Is a gaming laptop good for programming In 2021?

Gaming laptops are by far suited for high-performance tasks; however, their added benefits in terms of programming is still a debate, one’s need to take part

Alright, so you’re probably a student or a tech enthusiast who is possibly going to start learning a programming language at some point and require a laptop.

If that’s the case, a gaming laptop has probably crossed your mind, and you’re debating whether it’s a wise investment in the long term. Will it be able to give the same level of performance while compiling your code, and will this impact your ability to learn to program? These are some of the concerns that you will most likely have in this regard.

Being a full-time student who used a gaming laptop for a little under a year, I think I know what it is like to use a gaming laptop good for programming. And being able to taste both worlds, I think I know what is good and bad for each side and can more likely answer whether a gaming laptop is good for programming in 2021 or is it just not worth it. So, without taking much time, let’s get straight into it!

Gaming laptop Vs a Regular laptop

gaming laptop vs regular laptop

Before we get into the merits of a gaming laptop for programming, it’s important to define what a gaming laptop is and how it differs from a standard machine. Right off the bat, gaming laptops are, on the most part, similar to your average machine (laptop) but are equipped with added features.

As the name suggests, they are manufactured for high-end gaming needs or tasks requiring greater performance. They differ from their traditional counterparts based on the overall setup.

Gaming laptops come with the best CPUs, higher RAM configuration, faster and efficient storage, and performance-driven graphic cards. Nowadays, these laptops are available in a wide range of designs; however, most share gamer aesthetics.

You can often find them with RGB or over-the-edge ergonomics, which separate them from any normal portable machine. They share the same OS and run similar applications of any modern computer; just their added configuration makes them stand out.

General Specs Of a Gaming Laptop

The majority of the gaming laptops are equipped with specs like;

  • A top of the line CPU such as Intel Core i5 / i7 H Series
  • Almost all of them share a performance-driven dedicated GPU (mostly from Nvidia) like a GTX 1000 or RTX 2000 series.
  • A fast-paced SSD (256GB or more) that is sometimes coupled with an HDD
  • Large cooling ducts or overall sturdy-looking cooling setup
  • 8GB or more RAM

Are Gaming Laptops Good for Programming tasks?

Gaming Laptops Good for Programming

Before we move on, let me clear the confusion once in for all. Is a gaming laptop good for programming? Well, of course, they are but do they act as an absolute requirement for programming?

Well, not quietly. As you see, a gaming laptop behaves much like a luxury, which can deliver you almost desktop-level performance packed in a portable casing.

If you plan on using system-intensive utilities like Visual Studio or indulging yourself in android app development, then it’s a must-have unit, but for any Python programmer, it is basically like owning a Lamborghini.

Nowadays, basic level programming can be achieved on almost anything. Even an entry-level Raspberry Pi is powerful enough to compile code and give you decent results.

Unless you are doing machine learning or advanced-level simulations, you don’t need to spend a huge sum of cash.

With that said, if budget is not a concern and you are someone like me who likes to have the taste of the latest and greatest hardware, then, of course, you can definitely get yourself a gaming laptop today.

Just don’t spend something crazy like $2000 plus on your machine; other than that, you’re good to go. The added RAM that comes with gaming machines will probably help you out in the long run.

The software industry is evolving rapidly, which means memory-related complications are now more common than ever before. Even an 8GB laptop slows down quite often if there are even multiple tabs open in Chrome.

So, yes, this is something that makes these machines quite suited for programming-related tasks.

Common Limitations of a Gaming Laptop on Programming 

Programming on a gaming laptop might not always be sunshine and rainbows. Here are some common challenges programmers face while coding on a gaming laptop;

1)   Higher Power Consumption / Shorter Battery Timing  

First and foremost, gaming laptops have greater power consumption than any casual laptop on the market. Due to limited space in the construction, many gaming laptops can’t unite larger batteries.

Even somehow, if you can adjust the sturdier battery, you have to remove the hard disk drive, which is not convenient. The CPU included in gaming laptops operate on higher TDP in order to boost its clock speed during any kind of task.

That’s why it draws a huge sum of power output to maintain its performance.

So, in short, as the laptop itself consumes much higher power, so the overall battery backup isn’t ideal. You can expect a maximum of 4-6 hours of battery timing in moderate usage; after that, they will require a recharge.

This isn’t ideal for programmers or full-time developers who require reliability, especially while they are traveling.

2)   Greater Weight

Another factor that causes a lot of inconvenience for an average programmer or a student is the overall weight. Gaming laptops are often bulky in construction as they utilize durable components.

They might feel a bit uncomfortable if you plan on using them on your lap in the long run. Of course, you can find models which are quite compact in ergonomics and could be utilized as a casual laptop.

Still, the general notion is that you will mostly bargain machines that reside in the bulkier spectrum. So, if you want to maintain portability, it’s ideal to go for traditional laptops as they are thin and lightweight compared to gaming machines.  

3)   Considerable Noise Levels

Gaming laptops not only consume higher power and draw greater heat but also generate quite a lot of noise, especially compared to their casual counterparts.

As these laptops are designed in a small cramped space, they can get really loud, which is not ideal for someone who is looking for productivity.

They also have smaller fan blades compared to full-fledged desktop machines, which will wear up rapidly and produce additional noise at a higher pitch.

And I can assure you that it can get pretty annoying and off-putting if your gaming laptop has a poor acoustic setup. Of course, you could utilize headphones, but it won’t completely solve the issue.

