most available I/O built right into the device.   

Lean and mean machines: Flow X13, Flow Z13, Zephyrus G14 
Most robust I/O: Strix SCAR 16, Strix SCAR 18, Strix G16, Strix G18 
Balanced connectivity: Zephyrus M16, Zephyrus G16, Zephyrus Duo 

Choose your horsepower: CPU, GPU, RAM, and storage


Once you’ve settled on the above features, choosing the rest of the hardware is incredibly simple. We make processor selection easy: there’s no need to choose between midrange processors and higher-end models. ROG’s entire 2023 lineup boasts flagship high core count CPUs from Intel and AMD, ensuring that you can’t go wrong no matter what machine suits your fancy. More powerful processors with higher core counts allow better performance particularly in open-world games, simulation titles, ray tracing, and other non-gaming tasks.

GPU horsepower is a different story. In broad strokes, NVIDIA’s 40 Series GPU lineup comes with four main performance tiers – entry-level, midrange, enthusiast, and halo tier. In wide strokes, the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4060 Laptop GPU is a great pairing for 1080p gameplay, a GeForce RTX 4070 Laptop GPU will easily handle 1440p, and a GeForce RTX 4080 or 4090 Laptop GPU would drive ultra-fast framerates at 1440p or 4K. Combine that with emerging tech like DLSS Super Resolution, Frame Generation, and Ray Reconstruction, and you should be able to dial in the performance you need for years to come. Note that the same GPU can vary in performance between two laptops depending on the power allocated to it; however, we publish the total graphics power of all or our laptops so you can make the most informed decision. All of our current-gen laptops also come with a MUX Switch to ensure your GPU isn't bottlenecked by its connection to the display for the highest framerate possible.

For pure gaming, 16GB of RAM is still plenty for most of the latest titles. Certain games benefit from more, but they are the exception, not the rule — if you aren’t sure, do some research on the games you play to see if you need more. However, those who like to keep multiple tabs open in a web browser, chat with friends on a voice call, and stream while in game, then 32GB of RAM is the best memory for gaming, and a much better option that should set you up for the future. Some of our laptops let you upgrade the RAM yourself, but not all, so we recommend buying what you think you’ll need for the future for best results. 

Finally, you’ll want to consider storage. The more storage you have, the more games you can keep installed at once (among other files, like music, movies, and photos). 512GB can get you started, but with modern games seemingly getting larger and larger every year, your library can fill up incredibly quickly. 1TB is a healthier place to start, with larger capacities available for those who know they need more long-term storage. Storage is user-upgradeable on all ROG laptops, so you do have wiggle room to add more later if you desire – but again, don’t under-buy if you think your storage needs may grow in the near future. 

King of the FPS Hill: Strix SCAR 16 with Intel Core i9-14900HX and NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4090 Laptop GPU 
Flagship performance with great value: Strix G16 with Intel Core i9 Processor 14900HX with NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4080 Laptop GPU 
Best for casual gamers with varied needs: Zephyrus G14 with AMD Ryzen 9 8940H and NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4070 Laptop GPU