Choosing the right laptop for your needs as a game developer or game designer is more important than your average run of the mill job. You need to take into account both your laptops processing power and your laptops graphical capabilities, both of which will be required when working on games.
Why a laptop you might ask? While it’s true that you will get the best performance for your money with a traditional desktop PC setup, many aspiring game developers and designers will need to be able to work on the move and won’t have the luxury of a permanent workspace they can use all the time. This article is focused on what to consider when finding a gaming laptop that doubles up as an efficient game development and design system.
The primary reason for needing a graphics card is for testing out your game – you’ll need to be able to constantly test and check for issues in the live rendering of your game. Without a graphics card, testing out your work becomes virtually impossible as you’d need to ask a friend or use another PC just to be able to test changes you’ve made to your game.
Luckily, if you are creating a relatively basic game, your graphical requirements will be lowered accordingly, though as a general rule you definitely want to invest in a graphics card that will be able to play your game on its highest possible graphical settings.
Integrated Graphics vs. Dedicated Graphics
Gone are the days when a dedicated graphics card was the only option for getting half-decent gaming performance. Today’s CPU’s usually come with ‘integrated’ graphics, meaning a graphical processing engine that is bundled in with your CPU a topic explored in more depth in our recent guide to the best gaming laptops under $500.
Although usually very limited performance-wise, many newer graphics cards from the likes of AMD have been sporting more powerful integrated graphics such as the new Radeon RX Vega 8 and Radeon RX Vega 10 graphics which offer performance on-par with entry-level dedicated graphics cards. AMD based laptops with these integrated graphics units often for as low as $500 – $600.
If you are on a serious budget, this may just be your best option to save some cash as laptops with dedicated graphics cards usually cost quite a bit more. If you decide to go the dedicated graphics route, the cheapest integrated graphics at the moment is the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 card which comes in many laptops around the $700-800 range.
Your laptops CPU is another important piece of the puzzle as without a fast enough processor your laptop will struggle to compile and render code fast enough. This can lead to severe wait times, slowing down your development, and throwing you out of the groove.
Luckily processors have advanced in leaps and bounds over the past few years and leading processors from AMD and Intel offer some excellent performance on laptops. That said, if you are on a budget you will undoubtedly need to compromise as performance will always be limited compared to a desktop gaming development station.
If you are on a budget look out for CPU’s such as the Intel Core i5-9300H if you are going with dedicated graphics or one of the aforementioned RX Vega powered CPU’s which offer both solid processing power and powerful integrated graphics.
Though choosing the right laptop isn’t easy, taking the time and effort to look over the requirements for the kinds of games you hope to be producing and playing will go a long way to ensuring your laptop has what it takes and will help you avoid choosing the wrong laptop. There’s no worse scenario than taking the plunge on a new laptop or PC only to find out it doesn’t have what it takes to get the job done.