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    20 Reasons Why You Should Buy A Drone in 2020

    20 Reasons Why You Should Buy A Drone in 2020

    The market for consumer drones is still growing at a rapid pace. Going into 2017, the market was projected to hit nearly $1 billion in sales. By the end of 2019 that number is expected to soar well over $1 billion.

    That’s a lot of drones hitting the skies in the coming year. So, what is with the drone craze? What is so cool about drones that people are going out and buying them in waves?

    In this post I’ll take a look at 20 different unique ways drones are being used. While a lot of the ways drones are currently being used are mainly for photography or videography purposes, some people have gotten creative with the use of their drones.

    1. Enhanced real estate photography and videography

    Drone Photography

    Using drones to capture unique stills or videos of real estate properties is perhaps one of the most talked about uses for drones from a commercial prospective…

    If you’re a real estate agent looking for an outstanding way to showcase your properties, using a drone to capture aerial stills and video of the homes you are listing can be a great way to catch potential buyers’ attention.

    Aerial stills and footage of the properties you are listing will give home shoppers a good idea of the property’s surrounding areas and will give them a complete look at the entirety of the property.

    And, ultimately, by offering a better all-around listing, you will likely win the hearts of more potential clients.

    2. TURN YOURSELF INTO A TECH-SAVVY FARMER?

    Drone Farming

    Are you a farmer? Do you also love technology? Would you like to use your love of technology to help you be a more efficient farmer?

    If so, then you may want to consider getting a drone to help you monitor your farm and help you get important data about your crops.

    There are many drone companies and projects being launched that will aim to improve the way farms operate. Such projects and companies will seek to determine things like the health of crops, whether or not crops are getting enough water, how much pesticide to apply and where to apply it, and the best times for harvesting.

    Drones can also be used by farmers to save time scouting their crops, getting a better idea for crop rotation, and mapping out their farm.

    In the future, drones will open up wide possibilities for farmers and their ability to maximize the yield from their crops.

    3. GIVE YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY BUSINESS AN EDGE

    Drone Photography

    Do you run a photography business? If so, adding a drone to your camera-arsenal can give you an edge over your competitors when potential clients in your area are looking for a photographer.

    With a drone you can capture photos and videos from angles that other photographers (ones who do not have drones) simply will never be able to reach.

    Drones are quickly becoming popular for weddings, events, and family photo sessions simply because of the unique perspective they can add to such photo or video sessions.

    Ultimately, by offering drone photography and videography you are offering your clients a more complete package.

    NOTE: Again, the FAA regulates the use of drones for commercial purposes and requires that you have an FAA 333 exemption and a pilot’s license in order to be able to run your drone for commercial purposes.

    4. GET INTO A TECHNOLOGY THAT HAS A BIG FUTURE

    Drone Delivery

    Some people will want to get a drone simply because it is the hot new technology. It’s like owning computer in the late 80’s early 90’s, except that consumer drones now are much more useful than consumer computers were during that time period.

    But, just as there was a”cool” factor associated with owning computer then (being an early-adopter is always cool), the same is true for owning a drone now. And, while it is true that there were a ton of drones sold in 2017, the market for consumer drones projects to hit well over $1 billion by the end of 2019…

    So… it’s safe to say that the market for consumer drones is still in its infancy. And, if you want to be one of the early-adopters of the technology, now is the time to hop on board.

    5. FOR FUN, DUH!

    Drones

    Perhaps the best reason to get a drone is, simply, because they are a lot of fun. Even with the FAA rolling out new consumer-oriented regulations that limit what you can do with a drone, drones are still a lot of fun to fly.

    I’m not really sure what it is, but man has always had a fascination with attempting to conquer things he shouldn’t really be able to… and with drones, that attempt is for man to further it’s domain over the skies.

    In any case, flying a drone can be a very enjoyable experience… especially if you have a capable drone that is easy to fly. If you haven’t flown a drone, yet, I recommend you do so.

