RTX Laptops: Is it Worth to Buy?

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In the first quarter of this year during CES 2019, NVidia showed up with a whole range of the new RTX Gaming Laptops.

NVidia GeForce RTX 2080: CES 2019
NVidia GeForce RTX 2080: CES 2019

There were actually 40 different SKUs of RTX laptops announced. We’ve got ten of the biggest brands here from Alienware, ASUS, MSI, Gigabyte and loads of good stuff. In fact, even a brand new Razer Blade 15.

NVidia’s RTX Laptops are finally here and brands are making them and pushing them out. But before you buy one, before you consider purchasing one of these RTX devices for 2019, there are some things that I feel like people should be aware of.

3DMark Fire Strike Benchmark

Before we go into it I feel like we need to look at some performance metrics that Netbooknews provided:

3DMark Fire Strike Benchmark
3DMark Fire Strike

These are 3DMark Fire Strike scores. I’ll discuss frame rates later as this is kind of the relative performance between some of the GPUs for 1080p gaming. Okay, so a lot of the debate here revolves around price. It’s not the only thing here but it is an important thing.

Why are They So Expensive?

RTX laptops are very expensive. The RTX 2060 laptops are starting around $1500 and it’s not just the price-point. It’s that the new features that you will be getting in these new RTX devices are not well showcased on laptop hardware.

The screens on gaming laptops are usually 1080p screens. There are 60 Hz screens and 144 Hz screens while some of them this year is 240 Hz screens, but they’re still 1080p screens.

The whole gaming laptop industry is just filled with 1080p screens which are perfectly fine for gaming but the problem is that RTX laptops showcase their stuff best at the higher resolutions.

Looking Back at the 10 Series GPUs

The 10 series GPUs were already awesome for 1080p gaming. An example would be to look at the GTX 1060 laptop playing Fortnite, PUBG or Call of Duty Black Ops 4 as all of these are over 60 fps on high graphics settings at 1080p.

GTX 1060 Laptop Average FPS
GTX 1060 Laptop Average FPS

And you can easily get higher frame rates if you want to drop it to medium or low graphics settings. And remember, this is with the $800 or $900 gaming laptop. You can buy a GTX 1060 gaming laptop for $800 right now in 2019 and you can compare it to these new 20 series laptops.

Comparing last year’s (2018) laptops with the new RTX 2019 laptops (10 series vs 20 series).

These cost a lot more money but the performance increase doesn’t line up very nicely with the price increase. So let’s take an RTX 2060 laptop as an example.

If we take last year’s GS65 for $1800 or the new GS65 for $2100, the performance for 1080p gaming is very similar between the two and if you go for the best and get the top of the line 2080 Max Q, you’re still stuck on a 144 Hz 1080p screen. So you literally can’t see the extra performance in most games.

So these RTX laptops support ray tracing and DLSS and I was able to play Battlefield 5 on Ray Traced graphics and the frame rates on the 2080 Max Q are not bad, but I still think it’s way too early to pick up an RTX GPU just for Ray Traced graphics.

Are They Worth it?

I just feel like more developers need to pick up on ray trace capabilities. Some of the RTX 2060 laptops are reasonably priced (even though they’re not cheap by any means) but you’re getting decent value for 1080p gaming. Anything more powerful than that like the 2070 Max Q and higher, those configurations feel really expensive and until we get higher resolution screens or just way more Ray Traced games, I just don’t think that RTX laptops are a good value for most people.

RTX is best for higher resolution gaming and Ray Traced gaming and it will be a while before everyone moves towards it.

Last year in 2018, it kind of feel like the golden age for gaming laptops as we had 10 series GPUs, 6 cores CPU’s we had really fast 144 Hz panels. It was like a lot of new technologies combined together to make this like a tri-factor or just really good gaming laptops.

In 2019, companies still have to make new things and they still have to sell new things but it doesn’t mean you have to buy it.

Should You Get One?

I think we’ve still got some time to go before games really start taking advantage of Ray Tracing. So should you get the new 20 series laptop or the 10 series?

Honestly, it really depends how badly you need a new laptop and whether you’d think you’d actually benefit from the ray-tracing capabilities of these new options as that seems to be where the biggest gains will be. If you need a nextgen laptop today then I’d say just buy the new Ray Tracing laptops. It doesn’t seem like there are many games that utilize Ray Tracing.

If you’re interested in buying a laptop right now in the 2nd quarter of 2019 or kind of late 2019, I say go for it. You don’t have to wait for RTX dropping in price anytime soon and I don’t think that enough games will take advantage of the whole Ray Tracing stuff.

I have seen that the performance bump from the 10 series when compared with the 20 series is that big especially on laptops. But yeah especially because there are so many sales right now and companies trying to kind of push their 10 series hardware at better pricing.

And the best thing is, because of back-to-school sales and some newly announced hardware you can get some really good pricing on some powerful laptops.

It will be a while before RTX games saturate the market otherwise you can get one if you want a future-proof rig. Also if you can wait a few months, the price will drop on the 10 series laptops and you can get a good deal. This will probably still be a great option for a while yet in my opinion despite the 10 series already being a couple of years old now.

Final Thoughts

The 2018 devices are still good and I’m not saying that RTX laptops are bad, they’re really good but last year’s GTX 10 series laptops were already really good.

They were almost to the point of being too good because right now in 2019 there is nothing really compelling to make me buy an RTX 20 series laptops over the 10 series laptops, especially their current pricing. Again, not that RTX laptops are bad but it’s best to get one if you have a ton of cash and you really want to be like the early adopters for Ray Traced games. I think that for now, the 10 series gaming laptops will provide a better value for the money.

RTX is cool but it will be a while before developers pick up on it. But right now if you’re looking at a gaming laptop, RTX is neat but it’s not that neat.

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