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What are the best laptops for game development? You may wonder whether to use a MacBook or a Windows laptop for your game development needs. Well, this may be a tough decision if you do not know the difference between them.
Ideally, a MacBook is not recommended because it will mean spending a lot of money to ensure that you get the maximum out of it.
Moreover, a MacBook may not be suitable for several other reasons as well.
Firstly, the touch bar instead of the F-row of function keys may be annoying.
A MacBook is good for looks, speed, and portability but is certainly not for heavy-tasking and game development. The hardware configurations and the cost, both do not match a Windows Laptop.
Operating systems are an important aspect for game development. Therefore, you will need one of the Windows laptops for the ease of your work.
On the other hand, the Windows operating system will also ensure better window management.
It will allow you to open multiple windows and applications more conveniently. You can even split these windows into halves and quarters according to your need and ease.
Sometimes, during game development and programming you will need to take screenshots and make screen recording for sharing it with others.
You can do it easily on a Windows laptop using the shortcut keys or by using the Snip & Sketch app.
Therefore, unless you are developing a game for iPad or iPhone or have a preference for Final Cut Pro, choose one of these five Windows laptops for game development.
It will save you from a lot of troubles and allow you to focus on your job – developing the best game.
- Laptops for Game Development Price
- What is Game Development and Its Importance?
- Minimum & Recommended System Requirements for Game Development
- 5 Best Laptops for Game Development 2021:
- Things to Look for before Buying a Laptop for Game Development
Laptops for Game Development Price
What is Game Development and Its Importance?
In simple words, game development is the process of creating a video game. It is building on a specific concept or idea of a game, its characters, its themes and different objects.
The process involves different stages and aspects such as programming, engineering, rendering, recording, mixing, producing, testing, and more.
The first step involves creating a brief description to refine your ideas in a few sentences, a process called high concept.
Next is pitch, and this is a big one. This, when summarized in the best form, will enable you to communicate your ideas and goals and establish the need for developing a game.
The following step, concept, is something that combines high concept and pitch both.
This is the stage in which you outline and describe all the different aspects of the game you want to build. It includes the story, the demographics, and even the risk analysis.
Game design document is created in the next step which includes the actual gameplay as well as all of the prototypical aspects of the project.
Prototype is the next step which is the stage to develop the game building methods.
This will help you in two different ways. One, to create a proof of your concept, and two, adapt to your goals in a more perceptible form.
The final step is production of the game which involves designing, creation of the different levels and programming. This is when the game starts to take its shape.
The most significant importance of game development is to influence the art of the game by creating a unique visual experience for the gamers. The art assets are well implemented to resonate the game design.
Game development is also very important to decide and determine several aspects of the game.
It also helps in integrating the codes into art and sound to create a game that is playable and exciting as well.
It helps in using the artificial intelligence engines for the non-player characters and connects them to the player through the controllers and input.
Most importantly, it creates a better and more immersive gaming environment which the players relate to.
Minimum & Recommended System Requirements for Game Development
For 2D game development you will need a laptop that comes with DX 11 compatible graphics card, Intel core 3rd generation dual core Intel CPU, 128 GB SSD, and 2 GB of RAM. For 3D game development, at least a 2.5 GHz Intel Quad Core or AMD equivalent processor, 8 GB of RAM, 256 GB of SSD, and Nvidia GeForce 470 GTX or AMD Radeon 6870 HD or higher graphics is required.
Since game development will need you to run complex software and apps on your system, and most of the times all of them at the same time, you will need a system that is powerful and comes with the recommended specs and hardware components as mentioned below for better and faster production.
