Gaming laptops have been frowned upon for a long time, with diehard PC gaming enthusiasts considering it impossible to play latest generation games on a laptop – or at least very difficult to do unless you have a fortune to spend. But the past few years have given us cheaper and cheaper options when it came to gaming laptops, resulting in affordable options for most users, many allowing you to play the latest games on high resolution settings without having to sell a kidney and your parents’ house in order to afford it.

We have already shared with you a good list of great gaming laptops under $1,000 that can handle today’s games without much trouble and last year we shared some really cheap options for those on a really tight budget ($500 and under).

But what if you want to have a bit more freedom and be able to actually choose your own gaming laptop? What should you look for? What makes a laptop a great one for gaming? We’re going to answer all these questions in today’s article and teach you how to choose the best gaming laptop based on your budget. Or just check out our lists I’ve linked to above and you’re all set!

1The Graphics Card

This is, in my opinion, the most important thing you have to look for when it comes to gaming laptops: they must have a dedicated graphics card, and the more recent it is, the better your new acquisition will handle current generation games. One of the better options out there – at least at the moment of writing this article is the nVidia Geforce GTX 980 M, but in case you want to have a look and always be up to date with the latest releases – or check out how recent the model you’re considering is, visit nVidia’s official page here and look at the GPUs listed under the Notebook category – the GTX ones are made for gaming, so that’s what you should be looking for.

If you want to know how good the graphics card of your laptop is, simply google the card’s name and “benchmark” (so something like “GeForce GTX 980M benchmark”) and check out the results out there – usually, you will see an easy to read chart that will show you the score of that particular card and you’ll be able to compare it to the best card on the market at that given moment. Of course, the closer it is to that top score, the better the card is.

When looking at the graphics card, check out the amount of RAM it has: the same card might come with different amounts of RAM (2, 4 or more) – always go for the higher values here, but have in mind that usually a card with 2 GB of RAM will be better than an older card with more RAM.

In the end, this should be the major selling point: the graphics card is the most important thing to look at when you buy your gaming laptop as it ultimately decides what games you can play – and at what quality! Also, you should know that normally laptop manufacturers will rarely build a poor product with a very good GPU, but on numerous occasions you could find a laptop with amazing specs BUT the GPU.