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Laptop graphics comparison--Advice, please

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September 24, 2009 11:19:15 AM

I'm thinking of putting off buying my next desktop and getting a $500-$600 laptop instead. Since my current pc is about four years old, I'll probably see an improvement no matter what I get, but I want something that can play Fallout 3, GTA4; basically games I bought at the end of last year when a chain store went out of business. And I haven't even really been looking at new games and their specs.
It looks like the two most popular graphic set-ups on laptops are ATI's RADEON HD 3200 graphics RS780M and NVIDIA's GeForce 8200M graphics, both of which, though not integrated graphics per se, are not truly the same as getting a graphics card from what I've been reading here. The laptop I was looking at had ATI and I was told by the guy in Best Buy that it had 256MB dedicated to graphics. Is that how it works? Is the same true for Radeon? Would getting double the RAM (it comes with 4, upgradeable to 8) make a big difference in the games I mentioned as well as current games and those to be released soon? Or should I chuck the whole idea and try to get together enough money to go for that desktop?


Dazed and confused....
a b U Graphics card
September 24, 2009 11:33:29 AM

You won't notice the difference between 4GB and 8GB when it comes to gaming, under 4GB you could begin to notice reduced smoothness of gameplay.

Both the HD 3200 and Geforce 8200M are useless when it comes to gaming, like all integrated graphics.
I doubt you'll get a decent gaming laptop for $600, but you can actually build a fairly decent gaming PC with that budget and you could recycle your old DVD drive and case so you can spend even more on the CPU and graphics.
a c 376 U Graphics card
September 24, 2009 11:56:36 AM

Yeah, $500-600 is an ok price range for a standard laptop but definitely not one meant for gaming.
You can build a pretty decent gaming desktop for $400-500 however. Even less if you can recycle parts from an old machine like Gulli suggested.
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a b U Graphics card
September 24, 2009 12:13:08 PM
a c 376 U Graphics card
September 24, 2009 12:43:16 PM

Why recommend an AM2+ board for an AM3 chip when they can be had for the same price? The only reason I can think of is to save money on the ram but the ram you recommended is just as expensive as DDR3 anyway. 1440 x 900 monitor and an HD4870 1gig also seems like a mismatch to me. An HD4850 should be more than fine at that resolution and would save $50.
Is that PSU any good? I've never heard of the brand.
He may also be able to use the monitor, hard drive(s) and/or case from his old system which could save a lot of money.
a b U Graphics card
September 24, 2009 12:46:45 PM

jyjjy said:
Why recommend an AM2+ board for an AM3 chip when they can be had for the same price? The only reason I can think of is to save money on the ram but the ram you recommended is just as expensive as DDR3 anyway. 1440 x 900 monitor and an HD4870 1gig also seems like a mismatch to me. An HD4850 should be more than fine at that resolution and would save $50.
Is that PSU any good? I've never heard of the brand.
He may also be able to use the monitor, hard drive(s) and/or case from his old system which could save a lot of money.


Then get the AM3 board + 4GB DDR3, yes a recycled monitor and case would help, but I didn't know whether they could be recycled, so I factored new ones in anyway, I would advise against recycling the hard drive, other than as a secondary storage drive because newer drives are faster, quieter and more reliable.

That PSU is 80Plus certified has 2x 6pins PCI-E connectors and ample 12V wattage, there really wasn't any competition for that price, at least not on Newegg.
September 24, 2009 5:24:33 PM

Thank you guys for the advice! While I'd love to build my own pc (and at that price!) it's not something I've done before and so I'm a bit put off by the whole idea. Long time ago, I had no problem with installing RAM, cards, and even my first CD drive, but now...I don't know. I can't recycle anything from this desktop, because it's going to a family member who'll find it more than adequate until it dies (one optical drive down and weird sound in the first two years.) I looked at a "build your own" article once, and the big freaking out part for me would be putting in the processor. And I don't think I have the (illustrated) article anymore either.
Gulli, I see you quote newegg.com for your prices. Is that the best place, generally speaking, to get parts?What about whole systems? I'd rather go that route; I can spend a bit more, I was just trying to get around it for the time being. I can see that there's more variety at their site, as opposed to Best Buy, the only brick-and-mortar store (I don't count Walmart and Target) that sells pcs in my area, but shelling out a grand or a little more for something I bought through the mail is nerve-racking. This from someone who buys on-line all the time! And I'd buy the monitor elsewhere just to avoid the "8 pixel" policy, alone.
Then there's the processor: Intel i7, dual cores, quad cores. I think I know the basic idea about the multi-core structure, but am not clear on it. If a pc says it has a Core 2 Quad 2.83 Ghz, do you multiply by two? Last I read about the i7 (a whille ago) the word was something to the effect of it will be great when software is written for it.
Thanks again for the help, even if I show my gratitude with more questions!
a c 376 U Graphics card
September 25, 2009 12:42:01 AM