Minimum system requirements: Intel Dual Core i5 processor of the 8th generation | 8 GB of RAM | 256 GB SSD | Integrated Intel HD graphics 620 | 13.3 inches screen | 1366 x 768 pixels resolution | 8 hours of battery life
Recommended system requirements: 6th generation of Intel Core i7 or higher processor| 16 GB of RAM or higher | 512 GB SSD or higher | Dedicated Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti graphics chip or better | 15.6 inches screen | 1920 x 1080 pixels resolution or higher | 10 hours of battery life or more
5 Best Laptops for Game Development 2021:
1. Asus Zenbook Pro 15 – Best Overall
Bottom Line: This is overall the best laptop in this list in terms of both speed and quality of performance when you use it for your game development needs. The Intel Core i9 processor is better than the other ones in the list with four powerful cores. The dedicated Nvidia GTX graphics chip in it is equally good.
- Screen: 15.6 inches
- Storage: 512 GB PCIe SSD
- RAM: 16 GB DDR4 SDRAM
- Processor: 8th generation Intel Core i9 8950HK
- OS: Windows 10 Pro
- GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti
- The system keeps cool due to the effective dual fans and three heat pipes.
- Images are vivid for the Nano Edge touch display and Pantone color accuracy.
- The system ensures effortless performance with its gaming grade graphics.
- The screen malfunctions sometimes and shows black and dotted lines.
- The fans can be very loud at times.
- Weird noise is also heard near the touch pad.
This system is a mark of perfection and power. It will keep cool with its efficient cooling system.
You will have more connectivity options with a large number of high-performing I/O ports.
The Nano Edge UHD touch display shows images at 4k. The thin bezel around the screen provides an 83% body to screen ratio to make the images more clear, vivid and sharper.
There will be no drop in the performance of the system with its 8th generation processor and NVIDIA graphics card. You can complete the most demanding tasks in quick time and with maximum accuracy.
The unique thing about this system design is the Screen Extender mode. This makes the screen pad your multitasking partner providing you with more power and convenience in your job.
This technology will allow you to have a dual display in the same device providing endless possibilities.
The intelligent touchpad will adapt to your work and help you to do more in quick time creating shortcuts for all those necessary apps to meet your game development needs.
You will get enough RAM and storage, a stable wi-fi 5 and Bluetooth 4.1 connectivity and a 71-watt-hour lithium polymer battery that charges up to 69% in just 49 minutes. Check out Asus ZenBook Pro 15 UX580GE Laptop Review.
2. Lenovo Legion Y720 – Runner Up
Bottom Line: The only reason that this specific laptop for game development is considered to be the Runner up is that it comes with an Intel Core i7 processor. Otherwise, the huge and fast combo storage, the efficient and powerful enough dedicated graphics card, and RAM would have made it one of the best devices.
- Screen: 15.6 inches
- Storage: 256 GB PCI-Express SSD + 1 TB HDD
- RAM: 16 GB GDDR5
- Processor: Intel Core i7 7700HQ
- OS: Windows 10
- GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060
- The graphics of this system is simply stunning and immersive.
- The speed and storage are good to boost the boot up times.
- The sound system is cinematic due to the Dolby Atmos technology.
- The system is quite heavy weighing 7.04 pounds making it less portable.
- This specific laptop model does not come with a G-Sync support.
- The battery life of 4 hours is incredibly low by today’s standards.
If you want higher and faster performance then this is the gaming or game development laptop that you should choose to buy.
This system comes with a screen that offers stunning resolution. The Ultra HD IPS display will match with the immersive sound while handling any game confidently.
The discrete NVIDIA GTX graphics card will help you to handle and complete even the most grueling tasks on this system, whether it is gaming or for any mobile graphic work such as designing, video or 3D rendering.
The dual storage not only allows a lot of space but also reduces the boot time to make the system perform at a lightning fast speed. It is also accident proof and silent in operation.
The sound quality is further enhanced by the Dolby Atmos to make it more moving and breathtaking and make you feel involved in the actions. With such sound and VR support you can truly use this system according to your needs.
While working on this system you can even customize the setup so that it is perfect for you.
The Lenovo Nerve Sense will allow you to adjust the keyboard lighting, the hotkeys for more precision, and streamline the audio.
