So you are planning a long road trip to Alaska. You have thought of taking your gaming laptop with you so that you can accomplish a few tasks while on the way.
So, Can You Use a Gaming Laptop While On a Road Trip?
Generally, no. But if you must travel with it for some reason, there are steps you can take to overcome the obvious challenges that come with your decision.
The first hurdle you’d face if you were to embark on a road trip with your gaming machine would be short battery life and limited charging options (unless you are traveling in a well-equipped RV).
At a glance, normal laptops and gaming machines physically resemble each other in some aspects. However, internally, these two are a world apart.
Gaming laptops are typically built to meet high-performance standards. The needs of a gamer are different from those of a normal user. Think of a gaming laptop as a portable gaming rig.
The kind of hardware you find on a gaming device is a bit more power-hungry than what you’ll find on the traditional laptop. All these drains your battery faster than your average laptop.
Four Battery Power Hogging Elements
Here are the four power-hungriest parts of a gaming laptop that strains the battery so bad that you’d think twice before carrying the machine on a road trip:
1. Dedicated Graphics Card
Gaming laptops come with standalone GPUs designed to handle some demanding tasks like virtual reality and 4K gaming.
They take a lot of power and generate great heat compared to the weak iGPUs (integrated GPU) that come with regular laptops.
2. High-speed Processors
An average gaming laptop comes with a 6 – 8-core processor running at an insane clock speed.
The more cores a processor has, the higher the power consumption.
3. Multiple High-Speed Fans
Because of higher processor speeds and monstrous GPUs, gaming laptops need to be cooled constantly with more than one powerful fan.
It takes a lot of power to keep these fans delivering.
4. Back RGB Lighting
Backlit keyboards are characteristic for any gaming laptop and add extra load on the battery.
The Weight Factor
No one wants to set out for a road trip with heavy bothersome baggage.
You want to keep your bags as lightweight as possible.
As such, you will be more keen to shed off all the unwanted pounds or even limit yourself to bare necessities.
Gaming laptops aren’t the lightest group of laptops you will find in the market.
They are significantly heavier and bigger than your average college laptop.
The Predator 21 X, for example, weighs 18.76 lbs. and physically dwarfs all regular devices by several pounds.
Another factor worth considering – as far as size and weight are concerned – is the size of the screen.
Gaming laptops are known for large screens.
Most of them are equipped with 17” displays. Anything closer to 17” is more likely to weigh 3kg or more.
At that point, you are forgoing portability for size. Because the majority of gaming machines are heavy beasts, you will be less inclined to take one with you for a road trip.
Are You Ready to Lose or Break It?
The two biggest risks to any pricey laptop, especially a gaming laptop, are damage or loss.
A laptop is incredibly easy to lose – you will need to keep a sharp eye on your bag when you are not using it.
Thieves can figure out whether you are carrying a laptop depending on the type of bag.
A typical gaming laptop costs an excess of $3,000.
There’s no such thing as a ‘cheap gaming laptop’ unless you want to limit your options to regular laptops with slightly advanced specifications like the HP Envy series of machines. These machines aren’t entirely cheap either – you are looking at a price tag in the region of $1,000! These don’t sound like devices you’d get over quickly in the event of damages or loss.
If you are always on road trips, maybe you should go for the most rugged gaming laptop in the market. These are pricey too but are designed to survive impacts. The best way to protect your device from thieves is to insure it.
So, unless you are ready to lose or damage your pricey gaming laptop, leave it at home.
Backup and Data Storage Challenges
Even though you may house your device in a safe and pretty expensive bag, that’s not the most essential thing to do.
Chances are the data and other materials stored on your machine are the second most valuable thing after the laptop itself.
You will also need to carry troves of materials on external storage devices not only to reduce the chances of losing your information but also to ensure you have all you need to complete your project or play while on the trip.
Unfortunately, most people don’t like to saddle themselves with all this stuff when they should be enjoying the adventure that comes with traveling.
So What Measures Should You Take?
If you must travel with your gaming laptop, say, you must complete a certain project with it while on the trip, then “yes” you may travel carry it along.
But consider these factors if you want to have a nice time on the road:
1. Shut It Down
First things first, make sure your device is properly shut down before you put it in the bag. NEVER put your machine in sleep mode or hibernation while traveling with it.
2. Have An Extra Bag
If possible, carry an extra bag pack just in case a need arises requiring you to change.
More important though, carry your laptop in a purpose-built well-padded bag pack for protection in the event of an accident.
3. Estimate Battery Usage
Estimate the usage time on the road versus the battery life of the machine.
You need to figure out a way of recharging it while on the go (get yourself a power bank or confirm if the vehicle is equipped with appropriate electrical sockets).
Better yet, you can carry an extra battery – or several of them although they’ll add to the weight of your luggage – to add a few hours on your working/playing time.
Still, make sure your extra batteries are safely wrapped in a padded bag. Keep them away from warm areas in your vehicle.
4. Ensure The Batteries Are Good
Last but not least, make sure the linking terminals of the extra batteries are covered properly to prevent them from coming into contact with metals.
So, can you use a gaming laptop while on a road trip?
Generally, ‘no’ but it can depend.
The first and obvious challenge you’d face if you were to embark on a road trip with your gaming machine would be short battery life and limited charging options (unless you are traveling in a well-equipped RV).
At a glance, normal laptops and gaming machines somewhat resemble each other.
However, internally, these two are a world apart. Gaming laptops are often built to meet high-performance standards because the needs of a gamer are different from those of a normal user.
Think of a gaming laptop as a portable gaming rig.
Related: What Should You Eat While Gaming?