    6. CAPTURE STUNNING FOOTAGE

     


    Obviously the biggest thrill for drone enthusiasts is the fact that they can take stunning aerial photos and videos and they don’t have to be expert photographers to get those shots.

     

    This is simply because any aerial shot (assuming it’s taken by a quality camera) has a certain quality of awe to it and so you don’t have to be a professional to get a really cool photo or video.

    7. STAND OUT ON SOCIAL MEDIA

    Drone Selfie

    We all follow people who post daily selfies on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. And, we all wonder why they get so many followers…

    Now, I’m not suggesting you should be a one-upper, but… you should definitely one-up them and take daily selfies as well… with your drone. That is, of course, if you want to become the new king or queen of your social media circle.

    Seriously, though, one of the best ways to build a big social media following is to post high-quality videos or photos that are unique. And, what better way to do that than with a drone?

    8. FLY THROUGH THE AIR… FROM THE GROUND!

    FPV Drones

    One of the coolest features of some of the more high-end drones on the market is the ability to live stream your flight footage right to your mobile device. This is called FPV (First Person View).

    Many drones now are controlled partially through a mobile app on your phone or tablet. For instance, the DJI Phantom 3 series comes with their transmitter, which has the standard control features, and then you also need to connect your smartphone or tablet to the transmitter and use their app for the rest of the flying features they offer.

    And, with their app, your phone/tablet will actually display exactly what the camera on your drone is seeing. So, instead of having to look up at your drone in the skies at all times, you can look at your tablet and get a first-person view of what your drone’s camera is looking at.

    There are many benefits of FPV in terms of positioning your drone for the best shot possible, but one of the coolest aspects of this is that it allows you to see what it would be like to fly through the air. There are even FPV-dedicated goggles that you can wear to isolate the view (though it’s a good idea to have a spotter with a direct line-of-sight on the drone).

    9. YOU COULD BE THE NEXT DALE EARNDHART JR… OF DRONES!

    Drone Racing

    Believe it or not, drone racing is already a thing and a national drone racing championship has already been established. Basically, drone racing is very similar to playing a competitive eSports video game where all of the contestants sit side-by-side and race their drones.

    And, instead of standing over the arena and watching their drones, they use FPV goggles to guide their machines as they race around the course.

    10. THEY’RE BECOMING MORE AFFORDABLE

    Syma X5C Affordable

    Consumer drones now range from as low as ~$40 to as expensive as ~$3,000 or more. But the less expensive drones are continually becoming better and easier to fly.

    Even sub $50 drones like the Syma X5C come equipped with a camera and some advanced features like return-to-home. That’s pretty amazing for a ~$50 quadcopter.

    And, while the Syma X5C doesn’t have the most amazing camera setup (shoots in 720p and doesn’t have a gimbal to stabilize video), it shows you that affordable drones are both capable and improving.

    Ultimately, as drone technology continues to advance, you will continue to see the quality of drones under $100 improve.

    11. THEY’RE ACTUALLY NOT THAT HARD TO FLY… IF YOU’RE SMART ABOUT IT

    Drones Easy to Fly

    Now this is probably subjective as there are a lot of drone-enthusiasts out there who would argue that flying a drone is a difficult endeavor takes a lot of practice.

    And, I won’t argue with those people because they have a lot of YouTube videos to backup that claim.

    However, in my experience, drones are becoming easier and easier to fly and some of the high-end drones on the market (like the DJI Phantom 3 series and the 3DR Solo) are so simple to fly that it’s kind of amazing…

    That’s not to say that problems don’t arise during flights, or that the Phantom 3 and the Solo are perfect, but rather that if you use common sense and fly your drone with caution when you are first starting out, you will be surprised to see how well they handle and how easy they are to navigate.

    13. CAPTURE SPORTS ANGLES LIKE NEVER BEFORE

    Drone Sports

    Yes, we all saw that drone nearly crush a skier a few weeks back. That was scary… and it makes you wonder why the drone was floating right above the course… Why not move the drone a little to the side and sacrifice the overhead view to ensure the skiers’ safety?

