UltraBook vs Gaming Laptops – Explained

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Ultrabooks vs gaming laptops – We see so many new devices being launched into the market every day. A big confusion for people, especially students, is whether they should buy a lightweight productivity machine or a more powerful gaming-oriented device.

However, these lightweight laptops simply don’t have the specifications. Or the thermals to support heavier tasks such as gaming, video editing, or data science applications. On the other hand, gaming devices are often very bulky and tend to neglect other aspects of the laptop. Such as battery life, speakers, trackpads, etc. While shopping within the constraints of a budget. It’s impossible to find a “jack of all trades”, which is perfect in every way. Hence people are between choosing between an ultrabook and a gaming laptop. This dilemma is very common amongst students who need a portable device with a long-lasting battery. But could also benefit from having a machine capable of more demanding tasks.

The Decision

So making this choice can often be confusing. The best way to make this decision is by understanding your usage and knowing your expectations from a laptop. Either way, some compromises have to be in process, but picking a laptop. The features that are most essential to you is the right way to go. Eg. if you’re going to be playing games, especially ones that are graphics intensive it is advisable to invest in a laptop capable of high performance. Although ultrabooks may have specs capable of running such games, they generally overheat quickly; In the long run, extended gaming can damage the device. If your usage is limiting the browsing web. Creating spreadsheets, or even basic programming, ultrabooks are more than capable of handling them. Such tasks and don’t make the compromises that gaming laptops do for the sake of maximizing performance.

1) XPS-13

UltraBook vs Gaming Laptops

The Dell XPS-13 is a flagship ultrabook with, as the name suggests, a sleek 13-inch InfinityEdge bezel-less display. It is a compact and easily portable device; weighing in at 1.29 kgs. It has an aluminium body and an impressive build quality. A really unique feature that is often overlooked is the fact that it has charging ports on both sides which goes a long way in terms of convenience. Even though the XPS-13 is one of our more expensive recommendations, it offers high-end performance with the latest 10th Gen Core-i5 processor by Intel.

The base model also offers 8GB RAM and 256GB SSD Storage which ensures a smooth experience while browsing the web and getting work done. The laptop can definitely handle some light gaming but heavy gaming could be detrimental to the laptop in the long run. (There are Iris Plus versions of the laptop available which can handle heavier gaming) Speaking of the display, it offers a crisp 4K display with great colour accuracy (reproducing around 107.5 per cent of the sRGB colour gamut) which makes watching movies or editing videos a blast.

The XPS-13 also boasts impressive battery life with around 12.5 hours of web-surfing (although the 4K version does give around 9 hours of screen on-time). The main issues with the almost perfect XPS-13 are the subpar speakers and a very small selection of ports. The speakers are definitely very loud but are a mixed bag when it comes to audio quality. (headphones recommended).

LG Gram 2018

UltraBook vs Gaming Laptops

The LG Gram 14 -as the name suggests- is an incredibly light notebook weighing an impressive 998 Grams, but still packs a punch in terms of specs. It comes with an 8th Gen Intel i5 8265U that can handle everyday tasks with ease. In terms of storage, it has a 256GB SSD, and 8GB of DDR4 memory. Build-wise, it boasts a full-metal body with a very sturdy build. It also has great battery life thanks to its huge 72Wh battery which is just shy of overkill for such a device.

With an sRGB colour gamut coverage of 94.7 per cent, the Gram’s display provides pretty colour-accurate visuals with a peak brightness of 292 nits which is perfect for working outside. The Gram also has a visual colour temperature of 6666K which is pretty close to the perfect 6500K standard considering its price.

The major issues with the display could be for professional photographers as the Adobe RGB and DCI-P3 colour gamuts came with a coverage of only around 67.6 per cent and 70.6 per cent respectively which are not bad but definitely lower than the standard 80 per cent required for professional photo-editing.

MacBook Air 2020

UltraBook vs Gaming Laptops

The familiar top-notch aluminium ultra-thin build, the same 400 nit Retina display, the same best-in-class touchpad, and a new and improved speaker that’s arguably the best in the thin and light market. However, what has also remained the same is the display. On the other hand, the MacBook’s competitors have evolved to much better screen to body ratios. However, the new MacBook does improve upon the two biggest problems the previous generation had: the problematic butterfly switch keyboard and the severely underpowered dual-core processor. While there is now an option to purchase an option with a quad-core i5 processor, It costs much more than the dual-core base model.

But Macbook Air has been a top choice for a lot of people for various generations now and is definitely one of the best laptops at this price point. To summarize, the new MacBook Air provides a great overall user experience, with its fatal flaw being the processor that struggles to cope with anything but the most basic tasks. The “Apple premium”, to get a decently specced version is just too high to recommend this laptop to anyone.

Legion Y540

The Legion Y540 is Lenovo’s offering to the gaming laptop scene at an economical price but still with high-end specifications. The Y540’s design is pretty unconventional for a gaming laptop; it has forward-mounted hinges -similar to Dell’s Alienware series- which makes good room for I/O ports at the rear.

The base model comes with a Core i5 9th Gen 9300H Intel Processor which provides good performance considering the price point (this can be upgraded) and comes with a 4GB NVIDIA GTX 1650 Graphics Card. The display on the Y540 is a 15.6 FHD display with a max brightness of up to 300 nits and an sRGB colour gamut reproduction rate of 72 per cent which is a major drawback of the Y540 as the contrast and vibrancy of the colour reproduction is subpar at best. The base model comes with only a refresh rate of 60hz but this can be upgraded up to a refresh rate of 144hz which offers a more smooth gaming experience.

Thermals can definitely make or break a gaming laptop and a massive pro of the Y540 is the good thermals; with minimal heating issues during prolonged gaming sessions. Unfortunately, like most gaming laptops, the Y540 has sub-par battery life with around 4-5 hours of battery life.

Acer Predator Helios 300

The Acer Predator Helios 300 is a bestseller for a reason and it offers high-end performance. A classy look, and an affordable price. It has a 15.6-inch display with a clean black and blue finish on the rear. It comes equipped with powerful 59-Blade fans, which ensure a cool system during heavy sessions. The display has two main variants. Mainly being the 144hz and 240hz refresh rates (the base model comes with the 144hz ). Which is a huge upgrade from the Y540. Like the Y540, the Predator Helios 300 doesn’t have a great sRGB reproduction rate. And provides a sub-par display in terms of contrast and vibrancy. It also has a similar battery life with an average screen-time of 4-5 hours.

On the topic of ports, the Predator Helios 300 offers a great variety including two USB 3.0 Ports. An Ethernet port, a USB-C port, an HDMI outlet, and a 3.5 mm headphone jack. Unlike many budget gaming laptops, the keyboard and touchpad on the Predator are exceptional. It has a quiet click mechanism with ultra-responsive tracking. And is surrounded by chamfered aluminium linings to give it a more premium feel. The keyboard has a standard layout with RGB backlighting and great responsive keys. The Helios 300 is definitely not the best performing machine. But, still offers great performance with a 6GB NVIDIA GTX 1660 graphics card. And an i5 9th Generation 16 Thread Processor by Intel.

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