Any gamer will know that a top laptop offers a magnificent experience, beating even the best console in a head-to-head. However, in order to transform your laptop into a gaming console, you’ll need to spend a lot of money - or will you?
There are a number of ways to transform any laptop into a gaming console. The best part is that you don’t need to be a technical whizz to do it. Here are a few options which will enable you to enjoy games console play on your laptop.
Getting the Right Laptop
To be able to enjoy games console-type play on your laptop, you’re going to need to load new software. This means having a laptop which has the capacity to process the application. If your laptop is old and slow, you’re never going to have a satisfactory gaming experience.
The good news is that you don’t need to buy an expensive and flashy laptop to get the hardware you need. If you don’t already have a suitable laptop, or you want one that’s just for gaming you can pick up some real bargains in the Best Buy deals on laptops. The Surface Pro 7 from Microsoft is great for retro gaming, and you can save $460 on the RRP with the current offer of just $899.98.
Before you choose the shiny new laptop that you want to buy, take a moment to check the technical spec. There are some minimum system requirements to get the full experience, and these depend on the type of games you want to play.
RAM is often one of the specifications that people check before buying, but if you’re planning on using an emulator it’s particularly important. Many of the processes, such as the loading and the graphics weigh heavily on the RAM’s capacity.
If you’re planning on picking up games from older models, you should be fine with just 4GB or 8GB RAM. However, if you want to play anything from the PS4 onwards, or the Wii U, you’ll need at least 16GB RAM.
Storage could be either HDD or SSD, but like RAM, the amount you need will depend on the consoles you’re going to be emulating. Early-2000s handheld consoles or older models like the Atari won’t need more than 500GB of storage. More modern, disc-based consoles such as the Playstation or the later handhelds, will ideally have a minimum of 1TB of space on your laptop.
PSU (power supply)
It’s easy to overlook the importance of a decent power supply but if you skip over this step, you may as well not bother with the others. Every laptop needs a PSU which is capable of supporting its performance. This is more relevant if you’re building your own laptop from individual components but it’s worth bearing in mind if you ever need to replace it.
Choosing an Emulator
An emulator is the software you need to transform your laptop into a gaming console that can play the same kind of titles. Each particular type of emulator is designed to replicate a particular gaming device. For example, a NES emulator will allow you to play NES games on your laptop.
Once you have the emulator installed, you will need to purchase a copy of the game. The emulator itself does not contain games; it merely provides the ability to be able to run and play the game files.
Some of the most popular emulators include:
- Nestopia - NES emulator
- Snes9X - Super Nintendo emulator
- Project64 - Nintendo 64 emulator
- ePSXe - Playstation 1 emulator
Incidentally, you can also get emulators that work on mobile phones, giving you the chance to play classics while you’re on the move.
An Emulator Alternative
If you don’t want to install an emulator, or maybe you just want to start off gently, there is an alternative. Steam is a service that works with Windows, iOS and Linux and offers games which are very similar to a games console.
True, you won’t be able to get those exact retro titles, or the identical new games for the PS5. However, it has a huge catalogue of games to choose from, some of which are free and others which require a subscription.
You’ll find every type of genre available in Steam so if you’re just looking to dip your toe into the world of console-style gaming on a laptop, it’s an excellent place to start.
If you get on well with Steam, you might want to consider LaunchBox. This is a type of software that can be used to host emulators but can also be used as a way to host your Steam library, giving you everything in a single place. It costs $20 to access fully but that provides a premium subscription that you can customise and filter to your own taste.