How to choose a gaming laptop: five things you need to know

<span>A gaming laptop needs powerful graphics – and a high quality screen</span><span>Photograph: PR</span>
A gaming laptop needs powerful graphics – and a high quality screenPhotograph: PR

Gaming is all about experience. Whether you’re playing Fortnite or Baldur’s Gate 3, being fully immersed is key, and that means you need a laptop that delivers. Exactly which one depends largely on the demands of the games you like to play, says expert Elenore Li, events coordinator at the University of Warwick esports centre, where gamers gather to compete and play. But whether you’re at the top of your game or just starting out, there are certain tech requirements that everyone needs to know about …

What am I looking for in a laptop for gaming?
If one thing elevates your gaming experience from good to great, it’s the speed of your computer, as this influences how seamlessly you can play and how realistic the graphics look. Performance comes down to three key elements: the CPU (central processing unit), which is basically the “brain” of the computer; RAM (random access memory), which stores data that needs to be quickly accessed by the computer to run operations, almost like our short-term memory; and the computer’s GPU (graphics processing unit), which produces the images you see on the screen.

What makes a powerful gaming laptop?
There’s nothing worse than being at a crucial point in a game – halfway through a race or mid shootout – when everything grinds to a halt. It’s a sign your computer doesn’t have the oomph you need for the games you play. If the central processor, your RAM or the graphics unit are underpowered, you’ll endure sluggish load speeds and frame rates (the frequency at which frames in a video sequence are displayed). The higher the frame rate, the smoother a scene looks, and the faster the load speeds, the smoother the transitions between scenes.

When looking to buy a laptop, processing power is one of the first things to consider. The CPU, the main processor, usually contains multiple cores – the processing units that execute instructions. The more cores a CPU has, the more tasks it can handle simultaneously. A “quad core” processor is good enough for some laptops, but eight or more is best for gaming. If you’re after awesome performance, though, how about 16? The Samsung Galaxy Book4 Ultra, which has just been released, comes with the option of two processors, the new Intel Core Ultra 7 and Intel Ultra 9, both with a punchy 16 cores.

The amount of RAM matters too, as increasing it will make your playing experience more seamless. With too little RAM, a game will appear slow, jittery – and annoying. A minimum of 16GB of RAM is recommended in a gaming laptop but more is better, hence the Samsung Galaxy Book4 series starting at 16GB but offering a 32GB option in the Galaxy Book4 Ultra version.

The final piece of the power puzzle is the graphics processing unit, which enables higher quality visuals and smoother gameplay. A separate GPU, rather than one integrated into the CPU, is key to boosting performance, especially if you want to play demanding titles such as Red Dead Redemption 2. Here, the Galaxy Book4 Ultra delivers with a choice of two highly regarded NVIDIA RTX graphics processors.

For Li, the gaming experience depends on the capabilities of all of these factors combined.

Her advice is to compare your system’s specs with a game’s hardware requirements and to try your favourite game on the laptop you’re thinking of buying, or try a game that makes powerful demands, such as Baldur’s Gate 3.

What screen size is best for gaming?
Li suggests at least 15.6in, which means the Galaxy Book4 Ultra’s 16in screen ticks the box. She advises buying a laptop with a screen resolution of at least 1080p and a refresh rate, the frequency at which the screen updates each second, of 120Hz. With screen resolution on the Galaxy Book4 series coming in at 3K, it provides an improved experience for all gamers but particularly those who enjoy first-person games, where a player sees the world from their character’s perspective.

To create more realistic images, the new laptops use AI in combination with higher-performance graphics processing units. The vivid colours and a touch screen that can be seen clearly in bright conditions, add to their attraction.

As well as a great screen, good audio is a must for gamers, hence the inclusion of top-quality speakers, plus studio-quality microphones with AI noise-cancelling to ensure realistic sound and minimise distractions.

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How do I make sure my laptop is compatible with hardware for gaming?
With a laptop, portability is key, allowing you to easily carry it with you. But that’s not to say you won’t want to make use of an array of hardware, such as an external screen, controllers, a charging dock, headsets and other accessories. That’s why you need a laptop with plenty of ports, and the laptops in the Galaxy Book4 series each have two Thunderbolt 4 ports as well as USB, HDMI and headphone and microphone jacks.

What’s the most important factor when choosing a gaming laptop?
If you’ve ensured a decent central processor and graphics processing unit, a good amount of RAM and quality screen, you’ve probably got yourself a good gaming laptop. Some might suggest a 4K display is needed, but when balancing cost, what’s more important is the graphics processor, so you should prioritise this.

The beauty of laptops is their portability – a factor that’s important to Li who wants to take hers wherever she goes. Once upon a time that may have meant losing out on some of key elements in a great gaming laptop. But the latest machines on the market ensure that portability doesn’t mean sacrificing performance.

To find out more about which Samsung Galaxy Book4 laptop might be the right one for your gaming needs, head to

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