Can I Play Games On a Non-Gaming Laptop?

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Can I Play Games On a Non-Gaming Laptop? –

So, you want to know if you can play your favorite games on a regular non-gaming laptop. The answer is—it depends (don’t click off yet 😅).

Let me explain—

Computer games come with a variety of system requirements, and it depends on the type of game you are looking at.

If it’s a simple, small to mid-sized (size & system requirement wise) game, you probably would be able to run it on your laptop just fine.

But, if it’s a high-budget, graphics-intensive AAA title, then your laptop might struggle to even run it.

In this article, you will learn about the major differences between gaming and non-gaming laptops.

Along with that, you will learn how you can optimize your existing non-gaming (or gaming) laptop by which your laptop would be able to run most games that have come out in the past decade.

Gaming laptops vs non-gaming laptops: what makes them different from each other?

In this section, we will find out what makes a gaming laptop different from a non-gaming laptop.

The main difference between a gaming and a non-gaming laptop is that gaming laptops are mainly designed to do tasks that require extensive GPU as well as CPU power. These tasks include gaming, 3D modeling & rendering, and other kinds of similar heavy tasks.

On the other hand, a non-gaming laptop is mainly designed to perform simple day-to-day tasks like browsing, playing videos, running MS Office stuff, and similar tasks like these.

Having said that, normal laptops too come with a range of lower-end to higher-end CPUs along with an integrated GPU that can run some newer games at good framerates.

Here’s a table showing the main differences between a gaming and a non-gaming laptop (as of 2022):

Gaming laptop

  • Usually comes equipped with 4GB to 32GB of RAM.
  • Processor is usually above Intel Core i5 10th gen and similar AMD equivalent.
  • Comes with a dedicated powerful GPU.
  • Usually has other bells & whistles like RGB-backlit keyboard, other RGB lights like a glowing logo on the flap, lights on the edges, and so on.
  • Gaming laptops are usually non-stealthy in nature, meaning, they are meant for show-offs, which is not a bad thing, in my opinion.
  • They are built to provide better cooling to the internal hardware and are usually equipped with two cooling fans.
  • The cooling fans could get significantly loud in some situations, which could be annoying for some people.

Non-gaming laptop

  • Usually comes equipped with anywhere from 2GB to 16GB and sometimes 32GB of RAM.
  • Ranges from Intel Core i3 to i7 and similar AMD equivalent.
  • Comes with a normal integrated GPU.
  • Doesn’t usually come with an RGB backlit keyboard. If there is a backlit keyboard, it comes in just one color throughout like white or faded blue. Apart from that, there are no other bells & whistles on normal laptops.
  • Non-gaming laptops are usually designed to be stealthy in nature.
  • They too provide better cooling but usually don’t require more than one cooling fan.
  • The cooling fan(s) are usually quiet which is almost unnoticeable most of the time.

Can your laptop really run the games you want to play?

This is a question you might ask yourself every time a new game comes out on the market.

The obvious way to check if your laptop is compatible with a particular game is to go to the ‘system requirements’ section on the game’s website or the marketplace you’re considering buying it from.

Now, if your laptop has the proper hardware/software to run the particular game, it’s awesome. If not, go through the next section and you’ll learn how you can optimize your existing laptop to get the most out of it and run most of the newer games.

How to optimize your existing laptop to run most games

In this section, we will discover actionable steps that you can take to transform your existing laptop into something that can run most of the games that were not possible to run before.

Without any further ado, let’s get straight to the steps—

1. Download/Update Drivers

Sometimes, we overlook this one. Believe me, I’ve been there. For several months, I refrained from downloading proper drivers for my laptop and graphics configuration, because I thought the pre-installed drivers would already be fine.

And here’s the funny part, While playing some games, I always thought that I was supposed to get the performance that I was getting and that it was normal, but soon I came to my senses. And I am glad I did.

After I downloaded/upgraded to the proper graphics drivers, I experienced a huge bump in FPS and overall gaming performance.

Moral of the story—Don’t take anything for granted, you can always try the most basic and obvious thing, such as downloading/updating to the proper drivers according to your laptop, and it could be a life-changing decision.

Here’s how to check & download updated drivers for your laptop—

Step 1: Run Windows Update—

  • Simply, hit the Windows button on your keyboard or click on the Windows icon in your taskbar and type, “check for updates” in the search bar.
  • Follow the instructions and let Windows do the remaining stuff for you.
  • If there would be updates, it will scan and prompt you to download & install them.
  • Updates could take several minutes to sometimes hours to download & install according to your internet speed.
  • Once installed, just restart your laptop and you’re good to go!

Step 2: Manual Installation—

Sometimes, Windows Update doesn’t show the drivers to update if proper drivers are not installed initially.

Meaning, let’s say you have a laptop with Nvidia graphics, and for some reason, the drivers are not already installed in your laptop.

In that case, when you try to run Windows Update, Nvidia graphics drivers might not show up for you to download/update, because you don’t have it installed already.

