Playing with a laptop: the gaming revolution comes from laptops

Playing with a laptop: the gaming revolution comes from laptops

Playing with a laptop

Over the past 12 years, gaming laptops have gone from limited power at astronomical prices to sufficient performance to play high-profile titles with no compromise coupled with net user experience improvements including panel brightness, high refresh, and fidelity. color and materials used. All this combined with a management of the price list that has seen the cost of these PCs steadily decrease also as a function of decidedly more fierce competition than in the past.

A process due to production efficiency, to the increase in sales, the arrival of SSDs and the evolution of component construction processes, but part of the credit also goes to NVIDIA's efforts to create standards that are very close to the needs of gamers. A work that pushed AMD, the main competitor, to do the same, consequently also obliging Intel to make a substantial leap forward of which we will see the effects, thanks to the twelfth generation mobile processors with Alder architecture, at the beginning of 2022.

Playing to perfection with a laptop is now finally possible This substantial optimization has made it possible very quickly to reduce noise and temperatures, which have always been problems both on the CPU and on the GPU front. Today, having quiet and efficient laptops is possible and for many they are becoming an important temptation, capable of combining the convenience of a compact system with the undoubted advantages of gaming on PC compared to console gaming.

We are talking about easily transportable gaming machines, which can also be used to work and already equipped with increasingly advanced screens, capable of reaching even 360 Hz in the latest incarnations. But we are also talking about devices that can be connected with great simplicity to any controller and on all the TVs available in the living room: from the older ones limited to 1080p up to the latest generation 4K ones with full support for 120 Hz and Variable Refresh Rate thanks to the HDMI 2.1 connectivity present on all the latest mobile GPUs.

Those who want to play with a laptop are spoiled for choice With a laptop you can play on the sofa enjoying the performance boost of technologies such as 'DLSS upscaling of NVIDIA GeForce RTX or the FidelityFX Super Resolution of AMD Radeon. A powerful step forward that allows almost every latest generation GPU, regardless of price range, to guarantee high performance at any resolution, including 4K. All this while also increasing the longevity of a configuration, a factor that has taken away from the console world one of its historical advantages.

Today, in essence, it is possible to work and play wherever you are and without compromise with a single machine, which leads to a substantial increase in the quality of life. And it is a reality that we have touched firsthand by reviewing one of the latest machines arrived in the editorial office: the Lenovo Legion 7, which stimulated us to package this special with which to discuss with you about the transformation of the game on PC and the advantages that it entails. radical evolution of gaming laptops: today in effect products capable of taking over traditional consoles and PCs.

The evolution of laptops

The Dulmont Magnum, in the version all black Even if the first real gaming laptops are recent news, the history of portable PCs has its roots in the distant past, not far from the availability of the first microprocessors and therefore of the first compact systems. Until that moment, computers were huge mainframes whose power was shared between users connected to terminals who had to undergo shifts and share the little memory available, but with the arrival of the 4004, albeit limited compared to the immediately following models, the first personal computers and, after not long, laptops, whose birth can be dated around 1980. They were devices limited to text only that needed power and weighed 12 kilograms and which for this reason were defined as transportable, and not portable , by the same designers who had created them. But that first step, albeit clumsy, generated an imagination that immediately created a market, prompting the sector to invest heavily.

In a short time, and more precisely in September 1983, the Dulmont Magnum arrived, a 4.8 kg 16-bit computer, the first powered by a battery, which for the first time combined high power and compact size thanks to the Intel 80186 chip. Despite using a CPU superior to that of the Sharp PC-5000, it faced production problems and was the victim of the low notoriety of the company Dulmont Pty, the only Australian company to have ever produced a laptop . That machine was then forced to surrender in the face of the competition, thanks to the incompatibility of the Intel 80186 with the hardware of the IBM PC.

In any case, we remember it as the herald of the first, true laptops that in he subsequent evolution left behind microscopic screens mounted on large cases to marry the modern, clamshell design, with a panel integrated into a lid that closes on the keyboard. In particular, there was a historical moment that we link to 1985 and which saw another company leave aside the idea of ​​power in favor of pure portability.

The Olivetti M10, based on the hardware of the Kyotronic KC -85 We are talking about the Kyotronic KC-85, so limited in terms of computing power that it can work with normal AA batteries, but a real laptop equipped with a text editor, a BASIC interpreter and an integrated modem, all included in one weight of just 2 kilograms. Hence an important success, thanks to an affordable price, which underlined the importance of effective portability. But this did not distract the most important slice of the market which in parallel continued to focus on performance and larger screens that kept laptops on the track of the clamshell shape of the modern laptop. And here, again in 1985, IBM compatible devices such as the Kaypro 2000 and the Toshiba T1100 arrived on the market, considered the first real mass laptop.

Experimentation, however, has never stopped. In between we saw convertibles, including the Apple Macintosh which weighed 7.2 kg but featured a large screen and integrated trackball, and the first laptop with a color TFT screen, the IBM PS / 2 CL57 SX. Then there is the ThinkPad 300, a system capable of establishing some standards that at the time were designed for the business sector, but have since become part of the kit of every laptop, including integrated camera, resistance certifications, removable disks. and keyboard lighting. At that point Windows was already around, although many games were still on DOS, and it was already possible to have fun with titles like Comanche on the go, even if often on green screens and with less than exceptional performance.

The era of gaming laptops

The motherboard of the IBM ThinkPad 755CD In the early 90s, gaming was all about consoles and, for the more affluent, desktop PCs. And it is a truth that became even more tangible in 1995, with the launch of consoles equipped with hardware dedicated to the management of triangles and with the arrival of the first graphics accelerators. Laptops, on the other hand, although they were also evolving from the point of view of multimedia capabilities, were for professionals, people who perhaps delighted in some graphic adventure or some strategic, but used the PC for work or as a status symbol, for some futuristic but limited in terms of graphics, screen, battery and very high prices.

