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Need advice about all-around, light gaming oriented laptop

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  • Laptops
  • Gaming
Last response: in Laptop General Discussion
a b D Laptop
a b 4 Gaming
July 25, 2014 5:19:25 AM

Hello everyone,

Some time ago I asked the same question in the videogame category (available here), where I didn't get too much answers. I'm trying to extend that to the mobility forums.

I'm currently looking for a new laptop to replace my OLD Acer Aspire 5732ZG, which I intend to hand over to my parents for Facebook, general Internet browsing and email checking.

I've been looking in local shops, since I don't have too much of an idea about models and manufacturers.
From all I've found by myself, an i5 paired up with either an HD 6750m, an R7 265m or a GeForce 740m will usually fit my 600€ budget depending on brand. I can stretch to 700€ if the deal is very good, but I haven't found many...

I've looked around by myself and got interested mainly in some Acer aspire e1 models or hp Pavillion 15-n24x models. I'm not sure if the components I thought will fit my needs tho, and I would've liked to find some non-ulv cpus, or not featuring Enduro/Optimus technologies, which I hear aren't the best for gaming (seriously tho, are they really that bad?)

Can anyone help? Direct model tips or component suggestions would be much appreciated.

More about : advice light gaming oriented laptop

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a b 4 Gaming
July 25, 2014 6:45:33 AM

Actually the opposite, Enduro/Optimus is exactly what you are looking for. The laptop runs of the integrated graphics when browsing the internet to save battery and only kicks the dedicated graphics card in when gaming.

I was looking at laptops recently and ULV does seem to be all the rage, most people want thin/light/better battery, us gamers are relatively niche.

The geforce 740 and/or 840m looks like a good bet at the lower end. I ended up getting an ASUSVivoBook S551LN, but that's maybe outside of your price range.

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a b D Laptop
a b 4 Gaming
July 25, 2014 9:41:48 AM

Idk about Enduro/Optimus, as I've read mixed reviews about them. Pretty much like what's happening with Mantle on AMD, some people report wonders, with skyrocketing battery lifetimes when not gaming, while some other report a truckload of issues, whereas games would run with the integrated instead of the discrete...
In doubt, go for the safe ground, I guess? But maybe I'm wrong...

And yeah, an Asus wouldn't be bad, but it's outta my league unless it's on offer. From what I've seen, they're amongst the best (at least IMO) on design and product quality, but the premium you pay for that compared to the hardware most models offer is a bit too much. I also hate that aluminium finish they're so fond of, so if I had to take one I'd go for plastic :p 

As for the gpu, the problem with the 740m/840m is that it seems to have a plethora of possible versions, depending on memory size, memory technology and bus bandwidth. It's like a lottery without a mobile phone to check online*, hence the fact I considered AMD as well, not to mention they're usually cheaper and would thus fit my budget better.

So far, only HPs and Acers picjed up my interest. I'd gladly give a spin to Lenovos or Dells, but I can't find them in local shops, except for Lenovo transformable w8.1 devices...although Dell also might be a bit out of budget as well...
Are they good brands?



*as a side note, most of the models I found obviously featured the 2gb DDR3 low bandwidth version..."big numbers" marketing at its best..
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a b 4 Gaming
July 25, 2014 12:55:28 PM

Thing is, I don't think it's possible to get a laptop with a discrete graphics card that doesn't have Enduro or Optimus, as far as I am aware that's pretty much built in to all AMD and Nvidia graphics cards nowadays (I'm not so certain about AMD, but every Nvidia based laptop I've seen has had Optimus for years now).

Yeah GPU and CPU nomenclature in laptops is a mess. How can an i7 be both a dual core and quad core processor in a laptop, depending on which one you get?

Mind you, I wasn't even aware that there was a GDDR5 version of the 750m, I thought they were all DDR3. And for moderate gaming it's perfectly acceptable.
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a c 1094 D Laptop
a c 338 4 Gaming
July 25, 2014 1:25:52 PM

You will not find a modern laptop with a discrete graphics card that does not have Enduro/Optimus. Why? All laptops sold have CPUs with integrated graphic cores (AMD calls them APUs).