If you do not want to use your keyboard or mouse while testing a game you have created, you can use the wireless gaming controller since the system comes with Xbox One Wireless Controller Support integrated in it.
The backlit keyboard is programmable which will not only make your typing easy but more convenient as well according to the given settings.
The better thermal design of the system will keep it cool by dissipating the heat effectively through the rear air vents using the dual metal fans.
The all-metal cover makes the system more durable and resilient to daily wear and tear.
Finally, the Thunderbolt support will reduce the need of multiple ports and help you to transfer your files easily and quickly at a speed up to 40 Gbps.
3. HP Spectre X360 – Good Quality Touchscreen
Bottom Line: In addition to the high-end specs that offers a considerably high level of performance, this is a good laptop for game development simply due to the good quality touchscreen that it comes with. This bright screen with its better features will make your game development very easy and comfortable.
- Screen: 13.3 inches
- Storage: 512 GB SSD
- RAM: 16 GB DDR3 SDRAM
- Processor: 7th generation Intel i7-7500U
- OS: Windows 10
- GPU: Integrated
- Performance of this system is good enough and allows multitasking.
- The keyboard design is good for natural and comfortable typing experience.
- The screen quality is good enough.
- The system may get hot even with minimal use.
- The fans of the system are also quite noisy.
- The face recognition feature of the camera does not work properly.
This is another excellent device in terms of power and performance and good enough for low graphical game development.
It will allow you to multitask and that too at a quite fast pace, even though the graphics provided by i7 7500U will use 8 GB of the 16 GB RAM of the system.
This is no waster of a machine and will allow you to have a smoother, better, more natural and comfortable typing experience, thanks to its backlit keyboard.
The chiclet style keys are adequately spaced to reduce typing errors.
The screen is good enough and so is the webcam and the Windows Hello feature included in it is welcome.
The sound quality is good enough and is ample for a laptop of this size. The speakers are bottom firing and are tuned by Bang & Olufsen.
The build quality of this laptop is also strong and good but is still light and slim to look at. The aluminum metal is brushed which hides the dirt and smudges.
The battery comes with a fast charging ability from empty to 50% in 30 mins. For standard use, the battery life will last up to 6 hours and anywhere in between 8 to 10 hours for low-intensive tasks.
The touchscreen is bright making it easy to read the content.
The 360-degree will make it look like a portable movie screen. You can also flip it backwards. Check out HP Spectre X360 Review.
4. Dell XPS 9550 – Great Design and Light in Weight
Bottom Line: The great design of this light in weight laptop is favored by the users for game development and there are other reasons for it. It comes with specs and configurations that are efficient enough to take on heavy workload and still offer a reliable, faster, and a consistently high level of performance.
- Screen: 15.6 inches
- Storage: 256 GB SSD
- RAM: 8 GB DDR3 SDRAM
- Processor: Intel Quad Core i7 6700HQ
- OS: Windows 10
- GPU: GeForce GTX
- The display is excellent with good aspect and contrast ratio.
- Great design of this laptop makes it almost bezel-free.
- The keyboard and touchpad both are good and responsive.
- The battery may swell up making the touchpad unusable.
- The fans emit loud noise under heavy workload.
- Annoying heat management affects performance.
This is a laptop that can be used for any purpose, and certainly for mid range game development. It will handle both light and heavy workload with equal efficiency.
Every single element of this laptop is incorporated keeping the present times and the varying demands of the users in mind.
It comes with a wonderful display, a comfy keyboard, a good enough audio system that provides good quality sound, and a large enough trackpad.
You can use this system for a long time due to its powerful components inside and still not pay much.
5. Microsoft Surface Book 2 – Value for Money
Bottom Line: This laptop will cost you comparatively less than the others mentioned in this list but will not fail to operate at a high level to make your game development efforts easier and offer a high value for your money due to the fast processor, good quality screen, long battery life, and Cortana support.