The IBM ThinkPad 755CD from 1994, for example, cost $ 7,599, or $ 13,000 today. Sure, it had the first CD-ROM drive built into a laptop and a discrete processor, but it was limited in graphics capabilities, had to contend with the stakes of a passive 640x480 resolution LCD screen, and cost the same as a car. And the $ 3,499 for the Gateway Solo 2000, equipped with a Pentium processor, Windows 95 operating system and CD-ROM drive, was too much, but still extremely limited compared to a desktop and too expensive for the general public.

In that period all the major hardware manufacturers were already at work in view of the evolution of the CPU and GPU that led to the first real gaming laptops at the end of the first decade of 2000, direct ancestors of the devices that we find in our hands today . The ratio of price to features increased dramatically, the definition of monitors grew and the definition of gaming laptops was born.

Despite the limitations of the era, the direction of laptops was clear between speakers in beautiful sight and gaming related experiments The exact period is that of 2007-2008. At that time, the first laptops with prominent WASD keys, anti-glare screens and NVIDIA 8000M series GPUs appeared, capable of guaranteeing pretty good performance in titles like DOOM. However, we are talking about screens with resolutions below Full HD for still expensive computers and all plastic, starting from the first elegant models to the invasion of models full of broken lines, red borders, aggressive grids and lumpy bellies. But not everyone has followed that path.

Even gaming brands have given us elegant and already modern models, back in 2010. The actual problems, however, concerned the battery and limitations of mobile GPUs like Nvidia GeForce GTX 570M and the AMD Radeon HD7690M. At the time they were considered to be quite powerful laptop cards, but today the outlook has completely changed and it has now become evident that the relationship between price and performance was, at the time, extremely unbalanced.

All these were necessary steps. towards creating an audience interested in gaming laptops. The increase in customers has led to a constant growth in investments leading us to the first slim specimens, between 2014 and 2015, and to the evolution of the hardware which also led to the definition of a new audience: the so-called creators. On the other hand, the problem of companies engaged in selling computers has always been to give potential customers a justification for buying them.

For many years that justification has been divided between study and work, but in the case of laptops it is it struggled with hardware limitations and with prices that remained high compared to the mounted hardware. At least until the last two or three generations, when it was possible to enclose a huge target of players, workers, designers and video editors in a single fluid category, made up of people who previously could not afford to buy limited products at abstruse prices.

Only in recent years, in fact, the top of the range have fallen below 3000 € with quality screens and guaranteeing very high performance, able to measure even with 4K resolution. Consequently, in the € 1000 range we found models capable of running any title in 1080p, even reaching 1440p thanks to technologies such as NVIDIA DLSS.

The modern turning point

More and more powerful and increasingly cheaper, gaming laptops have seen a massive increase in sales The problem of CPU temperatures remains, it must be said, but the combination of the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3000 with the efficiency of the AMD Ryzen 5000 extremely high performance in the face of temperatures that are not low, but finally manageable. It is no coincidence that Lenovo gave us the idea, first with the Lenovo Legion 5 Pro and, just a few weeks ago with the review of the Legion 7; the manufacturer has focused heavily on this combination of processor and video card to enhance the work done on a series of laptops that are also notable in terms of aesthetics which, while faithful to the historical design, has freed itself from too many edges and its load of austerity. br>
But its real strength is to demonstrate what it means to have a laptop capable of running every existing title to the maximum or managing relevant workloads without thermal throttling problems, guaranteeing excellent performance even in silent mode . All topped off with top-of-the-range hardware, a good quality 2560 x 1600 screen with 165 Hz refresh, Intel WiFi Killer with network traffic optimization, ray tracing acceleration, NVIDIA DLSS upscaling and a discrete audio compartment.

Such a package, in the 1980s, was unimaginable. But even just 5 or 10 years ago it would have been difficult to think of laptops that could compete with a newly released console generation or high-end desktops. The leap made in recent years in terms of the relationship between price and power has changed the market and although a laptop costs more and more than a desktop, as well as obviously a console (and is clearly more limited in its expansion possibilities) it is good remember that in the case of laptops, the work on ventilation, optimization and chassis is of a very different nature and therefore involves additional costs.

We also expect a further leap forward with the arrival of the new CPUs mobile Intel Alder Lake-H with hybrid architecture and high efficiency core, with the AMD 6000 series mobile processors, with the partial refresh of the NVIDIA GeForce RTX which saw the introduction of the 3070 Ti and 3080 Ti also in the mobile field, and with the now imminent Intel Arc GPUs that promise a good balance between price and power.

In addition to this it is good to remember that the PC allows you to take advantage of any cloud gaming service and that the numbers reached in q These years, thanks in part to the evolution of prices and power of gaming laptops, have prompted Microsoft to fully expand its Xbox ecosystem to Windows, including the excellent Game Pass distribution service, and have even convinced Sony to make available on PC some of its most important exclusives. And that's just the beginning.

The ultimate goal is to bring out extremely thin ultra-laptops with generous screens and even more power, perhaps foldable enough to fit into a pocket, but capable of transforming into large screens on which to play any title without compromise or be connected to a virtual viewer to run entire metaverses even locally thanks to the use of technologies related to artificial intelligence. Enough, in short, to cover the entire spectrum of needs, with increasingly affordable prices, an ease of use within anyone's reach and that longevity typical of a long-sought console even on PC.

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