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Looking for laptop for college ($1000-$1500)

Last response: in Laptops & Notebooks
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April 17, 2013 2:40:53 PM

Hey guys,

I'm looking for a new laptop to bring with me to college. I primarily plan to use it for school work, general entertainment, and some light gaming. My budget is fairly liberal, but I'd like to stay within $1000-$1500. I've been researching for the past few weeks, and my indecisiveness has left me overwhelmed. As such, I figured that the best solution was to ask the great people at Tom's Hardware for their input.

1. What is your budget? $1000-$1500
2. What is the size of the notebook that you are considering? 13.3" to 15.6"
3. What screen resolution do you want? 1920x1080
4. Do you need a portable or desktop replacement laptop? Portable. I want it to be fairly light (less than 6lb) and thin (less than 1")
5. How much battery life do you need? At least 5 hours for normal use
6. Do you want to play games with your laptop? If so then please list the games that you want to with the settings that you want for these games. (Low, Medium or High)? Not really, maybe the occasional game of Civ4/5, Sims 3, or other older, less intensive games.
7. What other tasks do you want to do with your laptop? (Photo/Video editing, Etc.) Multimedia (movies, TV shows, music, etc.) Web browsing.
8. How much storage (Hard Drive capacity) do you need? A SSD with at least 128gb, preferably 256gb or more.
9. If you are considering specific sites to buy from, please post their links. No preference.
10. How long do you want to keep your laptop? At least 1-2 years
11. What kind of Optical drive do you need? None required, I can always buy a portable external drive.
12. Please tell us about the brands that you prefer to buy from them and the brands that you don't like and explain the reasons. No preference
13. What country do you live in? USA.
a b D Laptop
April 17, 2013 3:00:05 PM

That laptop isn't made.....4-5 hours ain't gonna happen w/ discreet GPU.

I'd suggest a Clevo 150EM

http://forum.notebookreview.com/sager-clevo/91510-clevo...
CLEVO is a large Taiwanese computer company specializing in laptops. While the Clevo brand name is perhaps not widely known, their products are re-branded and sold by known boutique brand OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers)… notably Sager, VoodooPC, Falcon Northwest, Eurocom, etc. They are also considered (by whoever knows about notebooks) to design and manufacturer the best of the best notebooks in terms of superior build quality and innovative designs.

$1,434 http://www.lpc-digital.com/sager-np9150.html
15.6” Full HD 16:9 LED-Backlit Super Clear Gloss type 1920 x 108
Switchable GPU OptimusTechnology - w/ HD4000
GTX 670MX 3GB GDDR5 Memory
i7-3630QM
Intel® HM77 Express Chipset
Drivers & Utility Software Only - No OS (get OS on campus (typically $10 - $25)
16GB Dual Channel DDR3 SDRAM at 1600MHz - 2 X 8GB ($70 upgrade from 8GB)
750GB Seagate Momentus XT ST750LX003 Hybrid HD / SSD ($90 upgrade)
6X Blu-ray Reader/8X DVD±R/2.4X +DL Super-Multi Drive ($55 upgrade)
Intel Adv 6235 - 802.11A/B/G/N + Bluetooth 4.0 Combo Module ($30 upgrade)
8 cells smart Lithium-Ion battery pack 76.96Wh
Integrated Fingerprint Reader
Free UPS Shipping
Instant $50.00 OFF! (order is over $1, 350.00)
High Definition audio interface
S/PDIF digital output
Built-in Microphone
Built-in two speakers made by Onkyo
Built-in one sub-woofer
External 7.1CH audio output supported by headphone, microphone, S/PDIF and Line-in jack
THX TruStudio Pro
Illuminated Full size keyboard with numeric pad
Integrated touchpad with Multi-gesture and Scrolling function
1 HDMI 1.4a output Port (with HDCP)
1 DVI-I output Port (single link)
1 DisplayPort 1.1 output Port
1 USB 2.0 Port
3 USB 3.0 Ports (One powered USB port, AC/DC)
1 eSATA Port (USB 3.0 combo)
1 Mini IEEE 1394a Port
1 Headphone Jack
1 Microphone Jack
1 S/PDIF output Jack
1 Line-in Jack
1 RJ-45 LAN (10/100/1000Mbps)
9-in-1 Card Reader (MMC/RSMMC/MS/MS Pro/MS Duo/SD/Mini-SD/SDHC/SDXC)
2 MiniCard Slots, one for WLAN Combo module (Half size Mini Card with PCIe and USB interface). The 2nd slot for mSATA SSD Full size Mini Card with SATA interface)
Built-in 2.0M Digital Video Camera
Kensington® Lock
6.6 lbs