    In any case, if used safely, drones can be used in various sports settings—from popular sports like football (the American kind) and football (the rest-of-the-world kind), to extreme sports like mountain biking, snowboarding , etc.—to capture unique angles and show the sport like it has never been shown before.

    In fact, the Tennessee Titans recently became one of the first professional sports team to receive an FAA 333 Exemption so that they could use drones for commercial purposes. It appears as if they will use their drones to take a wide array of aerial footage of their team practicing during pre-season mini camps.

    Ultimately, this is likely just the beginning of drones being used to capture professional sports.

    14. MAP OUT YOUR PROPERTY AND GET COOL PICTURES OF YOUR HOUSE

    Drone Home Photo

    Even if you aren’t a real estate agent, there’s still reasons why you would want to take pictures of your home. For starters, it’s your home… and it’s a big investment. Some people cherish their home and, as such, want pictures of it. A drone allows you to take pictures of your home that nobody else can.

    And, since a lot of drone cameras are high-quality, you could even have the picture of your home blown up, framed, and put up on a wall in your home.

    15. UP CLOSE WHALE WATCHING?

    I’m not sure what the exact rules and regulations are on flying your drones over whales, but this guy is doing it:

     

     

    And, so is this guy:

     

     

    Need I say more?

    16. SCARE THE $%#@ OUT OF SOMEONE!

    This is another one that can really only be explained by watching the video. This prank is unbelievably awesome…

     

     

    Now, to be fair, that guy isn’t using a drone you can just order from Amazon—or from any other online retailer for that matter. He’s using a heavy-duty drone that was specifically built to carry that ghoul.

    But, that doesn’t mean you can’t build something similar. I’m not sure what the legality is on something like that… I’m guessing it’s breaking some kind of law… but damn is it funny.

    17. SPEAKING OF SCARING THINGS… GOT AN ANIMAL PROBLEM? SCARE THEM AWAY WITH YOUR DRONE.

    Drone Chases Geese

    You know who doesn’t like drones (besides your neighbor)? Animals don’t like drones. But there are instances where animals not liking drones is a good thing…

    For instance, Ottawa has a goose problem. You see, geese can release 2 pounds of poop each day. And, Ottawa has a lot of geese… which means a lot of goose poop.

    So, the city of Ottawa has turned to drone-enthusiast Steve Wambolt to help rid them of their goose-problem. Wambolt has been tasked with chasing geese off of Petrie Island, where apparently the goose poop is so bad, that at certain times you can’t even see the ground.

    Not everyone wants to chase the geese away and the choice to attempt to do so by the city is still up for debate, but it does show how drones can be used to keep pesky animals away.

    18. CATCH CORRUPT MEAT-PACKING PLANTS TURNING YOUR RIVER RED WITH BLOOD…

    Drone Catches Meat Packing Plant

    Did you ever think that taking your drone out for a spin could end up in a scenario where you would help catch a meat-packing plant that was dumping animal blood into a nearby creek.

    That’s what happened when a man flying his consumer drone over the Trinity River in Oak Cliff, Texas captured a stream of blood flowing into the river… Whatever came of the meat-packing plant, I’m not sure, but apparently multiple investigations were launched to get to the bottom of what happened.

    In any case, can you really afford not to be flying your drone over local meat-packing plants now?

    19. LEAF-BLOWING? HA! MORE LIKE LEAF-DRONING!

    Nobody likes to sweep leaves. And, pulling out the leaf-blower to do the job isn’t really all that fun… at least not compared to leaf-droning:

     

     

    Yes, that’s an expensive way to get rid of your leaves… but all fun comes at a cost…

    20. YOU CAN’T SPELL HOVERBOARDING WITHOUT D-R-O-N-E

    Do you want to see what the first step in the process to becoming the Green Goblin looks like? Well check out this video:

     

     

    Obviously, this isn’t a DJI Inspire 1 that the guy is floating on. He obviously spent some time building this (and apparently through all of that time out of the window when it crashed). Ultimately, though, if this guy can do it, why can’t you?

