The Best Gaming Laptop Setup for Maximum Performance

Key Points

  • Manufacturers ship laptops with unnecessary settings.

  • An external monitor makes a gaming laptop setup better.

  • A docking station makes your gaming laptop setup like a desktop setup.

  • Three computer brands –Asus, Razer, and Lenovo – are consistently the top three gaming laptop manufacturers.

Creating the perfect gaming laptop setup takes creativity. It's not as easy as plugging your laptop into its charger and throwing things together to make them work. It takes an artist to create something magical. That means cable management, proper monitors, the right keyboard and mouse, and other fine details to optimize your laptop for gaming.

Laptops make for excellent gaming machines because they come installed with all the necessary hardware. However, they take a little more setting up along with a little more money to create the perfect gaming station. The right gaming laptop setup provides the optimization of a desktop game station while maintaining a laptop’s portability

Flip open that laptop and get ready to optimize it for all your gaming needs.

Gaming laptop setup

All the Little Things

Before you get to all the additional hardware necessary for a gaming setup, focus on the laptop itself. Look at its exterior and take note of which sides contain which ports to envision potential setups. While software and hardware are important, it’s equally important to know where to plug things in. For example, if the laptop's left side has an HDMI port, position your laptop to the right of an external monitor. This prevents tangled cords.

Now to get into the technical side of setting up that laptop.

Adjust Your Settings

Imagine being in the middle of a game, knee-deep in high-octane action against enemy players surrounding your position when your laptop freezes and restarts with an update. Avoid this mishap by changing your computer’s “active hours.” The active hours function tells your laptop when you’re using it, restricting it from performing any update within the chosen hours.

Once you adjust your laptop’s active hours, find the mouse and pointer settings. By default, new computers come with mouse acceleration enabled. While some people find this to be a useful feature, it doesn’t provide any benefits for gamers because it negatively affects a mouse’s sensitivity.

Mouse acceleration adjusts the speed and distance of the pointer's movement based on the speed you move the physical mouse. Without mouse acceleration, the distance traveled by the cursor on the screen proportionally moves based on the distance of the physical mouse. Keeping mouse acceleration enabled moves the pointer further if you move the mouse quickly. This affects your accuracy and you don't need that kind of negativity in your life.

Furthermore, manufacturers set their laptops to conserve power by default; this negatively impacts performance. Turn it off in your computer’s settings along with mouse acceleration.

Update Drivers

All gaming laptops come equipped with a graphics card. It’s what separates them from traditional laptops. Without the graphics card, it's impossible to play video games. However, the drivers require updates no matter how new the card is in your device. Update your graphics card’s drivers regularly to avoid performance issues.

The graphics driver acts as a bridge between the operating system and graphics card, allowing them to communicate with each other. The drivers interpret the operating system’s commands and translate them into instructions the graphics card understands. These instructions include rendering 3D images, processing video data, and displaying graphics on the monitor.

Man playing video game on laptop

Download Software

Most gamers opt to download all the fun programs when they first remove their new laptop from its packaging. However, focus on the necessary programs before getting to the fun stuff. Necessary applications improve your gaming experience. Communicating with friends requires either Discord or TeamSpeak. Download, install, and adjust the settings to your liking.

Steam, Valve’s gaming platform, has a majority of the popular PC video games. However, other publishers such as Blizzard and Ubisoft, created their own exclusive clients to avoid additional distribution costs that come with using Steam. It’s important to install the right clients to find the games you want.

Each peripheral used with a laptop (mouse, keyboard, etc.) comes with additional software used to customize different features. Razer publishes Razer Synapse for their line of products while Corsair uses iCUE. These programs offer customizability options like key mapping, lighting, and sensitivity. If you use peripherals from different manufacturers, download software from each of them.

Overclock Your GPU

One of the most important actions a gamer takes with their gaming hardware is learning to overclock their laptop’s graphics card. Overclocking a graphics card means increasing its clock speed beyond its factory-set speed. Clock speed determines how many operations it performs per second, directly affecting its performance. By increasing the clock speed, games achieve higher frame rates and better performance in graphically-intensive applications.

However, overclocking a graphics card generates more heat because the graphics card consumes more power. Damage to the card is inevitable if it's not cooled properly. This means purchasing a cooling pad for your laptop or taking other steps to limit the increase in heat. Keep in mind not all graphics cards offer this ability.

To overclock a graphics card, it's important to know the manufacturer of the card. This tells you which software to install.

Gaming Laptop With Monitors

Why use a monitor with a laptop? It might seem unnecessary to some folks, but no matter how good a gaming laptop is, the screen is nothing compared to a full-size gaming monitor. The size alone makes a big difference, making for a more immersive experience. Beyond that, refresh rates and resolution reach heights that laptop screens only dream of.

However, laptops come equipped with fewer ports than desktop computers, limiting the number of monitors usable by a laptop. Investing in a USB hub to expand the number of connectivity options is beneficial. Once you connect a monitor or two, adjust the settings. A monitor promoted with a 240Hz refresh rate doesn’t mean it comes out of the box like that. You need to go into the monitor’s settings to adjust its refresh rate and resolution.

Video gaming on a laptop

Best Gaming Monitors

The right gaming monitor allows you to enjoy the full image achievable by graphics cards. Whether you prioritize refresh rate or resolution, there’s a monitor for you. Everyone judges the qualities of a monitor differently. Some prioritize refresh rate over resolution or a glossy over a matte finish.


