Can Gaming Laptops Replace the Desktop?

Can Gaming Laptops Replace the Desktop?


– Hey guys, this is Austin.
Computers have been
getting smaller and smaller
ever since the days of mainframes.
It just makes sense, right?
As technology advances,
you want to put it into more
and more portable form factors.
So when Nvidia reached
out and wanted to sponsor
a video on the brand new
Acer Predator Triton 500,
it felt like the perfect time to ask,
Are laptops killing desktops?
And yeah, that’s a big question.
At only 18 millimeters thick,
and just over two kilos in weight,
this is a great example
of how a laptop like this
could not have existed
even a couple years ago.
The entire chassis is made of metal,
and it has a narrow-bezel display,
which is not only bright
and fairly vibrant,
but importantly it does have
a full 144hz refresh rate,
over double what you
would find on most other
non-gaming laptops these days.
Now this version of
the Triton does have an
RTX-2060 inside,
so it will support GSYNC
via an external display.
But if you are able to upgrade this
to the 2080 version of the Triton,
it has GSYNC on the internal display
Which keeps things looking even smoother.
On board, you also have
Killer DoubleShot Pro.
Essentially this can take
advantage of both ethernet
and WIFI at the same time,
to route your traffic
through whichever is faster.
Something that’s hard to get across
is just the level of
polish, fit and finish
with this laptop.
I mean not only does it look clean
with all the blue lighting,
although of course it is RBG.
But on top of that, you’ve
got the little things which
are absolutely nailed.
This is one of the best
touch pads I’ve ever used
on any Windows laptop.
The keyboard is also great.
And that screen really does sell the idea
that this is a super-fast gaming laptop,
even when you’re not even gaming, right?
Stuff like web browsing is
still much, much smoother
than on pretty much any other laptop.
And that is a big, big plus.
So if we get back to the idea of laptops
becoming close to replacing desktops,
one of the very first things
you have to acknowledge
is that laptops have a lot
less space to deal with.
But it also fits in your backpack,
so, you know, there’s that.
This might sound obvious
but there’s some major advantages of going
with a desktop tower.
In the big ones, it’s on
the power side of things.
So not only does a
desktop not have to worry
about things like battery life.
As long as you’ve got mom
paying the electricity bill
you’re totally fine.
One of the bigger issues
is the actual cooling aspect of things.
As you can see with a tower like this,
you can load it up with
fans, RGBs, liquid cooling,
all that is no problem.
So things can be run at much,
much higher clock speeds.
It just really not a big issue.
But, we come over to a laptop
which is less than an inch thin,
certain sacrifices have to be made.
But you know what?
Those sacrifices are getting
smaller and smaller every year.
This delivers a very
similar level of performance
to this giant tower right in front of me.
If we come back to the Triton 500,
you’ll that a large part of this design
is entirely dedicated to
keeping the laptop cool.
Now that makes sense, right?
With a 2060 inside, this can
put off a hundred watts of heat
just from the GPU alone.
So because they have all
these different heat sinks
as well as the metal arrow-blade fans
to keep all that heat moving,
it means that there is
actually very little throttling
even though we are gaming on
such a thin and light laptop.
A big part of this is
thanks to the software.
So if we hit the Predator Sense button
which is very helpfully
labeled right here,
you have full control
over a lot of things,
including the fans.
So by default, this guy actually runs
with the fans all disabled.
But as soon as you start
needing any kind of extra power,
they will start to kick up.
Now for gaming, it’s
actually fairly quiet.
One of the cool parts
is, that if I come over
to the fan control side
and hit the turbo button,
you’ll see that this
thing can really crank up.
So if you have headphones
on and you don’t care
about a little bit of noise,
you can get significantly
better performance
out of the Predator.
And the best part is, as
soon as your done gaming,
you can just hit the turbo button,
and it will bring the clock
speeds back down to normal.
And importantly, those fans
will kick right back off.
It actually is nice to
have the performance
when you need it, or the
silence when you want it.
And I always want the silence.
(laughs)
I’ll give up a few frames to
have a much quieter laptop.
I feel like the more
videos we do like this,
the more I just out myself as
someone who’s like an old man
and like, I don’t care I
just want it to be quiet.
I want it to work well.
Right now there are over one
billion PC gamers in the world.
I think it’s a pretty safe bet to assume
that a lot of those gamers
are using desktops right now.
But just look at the
overall trends, right?
I mean it wasn’t that long
ago that pretty much everyone
had a desktop in their homes.
Now laptops have largely replaced them
for pretty much anything
besides gaming tasks.
Well, I think given how far
gaming laptops have come,
it’s only a matter of time
before gaming is also moving
more and more to the
laptop side of things.
My real question is, exactly
how close can a laptop get
to a full gaming desktop?
So we have come to GDC
here in San Francisco
which is the mecca of all things gaming
and tech related to talk
just a little bit more
about why the laptop
actually makes so much sense in 2019.
Also, we’re were looking for
an excuse to come to GDC.
Now if you take a look inside the Triton,
you’ll see the secret sauce
that makes all this work.
The highly optimized CPU
and GPU to really elevate
the laptop to an entirely different level.
First up we have the CPU.
