Buying a laptop for sim racing can be daunting at first, especially if you aren’t that knowledgeable about PC gaming. It can be expensive and it’s important you don’t make a purchase you will regret. It’s therefore essential that you ensure you check out some of the best laptops for sim racing.
The 5 best laptops for sim racing are:
If the ROG Strix G15 doesn’t deliver what you want in a laptop for sim racing, no need to worry! Read on to see our alternative picks and some information to consider when purchasing a good laptop for sim racing.
Can You Use A Laptop For Sim Racing?
You can use a laptop for sim racing as long as it is within the minimum spec requirements for the sim racer you want to play. Although, for a smooth and consistent experience, you will want a laptop with specs above the recommended requirements for the game.
Depending on the laptop you purchase, it may run iRacing perfectly fine, however, it might struggle to run Forza Horizon 5 due to the laptop not meeting the minimum required specs. Always read the minimum requirements on the games store page.
A potential drawback to playing a sim racer on a laptop is the small size of the display. I would recommend getting an external display, whether that be a monitor or a TV with HDMI support, as it will make the experience far more immersive. An external display will also stop you from straining your eyes and improve your posture as you view it from a more optimal angle.
A big advantage of using a laptop for sim racing over a desktop PC is a laptop’s portability. If you want to organize an indoor LAN event with friends or simply want something to do while traveling, a laptop is the ideal platform.
You may have heard that a prominent issue with gaming laptops is the thermals. Luckily, most laptops produced nowadays have excellent cooling solutions and are perfectly safe as long as the laptop’s vents are not obstructed. Make sure not to place the laptop on a carpet or a surface that could suffocate or negatively affect the airflow.
Gaming laptops are more at risk of thermal throttling due to the enclosed design of a laptop and the high temperatures that the components can reach under load. Thermal throttling is when the laptop reduces the speed that your GPU or CPU are running at in order to reduce temperatures when they reach unsafe levels.
Thermal throttling can negatively impact your framerate in games and can lessen the lifespan of the hardware inside. I recommend buying a laptop cooling pad with fans installed. By sitting your laptop on one of these cooling pads you can greatly reduce thermals and it helps prevent thermal throttling.
Most laptops don’t allow you to upgrade components such as the GPU or CPU, which means that after 4 or 5 years you might find that newer sim racers and other games are harder for your laptop to run. A USB hub will also be a necessary expense as most laptops simply don’t have enough USB ports to accommodate the number of peripherals a sim racing setup would need.
6 Things To Look For In A Laptop For Sim Racing
1. The Graphics card
Arguably the most important component of a laptop for sim racing would be the graphics card inside. Most games are GPU-bound, meaning they require more power from the graphics card than any other component. The GPU will affect the smoothness of the experience as well as how high you can set the graphics quality.
It’s especially important that you get a laptop with a GPU that you are sure can run your sim racer, as more often than not, the GPU is not upgradeable or interchangeable in laptops. The most powerful GPUs on the market right now are of the RTX 3000 series. All of the laptops that made it onto this list feature an RTX 3060 or better.
2. The CPU
While the CPU is certainly less important than the GPU, it’s important that your CPU is above the minimum hardware requirements of your sim racer. Settings such as crowd density or draw distance are often CPU-bound processes, meaning they rely more on the clock speed of your CPU than the power of your GPU.
Having a powerful CPU as well as a powerful GPU is ideal as neither are holding each other back or waiting for one or the other to finish a process before rendering the next frame.
3. Number Of Ports
For a full sim racing setup including a wheel, pedals, shifter, handbrake, mouse, and a keyboard you would need a bare minimum of 6 USB slots. Sadly, most laptops do not come with that many USB ports, making USB hubs almost a necessity. USB hubs are usually very cheap, take up the space of 1 USB port, and provide as many USB slots as you need depending on the type of USB hub you purchase.
4. The RAM
8 GB of RAM being the bare minimum is the general rule of thumb here. RAM (Random Access Memory) is important as it allows your laptop to retrieve data more quickly than if it were to pull it straight from your main storage device.
