When is the best time to buy a gaming laptop?
Laptop Questions

When Is The Best Time To Buy A Gaming Laptop?

Is it worth waiting for new gaming laptops to come out, or should you just buy now? Let’s discuss when the best time to buy a new gaming laptop is!

If you need something now, you’re usually pretty safe to buy now. The key exception is if there is known to be new technology extremely close to launch, then it’s likely worth waiting, let’s dive into the details!

This is a general guide which aims to be applicable at any time and isn’t specifically based on the current date.

Wait for new hardware?

Waiting for new hardware to release is probably one of the most common reasons for holding off on buying a new gaming laptop. It’s a fair reason on the surface, you want to make sure you get the best level of performance for your money.

For the last few years, there have been major releases from Nvidia, AMD, and Intel about once a year. These cycles come and go. For laptops, recently products from different companies have actually tended to launch closer together.

An example of this is the AMD 4000 series CPUs launching Q1 2020, and the rumors of Intel 10th gen CPUs and Nvidia Super graphics for laptops coming out around the same time. There’s an important reason these won’t launch too far apart that is worth understanding.

Story time…

I spoke to a laptop manufacturer at CES 2020, who mentioned it’s in their own best interest for AMD/Intel/Nvidia to launch new parts at around the same time. It was implied to me that lately those companies have played better with regards to laptop component release schedules. Those companies (AMD/Intel/Nvidia) may not like it, but the fact is laptops make use of multiple components from a wide range of different companies.

Laptop manufacturers want to avoid being in the weird position of selling a product with next gen graphics but an older CPU that’s just a couple of months from being updated.

We kind of saw this last year in 2019, when the Nvidia GTX 16 series laptop graphics launched very closely with the Intel 9th gen processors. This resulted in there being pretty much no gaming laptops with 8th gen CPUs and the new 16 series Nvidia graphics, or 9th gen processors with 10 series Nvidia graphics (GTX 1050 excluded which is still part of the current lineup).

From the perspective of the laptop vendor, it would really suck to have to do that. You’d have a 8th gen laptop with new GPU on the market, then what, just a few short months later people stop buying it when the 9th gen model is out?

With that knowledge, you can probably expect major CPU/GPU changes for laptops to happen at least somewhat close to each other. This was the case last year, hopefully it continues.

How long to wait?

This is a tough question to answer. Without inside information, the best you can do is try and get a rough general feeling based on rumors and how long it’s been since the last hardware release. If you’ve been planning to buy a new gaming laptop for a while, chances are you may have been following this news.

If not, it might be possible to get a rough estimate based on historical trends. The following tables offer an example of when previous popular laptop components were released:

DateCPU
September 2015i7-6700HQ/i7-6820HK
January 2017i7-7700HQ/i7-7820HK
April 2018i7-8750H/i9-8950HK
January 2019Ryzen 5 3550H/Ryzen 7 3750H
April 2019i7-9750H/i9-9980HK
DateGPU
October 2014GTX 970M/980M
March 2015GTX 950M/960M
August 2016GTX 1060/1070/1080
January 2017GTX 1050/1050 Ti
May 2017GTX 1060 Max-Q/1070 Max-Q/1080 Max-Q
January 2019RTX 2060/2070/2080
April 2019GTX 1650/1660 Ti
October 2019RX 5500M

This shows how laptop CPU and GPU releases have varied in the past. While the past is not indicative of the future, generally there’s new laptop parts launched every year or so. Whether or not these are worthy improvements over the previous generation is a different conversation.

You don’t have to buy new! Save money buying “last gen”

Just because new hardware may be releasing soon, doesn’t mean you have to buy it. Chances are that what will become last gen when the new hardware launches will probably still work just fine. It’s quite rare for you to need to upgrade an entire laptop after just one hardware jump. This is generally not recommended as it’s an expensive upgrade path, in most cases you have to replace the entire machine.

There are of course exceptions to this rule, I’d say the Nvidia mobile Pascal GPUs were an example, as they offered a large performance boost over what cam before them.

Once new laptops are available, those machines that now become “last gen” often go on sale. This means that even if you don’t plan on buying a brand new gaming laptop, you can still take advantage of waiting for new laptops to launch to find a great sale on an existing model.

Just check performance comparisons between the old and new hardware and decide if that last generation hardware is fine for you, or if you think it’s worth paying the extra for what ever the performance difference may be.

Many of the newer 9th gen i7-9750H laptops don’t actually perform much better than the older 8th gen i7-8750H laptops. Although the 9th gen chip has slightly higher clock speeds on paper, often the power limit may be too low to permit these from being consistently hit. This is why it is important to look at more than just the spec sheet when shopping for a new laptop.