NOTE: I have two of the 17" versions of this. One has a 128 GB Corsair M4 SSD w/ 750 GB 7200 rpm HD .... the 2nd has the Seagate Momentus Hybrid SSD / HD .... outside of benchmarks, the two are indistinguishable performance wise. The lappie w/ the hybrid SSD / HD boots in 17 seconds, the other one with SSD boots in 16 seconds.
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a b D Laptop
April 17, 2013 3:06:43 PM

Hey there AznWin,

1. Fair enough.
2. Most laptops within your budget will probably run 14" - 17.3", so that's also fair.
3. Easy for 15.6" and up. Many - if not all - systems under 15.6" are going to be 720p panels.
4. Not a lot of highly portable options that will do gaming, but then again you said "light", so what games do you want to run? Dependent on this, a low end dedicated GPU, such as a GeForce 635M, might work. Or look into systems with an AMD APU A8 or A10. Their integrated GPU is better than what's on the Intel Ivy Bridge CPUs.
5. Won't happen with a dedicated graphics card, so you may need to stick with a good i5 or i7 CPU, or an AMD APU.
6. Yeah, define light gaming for me, and I'll be happy to throw some recommendations out there. :) 
7. iGPU can handle all that, especially on Intel HD 4000 or an AMD APU.
8. They're pricey, but worth it! Avoid OCZ drives, and lean more towards Samsung or Intel. SanDisk Ultra's are okay.
9. The world is yours.
10. Take care of it and it will most likely last you longer than that, even.
11. Many laptops come with at least a DVD/CD RW± within that budget.
12. Check out some reliability reports before you buy. Generally, the more you spend, the less of a build quality gap there is. But there's still the issue of a company's level of support to bear in mind also.
13. Then you have a lot of options. :) 

Hope this gets you in the right direction. By all means, provide any additional needs or questions you have to narrow it down!
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April 17, 2013 3:17:08 PM

To be honest guys, I don't intend to do much gaming at all on my laptop. If anything, I'll occasionally play Civ 4/5 or Sims 3 or some older, less intensive games on my laptop. I'd probably be ok with integrated graphics. The other specs I wanted are much more important for the laptop.

The main thing is that I want it to be fairly portable: light (under 6 lb, less is better), and thin (less than 1").
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April 17, 2013 3:38:49 PM

I've reviewed you guys' recommendations, and while they all definitely meet my performance recommendations, I'm afraid that those laptops are just too heavy and thick for me to be portable. Also, their battery lives seem pretty short as well.

Perhaps an ultrabook is the best choice for me. Do you guys have any recommendations based on my spec requirements?
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a b D Laptop
April 17, 2013 3:42:57 PM

AznWin said:
I've reviewed you guys' recommendations, and while they all definitely meet my performance recommendations, I'm afraid that those laptops are just too heavy and thick for me to be portable. Also, their battery lives seem pretty short as well.

Perhaps an ultrabook is the best choice for me. Do you guys have any recommendations based on my spec requirements?


The Asus UX32VD-DH71 is pretty good and right in your budget. It has an mSATA drive for cache and a regular HDD, but if you purchase from a reseller, the HDD can be upgraded to a SSD. :) 

Only issue then is Windows 8, unless you don't mind.
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April 18, 2013 6:40:45 AM

I like the Lenovo Y500 but the battery life is under 4 hours. The Z580 will meet your needs.

5.8 lbs.
6 hours battery life.
HD 4000 GPU
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