This article is part of my ongoing YouTube Articles and Guides series.
“Have you ever done a Let’s Play on laptop, because I know some YouTubers can’t afford a fancy gaming PC?”
Some people seem to have a misconception about Notebooks and Desktop PCs when it comes to their pricing. It appears that Laptops are cheap and affordable and these “fancy gaming PCs” are out of everyone’s league. If you see YouTubers do videos about their gaming rigs, chances are, they have a pretty beast system. You will rarely see a YouTuber do an in-depth video on his affordable and seemingly cheap desktop system – but they are out there. Not advertised, is that there are other systems out there other than “that fancy gaming PC” for thousands of dollars. You see them: Seemingly boring desktop PCs that seem only to run Office and browse the web – but they will be faster and more suited for recording than a laptop for the same price.
Generally speaking: You will be able to get a desktop system with remarkably more processing power for the same price. A desktop system for 700$ will outperform a laptop for 700$ any time – but here is the catch: If you never owned a desktop PC before, you will have to invest in a few peripherals as well as the system. The laptop comes with everything: A keyboard, a mouse, and a screen. I would always attach a mouse and a keyboard to a laptop since the built-in peripherals are barely enough to play games on it. (Every played a shooter with a trackpad? Great times!) The desktop system will require you to buy a screen, mouse, and screen. Once you have these things, though, future systems and upgrades will be cheaper since you don’t need to replace the whole laptop. You can only grab a part that you want to upgrade the graphics card or more RAM. At the very least you will be able to keep the case, your hard drives, and your peripherals. You should remember this if you are thinking about getting a system for gaming and possibly recording.
But let’s go with the 700$ example and get a simple to setup gaming system and a laptop:
693$ Desktop PC (with peripherals AND microphone)
- CyberpowerPC Gamer Ultra GUA3100A Gaming Desktop (499$)
- Acer G226HQL Bbd 21.5-inch Full HD (1920 x 1080) Widescreen Display (90$)
- Logitech Wireless Combo MK270 with Keyboard and Mouse (15$)
- Blue Microphones Yeti USB Microphone – Blackout Edition (89$)
(Sorry if the numbers are not accurate anymore, the article might be older when you are reading this.)
The PC above will outperform the laptop, you will have a bigger screen to enjoy your games on, you have peripherals that are already better for gaming than a touchpad, and on top of that, you can get a great microphone and still pay less. If you now take a look at a 500$ laptop, you will be even less likely to play games on it and record.
Which brings me back to the original questions: Yes, you will be able to play a few games on a regular laptop, maybe even record some of them, depending on how fast your laptop is. Chances are, you are going to have to take a lot of hits regarding graphics and performance – the CPU might be too slow for live encoding, the hard drive might be too slow for lossless recording with Fraps. Rendering and editing it later will be painfully slow. There ARE gaming laptops out there, that will do the job of gaming and recording. I used a laptop for recording for quite a while since I was traveling a fair amount – but also paid WAY more than I would have for a desktop gaming system with the same specs. If you are willing to drop 1500$ or more on a gaming laptop you can record with, you should strongly consider getting a desktop system and spending that extra money you have left on recording equipment and peripherals. You will be happier in the long run.
TL;DR: Gaming PCs are faster than Laptops for the same amount of money and have a lot of advantages, except mobility. Yes, you can record with a laptop, but that heavily depends on the laptop – and if you have a gaming laptop that is super fast, then you probably spent more than you would have on a “fancy gaming PC.”