What Are The Minimum Requirements For A Gaming Laptop? [2021]

Knowing the minimum requirements for a gaming laptop can help you choose one that matches your needs. Picking one with the right specs helps you achieve the perfect balance of both power and portability.  

Gaming laptop manufacturers such as Asus, Origin PC, MSI, Razer, etc. produce laptops with different specs to meet the needs of different consumers. 

But this exact reason also makes it hard for users, especially those new to pc gaming, to decide what will work for them. When it comes to gaming laptops, a one size fits all solution doesn’t exist. 

The minimum requirements you need depend on the demands of the games you want to play, any other programs you wish to run, as well as the type of gaming you plan on doing; casual, mainstream, or heavy. 

But generally, a decent laptop should meet at least the following minimum requirements: 

CPUIntel Core i5 H series or AMD Ryzen 5 H series equivalent 
GPUNvidia GeForce GTX 1060/AMD Radeon RX 480
RAMAt least 8 GB
Screen Resolution1920 x 1080 pixels 
HDD500 GB 
Operating SystemWindows 10 (64 bit) 
Video OutputCompatible HDMI 2.0
USB Ports1 x USB 3.0 port, plus 2 x USB 2.0 ports

Note: These specifications are not standard but a laptop that meets the above specs shouldn’t have trouble playing most modern games smoothly. 

Understanding Minimum vs Recommended Game Requirements 

Minimum requirements are the lowest specs that game developers have confirmed a game will run properly by their standards while recommended requirements are measured based on default values that developers want a game to be played at for the best gaming experience.  

If you like to play games at higher settings, go by the recommended settings. Minimum requirements allow you to run games bare-bones or slightly higher but you may not be able to max out the graphics. 

Normally, when setting recommended and minimum requirements, game developers don’t test their games on outdated or low-end hardware because they assume their customer base will have better/current hardware. 

Usually, the minimum and recommended settings are usually listed on the game developer’s official website. For instance, the system requirements for Call of Duty are listed here.

Sites like Can You Run It, Game-Debate, or PC Games Benchmark help you figure out the minimum and recommended system requirements for a particular game.  

Minimum Requirements For A Gaming Laptop: VR

gaming laptop requirements for vr

If you plan on immersing yourself into VR games like Skyrim VR, Superhot VR, and Star Trek: Bridge Crew then the last thing you want is a laptop that holds you back. VR gaming is both GPU and CPU intensive.

While 60 FPS(frames per second) is the target frame rate for monitor gaming, VR gaming is designed to display at 90 FPS for the best gaming experience. Below 90 FPS you may experience undesirable effects such as motion sickness. 

The frame rate is highly dependent on the CPU and GPU/video card. Popular VR headset brands, for example, HTC Vive, Windows ‘Mixed Reality’, and Oculus Rift all demand a capable CPU, GPU, and the right USB and HDMI ports.

For VR gaming, your gaming laptop should have at least the following minimum requirements:

CPUIntel Core i5 (H series) or AMD Ryzen 5 series equivalent
Graphics cardNvidia GeForce GTX 1060/AMD Radeon RX 480
RAMAt least 8 GB
Screen Resolution1920 x 1080 pixels 
Operating SystemWindows 10 (64 bit) (Oculus will only continue supporting windows 10 or later)
Video OutputCompatible HDMI 1.4, DisplayPort 1.3
USB Ports2 x USB 3.0

Minimum Requirements For A Gaming Laptop: 4K Gaming

Gaming at 4K (3840×2160 pixels) resolution allows you to enjoy more vivid colors and clear images. Therefore, if gaming in 4K is a priority for you then you’ll have to dig a little deeper into your pockets to enjoy games such as Vampyr at 4K resolution (see Vampyr system requirements). 

Most gaming laptops still come with a 1080p display with only a few high-end having a 4K display. This probably to keep the price down and also because smaller displays don’t truly let you appreciate the beauty of 4K resolution.

But if you plan on powering your 4K monitor with your laptop, then you’ll need a machine with a powerful GPU and CPU in order to achieve at least a 60 FPS frame rate.

This is because as screen resolution increases, the GPU has to work much harder and also requires more VRAM (Video-RAM) to store additional graphic textures and effects. 

You also need the right HDMI connector. HDMI 1.3 and 1.4 cannot reach the recommended 60 FPS. For this, you need HDMI 2.0. And if you output a high refresh rate you need a DisplayPort 1.3 or 1.4 port.   

For 4K gaming, your gaming laptop should have at least the following minimum requirements:

CPUIntel core i7 (H or K series)/AMD Ryzen series equivalent
GPUNvidia GeForce GTX 1070 or later
Screen Resolution3840 x 2160 pixels
Operating SystemWindows 10 (64 bit)
Video OutputCompatible HDMI 2.0, DisplayPort 1.3 or 1.4
USB Ports2 x USB 3.0, 1 x USB 3.1 Type C

Minimum Requirements For A Gaming Laptop: Streaming

minimum laptop requirements for streaming

Having other game enthusiasts and fans following your live stream as you play Fortnite, PUGB(Player Unknown’s BattleGrounds), Overwatch, World of Warcraft or any other game you enjoy is pretty fun. 

