Gaming laptop vs gaming pc for AAA hi-end graphics games?

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lightheir
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Gaming laptop vs gaming pc for AAA hi-end graphics games?

Post by lightheir »

I know it's a bit weird to bring up this question, but it's not so obvious the answer anymore.

I have the budget and enough time (finally!) to get back into enjoying AAA hi-end video games. Stuff like Witcher 3-level graphics and the newest AAA titles. (Right now I'm still on a laptop with no graphics card that can't run any of them.)

I was hoping to buy a computer with a GTX1060 level card, which apparently can do all of this with aplomb, but doesn't cost the +200 or +400 over that that the GTX 1070 and GTX 1080 require. (I'm not planning to do VR.)

To my surprise, it seems that laptops with a GTX1060 cost essentially the same as desktops (sans monitor) with a GTX1060 build! The HD and a few accessories are better on the desktop, but the laptops are neck and neck with them, if not outright cheaper for nearly identical specs in certain cases! I was browsing cyberpowerpc.com to compare builds, but most gaming PC websites seem similar.

I was originally planning for a desktop so I could reduce fan noise and possibly upgrade the parts in the future, but honestly, I doubt with 90% certainty that I'll ever upgrade the parts - I'll likely get a new rig if it comes to that as I use PCs for 7+ years. I like the mobility of a laptop and I'm already used to a laptop + external monitor/mouse setup to emulate a desktop at home, which is what I'm using right now.

Anyone have any advice steering me toward the laptop vs desktop situation here given that prices and specs are similar? (Actually, the desktop price will likely be higher.)
Crisium
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Re: Gaming laptop vs gaming pc for AAA hi-end graphics games?

Post by Crisium »

Mining has inflated desktop GPU prices, so I'm not surprised.

Upgrading is the key for choosing desktop. You say 7+ years, but while that is suitable for the CPU and other components, it is not for the GPU. And the GPU is the most important if you want to play demanding games.

Nvidia GPUs in each performance bracket tend to increase in performance by around 50% every 2 years. CPUs gain 5-10% in that same time span. You can still use a 7 year old CPU, even for most demanding games, today. Many do, as the venerable i5 2500k turns 7 years old early next year. Though even for desktop the CPU has an advantage with higher clocks if you overclock with a custom cooler.

GPUs age much more since the performance still increases greatly. Many games are basically unplayable on the 2010-2011 GTX 460/560, and run at greatly reduced settings and performance on the 2012 GTX 660. If things continue, the 2016 GTX 1060 will have problems in the early 2020s. If you have a desktop you can pick up a GTX 3060, or whatever they will be called then, presumably for around the $200-$300 that bracket usually costs, instead of having to upgrade everything.

Of course, if portability matters than just get the laptop and live with the reduced settings in a few years, and hope you can still meet the minimum in 6-7.
pochax
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Re: Gaming laptop vs gaming pc for AAA hi-end graphics games?

Post by pochax »

you should check out this youtubers vids on these topics:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCCss3Q ... BAetIo0qXA

not only will he tell you exactly what you'll be getting, he'll guide you to the best deals on parts/components/etc.
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bogleblitz
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Re: Gaming laptop vs gaming pc for AAA hi-end graphics games?

Post by bogleblitz »

I've been gaming on a laptop for 10plus years. So I choose the laptop route.
Laptops are twice as expensive as desktops but I still choose laptop.
killjoy2012
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Re: Gaming laptop vs gaming pc for AAA hi-end graphics games?

Post by killjoy2012 »

I think you've already identified a couple of the downsides of hi-end laptops. Desktops are usually cheaper to build at the same spec level, are magnitudes more upgrade-able/serviceable, are better able to expel the hot air generated by hi-end VCs and CPU at lower volumes & quicker rates, don't require port replicators or docks for running multi-monitor setups, can support 3.5" HDD & optical media FFs, usually can support more RAM slots and total capacity, more ports (USB3, etc.), usually have better MB I/O bus performance, etc. etc. And while I've never done such a test, I think if you were able to do a performance test of an almost identically equipped desktop and laptop, the desktop would be the clear winner.

Laptops are portable - that's their main pro.

I'd also be a little concerned on the laptops service life. I don't think I've owned a laptop where the HDD/SSD or other hardware failure didn't occur within 3 years. A lot that probably has to do with portability and it getting bounced around, as well as heat.
mhalley
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Re: Gaming laptop vs gaming pc for AAA hi-end graphics games?

Post by mhalley »

I can't understand the love for laptops. They have limited upgrade potential, more easily damaged, smaller screen real estate, cramped keyboard, in general cost more than a desktop. Plus can be lost or stolen more easily. Sure, you can hook it up to a dock, but then why did you buy the laptop? If you don't need a laptop, i.e., have to physically move the entire pc from one location to another, the I suggest he getting a desktop and using a tablet or chromebook for portability.
I have bought many gaming desktops over the years, including falcon northwest, Alienware (before Dell) and the best one I ever bought was from Digital Storm, so I recommend pricing your pc there. They have laptops too, but no experience there. I still use it after many years, having upgrading the ram, sad and video card. I do more gaming on consoles now, but when the time comes for a new pc, I will buy there again.

http://www.digitalstorm.com/
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lightheir
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Re: Gaming laptop vs gaming pc for AAA hi-end graphics games?

Post by lightheir »

Just to reiterate -

The GTX 1060 laptops I'm referencing cost LESS than similarly-equipped desktops! So cost doesn't seem to be a factor in the initial purchase (but could be for upgrades.)

