While most consumer technology is on a never-ending trajectory of becoming thinner, sleeker, and lighter, gaming laptops stand as an outlier in the market. Gaming laptops have the difficult task of balancing two opposing factors: powerful performance and portability. This often leads to bulkier, heavier machines.
Gaming laptops are so heavy because they have large screens, batteries, and graphics cards. They also have more powerful cooling systems and a sturdier chassis. They are high-end machines, and this performance comes at the cost of extra components and heavier parts.
Most gaming laptops are on the expensive end of consumer computers, so it can be difficult to understand why they end up being so bulky and heavy.
However, there are many good reasons for this. In this article, I’ll look into each factor.
Why Are Gaming Laptops So Heavy?
Gaming laptop designers have a difficult task. They need to craft a machine that meets the standards of desktop computers and gaming consoles while also maintaining the portability of a laptop.
This leads to using different components than a normal laptop, creating different size and weight expectations.
Many factors contribute to gaming laptop weight, each resulting from increased performance and flashier marketing.
This results in larger screens, more powerful graphics cards, larger batteries, added cooling, a sturdier chassis, more ports, and a bulkier design.
Each of these factors impacts the overall weight of the laptop and has a ripple effect on other components. Let’s take a closer look.
Dedicated Graphics Card
GPUs do most of the work when it comes to gaming. It’s responsible for drawing everything users see on the screen, including 3D objects, images, and text.
They’re responsible for games’ visual quality and running them smoothly and without issues. It’s no surprise that many consider the graphics card the most important element of a gaming laptop.
Of course, the CPU is also very important, but many laptops with powerful CPUs are still light as a feather. It’s the addition of a monster GPU that increases the weight of the laptop.
Nearly all standard laptops utilize an integrated graphics card built into a computer’s CPU.
These integrated cards are acceptable for most users with limited graphical needs. For gamers, however, they offer limited performance.
A dedicated GPU leaves more CPU power for other tasks, such as running multiple applications simultaneously.
However, powerful GPUs also complicate things in two ways besides being heavy.
First, powerful GPUs can get extremely hot due to their increased performance. They need a robust cooling solution to work, which adds a whole set of problems and a lot of weight to a laptop.
Second, GPUs need a lot of power to work. This means a gaming laptop has to be capable of handling that much power, and that also adds weight.
GPUs put more strain on the battery, which means gaming laptops need larger and more resilient batteries.
As you can see, most of the complications of a gaming laptop stem from having a powerful GPU that would normally be run in a tower PC with plenty of space for cooling.
This poses a great engineering challenge, and even though manufacturers have developed extremely ingenious designs, they still have to reckon with some added weight.
Gaming laptops have larger batteries because they require more power to run the intensive components inside.
While this optimization for performance allows games to run flawlessly and look stunning on their large displays, it also requires significantly more power.
As the batteries get larger, manufacturers can’t help but weigh down the laptops that house them.
Larger batteries are necessary to allow for large screens, dedicated graphics cards, and amplified cooling systems.
Larger batteries also provide more play time for gamers, so they can game longer without having to plug in to recharge.
However, it’s common for gaming laptops to only work at full power when they’re plugged in.
Still, gaming laptops have notoriously shortened battery life compared to standard laptops, and batteries are typically the heaviest component in a laptop.
This leaves manufacturers with difficulty balancing performance, weight, and battery life.
Since they are built for performance, they often end up with large, heavy batteries that start to break down after a couple of years.
Larger Cooling Systems
The components of a laptop generate heat, and a cooling system is required to take care of it. The main reason for this is that the components in a laptop are packed into a small space.
Adding the dedicated graphics card, in particular, places a significant cooling burden on the laptop.
Fitting all the extra components required for a gaming PC is easy enough if you’re building a desktop.
Desktops can opt for larger cases to give more breathing room for the parts or add more fans.
However, taking all of those parts and fitting them into a laptop is an entirely different story.
The larger and more powerful components can cause gaming laptops to overheat unless they’re outfitted with a proportionally larger and more powerful cooling system.
This cooling system consists of a heat sink, thermal paste, and fans.
The heat sink draws the heat away from the processor using thermal paste, and then the fans blow the heat out. All of these add weight and bulk to the laptop.
Increased Number of Ports
Gaming laptops usually have more ports than typical laptops, including additional USB ports, Ethernet ports, HDMI ports, and display ports.
To meet present and future gaming needs, these laptops often include additional ports that allow for more accessories to be connected, such as gaming mice and keyboards, VR headsets, and external monitors.
Each of these ports doesn’t weigh much by itself, but when you consider all the extra space they need, things start to add up.
With all these sophisticated internal components, gaming laptops require more space to house and protect them.
The chassis is the frame that houses all of the internal components in a laptop.