    The Best Gaming Laptops for 2020

    The Best Gaming Laptops for 2020

    Playing your favorite PC games with the detail levels and resolution maxed out doesn't mean you have to buy a big desktop rig—today's best gaming laptops pack some serious power. Here's everything you need to know to choose the right gaming-notebook monster, along with our top lab-tested picks.

    Purists will argue that you need a PC to truly play games, especially if you're a fan of pushing the levels of graphics quality beyond the capabilities of a mere gaming console. In this regard, the gaming desktop is still king, particularly when it comes to having the kind of components and horsepower needed to run 4K games smoothly and support virtual reality (VR) setups, such as the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive. But if you want or need something you can tote around the house or over to your friend's place, we're here to help you choose the right gaming laptop.

    HOW MUCH SHOULD YOU SPEND?

    Gaming systems have higher-end components than run-of-the-mill consumer laptops, so their prices consequently will be higher, but the range across the category is huge: from under a grand to $5,000 and up. The budget gaming laptops start at around $700 and can go up to about $1,250. For that, you get a system that can play games at full HD resolution (1080p) with the settings turned down in most titles, or at maximum quality settings in simpler games. Storage may be a hard drive, or a modest-capacity solid-state drive (SSD). An SSD is always preferable.

    Want something better? Midrange systems give you smoother gameplay at high or maximum settings on a better-quality 1080p screen (possibly in concert with a special high-refresh screen; more on that in a moment), and should add support for VR headsets. These models will range in price from around $1,250 to $2,000

    Razer Blade

    High-end systems, meanwhile, should guarantee you smooth gameplay at 1080p with graphics details maxed out, often with a high-refresh screen. They even might let you play at 4K resolution, if the screen supports it. A high-end model should also be able to power a VR headset and support additional external monitors. These machines tend to come with speedy storage components such as PCI Express solid-state drives, and they are priced above $2,000, often closer to $3,000.

    PUT THE GPU FIRST: GRAPHICS ARE KEY

    The main attribute that makes or breaks a gaming laptop is its graphics processing unit (GPU). We don't consider a laptop to be a gaming laptop unless it has a discrete graphics chip from Nvidia or (much less commonly) AMD.

    The dominant player in the field right now is Nvidia, which currently produces discrete mobile GPUs based on its "Turing" microarchitecture. At this stage, the 10-Series "Pascal" architecture has been phased out in new laptops, though you may still find some older laptops with these GPUs in stock at online retailers. Generally though, this means any laptop you're looking at with a 10-Series GPU (for example, a GeForce GTX 1070 or GTX 1080) is not the latest release.

    The Turing platform debuted with desktop graphics cards in September 2018 and made its way into laptops by early 2019. Unlike on the previous generation, the top-end Turing GPUs available on laptops carry an "RTX" designation rather than "GTX," a nod to the ray-tracing technology that the platform offers for enhanced in-game visuals (with games that support it). 

    For example, the successors to the high-end Pascal GPUs you may have seen in past years, like the GeForce GTX 1070 and GTX 1080, are named GeForce RTX 2070 and RTX 2080 for both laptops and desktops. As with Pascal, the mobile chips can offer performance close to what you could expect from a desktop-PC graphics card equipped with the same-named GPU, though thermal constraints and other factors mean they're not quite as potent. To push the performance at the top end of its stack even further, in April 2020 Nvidia also announced it would be using the same strategy on laptop as it did on desktop with the mobile Georce RTX Super series. The GeForce RTX 2070 Super and RTX 2080 Super, upticked versions of the base GPUs, will deliver even higher frame rates on the most premium laptops available.

