8 months ago


BUYING GUIDE product is

BUYING GUIDE product is upping the amount of RAM. It’s not hard to find gaming laptops with ‘upgraded’ configurations that go from 16GB of DDR4 to 32GB. While having an adequate amount of RAM is important for gaming, today’s games typically top out at 16GB of RAM and sometimes can run fine with just 8GB of RAM. Anything more than 16GB (our standard recommendation) is usually a waste of money. You might want to blame laptop and PC makers for cynically using an erroneous spec to manipulate the public, but the blame actually lies with the average buyer. PC makers have told us for years they only overspec RAM because the public thinks more is better. Besides the amount of memory, a couple other important, but not critical, questions to ask is what clock speed and what mode. Modern CPUs let you run RAM in sets to increase the memory bandwidth. If one shotgun barrel is good, two is better right? Not necessarily. If your laptop runs integrated graphics, then yes, having dual-channel memory helps a lot. But true gaming laptops today run beefy discrete graphics cards with their own pool of dedicated, and much faster, GDDR5 RAM. We’ve seen instances of gaming laptops using a single memory module, which hobbles system bandwidth but actually has very little impact on actual gaming performance. The same can be said of RAM clock speed. DDR4/2133, which runs at 2,133MHz, is the typical speed today, with PC vendors offering upgrades of DDR/2400. We recommend bypassing the upgrade and instead putting that money into more storage or a fatter GPU. 84 TECH ADVISOR • MAY 2018

BUYING GUIDE Intel’s chips such as this Kaby Lake dominate laptops today CPU There may be real competition between AMD and Intel when it comes to gaming CPUs in the desktop, but in gaming laptops, the world is still very much 99.9 percent Intel. That’s not necessarily a bad thing as Intel’s laptop CPUs are excellent. Still, there are a few things you need to consider about the CPU for your gaming laptop. First, the issue of cores is far simpler here than on desktops. There’s no option for 16-core CPUs, and outside of the odd-duck laptops that use 8-core desktop CPUs, your options are limited to quad-cores. With Intel’s current 7th-gen chips, you get four cores with Hyper-Threading for a total of eight threads in the Core i7 chips. Step down to a 7th-gen Core i5, and Intel turns off the Hyper-Threading so it’s four physical cores only. MAY 2018 • TECH ADVISOR 85

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