I was expecting the laptops to cost well in excess of desktops with the same GTX1060 GPU, but as stated, I was shocked to see that some of the similarly-spec'd laptops actually cost LESS than the desktop equivalent.
omgbirdman
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Re: Gaming laptop vs gaming pc for AAA hi-end graphics games?

Post by omgbirdman »

Are these price comparisons you looking based on a prebuilt Desktop vs a laptop? If you build it yourself and give yourself a bit of time to wait for sales on some components, I can't imagine you would come out anything less than a few hundred dollars ahead on building a desktop. Also, heat will be a concern for a laptop, and, as you mentioned, lack of upgrade ability. I built my latest PC with a GTX 1060 about a year ago, and I ran The Witcher 3 on max settings (minus hairworks) at a consistent 60 FPS.
Jags4186
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Re: Gaming laptop vs gaming pc for AAA hi-end graphics games?

Post by Jags4186 »

If you're going to be getting into an expensive hobby I suggest just going for it. It's not like we're talking about a $10,000 desktop vs a $1000 laptop. I'm sure the cost difference is under $1000 all in. Might as well just get what makes you happy.
tj218
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Re: Gaming laptop vs gaming pc for AAA hi-end graphics games?

Post by tj218 »

Only thing I would add is unless you plan on using a controller, going KB + Mouse is annoying on most laptops. Yes you could always get a Bluetooth keyboard but then your laptop keyboard is still in your line of sight.

If you do go the desktop route, build your own and Use pcpartpicker.com to compare PC part prices.
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mmmodem
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Re: Gaming laptop vs gaming pc for AAA hi-end graphics games?

Post by mmmodem »

I'm shocked as well. You'll have to show me what laptop and desktop you are comparing with similar components with the laptop costing less. Its difficult to believe.

I'm in the same market as you for a GTX 1060. However, I'm putting it into a Dell Optiplex 990 mini tower with an i7 2600 from eBay that cost me $158 last week. CPU advances since Sandy Bridge has been so incremental that a 1060 will perform nearly as well on an i5 or i7 Sandy Bridge processor as a new Kaby Lake or Ryzen CPU. The bottleneck is the 1060 so a faster CPU won't give you much more fps anyway. If you were thinking 1070, then we'll need a faster CPU.

A 3 gb 1060 is going for $210 today. Add a 430 watt PSU for the 6 pin PCIE power connector and that's about $400 for a 60 fps, ultra detail, 1080p AAA gaming rig. Microsoft is still signing windows 10 upgrades from windows 7 BTW.

I'm not going to pay inflated crypto mining prices for a 1060. So I'll wait until prices fall to at least $180 where it was before.
I'm hoping that happens by black Friday.

I keep my laptop thin, quiet, and light for laptop duties. A behemoth 10 pound, 15.6" GTX 1060 laptop with 1 hour battery life and excessive heat pouring out just will not work for me.
Last edited by mmmodem on Wed Aug 09, 2017 12:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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TXJuice
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Re: Gaming laptop vs gaming pc for AAA hi-end graphics games?

Post by TXJuice »

If you end up going with a desktop, make sure you look at pcpartpicker.com (if you didn't already know).
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lightheir
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Re: Gaming laptop vs gaming pc for AAA hi-end graphics games?

Post by lightheir »

Here's just one example of what I'm talking about with gaming laptops being on par if not outright cheaper than similar-spec'd gaming desktops.

LAPTOP (from cyberpowerpc) $999
https://www.cyberpowerpc.com/system/Bac ... r-II-15-VR
Intel i7-7700
16GB DDR4 RAM
GTX 1060 6GB
240GB SSD

DESKTOP (also from cyberpowerpc) $1319
https://www.cyberpowerpc.com/system/Bac ... -Special-I
Intel i5-7600
16GB DDR4 RAM
GTX 1060 6GB
120GB SSD + 1TB HD
Water Cooled (obviously the laptop doesn't have this, but the laptop is $300 less than the desktop)
Xpe
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Re: Gaming laptop vs gaming pc for AAA hi-end graphics games?

Post by Xpe »

lightheir wrote:Here's just one example of what I'm talking about with gaming laptops being on par if not outright cheaper than similar-spec'd gaming desktops.

LAPTOP (from cyberpowerpc) $999
https://www.cyberpowerpc.com/system/Bac ... r-II-15-VR
Intel i7-7700
16GB DDR4 RAM
GTX 1060 6GB
240GB SSD

DESKTOP (also from cyberpowerpc) $1319
https://www.cyberpowerpc.com/system/Bac ... -Special-I
Intel i5-7600
16GB DDR4 RAM
GTX 1060 6GB
120GB SSD + 1TB HD
Water Cooled (obviously the laptop doesn't have this, but the laptop is $300 less than the desktop)
Ordering from cyperpowerpc would be a mistake, they have a huge markup because they're selling essentially 'designer' builds. Plus the custom-loop liquid cooling system is hugely expensive. That loop looks like it has a 360mm radiator plus a 120mm radiator, plus pump, reservoir, and 4 120mm fans for the radiators. Edit: Also looks like it comes with PC + mouse, which you likely don't need.