- Screen: 13.5 inches
- Storage: 256 GB
- RAM: 8 GB DDR3 SDRAM
- Processor: 7th generation Intel Dual Core i5
- OS: Windows 10 Pro
- GPU: Intel HD Graphics 620
- This is a luxury laptop but promises great power and functionality.
- The fulcrum hinge is strong and pushes the screen back to 115 degrees.
- The display comes with higher resolution and IPS LCD.
- The system may fail to recognize the graphics card at times.
- There are battery issues as it depletes fast even in lowest power settings.
- There is no HDMI port in the system and a very few USB ports.
The 7th generation processor, storage, and RAM of the system is good enough to provide you with enough power.
It will also allow 17 long hours of video playback with sharper and clearer images produced by its Intel HD integrated GPU.
This is the fastest model in this series that provides double the power of the previous ones and comes with a full size SDXC card reader.
The screen quality is also fair enough to display images at 3:2 aspect ratio and a contrast ratio of 1600:1. The exciting PixelSense display comes with an improved touchscreen feature.
There are different versatile modes in which you can use this laptop. You can use it as a laptop to work on the complex software and demanding apps, even when you are on the go.
If you do not want to use the keyboard and its large trackpad, you can resort to the interactive touchscreen to use it in the tablet mode. Simply detach the display and you are ready to take it anywhere.
Fold the device to change it into Studio Mode and feel comfortable while drawing and sketching in an easy and natural position. If you want more immersive creative experience, use a surface pen and Surface dial.
You can detach the screen by pushing a button, turn it and reattach it to share your content during presentations.
You can use voice commands to interact with Cortana. It will provide excellent viewing angles, contrast ratio, black levels, color, and brightness.
There is a USB C port included in this system. It will adapt to the ways in which you create a game on this system.
You can see innovation in every aspect of the design of this system which is light in weight and promises unprecedented performance.
Irrespective of its size, you can type easily and comfortably on the backlit keyboard as well as on the screen directly using a Surface Pen.
Whether you play, work or create a game on this laptop, you will experience the very best of Microsoft, making it a laptop worth considering. Check out Microsoft Surface Book 2 Review.
Things to Look for before Buying a Laptop for Game Development
For the game developers it is the specifications of the laptop that is more important to focus on while buying one.
Since game development is a broad church, especially these days when there are a plethora of games available online, it is highly important for a game developer to create a more competitive, exciting, and immersive game.
Therefore, it is essential to choose the best laptop, which is tough if you do not know what to look for in them.
Ideally, the machine you need should objectify your purpose and at the same time meet with your programming tendencies.
Ideally, you should choose a laptop for developing and designing a game based on the four major paths.
When you know these, it will be easier for you to focus on the requirements of your game development laptop.
- The four paths
Game development is mainly coding and programming, and in large volumes.
Therefore, the CPU will be the most important part to consider in your laptop. Then, you should focus on the RAM and storage because that will have a huge impact on the performance of the processor, irrespective of its brand and specs.
2D Art is an important aspect of game development. Though this is not very demanding, it is better to have a touch screen with good resolution. Powerful entry-level hardware components are also good in this case.
3D animation is also very important because almost every game today is based on 3D technology.
Designing such games need real time sculpting, scenes with higher polygon counts, and real-life graphics. Therefore, a good and powerful GPU is essential for your laptop.
Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality is the fourth major aspect of game development.
This provides the users with an interactive and more immersive gaming experience.
The settings look like the real world as well as the objects and figures seem real.
Therefore, your computer should generate such perceptual information more realistically.
Though AR will not need very high and powerful specs, VR surely will.
Working with a less powerful GPU that is not VR capable may cause limitations, lower concentrations and even headaches.
A latest processor is mandatory in your laptop for game development jobs.
Anything less than 7th generation is certainly not recommended.
Also make sure that the processor is an i5, at least, because it will be powerful and speedy enough to meet with your game developing needs.
Anything less than 8 GB is not recommended for developing games. Period.
However, a 16 GB RAM would be much better and more helpful for your purpose.
