What progress have gaming laptops made in the last decade?

What progress have gaming laptops made in the last decade?

Laptops, also known as notebooks, are portable computers that can be used for various purposes such as work or gaming. In the past decade, laptops have undergone significant changes not only in terms of design, features, and functionality but especially in terms of performance. These changes have been driven by technological advancements, consumer demand, and market competition among manufacturers. From my perspective, one of the most significant aspects of laptop progress in the last decade is the gaming aspect. The term "gaming laptop" has long been known – a versatile laptop on which you can play games, work efficiently, and essentially replace a traditional PC. At least, this is how manufacturers see it, though there are certain pros and cons to this.

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In today's article, I will focus on the progress of laptops over the past decade, with the main focus being on the gaming aspect of laptops. We will go through the main trends, challenges, and opportunities of gaming laptops in the past, present, and future.

Main Trends in Gaming Laptops Over the Last Decade

One of the main trends in laptops, especially gaming laptops, over the past decade is the improvement in performance. Gaming laptops have become more powerful, capable of running the latest and most demanding games. This progress is thanks to rapid advancements in the development of graphics cards, processors, RAM, SSDs, batteries, displays, and, last but not least, the optimization of manufacturing processes. The biggest driver in this area is probably Nvidia, which has made some of the most significant technological advancements in both hardware and AI over the last decade. Other tech companies mainly strive to catch up with Nvidia.

Although I didn't mention cooling above (some still find cooling in laptops inadequate and noisy), it is one of the aspects that has allowed for the installation of powerful graphics cards such as the GeForce RTX 4090/4080/4070 in current laptops. Even eight years ago, there was a laptop on the market with water cooling and two GTX 1080 SLI graphics cards. Among the newer models, I can mention the Lenovo Legion 9i with integrated water cooling, which activates when the GPU reaches 84°C.

Lenovo Legion 9i


Another main trend, or rather something that has started to differentiate gaming laptops in the last decade, is the diverse design. From thin models to "bricks," from classic designs to RGB lighting... Nowadays, there is a wide range to choose from. However, to clarify that a gaming laptop doesn't have to weigh 5 kilograms, the aforementioned Legion 9i weighs only 2.54 kilograms, which is almost unbelievable considering it houses a GeForce RTX 4090, Intel i9-13980HX, 64GB RAM, and cooling capable of handling up to 230W of waste heat, according to the manufacturer.

Of course, it's not just about performance with these types of laptops but also about the overall gaming experience, which is enhanced by keyboards, touchpads, displays, and speakers. Given the limited space laptops have, it can be said that the speakers in most gaming laptops are relatively good. Personally, this is probably the least important aspect I notice in laptops. I assume most people play games or listen to music through headphones, so I would focus more on the quality of the sound card. When it comes to the display, I would definitely avoid glossy ones and primarily choose an anti-glare screen, which makes taking the laptop anywhere a bit more sensible. Players should also focus on the response time and refresh rate of the monitor.

Lenovo Legion Pro 7

Main Challenges of Gaming Laptops in the Last Decade

One of the main challenges for gaming laptops over the past decade has been, and to some extent still is, the compromise between performance and portability. On one hand, manufacturers have always tried to get as close as possible to desktop PC performance, but this often resulted in laptops with relatively high weight, making portability an issue. If the laptop is going to stay on the desk all the time, then one might as well use a desktop with a large monitor. The need to maximize performance brings another problem: heat, requiring better cooling, which is associated with higher noise levels and shorter battery life. Another challenge is competition from consoles, which offer a different type of gaming experience, such as comfortable gaming from the couch or playing games in larger groups.