The good news is that streaming on Twitch, Mixer, or YouTube is not as hardware demanding as running the games themselves. For instance, the minimum system requirements for Twitch streaming are:

CPUIntel Core i5-4670 (or AMD equivalent)
Operating SystemWindows 10

Besides a decent gaming laptop, you will also need a good internet connection with upload speeds of 3.5-5 Mbps and download speeds of at least 4 Mbps.

Minimum Laptop Requirements Based On The Type of Gaming

When deciding on the minimum requirements you need to keep in mind the kind of gaming you’ll be doing. The needs of casual gamers, mainstream gamers, and hardcore gamers are all different. 

The Casual Gamer

minimum laptop specs for casual gaming

Casual gamers have an easy-going attitude towards games. They may have an interest in different types of games, including indie and high-end triple-A (AAA) games, but usually don’t develop an obsession or play games in more difficult settings. 

For this type of gamer, gaming is done to pass time or for social activity. In fact, they may not even play a game to the end. Simply put, they play for fun and don’t take gaming seriously. 

A casual gaming laptop doesn’t need to be spec heavy. An entry-level/ low budget laptop (under $1,000) will work fine for this type of gaming. 

Minimum Gaming Laptop Requirements For Casual Gamers:

CPUIntel Core i5 (H series) or AMD Ryzen 5 series equivalent
GPUNvidia GeForce GTX 1050/AMD Radeon RX 560
RAMAt least 8 GB
Screen Resolution1920 x 1080 pixels 
Operating SystemWindows 10 (64 bit)
Video OutputCompatible HDMI 1.4
USB Ports2 x USB 2.0, 1 x USB 3.0 Type C

The Mainstream Gamer/Core Gamer

minimum laptop requirements for mainstream gaming

Mainstream gamers consider gaming a hobby and spend a lot of time playing. They have a genuine interest in gaming and mostly play popular triple-A (AAA) games such as Doom Eternal, Forza Horizon, Far Cry, etc. 

Occasionally, they may play indie games and less known titles. And although they spend lots of time gaming, they may not necessarily keep track of new game releases or trends in gaming.   

For mainstream gaming, you will need a laptop that can handle CPU and GPU intensive games like GTA V and Final Fantasy XV. These laptops fall in the mid-level (~$1,000-$1,500).

Minimum Gaming Laptop Requirements For Mainstream Gamers:

CPUIntel core i7 (H series) or AMD Ryzen 7 (H series) equivalent
GPUNvidia GeForce GTX 1070 or Geforce RTX 2060
Screen Resolution1920 x 1080 pixels
Operating SystemWindows 10 (64 bit)
Video OutputCompatible HDMI 2.0 
USB Ports2 x USB 3.0, 1x USB 3.1 Type C

The Hardcore Gamer

minimum gaming laptop specs

Hardcore gamers view gaming as more than just a hobby. They go a level beyond the mainstream gamer and make a point to understand all major aspects of the gaming industry.

They not only play popular game titles but also explore other obscure titles that casual and mainstream gamers have no interest in. Gaming is a lifestyle for them, most game collectors fall in this category.

A lot of their conversations with friends revolve around gaming and they also invest a lot in gaming equipment. Some even go on to become professional gamers and enter e-sport competitions. 

Since hardcore gamers don’t mind spending a few extra bucks to get the best equipment in order to play even at their highest settings, hardcore gaming requires a high-end laptop (~$1,500 and above).   

Minimum Gaming Laptop Requirements For Hardcore Gamers:

CPUIntel Core i7/i9 (H or K series) or AMD Ryzen 7/9 (H series) equivalent
GPUNvidia GeForce GTX 1080 or Geforce RTX 2070
Screen Resolution1920 x 1080 pixels
Operating SystemWindows 10 (64 bit)
Video OuputCompatible HDMI 2.0
USB Ports2 x USB 3.0, 1x USB 3.1 Type C with Thunderbolt 3 support

Conclusion- Minimum Requirements To Play Games On A Laptop

Your basic gaming requirements will differ depending on what you want to achieve as a gamer. The more CPU and GPU intensive a game is, the more powerful your laptop will need to be. 

If you plan on playing less CPU and GPU intensive games, for example, Dead Cells, Cuphead, or Into the Breach, you don’t need a laptop with a dedicated GPU. A regular laptop will do.  

Keep in mind that simply knowing the minimum requirements of a game is not enough. You also need to factor in other software that will be running in the background during gameplay, such as the OS, screen recording software, antivirus, etc. 

All these additional programs need processing and storage in the RAM. For instance, windows 10 runs on 1GB – 2 GB of RAM. So if you have 4 GB of RAM and the OS uses 2 GB of RAM you now have 2GB of RAM to run games on. 

Go for the best gaming laptop your budget allows. This will allow you to be more flexible, future proof, and play games at higher settings without limitations.

Eustace is a technology enthusiast and holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Telecommunication and Information Engineering. His passion and knowledge of computers, and technology in general, is channeled towards helping others understand complex concepts so that they can make better decisions.

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