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Powerful School Laptop

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August 20, 2010 6:34:59 PM

So I'm looking for a laptop for school. Obviously the laptops can handle word processing, but I also need one that can handle computer programming and watching lots of movies and TV. Can anybody give me a few suggestions? I'm not a hardcore gamer, but do I need a high quality video card to watch movies fluently? Or will some type of integrated graphics card suffice?

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August 21, 2010 10:46:43 AM

How much do you want to spend?

2 years ago I got a Dell Studio 15, 256MB ATI Radeon HD Mobility 3450, 2GB Ram and a 2GHz Core 2 Duo, I forget exactly how much I paid I think around just over £600 thanks to some Dell offer. Been perfectly fine for me, used it for programming, movies, TV (either through iPlayer type thing, or via a USB TV Tuner) and games (all the games I tried at least worked, might have struggled with some of the more demanding ones).

You should be able to do a lot better with £600 now (there are often offers on around this time), although Id say the only place it will make any difference to you will be gaming (all the school level programming I have ever seen isn't even worth factoring in, you could do it on a 500Mhz machine and hardly notice the difference in compile times and your programs speed). I just looked and the basic model (£777 normally) now has a "1GB ATI Mobility Radeon™ HD5470 Graphics Card". To give you an idea mine got a G3D rating from passmark of 126, and the HD5470 got 310, with the £962 model getting 606 with a HD5650.

That is still pretty poor compared to a desktop however (the £130 HD5770 I have got 1567 and can just about play most games I have on very high/max on a 1600x900 display).

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August 21, 2010 7:13:18 PM

Thank you for the reply. I'm looking to spend no more than around a grand, give or take a few hundred. What resolution do you think is best for my purposes? Do I need a graphics card that is capable of real gaming in order to handle high quality movies? Or will most cards do?
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August 21, 2010 7:24:23 PM

Here's a computer that I can get with a deal through my school. Will it be good enough for my purposes?

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August 21, 2010 11:13:30 PM

Well as far as I know even the older low end Mobility HD's are meant to be able to push Full HD. Just make sure HDCP is supported.


I couldn't find any detailed benchmarks on the 3100M for a range of resolutions, but looking at Crysis, Modern Warfare 2, Anno 1404, etc at 1024x768 with low settings it only got 60-70 fps, dropping down to around 25 for med detail. 1080p has over 2.5 times as many pixels to draw each frame. So for some low detail may still not be enough, forcing you to reduce resolution and I have never liked the results of non-native resolutions personal, especially when there is text to read.

It seems odd to me that you are making a big deal about "high quality" video, yet selected a laptop without BluRay support.

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a c 571 D Laptop
August 21, 2010 11:22:29 PM

The Quadro 3100M is the Geforce 210. It's great for entertainment and 2D gaming.
It's not a gaming video chip by any stretch of the imagination.
Nvidia Quadro NVS 3100M
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August 22, 2010 12:17:55 AM

Thank you for the replies everyone; they are much appreciated.
Fire Lancer said:
Well as far as I know even the older low end Mobility HD's are meant to be able to push Full HD. Just make sure HDCP is supported.

I couldn't find any detailed benchmarks on the 3100M for a range of resolutions, but looking at Crysis, Modern Warfare 2, Anno 1404, etc at 1024x768 with low settings it only got 60-70 fps, dropping down to around 25 for med detail. 1080p has over 2.5 times as many pixels to draw each frame. So for some low detail may still not be enough, forcing you to reduce resolution and I have never liked the results of non-native resolutions personal, especially when there is text to read.

It seems odd to me that you are making a big deal about "high quality" video, yet selected a laptop without BluRay support.

Right now a lot of the videos I will be interested in watching are stored on my home computer. However, when I can afford it, a BluRay drive will likely be my first upgrade.

WR2 said:
The Quadro 3100M is the Geforce 210. It's great for entertainment and 2D gaming.
It's not a gaming video chip by any stretch of the imagination.
Nvidia Quadro NVS 3100M

What do you mean by 2D gaming? Are those like the simple Flash games that you play online?
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August 22, 2010 12:32:24 AM

Also, the above laptop came out to about a grand. Would I be paying a fair price?
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a c 571 D Laptop
August 22, 2010 5:03:29 AM

It looks to be a fair price. The closest I could come to a similar build at that price was a HP laptop but using Win7 Home Premium and with a 1366x768 LCD.
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a c 571 D Laptop
August 22, 2010 5:04:27 AM

Online flash games and PC board and card games would be examples of 2D games.
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