I highly suggest building your own. The actual putting together of the system is really not difficult at all. If you can use a screw driver you can do it. Not only will you save money, you'll end up with a better computer and it will be a good learning experience. The harder part is knowing which parts to get and that's what sites like this are for.
The difference in number of cores isn't anywhere near as simple as basic multiplication. Look for benchmarks instead. In your price range the processor Gulli suggested is a good choice. If you want an i7 system you'd have to up your budget a few hundred at least.
September 25, 2009 6:44:16 PM

jyjjy said:
I highly suggest building your own. The actual putting together of the system is really not difficult at all. If you can use a screw driver you can do it. Not only will you save money, you'll end up with a better computer and it will be a good learning experience. The harder part is knowing which parts to get and that's what sites like this are for.
The difference in number of cores isn't anywhere near as simple as basic multiplication. Look for benchmarks instead. In your price range the processor Gulli suggested is a good choice. If you want an i7 system you'd have to up your budget a few hundred at least.


Thank you for the info. It's a wild world out here for a refurbished newbie.
I've been reading the September build articles here and even the basic build blows my system away. I've known the advantages of building your own for years, but have been content to buy mid-range systems that I can upgrade when I can afford to in order to avoid aggravation and possible disaster. But after the problems with this last pc (the first year or so, while I was under warranty, was fine, then the problems started), it's becoming very tempting. Then there's how much better it would turn out to be...if I do it right! The magazine I referred earlier came out around the end of the year. If I can get something with pictures on paper (printed out or at the newstand) with the instructions showing where everything goes (I know that means a very particular set of hardware) step by step that would ease my mind a bit.
I can go up in price...probably to the $1300 point. I was only limiting if I was getting a laptop to hold me for about the next year or possibly two--I hope not! And I'm not looking for a huge monitor which should save me a bit. I'm working with a 17" now; I don't think I'd go above 22" and maybe not even that high. And an HDMI output would let me hook-up to the last big purchase made: my HDTV.
Should I be moving this thread elsewhere?
a b U Graphics card
September 25, 2009 8:07:12 PM

Yarrow said:
Thank you for the info. It's a wild world out here for a refurbished newbie.
I've been reading the September build articles here and even the basic build blows my system away. I've known the advantages of building your own for years, but have been content to buy mid-range systems that I can upgrade when I can afford to in order to avoid aggravation and possible disaster. But after the problems with this last pc (the first year or so, while I was under warranty, was fine, then the problems started), it's becoming very tempting. Then there's how much better it would turn out to be...if I do it right! The magazine I referred earlier came out around the end of the year. If I can get something with pictures on paper (printed out or at the newstand) with the instructions showing where everything goes (I know that means a very particular set of hardware) step by step that would ease my mind a bit.
I can go up in price...probably to the $1300 point. I was only limiting if I was getting a laptop to hold me for about the next year or possibly two--I hope not! And I'm not looking for a huge monitor which should save me a bit. I'm working with a 17" now; I don't think I'd go above 22" and maybe not even that high. And an HDMI output would let me hook-up to the last big purchase made: my HDTV.
Should I be moving this thread elsewhere?


Yeah, start a "$1300 machine" thread in the "Homebuilt Systems" category and follow the guide.
Though I can pretty much guarantee you you won't have to make many tough choices: $1300 will easily get you a high-end machine.
a c 376 U Graphics card
September 25, 2009 9:28:40 PM

If you have a budget in that range you'll want an i7 system. Here's probably what I would order;
CPU - i7 920 - $280
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Motherboard - ASRock X58 Extreme - $170
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

RAM - OCZ Gold 6GB (3 x 2GB) DDR3 1600 - $110
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Hard Drive - Western Digital Caviar Black 1TB - $95
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Case - Antec Three Hundred - $55
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

PSU - CORSAIR CMPSU-750TX - $100
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

DVD Burner - LITE-ON DVD Writer - $31
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

That's only $840(after rebates) but it leaves out video card and monitor. I'd grab an HD5850 when they are available. They should cost $260ish leaving $200 or so for a monitor.
a b U Graphics card
September 25, 2009 9:57:39 PM

jyjjy said:
If you have a budget in that range you'll want an i7 system. Here's probably what I would order;
CPU - i7 920 - $280
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Motherboard - ASRock X58 Extreme - $170
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

RAM - OCZ Gold 6GB (3 x 2GB) DDR3 1600 - $110
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Hard Drive - Western Digital Caviar Black 1TB - $95
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Case - Antec Three Hundred - $55
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

PSU - CORSAIR CMPSU-750TX - $100
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

DVD Burner - LITE-ON DVD Writer - $31
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

That's only $840(after rebates) but it leaves out video card and monitor. I'd grab an HD5850 when they are available. They should cost $260ish leaving $200 or so for a monitor.



To get a bit more gaming performance I suggest the following changes (a lesser CPU, but not when it comes to gaming and a better graphics card.)

CPU: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... $200

Memory: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... $70

Motherboard: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... $110

Graphics card: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... $380

Case (big enough for the HD 5870): http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... $60

Speakers: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... $15

Keyboard & Mouse (I own the keyboard and I lie it): http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... $22

That leaves $218 for a monitor (I recommend 1920x1200 or 1680x1050.)