Alienware, a subsidiary of Dell Computers, manufactures one of the best monitors on the market. Its 34” QD-OLED monitor boasts a 175 Hz refresh rate with a resolution of 3440 x 1440. It sits on a slightly curved panel that adds depth to your gaming environment and makes it easier to see every corner of the large screen.


If you’re in the market for a monstrous monitor, Asus’s 45” ROG Swift does the trick. Sitting with 138 Hz and a native 4K resolution, the visuals this monitor provides immerse its user in any game they play. Its color range is vibrant and reaches 750 nits of brightness.


One of the biggest names in graphics cards manufactures other computer components, including monitors. Gigabyte’s monitors are top-of-the-line with state-of-the-art technology that works in conjunction with its graphics cards. Its M32UC monitor sits at 32” with a refresh rate of 144 Hz, or 160 Hz if you overclock it. Even better, the M32UC costs no more than $600.


Another monitor with the ability to overclock its refresh rate is Acer’s Predator X38. It features a base 144 Hz refresh rate, already better than traditional monitors, with the ability to push it to 175 Hz. Playing games on this curved widescreen makes it difficult to use anything different.

Gaming on laptop with monitor

Turn Your Gaming Laptop Into a Desktop

Take your gaming laptop setup to the next level by making it function more like a desktop. Feel too restricted by the lack of ports on your laptop? There’s a fix. Keyboard too compact and limiting? There’s an easy solution. A few peripherals and accessories and you’re in business.

Gaming Keyboard

A dedicated keyboard that’s not attached to a laptop helps the problems mentioned above. Using the laptop keyboard works well when first starting. However, as you become more proficient with the video games you frequently play, it becomes increasingly obvious that you need a little more freedom. 

Laptop keyboards are compact facsimiles of full-sized keyboards. Certain methods improve gaming techniques, as well. For example, tilting the keyboard at an angle adds space to your desk while also giving your hand more stability.

Gaming Mouse

An obvious peripheral for your gaming setup is a mouse. Sure, it’s nice that laptops come with trackpads, but those aren’t putting your name on any leaderboards. Purchase a gaming mouse for more versatility and better performance overall. Gaming mice come with higher-resolution sensors, meaning they track more accurately than a standard mouse. This is especially useful for gamers who need to make quick and accurate movements. 

Furthermore, they come equipped with programmable buttons, often customized to perform specific actions in games. This offers a huge advantage for gamers who want to streamline their gameplay with quick access to important functions.

Gaming controller with mouse and keyboard

Docking Station

If you want to set your gaming laptop setup apart from most others, investing in a docking station changes the entire game. A laptop docking station expands your laptop's connectivity far more than a USB hub. They provide additional ports for USB, ethernet, HDMI, DisplayPort, audio, and more, making your laptop gaming station more in line with the abilities of a desktop. You won't struggle to find a slot for multiple monitors with a docking station.

Laptop docking stations come in different forms, but most are standalone devices that connect to laptops via USB-C. Some docking stations come with a built-in charging feature, allowing the laptop to charge while connected to the dock. Additionally, some docking stations provide improved graphics performance by allowing the laptop to connect to a dedicated graphics card. This makes it possible to run a laptop with multiple graphics cards and upgrade them.

Laptop Stand

A laptop stand acts as two accessories in one. It elevates the laptop off the desk, allowing air across its undercarriage to keep it cool. This acts as an alternative to a loud cooling pad that adds noise from all its fans. It also keeps your workspace organized. Gaming controllers, external hard drives, and other devices fit under most laptop stands, making it a great place to store such peripherals. 

Best Gaming Laptop Brands

Dell, HP, and other big name brands have manufactured laptops and computer components for decades. However, there are more specialized brands that gamers know when it comes to gaming laptops. Brands install gaming laptops with hardware and software that improves gaming performance.


Asus creates some of the most advanced and affordable gaming laptops on the market. Manufacturing computer components since 1989, gamers around the world fill their gaming stations exclusively with Asus products because of their reliability.

Asus focuses on delivering high-performance and reliable products while combining that with creativity. Their laptops were the talk of 2023’s Consumer Electronic Show because they equip their computers with top-of-the-line processors and graphics cards that run games and editing software with ease. Asus also uses high-quality components in its products, adding to their longevity.


Founded in 2005, Razer made an impact on gamers early on with its laptop designs. They famously feature customizable RGB lighting and sleek designs easy to transport. These high-powered products don’t come cheap, however. With the newest processors and software optimized for gaming and media creation, these technological beasts cost more than a pretty penny. 

Razer’s Razer Blade 15 laptop from 2022 came in with a price tag of $4,000.


Lenovo, created in 1984, manufactures a wide range of trustworthy laptops for a variety of demographics. It produces traditional laptops popularly used by teachers (ThinkPad computer) and gaming laptops just as powerful as anything Asus or Razer put out. Its Legion Pro laptop made headlines for its use of a full-sized keyboard without it feeling too crowded. Gamers often praise the brand for its keyboards and other fundamental features in its laptops.

Gaming laptop with lighting

Step Up Your Set Up

Creating a gaming setup the way you like generates an ideal atmosphere. If you happen to work from home, your gaming setup helps with professional productivity, as well. 

Plenty of accessories not discussed in this article exist for the right gaming station, too. If you're a fan of colorful lights, different laptops come equipped with customizable RGB lighting. Otherwise, various stores sell RGB light strips in varying lengths. Some simply cover the perimeter of a desk or the entirety of a wall.

Whatever you decide to do, remember to update those graphics card drivers!