    To make things slightly more confusing, not all Turing-based GPUs use the RTX moniker. The laptop versions of the GeForce GTX 1650 and 1660 Ti GPUs launched in 2019, and the GTX 1650 Ti debuted in 2020, filling out the bottom of the hierarchy. These are based on the same generation of architecture as the RTX GPUs, but they lack the cores for ray tracing and are less expensive. These are now the entry-level options for Nvidia laptops, with the GeForce GTX 1660 Ti an attractive compromise choice (usually in the tier just below high-end GPUs) if you can't spring for an RTX GPU. (We haven't had the chance to review any laptops yet with the mobile GeForce GTX 1650 Ti; it was announced just weeks before this writing.)

    Alienware Area-51m Underside

    Nvidia is still the main player in graphics, and the majority of laptops use its technology, but chief rival AMD is seeing an increase in adoption. A handful of laptops offer AMD's Radeon RX Vega or Radeon RX 5000 Series GPUs, the latter mostly in content creation laptops for creative professionals. The most popular example of this is the 16-inch Apple MacBook Pro, which uses the Radeon Pro 5500M. Both GPU series are often offered as an alternative to an Nvidia-based SKU, sometimes paired with an Intel processor, though we're also seeing more frequent examples of AMD graphics combined with AMD processors than before. (Dell and MSI, for example, were offering a few AMD-on-AMD CPU/GPU machines.)

    All of that said, there are still some basic conclusions to be drawn about graphics performance. In general, the higher the model number within a product line, the higher the 3D performance. So an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 generally produces higher frame rates and higher-quality graphics than a GeForce RTX 2060 or RTX 2070. A single high-end RTX-class discrete GPU will let you play the latest AAA gaming titles on a 1080p screen with all the bells and whistles turned on, and be fine for powering VR play.

    In the past, the power of an RTX 2080 would look like overkill for smooth gaming in HD, but several new factors can absorb that extra potential. A trend among high-end machines is a high-refresh-rate screen built into the laptop, which allows for display of lofty frame rates in full to smooth out the perceived gameplay. You'll need a powerful graphics chip to leverage the benefits of a high-refresh panel with demanding games. You'll be able to identify machines like these by marketing lingo touting, say, a 120Hz, 144Hz, or 240Hz screen. (A typical display on a laptop is a 60Hz panel.)

    Acer Predator Helios 300 (2019)

    Many more expensive systems now feature these high-refresh-rate screens (144Hz is emerging as the most common), so they can display more than 60 frames per second (up to 144fps, in the case of 144Hz screens). This makes gameplay look smoother, but only high-end GPUs can push those limits, in many cases. Additionally, the aforementioned ray-tracing techniques (think real-time lighting and reflection effects) are demanding to run, and as more video games implement the technology, the more you'll wish you could flip them on. (For now, they're a factor in just a smattering of AAA games, such as Battlefield V and Metro: Exodus.)

    As such, there are multiple reasons to opt for a GeForce RTX 2070 or RTX 2080, even if playing games at a full HD (1080p) resolution doesn't look too demanding to you on paper. We'll spare you too many details here, but Nvidia is also implementing a rendering technique called DLSS to help ray tracing to run smoothly on less powerful hardware like the RTX 2060 with limited downsides, so you're not totally out of luck if you can't afford the top-end chips. DLSS support, though, applies to just a small subset of games for now.

    Nvidia's G-Sync and AMD's FreeSync technologies are more down-to-earth. They help increase the quality of the gaming experience and smooth out frame rates by letting the laptop screen rewrite the image onscreen at a variable rate that depends on the output of the GPU (rather than the fixed rate of the screen). Look for support for one of those technologies if you're a stickler for perfectly rendered visuals. These technologies, collectively known as "adaptive sync," are becoming more common, but they tend to show up in pricier machines, with G-Sync much, much more common.