In a gaming laptop, that chassis needs to be larger and sturdier because of the other components’ increased weight, heat, and size.
While most standard laptops get by with a plastic chassis to house their internal components, it is common for gaming laptops to use a metal chassis.
Fittingly, the need for sturdy metal materials leads to a much heavier chassis and one more factor of added weight.
Metal really drives up the final price, which is why low and mid-range laptops still use plastic. However, this plastic is often thicker and heavier than the one you’d find in normal laptops.
Increased Screen Size
Gaming laptops typically feature bigger screens because they’re being used to play graphically intensive games.
These games are best enjoyed at a higher resolution and with more screen real estate. Bigger screens also allow for a more immersive gaming experience.
Typically, a gaming laptop has a 15-inch (38-cm) screen size, but 17-inch (43-cm) screens are becoming more common.
On the other hand, non-gaming laptops have a 13-inch (33 cm) screen on average. As PC Magazine reports, some are beginning to release even larger screens.
This difference in screen size and quality allows gamers to enjoy the immersive beauty of a game’s graphics, but it also increases weight.
The extra 2 to 4 inches (5 to 10 cm) of screen real estate and the increased quality of high-end gaming laptop screens are some of the biggest contributing factors to the weight.
Gaming laptops also need more RAM than the average laptop. RAM is used to store data temporarily while the computer is running.
It allows the computer’s processor to access the instructions to operate quickly.
Gaming laptops need to process more information at a faster rate. This is necessary for the high-end graphics, high frame rates, and smooth performance that gamers expect.
Additionally, more RAM allows for better multitasking and larger programs to run without lagging or crashing.
Games will load slower if a laptop has insufficient memory, and frequent framerate dips will occur.
At worst, it can cause a game to crash, which is frustrating. That’s why manufacturers pack plenty of RAM into them, increasing the machine’s weight.
Most laptops come with 8GB of RAM, and that’s usually enough for low and mid-range gaming ones.
High-end gaming laptops have at least 16 GB, while top-tier models may include up to 32GB of RAM.
Many gaming laptops will feature unique shapes, patterns, lights, and designs that won’t be found on a traditional laptop.
While these design elements can make the laptops more appealing to buyers who are looking for a futuristic gaming rig, they also tend to add more weight to the already heavy machine.
You can find more discrete gaming laptops, but many manufacturers opt for flashy designs in order to make their products stand out.
How Much Do Gaming Laptops Weigh?
All of these different factors lead gaming laptops to be heavier than traditional laptops. However, it is wrong to assume that manufacturers don’t care about the weight of their machines.
Like all other laptops, gaming laptops are in a never-ending quest to meet the computing requirements of their users while also getting progressively lighter and sleeker.
This competition to shed weight and become more aerodynamic has led to great variance in the current laptop market for gaming machines and more traditional consumer laptops.
Another added source for the disparity is that some gamers are content with a basic, cheaper machine while others are willing to splurge for state-of-the-art tag computers with high price tags.
On the lighter end of this spectrum are ultrabooks and lightweight laptops meant for more casual computing, weighing as little as 2 pounds (0.9 kg).
As one might expect, on the heavier end are the gaming laptops, with the typical weight being between 4 and 6 pounds (1.8 – 2.7 kg).
The typical gaming laptop, on average, should be around 5 pounds (2.3 kg), with anything more being considered a heavy laptop by today’s market standards.
Are Gaming Laptops Getting Lighter?
Thanks to the constant progress of technology, gaming laptop manufacturers are working to reduce the weight of their products.
Overall, laptops are getting lighter and slimmer as the years go by, and new gaming laptops are now more portable than ever.
Advancements in battery technology and energy efficiency have reduced the strain on power supplies.
New processors and dedicated graphics cards are smaller, lighter, and more efficient, requiring less cooling.
As a result, many thin, lightweight gaming laptops on the market show little, if any, weakness in performance when compared to their bulkier, heavier predecessors.
However, while there is an overall trend for gaming machines to become lighter, new factors continue to impact the weight of laptops as gaming evolves, especially with the rise of virtual reality.
Laptops require even more RAM and more capable graphics cards and CPUs to support VR.
As discussed, these components have a domino effect and cause the need for further cooling and battery enhancements.
As laptop companies scramble to make lighter machines, the gaming industry demands enhanced specs, leaving the balance between the portability and performance of gaming laptops in a perpetual game of tug-of-war.
All in all, gaming laptops are often far heavier than normal laptops.
However, this weight exists for a reason: to provide users with the high-quality experience they expect when they purchase a gaming laptop.
Many factors add weight, from larger screens and dedicated graphics cards to enhanced cooling systems and added ports.
Each of these works toward improved processing speeds, graphics quality, and the ability to play games with peripherals while maintaining the laptop’s portability.