GAMERS are part of a highly divided community: Are you a console “peasant”, a Mobile Legends addict, a student with a laptop, or are you part of the “PC master race”? Members of the former two may, however, wonder if they’ll ever purchase and play games on the more powerful (albeit pricier) systems, whereas those with rigs may toy with the idea of gaming on the go.

If you’re on the fence about whether you should get a gaming desktop or a laptop. We’re here to help you cross that bridge.

Before you continue reading, leave all pre-conceived notions about the two in your recycling bin. We’re in 2019, people! Both desktops and laptops have their own strengths. Plus, laptops have gained much ground in recent years in their catch up to what was, admittedly the superior counterpart.

If you’re unsure about the differences between a gaming PC (or desktop) and a laptop, there are a few major ones, namely their portability, customisability, and performance. We go through these factors below, and hopefully can help you come to the decision on what computer fits you better at the end of it all.

Portability

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The Razer Blade 15 is a portable powerhouse. (Photo credit: Razer)

There’s really not much of a contest here, with the laptop being the clear winner through and through in the portability arena. Just flip it down and off you go to your next appointment. Most gaming laptops also come in the standard sizes of 15- or 17-inches – no problem for the average dude’s backpack.

Think about all the LAN parties you can attend with a gaming laptop! If you’re someone who is always on the go but still want to beat that raid boss, you should seriously consider one of the portable beasts on the market.

Desktops, on the other hand, are slightly trickier. Sure, you can cram all your PC components in a case with a small form factor, but you’d still have to lug around your monitor, keyboard, mouse, and whatever other accessories you might need just to get it up and running. Portability is not a word associated with desktops, and here it clearly loses out to laptops. There may also come a point in your life where you may have to work on the fly. The only thing to bear in mind is that you need to juice up once in a while.

Customisability

The many, many ways you can customise your own PC is one of the reasons why so many gamers are still opting for a gaming desktop instead of a laptop. There are two routes you can take here: Either go with a brand name offering semi-customisable builds or buy every single component and build it yourself.

The former option might seem the least daunting, and in fact, there are plenty of advantages to it. Take the locally-founded brand Aftershock, for example. All you have to do is to pick the parts you want from a pre-determined list and they’ll put everything together for you.

Aftershock also covers your entire setup with warranties, even though the components might be from different manufacturers. Other brands Origin PC and Mansa Computers also provide similar services here in Singapore.

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Have your pick of the best components to fit into your PC, wall-mounted or not. (Photo credit: Maxime Rossignol)

The latter, however, is the holy grail for all PC gamers. There’s nothing more satisfying than researching all the various parts, having a shopping spree at Sim Lim Square, and putting it together. You’ll know your entire computer like the back of your hand, which makes upgrading and troubleshooting a tad easier.

The same can’t really be said for pre-built systems. (Full disclosure: We’re also in the process of building our very own gaming rig). Is it more laborious? Yes, Captain Obvious. It’ll take time, patience, and lots of frustrated diagnosing of error codes, but that’s a minor trade-off when compared to the huge cost-saving opportunities.

To be entirely fair, gaming laptops can also be customised to some degree — mainly your RAM and SSD (solid-state drive). Again, Aftershock is a brand that comes to mind when customising a gaming rig, laptops included. They recently launched the Slate series of notebooks that come with Nvidia’s latest graphic cards, the RTX 2060/70/80.

The Razer Blades (another homegrown name, FYI) are also kitted out with the same Turing-based graphic cards, so if you’re after that sweet RGB-style keyboards, you have a choice.

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The new Razer Blade 15 gaming laptops are powered by Nvidia’s latest RTX graphic cards. (Photo credit: Razer)

However, they aren’t as many options when it comes to a custom gaming laptop. Due to its immutable form factor, components are usually specially made to fit, and replacing them would be a hassle to do by yourself, let alone upgrading their innards with newer generations of hardware.

You also don’t have the flexibility to choose your keyboard and monitor, a factor that can put off some hardcore gamers.

Performance

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Whether you’re a Minecrafter or a competitive gamer, your PC will need to sustain high frame rates. (Photo credit: Florian Olivo)

How a gaming rig performs is probably the most important factor for a lot of us. You’d want to get the most FPS running at the highest settings without creating a potential fire hazard. Thankfully it’s 2019 already, so that’s not that much of a problem.

Some higher-end laptops now have the latest and best graphic cards (see the example of Aftershock above), but ultimately that comes with a hole in your wallet.

Alternatively, you could grab an external GPU that allows desktop-tier graphics cards to plug right into your laptop. But that takes away quite a little bit of the portability advantage that they have. For price-to-performance ratio, you might be better off building a gaming desktop instead.

There is also the conundrum of battery life. While you might be able to game-on-the-go with a laptop, it probably would only last an hour or two before it runs out of juice. They’re also known to run pretty hot when things on screen get a little intense, so you would probably need a cooling pad.

Still, a gaming desktop reigns supreme when it comes to other metrics. For example, the cooler your computer runs, the better it’ll perform (science will back us up here). Desktops are able to do this thanks to multiple fans that cool the innards of the case.

Enthusiasts can even take things up a notch and liquid-cool their systems, which often comes attached with even higher customisation costs. Its aesthetics, however, will put all your previous computers with Microsoft 95 to shame.

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Where’s the Apple option?

With all the talk of PCs and laptops, there’s still one category we’ve yet to discuss: Apple and their Macs and Macbooks. We’ll give them the credit of being some of the most beautiful and powerful computers in the market now, but that’s if you’re doing content creation and/or light usage.

They have never really been very gamer-friendly, and not a lot of games are available on macOS as well. If gaming is your priority, stick to Windows and Microsoft.

So… what should I get?

With that said and done, should you get a gaming PC or a laptop? It all boils down to your lifestyle. If you’re always travelling, a gaming laptop will fit snugly into your hectic, jet-setting routine, as well as double up as a powerful device for work.

For those who lead a relatively sedentary life without travel or hotdesking, getting a desktop PC is a no-brainer.

Either way, a gaming rig shouldn’t be something you blindly throw your money at. Spend a bit of time researching the various types. We’ve been in your shoes before, wantonly swiping our cards on impulsive purchases. Your gaming set up should last you for at least the next three to five years, so keep that in mind when shopping for one.

written by.
Josiah Neo
Josiah Neo is a tech writer who contributes occasionally to the fashion and travel beats. When he’s not busy keeping up with the keynotes, he’s probably stuffing his face with the best Melbournian donuts (at Shortstop, BTW) or watching his favourite esports team, the LA Valiant, pummel their opponents into oblivion.

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