Why CPUs in laptops are still weak?


Jan 20, 2018
I am saving money for a new gaming laptop, I need the portability of a laptop, but I see in the last years gaming laptops have evolved to be more powerful than ever and some of them have a great performance. However, I don't understand why CPUs are still weak compared to desktop computers. I see that most gaming laptops priced between 1500 Euro and 2000 Euro have decent hard drives, good RAM memory and also very good GPUs (for such price I would be more than happy with a Nvidia GTX 1060 or GTX 1070), but I am not strongly convinced about most CPU performance. The best CPU I could find in common brands such as MSI, Asus, Lenovo, Alienware is Intel i7-8750H that while may be acceptable, seems to be the bottleneck compared with the other hardware components.

I have been researching for laptops with better CPUs than i7-8750H finding that is really difficult to find laptops with i7-8700K, usually in very specialized laptop/workstation computer builder such as Titan Computers, and the price for just this kind of CPUs rise from 4000 USD which is truly expensive for just having a better CPU. So what is the reason that laptop CPUs are weaker compared to other hardware components such as GPU?

Seaweed Monster

Jun 7, 2014
Hardware and performance in most laptops are limited by their form factor or thermal design. There is no point putting a super powerful CPU or GPU in a laptop if it cannot be properly cooled or play games without overheating. That is why most gaming laptops are quite thick and heavy - to allow proper cooling. Where you see powerful gaming laptops that are thin and compact, you are actually paying for the specialist engineering for that machine, as a lot of time, money and expertise is needed to be spent in order to ensure the powerful laptop they're trying to manufacture can be cooled and actually fit into a certain form factor (13.3", 14", 15.6" etc...).

Most thin and compact gaming laptops suffer from thermal throttling despite all efforts, reason being, there is only so big a fan or so much copper heat pipes you can fit into a laptop form factor. However, to 'try' and counter this, all the manufacturers/industry can do is create specialised mobile versions of desktop hardware that are less powerful and produce less heat (i.e. Max-Q, M GPU's and H, M and U modelled CPU's).

I could go on, but overall, laptop hardware has come along way, however, will never be as powerful as desktop hardware, purely down to thermals and form factor.
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