If you go the desktop route, build your own PC. It'll be much cheaper and also has a number of advantages, the biggest being that if, in a few years, you decide you want to build a new computer, you can reuse your:
case
power supply
fans
hard drive
disc drives (if applicable)
operating system
peripherals (mouse, keyboard, speakers, usb hubs, etc)

which means you'd only need to buy:
motherboard
cpu
gpu
TheHouse7
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Re: Gaming laptop vs gaming pc for AAA hi-end graphics games?

Post by TheHouse7 »

Desktop FTW custom mouse, keyboard, are what I like. You could save some money building your own (or spend it on a upgraded GPU). There isn't a wrong answer unless you worry about battery life. :oops:
"PSX will always go up 20%, why invest in anything else?!" -Father-in-law early retired.
jharkin
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Re: Gaming laptop vs gaming pc for AAA hi-end graphics games?

Post by jharkin »

lightheir wrote:I was originally planning for a desktop so I could reduce fan noise and possibly upgrade the parts in the future, but honestly, I doubt with 90% certainty that I'll ever upgrade the parts - I'll likely get a new rig if it comes to that as I use PCs for 7+ years

"I want to play AAA graphically intensive games" x= " I keep my PC for 7 years and never upgrade"

If you expect to still be playing games in 7 years you will have at least upgraded the GPU a couple times. That's a vote for desktop even if prices are comparable.
dannyboy
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Re: Gaming laptop vs gaming pc for AAA hi-end graphics games?

Post by dannyboy »

Agree 100% with posters above who have recommended building your own computer. I did exactly that about four years ago, and it was a great learning experience -- plus I got a fantastic computer at the end of it! You mention that gaming laptops with a GTX 1060 cost about the same as a desktop with comparable graphics, but keep in mind that these likely have a GTX 1060M which is the mobile version of that GPU. If this is the case, it will have drastically lower graphics processing capacity. Even if it isn't the case, the only way you will attain desktop-like performance is by running your laptop at temperatures that would probably burn your lap if your computer weren't on a table. Add to that the fact that most high-end gaming laptops weigh 8-12 pounds and it becomes clear that gaming laptops are more expensive for less performance and are barely able to take advantage of the mobility that normally accompanies thinner, lighter laptops. They're also notoriously hard to upgrade, meaning your expensive computer will be obsolete in two years.

Your best bet is to do some research (I strongly recommend the Tom's Hardware forum, as I used to be a frequent contributor over there) and then pick parts and build your own desktop. Your next best option is to do the research, pick out the parts, and pay someone at an electronics store $50 to build it for you. Anything less hands-on than that and you'll start suffering from markups that are 10%-50% of the components' combined prices; the CyberPowerPC that someone posted earlier is a perfect example of an overpriced pre-built computer. I put my desktop together over four years ago, and while I don't game as much anymore, it still runs beautifully and I've been able to add a couple upgrades here and there (newer GPU, larger SSD, etc).

If you have any other questions about the desktop-building process, feel free to shoot me a PM. I wish you the best of luck in your computer hunt!
Danny
Crisium
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Re: Gaming laptop vs gaming pc for AAA hi-end graphics games?

Post by Crisium »

With the Pascal (1000 series) GPUs Nvidia has removed the M in the mobile gpu. It has the same specs, just tends to boost clocks less aggressively. The GTX 106 6GB in a laptop should perform within 2-3% of the GTX 1060 6GB Founders Edition desktop.

Though if you get a factory overclocked 1060 6GB with open air cooling it will be even faster. I'm just mentioning that mobile naming is more accurate today then ever.

Also keep in mind the 1060 3GB is slower than the 6GB due to reduced shaders; it's more than a memory deficit. I would never recommend the 3GB version for someone who wants a long time-span, either.

I still recommend desktop so you can upgrade GPU in several years.
alfaspider
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Re: Gaming laptop vs gaming pc for AAA hi-end graphics games?

Post by alfaspider »

Build your own desktop. You say you will wait 7-years and just buy new altogether, but I see little reason to do that. Many components can last more than 7 years like cases and power supplies. My gaming computer is Theseus' ship. It's been around in some iteration since around the year 2002. I've never replaced every component at once, but replace them as needed to continue to play AAA titles at an acceptable resolution and frame rate. That way, I'm never looking at a giant single expense to play a new title. The worst expense is a new GPU every 3-5 years. I tend to buy the best available in the $300 range, which is usually a step down from the flagship or two steps down from the uber money is no object edition. That tends to be the price/performance sweet spot.

I've never really understood the point of giant gaming laptops. They are way too big to lug around on any sort of regular basis, get laughably bad battery life if gaming, and you still are going to want another monitor or peripherals to play anything more demanding than an RPG. It's also worth noting that while they may theoretically have the same GPU as a desktop counterpart, the laptop versions are often underclocked either explicitly or implicitly through thermal management software. The laptop is also more likely to have component failure (given equal quality components) due to the additional heat build up in the confined case. It's not really the same price if you are going to shell out another $300-500 on a monitor, keyboard, and mouse.
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lightheir
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Re: Gaming laptop vs gaming pc for AAA hi-end graphics games?

Post by lightheir »

Ok, I was shying away from the self-build originally since I've found self-building stuff tends to take like 5-10x the number of hours that someone tells you it should take (just ask me how long it took me to build up a triathlon bike from the frame - it's SUPPOSED to take 1-2hrs if you know what you're doing.... :annoyed )

If anyone can point me to any recommended online build resources that look good to them based on their experience, feel free the point it my way!

Also, if there are any special tools I'll need, lemme know.

