With the availability of computer components at an all-time low, we are looking at some of the more affordable laptops for esports games in 2021. As the prices for video cards continue to increase far beyond what is reasonable, you might be better off investing in a gaming laptop than upgrading your desktop PC or building a new computer.
We would like to preface the article by highlighting that the text has not been sponsored by any company. When writing this piece, we focused on maximizing the value for money factor and making sure the PCs are available for purchase from popular providers. That said, at the time you are reading this, the availability of the presented computers might be different.
Regardless of whether you decide to purchase one of the computers presented here, we have a few general tips on what to look for in an entry-level laptop for esports gaming. The first thing you should consider is the graphics card. For Full HD 1080p gaming and a chance to reach 60 FPS – after reducing some graphics settings in more demanding games – the bare minimum would be a GTX 1650Ti with 4GB of RAM on the card. When it comes to memory, you probably will not find any gaming laptop with fewer than 8GB of RAM, and for a good reason. Though Windows 10 is quite well optimized compared to some of the previous versions, your browser, anti-virus software and any other applications running in the background will quickly eat up your RAM. Right now, when writing this article, I have about 20 tabs open in Chrome and a number of applications running in the background. All of this eats up 6GB out of the 16GB available in my system. You will be fine playing esports games with 8GB of RAM, but you will probably have to keep the number of running applications to a minimum during your sessions. You might also look for a laptop that will have one RAM slot free, so that you can add another 8GB in the future if there is ever a need. The reasonable minimum for the CPU is a 4-core, 8-thread Intel Core i5, alternatively a Ryzen 5. Such processor will be a good match for the 1650Ti (or the faster RTX 2060). The “Ti” is important, as the bare 1650 offers considerably less performance. When it comes to the hard drive, an SSD will not have a strong impact on how your esports games run (it might have an impact in some more demanding titles, like the alpha of Star Citizen), but it will greatly reduce load times and significantly improve the general performance of your computer. A 256 GB SSD drive is the absolute minimum to have Windows 10 and one or two modern games installed. Some laptops, especially the bigger 17 inch ones, have slots for 2 drives, so you can have an SSD for your system and the most played games, and an HDD for your files. Also, pay attention if the PC has an M.2 slot for a drive. M.2 SSDs achieve even better speeds than regular SSDs. They are smaller, and it is almost certain a laptop that has an M.2 slot will have room for another SSD or HDD drive. Screen type is also important. Glare type screens will reflect light, obscuring the view, so you might want to look for a mat screen. Since we are looking for a gaming laptop, battery life should not be important to us, as pushing the performance to the limits will quickly drain power from any portable PC if it is not connected to a regular power source. Another thing worth remembering is that purchasing a laptop with Windows 10 installed can elevate the price by over 100 USD. There are many shops providing PCs without an operating system. Even if you do not have Windows 10, you might be better off purchasing a laptop without the system and buying the key separately.
But can it run Crysis?
A laptop with the hardware specified above should have no problems maintaining or going beyond 60 FPS using high details in 1080p in esports titles such as CS: GO, Overwatch, all the card games, Rocket League, DotA 2, League of Legends, Hearthstone, Valorant (well optimized!), Rainbow Six: Siege or FIFA 21. StarCraft 2 should also run well on high details in solo games, but because the game makes use of two CPU cores only, you might have to tune down the settings if you want to play large scale team games. Other esports games will also run well with such hardware, but you might have to reduce some of the visual quality if you want to maintain 60 FPS at 1080p in every situation. This will most certainly be true for Fortnite and other battle royale games with big draw distances, such as PUBG and Call of Duty: Warzone. Battlefield V will also be too demanding at highest settings in 1080p with these components. Oh, and to answer the question asked in the heading – yes it can run Crysis, the 2007 version, with high settings, but it will struggle with the remastered one if you push the sliders too far.
This concludes part one of the article. In part two we will have a look at specific laptops that will run esports games well.