Upgrading the RAM in your PC or gaming laptop is also the easiest way to boost performance on an old machine, which is why a laptop with upgradeable RAM and storage is greatly appreciated. This upgradeability lengthens your laptop’s lifespan in the long run.
5. A High Refresh Rate Display
A high refresh rate display better simulates motion and the speed at which you go while racing. It makes the whole racing experience far more immersive.
It can also give you a competitive advantage on the track as the latency from when your laptop sends information to your monitor, and the time at which your eyes register the information is greatly reduced, resulting in you being able to react to changes on the track quicker. Going from a 60 Hz screen to a high refresh rate screen (120 Hz or higher) can be a very noticeable upgrade to your setup.
6. External Displays
It is recommended that you plug your laptop into an external display for a more comfortable and immersive experience. However, that may not be an option for you or perhaps you prefer the smaller form factor of the laptop’s display, in which case the laptop’s display will be especially important as most are not interchangeable or upgradeable.
In my opinion, a display with a refresh rate of at least 120 Hz or higher is a necessity, more so for sim racers as speed is better simulated on a smooth, high refresh rate display. The number 1 laptop on our list for instance has an impressive refresh rate of 300 Hz, which means it offers the smoothest experience out of all 5 on our list.
The 5 Best Laptops For Sim Racing
1. ASUS ROG Strix G15
The Asus ROG Strix G15 has quite literally everything you could possibly need in a laptop for sim racing. Its impressive 15.6-inch display boasts a refresh rate of 300 Hz with a response time as low as 3 ms at full HD. Of course, to reach such high framerates you need a powerful GPU. This laptop comes with an RTX 3070Ti.
The ROG Strix G15 has more than enough power to run most, if not all, sim racers at max quality and at high framerates. Its CPU is an AMD Ryzen 7-6800HS, making this laptop a great device not just for sim racing, but productivity. The 16 GB of upgradeable RAM inside the laptop ensures smooth framerates while multitasking or even recording gameplay.
Most sim racers require no more than 8 GB of RAM to run smoothly. You won’t be running out of storage any time soon with its included 1 TB of storage on its SSD. The outside of the laptop is a sleek and simplistic grey, but once it’s open you are greeted with a vibrant RGB keyboard. The ROG Strix G15 uses what they call “ROG Intelligent Cooling” to keep thermals at acceptable levels.
It works by using liquid metal on the CPU to bring down the thermals much more efficiently than traditional thermal paste. This technology, combined with the 4 fan outlets on the sides and back, guarantees the laptop can get rid of any excess heat. The Strix G15 also supports fast charging and will charge the machine from 0% to 50% in only 30 minutes.
The laptop itself is very thin compared to most gaming laptops and will fit snugly in most laptop bags or backpacks. It’s easy to see why the online PC gaming community adores this laptop.
- 300 Hz high refresh rate display
- Powerful RTX 3070Ti GPU will run most games at incredibly high framerates
- Fast 1 TB SSD storage
- Supports fast charging through USB Type-C
- Screen may seem too small to those not using an external display
2. Razer Blade 15 Advanced
Razer is known for producing some of the best hardware currently on the market. The Razer Blade 15 Advanced is no exception with its 240 Hz display running at a stunning 2560 x 1440 resolution. This makes it an excellent option for those looking for a laptop more focused on graphical fidelity than pushing the highest of framerates.
This laptop has an RTX 3060 GPU, 16 GB of RAM, a 1 TB SSD, and an extremely capable Intel Core i7-11800H CPU. The RAM is upgradeable and it even has an extra M.2 slot if you wanted to expand your laptop’s storage capacity.
Thermals aren’t an issue with this laptop either as it features their “Vapor Chamber Cooling” which cleverly dissipates heat through evaporation and condensation of a fluid inside, keeping the thermals low under load. The first thing you will notice immediately is how impossibly thin the laptop is. It’s easy to build your sim racing set up around this laptop as it takes up no room at all.
