So you fancy racing fast cars, hitting drug dealers with baseball bats and taking arrows to your knee, do you? Sounds like you've been bitten by the gaming bug. Sadly though, your underpowered little netbook isn't up to playing these glossy new games -- what you need is a proper gaming laptop. But exactly what do you need to look out for when splashing your cash? Well, let me tell you.
When choosing a gaming laptop, your first concern should always be the graphics processing unit -- or GPU to me and you. The faster this component is, the better your games will run.
If a laptop has 'integrated graphics' -- where the graphics card is built into the motherboard -- it isn't going to offer you much power because it shares the system memory (although the more recent Intel Ivy Bridge models have extra juice for tasks like photo editing). So look out for 'dedicated graphics' when shopping, which is an add-on graphics card with its own processing and memory.
The two main GPU names to look out for are Nvidia and AMD. The specific model names and numbers within these brands change frequently, so it can be nigh on impossible to keep up unless you're a dedicated geek. As a general rule, the higher model numbers within a product series deliver better performance.
The amount of memory (VRAM) allocated to the graphics card isn't the most important factor, so don't rely solely on this element of the specification. Other meaningful clues as to a GPU's performance can be found by looking at the number of pixel shaders and the memory bandwidth.
If that level of detail causes sweaty nightmares then try and find reviews -- like ours -- that run the latest games on each machine and report how well it coped. As a rule of thumb, any game that runs over 25-30 frames per second is considered playable.
If you want your games playing at a decent frame rate and would like to see them looking stunningly crisp then you'll need to shop at the pricier bracket. Special image effects such as anti-aliasing or anisotropic filtering will help make the picture better but are more demanding of your card. If you don't care how the game looks and you just want to "pwn some n00bs" then you can switch the detail down to its minimum to get the best frame rates out of lower-end cards.
Once you've got your graphics card sorted, you'll need to consider the laptop's CPU. Generally speaking, this will dictate the overall speed of your computer, whether you're gaming, browsing the web or editing crude objects into images of your friends. A fast CPU can bring out the best in a fast graphics card, so if you've got the cash, look out for the best CPU you can find -- an Intel Core i5 or ideally an i7 will suffice.
Screen resolution is another important consideration. Generally speaking, games look better at a higher resolution, although playing at a high res demands more graphics processing power and can slow your games down. Personally, I wouldn't go for any resolution below 1,600x900 pixels. If you're serious about your gaming, you'll need to choose a laptop with a Full HD resolution of 1,920x1,080 pixels.
It's dangerous to go laptop hunting alone, so to help you on your noble quest, I've gathered together a bunch of my top gaming computer picks. Have a browse of these and our other laptop reviews and leave any questions in the comments below, on our Facebook page or hit me up on Twitter @BatteryHQ.