However, Nvidia did not rest on its laurels and introduced Max-Q technology for laptops, which combines current technologies with artificial intelligence to optimize performance, power consumption, and ultimately, laptop noise levels. Max-Q encompasses nine technologies:

  • Dynamic Boost: AI shifts power to where it's most needed.
  • Battery Boost: According to Nvidia, this technology should extend battery life by up to 70%.
  • Rapid Core Scaling: Designed for demanding applications like Adobe Premiere, Blender, or MATLAB.
  • CPU Optimizer: Optimizes performance between the CPU and GPU, with the optimization managed by the GPU chip.
  • WhisperMode: Automatically adjusts GPU, CPU, and fan speed based on the selected noise level.
  • Advanced Optimus: Automatically switches between Nvidia GPU and integrated GPU.
  • Resizable Bar: Shares fast GPU memory with the CPU.
  • Optimal Playable Setting: Automatically sets configurations for the best performance and quality.
  • DLSS 3: Optimized for use in laptops and can potentially increase performance up to four times when plugged in or reduce GPU power consumption while maintaining the same performance (FPS), thus extending battery life.

These technologies represent significant advancements in addressing the challenges of performance, cooling, noise, and battery life in gaming laptops, bringing them closer to providing a more balanced and portable gaming experience.

Future Trend? Cloud Gaming, Which Could Potentially Relegate Gaming PCs and Laptops to Obsolescence...

Nvidia is once again heavily involved in this area with its GeForce NOW service, which allows you to play more than 1,500 games anywhere and on any device (laptop, desktop PC, Mac, TV, Android devices, iPhone, or iPad). The quality of such gaming does not lag behind, as the games run on the latest GeForce RTX graphics cards. Nvidia offers potential users three tiers of gaming: Free, Priority, and Ultimate. They differ in price, gaming session length, and, of course, the performance of the service.

GeForce NOW provides a glimpse into a future where the reliance on powerful local hardware might diminish as cloud gaming becomes more accessible and efficient. This service's ability to deliver high-quality gaming experiences across various devices could significantly impact the traditional market for gaming PCs and laptops. As cloud gaming technology continues to improve, it may offer a more convenient and cost-effective alternative, potentially transforming the landscape of gaming hardware in the coming years.


Despite the aforementioned challenges for gaming laptops, there are still factors that make this type of laptop highly relevant. Gone are the days when a powerful gaming laptop weighed 5 kilograms, when cooling was inadequate and the laptop sounded like a turbine. Gone are the times when you couldn't play AAA titles in full graphics on a laptop.

For instance, DLSS technology was introduced in 2018 with the release of the new RTX chips. DLSS stands for Deep Learning Super Sampling and it involves scaling the rendered image from a lower, less performance-demanding resolution using machine learning. This is exactly what the first version of DLSS did; however, its implementation was complex and slow, and ultimately, it was supported by only a few games. DLSS 2 performed similarly but with more autonomous processing cores. DLSS 2 allowed the use of a single AI model for multiple games, enabling faster implementation. The result was increased performance with little to no visual difference in the image. Another significant leap was the introduction of DLSS 3 and DLSS 3.5. Although these versions don't have much in common with the original acronym, they utilize AI technology, and Nvidia likely decided to keep the established name. DLSS needs to be implemented by the game developer, but the overall complexity of implementation has significantly decreased.

These advancements illustrate how gaming laptops have evolved to address previous limitations, making them more powerful, efficient, and capable of providing a high-quality gaming experience. The continuous development of technologies like DLSS highlights the potential for further improvements in performance and graphics quality, ensuring that gaming laptops remain a competitive option for gamers.


DLSS 3 introduced a new feature called Frame Generation, which means creating frames between the rendered frames. As a result, the AI estimates what the next frame should look like based on the real frame calculated by the GPU. This leads to a doubling of the game's frame rate by alternating between real and AI-generated frames. However, this feature is only supported by GeForce RTX 40 series graphics cards.

DLSS 3.5, specifically the Ray Reconstruction technology that is part of it, also uses AI, but this time to enhance ray tracing. How does it work?