However, do not go for 32 GB RAM or more because it will be a waste of both, your money and RAM of your laptop.
Your laptop should have a dedicated GPU for any 3D work and designing any modern game.
Go for the new generation and latest versions of GPUs and make sure that it comes with real-time ray tracing capability.
NVIDIA graphics of the latest versions are a good choice with or without RTX.
Solid State Drive is another thing that you should look for in your laptop if you want to have smoother and better user experience.
An SSD will significantly improve the performance of the device.
As for the storage capacity, you should ideally settle for nothing less than 256 GB, more the better.
This will ensure that you have enough space to store your creation, which will be in huge files, needless to say.
If you are into highly professional game development that involves heavy workloads and intensive graphics, it is better to go for 1 TB storage. It will really do wonders for you.
- Battery life
Another important thing to look for is the battery life of the system.
Since your processor will be working on intensive tasks and software while you create a game, it is prudent to use a laptop that comes with long battery life.
This will enable you to work on it for long hours on a single charge, even if the processor and other hardware components drain out a lot of life from the battery pretty fast.
It is also needed to choose a laptop with high battery life if you specially work outdoors a lot, because an average battery with average life is good enough for indoor work only. For outdoor works you will need something that offers more.
Ideally, an 8 to 10 hours of battery life is most suitable for a laptop that you want to use for game development.
- Size and weight
These are the two specific and important aspects that determine the portability of a laptop.
Ideally, you should choose a laptop that is smaller in size, sleek in design, slim and light in weight.
This will enable you to carry it along with you anywhere you want to work on it.
Apparently, the screen size will determine the weight of the laptop. If you wish to buy a laptop with a 17-inch screen, it will be quite bigger in comparison to a laptop with a 13-inch screen, making it less portable.
Moreover, if you want a touch screen, it will weigh a lot more than a laptop that does not come with this feature.
It is because the hardware components will differ and will be heavier in a laptop with touchscreen.
Ideally, any laptop with a screen ranging from 13 to 17 inches and weighing between 3 to 5 pounds is considered to be portable and useful for game development.
- Thermal capacity
As said earlier, game development involves a lot of software, coding and programming which means your processor will experience heavy workload, most of the time.
Therefore, quite naturally, there will be a lot of heat generated within the system.
It is usually a big challenge to keep down the temperature level of the system which is why you should focus on the thermal capacity of the system when you choose one to buy.
You can ask the sales rep about the heat management and maintenance and even go through different user reviews to find out what they have experienced after buying the laptop you have concentrated on.
- Display and resolution
When it comes to choosing the display, there are several factors that you should consider.
First, you should focus on the type of panel you want in your laptop. You may choose from Matte, IPS, TN, or OLED, depending on your budget.
Next is the resolution which should be ideally 1080p or 4K. Also consider the refresh rate of the screen which should be a minimum of 60 Hz.
However, when it comes to display there are two specific things that will determine your final choice.
One, it is your budget and two, it is your needs. Personal opinion will also matter but you should focus more on your game development needs before making your purchase.
What specs do I need in a laptop for game development?
A minimum of 256 GB of SSD storage, 8 GB of RAM, an i5 processor and new generation of dedicated NVIDIA GPUs are required for basic game development jobs. However, these are the minimum specs that you need in your laptop. You can go for higher ones if you are into more intense game development.
Is 16 GB of RAM overkill for a laptop for game development?
The short answer to this question is, no. Ideally, 16 GB of RAM is necessary for heavy workloads and for creating high-end games. You can operate more programs at a time. However, if you are into basic game developments, it is prudent to buy a laptop with 8 GB of RAM and save the unnecessary expense.
Are gaming laptops good for programming?
Yes, the gaming laptops are specially designed and built for games and therefore it will be more helpful for your game development projects. However, be informed that gaming laptops do not come cheap due to the heavy-duty hardware included in it. If your budget permits, these laptops can be a good and productive investment.