When it comes to gaming laptops, performance, portability, and price seldom see eye to eye. It’s difficult to find a product that excels in all three aspects without compromising. However, while difficult, it’s not impossible. Gaming laptops are premium products with an equally-premium price. They feature the best in portable gaming and high-power components, with the caveat of being very expensive—sometimes prohibitively so. In this article, we will explore the different factors that contribute to why gaming laptops are so expensive.
Engineering: Lack of Standardization
A key reason why gaming laptops are so expensive is the lack of standardization. With desktop PCs, most components are compatible and interchangeable with the overall form factor and assembly structure being the same. However, with gaming laptops, the design, layouts, thermal solution, and overall engineering are largely depended on the manufacturer. Therefore, the cost of developing a gaming laptop is considerably higher.
Despite looking very different than desktop computers, gaming laptops actually feature similar components. Like desktops, laptops also require RAM modules, a CPU, a GPU, motherboard, and so on. However, in order to save space, the components in a laptop have much smaller form-factors than their desktop counterparts.
Laptop components are smaller in size and, in most cases, a bit weaker than the ones used in desktops. The diminished performance is not the fault of the components themselves, but due to lower clock speeds and voltages in order to prevent overheating.
These miniature components often feature custom PCBs to fit properly—which is also custom-made. Laptop CPUs, for example, seldom fit into sockets. Instead, they are soldered or fitted directly onto the motherboard. The same also goes for laptop GPUs. All these factors in addition to the time and resources utilized to develop a gaming PC contribute to its production costs and overall higher sale price.
Thermal Solution (Cooling)
Implementing a good cooling system is a subset of the engineering phase, however, it is one of the most important aspects of why gaming laptops cost so much. Engineers must design the overall chassis, placement of components, keyboard, touchpad and so on in congruence with a sufficient cooling system to ensure that the components of a gaming laptop remain at or close to optimal temperatures. Thermal throttling (diminished performance due to overheating) is frequently present in these portable computers. The reduced space within a laptop makes the components more liable to suffer from overheating issues. In this sense, even with the latest, most efficient components, a laptop without proper cooling might suffer from performance problems and even damage.
To combat this issue, manufacturers must develop cooling solutions to reduce the excessive heat emitted from the laptop’s high-power components. These cooling solutions, however, come at a premium and usually drive up the final price of the laptop.
Take the Asus Zephyrus gaming laptop for example. It is an ultra-thin gaming laptop that is engineered to not only provide great performance but also great cooling. Therefore, the cost of designing and producing such a laptop is far greater than the cost of producing a gaming desktop PC with similar specifications. Another great example of an intuitive cooling system is Razer’s vapor chamber cooling solution.
Aside from the engineering costs, there’s also the manufacturing costs. Like prebuilt desktops, laptops require time and work for assembly and testing. This process is mostly manual and requires the collaboration of several operators to put all the pieces together. Furthermore, once, assembled, the laptop goes through a rigorous stress test to ensure proper functioning. This entire process increases the cost of every laptop. Nevertheless, the tradeoff is a product that is ready to use straight out of the box.
Users frequently pay a premium for a specific gaming laptop brand. This could be due to the brand’s superior quality control, customer support, popularity, and reputation. Take a company such as Razer or Asus. They are known for producing great quality gaming laptops and can, therefore, charge a bit more.
Gaming laptops offer the best of both worlds: The sheer power of a desktop computer combined with the versatility of a laptop. However, it is this very versatility that poses a problem for many manufacturers. These companies invest a lot of resources in engineering and developing a good quality gaming laptop.
Therefore, the cost of producing each laptop, as well as customer support also increases the price of the final product. Nevertheless, if you’re a gamer who’s constantly on the go, a gaming laptop might be the right choice for you. Who knows? A match of Rain Bow Six Siege before a presentation might just be what you need to calm your nerves.