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Choosing a laptop: what to look for first

Using the example of the almost vintage ASUS ROG Strix S15 (2019) flagship, we explain why the processor has the greatest impact on all system components and is the least amenable to external compensation. So how do you choose a laptop?

Terms of selection

So, the processor. When choosing a laptop, you should look at the processor first if:

  1. You don’t have an unlimited budget
  2. You want a gaming model with a GTX-level discrete graphics card

Otherwise, you’re likely to choose a budget laptop for typing and consuming content from a fictional YouTube. In this case, there are two recommendations for you. Three, let’s make it three.

Make sure you have an SSD. It doesn’t matter what kind of SSD it is – if it’s not a hard disk, you’ll already be much faster, the system will start up faster, and all that kind of stuff.

Screen – VERY desirable IPS. This will save battery and provide almost perfect viewing angles. And the ability to charge either exclusively via Type-C or via Type-C in addition to standard DC will be very useful.

Everything else is a matter of luck, because you don’t need a lot of RAM, and the processor is never top-of-the-line at this price. Such laptops usually last longer than gaming laptops, because there’s nothing to eat.

However, if you are already in the store, you can type on the keyboard. Take your time, type a few paragraphs, and see if you’re comfortable with it.

Factors for gaming

If the laptop is a gaming laptop, that is, it has a gaming graphics card – again, GTX and above (and no, NVIDIA MX and integrated AMD video cores, though excellent, are not gaming), then we face the following factors.

  1. Laptops can’t tolerate much heat, and endlessly hot components are death to them
  2. Laptops almost always cannot replace or compensate for the processor, video card and battery
  3. You can replace, if you are lucky, the network card, SSD and RAM
  4. The screen, touchpad, keyboard, and peripherals can be compensated for
  5. Software benefits depend on hardware more often than not.

Read also: ASUS ROG Strix SCAR 17 SE (2022) Review – The “You Can” Laptop

You know what your needs are. You know what’s more important to you – whether it’s gaming, battery life, or color – because yes, gaming laptops are great for work. But in all cases, the laptop is most strongly and irreversibly affected by… the processor.

What is important in a processor?

Modern processors, whether laptop, desktop, or even mobile and server, are characterized by common factors. Power is the most obvious one… and the least influential, oddly enough. Because processors usually try to be powerful all the time. But they will almost never be as powerful as the manufacturers promised.

Read also: Does AMD Ryzen 7000 really lose to modern 13th generation Intel?

Intel, AMD, Apple, it doesn’t matter. The frequencies below 5 GHz that you see in presentations – you will hardly see them, because these are the so-called Boost frequencies that are possible for short bursts of light work. In any heavy work, including gaming, it will be much closer to the base frequencies. And this is actually due to processor parameters other than power.

If the processor has terrible energy efficiency, then it will consume a lot of power and heat up a lot to be as powerful as possible. In fact, the maximum power consumption of modern Intel flagship models is 145 W. AMD’s upcoming Ryzen 7000 models, for example, AMD Ryzen 9 7945HX, will consume up to 75 watts (officially, unofficially – up to 180). And yes, they won’t always consume that much, but if such a figure is mentioned, it will be 100%.

Because of this, the cooling system will be noisy. And the video card, for example, will have less power and cooling capability, because the laptop heats up all over. Don’t forget that a laptop power supply is much more compact than a PC power supply, and it can provide less power to a laptop.

And as for heating… The motherboard, the drives, and even your hands will suffer if the cooling system can’t handle the long-term load. For example, many hours of skating in some Battlefield 2042 or similar low-optimized game that eats up processor resources.

Next. The worse the energy efficiency, the shorter the battery life when you’re not working from an outlet. Because yes, in this case, it’s the processor that will consume the most power. Not the video card. And a little bit of the video core inside, because it will work instead of the video card. But it’s still part of the processor.

The more cores a processor has, the more it heats up. Not all games require a lot of cores, some require more frequency. When overheating, the frequency drops, and the cores don’t help. And a powerful video card doesn’t help either, because it CAN process a lot of data – but it won’t process more than a slow processor can handle.

In fact, this is what is called a botleneck. When one component of the system holds back all the others – and usually, in the case of old laptops, or even relatively new ones without an adequate cooling system, it is the processor that is the botleneck.

The performance per clock cycle depends on how recent the processor generation is. Abbreviated as IPC, this is an indicator of how much conditional work a processor can do per 1 MHz. A conventional Ryzen 5 5500U with 6 cores at 4 GHz will be more powerful than a Ryzen 5 3500U. At the same frequency and with the same number of cores. A megahertz is a megahertz is a wolf, just so you know.

The performance per clock cycle depends on how recent the processor generation is. Abbreviated as IPC, this is an indicator of how much conditional work a processor can do per 1 MHz. A conventional Ryzen 5 5500U with 6 cores at 4 GHz will be more powerful than a Ryzen 5 3500U. At the same frequency and with the same number of cores. A megahertz is a megahertz is a wolf, just so you know.

And the peripherals. It depends on the processor manufacturer and the generation. The fresher it is, the better. Intel Core has Thunderbolt 3 or 4, while the latest AMD Ryzen has USB4. Usually, the peripherals are on the side of Intel, but this is not always critical.

That is, the processor affects the power of the video card, the volume of the fans, the operating time from the outlet, the life of all other components nearby, and the peripherals.


If your laptop has a bad screen, you can almost always connect an external one. You can use either a branded one from ASUS or a rechargeable one with keyboard. If the keyboard is bad, you can use an external one. The touchpad can and should be replaced by a mouse. Even the battery can theoretically be compensated for with a power bank, but only if the processor allows it. Peripherals in general are also compensated. Hubs.

Let’s take ASUS ROG Strix S15 as an example. A gaming flagship from 2019. A 15-inch 300Hz monitor with adequate color accuracy, but it could be better. Not a problem, the peripherals include Thunderbolt 3, any monitor with an adapter, even the 49-inch Philips Brilliance. The video card is a mobile RTX 2080, enough power for any FHD game.

The keyboard is excellent. The battery is mediocre, but you can charge it with power banks via Thunderbolt. SSDs are two pieces, replaceable. RAM is partially replaceable. The network card is powerful enough, it does not need to be replaced.

The processor is Intel Core i7-10875H. The worst mobile processor I’ve ever seen. It consumes up to 90 watts, overheats, throttles up to 2.7 GHz, and since IPC is terrible, it does not reveal the 300-Hertz screen in any game I tested, and due to its age it does not support changing the wattage through the ASUS Armory Crate – although the next generation does.

But! There are also advantages – Thunderbolt 3, and the network card is fine. Although it does not depend on the processor very much.

The opposite example is ASUS Flow X13. It’s a hyper-cool processor. Economical, powerful, you can buy an external branded video card if necessary, so cooling does not suffer. The wattage can be changed, the peripherals are gorgeous due to the docking station. The battery life is absolutely top-notch. Even the keyboard is not bad!

BUT! The RAM is unsoldered, the SSD is smaller, the dimensions with the dock are larger, and you can’t connect a monitor via DisplayPort without a dock. And the price. Three times more than the price of the S15.


The perfect laptop? There is no such thing. There is no perfect processor either. And no one, including me, requires you to know all the details about processors. I don’t know them, and I don’t plan to. But! Now you will know what to look for. What questions to ask Google or Bing. And if you still have questions, feel free to leave a comment. I will answer as many as I have time.

Video about this

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Denis Zaychenko

I write a lot, and sometimes - even on point. Interested in PC building and games. Almost aestetism junkie, I love to like and hate to dislike.

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