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Are you a college student studying working on developing games or a professional game developer looking for the best laptop for game development?
You’ve come to the right place.
In a hurry?
Here’s our Editor’s choice:
MSI GL65 Leopard
When it comes to picking the right laptop for game development, there are more than a few puzzle pieces to solve. If you’re into 2D game development, your needs might be different from someone who’s developing a graphically demanding 3D game. If you’re just a beginner, you wouldn’t know all the intricate stuff you have to deal with later.
Luckily for you, we have analyzed more than 50 modern laptop models and have handpicked a few gems that are perfect for game development. This will save you hours of research and you can easily pick a laptop that fits your needs like a glove.
Without wasting any time, let’s get into it.
Editor’s Choice – MSI GL65 Leopard
The Editor’s choice for the best laptop for game development is the MSI GL65 Leopard.
This MSI laptop comes with an impressive spec sheet and also has a price tag that is not expensive for a lot of users who want to develop games. MSI has always been a brand that provides a lot of value and the story continues with this model as well.
This laptop comes with a 15.6-inch display that is LED-backlit and has a full HD resolution. As a gaming laptop display, this one has a refresh rate of 144 Hz and a response time of 3 ms. Both these features help in giving you a fluid visual experience when playing games. As far as developing games are concerned, you will have a big screen that is accurate in terms of colors and also perfect for writing code.
The processor that powers this MSI laptop is an Intel Core i7 processor. This is a hexa core processor from the 10th generation of Intel chips which is the latest one. You can easily say that this is one of the most powerful processors out there for a laptop.
The processor has a base clock speed of 2.6 GHz and a maximum clock speed of 5.0 GHz which is more than enough power than any game developer or ever need. Without a doubt, this processor can handle any game development environment without a single hiccup.
The memory department on this laptop is flush with 16GB of DDR4 type memory. The memory comes with a clock speed of 2666 MHz and the laptop also gives you the option to upgrade to a maximum of 64 GB which is awesome. With the memory in place, you will be able to run pretty much any application you want. Multitasking is a breeze on this laptop and there are no complaints on that front.
The graphics card we have on this MSI laptop is an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070. This is a super high-end graphics card from Nvidia and comes with a dedicated video RAM of 8 GB that is of GDDR6 type. With this graphics card, you will be able to play pretty much any game you want. So if you are a gamer, they will absolutely fall in love with this laptop.
As far as developing 3D games and 3D models are concerned, this graphics card lends a helping hand in every way possible. Regardless of the complexity of the game you are developing, this graphics card will not be the bottleneck in any way.
Overall, the MSI GF65 Is an excellent gaming laptop that also serves as one of the best laptops for game development. The laptop comes with a stunning processor, excellent memory, and a fantastic graphics card that give you brilliant user experience. Another amazing thing about this laptop is that you don’t have to spend a pretty penny to make this yours.
Best Mac For Game Development – MacBook Pro 13
The MacBook Pro 13 is the best Mac for game development especially if you are a student. This MacBook Pro is super portable and does not compromise on power, giving you complete user experience.
The battery life of the MacBook Pro is one of its best features despite being a high-performance device. You can easily get around 9 to 11 hours of battery life with simple stuff like streaming videos, browsing the web, and working on simple everyday activities. Even when you develop games, you can make this laptop last for about 6 to 7 hours which is perfect.
As far as processing power is concerned, the MacBook Pro 13 comes with an Intel Core i5 processor that has more than enough power for most game developers. This is the latest gen processor from Intel and is perfect for game development.
The laptop comes with a memory of 8GB. This memory is very fast and belongs to the DDR4 type. If you are a student or someone who is just starting the game development career, then this amount of RAM will be more than enough. If you are a professional who is looking to develop a serious game, then you might want to look into 16 GB when purchasing the laptop.
The MacBook Pro 13 does not come with a dedicated graphics card. The integrated graphics solution is pretty good and should enable you to develop games that are not that graphically intensive. if you are looking to develop more complex games, then you should take a look at the MacBook Pro 16 as it is the only Apple laptop that comes with a dedicated graphics card option.
The display on the MacBook Pro 13 is a gem. It comes with Retina resolution and offers what is the best viewing experiences ever. The color quality is fantastic and you get super deep blacks and excellent whites. The display is perfect for coding and also for media consumption, thanks to the viewing angles.
Overall, the MacBook Pro 13 is a portable and compact laptop that does not compromise on power. It gives you enough processing power to develop your games that aren’t graphically very demanding. Easily, the MacBook Pro 13 is one of the best laptops for developing games.
Best Budget Laptop For Game Development – Acer Predator Helios 300
The Acer Predator Helios 300 is the best budget laptop for game development. The title of the budget laptop simply denotes that this is the most affordable laptop where you can get a performance that is not compromised at any level.