Oh, and I also forgot - one of the main reasons to go for a prebuilt system was for a 'work' tax writeoff. Yeah, I know, it should be pretty transparent that this is a GAMING not WORK computer but as I can writeoff one entire system of any price every 1-2 years that I purchase, I might as well go big!
Last edited by lightheir on Wed Aug 09, 2017 3:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
alfaspider
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Re: Gaming laptop vs gaming pc for AAA hi-end graphics games?

Post by alfaspider »

lightheir wrote:Ok, I was shying away from the self-build originally since I've found self-building stuff tends to take like 5-10x the number of hours that someone tells you it should take (just ask me how long it took me to build up a triathlon bike from the frame - it's SUPPOSED to take 1-2hrs if you know what you're doing.... :annoyed )

If anyone can point me to any recommended online build resources that look good to them based on their experience, feel free the point it my way!

Also, if there are any special tools I'll need, lemme know.
It's way easier these days than building a triathlon bike. The only tools you need are a Phillips screwdriver (a few heat CPU heat sinks may require a flathead too). I could take apart and rebuild my computer in 15 minutes taking my time. Most time consuming part is just installing Windows.

I don't see why you couldn't write off the price of a computer you purchased in pieces. If the whole computer is a business expense, then so are the components.
Xpe
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Re: Gaming laptop vs gaming pc for AAA hi-end graphics games?

Post by Xpe »

oh just as an aside since it seems like you might consider the build route -

definitely dont cheap out on the power supply or motherboard. and a good case will make your life easier as well.

if you live near a micro center, they're a great place to go for your first build. they have knowledgeable staff that will help make sure you get compatible parts and also can recommend parts that are a good value for the money. i think prices are reasonably good, though you could definitely get cheaper prices if you shopped around online and waited for sales etc.
mhalley
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Re: Gaming laptop vs gaming pc for AAA hi-end graphics games?

Post by mhalley »

Heh. When I was working as a physician I was allowed to use part of my continuing medical education stipend to purchase a computer so I could do cme online. It is amazing how much ram, CPU and gpu speed and hard drive space you need to access some online cme sites! :beer
If you do elect to build your own pc, Toms has several builds for different budgets.
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/bes ... ,4390.html
I was reading a digital storm pc review, and the reviewer talked about the price compared to building your own. I think he calculated it at $260. I thought it was well worth it, as the question is, who do you call with a pc problem you can't figure out on your own when you built the pc yourself? I didn't want that to happen, so I thought the extra :moneybag was worth it to me.YMMV
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lightheir
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Re: Gaming laptop vs gaming pc for AAA hi-end graphics games?

Post by lightheir »

Can someone estimate the time it would take a newb to build a gaming rig, provided that all the ordered parts arrive?
BlueCable
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Re: Gaming laptop vs gaming pc for AAA hi-end graphics games?

Post by BlueCable »

lightheir wrote:Can someone estimate the time it would take a newb to build a gaming rig, provided that all the ordered parts arrive?
For your first build, maybe two hours if things go well. Perhaps four if you need to do some troubleshooting.

I built my first PC last year. It was a lot of fun picking parts and putting it together. I highly recommend it if you want a gaming computer that will last you more than 4 years. In 3-4 years, you'll just need to get a new graphics card and you'll be able to run all the newest games again.
BlueCable
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Re: Gaming laptop vs gaming pc for AAA hi-end graphics games?

Post by BlueCable »

Here is the build I put together last year:
https://pcpartpicker.com/user/RedJersey/saved/4gsbvK

I built it originally without a dedicated GPU and played old PC games from Steam that I had never played before. Then in the spring, I bought a used GTX 970 after the next wave of GPUs were released.

Great resources:
https://pcpartpicker.com/guide/
http://www.logicalincrements.com/

If you decide to build, post your build here! I wish I could justify building another PC right now. It's a very fun project.
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mmmodem
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Re: Gaming laptop vs gaming pc for AAA hi-end graphics games?

Post by mmmodem »

BlueCable wrote:
lightheir wrote:Can someone estimate the time it would take a newb to build a gaming rig, provided that all the ordered parts arrive?
For your first build, maybe two hours if things go well. Perhaps four if you need to do some troubleshooting.

I built my first PC last year. It was a lot of fun picking parts and putting it together. I highly recommend it if you want a gaming computer that will last you more than 4 years. In 3-4 years, you'll just need to get a new graphics card and you'll be able to run all the newest games again.
Let's not sugar coat it.

It's 1-2 hours for me to build a computer and I've been building my own computer for 2 decades. If you want to assume I'm abnormally slow. Here's a video of a speed build a Youtuber did and it took him 20 minutes with used parts that were already unpackaged and he was fully familiar with using.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=skCmOWfesrs

For a noob, you're looking at 4 hours if you don't encounter issues. And if you do, the sky's the limit on how long it takes you to figure out what is wrong. If you have to ask the question, I don't recommend you build your own computer unless you have help to put it together. My friend had a faulty RAM module building his computer. Who knows how long it would've taken him and tech support to figure out the issue.
Jinwood
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Re: Gaming laptop vs gaming pc for AAA hi-end graphics games?

Post by Jinwood »

Many great deals on PC components can be found aggregated here: https://www.reddit.com/r/buildapcsales/

Sometimes there are laptops and pre-built desktops listed.

Takes a bit of time to get a sense of what is "good" vs "great" pricing. One could be surprised how far some of these notoriously expensive components can came down with a sale or other discount. Though GPU and RAM prices have been out of whack lately due to a couple of reasons.

