Here’s why you should get a gaming laptop as your next work or college laptop

Think of the best laptops for college or the best laptops for work and your mind will probably conjure up images of something like a Dell Inspiron or a Lenovo ThinkPad – and more recently Microsoft Surface Go 2s – or if you have a some cash to splash around, maybe a Dell XPS 13 or a MacBook Pro.

But I’m here to suggest another way: gaming laptops.

Stop the sneers behind your back. I’m not talking about the red accented bits of plastic and aluminum you may have seen in the past. Rather, I want to recommend a closer look at today’s sleek and sophisticated gaming laptops. These have now been refined into do-it-all machines for work, play and everything in between.

Thin-and-light gaming laptops aren’t new, like the Razer Blade 15 integrating gaming power with a MacBook Pro-like design a few years ago. But these machines were very expensive and came with some caveats when it came to battery life and cooling.

Still, having had a chance to use MSI’s Stealth GS66, which is a rather svelte and neat gaming laptop that eschews loud stickers and design accents for an all-black aesthetic, I’m now convinced the crop current gaming laptops make for excellent work machines, especially if you plan to go or return to university or college.

Suitable portable power supply

a photo of the MSI Stealth GS66

(Image credit: future)

While the Stealth GS66 doesn’t beat the tastes of the new MacBook Air M2 when it comes to thinness, its minimal display bezels mean it fits into a 15.6-inch screen in a machine that weighs a reasonable 4.6 lbs. Still, the model I was testing somehow manages to squeeze in a 12th Gen Intel Core i9 processor and Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 3080 Ti, along with 32GB of RAM.

Now that’s plenty of power for a machine that slips easily into a small backpack or laptop bag and doesn’t feel like lugging a brick around; something that can’t be said for an older 17-inch gaming laptop I own. That meant I could take the Stealth GS66 into the office, thanks to its low-profile design that didn’t scream “PC gamer here” at my colleagues. Admittedly, the fans made a bit more noise than other systems, but not in an unpleasant way.

At a price that sits around $3000/£3000, the Stealth GS66 I was using feels a bit like an overkill. I don’t think a 4K 60Hz display is needed on a 15 inch laptop. And the RTX 3080 Ti was perhaps a bit too much for the compact laptop; I would have preferred the model that came with a 240Hz QHD display and a GeForce RTX 3070 Ti.

a photo of the MSI Stealth GS66 screen

(Image credit: future)

But there’s more to this story than specs vs. value. It’s about how I could use this laptop for just about anything I need.

At the office, he showcased a neat machine for hammering out new techniques and other items for Tom’s Guide; using a SteelSeries keyboard with customizable per-key lighting was a joy to type on. On the go, it’s easy to carry, and I wouldn’t feel self-conscious using a gaming laptop in a fancy coffee shop.

At home and under power, the MSI Stealth GS66 proved to be a powerful gaming machine that chewed up even the most demanding games – in some cases it could replace the desktop, connect to an external display and use its multitude of ports for plugging in peripherals like one of our picks for best gaming mouse or best gaming keyboard.

a photo of the MSI Stealth GS66 keyboard

(Image credit: future)

And the Stealth GS66 isn’t alone here. The Asus ROG Zephyrus G14, Razer Blade Stealth 14, and Acer Triton 500 SE are thin and light gaming laptops that could also be used as work or content creation machines.

Of course, none of these laptops are cheap. But then again, many of the best laptops cost well over $1,000 and probably won’t be able to offer the flexibility of these gaming laptops.

I imagine that if you want a decent work laptop and a solid gaming PC, you’re looking at spending around $2,000, which is the price at which gaming laptops get very powerful. And yes, you lose upgrade flexibility. But it’s not like PC components are cheap and readily available, and a good gaming laptop is likely to last you a while.

Gaming laptops: An easy choice for students

a photo of the MSI Stealth GS66

(Image credit: future)

For people who travel a lot or lack the space to fit a large desktop gaming rig, I think gaming laptops are the answer. And it’s also the type of machine I wish I had when I was a student.

At the tender age of 35, my college years are somewhere in the past. Gaming laptops existed back then, but they were clunky beasts with a lot of compromises. As such, I ended up getting a desktop to take to college

While invaluable, it wasn’t the most flexible setup. It was a pain, as I was studying broadcast journalism, which required quite a bit of video editing and rendering, meaning my only choice was to use rather clumsy iMacs on campus, or go back to my bedroom. and using the power of my gaming PC to crunch through various vox pops and B-roll snippets.

a photo of the MSI Stealth GS66

(Image credit: future)

If any of today’s gaming laptops had existed back then and been in my hands, this situation would have been very different. The power these laptops can produce makes them excellent for rendering video, with solid cooling allowing for sustained workloads.

Plus, we now live in an age where content creation is ubiquitous, so having the power to produce video, especially in a portable package, makes a lot of sense. And when you come home for the holidays, that also means there’s no need to persuade beleaguered parents to pick you up with your gaming PC in tow.

So, in short, if you’re looking for your next powerful all-purpose laptop or a machine that’ll see you through college, I highly recommend looking for a thin and light gaming laptop. It might even be the best overall value choice, given that there are often great gaming laptop deals available.

About Sandy Fletcher

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