Updated: Oct 8, 2020
Gaming technology has long been ridiculed as being nothing more than a trendy way of saying something is better just because it has ‘Gamer’ in its name. This article will go over the comparison between gaming and consumer offerings that have recently competed to get market attention. The recent pandemic has caused the world to go into work, study, and collaborate from home situations. This has caused the demand for laptops to skyrocket and in many places the supply to diminish; his also has caused a shift in what you should value in a laptop.
Generally speaking, laptops can be divided into four categories;
Niche/Special Form Laptops (2-in1, Detachables, Always Connected, etc)
The main criteria that these laptops play around are price, performance, and usability. Since this article is more focused towards a budget-minded audience; we will exclude in-depth discussion of pro-sumer and niche categories. We will cover the two main categories that are competing for the spotlight, Gaming VS Consumer laptops.
The mid-range price sector gaming laptop is a strong candidate for anyone looking to get work done and isn’t concerned with portability or battery endurance for their money. Anything from the likes of #Lenovo Legion Series (Y530, Y700, Y50-70), #Dell G series (G5 5587, G7 7588) and #HP Pavilion #Gaming Series are strong options in this field. Not long ago, gaming laptops with hefty GPUs in them used to be very expensive and hence turned away many customers but ever since the pro laptop market has boomed resulting in well over top of 1,500 USD laptops; the mid-range gaming laptops that are usually around 700-100 USD have become a top pick for many creators and enthusiasts.
So what should you expect if you do decide to go down this path?
Strong Performance: given reasonable expectations and the price you are paying, gaming laptops outperform any equally priced consumer or #prosumer laptops. They usually have the non-mobile version of the #Intel processors that end in the suffix ‘H’ or ‘HK’ rather than the ‘U’ you will see in most thin and light laptops. Gaming laptops also have a dedicated GPU, be that as it may a mobile version, for your graphical needs for any kind of pro editing or rendering work at a smaller scale.
Hardware Life: Gaming laptops are usually built hefty with big components and not care for slimness at this price range. The benefit of having such kind of hardware is the strength and endurance it comes with, most gaming laptops will stand the test of time and won’t get damaged or broken easily. Having better-performing components from the get-go also means that the #laptop has better future-proofing.
Customization: The modern thin and lights are bound by their design to have most stuff soldered onto their boards but most gaming laptops still have modular components. Changing the #RAM or #storage of your device is a couple of screws away which can be done at home at a reasonable price.
Weak Battery: Given that most gaming laptops have a non-mobile processor and that Intel has poor optimization with the windows #OS, battery life is nowhere to be found on such machines. If you are doing anything that engages the #CPU and #GPU of a laptop, don’t expect anything more than 2-3 hours at reasonable screen brightness.
Lack of Mobility: Gaming laptops are usually already pretty hefty as it is but what adds even more pounds to the pounds is the weight of the charging brick. Since gaming laptops are so power-hungry, they require something that can drive that power also and usually a charger being 0.5-1.5kg is not surprising.
Display Quality: This may be a mixed bag depending on your pick but usually gaming laptops offer at least full HD 1920x1080 resolution displays and can have higher refresh rates at this price bracket. Something to keep in mind is that they usually don’t have the most accurate colors or decent brightness levels.
An easy way to define what a consumer laptop is to flip over the definition of a gaming laptop. A not so well built, lightweight, and not so powerful machine with strong battery endurance and mobility advantages (Do note that this definition again applies to the mid-range sector, 500-800USD). The likes of Lenovo #Ideapad and G Series, Dell 3000 Series and 5000 Series, HP #Pavilion and #ProBook series. These laptops are meant for the average user or corporate give off as they meet the basic needs of most users. When it comes to value for money, honestly speaking unless you do really need something portable, you are basically paying for a glorified web browsing machine that can run basic windows applications for your day to day usage.
The key characteristics of such laptops are below:
Mobility: The biggest reason consumer laptops have been so successful is the mobility they offer, they usually have plastic bodies and are light. The laptops and the chargers are meant to offer portability. The target audience is students moving around a lot or corporate employees who require bulk hardware. Most consumer laptops will give you no problems when it comes to getting work done on the go.
Battery Endurance: Keeping the theme of mobility, most consumer laptops have a weaker ‘U’ processor which offers a better battery life at the cost of raw power. Coupled with that a flexible brightness settings and no dedicated GPU results in a laptop that could easily last you 4-5 hours on a full charge. Obviously the more premium category laptops such as the #MacBook Pro and Dell XPS top that number due to their intelligent engineering and software optimization.
Repairability: Since these laptops are usually sold in large stocks all over the nation, their parts for repair and maintenance are easily available. You will often see years later an older generation laptop from the consumer section will still be relevant and is commonly found among hand-me-downs or the second-hand market. Also since these laptops are focused on modular designs, upgrading their RAM and Storage is also a smart decision for performance improvements.
Availability: Consumer laptops are commonly available at literally every computer store you can put a finger on, the market is flooded with ideal specifications and is readily available at your friendly neighborhood laptop store. Another surprising fact is that a lot of these laptops do have official warranty support unlike specially imported laptops like your typical gaming series or special series laptops.
Short Life: The hardware of a consumer laptop is often cheap plastic that looks nice but often lives bad. Just remember to treat your laptop nicely and especially take care of the hinge as that is the primary failure point for most laptops in this category.
Weak Performance: The worst for the last, just don’t expect these laptops to perform or even play games at any decent level. They don’t have a dedicated GPU usually and have weaker low power processors. Keeping realistic expectations, know this fact that if you get a laptop in this category, you are opting into just work docs and watch Netflix on it.
As it stands, the consumer laptop market is saturated and filled with options. They dominate the corporate and entry sector markets, giving little or no room for other players to enter into this price category. They also offer good after-sales service and off the shelf support (junkyard support) for many to consider them as long life partners.
Gaming laptops on the other hand; saw a rise in its market share over the last couple of years due to massive improvements in mobile processors and graphic cards; this pandemic just pushed the demand through the roof for them. The two biggest reasons gaming laptops used to be taunted for were, the bulk and the battery. Since everyone is spending more time now at home than ever, the boost in freelancing, self-employment and widespread availability of online learning tools to help people learn professional computer-based skills; gaming laptops are now an exceptional candidate for your at-home plugged in the wall companion, which you can take for not so frequent trips. The only slight issue is their initial price and lack of repairability in the rare case they do get damaged. With more demand though, the price can be expected to match the consumer category and that in turn will generate better support and repairability in the long run. Lastly, the corporate sector will usually never turn to gaming laptops to maintain their image of seriousness but since most gaming laptops are adopting less obnoxious styling schemes, that may as well change too.
What do you think about the pros and cons listed here for the respective categories?
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Kindly note that this guide focuses on laptops only, we do know that #desktops are better when it comes to raw value, but this guide is meant for what is easily available for people who want mobility.
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