    PICKING A PROCESSOR

    The processor is the heart of a PC, and in any gaming laptops that released in 2019, you'll find a four-, six-, or eight-core 8th or 9th Generation Intel Core i5 or Core i7 CPU based on the "Coffee Lake" architecture. However, spring 2020 brought Intel's 10th-Generation Core H processors, which promise superior performance over equivalent last-gen CPUs. We've now tested laptops with these CPUs, notably the six-core and 12-thread Core i7-10750H, so expect adoption to continue. In general, more cores and higher clock speeds bring better overall efficiency and much-improved performance on multithreaded tasks like media projects. Gaming usually doesn't see as much of a boost from more threads, but the 10th Generation H-Series CPUs will still somewhat help gaming laptops deliver improved performance.

    Asus ROG Zephyrus G14

    Theoretically, you may find a gaming laptop with an Intel Core i3 processor, but those are uncommon: Systems with Intel Core i3 and comparable entry-level AMD processors are certainly capable of playing many games, but why limit yourself from square one? That said, if you have to make the choice between a high-end CPU and a high-end GPU, go for the graphics. For example, we'd recommend getting a Core i5 CPU over a Core i7 if the money saved could then go toward an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 GPU instead of an RTX 2060. Spending the money on the GPU makes more sense than spending it on the CPU if gaming is your main concern.

    Look for Intel Core i5 processors in midrange systems, with Core i7 H, HQ, and HK processors in higher-end gaming laptops. The H-series processors are higher-power, and tend to show up in more expensive gaming laptops, while lower-power U-series chips are designed for thinner, more portable machines. They are quite different, in terms of thermal profile, as well as overall performance potential; a U-series Core i7 processor may not even have the same number of processing cores as an H-series Core i7 chip. U-series chips are uncommon in true gaming laptops, but they are out there. H is better. The most expensive, biggest gaming laptops out there will even offer Core i9 processors, which are also superior for media tasks.

    On the AMD side, times are changing. Previously the mobile versions of the company's Ryzen 5 and Ryzen 7 processors played second fiddle to Intel's offerings. They have their own performance advantages in desktops and laptops, but they are far less common in gaming laptops than Intel's offerings. In 2020, though, AMD launched its new generation of mobile processors based on the Zen 2 architecture, which has been hugely successful on desktop. The first CPU from this new line we were able to test was the Ryzen 9 4900HS (inside the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14), and it's seriously impressive. Compared to Intel's equivalents, it performed better on media tasks and offered comparable gaming performance at a lower cost.

    AMD is offering lesser Ryzen 7 and Ryzen 5 chips, too, in this new-for-2020 family, which is also known by its code-name "Renoir." Given the strong value proposition these chips look poised to deliver, look for more laptops to adopt these fourth-generation mobile Ryzen processors as 2020 goes on.

    DISPLAY SIZE: DO YOU NEED A 17-INCH GAMING LAPTOP?

    In terms of display size, a 15-inch screen is the sweet spot for a gaming laptop. You can buy models with larger 17-inch displays, but this will almost certainly jack up the weight to well beyond 5 pounds. We've seen 10-pound "portables" in the gaming sector that will definitely weigh down your backpack. We recommend at least a full HD (1,920-by-1,080-pixel) native-resolution screen, which is pretty much the default minimum at this point.

    Larger displays are capable of giving you higher-than-1080p resolutions, but choose wisely, as a resolution of QHD (uncommon), QHD+ (3,200 by 1,800 pixels, and even less common), or 4K (3,840 by 2,160 pixels, a bit more common) will boost the final cost twice: first for the panel, and second for the higher-quality graphics chip you'll need to drive it to its full potential. As mentioned, look for increasingly common G-Sync or high-refresh-rate screens (as discussed above in the GPU section) if you want smoother visuals.

    Alienware Area-51m

    Because they usually require dual GPUs for the smoothest gameplay at native resolution, 4K gaming laptops are still the exception, and still expensive. And keep this in mind: Only the most powerful graphics cards can render complex game animations at playable frame rates across the full screen at 4K, so a 1080p screen may actually be a better use of your money if all you do is play games. Generally, it's still not worth the cost to seek out 4K gaming at high frame rates, and even the beefiest laptops are limited to "just barely" pushing the latest games at 4K and high detail settings.