People have attempted to disable the integrated graphics so that the laptop will only use the discrete graphics chip. The result was a corrupted Windows OS which means that Windows needed to be reinstalled again. Or in extremely rare circumstances the laptops was totally trashed; they would not even boot up.
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a b D Laptop
a b 4 Gaming
July 25, 2014 5:45:38 PM

Nomenclature really is bad only on GPUs (and on some AMD APUs, where ULV isn't reported), as most manufacturers only report model and VRAM size. Just marketing at its best, as I already stated; you get to see that flashy sticker everyone's so fond of, reporting "GT 740m with 2GB of dedicated memory!", too bad it doesn't say anything about architecture (it can be Kepler GK107 or Kepler GK208), memory bus bandwidth (it can be 128bit or 64 bit) and memory technology (it can be DDR3 or GDDR5).
On the other hand, CPUs from Intel are usually pretty easy to spot: u = Ultra Low Voltage chip, m = classic mobility chip, mq = quad-core mobility chip.

@jaguarskx I know all CPUs/APUs nowadays have an integrated GPU, but that's not a motivation to put crappy hardware or annoying/useless technologies in place. It's already an ULV chip and you're getting an integrated on it? Not to mention a discrete GPU? I'd like to understand the logic there, because I see none... If I wanted to get a long lasting laptop, I'd have went with an integrated gpu only, ULV based netbook. There simply is no reason to put such things on medium-range notebooks, set aside for a higher selling price...
Also, only because the common user can be completely ignorant about computers and doesn't know (or doesn't need nor want to know at all) the difference between discrete and integrated GPUs, it doesn't mean that others (even with a very minimal knowledge) must be forced to adopt the same automatically applied algorithm, which could very well choose to launch Crysis 3 with the integrated card because "it feels it runs better and saves more battery".
If I wanted to be shackled, I'd go pick a fight with a cop, for crying out loud! :D 

Anyways, I'm venting. Back on topic, I'm not going to do such a thing as disabling the integrated. It's part of the CPU/APU for a reason, no wonder things get FUBAR. However, I think I've read somewhere that some models allow you to disable Enduro/Optimus if you want to. There really wasn't much confirmation, but I'm kinda riding on that hope.
Being forced to follow a pre-determined behaviour, no matter the circumstances, makes me rethink if I want to get a new notebook in the first place, at least for now...

I'll get a look in another local shop tomorrow and see how things go. For now, thanks for your insights, both of you :) 
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a b D Laptop
a b 4 Gaming
July 30, 2014 2:46:24 AM

Meh, still no go...
I was thinking maybe I should resort to a custom built laptop, but there's no retailer here in Italy that I know and that offers these services.

I found out ibuypower offers overseas shipping, and the dollar-euro change will help me on that, but the shipping fees will hit me hard...
I guess I should ask this directly to them, and I'll probably do so, but would shipping costs exceed 60-70 euros for Italy?
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a b 4 Gaming
July 30, 2014 6:58:15 AM

Shipping costs and import tax....


In the UK I recommend these guys, no idea if they export to Italy, but can't hurt to contact them and ask: https://www.pcspecialist.co.uk/


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a b D Laptop
July 30, 2014 7:07:46 AM

Asus and MSI have been in gaming for years. ALienware also but they only have high end models.
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a b D Laptop
a b 4 Gaming
July 30, 2014 7:13:52 AM

Thanks for the tip, and for recalling me about import taxes... The problem about UK is that it's the other way around with money change ;)  but it's worth a shot anyway.

I'll try to contact both once I'm back from work, as the most customizable things I can access are some very particular and out of budget dell models here...

Otherwise I'll just wrap my head over it and get a ULV chipset with a crappy gpu for an overpriced product...
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a b 4 Gaming
July 30, 2014 9:05:11 AM

Vynavill said:

Otherwise I'll just wrap my head over it and get a ULV chipset with a crappy gpu for an overpriced product...


Steam Homestream is your friend. I play games with all maxed settings on my core 2 Duo laptop with x4500MHD integrated graphics using Homestream.

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a b D Laptop
a b 4 Gaming
July 30, 2014 10:53:55 AM

Homestream, unfortunately, requires the two PCs being connected on the same home network, and I'm not always going to use it at home. I might even bring it with me to places where internet connectivity isn't available (smartphone tethering excl.). I suppose it could be tricked into spoofing a home network with an Hamachi session, but I doubt the result would be good, not to mention I'd have to keep the main PC at home powered on...

About IBuyPower, I was wrong. Their configurations let you choose only between America and Canada for customized laptops, while trying to do the same thing onto their German offsite lets you only order desktop models, so I guess I can rule them out.
About PCSpecialist, this is pretty much self explanatory. The only problem is, seeing their prices, I get the feeling I'm going to get WAY above budget most of times :p  I'll need to play a bit more with their customizer and see if I can get to a compromise.
Nope, the only ones I'm interested into either go above budget or don't offer the possibility of an Italian keyboard...yay? XD

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a c 1094 D Laptop
a c 338 4 Gaming
July 30, 2014 12:55:58 PM

Vynavill said:

@jaguarskx I know all CPUs/APUs nowadays have an integrated GPU, but that's not a motivation to put crappy hardware or annoying/useless technologies in place. It's already an ULV chip and you're getting an integrated on it? Not to mention a discrete GPU? I'd like to understand the logic there, because I see none... If I wanted to get a long lasting laptop, I'd have went with an integrated gpu only, ULV based netbook. There simply is no reason to put such things on medium-range notebooks, set aside for a higher selling price...
Also, only because the common user can be completely ignorant about computers and doesn't know (or doesn't need nor want to know at all) the difference between discrete and integrated GPUs, it doesn't mean that others (even with a very minimal knowledge) must be forced to adopt the same automatically applied algorithm, which could very well choose to launch Crysis 3 with the integrated card because "it feels it runs better and saves more battery".
If I wanted to be shackled, I'd go pick a fight with a cop, for crying out loud! :D 


The reason is because OEMs like HP and Dell want to cut down on cost for both desktops and laptops. By integrating things into the CPU like a graphics core (formerly part of the South Bridge), voltage regulator and memory controller, the reduces costs associated to components that would have to be inserted into the motherboard. The South Bridge still exists on the motherboard, but it is smaller and less complex than before. With no voltage regulator and memory controller required to be designed into the motherboard, that saves both time and money.

It also helps reduce costs for AMD and Intel. They do not need to have separate production lines for CPUs with a graphics core and no graphic core. That also reduces logistic and warehousing costs because they do not have to sub divide their processors into more sub categories.

Consumers can ultimately win since theoretically manufacturers can pass on some of the savings onto the consumer (excluding the effects of inflation).
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a b 4 Gaming
July 31, 2014 6:55:55 AM

Vynavill said:
Homestream, unfortunately, requires the two PCs being connected on the same home network, and I'm not always going to use it at home.


Yeah that would be a problem. Hamachi over the internet would introduce horrible lag, most likely. Works great when you're at home though.
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a b D Laptop
a b 4 Gaming
August 5, 2014 10:20:02 AM

Looks like things are turning to my favour. A local shop is going to pass from a chain to another, and is offering what seem to be 2 very good deals for the event, starting the day after tomorrow...

1- HP ENVY 15-n108el (new model? Can't find any info anywhere... same specs as the 15-j108el...probably a mistype on the promotional flier)
15.6" FHD display, with an Intel core i5-4200m, 8gb RAM, Hybrid 1TB 5400rpm HDD + 24gb SSD and a GT740m 2gb gpu.
600€

2- Acer e5-551g-x729
15.6" display (no resolution specified, so I suppose 1366x768), with an AMD A10 7300, 4gb RAM, 1TB 5400rpm HDD and an AMD R7 265m 2gb gpu.
500€

- Both come with (obviously) wi-fi, Bluetooth and w8.1. Some work will need to be done to kill the monster os, if possible, but that's not a problem. A dual boot will be more than welcome too.
- Both come with a keypad extended keyboard, something I'm very fond of on a laptop, due to having a job as a software developer and also because I hate doing silly fn key combos :p 
- The hp doesn't have any DVD drive, while the Acer has a more than common super-multi DVD drive (R/RW/DL, +/-). It might make it a little more uncomfortable, as I'd need to bring an external drive with myself, and I doubt any of those are USB powered...

Even so, the HP looks very promising, and will most surely be my purchase. Should, however, my usual bad luck strike me hard and where it hurts more, making it go out of stock the moment the shop opens up, would the Acer live up to the expectations?
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