In terms of specs, the Acer predator model comes with all the necessary hardware that makes a good gaming laptop. You get a solid processor that is complemented by a pretty good graphics card. Regardless of whether you are a student or a professional game developer, this laptop has something for all.
The display we have on this Acer laptop is a fantastic one for playing games. The 15.6-inch display comes with a refresh rate of 144 Hz and a response time of 3 ms. These specs make this gaming display almost void of motion blur and give you fluid gaming experience. The full HD resolution of the display is also key in delivering high-quality images there are sharp and accurate in terms of color representation.
The Intel Core i7 processor is in charge of things, and it does a fantastic job. It comes with a base clock frequency of 2.6 GHz which is more than enough for most game developers. Unless otherwise, you do something very demanding, your CPU does not need to go beyond this clock speed. If you need some extra power, the processor can clock up to a maximum of 4.7 GHz which should be enough.
The processor gets good support from the memory department which is flush with 16 GB of DDR4 type RAM. This memory gives you the freedom to multitask to your heart’s content. You can run several applications side-by-side without any worries about your laptop’s performance. Game development is such a breeze with this processor and memory on your laptop.
The graphics card on this device is an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti. This is an upper mid-range graphics card that comes with a dedicated memory of 6 GB. This graphics card is perfect for developing 3-D games and working on Unity and Unreal gaming engines.
Overall, the Acer Predator Helios 300 is a neat gaming laptop that comes at an affordable price. It is not the cheapest laptop for game development, but it gives you the best bang for your buck and allows you to produce some amazing games without holding back.
Best High-Performance Laptop For Game Development – ASUS ROG Strix Scar
The Asus ROG Strix Scar is our choice for the best high-performance laptop for game development. This laptop comes with excellent specs and has a price tag that can and will give you a heart attack. Having said that, this laptop is on this list because we have to give a premium solution for those who actually want one. You do not need this laptop to develop games especially if you’re at the starting stage.
The processor that power is this Strix Scar model is an Intel Core i7 processor from the 10th gen of Intel chips. This processor can clock to a maximum of 5.1 GHz and can give you some serious power whenever you need it. As far as gaming development is concerned, you will not get a better processor than the one here.
The display on this laptop is also nice. The 15.6 inches LED-backlit IPS display comes with full HD resolution and a refresh rate of 240 Hz which is fantastic for gaming. The screen is a widescreen giving you enough screen real estate for coding. You can also stack windows side-by-side and improve your productivity if that’s your thing.
The storage on this laptop is a 512GB solid-state drive. This storage is very fast and if you’re coming from a mechanical hard drive, you will fall in love with the speed and performance. The solid-state drive loads the operating system in just a few seconds and launches all programming environments in a snap.
The keyboard on this laptop deserves a special mention. The keyboard has a nice layout and is perfect for typing your court. As a game developer, you will be spending a lot of time with the keyboard and this one will not disappoint you. The backlighting on the keyboard is a bit too flashy but will come in handy when there is not enough light.
The graphics card we have on this laptop is an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070. This is a high-end graphics card from Nvidia and it comes with a dedicated video RAM of 8 GB. With this GPU, you will be able to play pretty much any game you want. When it comes to working on the development of 3-D games, this GPU will come in handy in modeling and rendering processes.
Overall the Asus ROG Strix Scar is a premium flagship laptop that comes with all the bells and whistles you would expect in high-end gaming laptops. This laptop is overkill for most game developers, but if you want to develop some serious games that are graphically demanding, then this laptop might be your best friend.
What To Look For In The Best Laptop For Game Development?
If you’re not happy with the option provided above, that’s okay. With a bit more research, you will find the right laptop for your game development needs.
But before you take out your card for your laptop, here are some criteria you should carefully consider so that you can avoid some common mistakes and end up with the right notebook for you.
Portability & Design
Portability is an important factor if you are a student who is just learning game development. you don’t want to handle I have a laptop and take it with you to lectures all over the campus. It will only make things difficult for you.
If that’s the case, then go for an ultrabook that is slim and weighs around 3 pounds. Most Ultrabooks that have a 13.3-inch screen will satisfy these two criteria. Also, Ultrabooks are a lot more powerful than they appear to be so don’t worry about losing performance for the sake of portability.
If portability is not a big deal, then you can go with a 15.6-inch laptop. The advantage of choosing this size is that you get a bigger display. We do not recommend going over this size as it could lead to a huge laptop which will be very hard to carry around.
If you are planning to develop some serious games that are super dependent on modeling and graphics, then you may have to deal with the cooling of the laptop as well. This is why it is important to pick a laptop that comes with a good cooling system.
A good cooling system will keep the optimum temperature of the device under the prescribed limits and will allow a maximum sustained performance which is essential for a professional.