    IS MAX-Q RIGHT FOR YOU?

    In an effort to produce sleeker, more portable gaming laptops, Nvidia launched an initiative in 2017 named Max-Q Design, a term borrowed from the aeronautics industry. In that scenario, it describes the maximum amount of aerodynamic stress an aircraft can sustain. Here, it refers to a combination of hardware and software modifications that allow higher-end graphics cards to fit into thinner chassis than traditionally possible. By limiting the power ceiling of cards like the GeForce RTX 2080 and RTX 2070, less heat is produced, meaning less room is needed for cooling and heat dissipation.

    Acer Predator Triton 500 Ports

    Max-Q machines are quickly becoming the norm among more powerful high-end gaming laptops, and even some mid-tier systems. Most of these are slim and much more travel-friendly than the average gaming laptop, while still allowing for gaming at 60fps or higher on high settings. It's even allowing for 17-inch laptops to significantly reduce weight and size. There are 17-inch GeForce RTX 2080-bearing laptops out there now that weigh only slightly more than five pounds and measure less than an inch thick.

    There are, of course, tradeoffs. The Max-Q-tuned graphics cards are a bit less capable than the standard versions to keep the heat down, pushing fewer frames per second while gaming. The dropoff isn't always significant enough to be a deal breaker, but it is measurable. Also, these laptops tend to be a bit pricier. If you value portability (that is, using your gaming laptop like a laptop) and visual appeal, though, Max-Q is the most consistent method so far for making possible relatively thin-and-light gaming laptops with top-tier power.

    STICK WITH AN SSD

    You should definitely give preference to a system with a solid-state drive as the boot drive, since prices have fallen considerably over the past few years. SSDs speed up boot time, wake-from-sleep time, and the time it takes to launch a game and load a new level.

    Go ahead and get a gaming laptop with an SSD, but make sure you configure correctly. A small-capacity (256GB) SSD with a roomy (1TB or greater) spinning hard drive is a good start if you also download the occasional video from the internet. (Only thicker gaming laptops will tend to support dual-drive arrangements like this.) Higher-capacity SSDs (512GB or more) are available, but choosing one will increase the purchase price of your gaming rig by a bunch.

    SSDs are very fast, but in terms of capacity, your money goes much further with hard drives. Adding more SSD capacity can make the price rise very quickly. Still, recognize how big modern game downloads can be (in the tens of gigabytes) and shop accordingly. A too-small SSD can mean you're forever shuffling games on and off the drive.

    REMEMBER: GET ENOUGH MEMORY (BUT NOT TOO MUCH)

    Before we forget, let's talk memory. In a gaming laptop, look for at least 8GB of RAM. (In practice, no self-respecting model will come with less.) That will give you some breathing room when switching back and forth between your gameplay window and your messaging app, but we'd save researching game tips for when you're not playing, as each successive browser window you open eats into your RAM allotment.

    Acer Predator Triton 500

    For a high-end system, we recommend 16GB, so you can have more than one gaming session, your messaging app, several websites, a webcam program, and your video streaming program open simultaneously. A midrange gaming laptop should function fine with 8GB of memory, but be aware that many new laptops are not upgradable. You may be stuck with the amount of memory you order. For an investment-grade gaming laptop, 16GB is the ideal target; for most folks who aren't extreme streamers or multitaskers, more than that is overkill.

    BUYING THE BEST CHEAP GAMING LAPTOP

    If you're shopping for a gaming system on a limited budget (in this case, between roughly $700 and $1,200), you're going to need to make some sacrifices. Maximizing power while staying within a limited price range is the goal, but you'll have to accept that some of the components won't be comparable with the more expensive laptops you'll see while browsing. That said, $1,200 is a reasonable ceiling for what some buyers are ready to spend on a gaming laptop, and you can still get a solid system for that much or less. (Check out our side roundup of the best cheap gaming laptops.)