Just a word of caution, sometimes the deals are so good, people pick them up without an specific need for it (guilty of that myself). To save yourself from that, go in with a budget. Then once you've acquired all your parts, stop looking at the thread and instead enjoy your gaming.

You can also bring your costs down by going for a mix of new and used components via r/Hardwareswap, or Craigslist (though the latter is useless in my area). You could also prowl the clearance or open-box section of places like Frys or Microcenter.
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lightheir
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Re: Gaming laptop vs gaming pc for AAA hi-end graphics games?

Post by lightheir »

lightheir wrote:Can someone estimate the time it would take a newb to build a gaming rig, provided that all the ordered parts arrive?

At the same time, how difficult is it to swap out a graphics card even if you didn't build the entire rig yourself?

I find the idea of swapping out single parts out of an already working build MUCH less risky than taking on a whole new build on your own (and not knowing if when it fails, it's the part, or your installation failure. Much easier to troubleshoot with one variable.)
tigermilk
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Re: Gaming laptop vs gaming pc for AAA hi-end graphics games?

Post by tigermilk »

Personally I'd go desktop, and I'd look higher than a 1060. When I built my PC a few years ago I bought a 770. 3 years later and now with an Oculus Rift, it's under the minimum hardware recs, and while it performs OK on some games, I know I need a video card upgrade. For better future proofing I'm not even considering a 1060, let alone a 1070. A 1060 may be fine 7 years from now if you are still playing 2017-era games, but no doubt that 2024 game release will likely show the weakness of the 1060. At least with a desktop you can address that weakness.
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Kenkat
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Re: Gaming laptop vs gaming pc for AAA hi-end graphics games?

Post by Kenkat »

lightheir wrote:
lightheir wrote:Can someone estimate the time it would take a newb to build a gaming rig, provided that all the ordered parts arrive?

At the same time, how difficult is it to swap out a graphics card even if you didn't build the entire rig yourself?

I find the idea of swapping out single parts out of an already working build MUCH less risky than taking on a whole new build on your own (and not knowing if when it fails, it's the part, or your installation failure. Much easier to troubleshoot with one variable.)
It is very easy assuming that the original build had adequate slots and the motherboard is relatively modern. In some cases if you upgrade your GPU, you may need to upgrade the power supply at the same time as often pre-builds are not really sized for future expansion.

Both of my sons have desktop gaming PCs. My older son and I built his; it is about 6 years old. He has upgraded his graphics card twice, his CPU once, his power supply once, added memory and added a SSD. It's a hobby for him.

My younger son got a good deal on a pre-built gaming PC. His is about 4 years old. He has just upgraded the graphics card from the original build.

I would go the desktop route unless portability is a high priority. There's really no reason that a desktop would be more than a laptop unless the components are different somehow or there's some kind of close-out deal on the laptop. These things are very much a commodity item.
alfaspider
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Re: Gaming laptop vs gaming pc for AAA hi-end graphics games?

Post by alfaspider »

mmmodem wrote:
BlueCable wrote:
lightheir wrote:Can someone estimate the time it would take a newb to build a gaming rig, provided that all the ordered parts arrive?
For your first build, maybe two hours if things go well. Perhaps four if you need to do some troubleshooting.

I built my first PC last year. It was a lot of fun picking parts and putting it together. I highly recommend it if you want a gaming computer that will last you more than 4 years. In 3-4 years, you'll just need to get a new graphics card and you'll be able to run all the newest games again.
Let's not sugar coat it.

It's 1-2 hours for me to build a computer and I've been building my own computer for 2 decades. If you want to assume I'm abnormally slow. Here's a video of a speed build a Youtuber did and it took him 20 minutes with used parts that were already unpackaged and he was fully familiar with using.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=skCmOWfesrs

For a noob, you're looking at 4 hours if you don't encounter issues. And if you do, the sky's the limit on how long it takes you to figure out what is wrong. If you have to ask the question, I don't recommend you build your own computer unless you have help to put it together. My friend had a faulty RAM module building his computer. Who knows how long it would've taken him and tech support to figure out the issue.
A faulty ram module is a pretty easy one to troubleshoot if you are running multiple sticks. If the computer is unstable, one of the first things to try is just using one module.

It's worth noting that build time can vary quite a bit based on what's in the build. Mine is pretty simple now- Mini ITX board/Case, SSD only, no optical drives. There's really only 6 components to worry about. Things get much more complicated if you are running a 10-drive storage setup, watercooling, quad video cards.

Final note regarding build: don't skimp on a case. A good case will last pretty much forever and will make the build much easier than a $15 bargain basement special. I also second buying a high-end power supply- they can last many years and will prevent a lot of potential issues. Don't just look at the wattage- spend some time reading reviews where they actually do testing of a supply before buying it.
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mmmodem
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Re: Gaming laptop vs gaming pc for AAA hi-end graphics games?

Post by mmmodem »

lightheir wrote:
lightheir wrote:Can someone estimate the time it would take a newb to build a gaming rig, provided that all the ordered parts arrive?

At the same time, how difficult is it to swap out a graphics card even if you didn't build the entire rig yourself?

I find the idea of swapping out single parts out of an already working build MUCH less risky than taking on a whole new build on your own (and not knowing if when it fails, it's the part, or your installation failure. Much easier to troubleshoot with one variable.)
That's what I recommended above for a cheap $400 build. If your budget is $1000, you may be able to stretch to a GTX 1070 for $350 after the prices return to normal + buy the fastest pre built computer for $600.