Don’t fall into the waiting trap!

“I’ll just wait for the next new thing” is a trap to avoid. There will ALWAYS be something new coming around the corner, this is the way technology works. If you fall into this trip, you’ll wait for something new to release, then rather than buying you’ll wait for the next new thing to release, and the next.

This is almost decision paralysis, rather than ever having a new gaming laptop to use and enjoy you’re waiting for some future promise of better performance.

When you consider all of the time that you could have otherwise spent enjoying your new system, it’s really not worth it. Trust me, I know. I spent years playing the “I’ll just wait for this next part to come out” game before finally upgrading my 2010 PC in 2017.

Sure, if something is a few months away, it’s worth waiting to see what happens for the previously discussed reasons. If it’s more than 6 months away though, consider if it’s worth it and if you’ll actually really be any better off by waiting. Does the gain of waiting beat what you’d be able to otherwise do with the machine during that time?

So when is the best time to buy a gaming laptop?

If you need something now, then you’re usually pretty safe to buy now as needed. The key exception is if there is known to be new technology extremely close to launch, then it’s likely worth waiting, either to get the new hardware, or get a good deal on a slightly older but still very capable model.

8 Comments

  • Karl Fernandez

    Thanks for actually saying that “now is a good time to buy a gaming laptop” most reviews will just conclude by saying “its up to you” I know that your answer seems to be user dependent on the sense that we all have reason to buy or wait. but, just saying that it is relatively safe to get a gaming laptop makes potential buyers to decide and not just be left on the thought of really getting one.

    Great content again! thanks Jarod.

    • Jarrod

      Cheers! Yeah I think in general it’s not as if you’re going to miss out on anything massive from a single generation, granted it always depends, this was written to be useful for any time rather than specifically right now. If it were me today, I think it’s worth waiting to see how Ryzen 4000 series goes if your workloads benefit from multicore performance.

  • Peter

    Hi Jarod. Thanks for this helpful post.
    Could you give me an advise with my situation?
    I am intending to buy the Prestige 15. But this laptop have a 10th Gen CPU pairing with the GTX16 which was released in 2019. Should I wait for the upcoming GPU to pair with the 10th gen CPU?

    • Jarrod

      My guess is the upcoming GPUs will be super versions of what we currently have. There might be something to fill the gap between 1650 and 1660 Ti, maybe a 1650 Super or 1660 for laptops, however given the Prestige 15 has to use the Max-Q version of the 1650, my guess is they might not be able to pack that much power into it. I suppose it depends whether or not you want to wait a few more months to see.

      • Peter

        Tks for your reply.

        What do you think about the Corona Virus impact on the laptops market?

        Some people think the price of those components to build laptops will increse because of the lack of Chinese factories. So the price of laptops will be effected too.

        • Jarrod

          I have confirmation that it has delayed a number of upcoming new laptop launches. Not sure about prices, could be an issue if supply dries up.

  • Architect1404

    Hi Jarrod,
    I am finding difficulty in identifying a 1000USD- 1850USD ‘ultrabook’ laptop for university (last around 5 years) by around mid 2021. Currently, I have Aero 15X, MSI Prestige 15, Dell XPS 15/ 2 in 1, and upcoming Dell G5 SE 2020 release. I need a laptop that can power me around 6-7+ hrs on battery (the more the better), thin enough to pass as ‘ultrabook’ (around 16mm thickness) and minimum power of a 1660ti for mid- high 60 fps gaming. Also, it might need a min 6 cores so that it would not be obsolete for the next 5 years.
    For battery v performance, I thought of UV, Underclocking the AMD CPUs and disabling dGPU to save power and UV, OC when I need short bursts of performance. I figured out if get a 60Hz panel, I might overclock it to 80-90Hz for better performance.
    However, I don’t game as much (maybe at most 1-2hr), but I will need the power of the laptop acting as a mobile workstation at home and serve as an ultrabook at university, so the gaming laptops might not be suitable for that purpose, while ultrabooks can’t give me enough power during occasional heavy graphics tasks and are prone to overheating. So what laptop would you recommend ( other than the MAX-15 and MAG-15) and should I wait to buy an upgraded ultrabook by 2021 May?
    For lower costs, I might opt for last gen stuff, but I don’t know where to buy one without losing the warranty that might not be listed on the laptop manufacturers site.

    • Jarrod

      That battery life is harder to hit with 1660 Ti laptops, I’d look at either the Aero 15 or Eluktronics MAG-15, maybe the XPS, but it has lower tier GPU for similar price as the others. 15X is technically last gen, there is a new model that greatly improves cooling (the OLED one).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *