Help Me Laptop!: Should I Get a Gaming Laptop with 6th or 7th-gen CPU?

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It's no secret that gaming laptops can be expensive (at least the good ones are). So it makes sense to try to find a bargain or two when you can. But should the bargain come at the expense of buying a system with a newer and better components?

helpme ltp predator

Tom's Guide forum member macdeez, is interested in buying the Acer Predator 15 with an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 GPU, but is trying to decide between a unit with the 7th-gen Kaby Lake CPU (Intel Core i7-7700HQ) which costs $2,000 or a slightly-older one with the 6th-Gen Skylake processor (Intel Core i7-6700HQ) for $1,600. Both laptops have Nvidia GTX 1070 graphics cards, His decision can mean a difference of $400. So which system should macdeez choose?

MORE: Best Acer Laptops

Normally, I would say to just go for the newer model. But since they have the same exact specs with the exception of the processor, I'm going to suggest that he go with the older model. Although, I haven't gotten to review the latest version of the Predator 15 (stay tuned), I looked at my reviews of the latest Razer Blade and the one that debuted in late 2016. They both have a Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 GPU, but one has a 2.8-GHz Intel Core i7-7700HQ CPU (7th Gen) while the other has a 2.6-GHz Intel Core i7-6700HQ CPU (6th Gen).

When I looked at our benchmarks that test overall performance such as Geekbench 4, the Kaby Lake-laden system only performed marginally better. It got 13,684 compared to the last-gen system which scored 12,693. That's not going to matter much when you're working on spreadsheets or whatever productivity tasks you might throw at this system.

More importantly, this is a gaming system and I'm going to go out on a limb here and assume you're primarily going to be spellcasting, fragging or building worlds -- activities that are more often than not GPU-dependent. When I looked at the frame rates we got in various games, the numbers were nearly identical on the two systems, with the older model getting slightly higher in some cases and the newer one doing a teensy bit better in others. In other words, it's a wash.

So macdeez, I think you should go with the $1,600 version of the Predator 15. Even if you were planning on doing a ton of spreadsheets, I doubt you'd notice a real difference. Take that $400 you're saving and spend it on a few kick-ass peripherals.

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3 comments
  • omegatalon Says:

    Depending on what you're planning on doing with your notebook, Acer's Predator 17 is one of the best as it starts for as low as $1K for a Core i7-6700HQ 2.6GHz, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970M while the latest cost 3X as much with i7-7820HK 2.90GHz, 32GB RAM, 512GB SSD+1TB HDD, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080.

  • Ajaanderson Says:

    I would like to point out, that while the 6th and 7th gen CPU's don't have much performance difference, the TDP (thermal design power) does differ between the generations. As this is a laptop purchase they are considering, the 7th gen CPU may be worth it to them for the battery life increase, and heat reduction.

  • Tonko Says:

    I need one too, but I'm waiting for the Ryzen based laptops. If AMD's mobile processors get to be anything like their desktop processors, you'll save $500 and get twice the compute power when not playing games. Since they are more electrical power efficient than Intel chips, you'll also get less heat, more battery life and that may even translate into computers allowing upper end chips.

    The downside is that you'll have to wait 6 months or so, so if you're in a rush and don't mind paying $100 a month to have your computer sooner get one with the best GPU you can afford.

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