FYI, 7 years in computers is a long time. For perspective, I had a GTX 460 up until last year. It was already 1 year old when I got it in 2011 which describes the 1 year old GTX 1060 as both are in the low to mid range graphics card. I progressively lowered the detail settings to play AAA games until last year when I encountered a game that refused to load. That's when I upgraded. So that's 5 years for me. If i had gotten the GTX 470 for $150 more in 2011, I probably would still be using it today according to benchmarks I've seen. The value for the money is there for the 1070.

Actually now that I've typed this I'm wondering if I shouldn't take my own advice and get a 1070.
tj218
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Re: Gaming laptop vs gaming pc for AAA hi-end graphics games?

Post by tj218 »

One other thought and it is blasphemy. But if you are only going to be playing action based AAA games, why not just get a console? You could get an Xbox One S for $240 with games. That's basically an entire system able to run current AAA games for the price of a PC graphics card.

If you really like mouse+KB games like Civilization series or other strategy games then by all means the PC can't be beat. But for the action based AAA games they are all easily playable and cheaper for hardware costs with a console.

The graphics won't be quite as nice on a console as a high-end PC, but bang for the buck is there. If it weren't for strategy games I'd probably game solely with a console now as I play games like Witcher III, Fallout and Divinity with an Xbox controller through the PC.
Last edited by tj218 on Thu Aug 10, 2017 10:54 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Tamarind
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Re: Gaming laptop vs gaming pc for AAA hi-end graphics games?

Post by Tamarind »

Fiancee and I have similar taste in games to you, OP. We went with desktop for a few reasons:

1) Little need for mobility when playing serious games. How often do you think you would actually take the laptop somewhere vs setting it on the desk in your home.

2) Fiancee adores building and upgrading and wants to be able to swap out parts and handle cable management, etc. Just got a new case for the most recent build but the last case had at least three different builds in it over 6 years. This is a source of enjoyment for her entirely apart from gaming.

3) I feel like cooling is easier in a desktop case with less noise. There may be better gaming laptops for this than the last ones I looked at, though.

Edited to fix typos.
Last edited by Tamarind on Thu Aug 10, 2017 12:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.
jharkin
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Re: Gaming laptop vs gaming pc for AAA hi-end graphics games?

Post by jharkin »

lightheir wrote:Ok, I was shying away from the self-build originally since I've found self-building stuff tends to take like 5-10x the number of hours that someone tells you it should take (just ask me how long it took me to build up a triathlon bike from the frame - it's SUPPOSED to take 1-2hrs if you know what you're doing.... :annoyed )

Its really not that hard at all to built a PC from parts. You guys should have been there when us middle age tech guys where building our own in the early 90s. I would read through ads in the inch thick Computer Shopper and go to computer fairs at these big convention centers to buy parts, and it was all guesswork since you didnt have all the nice compatibility guides avalable now. The build sometimes even involved installing individual chips (i.e. for add on cache memory in the 486 and earlier days)... then the setup and install involved hours of headache configuring the OS, chasing down drivers in the pre-Plug and Play era - sometimes you would have to do things like bootstrap a proprietary CDRom driver to the windows install media just to get started.

Before that we had all the fun of setting up memory management in DOS (remember memmaker and emm386? :) )

And remember using the first generation CDRom drive to play audio CD's? You had to have a seperate direct wire connection for audio out form the drive to your sound card... there where 3 or 4 differnet proprietary plugs and if you had the wrong one...

And then there was graphics... When "3d" was new they where separate adapters, so you would have two graphics card and they had to be setup right to switch depending on the application - sometiems the VGA output of hte primary adapter passed through the second one.

And then there was the fun of networking... setting up proprietary ethernet cards (we always had 3Com) and modems...


And DIP switches!... DIP switchers and jumpers here there and everywhere - on the Mobo, on your hard disks, on your CDRoms... having to use them to setup the primary and slave disk, knowing when to use a 40 wire or an 80 wire ATA cable.. etc...

and on and on...

Really today's builds are silly easy. Just jump in and have fun.
Last edited by jharkin on Thu Aug 10, 2017 6:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Kenkat
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Re: Gaming laptop vs gaming pc for AAA hi-end graphics games?

Post by Kenkat »

Ah, Computer Shopper. Good times, good times...
iamlucky13
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Re: Gaming laptop vs gaming pc for AAA hi-end graphics games?

Post by iamlucky13 »

I'm a bit late to the discussion, but while NVidia has been closing the gap over recent generations, unsurprisingly, the "same" model of GPU in desktop and laptop versions do not seem to perform quite the same:
http://digiworthy.com/2016/09/26/nvidia ... enchmarks/

This may be in part due to factory over-clocking of the desktop graphics card, which has an obvious cooling advantage. Related to that, a laptop may be more likely to experience CPU or GPU throttling due to heat, especially in longer sessions or hot weather.

If you need portability, that's sort of a trump card for the laptop.

I'm guessing you're not moving the computer frequently enough you should factor in the cost of a dock, though?
sreynard
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Re: Gaming laptop vs gaming pc for AAA hi-end graphics games?

Post by sreynard »

A laptop is never going to be as fast as a desktop. A laptop just can't get rid of the heat. It would glow red or you would have flames shooting out of the side if it had to dissipate as much heat as a high end desktop. Mobile GPUs may have the same model number as a desktop version, but there is no way they can run as fast. The same goes for the CPU. It's just physically not possible.