The RTX 3060 inside this beast is very capable of running most games at max quality and good framerates but it is running at a higher resolution than the ROG Strix G15 and with a less powerful GPU. So, while framerates will be competitive, they won’t be as high as the framerate achievable by the ROG Strix G15.
The Razer Blade 15 Advancedis for people who want a more spatially accommodating device that delivers respectable framerates and stunning graphical fidelity. You are paying a premium for that QHD display. It’s up to you to decide whether that extra graphical fidelity is worth the extra cost and potentially lower framerate than the ROG Strix.
- Stunning QHD resolution
- Upgradeable Ram and storage
- 240 Hz high refresh rate display
- Very thin and ultra-portable
- Higher resolution can make it more difficult to run certain games
- Common complaint is poor battery life at just roughly 5 hours under load
3. HP OMEN 15
This sleek and unassuming laptop houses an RTX 3070 more than capable of running any sim racer you throw at it. Its 15.6” screen has a refresh rate of 165 Hz, a response time as low as 3 ms, and a resolution of 2560 x 1440. Thermals aren’t an issue. The laptop’s “OMEN Tempest Cooling Technology” makes sure the laptop is nice and cool under load.
It has a 1 TB SSD that is upgradeable as well as 16 GB of expandable RAM. An AMD Ryzen 7 CPU is the brains of the operation. While it certainly doesn’t look like your usual gaming laptop, its minimalistic design hides hardware that can easily run even the newest triple-A titles such as Forza Horizon 5 at high framerates and in QHD.
HP OMEN laptops come with a software pre-installed called HP OMEN Gaming Hub that lets you optimize your games for the best experience. For example, you can adjust fan speeds on the fly to keep thermals in check and give you the best framerate your laptop can achieve.
The battery life is impressive for a gaming laptop with notoriously power-hungry specs at just under 8 hours on average, but for the best performance, I would recommend keeping the device plugged in while playing any sim racer. The chassis does feel rather flimsy as it flexes under little pressure, however, it never feels cheap.
Overall, its gaming performance is great. The graphical fidelity that a QHD screen can provide shouldn’t be underestimated either, and if you are used to FHD displays then the upgrade to a QHD display is like night and day. The HP OMEN 15 is cheaper than the ROG Strix G15 and can be configured with an alternate GPU and CPU. It’s a great, minimalistic laptop that won’t slow you down on the track.
- Beautiful 165 Hz QHD display
- Very good cooling
- Upgradeable ram and storage
- Chassis can flex
- Lacks USB-C charging
4. MSI Katana GF66
This laptop features the same RTX 3070 as the HP OMEN 15 with an i7-11800H for the CPU. 16 GB RAM and a speedy 512 GB NVME SSD for storage guarantees you a stutter-free experience while multitasking. The display is 15.6” and has a refresh rate of 144 Hz at FHD, providing you a smooth sim racing experience at high speeds. The Katana GF66 is all black with red illuminated keys.
The screen does flex under pressure but no more than expected from an all-plastic design. At FHD, high framerates are far easier to achieve with the installed RTX 3070 than if the display was QHD. The display won’t blow you away, but this machine offers a solid high framerate experience across most modern titles at FHD for a price far lower than the previous 3 laptops mentioned on this list.
Sadly, the brief battery life means you won’t be doing much gaming on the go or at least not for very long. The performance you get for the price is a huge selling factor for the Katana GF66. The powerful RTX 3070 won’t slow you down while racing and the smooth 144 Hz display makes this a great competitive option on this list.
- Powerful GPU ensures a smooth experience
- 144 Hz high refresh rate display
- All black minimalistic design
- Poor battery life
5. ASUS TUF Gaming Dash F15
This laptop can be configured in multiple ways when purchasing online but this particular configuration offers a powerful RTX 3060, an Intel i7-11370H CPU, 8 GB RAM, and a 512 GB SSD for storage. This hardware can run your sim racers at a full 144 Hz on a vibrant IPS Full HD display. At 19.9 mm in thickness, this laptop has a thin chassis that is great for accommodating most sim racing setups.