So, the solution to that is to go to the manufacturer’s website and manually download the proper drivers.

Here’s how to do it—

Step 2(a): Find out which graphics card/chipset you have on your laptop—

  • Hit the shortcut key Win+R or click on the Start button and search for “Run”.
  • Once opened, type in “dxdiag” without quotes and hit enter.
  • Hit “Yes” if any pop-up window appears, as shown in the screenshot below:
DirectX Diagnostic Tool –
  • After hitting the Yes button, you should see a window as shown below.
DirectX Diagnostic Tool –
  • Now, just navigate to Display 1, and/or Display 2 to see the model of your GPU.

NOTE: Depending on your laptop, you might or might not have 2 GPUs.

Take note of your graphics cards’ names and also the model number of your laptop.

Step 2(b): Go to your laptop manufacturer’s website or the graphics company website and find the proper drivers for your graphics.

After downloading and installing the proper drivers, make sure to restart your laptop and enjoy the improved performance while gaming.

2. Optimize Your Laptop

Another thing you can do for your laptop is to tweak some settings and make it a tad better than before.

Let’s take a look at some optimization tips & tricks—

Keep your laptop clean from the inside

Do you know that dust can significantly affect your laptop’s performance?

Dust particles accumulated in your laptop’s internal components retain heat and negatively impact the airflow in the system, which in turn decreases the overall performance of your laptop.

Heat is the worst enemy of laptops and PCs.

Make sure to clean your laptop around the cooling fans and other areas 2-4 times a quarter (3 months).

Tweak power settings

Laptops run on batteries that are not designed to run heavy games if you’re not plugged into a power source.

Because of that, operating systems like Microsoft Windows have a feature build-in that reduces the power drawn by graphics cards, and other hardware so that the battery takes less load & stress.

It helps to increase the life cycle of the battery. But at the cost of reduced performance.

Sometimes, even if you’re plugged in, you might not get the full power of your laptop due to some glitch or restriction by your laptop’s manufacturer.

In that case, you should check if you have allowed your laptop to run to its full potential.

Here’s how to check if you are on “high-performance” mode or not—

  • Click on the Start button and start typing, “edit power plan”.
Editing power plan in Windows 11 (Step 1) –
  • Now click on the first result that shows up, as shown in the screenshot above.
  • A control panel window will show up.
  • Now follow the instruction as shown in the following screenshots:
Editing power plan in Windows 11 (Step 2) –
Editing power plan in Windows 11 (Step 3) –

After completing the above steps, make sure to restart your laptop.

Update your DirectX version

You might get poor performance if you don’t have the latest DirectX software.

As stated by HP— “Microsoft DirectX is Windows software technology designed to enhance multimedia experiences, such as 3D gaming, graphics, network gaming, and audio.” [source]

So downloading the newer version of DirectX could help you with better performance in games.

Here’s how to check if you have the latest version installed or not—

Follow Step2(a) in Download/Update Drivers section above, and check your DirectX version listed on the first page at the very bottom.

At the time of writing this post, the latest version of DirectX is version 12.

If yours is below that, simply head over to Microsoft’s website for DirectX, and download the latest version from there.

3. Upgrade Your Hardware

The next thing you could do is upgrade your existing hardware to help you get that extra boost in performance.

Upgrade/Switch to SSD

If you don’t have an SSD already, consider installing one. This could be a game-changer.

I recommend having at least 128 GB of SSD drive. And you should install your operating system in it. You should also install heavier games in the SSD as well because they are way faster than traditional rotating disk drives.

You’ll get better read/write speeds with an SSD.

Increase Your RAM

The second upgrade you can do is you can upgrade your RAM.

As of now, most games require at least 8 GB of RAM to run. If you don’t have that much RAM or even if you do, consider upgrading it to 16 GB and you’ll see a significant overall performance boost in your laptop.

4. Optimize Your Games

Tweak graphics settings

All of the above techniques should help you immensely with boosting gaming performance on your laptop.

If you’re still struggling to get good frames in your games, you can try messing around with the games’ graphics settings like resolution, V-Sync, anti-aliasing, texture quality, water quality, etc.

I recommend turning off V-Sync, lowering the resolution to 720p, turning off advanced shaders, lowering the grass, water, shadow quality, and anti-aliasing.

Feel free to tweak these settings to see if you can get the best frames per second with a little cut back on visual quality.

Try “low-end PC” game mods

Another way to run heavy games on your laptop smoothly is to use mods created by fellow modders around the world.

They try to optimize the internal game files in such a way that laptops with lower specifications could also run it.

To see if there are mods available for the game you want to play, simply Google, “name of the game low end pc mod”. For example:- “gta 5 low end pc mod”.

Final thoughts

I hope you found this article useful and learned some new techniques that could help you in running newer games on your non-gaming laptop.

Please share the article with your friends who could use the help, and if you have any suggestions or thoughts, post them in the comment section below.

Until then, have a great day! See you in the next one! 👋

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