Hello, I'm going to be studying abroad in Japan starting September for about a year, and I'm faced with a tough decision: buy a gaming laptop, or build a small formfactor PC? My budget would be around $1,000-$1,500 (preferably $1,000) either way. The games I would be playing are SC2, D3, GW2, and BF3 (assuming these get released before I come back).
I've pretty familiar with computers, I've built one 5 years ago, but it's way too big to bring with me and I'll probably sell it for building this computer.
If I went the SFF route, I would use the Silverstone SG07B. It's one of the smallest cases I could find that could still fit a decent sized gfx card, and going onto a plane, size is important. Going with this case would mean I'd use a mini-ITX mobo, and as far as I know, there arent any out there that let you overclock, so I probably wont need an i5-2500K. Some things I wouldn't need would be an OS, keyboard, mouse, sound system, etc, just building the computer. I'm having a hard time deciding on whether to take a monitor with me, or buy one over there, and either sell it before I get back, or ship it back to my house (depending on which I do, I would have to factor this into the cost). My plan for a SFF would be:
-Case: Silverstone SG07B
-CPU: I5-2500k (or whatever the non OC version is to save a few bucks)
-RAM: 8 gigs
-Mobo: the new Zotac Z68-ITX announced at computex, or if another z68 board is released from another company, possibly that
-GFX: ATI HD 6950 (not set in stone, could be something else)
If I went the laptop route, well I'm not too familiar with gaming laptops. For the same performance, I would probably have to pay more, which would be over budget which means to stay in budget, I would be getting something underpowered. However, with a laptop I would have more portability, such as being able to bring this on possible field trips or taking it to class or what have you.
Another problem is what happens when I get back. I was planning to upgrade my regular tower, but with this trip, I have to alter what I was going to build. If I bought a laptop, I would be justified in building another system (Fullsize computer with Ivybridge), but if I went with a formfactor computer, it would seem rather wasteful to build another computer that would probably be only marginally better. Even if I did build a fullsize system, I would still be stuck with 2 desktop computers for all intents and purposes. If I went the formfactor route I wouldn't have a laptop to bring to class once I got back since I recently sold my netbook. Another option, if I chose to go the SFF route would be to leave room for upgradability, such as getting an i5-2500k, considering SLI, etc., but I'd have to get a new mobo and case of course.
if you are traveling, i would defintely lean towards of the laptop and also because of TSA- dont want them messing a pc up do you, also you mention that when you get back you will upgrade your reg tower so go for the laptop
I would check the price of components in Japan to the US. If it's cheaper to buy in the US then do so. Just check that they are in working order before bring them to Japan.
Even if you do buy every single component in the US, do not ship the PC full assembled. Instead bring them with along with the packaging. It'll will be a hassle and a bit bulky, but the chances of all component surviving TSA's "deadly hands" is increased.
I would however consider buying the case in Japan even if it's a little more expensive just because that's more convenient than lugging it around the airport with you.
... I've heard of sockets getting ripped off of the mobo by checking it in
I'm guessing you mean the CPU getting ripped out or something like that due to shipping?
If so, then I would believe it is due to CPU heatsink getting dislodged due to heavy turbulence during the flight. If I were to ship my PC anywhere, I would DEFINITELY remove my Tuniq Tower heatsink which weighs in at around 775g or 1.7lbs. If that thing dislodges then my entire PC would be trashed.
Just remember that if something break it might not be due to people mishandling your electronic package, but to wind turbulence during flight or worse wind shear. Heavy turbulence can either shake things apart or throw them around.