If you don't plan on crossfiring multiple HD 5870's (which you shouldn't because it would be a waste of money) you can save an additional $20 on the PSU: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... $80

So get yourself a decent 1680x1050 or 1920x1200 monitor for $238, or less, which shouldn't be a problem.




a c 376 U Graphics card
September 25, 2009 10:44:10 PM

I'm sorry but spending that much money and not even getting an i7 is just bad advice. I know people are crazy about the HD5870 but recommending it to everyone simply is not appropriate. If he was going to be gaming at 2560 maybe your suggestion would make some sense but at 1920 it's a sketchy idea at best and for 1680 it would be totally pointless.
a b U Graphics card
September 25, 2009 10:46:34 PM

jyjjy said:
I'm sorry but spending that much money and not even getting an i7 is just bad advice. I know people are crazy about the HD5870 but recommending it to everyone simply is not appropriate. If he was going to be gaming at 2560 maybe your suggestion would make some sense but at 1920 it's a sketchy idea at best and for 1680 it would be totally pointless.


Then just get an i5 system with a 5850, because an i7 build without a 5870 (or 4780x2/GTX 295) is a waste of money (it won't give you even one additional fps), it's up to the OP.
a c 376 U Graphics card
September 25, 2009 11:04:07 PM

It's not a console, it's a computer. There's more to it then just gaming and there's plenty of reasons to get an i7 over an i5.
a b U Graphics card
September 25, 2009 11:09:27 PM

jyjjy said:
It's not a console, it's a computer. There's more to it then just gaming and there's plenty of reasons to get an i7 over an i5.


"...but I want something that can play Fallout 3, GTA4; basically games I bought at the end of last year when a chain store went out of business. And I haven't even really been looking at new games and their specs."

Besides, the i5 will hold it's ground in every application, always beating the core 2 quads and PII X4's, it only loses out to the i7 (but not with gaming), but that pretty much means it'll take 3 seconds longer to encode a video or unpack a zip file, not really worth the extra $180 me thinks...
So unless he's a software developer or scientist he doesn't need the i7.

Yes, I've got an i7 myself but the i5 wasn't out yet when I built this rig.
a c 376 U Graphics card
September 25, 2009 11:16:42 PM

He can play those games just fine for half the money we are talking about now so I can't see how that would matter. If you are saying an i5 is better for the money then I would agree but an i7 is within his price range and I'd certainly go with a superior overall system rather than overpay to be an early adopter of the latest video card.
a b U Graphics card
September 26, 2009 12:21:51 AM

jyjjy said:
He can play those games just fine for half the money we are talking about now so I can't see how that would matter. If you are saying an i5 is better for the money then I would agree but an i7 is within his price range and I'd certainly go with a superior overall system rather than overpay to be an early adopter of the latest video card.


The 5870 will actually increase performance over the 5850 (Crysis will finally be playable at 1920x1200), the i7 not so much over the i5, and the 5870 isn't really overpriced seeing how it compares to the 4870x2 and GTX 295 with even its first set of drivers.

The 5870 is worth the extra $120 over the 5850, the i7 isn't worth the extra $180 over the i5, or to put it differently: an i7/5870 system would be ideal, but if one of those has to be left out because of the budget then it's the i7 that should be replaced, not the 5870.
a c 376 U Graphics card
September 26, 2009 1:32:47 AM

Eh, from all the reviews the HD5870 is a little less powerful than 2 HD4870s in crossfire. A 1gb HD4870 is just $125 after rebate on newegg at the moment so that's $250 for 2. Honestly I'd be more inclined to tell him to just get an HD4890 and a quad Phenom II, OC the hell out of them and save a boatload of cash.
In any case there's simply no way he should be considering an HD5870 if he ends up with a 1680x1050 monitor like you implied.
September 26, 2009 1:46:06 AM

Yes, but as I understand it, there are still a fair few problems with compatibility and such when it comes to crossfire.
a b U Graphics card
September 26, 2009 11:22:48 AM

pcfreak101 said:
Yes, but as I understand it, there are still a fair few problems with compatibility and such when it comes to crossfire.


Yes, there are plenty of games where crossfire doesn't work or where the system is clearly held back by the cards compared to a 4780x2 or a 5870, you'll also have to pay $20 more for a better PSU and you lose the benefits of less heat, less noise and DX11.
September 29, 2009 6:17:45 PM

Thanks for all the suggestions, but they are, at least for a while, moot for me. I just found out I have to have a root canal re-do. It appears when you get a root canal and crown, you can only count on them for 10-20 years. In any case, that'll run me about $1100, so no new pc for a while. When I have the money, I'll start that thread that was suggested in another category.
FYI, though my top use is gaming for a pc, I also use it for all the usual and sundry things that most people do. I'm happy to forgo a bit of speed in other apps, if necessary, to get more oomph out of a game, but unless they stop making such great games for pc, I definitely don't see a console in my future.
Thanks again for all the help. The discussion was interesting and hopefully illuminating to someone who is in the position I was and who came across this thread.
!