So How Fast Is “Fastest”? So you want the fastest laptop your money can buy? That’s a challenging goal: It depends on how you define “fast,” and to some extent on how you define “laptop,” too. Still, we’ll try to help you hit the moving target here. The short […]
The short version? There are different kinds of speed when you’re talking about laptop performance, some of them intertwined and some not. And it pays to know what kind you need, so that you don’t overspend for one at the expense of the other.
Parsing What Speed Means
The idea of speed can be sliced a bunch of ways, but in practical terms, you can look at it in terms of (1) CPU processing power and (2) graphical prowess for tasks such as PC gaming or graphics-accelerated content creation. The two are very different things, and we benchmark-test all of the systems that we review with both kinds of speed in mind.
Some laptops are strong in one area and not the other. For example, it’s possible to have a notebook with a top-end processor packing lots of cores and threads, but paired with a minimal graphics solution (perhaps just the processor’s integrated graphics silicon, historically modest compared to a discrete graphics adapter). A laptop like this would net you great performance on programs and workloads that take advantage of lots of CPU resources, but little in the way of power for gaming, or applications that take advantage of graphics acceleration.
Likewise, having a dedicated graphics processor, the beefier the better, is the key for speed in games. Most of the time, CPU speed will contribute to the gaming equation insofar as it isn’t a limiter or bottleneck for the graphics chip.