As a game developer, you are going to spend a lot of time in front of your laptop. The display is probably the most important part of your laptop as you will be looking into it for most of the day.
Having a good display on your laptop can be a game-changer. It can help you professionally as well as give you the gift of good eyes. Though we don’t have any scientific backing, going with a good display can prevent all sorts of harm from your eye’s way.
Let’s talk about the size of the display. Like we mentioned in the above section, if you prefer portability over function, then it is perfectly fine to go for a 13.3-inch laptop. In other cases, we recommend going for a 15.6-inch display as it gives you all the screen real state you need for a proper game development environment.
A 15.6-inch screen is white enough for you to have to windows running side-by-side. This can be a huge boost in productivity and will help you achieve more in a shorter period.
The next important thing about your display is its resolution. A few years ago, we would have been fine saying that a 720p display is enough. But we are in 2020 right now and 1080p resolution is the bare minimum you need these days.
Even if you are on a budget, going for a full HD resolution display is an absolute necessity. This resolution gives you a good pixel density and provides clarity of what’s going on on the screen. With this resolution, you can also see more stuff on the screen which will surely help down the road.
If money is not a problem, you can also go for higher resolution displays like a QHD or are a UHD display. These displays bring more pixels and offer you better performance but do note that this can easily stack up against your overall cost so tread carefully there.
Another important thing to note is that all full HD panels are not created equally. Make sure that you have an IPS panel on your display. This is probably the best panel you can get, and with that, you will get a solid contrast ratio and excellent viewing angles.
You can save some money by opting for a TN or a VA panel. But performance-wise, but these panels are very inferior when compared to an IPS panel. The viewing angles are also not as good and even terrible in some cases.
If you are a student, then there is a good chance that you will have to work outdoors. If we have the habit of working in a park or while in transit, then you need to make sure that your laptop has a decent brightness level. Make sure your laptop has a maximum brightness of at least 300 to 400 units so that you can see the elements on the screen even under the sun.
As a game developer, you’re going to need a lot of processing power. Make sure you don’t get stuck with an inferior processor that can ruin your progress as a developer. The following are some tips to help you go with the best processor for your needs.
If you are in the business of designing simple games, then a dual-core processor might be more than enough. All you need to do is to make sure that the processor comes with decent clock speed and also belongs to one of the latest generations. You will not go wrong with either an Intel or an AMD processor, but just make sure that it is a recent chip.
If you are planning to make games that a substantial in size, then we recommend you get a quad-core processor or a hexa core processor. Both these processors can be quite powerful and can do a lot of heavy lifting. If you’re planning to go for an Intel processor, make sure you get an Intel Core i5 or i7 processor. Avoid i3 processors as they are not as powerful and can be a bottleneck later.
Having a good clock speed on your processors is important. Make sure that the processor has a decent base clock frequency upwards of 1.5 GHz. The processor should also be able to provide more power when you need it. This is why the processor should make use of the functionality like Turbo boost and clock to higher speeds. A processor with a maximum clock frequency in upwards of 4 GHz would be a very good fit.
Now comes the important question of whether to choose Intel or AMD. Both the processor is perfectly fine when it comes to game development. In terms of volume, AMD easily edges out Intel as they are a lot more affordable. So if you want to save some money in the process and department, we recommend going after AMD chips. Having said that, you can also spend the same out of money on an AMD processor to get much better performance.
Having a good graphics card essential in a laptop for game development. However, not all game developers need a dedicated graphics card on the device. Let’s discuss this in more detail.
If you are a game developer who focuses on simple games, then you may not need a dedicated graphics card at your end. Most of your workflow will be perfectly fine with an integrated graphics card because they have improved leaps and bounds over the years.
If you are a game developer who wants to develop the next big thing, then you will need a solid discrete graphics card. Make sure you get one of the latest GPUs from either Nvidia or AMD.
Our recommendation is to always go for an Nvidia graphics card as they know what they’re doing. This is especially true if you are into unity game development or working with any other game engine. When working on 3-D games, you will have to deal with a lot of models And a discrete graphics card will surely come in handy there.
In most cases, an upper mid-range graphics card will seal the deal. If you are going to get a super high-end graphics card, be informed that you will have to shell a lot of money. So make sure that you buy the graphics card for your needs and not as a vanity.
Storage is one of the most important components of a laptop. Make sure that you have fast storage on the device and also Apple space to play with.
When selecting storage, one rule you should adhere to is to completely avoid mechanical hard drives. These mechanical hard drives are very slow and can bring your workflow down easily. It can take a couple of minutes to load the operating system, along time to open your regularly used applications, and even data transfer will take a sweet share of your time.
