At a time where games consoles are notoriously tricky to buy - with PS5 and Xbox Series X stock still being limited, and the Nintendo Switch Pro languishing in the rumour mill - it might be a wise move to consider buying a gaming laptop instead.
If you're in the market for a laptop, you may have already noticed that there's a whole range of impressive ones around at the moment, including more than 70 laptops that are beefed up with NVIDIA's Max-Q technologies and 30 Series graphics cards.
RadioTimes.com recently had the chance to try out one of them, spending a couple of weeks hands-on with the MSI GF65 Thin, a powerful gaming laptop that boasts an NVIDIA 3060 graphics card and all the Max-Q bells and whistles that come with it.
To be honest with you, this laptop is very impressive, so much so that it makes me wonder whether or not buying a laptop might be smarter than forking out on a console.
Why a gaming laptop is a smart investment
Bringing this laptop into my home was a joyous experience, for numerous reasons. For one thing, it quickly became clear that the hype around these NVIDIA 30 Series graphics cards is well earned. Games run like a dream on the 3060 graphics card in this laptop, which couples with the 15.6" FHD 144Hz screen to give you really fast response times - perfect if you fancy yourself as a competitive gamer.
It's also great to experience ray-traced graphics on a portable device, with in-game lighting effects and reflections looking more real than ever. With more and more games beginning to enable ray-tracing (Fortnite and Call of Duty both support this new wave of graphics tech), it's certainly worth investing in a device like this that can properly support it.
Having a specced-up computer also means you can play the freshest indie games as soon as they come out - delightful titles like Qomp and Before Your Eyes haven't yet released on consoles, but they both played like a dream when I reviewed them using this laptop. I've been a console gamer for most of my life, but switching to PC feels like joining an insider's club with so many exclusive perks. (Of course, consoles have exclusives too, but it is nice to see how the other side lives.)
There's also something to be said about having a gaming device this good that is still 100 per cent portable. If you're stuck at home with various other people, being able to pick up your laptop and plonk it anywhere, wherever you can find a quiet spot, really is a godsend. And when the world opens up again, it would be pretty cool to take a device this powerful on the go - it's pretty light at 1.86 kg, and I could easily slide it into my rucksack. Sure, you could do that with the Switch, but the Switch can't offer you ray-tracing!
Another reason why a gaming laptop feels like a smart choice is that they're dual-purpose. You could easily use this as a work device if you wanted to, and it's also handy to have an extra screen in your home (especially if you want to watch TV shows that no one else in your house is interested in). Plus, it plugs into anything with a HDMI port, so you could use it more like a PC or a console if you wanted to.
Also, it might seem obvious, but this laptop comes with its screen included, and it's a screen that offers super-sharp visuals with crisp details in every frame. Compare this to the experience of buying a traditional home console - it's a big, unwieldy brick that you'll have to set up in a special spot, and its visuals will only be as good as the TV or monitor that you already had.
In my opinion, when you add all of those benefits together - the great visuals, the portability, the dual purposes, the exclusive games, and the specially designed screen - you've got a very strong case for buying a laptop instead of a console.
NVIDIA Max-Q technologies explained
Of course, this isn't just any gaming laptop! The MSI GF65 Thin, with the NVIDIA 3060 graphics card, has all the bleeding edge tech of Max-Q inside it.
If you're unfamiliar, Max-Q is a suite of tools within the NVIDIA 30 Series graphics cards. Each of the tools within Max-Q has its own fancy name. And to save this article from getting too unwieldy and complicated, let's try to run through them in layman's terms:
- Advanced Optimus can detect whether your laptop is doing something strenuous (like running a game) or not. It can switch between graphics processors to match your current needs and improve your battery life, whilst still supporting G-Sync and high refresh rates.
- Dynamic Boost 2.0 shifts power between your GPU, CPU and graphics memory automatically, making sure that power is going to the part that needs it most.
- Whisper Mode 2.0 tackles the fact that powerful laptops are sometimes noisy - you can choose an acoustic level that you're comfortable with, and then Whisper Mode 2.0 will use Artificial Intelligence to manage internal systems and keep the noise at your desired level.
- DLSS (Deep Learning Super Sampling) uses Artificial Intelligence to increase your laptop's performance, allowing your games to process more frames per second without sacrificing visuals.
- Resizable Bar also focuses on improving the performance of games, allowing your CPU to access all of your GPU memory, rather than small sections, so they can constantly swap data and get things done quicker.
Whether you fully understand them all or not, these features combine to make the 30 Series laptops properly powerful, reaching high resolutions and competitive frame rates without constantly sounding like a jet engine.
It's impressive stuff, genuinely, but arguably there's something more important than the tech on the inside - how does this laptop actually feel when you use it? As I've already touched upon, the MSI GF65 Thin feels absolutely great, and it might just be what I recommend next time someone asks me about getting into gaming.
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