Ray tracing used in games is far from perfect because rendering a scene does not involve tracking the reflection of a ray from every pixel in the scene—current processors simply do not have the power for that. The scene is generated using a few selected rays that "light" the modeled scene in low resolution. Various techniques for scaling and noise reduction (denoising) are then used to generate the final scene, which is scaled to the desired resolution—this is, of course, a very simplified explanation. Each scene is manually optimized to ensure that the final image does not contain artifacts, defects, or performance drops. This is where AI comes into play. It analyzes the scene, the effects used, and many other data points it was trained on. In real time, it can apply appropriate denoising and scaling algorithms and, based on recognized content, improve the final scene or remove unwanted artifacts, eliminating the need for manual optimization.

And you can have this technology in gaming laptops like the Lenovo Legion 9 (GeForce RTX 4080) or Lenovo Legion Pro 5 (GeForce RTX 4070).


In addition to the ability to play AAA titles, gaming laptops have also found applications in educational games and various learning environments.

Examples of the Most Interesting Lenovo Gaming Laptops

Lenovo Y50 (2014)

  • One of the first gaming laptops to offer a 4K display, which was a significant innovation at the time.
  • It was also one of the most affordable gaming laptops on the market, making it a great choice for budget-conscious gamers.

Lenovo Legion 730 (2018)

  • This laptop stood out for its thin and light design, which was quite unusual for gaming laptops at the time.
  • It was also one of the first gaming laptops to offer a 144 Hz refresh rate display, providing a smoother gaming experience.

Lenovo Legion Y740 (2019)

  • A powerful gaming laptop that offered excellent value for money.
  • It also featured many popular features among gamers, such as a mechanical keyboard and RGB lighting.

Lenovo Legion Pro 7i (2023)

  • Despite being released last year, it remains one of the most powerful gaming laptops on the market thanks to its GeForce RTX 4080 graphics card.

Lenovo Legion 9, Lenovo Legion 5 Pro (2024)

  • Legion 9 brings a lot to the table. In addition to the powerful GeForce RTX 4080 graphics card and Intel i9 processor, Lenovo focused on the main aspect I’ve mentioned several times in this article: portability. The body of the laptop is made of pressed carbon fiber, which increases the overall durability while significantly reducing weight—this laptop weighs only 2.56 kilograms. Cooling is handled by a hybrid water cooling system developed by Coolermaster, which activates at a certain temperature, allowing the laptop to maintain higher performance for longer periods. Sound quality is ensured by Nahimic Audio technology from SteelSeries.

  • Legion 5 Pro offers almost the same features but is a "less powerful" laptop with a GeForce RTX 4070 graphics card and a different cooling system called Coldfront, developed with Intel's collaboration. Although it doesn't feature Nahimic Audio, it includes Dolby Atmos sound.

These examples illustrate the significant strides Lenovo has made in gaming laptop technology, addressing performance, portability, and user experience, making them relevant and competitive in the ever-evolving gaming landscape.


Gaming laptops have undergone a significant transformation over the past decade. Their performance has greatly improved, allowing players to enjoy the latest and most demanding games. Portability has also improved, with some models now thinner and lighter than ever before. Laptop manufacturers have expanded their offerings to appeal to various gamers and their individual preferences. Despite this progress, gaming laptops continue to face challenges. One of the main challenges remains the ongoing "battle" between performance and portability. Even though we highlighted the Lenovo Legion 9 gaming laptop with an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4080 weighing only 2.56 kilograms, it is still not a laptop you would carry in a shoulder bag every day. However, we are getting closer to a point where such a laptop doesn't have to stay permanently on a desk. Another challenge is the competition from other devices that offer different gaming experiences. Lastly, there are cloud gaming services, which are becoming an increasingly attractive alternative to gaming laptops, as they eliminate the need for powerful hardware and allow gamers to play on any device. Despite all these challenges, I believe gaming laptops will remain with us. Continuous improvements in manufacturing processes will enable the creation of powerful and lighter laptops. Ongoing technological advancements, such as Frame Generation in DLSS 3 and Ray Reconstruction in DLSS 3.5, will allow playing AAA titles away from home (which would be quite handy on a two-week business trip). These factors will keep gaming laptops relevant in the market.

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This article was created in collaboration with Lenovo and Nvidia.

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