Even if heat wasn't an issue, supplying enough power is. (Yes they are directly related) My own desktop is several years old, but even it has an 800W power supply. A laptop supply can't provide anywhere near that kind of power. I see my work HP 850 EliteBook has a 65W power supply, which is typical. Remember that in semiconductor devices, speed is power. In the quiescent state they take very little power, but the faster you go, the more power it takes. They've done and continue to do a lot by making the geometries smaller, but that helps both desktops and laptops. Modern laptops achieve fantastic battery life my slowing clocks and shutting down circuitry. That doesn't help you at all when playing games.

Yes laptops are more expensive. If the price is the same, the speed/features are reduced. The cost of additional miniaturization alone makes them more expensive. The questions should be, is the laptop fast enough for the job, and is the portability important enough to offset the lower speed and higher cost.

About building your own. All retail systems are designed to price points. (I worked as design engineer at a major computer company in my misspent youth) This forces compromises you may or may not agree with. Sometimes for a few dollars more you can get the features/performance you want that marketing decided you didn't. If the retail boxes are good enough, they are fine, but you could almost always do better. I've always liked some of the Dells and have used HP workstations and laptops at work for years. They aren't anything special, but they usually work fine.
mhalley
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Re: Gaming laptop vs gaming pc for AAA hi-end graphics games?

Post by mhalley »

Another option might be to buy a "barebones" pc, so you don't have to do 100% of the build yourself. I don't know what the price difference would be compared to a 100% build, but I suppose it would be cheaper than a complete pc.
https://www.newegg.com/Barebone-PCs/Sub ... lsrc=aw.ds
Newegg article on barebones:
https://www.newegg.com/Product/Category ... icleId=201
jwtietz
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Re: Gaming laptop vs gaming pc for AAA hi-end graphics games?

Post by jwtietz »

I bought the ASUS GeForce GTX 1070 8GB ROG STRIX for my build. I did it with a asus rampage v edition 10 MB. It is a very nice setup and the card I nice. It is however very large. I'm not sure about the 1060 size but it believe it only has 2 fans so it would be smaller. I have a full tower and the board is an extended ATX and the 1070 Is all the way to the hard drive racks. If you don't have a large case it will be difficult to fit it in the case. I want to say that this card is 11.75 long, that's from memory so don't take it as fact. I would look to see what the specs are.
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lightheir
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Re: Gaming laptop vs gaming pc for AAA hi-end graphics games?

Post by lightheir »

sreynard wrote:A laptop is never going to be as fast as a desktop. A laptop just can't get rid of the heat. It would glow red or you would have flames shooting out of the side if it had to dissipate as much heat as a high end desktop. Mobile GPUs may have the same model number as a desktop version, but there is no way they can run as fast. The same goes for the CPU. It's just physically not possible.

Even if heat wasn't an issue, supplying enough power is. (Yes they are directly related) My own desktop is several years old, but even it has an 800W power supply. A laptop supply can't provide anywhere near that kind of power. I see my work HP 850 EliteBook has a 65W power supply, which is typical. Remember that in semiconductor devices, speed is power. In the quiescent state they take very little power, but the faster you go, the more power it takes. They've done and continue to do a lot by making the geometries smaller, but that helps both desktops and laptops. Modern laptops achieve fantastic battery life my slowing clocks and shutting down circuitry. That doesn't help you at all when playing games.

Yes laptops are more expensive. If the price is the same, the speed/features are reduced. The cost of additional miniaturization alone makes them more expensive. The questions should be, is the laptop fast enough for the job, and is the portability important enough to offset the lower speed and higher cost.

About building your own. All retail systems are designed to price points. (I worked as design engineer at a major computer company in my misspent youth) This forces compromises you may or may not agree with. Sometimes for a few dollars more you can get the features/performance you want that marketing decided you didn't. If the retail boxes are good enough, they are fine, but you could almost always do better. I've always liked some of the Dells and have used HP workstations and laptops at work for years. They aren't anything special, but they usually work fine.

Apparently the newest mobile-versions of the 1060 and 1070 run at 90% of the performance level of their desktop counterpart. So not as fast as a desktop, but really, really close, which is really impressive given the power and heat requirements of a desktop GPU.
sreynard
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Re: Gaming laptop vs gaming pc for AAA hi-end graphics games?

Post by sreynard »

lightheir wrote:
sreynard wrote:A laptop is never going to be as fast as a desktop. A laptop just can't get rid of the heat. It would glow red or you would have flames shooting out of the side if it had to dissipate as much heat as a high end desktop. Mobile GPUs may have the same model number as a desktop version, but there is no way they can run as fast. The same goes for the CPU. It's just physically not possible.

Even if heat wasn't an issue, supplying enough power is. (Yes they are directly related) My own desktop is several years old, but even it has an 800W power supply. A laptop supply can't provide anywhere near that kind of power. I see my work HP 850 EliteBook has a 65W power supply, which is typical. Remember that in semiconductor devices, speed is power. In the quiescent state they take very little power, but the faster you go, the more power it takes. They've done and continue to do a lot by making the geometries smaller, but that helps both desktops and laptops. Modern laptops achieve fantastic battery life my slowing clocks and shutting down circuitry. That doesn't help you at all when playing games.

Yes laptops are more expensive. If the price is the same, the speed/features are reduced. The cost of additional miniaturization alone makes them more expensive. The questions should be, is the laptop fast enough for the job, and is the portability important enough to offset the lower speed and higher cost.

