Gaming Laptops

What’s the best laptop for Football Manager 2023?

black and red laptop keyboard
Red hot: find the right laptop for FM23

There’s an awful lot of nonsense written about choosing the best laptop for Football Manager 2023. A lot of it is clickbait, designed to get you to buy an expensive laptop, so that the site earns a commission for the sale.

The truth is you don’t need a massively powerful gaming laptop to play FM23. Indeed, the game will run reasonably well on bog-standard laptops that are a few years old. Here we’ll examine what the game actually needs, how to test if your current laptop will run FM23, and give you a few suggestions on laptops if you’re looking to upgrade.

What are the system requirements for Football Manager 2023?

Sports Interactive lists the system requirements for FM23 as follows. We’ll talk more about what these mean in a bit.

PC

Operating system: Windows 7/8/8.1/10/11
Processor: Intel Core 2 or AMD Athlon 64 X2; 
Graphics: Intel GMA X4500, NVIDIA GeForce 9600M GT, AMD/ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3650 – requires 256MB VRAM and DirectX® 11; 
Memory: 4GB RAM;
Storage: 7GB; 
Display: 1024×768. 

MAC

OS: 11/12
Processor: Apple M1 or Intel Core M; 
Memory: 4GB RAM; 
Graphics: Apple M1, Intel HD Graphics 5000, NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M – requires 256MB VRAM and Metal; 
Storage: 7GB

In truth, these specs aren’t awfully helpful, particularly on PC. So, let’s talk about what this game really needs in the real world.

As anyone who has ever played Football Manager will know, it’s not a graphical treat. The match engine is pretty low wattage, which is good because it means the game can run on laptops without dedicated Nvidia or AMD graphics chips. If you’ve got dedicated graphics, that will help, but in general there’s no need to hunt out an expensive ‘gaming’ laptop to play FM23.

What will make more difference is a decent processor and plenty of memory. I’d suggest a recent Intel Core i3 or i5 processor, or a recent AMD Ryzen 3 or 5. A Core i7 or Ryzen 7/9 will give you better performance, but it’s probably overkill.

When it comes to memory, I’d suggest at least 8GB, ideally 16GB or more. The more memory you have, the less slowdown you’ll see as matches are being processed, particularly if it’s paired with a decent processor.

On a Mac laptop, any MacBook with Apple’s own M1 or M2 processors will run the game perfectly well. Do not, repeat do not, be tempted to go back for cheaper older Intel processors at this stage.

One hugely overlooked component for FM23 players is the screen. The bigger the screen, and the higher the resolution, the more data you’ll be able to fit on each screen, which makes the game much more enjoyable. On a small screen, you’ll spend a lot of time scrolling on squad lists, transfer shortlists, league tables etc, which becomes tiresome.

At the very least, I’d want to play Football Manager on a 13in screen, but a 15in or even a 16in display will make for a much more enjoyable experience. I’d also seek out a minimum screen resolution of Full HD (1,920 x 1,080).

How can I tell if my laptop will run FM23?

Before you go out and buy a new laptop, it’s worth checking if your current computer is capable of playing the game. You don’t need to buy a copy to work this out. There’s a free demo version of FM23 available from Steam that you can download to check how it runs on your current model.

When you start a new FM23 career, choose the Advanced Setup option at the bottom of the screen where you choose which club to manage.

On the next screen, you’ll be asked to pick which leagues you wish to run. On the right-hand side, you get an indication of how fast the game will run on your computer, as shown below:

I wouldn’t want to start a career with anything less than a performance rating of two stars, ideally three. You can remove leagues and change the size of the player database from the top-right drop-down menu to increase the speed of the game.

If you can’t get above one or two stars with an acceptable amount of playable leagues, then it might be time to invest in new hardware or consider the cloud gaming option.

What’s the best Windows laptop for FM23?

There are hundreds, if not thousands of Windows laptops that will run FM23 well. But here are a few models I’d recommend for a good playing experience:

Acer Swift X

The Acer Swift X is a strong mid-range option for Football Manager addicts. The spec we tested had a 12th Gen Core-i7 processor and 16GB of RAM, which meant you didn’t have to drum your fingers every time you press the Continue button, as it cut through calculating results and the like, while match engine performance was near flawless. The 16in Quad HD display provides plenty of room for scanning large squad lists, and it’s very bright. The battery life could be better (an hour of Football Manager took 65% of the battery), but for £1,099 it’s a solid choice.

Dell XPS 15

Any model of the Dell XPS 15 will comfortably play FM23, including the cheapest £1,549 model. The XPS 15 has a decent-sized 15in screen, a great keyboard and spacious trackpad, and it’s not too heavy to lug around.

ThinkPad E15 Gen 4

If you’re looking for something cheaper, the £665 ThinkPad E15 fits the bill. ThinkPads always have a great keyboard, and you have the added advantage of the red TrackPoint pointer in the middle of the keyboard, helping you to precisely hit those smaller menu items in FM23. The 15.6in screen is nicely detailed, the only concern is the small 256GB SSD, which might leave you craving more storage down the line.

Razer Blade 15

If you’re determined to get the best possible laptop performance, you won’t go far wrong with the Razer Blade 15. It has a seriously powerful processor, 16GB of memory and a dedicated graphics chip. It’s overkill for FM23, and it’s not cheap at £2,739, but it will tear through seasons.

What’s the best MacBook for FM23?

As I said above, any M1- or M2-based MacBook will run FM23. The MacBook Air screen is just about big enough to play FM23 with, and the cheapest model there is £999. If you could afford to stretch your budget, the £1,899 14in MacBook Pro or, even better, the 16in MacBook Pro (from £2,399) will play the game with ease and give you a bigger screen to work with.

Can’t afford a new laptop? Try cloud gaming

Times are tough and not everyone can afford a new laptop. So what are your options if your current laptop’s not up to the job, but you want to play FM23? Microsoft’s Xbox Cloud Gaming service could be just the ticket.

Both the PC and Xbox versions of the game are on Microsoft’s Game Pass, but sadly only the Xbox version of the game can be streamed via cloud gaming. (Microsoft is working on bringing PC games to cloud streaming, so by the time FM24 rolls around it might be ready.)

So, if you’re willing to play the Xbox version, you could stream the game to pretty much any laptop or computer, irrespective of how old it is. All you’ll need is a decent Wi-Fi connection.

The console version of Game Pass costs £7.99 per month, and there are hundreds more games on there for you to enjoy after you’re done with FM23.

Make money in FM23

About the author

Barry Collins

Barry has scribbled about tech for almost 20 years for The Sunday Times, PC Pro, WebUser, Which? and many others. He was once Deputy Editor of Mail Online and remains in therapy to this day. Email Barry at barry@bigtechquestion.com.

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