Best Laptop for Game Development

Best Laptop for Game Development
A randomly generated world of: Escape 51

As a aspiring game developer you might be asking yourself the question what is the best laptop for game development. In this post I will explain what is important when looking for a new laptop to fit all of your game development needs. As I will explain later, it really depends on what kind of game you want to make. How big the game will be and what kind of resources your game will require.

What laptops for game development?
This question really depends on the budget you are willing to spend on your next laptop, what kind of game you will be making and what other tasks you want to do on your laptop. If you want to use your laptop for gaming besides the development of games I would suggest looking in the mid to high range of laptops. Even when the games you are developing aren't all that demanding it might be wise to get some good specs for your everyday gaming needs.

If you are getting into the development of "simple" non demanding 2d games really any laptop can do. When using an engine like Construct 3 all you really need is a browser to start developing your game. A game engine like Defold is also really lightweight so it doesn't require a i7 processor for developing your game. A low range laptop could do all of the things you would need it to do.

If you have already got a lot of experience in game development and want to design a more complex game that will be demanding of the available resources. Making use of an engine like Unity or Unreal Engine a low range laptop will drive you nuts. In this case I would really recommend a high-end laptop and preferably a desktop. These engines are very demanding of the CPU and a laptop could have difficulties with the heat the CPU produces.

Best CPU for game development?
Again, this will really depend on the use case. You won't need the best CPU for the development of 2d games. If you are looking for the best of the best though it is always advisable to buy the latest generation CPU. This can be complete overkill though so really make sure that this is an investment that will pay out in the long run.

The current desktop computer that I am using for the development of my indie horror game (An update on my new indie horror project) uses a quite old i7-8700. I must say that this CPU still hold up very well. The compilation times of the project are very fast and I am noticing no problems with the speed whatsoever.

Make sure you get a bang for your buck. The latest and greatest i9 or threadripper processor will often be overpriced compared to the improvement in performance. If CPU performance is the main thing you are looking for I would buy the latest generation of these processors though. Make sure to look at the clock speed (the higher the better), the amount of cores and the amount of threads in the processor to make sure you are getting the best one.

Best laptop for Unity development?
The best laptop for Unity development, in my opinion, is one of the mid to high-end laptops that are available today. Make sure the laptop has a x86 architecture and not a ARM architecture. Unity is not optimized for ARM laptops (at the time of writing) and has to be emulated what could lead to a decreased performance compared to x86 based CPUs.

The graphics card in the laptop should depend on the game(s) you want to make. The amount of RAM should also be at least 16gb. Although all mid to high-end laptops on the market today should have at least 16gb of RAM and a decent graphics card (for most use cases).

What should I get?
When developing a complex game in an engine like Unity or Unreal Engine I would really not recommend a laptop. You will be better of buying a desktop or better yet building the desktop parts yourself and assembling it. I think you will get a lot more bang for your buck and will be able to really design the PC to fit your specific use case.

Maybe your game will use a lot of RAM, building your own will really make sure that it is able to handle everything without having to sell your kidney. The same goes for parts like the CPU or the graphics card. If you are just starting out in your game development journey, I would really recommend starting at simple 2d games that do not require a good laptop for game development. You are better off putting that budget towards your game or saving up to buy a real high-end PC once you have got all of the required skills you will need to develop a complex game. Make sure to read these two posts to make a better informed decision for your specific use case: Game Development Software for Beginners and Game Development Languages.