This is the Intel Core I7-8750h,
which is a full 6 4
processor that can clock
over 4 ghz when it’s boosting.
Now it’s easy to forget
that for a very long time,
we were capped at around four cores
not only on the desktop side,
but also the laptop side.
The idea that we can get
six cores in something
that’s this thin and light,
is something that’s easy
to take for granted.
But this is a big deal.
You can do more than just
gaming on something like this.
With that much power,
stuff like streaming,
video editing, 3D
rendering, all that stuff
is totally possible.
Inside, essentially what you’re getting
is a more power-efficient version
of the eighth-gen core desktop processors.
Now there’s a lot of advantages to this.
Not only is it a very similar layout,
but because we’re dealing with about
less than half the power,
somewhere in the neighborhood
of 45 watts versus 90
plus on the desktop side,
it means that while you’re giving up
a little bit of performance,
that same basic core
architecture is all here.
As long as you have the
cooling to back it up,
which the Triton definitely does,
you can actually still keep
those fairly high boost clocks
even with all six cores loaded.
Now the laws of physics do mean
that because we have less
than an inch-thick laptop,
it’s never going to have quite that same
level of performance as the desktop.
But, it kinda doesn’t need to
as long as you’re getting close enough
and you still deliver the portability.
I think it’s a trade
off that a lot of people
are happy to make.
Don’t expect this trend
to go anywhere either.
As laptops and desktops
share more and more
of the same components, it is very likely,
if the rumors are true,
that we’ll see laptops
with eight core CPU
before too much longer,
which would mean, to be fair,
do you need eight cores
in a CPU of a laptop?
Probably not.
Do you want one?
I do.
Maybe the more interesting comparison
is on the graphics side.
Now for years, Nvidia
made a separate version
of all of their graphics cards.
They wold make the desktop
version, and then a mobile.
However, for the past couple years,
they’ve straight up just made one
that works across the board.
Now, no, it’s not quite that simple.
Nvidia and their OEM
partners such as Acer,
do a lot of work to make
sure that a full RTX card
can fit in a thin,
light chassis like this.
But you might be surprised
at just how close
the graphics card from this laptop is
compared to a much thicker
and much more expensive gaming PC.
What this means is that you’re getting
all of the performance you would expect
as an RTX graphics card.
Not only do you have the
power to play a lot of games
on ultra settings and high frame rates,
but you can also get some of
the cool bells and whistles
including ray tracing
which we are just very
conveniently standing
in front of a giant booth for.
Really what this means is that the days
of waiting for the cool bells and whistles
for the desktop to come
down to laptops are over.
We really basically hit feature parity.
And typically speaking,
when something comes out for
the desktop side of things,
it’s gonna come out for the
laptop side very quickly.
And generally speaking,
you’re really going to be
loosing a lot in that process.
This is something that’s easy
to kind of take for granted, right?
But again, this is a much
thinner, much lighter,
and much more difficult thing to engineer.
It’s easy to forget
that not that long ago,
there was a massive penalty
to get gaming on a laptop.
You had to deal with far inferior specs,
both on the CPU and the GPU side.
And a lot of times you
just didn’t even have
those same level of features.
I mean I can imagine if ray
tracing came out five years ago,
you would not have been
able to play it on a laptop.
While it’s great to have that same level
of performance with the
2060 inside the Triton
as you would get in a desktop,
you also have other
options as you go higher up
in the product stack.
So specifically on the Acer side,
if you upgrade this
Triton with an RTX 2080,
you then get a Max-Q design.
Now the Max-Q design is
actually not that different
from what Intel does on
their high-end mobile CPUs.
So they basically start from
the same building block.
In this case the RTX
2080, it’s the same GPU
across the laptop as well as the desktop.
Now there are some slight differences.
Usually the Max-Q design is a
little bit more highly benzed
and a little more
power-efficient just naturally.
On top of that, they do a much better job
of bringing out the power to
keep that level of performance
as high as possible.
So for context, typically speaking,
an RTX 2080 has a roughly 220 watt TDP.
Now on the laptop side, it’s
usually about half of that,
around 100 to 120 watts.
Even though it’s using half the power,
often times you’re
getting anywhere between
two thirds to three quarters
of that same level of performance.
Now if you excuse all the
nerd talk for a second,
what this means is that
laptops and desktops
are so similar at this point.
It really is just a scaled-up version
of what you’re finding
on the laptops side.
You can go grab a desktop
with some giant cooler
and a ton of heat sinks.
Now of course, there’s going
to be the laws of physics
which mean that laptops
can never quite match
that level of performance.
But when we’re talking about 70 to 80%
of that same level,
in something that’s
less than an inch thick
that you can fit in your backpack
and take with you all day,
I think that’s a super-compelling
value proposition.
I think a lot of people
would prefer to have
one single system.
This here might not be a
hundred percent as powerful
as the most crazy thing out there.
But it can do basically very well,
plenty of battery life,
and most importantly
you can take it with you all day,
something that’s not
really going to happen
anytime soon with the desktop.