About building your own. All retail systems are designed to price points. (I worked as design engineer at a major computer company in my misspent youth) This forces compromises you may or may not agree with. Sometimes for a few dollars more you can get the features/performance you want that marketing decided you didn't. If the retail boxes are good enough, they are fine, but you could almost always do better. I've always liked some of the Dells and have used HP workstations and laptops at work for years. They aren't anything special, but they usually work fine.

Apparently the newest mobile-versions of the 1060 and 1070 run at 90% of the performance level of their desktop counterpart. So not as fast as a desktop, but really, really close, which is really impressive given the power and heat requirements of a desktop GPU.
I just looked up a comparison and it looks like you are right! Pretty amazing!

The other thing to consider is that a lot of high end desktops use SLI with multiple GPUs. Like they say, you can always throw more money at the problem. :)

Personally, if I was going to upgrade I would probably go with something newer. At least a 1080 Ti. A Titan Xp or two would be very sweet. :)
That's why I don't upgrade very often. It's just too dang expensive! Which is also why when I do pull the trigger, I don't want to go to something that is already basically obsolete. Yes it's more expensive per system to go "enthusiast" level, but you may be able to go longer between upgrades before the performance starts becoming unacceptable. Software guys can always figure out new ways to use all available resources eventually.

I thought my system was still OK until I got one of the popular game last year that, even with the very minimum graphics settings, brought my system to a crawl. It was completely unplayable and I just had to give up. Oh well! There are higher priorities. :)
Whakamole
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Re: Gaming laptop vs gaming pc for AAA hi-end graphics games?

Post by Whakamole »

I see a few people mentioned used cards. I would be very cautious of used graphics cards - they were almost certainly used for bitcoin mining, which taxes the card and makes it run very hot for extended periods of time. Suffice to say this is not good for electronics.
killjoy2012
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Re: Gaming laptop vs gaming pc for AAA hi-end graphics games?

Post by killjoy2012 »

Anyone can build a PC today. It's not like it used to be where you actually had to have some skills to get things going.

That said, plan on 4-5 hours once you have everything in hand. The hardest and most critical process is properly joining and installing the CPU to its heatsink, ensuring proper thermal adhesion and getting the paste right - all while getting the assembly mounted to the MB. Anyone can slap it together in 10 minutes. It's harder to do it right.

After that, anyone with standard Phillips screwdriver can build one.

Don't cheap out on the PSU or the case, as tempting as it may be.
petulant
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Re: Gaming laptop vs gaming pc for AAA hi-end graphics games?

Post by petulant »

Building your own can be a great deal. I've done 3 builds and 1 build-like major upgrade over my life.

That said, I just bought a prebuilt computer from a major manufacturer for $600. It has i7, 16GB RAM, a massive HDD, and an AMD GPU on par with a 750 Ti. The GPU can be upgraded later.

It was on sale. I read ArsTechnica regularly, which posts sale links from TechBargains. So, consider the sale options if you're like me and don't want to spend the time/possible frustration on assembly. It helps for me, though, that I don't intend to play any games with graphics tougher than a 750 Ti.
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lightheir
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Re: Gaming laptop vs gaming pc for AAA hi-end graphics games?

Post by lightheir »

You know the funny part - I think I'm having as much fun just shopping and dreaming about the build as compared to playing games on it!

I'll almost certainly build mine - I just watched about 2 hrs of youtube videos showing detailed builds, and it looks straightforward, and I do enjoy learning about the various parts.

It looks a lot easier than building up a triathlon bike, and surprisingly, a lot cheaper, too!
killjoy2012
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Re: Gaming laptop vs gaming pc for AAA hi-end graphics games?

Post by killjoy2012 »

If you're not in a huge hurry, you can also monitor the SlickDeals website for hot sales on PC components.
sreynard
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Re: Gaming laptop vs gaming pc for AAA hi-end graphics games?

Post by sreynard »

lightheir wrote:You know the funny part - I think I'm having as much fun just shopping and dreaming about the build as compared to playing games on it!

I'll almost certainly build mine - I just watched about 2 hrs of youtube videos showing detailed builds, and it looks straightforward, and I do enjoy learning about the various parts.

It looks a lot easier than building up a triathlon bike, and surprisingly, a lot cheaper, too!
It can be great fun if you approach it with a positive attitude. It can also be educational.

Last time I built one I used an Amazon wish list to keep track of all the parts. Had a great time browsing and comparing various options. Comes in handy later. What was the model number of my motherboard? What speed was the memory?

I recommend spending a little time researching which component manufacturers have good reputations for quality. Some motherboards look really pretty, but are very badly designed. I remember one major manufacturer that built both components and full systems that banned some of their own components from being used in their own systems! Of course quality and performance among manufacturers changes over time. It's kind of like mutual funds. The top brands go down, the mediocre raise up, and the very worse stay the very worse. . . . Unfortunately, system manufacturers often stick with the very worse because they can get really cheap prices. Its just ironic that consumers will sometimes pay extra for the poorer brands, just because that's what the big manufacturers use. On the other hand they will also often pay extra when it doesn't really get them anything extra or save money when a little extra would make a big improvement.
omgbirdman
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Re: Gaming laptop vs gaming pc for AAA hi-end graphics games?

Post by omgbirdman »

If you are looking for some tips on building, check out Carey Holzman's videos on youtube. He's been doing them for years, and does step by step walkthroughs in meticulous detail.
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