Purchasing a laptop of any kind, much less a high-performance machine with astounding specs, might be intimidating. However, it doesn’t have to be difficult..
- Consider the CPU and GPU wattage of a high-performance laptop, as it affects both power and battery life.
- RAM frequency and storage capacity are important considerations, with 5200MHz DDR5 RAM and a 1TB NVMe SSD recommended.
- Pay attention to the display: aim for QHD resolution, 120Hz refresh rate, and a 16:10 aspect ratio for optimal productivity and user experience.
Buying a laptop can be a daunting task, especially given the insane number of choices you’ll have across price and performance ranges. If you’re buying a laptop for the first time or aren’t well-versed in the language of CPU core clocks and GPU VRAM types, among other things, it’s very easy to make the wrong choice, one that might come with a big price tag.
Depending on what you’ll be doing with your laptop, your hardware requirements, and, by extension, your laptop’s price tag can vary greatly. The best part? It’s nearly not as complicated as it seems to be.
CPU and GPU Wattage
If you’re buying a high-performance laptop, chances are you’ve already zeroed in on the CPU and GPU combination you want. While CPU clock speeds, cores, and threads are common knowledge, often advertised as a lead selling point by the manufacturer, wattage is another important number often overlooked.
CPU wattage, a concept that also applies to GPUs, is denoted using TDP (Thermal Design Power) or, in the case of GPUs, TGP (Total Graphics Power). They measure the maximum power your CPU and GPU can draw from the system.
Memory and Storage
Next in line is your RAM and storage. At the time of writing, the best RAM you can get is DDR5. However, there’s more to RAM than just RAM type. Memory frequency makes a big difference.
Regardless of the RAM type, each RAM stick comes with a specific frequency: the speed at which the memory works. The higher this number, the better the RAM will perform and the more expensive it will be.
5200MHz is a good speed to aim for here. Around 32GB of 5200 MHz DDR5 RAM is more than enough for just about every game and most professional workloads. If you’re doing some really heavy lifting, though, you might need to bump it up to 64GB (heavy video editing, 3D design programs, etc.). On the flip side, you can get by with 16GB memory as well, but be sure not to go below that, even if you have to step down memory speed to fit your budget.
As far as storage is concerned, 1TB NVMe SSD is the minimum you should aim for. If your laptop comes with a 2.5-inch SATA SSD slot, feel free to use it for mass storage or backups, but making it your boot drive isn’t a good idea. HDDs in 2023 are a strict no for a high-performance laptop.
It’s common to overlook the importance of a strong display in a high-performance laptop. The most important component of a laptop, or any computer for that matter, is the display, which should be of a high caliber, particularly if you use it for work-related tasks like editing photos or videos.
Regardless of brand, high-end laptops typically feature good displays. Having said that, there are a few minimum standards you ought to pursue. First off, 1920 x 1080 Full HD resolution might not be sufficient in the future. If you have a less powerful GPU, like the RTX 4050, it might work, but we don’t advise it unless you have to make compromises to stay inside your budget.
A 15-inch laptop with a 4k OLED display isn’t absolutely necessary. QHD (2560 x 1440) is a decent compromise since it works well with the majority of recent GPUs, if not all of them.
Refresh rate, which is measured differently than frame rate, is another crucial consideration. The absolute minimum in this case is 120Hz since it will improve your overall user experience and is useful for gaming, video editing, and simulations as well as general web browsing.
Finally, if at all possible, attempt to locate a monitor with a 16:10 aspect ratio. Even while it might not seem like much on paper, having a little bit more vertical space can make a big difference in productivity when reading lengthy articles or using Premiere Pro’s timeline feature.
Reviews are your best bet in this situation because it’s hard to assess a laptop’s thermal performance unless you have the gadget in your hands already. Powerful components can be crammed into a light, thin chassis by manufacturers, but cooling them down correctly can be difficult.
Expensive CPUs and GPUs generate a lot of heat; the heat output increases with power consumption. This implies that the majority of high-performance laptops—if not all of them—will occasionally run hot.
The likelihood of experiencing problems such as thermal throttling and discomfort when using your laptop when it’s not on a desk increases with the temperature at which it operates. The lifespan of your machine may also be impacted by poor thermal performance. Therefore, it’s imperative to pick a laptop with a suitable thermal solution.
As previously said, evaluating a laptop’s thermal performance just based on its specifications might be challenging. But other thermal methods—like vapor chambers and liquid metal—perform better than the conventional cooling solutions seen in entry- and mid-level laptops.
Although many professionals and gamers who require a high-performance laptop may have an external keyboard that they enjoy using, your laptop’s onboard keyboard must also be of high quality.
Find out what kind of keyboard the laptop you are considering has by reading the specifications. The best option here is a mechanical low-profile switch, but what matters most is the key travel and feel you receive.
For comfortable typing, 1.2 to 1.5 mm of key travel should be more than sufficient. It’s likely that the keyboard will be backlit as well, but we advise against getting too worked up over RGB because it will also negatively impact your laptop’s battery life.
The Port Situation
With good reason, the majority of contemporary laptops are moving away from other ports and toward USB-C. Almost anything can be connected to it, and if your laptop allows power transmission, you can even charge it simultaneously. Nonetheless, it would not be a terrible idea to have a few extra ports on hand, depending on your use case and how frequently you travel with your laptop.
Firstly, having a dedicated HDMI or DisplayPort eliminates the need to always carry a dongle. The same is true for an Ethernet port: a direct wired Ethernet connection is superior than everything else, even with strong Wi-Fi. Finally, but just as importantly, make sure you have a few USB-A ports available for attaching flash drives and other accessories.
In actuality, the ports your laptop needs will mostly rely on how you intend to use it. Think carefully about the items you plan to plug into your laptop. It’s also a good idea to think about USB-C charging because carrying a bulky power brick around can easily cause back ache.
Under these circumstances, having a Thunderbolt 4 connector—or at the very least, a USB-C port with Power Delivery—becomes essential. For your reference, we offer a brief explanation about USB Power Delivery.
Battery life is essential if you plan to be mobile. While most high-performance laptops won’t provide you with an exceptionally long battery life, they do come with software tools that let you adjust your laptop’s “Performance Mode” to maximize battery life.
Watt-hours (Wh) are used to measure laptop batteries. The longer the battery life, the higher this number. Nevertheless, as batteries are typically among the heaviest parts of your laptop, this also comes at the expense of weight.
The maximum capacity of laptop batteries is usually 99 Wh, although they are nearly only found in computers that are 16 inches or larger, making them difficult to transport. We advise getting a 14-inch laptop or comparable if you plan to travel with one. Of course, you won’t get the strongest parts. Nonetheless, compared to laptops with greater wattage CPUs and GPUs, you will get longer battery life. If battery life is important to you, aiming for 60Wh to 70Wh is a smart place to start.
Be Careful When Shopping for High-Performance Laptops
It’s simple to get sucked into the glossy marketing of high-end laptop purchases and overlook the fine print. Knowing what you want and the workloads you’ll be running on your computer will help you sort through the clutter and choose the finest laptop for you, even if the most, if not all, of modern laptops do come with strong hardware that will perform well regardless of your use case.
Reading the tiny print becomes crucial in this situation since it frequently reveals the differences between laptops that appear to be identical on paper. And in certain situations, you could need that distinction.