100 thoughts on “Can Gaming Laptops Replace the Desktop?”

  1. laptop gang laptop gang laptop gang fit 200 on a table not even 3 desktop but 2 latops for the price of half a desktop

  2. actually the inverse about desktops is why i have one right now
    for price point can get get alot of performance less money
    but if i'm gonna crank out the cash
    gaming laptop might be the way to go cuz performace kinda caps out in my book

  3. RTX Max-q's are nearly 15% slower than a non max-q laptop and almost 25% slower than the rtx desktop version. If any one in the comments want's a laptop, a basic normal laptop , lets say the LG gram, is more than enough for the task we do today. I do truly see the technological of gaming laptops, Austin is correct about the direction we are heading in portable gaming. Ask yourself – "Do I need portability? Do I need to spend extra money for portability?"

  4. I use gaming laptop (HP OMEN) and its pretty good cause I travel quite a lot for family so I can take my gaming with me to different places and game as my will.

  5. Hey Austin i have a question:
    I'm planning to have a rather powerful computer for school, work and editing but i don't know if i should build a pc or get an acer predator helios 300 laptop?
    Any suggestions?

  6. If you work in a different country every 4-5 months you cant have a desktop PC, even though i would wanted to because i love them more than laptops, but I bought Predator Triton 500 (RTX 2080 version) and I must say that its fucking impressive. So thin and light and its killing every game out there. It will be a killer on a 1080p resolution for at least 3-4 years…

  7. Could you do a video on upgrading the triton 500? Dave2d said it was damn near impossible. But, since your a wiz with a screw driver, I know you'll deliver

  8. Play 17 hours straight of WoW on that and tell me if it would be better, ergonomically wise, i dont trust anyone with 2 first names

  9. Uh…. 1 Billion PC gamers in the world, with 7.5 billion people in the world right now? That doesnt sound right.

  10. As someone who uses UE4 for university study, I really like having a laptop.

    Yes desktop is great, but my school has one I can use if I need it, so I have no need for both.