Modern laptops come with solid-state drives as they are away faster than mechanical hard drives. The fastest solid-state drive is said to be 17 times faster than a typical mechanical hard drive. If you are currently using a mechanical hard drive, switch to solid-state drive to see how much of a difference it can make your everyday computing habits.
The caveat with solid-state drives is that it is a lot more expensive than your average mechanical hard drive. You will have to spend more money to get a decent amount of storage which can be limiting especially if you’re on a budget. This is why we recommend people who are starting to go for the smallest size SSD possible which is 128 GB SSD.
If you pick a laptop that allows you to upgrade, you can always go and upgrade your solid-state drive later when you have the budget for it. Another thing to note is that the performance and speed of your solid-state drive improve with more storage.
So if you get a 512 GB solid-state drive, it will give you a much better performance when compared to that of a 256 GB solid-state drive. This is more the reason to go for the highest possible SSD storage if you have the money for it.
You can also try hybrid storage. This is a combination of both a solid-state drive and a mechanical hard drive. The idea is that the SSD portion of the storage will give you the speed and performance you need while the mechanical hard drive portion of the storage will handle all your archives and other data you won’t need regularly.
Connectivity is not something you can skimp on, especially when you are a game developer. You will need all the essential ports on your laptop so that you can have all the external connectivity you need without searching for adapters.
For data transfer, you need a USB type C port as this is going to be the port that we will be used primarily in the next few years. It is reversible and comes with excellent data transfer speeds. With the right USB type C port, you can also charge your laptop and connect to external monitors.
It also helps to have a USB 3.1 Type-A port as most devices you have will have this port. having USB 2.0 ports does not make any difference these days, but you can have them for connecting an external joystick or something that won’t need a lot of speed.
You also need an HDMI port or a display port on your laptop so that you can connect your device to a high-end external display. When you are coding, it is recommended that you have a vertical display for maximum productivity. Having these ports will help you to seamlessly connect your laptop to an external display and you can get to work quickly.
Wireless connectivity options are also important for a laptop. Make sure that your laptop comes with the latest Wi-Fi built in so that you get excellent internet speeds without depending on an ethernet port. The laptop should also have Bluetooth 4.2 or above to make wireless connectivity effortless and reliable.
When it comes to developing a game, people talk about a lot of things but conveniently ignore input devices.
For someone who develops games, the keyboard is one of the most important components on a laptop. Give someone a bad keyboard to develop a game, and you can be sure that he would be pulling the hairs out of his head in a few days.
Make sure that the laptop you plan to get has approval on the keyboard. By proven, we mean that the keyboard has a neat layout and comes with keys that are perfect for typing. The keys should not affect your speed or accuracy in any way.
It is also very important for your keyboard to have backlighting. Having backlighting gives you the ability to develop games even in complete darkness. Jokes aside, a backlit keyboard could save you a lot of time as you can get to work as soon as an idea strikes you and you don’t have to turn all the lights in your room.
The touchpad on your laptop is also equally important. If you are opting for a Windows device, make sure you get a Windows precision trackpad. If you are going the Mac route, you don’t have to worry about anything as the MacBooks have an excellent trackpad that is rivaled by the entire industry.
Battery life is another important aspect of a laptop especially if you’re going to work on the go. This is also paramount if you are a student who is working on game development.
Always go for a laptop that gives you all-day battery life. This will help you go through your day without having to recharge your laptop in the middle of the day and losing productive work hours.
Even if you cannot afford a laptop with all-day battery life, make sure your laptop gives you at least 6 to 8 hours of battery life so that you can juggle productive hours and get the most out of it.
If you are working from a home office or professional environment, you don’t have to worry about battery life as you would have a power back up available all the time.
This is easily the most important factor when it comes to buying your laptop for game development.
There is a wide range of options available when it comes to game development. If you’re tight on money, it would be wise to go for a simple laptop that can help bootstrap your game development career. You can later upgrade your laptop to suit your style.
If you don’t have any budget constraints, then you’re free to choose the best laptop for game development as you see fit. You can go with a flagship or simply the one that caught your attention and can heed to your game development needs.
Note that buying a laptop is an investment. With the right tools, you can make amazing games, and it takes only one game to turn your life upside down. So make an informed decision and choose the right laptop for your needs.
Selecting the right operating system is very important and it won’t be forgiving later.
If you want to develop games for iOS and macOS, then you have to go with a macOS device. You can either try a MacBook Pro 13 or a MacBook Pro 16.
The good thing here is that you can develop games for Windows and Android on a Mac but the vice versa isn’t possible.
If you’re sure about not developing games for macOS, then you can simply proceed with a Windows or a Linux laptop.
That’s all we have for this post.
We hope you found the best laptop for game development. If you have any doubts, do let us know and we’ll try to help you as soon as possible.