    MSI GL65 9SC

    The main drop-off will be the graphics, since the dedicated graphics chip is one of the most expensive components in a machine and the major factor in a computer's gaming prowess. The graphics chip almost single-handedly defines the class of laptop you're dealing with, so it's important to pay attention to that part when browsing options. Fortunately, even the less powerful GPU options these days are quite capable.

    Before the launch of Turing, and to an extent today, budget systems were equipped with true lower-tier Nvidia Pascal GPUs like the GeForce GTX 1050 and GTX 1050 Ti, with the GeForce GTX 1060 as the top "inexpensive" option. New Turing graphics options (the GTX 1650 and GTX 1660 Ti, and soon the GTX 1650 Ti) have stepped into the value shoes of those chips and are supplanting them. The GeForce RTX 2060 is the entry option for 20-Series GPUs, and while it's definitely less expensive than a GeForce RTX 2070 or RTX 2080, it's no budget-grade GPU.

    With the GTX 1650, or an older GTX 1050 or GTX 1050 Ti, you'll be able to play smoothly at 1080p, just not at the very highest settings in newer games. That's less of a worry for the GeForce GTX 1660 Ti or GeForce RTX 2060 if you go that route, as they are impressively capable in 1080p/full HD, but even there you'll have to accept dialing down a few settings for 60fps gaming in some titles. Virtual-reality gaming may be a stretch in this price range, but the GTX 1060 and GTX 1660 Ti are the current least-expensive VR-capable mobile GPUs, so some laptops at the higher end of this price range will (just) get you in the door.

    Dell G3 15

    Processors are the next biggest difference. You'll likely get a capable Core i5 instead of a faster Core i7. Still, some of the benefits of an i7 machine aren't a major factor for gaming, but instead benefit video editing and other creative uses, so an i5 will do the job. The newest generation of these chips is fast and efficient at a base level, and won't be too much of a bottleneck for gaming.

    On the AMD side of the fence, in the rare gaming laptops you'll find based wholly on AMD core technology, gamers will see mostly graphics solutions based on the aging Radeon RX 560, RX 570, and RX 580 paired with one of several AMD FX or Ryzen CPUs. Those GPUs and systems are decidedly last-generation models. The few new ones we have seen so far may use the Radeon RX 5500M paired with an Intel CPU, but on the whole budget-minded all-AMD gaming laptops are something we expect to ramp up as the year goes on.

    Outside of the graphics card and processor, the other components should actually be closer to more expensive machines than you'd expect. As far as storage is concerned, the price margin between hard drives and SSDs is narrowing, but hard drives hang on more stubbornly here than in other gaming-laptop classes. A 1TB hard drive with maybe a small boot-drive SSD alongside is common in budget laptops, but watch for models that are hard-drive-only; we strongly prefer an SSD boot drive, even in this price range. The display will almost certainly be 1080p, as 1,366-by-768-pixel panels are now reserved only for cheap non-gaming systems and increasingly uncommon. The RAM will likely top off at 8GB in budget laptops, but you will find some (more ideal) 16GB laptops in this range.

    WHAT ELSE DO YOU NEED TO UP YOUR GAME?

    Given that high-end components tend to drain battery life, don't plan on taking any of these gaming rigs too far from a wall socket very often. Cutting-edge ports like USB Type-C and Thunderbolt 3 are beneficial now, and will only be more so down the road, but look for at least two ordinary-shaped (aka, "Type-A") USB 3.0 ports so you can plug in an external mouse and a hard drive for your saved media files.

    If you want to attach a VR headset to your GeForce GTX 1060/1660 Ti-or-better rig, look for the right loadout of ports to accommodate it. You'll need a well-placed HDMI or DisplayPort video out (it depends on the VR headset which one you'll need) and enough USB ports for the hydra-head of cabling. Other video ports, like DisplayPort or mini-DisplayPort, will be helpful if you want to play games on an external display, but they aren't absolutely necessary if your laptop's screen is large enough.