The ASUS Dash F15 also boasts an impressive battery life of 16.6 hours, beating even the ROG Strix G15. The fast 3 ms response time its display offers make it a great option for competitive sim racers or even those looking to dip their toes into esports. The storage is easily upgradeable and the chassis is surprisingly sturdy even at a thin 19.9 mm in thickness.
This laptop also features fast charging, getting you 50% charge in only 30 minutes using a USB TYPE-C cable. A common issue amongst previous customers online is the laptops thermals.
Despite ASUS boasting a self-cleaning design and liquid-crystal polymer fan blades that “maximize airflow” users frequently complain that thermals, while only reaching 70 – 85 degrees, make physically sitting the laptop on your lap an uncomfortable experience due to the heat.
That being said, the optimal use for this in relation to sim racing would be to sit on a table and/or hooked up to a high refresh rate external monitor in which case you wouldn’t even notice the uncomfortable heat.
Good Budget Option
As the cheapest on our list, the ASUS Dash F15 is an incredibly enticing option for those on a budget and still looking for powerful hardware that can compete even with the Razer Blade 15 Advanced and other high-end devices.
Its fast charging, long battery life, and high achievable framerates make this a great option for competitive sim racers on a budget or those looking for a thin discreet laptop that can fit into a more cluttered setup.
The frequency of complaints relating to thermals hold it back and make it number 5 on our list. However, the excellent price to performance means it can hold its own among the rest of our top 5.
- Impressive battery life at 16.6 hours
- Spatially accommodating
- Cheapest on our list with competitive performance
- Thermals can get uncomfortably hot
- Only 8 GB of ram installed (upgradeable)
The Best Laptop For iRacing – Our Pick
The ASUS ROG Strix G15 is absolutely the best laptop for iRacing. Its 300 Hz display offers the smoothest experience out of all the laptops on our list. With more than enough power to comfortably play iRacing, it’s the best choice for anyone looking for a laptop to build their racing rig around.
The minimum specs required to run iRacing state that a CPU with at least 4 cores is required to play the game at all, with 6 being the recommended number of cores and 8 cores on the high end. The ROG Strix G15 has an AMD Ryzen 7 CPU with 8 cores, meaning you will get the optimal experience in relation to CPU-bound tasks such as draw distance and crowd density.
The recommended amount of RAM is 16 GB. The ROG Strix G15 has got you covered with 16 GB of RAM, upgradeable to 32 GB which is their high-end requirement. Streaming textures while at great speed won’t be a problem and you shouldn’t encounter any hitching or stuttering with these specs.
In regards to the required GPU specs to play iRacing, this laptop blows it out the water with a full 8 GB of VRAM, matching their high-end requirement. Smooth gameplay is guaranteed with the beastly RTX 3070Ti inside. If you want even smoother gameplay and a higher framerate then you may have to sacrifice some visual quality by reducing the graphics settings to get you those extra frames.
What you determine as an acceptable framerate or a “good” framerate is up to you and very subjective. However, regardless of framerate, you will be benefiting from the faster response time of a 300 Hz monitor even if you can only achieve a framerate of a hundred or so.
Competitiveness And Longevity
This laptop’s hardware exceeds all the recommended specs to run iRacing smoothly and the ROG Strix G15 is an especially good choice for those looking to get into esports or to simply be on a more level playing field when facing more competitive opponents on the track who often invest more money into powerful desktop PC’s.
The laptop’s fast charging capability as well as 1 TB of storage and 16 GB of RAM that are both upgradeable means this laptop will last you longer than other laptops on the market in a similar price range. The number of people complimenting this device for its great performance online is a sure enough sign that you won’t be making a mistake if you choose to purchase this machine to play iRacing.
While all the laptops on this list offer a smooth sim racing experience, it’s the ASUS ROG Strix G15 that races ahead of the others in terms of hardware and features. The ASUS Dash F15 is a great option for those on a budget but still looking for a powerful machine that can compete with the best. However, its poor thermals are a potential issue and make it our 5th choice.