Will You Be Buying A Gaming Notebook This Year?

Will You Be Buying A Gaming Notebook This Year?

The desktop graphics space hasn’t been that exciting in recent years, but all the improvements in power optimisation, fabrication processes and performance have not gone to waste. Now more than ever, lightweight, yet powerful gaming notebooks are becoming commonplace (and affordable) and while there’s still a way to go, getting grunt without sacrificing on portability is very realistic.

This post was originally published on Gizmodo Australia.

NVIDIA’s latest mobile GPU, the GTX 965M, debuted somewhat quietly at this year’s CES. As AnandTech’s Jarrad Walton notes, there’s nothing particularly exciting about the 965M — it’s based on the second-gen Maxwell GM204 and is a cut-down version of the 970M. However, it’s still a solid chip and if the 980M is any indication, will hold its own when it comes to demanding games. You might even be able to turn on pleasantries such as anti-aliasing without killing your frame rate.

Lightweight gaming notebooks however continue to suffer from two major issues — poor battery life and crotch-scorching temperatures. These are difficult problems to solve without radical changes in notebook design or a breakthrough in technology. For now, we’ll just have to settle for incremental improvements.

This is the path that NVIDIA has taken with its mobile GPUs. When the company updates its desktop hardware — the 700, 800 and now 900 series — the shift is often less dramatic in the notebook space. The 700 chips marked the transition from Kepler, to Fermi and Maxwell, while the 800 and 900 have be Maxwell-focused. The mobile chips have lagged behind, usually using a mix of new and old architectures, but the 900M series looks to be entirely Maxwell-based.

Gigabyte’s AORUS X5 has two 965Ms and while the benefits of dual mobile graphics in terms of performance, power usage and temperatures is debatable, the fact we have a notebook that can run GPUs in SLI and weight 2.5kg suggests we’re on the right track.

It’s going to be a while before you can play demanding (or even semi-demanding) games on your notebook and get five or more hours of battery life, but for those of us that want powerful, portable gadgets and don’t mind hovering near a power point, 2015 marks the time where we finally have a lot of real choices and instead of having to compromise on weight, screen resolution or performance, I’m predicting by the end of the year, we’ll be swimming in options.

You’ll still need to invest in a pair of asbestos pants though.

GeForece GTX 965M [NVIDIA, via AnandTech]


  • I don’t know about gaming, but we’re definitely seeing a netbook revival this year. HP Stream 11 is fantastic for the price ($300), and they’re only going to get better.

  • I wouldn’t call the machines specifically marketed as gaming laptops are necessarily affordable. You’re looking at 3-4k at least for a good one.

    I’ll stick to gaming on my desktop, which is cheaper and is easier to replace the hardware every few years.

    • I’m looking at the 15″ Alienware gaming laptop with the 980M and SSD for around $2100 plus $150 for ShipTo to ship it to Australia so about $1400 when compared to the Aussie site :/

      Just gotta look around. Though I may even hold off a bit longer and wait for prices to drop as affordablepcs have some good 980M laptops going for around $2400.

      • Mate I would avoid Alienware like the plague – I’m currently fighting with them after 5 services (2x motherboards, 2 x video cards, 4 x memory replacements) and it it still doesn’t work. This is on a 5k system (M18x). The service is absolutely appalling, and they won’t give me a new system or a refund. They use refurbished and/or inferior parts. I’ve had the absolute worst experience with their product and more so with their service.

        • That’s terrible mate, I bought an alienware m11x a few years ago and they replaced the internal components twice and the third time I got a really good tech who came to my house and, after speaking about my issues, he got me a brand new r2 system. It still works to this day however I refuse to buy alienware for this reason. Anyway I hope you get it sorted cos that is a lot of money!

          • Wow, I wish the techs I had would back me like that. The warranty is only as good as the paper it’s written on – and because I’m close to the end of my term they are trying to screw me.

          • Man that’s terrible you think that companies would care about the people dropping megabucks on their product! The tech was awesome he got on the phone at my house and said that the customer was very upset and annoyed as this was the third time etc. I wasn’t that upset and he was the one who suggested we call and get a brand new one! I would consider going to the ombudsman if you feel like you are getting screwed no point in waiting for the warranty to run out cos then your hands may be tied.

  • Definitely NOT a laptop (sif ppl bother to game on such insy winsy screens – what a waste)
    But I will be building another mini itx pc for the loungeroom for movies and steam streaming.
    Dragon Age 3 on 60 inches is pretty amazing.
    I am also liking some of the custom rigs being done placed onto flat boards that sit upright on a stand or wall in mini and micro itx.

  • I wound up buying an Asus G55 ROG a couple of years back and it has been brilliant. I barely use my desktop for gaming any more and my old sharehouse wound up being in a semi-continuous stat of LAN party so we all bought lappys and gamed in the dining room. Also makes going to LANs at mates’ places easy. I’ll probably convert my current desktop to a file-sharing server in the end.

  • Yeah, but it’s $2400 without OS, and you always feel like adding that extra SSD and maybe go for the SLI (+800)… so my Metabox is a cool $4000 worth… but it’s so sweet 🙂

    • yea, I also just bought Metabox, probably the best investment I made after Macbook Pro 2011. New Macbook Pro can’t keep up with the heavy work anymore. It’s a shame if they keep putting GTX 750M on newest macbook pro instead of going for something like 880M or even 900s series.

      Beside metabox, MSI laptop is also a decent choice. I would recommend to stay away from Alienware gaming laptop as well because most of the time they will ALWAYS have motherboard or video card problem. their spec also still too expensive comparing to MSI, Gigabyte or ASUS laptops.

  • Apart from upgrading the RAM or hard drive, laptops are pretty much stuck in the configuration you bought them in, so I tend to buy the <$1000 laptops and replace them every few years when they get too old or fall apart.

    My current laptop can play Dark Souls II on low settings but I mostly use it for work so a gaming laptop isn’t really required. I prefer a desktop machine for games.

  • The temperatures note really cannot be underestimated… Even with extended warranties, it is a pain in the ass to have to arrange to have your gaming laptop ‘repaired’ (read: new thermal paste) every 6 months or more often because their cooling is really not able to cope. Will be avoiding gaming laptops in a year or so when I can get a new desktop!

  • Nah.. I’ve never been really interested in laptops for gaming.. even if I found the most awesome laptop with the performance of my current setup, which is certainly not the highest spec available for desktop PCs, I just wouldn’t bother. I’d rather spend that money on upgrading my current PC.. though at this point I wouldn’t bother with that either. There’s no enough new parts to fully upgrade it yet. Won’t be long though.. maybe another 2 years.

    What I would consider is a portable PS4/XBOne.. and I mean a proper console that is portable with a 17″ screen setup in the same way as a laptop..

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