I am wanting to get back into playing sims (2, 3 and 4) but this time with all the expansion packs and mods/cc. I would like to be able to play the game at top performance on ultra settings and it not lag etc whilst using all the extras.
I'd love to know the absolutely cheapest laptop I could get that meets my criteria and also the best laptop if budget wasn't an issue.
If the laptop was anything other than apple, I'd only use it for sims as I already have an old macbook air which unfortunately does not meet the required specifications.
In addition to this, I'm also interested in knowing if the new Macbook Pro 13" (https://www.apple.com/uk/shop/buy-mac/macbook-pro/13-inch) would run the game well incase I decide to replace my current laptop.
I am based in England and not wanting to buy anything coming from overseas.
Help would be hugely appreciated. I know absolutely nothing about computers and googling this stuff is a bit overwhelming as there is so much information out there and I can't seem to make heads or tails of it!
Thanks in advance
@Spiz9792 First of all, I feel like I have to make it clear that both Sims 3 and Sims 4 will lag on any system. For Sims 3, the game engine simply has a difficult time keeping up with the demands of managing the content from all the expansions; for Sims 4, there are lots of bugs and other issues that may or may not be ironed out in the future. That's not to say that powerful hardware makes no difference at all, only that above a certain point, the games' limitations cannot be completely overcome. Stronger components do help buffer the lag though—in a given situation, you might see framerates drop into the 30s or 40s rather than the teens.
The minimum requirement for ultra graphics settings in Sims 3 is currently pretty much the same as the minimum requirement for ultra settings in Sims 4. (I'm not including Sims 2 in this because that game will basically run on a toaster at this point.) The two critical components here are the graphics card and the storage. For the GPU, any new dedicated card is good enough for ultra settings, although you may want to go one level up to help absorb the fps drops and account for future Sims 4 packs. For storage, you'll want at least 512 GB to fit both games, their saves, and however much custom content you feel like downloading. The other hardware matters too, but any current gaming laptop will have a strong-enough processor and at least 8 GB RAM.
On that note, these are the cheapest good options I'm seeing that meet those criteria:
The graphics card in the last two is better than the card in the first three, and between the last two, I personally think the Dell is better because the MSI runs a bit hot and loud even for a gaming laptop. Still, none of these are bad choices. I also didn't do a thorough search, since I don't know whether this is the kind of laptop you'd want to buy, but I did see that there are plenty of other options for £800 or less. Let me know if you'd like something specific in this category, and I can take a closer look.
In terms of the best laptop, that's pretty difficult to say. Like I mentioned, hardware doesn't help as much past a certain point—it's not like you'd see any benefit from a £4,000 desktop replacement that weighs 4 kg and comes with a power brick that weighs more than most laptops. I guess if I were buying something, or rather if someone were buying it for me and I didn't have to think about price, I'd seriously consider this:
It gets great reviews from the experts, it has hardware that won't max out running either game, it pretty much maxes out the performance of its components, it's lightweight, and it runs cool and quiet. That's not to say it's perfect, just really good. I'd try to find a model with an Nvidia 3060 and a QHD (2560x1440) screen; the Asus site suggests they're out there but won't find any for me at the moment. But for a 14" screen, 1080p is still fine.
Just so you don't get caught overpaying, this option is £1,300:
One other excellent (and not as pricey) option is the Lenovo Legion. These laptops are the best quality among the laptops in the "normal" price range, as in, not premium-tier. They also run cool and quiet and perform very well for their given hardware. And maybe you'd prefer a 15" screen rather than the 14" one the Zephyrus has. There are a number of configurations available, including these:
The second one is definitely overpriced; I'm only listing it because I mentioned the QHD screen, and as long as we're talking about the best available options, it's worth mentioning. The third laptop's graphics card is even faster than the one in the other two, to the point that you probably wouldn't see any benefit, but maybe you'll play something else in the future. The second and third also both have 16 GB RAM rather than 8, which is nice to have if not strictly necessary; the first can definitely be upgraded if it comes to that, and memory is cheap.
