Solved! Deciding on Gaming vs Mainstream laptops: Worth the extra money?


Aug 7, 2010
I've been looking to buy a new laptop for games like Starcraft 2 and watching Netflix - but can't decide if I should get a mainstream laptop or go all out and get a true gaming laptop. My last laptop was a black Macbook so I'm not versed in the current PC laptop scene. I noticed a few trends in mainstream/entertainment laptops vs gaming-specific laptops.

Design: Gaming laptops seem much more extreme and stylish than mainstream laptops. Does this really make a difference? I think Apple did a nice job with their simple aluminum design, and imagine the gaming laptops as being a bit clunky/over engineered.

Components: Obviously the gaming laptop has better components than the mainstream counterpart. The biggest difference however appears to be videocards and the ability to upgrade. I don't see myself upgrading in the near future, so resolution/graphics are the biggest factor.

Cost: It seems like mainstream laptops are more than 20% cheaper than their gaming counterparts (ie. top of the line 17" mainstream vs 17" gaming laptop). Gaming-specific brands like Alienware seem to be exponentially more expensive - to the point where i stopped considering them as an option.

Also, I'm not planning to go with Sandy Bridge because they seem a little more expensive and I don't want to wait until April to get a laptop (travel plans).

Mainstream 17" Asus:

Gaming 17" Asus:

Gaming 15" Alienware:

Thoughts on the best options?


Feb 4, 2011
I would recommend against a "gaming" laptop. For the same price as a gaming laptop you could get a decent laptop AND a gaming desktop that will be better than a gaming laptop.

I've owned a gaming laptop and they are heavy, loud, have low battery life and are limited in upgrades.

I would look for a mainstream laptop with an i3 or i5 and get it with a switchable graphics card. They can be found fairly cheap (under $800) on a site like HP and Dell, just use the customize option.
Thread starter Similar threads Forum Replies Date
T Laptop Tech Support 2
J Laptop Tech Support 1
midnightgamer Laptop Tech Support 8
J Laptop Tech Support 9
S Laptop Tech Support 11
S Laptop Tech Support 2
G Laptop Tech Support 3
Y Laptop Tech Support 4
T Laptop Tech Support 1
A Laptop Tech Support 22
V Laptop Tech Support 4
N Laptop Tech Support 5
J Laptop Tech Support 1
L Laptop Tech Support 6
S Laptop Tech Support 5
S Laptop Tech Support 6
H Laptop Tech Support 5
P Laptop Tech Support 1
B Laptop Tech Support 14
S Laptop Tech Support 5