Gaming laptops have a bad rap in the office. This is generally unfair—especially since a gaming laptop provides the right kind of power and connections for real production work. If multi-tasking with Adobe® Creative Suite®, PowerPoint® and a web browser running in the background is your modus operandi, you understand the value of computing power for getting things done.
Compared to mobile workstations with similar specs, gaming laptops provide good a power to price ratio, which makes them worth considering for a travelling business professional.
Gaming Laptop vs. Mobile Workstation: The GPU is the differentiator
In many instances, a gaming laptop will have similar specifications to a mobile workstation. Generally speaking, both will have an Intel® Core® i7 processor, 8 or 16 GB of memory, and a hard drive up to 1 TB. The key differentiator tends to be the graphics processor (GPU).
Most mobile workstations ship with high-end GPUs (usually NVIDIA® Quadro® or AMD FirePro™) that are designed for 3D CAD applications and rendering performance for computer animation. These top-end GPUs can bump up the price up by $300 or more. If you are a CAD engineer or a computer animator, a mobile workstation is likely your best bet.
A gaming laptop will also have a dedicated GPU, though it is comparatively less powerful and less expensive. Many gaming laptops come with a NVIDIA® GeForce® GPU which is capable of basic 3D CAD or graphics rendering, but really is more geared for stunning gameplay—consuming graphics rather than producing them. A great-looking high resolution display is one of the perks of a gaming laptop; most have screens larger than 15 inches and at least 1,920 x 1,080 pixel resolution.
Comparing costs and computing power
Business users that do not need a high end GPU will find a good deal of value in a gaming laptop as many of the other specifications are comparable with mobile workstations.
The ASUS X550 has 2.5 GHz Intel Core i7 processor, 8 GB of memory, and a 1 TB hard disk drive for $830. Compare this to the HP® ZBook 15, a mobile workstation with similar specifications but a NVIDIA Quadro that retails for $1,547.
The Lenovo® Y50 Touch has a touch screen, a 2.4 GHz Intel Core i7, 8 GB of memory and 1 TB hard disk drive and 8 GB solid-state drive for $1,299. Compare this to the Lenovo® ThinkPad W540 that comes with a 2.7 GHz Intel Core i7, 8 GB of memory, 1 TB hard disk drive and 180 GB SSD that retails for $1,866.
A gaming laptop for powerful PowerPoints
Laptops with this kind of computing clout are great for multitasking and running a snappy presentation on the road. If you are planning on using a gaming laptop in this capacity, pick one with a VGA port in case you have to deal with legacy conference room projectors. The aforementioned ASUS X550 and Lenovo Y50 Touch both have a VGA port.
If you plan on connecting different types of peripherals to a gaming laptop, or any laptop for that matter, a laptop docking station comes in handy. A good docking station makes your gaming laptop compatible with a gamut of inputs: USB 2.0, USB 3.0, HDMI, DVI, VGA and others. You will be prepared for conference rooms of all stripes.
Beware of places where big is not so beautiful
Keep in mind when compared to smaller laptop or 2-in-1 like a Surface® 3 or a Chromebook, a gaming laptop will draw lots more power. That means shorter battery life. You will have to be mindful of your power source, especially out on the road. Also, a bulkier gaming laptop may prove unwieldy for working in an airplane seat.
If you strongly prefer a lightweight or thin form factor for a production-minded laptop, something like the Surface Pro 3 might be a more appropriate laptop to explore. The top-end model of Surface Pro 3 that comes with an Intel Core i7 processor, 8 GB of memory, and a 256 GB SSD is in a different price range than the gaming laptops mentioned above with a $1,549 price tag. The type cover is sold separately as well, which adds on another $130.
Another thing to be mindful of is the case. Some models might be a little over the top with backlit rainbow keycovers. You will find most models to be relatively tame in comparison.
Still, when it comes to raw performance for the price, a gaming laptop is tough to beat.
What are your experiences with powerful laptops on the go? Have you ever used a gaming laptop in a business capacity?