As for the M1 Mac, it will run Sims 3 and 4 on ultra settings, but not as well as these Windows laptops. For Sims 2, you'd be limited to the Super Collection in the App store since the Origin version is Windows only. The 64-bit Mac version of Sims 3 also has a number of bugs not present in the other versions, and it feels a lot choppier even when fps is relatively high. I wouldn't recommend it for people that have a choice between playing in macOS and Windows. That's not to say that you wouldn't enjoy it, just that it's not an ideal experience.
If you want more details about any of this, or have more questions, please feel free to ask.
@puzzlezaddict Wow thank you so much for taking the time to write this, this is unbelievably informative and a HUGE help!
Another question, is there any £200-£400 laptops that can handle sims 4?
@Spiz9792 £400 laptops, yes, usually; £200, not so much. Even for £300, you'd be getting something that probably couldn't run all the expansions together, or at least would run them very poorly. The base game and a few packs might be fine on low settings. And to be clear, this is for Sims 4; Sims 3 actually runs worse on lower-end computers, and I'd only even try to install all packs on the highest-end integrated graphics chips. Even then, you'd still be taking a chance, but it might work out fine.
For Sims 4, these are the lowest I'd go, at £300 and £320, respectively:
Their 4 GB RAM would still likely be an issue when running larger households or playing in some worlds, and they don't have room for much more than the game itself, but performance should be okay as long as you're careful.
Much better is this £400 option:
It has the kind of hardware I've been recommending for people on a budget: a processor and graphics chip that should run all packs together on medium-high or high settings, enough storage for Sims 4 and plenty of custom content, and 8 GB RAM, which is enough for the game itself. If you installed all Sims 3 packs, you'd probably notice some slowdowns, and there wouldn't be a whole lot of room other data if both games were installed together, but it could work if you were careful and your cc collection was a couple dozen gigabytes or less.
If you're looking for a laptop like this right now, I can do some more comparison shopping, but my experience is that laptops in this class usually cost £450 or more. It's always possible an equivalent laptop shows up on sale for £400; it's just that at this price point, you kind of take what you can get.
@puzzlezaddict Thanks again for the response and all the info!
I think for the moment I would probably want to go on the cheaper side and limit the amount of packs, cc and mods I install. What laptops would you recommend that are in the £450 to £650 price range?
@Spiz9792 You could stay within budget and still get a gaming laptop, at least right now when this one is on sale for £580:
The graphics card could run all Sims 4 content together on ultra graphics settings with some room to spare. Custom content can (but doesn't always) increase the demands on the card, but you should always be able to play on at least a mix of high and ultra settings.
An alternative is this one, which is the same model except with only 256 GB storage, but that shouldn't be a problem as long as you're careful with space overall. As an example, you could fit the entire game plus about 100 GB of cc, or the same amount of other data, on the laptop and still be okay. I'd personally go with the first over the second, but some people prefer to buy from a store like Currys or Argos, so I figured I'd mention both.
This laptop is £630 and has 512 GB storage, plus an equivalent processor and the same graphics card and RAM:
It does run a little hot and loud, but not so much that it would be a problem if you were wearing headphones.
This one is also £650 and has a much faster graphics card and 512 GB storage. Plus, it's the best build quality of the group: Legions are excellent computers. If you're comfortable spending the full £650, I'd say this is the best overall choice by far.
I checked half a dozen sites, and these were the cheapest options I saw for gaming laptops. If you'd prefer to stay below £500, that's doable as well; you'd be looking at a non-gaming laptop in the same flavor as the £400 model I linked before: capable of running all packs together on medium-high or high settings but not ultra. I didn't look too closely at that category because of all the gaming laptops within your budget, but let me know if you'd prefer one of the non-gaming options instead.