    Pair that with travelling to conferences etc and it makes so much sense for me.

  11. Of course, this wouldn't be a great comment section….without irrelevant personal attacks. This was very informative for my gaming research, as I am seriously considering either this device or a desktop.

  12. Laptops

    -can also be upgraded
    -can game and use anywhere unlike pc
    -easy carry unlike stupid pc
    -even a laptop can be a tablet
    -you can game on a laptop no problemo
    -good budget unlike stupid pc

    PC

    -money waster
    -cant even bring it somewhere else
    -most arent even touch screen
    -cant even be a tablet
    -stuck in your desk forever
    -probably makes u want to upgrade it more and more till u waste your life

    Laptops are better

  13. Laptops will never replace desktops,

    1) law of physics, as u mentioned,

    2) price vs portability, laptop, u pay more for the portability sacrificing the performance for the same amount of money, for example, for a RTX 2060 equipped Triton, u can build a RTX 2080 desktop,

    Laptops are great for people like u who travels a lot but desktop is great for those who travels once or twice in a year,

    Therefore the future will be like this,

    A) Desktop – iPad Pro – Android/Apple

    B) Laptop – iPad Pro – Android/Apple,

    Hence I have to commend Apple for creating products such as iPad Pro, a device which can be used for occasional gaming/work/entertainment,

    2 in 1 ultra books are just stupid, it’s not good to use as a tablet, it’s not powerful enough to use for extreme work, sacrificing portability for poor tablet experience,

    Products out there that are making sense right now are, smartphones, iPads, thin and light gaming laptops, MacBook Pro’s, and of course iMac or desktop PCs,

  14. If you travel a lot and use your computer for things other than gaming all the time, I think the laptop becomes the better option. You get similar power, more practicality, and these days for similar prices too (unless your a big baller going for that $4000 Razer laptop).

  15. If portability is not a need for people I think a desktop is a good choice. It's upgradable and broken parts can be replaced. Laptops now a days have the cpu and gpu already soldered to the motherboard so should they go bad you need to replace to whole motherboard or have it repaired. Been through a couple of laptops that had gpus gone bad but for desktop I just swap the gpu with a working one and I'm good to go. Personally still prefer a laptop as I like to work in many places other than my home.

  16. Still laptop can never replace a desktop just because prices of laptops are almost 50% more than a similar speced prebuilt desktop

  17. Don't believe the RTX hype! I'm not falling for it anymore. It's just a big scam to buy "future proof" laptops with no RTX games available, it's a gigantic scam! Just go for the 1660ti laptops.

  18. Answer to the title , of course they can and to be honest they already replace desktop pc's for alot of people already .

  19. 'Value proposition', sir? A gaming laptop having equivalent processing power as a gaming desktop is (maybe at least right now) always going to be more costly than the desktop. But I do agree that barring the upgradeability of desktop components and the poor battery life of gaming laptops, gaming laptops are becoming nearly similar to gaming desktops.

  20. Just get both and you get the best of both worlds. A desktop for at home and a laptop for when you travel. Gaming laptops have come a really long way than they were 5 years ago though. I remember getting a piece of crap for almost 1000 dollars that couldn't even play modern games even at that time.

  21. have a great desktop right now. but i will need a strong portable machine by the summer of 2020. Hope they come with great laptops by then. Atleast WoW classic dont need much power 😀

  22. Oh shit….i was happy to click on this video…but when i saw the moustache…i wonder who the hell is this…please please shave bit off!

  23. Notebooks can replace desktops but to do it they really need desktop peripherals like large or multiple monitors, external keyboards and mice so the overall footprint is similar. Desktops are completely upgradeable and effortless to work on. EVERYTHING in a notebook is compromised for mobility. Notebooks are not standard form factors. I've a very nice P52 with a Xeon and 70GB RAM (I like VMs) but I can afford it and really like Thinkpads. I also have desktops and their convenience for real power users is unsurpassed. The best band for buck remains a fast desktop for home and a tough, cheap business class notebook for school or the road. (My P52 doesn't travel, my T61s and x200s do and if one dies I'll fix it for next to nothing.)

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