Things to Consider When Choosing a Gaming Laptop for Programming

Choosing the best budget laptop for programming is not easy, especially if you’re looking in the gaming spectrum. Several things need to be considered, like performance, reliability, and overall configuration.

So, to give you that added peace of mind, let’s talk about some of the common aspects of gaming laptops that every programmer should go through before finalizing their decision;

Cooling Performance

It’s no surprise that gaming laptops are pretty beefed up in terms of their internal specs, which tend to generate a bit of heat as compared to their casual counterparts.

The majority of them use multi-core processors that are no doubt performance-driven but tend to heat up pretty quickly. Besides that, the “Turbo boost” further speeds up the clock speed at the cost of added power consumption as well as high thermals.

That’s why we would recommend you to find a gaming laptop that is equipped with optimal cooling performance. You can even go for a beefed-up cooling system, but keep in mind that the overall weight may fluctuate.

Battery

The battery performance of any laptop is measured in Watt-hour or WHr, so the greater the WHr output, the greater the battery timing or vice versa. Besides that, the battery output also depends on the type of programs that you’re running and the system configuration.

If you’re using a dedicated GPU, such as in the case of gaming laptops, you won’t be able to get optimal battery backup.

Although companies are trying to cramp up as much as power output in their gaming laptops, even models like the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 are equipped with more than 11 hours of battery timing.

So, as a programmer, you definitely need a solid battery performance but make sure that it doesn’t amount to a heavier setup.  

Keyboard

If you’re a programmer, one of the things you definitely need to look for in your machine is the keyboard. Trust me, being a programmer, you will spend a lot of time compiling code, which is why you need a premium keyboard that is comfortable to type but contains decent keystrokes.

It should be backlit enabled and have a tactile feel to it. Nowadays, gaming laptops come with pretty beefed-up keyboards, which is kind of frustrating. So, my advice is to look for a minimalistic keyboard model without mushy keys and a solid trackpad.

RAM

Conversely, the more RAM your setup has, the greater number of programs you will be able to run simultaneously without experiencing any input lag.

Now a majority of programmers won’t be requiring that much RAM, with a few notable exceptions. If you’re a mobile developer or someone who’s running Apple’s Swift, then even 8GB RAM won’t compensate.

You will find 8GB as a minimum standard in a large sum of budget laptops; however, we would recommend opting for 16GB as it’s a reasonable investment for coders in the long run. Besides that, make sure that the laptop you pick has upgradability for accessories like RAM.

Our Recommendations for the Best Laptops for Gaming & Programming Students

Taking into consideration the above aspects, here are some of our recommendations for gaming laptops that are optimal for programming;

1)   Acer Aspire 5

Acer programming laptop for students

At number spot, we have the Aspire 5 gaming laptop from none other than Acer. If you’re looking for an all-in-one unit bound to deliver superb performance while still retaining slim ergonomics, you can’t go wrong picking this model.

Unlike traditional gaming machines, it packs a sleek design that is equipped with a backlit enabled tactile keyboard and a full IPS display.

Acer Aspire 5 is available in a wide range of AMD processors; however, the base model shares Ryzen 3 3200U, which is still a quality CPU. You will be getting a 128GB PCIe NVMe SSD in terms of storage space, which can deliver fast boot time.

On top of that, it’s well equipped in the IO section, featuring 1x USB 3.1, 2x USB 2.0 ports, and a single HDMI output.

              PROS                CONS
Optimal power consumptionPackaged with only 4GB DDR4 Memory (however, it’s upgradable)
Lightweight and affordableEnabled with Windows in safe mode
Quality keyboard and a decent trackpad 

2)   Acer Nitro 5 Gaming Laptop

Acer Nitro 5 Gaming Laptop

If you’re a Python developer as well as a part-time gamer and want an over the edge experience, then the Acer Nitro 5 should be definitely in your league.

It comes equipped with all the bells and whistles that you see in a traditional gaming laptop but with added convenience. Right off the bat, it gives you a solid 8-9-hour battery backup which is hard to find in gaming accessories.

While in terms of hardware, you will be getting a 10th gen Core i5 coupled with NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Ti.

Conversely, a prime 256GB NVMe SSD and 8GB DDR4 memory are added for performance-driven functionality. It is also well-equipped in cooling power, featuring Acer CoolBoost Technology with dual fans along with exhaust ports.

Moving on to the keyboard, it’s backlit enabled and has a decent configuration.

              PROS                CONS
Performance-driven machineThe cooling system can get a bit loud during intense application
Amazon’s Choice in terms of gaming laptopsIts keyboard is of mediocre quality
Full HD 15″ IPS display 

Conclusion

So, there you have it. In general, before you go shopping for your next laptop (whether gaming or casual), you need to ask yourself how long will this product actually last me?

Because the thing with desktop computers is that you can easily recycle their bits and upgrade their components later down the road. This means you can even use the same casing, power supply, and even the same motherboard.

The only things you need to spend cash on are in the CPU and the graphics department. Unfortunately, on the laptop side of things, it’s significantly harder to get the upgradability.

Sure, you will be able to add a new hard drive or simply swap out the ram for higher capacity; it is quite harder to upgrade the core components.

FAQs

Q1. Can gaming laptops be utilized as casual laptops?

Of course, gaming laptops are quite similar in their configuration with their casual counterparts, so any work that casual laptops perform, the gaming variant can definitely achieve, often far better.

Q2, How long do gaming laptops last?

In terms of the hardware side of things, a gaming laptop can easily last you 4-5 years; after that, they become somewhat obsolete.

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