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Is a gaming laptop better than a MacBook?

We compare Gaming laptop vs MacBook and ask: Is a gaming laptop better than a MacBook?

Updated: Dec 20, 2022 10:55 am
Is a gaming laptop better than a MacBook?

So, Is a gaming laptop better than a MacBook? Well hold on to your headwear, but for gaming, the answer is a resounding yes. For other uses though, the answer isn’t as clear cut, and ultimately depends on what you prioritize.

Gaming laptops are invariably Windows laptops, so many of their advantages/disadvantages compared to MacBooks apply to all Windows laptops.

See the comparison below for a more thorough breakdown of the relative pros of both.

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Gaming laptop vs MacBook

Gaming laptop pros

  • Access to Windows software: Gaming laptops are Windows laptops, and Windows machines have access to a much wider range of software than is available on the MacOS.
  • Game compatibility: The fact is there are comparatively far fewer game titles that you can even play on a MacBook compared to a Windows gaming laptop, which is compatible with virtually everything. Even those titles that do technically play on Mac sometimes run very poorly, suffering crashses, bugs, or just lower-than expected performance (more on this below).
  • Hardware and OS optimized to play games: It’s somewhat obvious that a gaming laptop will be better at playing games, however it’s important to note why. The Windows operating system is just far better suited to getting the most out of a CPU, GPU, and the other internal components than MacOS is when it comes to gaming. This means a MacBook with similarly powerful internal components just won’t run games with as high FPS as you’d get on a Windows gaming laptop, not to mention it often won’t support features like Ray Tracing to the same degree, nor come with features like a MUX Switch.
  • More powerful CPU, GPU, RAM & SSD options: You are able to get more powerful specifications in a gaming laptop than you can in a MacBook, which translates to better performance in game.
  • Higher maximum refresh rate: Some of the new MacBook Pros can boost up to 120Hz, but the majority are capped at 60Hz, which is below what you’d want if you’re playing any kind of competitive shooter as it effectively caps you to 60FPS. By definition, gaming laptops tend to have a minimum of 120Hz, and often 144Hz-165Hz refresh rate displays, which is fine for most gamers, though those interested in maximising in-game performance have 240Hz, 300Hz, or 360Hz options.
  • Much more cost-effective: Whilst the price of gaming laptops varies considerably, almost all of them will let you get core specifications of similar power to a MacBook, for considerably less money. Most of what you’re paying for in a MacBook is the brand, which doesn’t translate to actual performance.

MacBook pros (no pun intended)

  • A more streamlined, user-friendly OS: Whilst it doesn’t have the same range of applications, many prefer MacOS to Windows as it is a more user-friendly operating system: more streamlined, easier to navigate, and more aesthetically pleasing. Plus there is some unique Apple-only software that you can’t get on Windows laptops (including gaming laptops).
  • Retina Display: On the whole, MacBook displays are superior in terms of sharpness of image due to the Retina Display technology that Apple uses for them. Basically, Retina displays have a higher pixel density than you’d typically see. They also tend to have a very high peak brightness, certainly compared to most gaming laptops, so are better for outside use.
  • Superior speakers: It’s well known that MacBooks set the standard of laptop speakers, with few Windows laptops able to get close. Gaming laptops tend to compared most unfavourably, as speaker quality is considered a low priority by most manufacturers, who assume gamers will be using headsets. Exceptions to this are ASUS gaming laptops, which tend to have decent speakers, though still no way near as good as those on a MacBook.
  • High-end design & build quality: Although you can get some gaming laptops with an aesthetic and build quality to match Apple’s MacBook range (The Alienware X14, X15, and X17 for example) most don’t compare.

Is a gaming laptop better than a MacBook? Final Word

We hope this short guide has helped you answer the question: Is a gaming laptop better than a MacBook? In terms of how it applies to you. Make sure you have a look at our different best gaming laptop guides (organized by price point in the mega menu), which includes the best gaming laptop under $500, best gaming laptop under $1,000, and best gaming laptop under $2,000.

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