The Gaming Laptop Drought: When Will the Oasis Emerge?

And yet, in an age of accelerating technology, there is one sector left to wallow in a technology stagnation desert. The gaming laptop! After the show closed at the world’s largest tech show – Computex 2024 – it became glaringly obvious that this is a particularly difficult year to be an enthusiast gamer wanting bespoke high-end mobile hardware.

The Invisible Gaming Laptops at Computex 2024

In addition to revelations of new incredible processors from Intel and AMD, and Nvidia’s revolutionary AI gaming companions, there was no mention of anything new for the gamer. The Asus ProArt P16 and MSI Stealth A16 AI+, among a few offerings, represent a new chapter in AI gaming. These PCs marry the power of AMD Ryzen AI processors to mainstream gaming laptops, but offer little for the gamer.

A New Era Dominated by AI

There’s no question that the spotlight has fallen more squarely on Artificial Intelligence this time around with Microsoft’s Copilot+ programme harnessing the capabilities of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X Elite chip, which includes what I presume to be a neural processing unit (NPU). If AMD Ryzen AI or Intel’s Lunar Lake chips come anywhere near satisfying these futuristic benchmarks, they’ll only further compound the eerie feeling I get from the manufacturers’ apparent decision to ignore a substantial refresh of the lineup of gaming laptops using the most powerful discrete graphics cards and CPUs dedicated to gaming.

Where Have All the GPUs Gone?

One reason is the GPU market – Nvidia’s RTX 40-series is the most recent major GPU release (almost 18 months ago at this point), and AMD’s counterparts have pretty much met the same fate. In general, the usual pipeline of new, exciting GPU options for laptops has dried up. At Computex 2024, where we’d ordinarily expect to see some of these new devices, the message is clear: next-gen gaming laptops are still a ways off.

The Unending Wait for Gaming Enthusiasts

The question, of course, is when? While we’re watching Nvidia, AMD and Intel for next-gen GPU reveals, don’t expect laptop versions to arrive any sooner than they did last time out. That means that consumers might have to wait until CES 2025 or later to get their next game-ready laptop.

AI PCs: A Temporary Refuge for Gamers?

As long as the rest of the world cheers on AI to suck up all of the attention and money, while it plods along making incremental progress, there’s no reason why any of the nascent ‘AI PCs’ will not be perfectly viable gaming platforms. Nvidia’s Project G-Assist suggests that, in the not-too-distant future, gaming and AI could be indistinguishable. And the Snapdragon X laptops prove that there is hope for gamers stuck in drought years – gamers will at least have a stopgap solution in the form of beefy integrated GPUs.

Exploring the Future of GAMING LAPTOPS

While there is now a temporary lull, gaming laptops built around innovations in AI or gaming performance will inevitably emerge. The distinctive aspect of gaming laptops is that they deliver the best possible gaming performance in a portable device. This includes high-performance discrete GPUs, top-end processors, high-bandwidth memory and advanced cooling solutions. Their continued appeal to gamers lies in the perfect combination of power, portability and a gaming experience free of inhibition wherever they happen to be. Even if the current gaming laptop isn’t exactly a product for the ages, gamers hold out hope for one to emerge from this drought. A product that packages the latest hardware in a way that feels like it has the gamer’s heart. And doesn’t embarrass you while you’re carrying it. Before you know it, you’ll look up and the gaming laptop oasis will have emerged. And it will be the one with all the next-gen gaming laptops.

The Enduring Appeal of Gaming Laptops

Make no mistake. The gamer’s heart will remain ablaze – even as the glare from the AI world and other domains make it impossible for modern gaming rigs to shine. For a gaming laptop is not a spec-sheet. At the root of every gaming laptop is the desire to translate a gamer’s dreams into reality, where the door to adventure, exploration and competition is as real as the imagination can make it. And on a horizon that promises neural supercomputing, quantum performance and AI augmentation, the gaming laptop is poised for a renaissance once more.

Finally, while the gaming laptop market is in flux, if anything, its spirit and promise for the future have been reinvigorated. The overlap of gaming and AI is in its infancy, capable of unimaginable things – that day when my gaming laptop can run and look as good as the old ones, if not even better, may be a long way off. But for gamers, the wait might be worth it.

Jun 09, 2024
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