Hey everyone, first time using this forum, so if I'm not specific enough, or if this is in the wrong place, please, go easy on me!
Basically, I used to build my own PC's years and years ago in undergrad with parts bought from NCIX as a hobby... however I made the switch from desktop PCs to Macbooks as I needed something more portable as my studies grew more intense and I began spending more and more time at the library etc. Needless to say, I fully adopted Macs and haven't owned a PC for about 6 or 7 years now, so I am not even remotely caught up on the latest PC architecture and developments in processing power etc.
Anyway, today I am looking to replace my MacBook air with an Alienware 14, as I feel I'll get WAY more bang for my buck converting back to PCs, and I have encountered a little problem: I'm not sure which Alienware laptop to choose, the 14 with an i5 or an i7. The difference is a price of roughly $200, so I figured it's significant enough to ask about.
Mainly I wanted to upgrade for school again, as I am now entering the wonderful world of financial accounting, so MS Office and other everyday tasks will be the main function, HOWEVER, I am a gamer (currently own a PS3, modded Wii, and stood in line for 9 hours on launch day to grab a ps4), so gaming capability is also a massive consideration. Also, I like to get at least 2-3 years out of my laptop purchases, and would like a machine that could handle games on at least a mid level (but preferably high level right NOW) for the next 2-3 years down the road. Just a note on that, I will not be doing any sort of editing with the computer, aside from the odd photoshop work.
So basically, with that in mind, what would you recommend? Would the i5 be fine for my purposes, or is it just better to go with the i7 and pay the extra money?
This would probably be my choice after seeing the price of the alienware. I have an older sandy bridge based i5 Asus laptop with a GT 540m. It has been pretty good for me. Only hardware problem I have had with it was my fault. I busted the charging port by accident. Software wise, only had one instance of a bad USB 3.0 driver. I think a Windows update caused issues with the driver version I had installed. Removed device and driver and downloaded the latest version and installed it. Not a single problem since.
If you play mostly older games I think you would be fine with the i5. The big difference between them is the number of cores/threads. Each core is sort of like it's own processor, and normally one core handles one thread. Intel has this thing called Hyper-Threading which lets each core handle two threads. This isn't as good as having two actual cores for two threads, but is better then two threads for a single core.
The 4200M i5 has 2 cores/4 threads whereas the 4700MQ has 4 cores/8 threads. For desktops, a good gaming build would have 4 cores. I'm not very sure, I think you might be able to get away with 2 core/4 hyperthreads if the laptop is only goona be around for 2-3 years. On top of that, the graphics card is often the more pressing bottleneck on a laptop anyway. I would draw your attention to the middle Alienware 14 inch laptop. It's $50 more then the entry level and has a GT 750M with 2GB of memory as opposed to the 1GB version of that card on both the entry and higher level. You could upgrade that card for $150 to the GTX 765M. Oddly the higher end version of this laptop doesn't have that option. I don't know much about mobile graphics cards to know if this is a good value, but I do know mobile GPUs tend to struggle to get max settings on the newest games right off the bat - so spending $200 on getting the GTX 765M as opposed to the GT 750M 1GB may prove to be a better performance boost then the i7.