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work/gaming laptop for grad school ~$1500

Last response: in Laptops & Notebooks
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December 31, 2013 3:34:43 PM

Hi everyone! I'm looking to replace my aging laptop. Haven't been in the market for a laptop in over 5 years, so I'm looking for some advice. Any help is appreciated.

I'll describe my situation in case you feel like reading more. I'm a graduate student in chemistry. I need to use a computer at work every day. My current laptop is an HPdv2910 that has surprisingly survived 5.5 years. It's battery is basically dead. The processor and HDD are obviously very slow. Screen resolution is 720x1280. Software is Vista but it's still stable. I have 4 more years of grad school, so I figured I should replace the laptop sooner than later. Using an 8 year old HP laptop to write my thesis does not sound intelligent.
Last summer, I built a desktop computer (i5-3750k, GTX 760, 120 GB SSD + 1 TB HDD, dual 24" 1080p monitors) for gaming. It's performed excellently. However, I'm trying to get my fiance into gaming a bit more as something for us to do together. Problem is that neither of our laptops can play games at all. I want to play coop games with her which means that I need to either build another desktop PC (media center PC maybe) or purchase a laptop that can play PC games. The laptop option sounds like the better choice.
The games that I would want to play include Minecraft, Starcraft 2, Portal 2, DOTA 2, etc. I was thinking of using the laptop 2 drive one of the external monitors to play side-by-side. It doesn't need to play at 1080p 60fps. Something around mid settings at 60 fps would be good. If it was 30 fps in some of the games that wouldn't be a big deal. I can play on my desktop if I need amazing quality.

1. What is your budget?
Budget is pretty flexible. Around $1000-1500 seems about right. I can afford more, but not looking to spend money needlessly.

2. What is the size of the notebook that you are considering?
15-17 inches.

3. What screen resolution do you want?
1600x900 or 1920x1080

4. Do you need a portable or desktop replacement laptop?
Desktop replacement laptop is all that I really need. Increased portability is welcome, but not if it significantly decreases performance.

5. How much battery life do you need?
At least 1-2 hrs. I'll be using it at my desk in graduate school. I don't have any current use cases that require battery life. Giving Powerpoint presentations is the only real mobile usage I have, but that will be used plugged in.

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)?
Minecraft, Starcraft 2, Portal 2, DOTA 2, etc. Settings: medium/high at 60 fps. Could be lower if needed.

7. What other tasks do you want to do with your laptop? (Photo/Video editing, Etc.)
Basic office tasks primarily. No photo/video editing.

8. How much storage (Hard Drive capacity) do you need?
240 GB or more. I'll want an SSD for the OS. I have my desktop for media storage besides the few games and documents I'd keep on the laptop.

9. If you are considering specific sites to buy from, please post their links.
NA

10. How long do you want to keep your laptop?
3-5 years at least. I should be able to afford an upgrade comfortably by then.

11. What kind of Optical drive do you need? DVD ROM/Writer,Bluray ROM/Writer,Etc ?
DVD drive is optional. If it is included that's fine, but I don't need one.

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.
I've been hearing quite a few good things about Lenovo. Since this will be a work laptop, I don't want a gaming laptop that looks gaudy like the alienware laptops. The Lenovo y410p seems good spec wise, but I don't care for the red keyboard. I'm looking for something more professional looking. I'm partial to black if that matters. I'm fine with the look of the Lenovo thinkpad series. I'm not thinking mac as I want to have windows on both computers. I'm not against other brands as long as you feel that they are reliable. Sager notebooks is another brand I've heard of. They seem kinda beefy, but maybe that is expected.

13. What country do you live in?
United States

14. Please tell us any additional information if needed.
I'll likely be using a mouse with the laptop, so a weak trackpad isn't the most important factor. My desktop keyboard is a standard layout mechanical keyboard. If possible I would want the keyboards to match as much as possible.

Thanks for the help everyone!
January 1, 2014 1:18:47 PM

Thanks for the reply! The first laptop looks pretty nice. I like the looks of it. I'm looking for some non-gaming laptop options too if you know any.
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a b D Laptop
January 1, 2014 11:42:05 PM

Dr Orgo said:
Thanks for the reply! The first laptop looks pretty nice. I like the looks of it. I'm looking for some non-gaming laptop options too if you know any.


I don't think ou should look for non-gaming laptops if your primary concern is gaming. :) 

I think, by non-gaming, you mean light, slim yet powerful. You won't find many, but here's an option:

GIGABYTE P34G: (21 MM, 1.67 kg)
http://www.gigabyte.in/products/product-page.aspx?pid=4...
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January 2, 2014 7:25:59 PM

Wow that laptop looks really nice! I was comparing the dimensions to my old laptop; it's essentially half the thickness, way better specs, and approximately the same price. Gotta love the difference 5 years make! I know that threads aren't supposed to be a discussion, but you're quite helpful so I'll discuss anyway.

The three laptops that I like the best were the ASUS N56JR, GIGABYTE P27K-CF2, and GIGABYTE P34G? I'm leaning toward the GIGABYTE P34G. Comparing, gaming power looks mostly equivalent. Ports look equivalent. I like the look of no number-pad. The 17.3" laptops seem almost awkwardly large. I guess wanting the larger screen size would be the reason to choose a 17.3" laptop. I don't need the support of dual 1 TB HDD. The smaller size would be nice for transport to my apartment from work. The GIGABYTE P34G probably gets pretty loud under load, although that probably doesn't matter cause I'll be distracted while playing games. If price isn't a huge concern, is there any reason not to get the GIGABYTE P27K-CF2? Thanks again!
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a b 4 Gaming
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January 2, 2014 11:44:44 PM

Dr Orgo said:
Wow that laptop looks really nice! I was comparing the dimensions to my old laptop; it's essentially half the thickness, way better specs, and approximately the same price. Gotta love the difference 5 years make! I know that threads aren't supposed to be a discussion, but you're quite helpful so I'll discuss anyway.

The three laptops that I like the best were the ASUS N56JR, GIGABYTE P27K-CF2, and GIGABYTE P34G? I'm leaning toward the GIGABYTE P34G. Comparing, gaming power looks mostly equivalent. Ports look equivalent. I like the look of no number-pad. The 17.3" laptops seem almost awkwardly large. I guess wanting the larger screen size would be the reason to choose a 17.3" laptop. I don't need the support of dual 1 TB HDD. The smaller size would be nice for transport to my apartment from work. The GIGABYTE P34G probably gets pretty loud under load, although that probably doesn't matter cause I'll be distracted while playing games. If price isn't a huge concern, is there any reason not to get the GIGABYTE P27K-CF2? Thanks again!


Both are awesome. As you can make out yourself, they cater different needs (Big screen vs portability).
Moreover, the GTX 760M and GTX 765M will deliver almost same performnance in gaming.
However, GTX 770M and GTX 750M (SLI)/GTX 755M (SLI) are a class higher.

I can't comment about the battery life or heat dissipation. The users of these product can only tell u about that.
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January 3, 2014 2:53:26 AM

Thanks again for your help! I think I'll go with the GIGABYTE P34G.
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