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How to choose a gaming laptop: five things you need to know

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How to choose a gaming laptop: five things you need to know

Gaming is all about experience. Whether you’re playing Fortnite or Baldur’s Gate 3, being fully immersed is essential, and that means you need a laptop that can deliver. Exactly which depends largely on the demands of the games you enjoy playing, says expert Elenore Li, events coordinator at the University of Warwick’s esports centre, where gamers gather to compete and play. But whether you’re at the top or just starting out, there are certain technical requirements everyone should know about…

What am I looking for in a laptop for gaming?
If there’s one thing that takes your gaming experience from good to great, it’s the speed of your computer, as this affects how seamlessly you can play and how realistic the graphics look. Performance comes down to three key elements: the CPU (central processing unit), which is essentially the ‘brain’ of the computer; RAM (Random Access Memory), which stores data that must be quickly accessed by the computer to perform operations, almost like our short-term memory; and the computer’s GPU (graphics processing unit), which produces the images you see on the screen.

What makes a powerful gaming laptop?
There’s nothing worse than being at a crucial point in a game (halfway through a race or halfway through a shootout) when everything comes to a standstill. It’s a sign that your computer doesn’t have the power you need for the games you play. If your central processor, RAM, or graphics unit are underpowered, you’ll experience slow loading speeds and frame rates (the frequency at which frames are displayed in a video sequence). The higher the frame rate, the smoother a scene looks, and the faster the loading speeds, the smoother the transitions between scenes.

When you want to buy a laptop, processing power is one of the first things you should consider. The CPU, the main processor, usually contains several cores: the processing units that execute instructions. The more cores a CPU has, the more tasks it can process simultaneously. A “quad core” processor is good enough for some laptops, but eight or more are best for gaming. But if you’re looking for great performance, how about 16? The Samsung Galaxy Book4 Ultra, which has just been released, comes with the option of two processors, the new Intel Core Ultra 7 and Intel Ultra 9, both with powerful 16 cores.

High-quality audio keeps you immersed in the action

The amount of RAM also matters, as increasing it will make your gaming experience seamless. With too little RAM, a game will seem slow, jittery and annoying. A minimum of 16GB of RAM is recommended in a gaming laptop, but more is better, hence the Samsung Galaxy Book4 series starts at 16GB but offers a 32GB option in the Galaxy Book4 Ultra version.

The final piece of the power puzzle is the graphics processing unit, which allows for higher quality visuals and smoother gameplay. A dedicated GPU, rather than one integrated into the CPU, is key to improving performance, especially if you want to play demanding titles like Red Dead Redemption 2. Here, the Galaxy Book4 Ultra delivers with a choice of two highly regarded NVIDIA RTX graphics processors.

For Li, the gaming experience depends on the capabilities of all these factors together.

Her advice is to compare your system’s specs to a game’s hardware requirements and try out your favorite game on the laptop you’re considering buying, or try a game that has powerful demands, like Baldur’s Gate 3.

What screen size is best for gaming?
Li suggests at least 15.6 inches, which means the Galaxy Book4 Ultra’s 16-inch screen meets the requirements. She recommends buying a laptop with a screen resolution of at least 1080p and a refresh rate, the frequency at which the screen updates every second, of 120 Hz. Because the Galaxy Book4 series’ screen resolution is 3K, it offers an enhanced experience for all gamers, but especially those who enjoy first-person games, where a player sees the world from their character’s perspective.

To create more realistic images, the new laptops use AI in combination with more powerful graphics processing units. Vibrant colors and a touchscreen that’s clearly visible in bright conditions add to its appeal.

In addition to a great screen, good audio is a must for gamers, hence the addition of top quality speakers, plus studio-quality microphones with AI noise cancellation to ensure realistic sound and minimize distractions.

How do I ensure my laptop is compatible with gaming hardware?
With a laptop, portability is essential so that you can easily take it with you. But that doesn’t mean you don’t want to use a range of hardware, such as an external screen, controllers, a charging base, headsets and other accessories. That’s why you need a laptop with plenty of ports, and the Galaxy Book4 series laptops each have two Thunderbolt 4 ports as well as USB, HDMI, and headphone and microphone jacks.

What is the most important factor when choosing a gaming laptop?
If you’ve made sure you have a decent central processor and graphics processing unit, a good amount of RAM, and a quality screen, then you probably have a good gaming laptop. Some may suggest that a 4K display is necessary, but when balancing costs, the graphics processor is more important, so you should prioritize this.

The great thing about laptops is their portability – a factor that is important to Li, who wants to take hers with her everywhere. Previously, this might have meant losing some key elements of a great gaming laptop. But the latest machines on the market mean portability doesn’t mean sacrificing performance.

To learn more about which Samsung Galaxy Book4 laptop is the right choice for your gaming needs, visit samsung.com/uk/galaxy-book

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