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Buying 1st Laptop for College/Gaming

Last response: in Systems
August 6, 2011 3:41:05 AM

I'm looking to buy my first laptop, and I want to pick something that will last at least 4-5 years (that is, it has excellent build quality), also no major issues like overheating, etc. I'm in high school and will be going into senior year, so I want this to last this me all the way through the end of High school and then college (4-5 yrs).

My budget would roughly be 800-1200 dollars, preferably no more than 1000 dollars if I'm getting a PC and not a Macbook pro.

I'm not willing to buy a desktop for the fact that I need something I can take around with me. I only want to have to buy one computer. I'm also not willing to build my own computer. I realize (no offense) that the majority of people here don't like Mac's but I'm asking for no bias, please. I've been researching this for roughly a year (I know, kinda sad =D).

I've narrowed the brands that I've researched to worth looking at to be: Apple, Lenovo, Sager. For a while I was looking at Sony but apparently they aren't as well-built as I originally had thought.

My brother is in College and has owned an MBP 13 for about a year. I've used it and I personally like it a lot. Then again, it has a crappy graphics card, and the 2011 version doesn't' have one at all.

I've looked at Lenovo, and have found that apparently the thinkpad T series is the only one that's worth looking at, but then again, none of the thinkpad's have a decent GPU, and apparently the battery life isn't so great either. Bonus is that they have excellent build quality, which I've heard might even rival Apple's excellent quality.

Right now, I'm feeling like MBP is the "default/safe" choice if I can't find something better. It's expensive, but at least I can trust it.

I would jump on a Thinkpad in a heartbeat if only they had better graphics (is a 540m or equivalent too much to ask for?). Also apparently the screen is pretty crappy. I think Lenovo would be smart to ditch the infamous 'ideapads' and instead create an entertainment version of the thinkpad (same exact great quality but decent graphics).

I've recently (just today) discovered Sager laptops and I think I've hit the jackpot. The one(s) I'm considering: NP5160 and the NP5165- Reasonable price. 'Allegedly' decent battery life (4-5 hour?). 'Allegedly' excellent build quality. Best off all, it's the ONLY brand I've found so far that seemingly offers excellent specs WITH excellent quality for a reasonable price. Only issue is I'm still not quite sold on if the quality is really that great, and how it compares to Thinkpad or Apple.

What's REALLY holding me back is apparently they have really bad heat issues. Is that true? Do they really get 4-5 hours of battery life.

Lastly, and this is what has particularly been nagging at me, is what screen to get? How exactly does it all work? I know if I got the 1920x1080(?) version I'd get a much better screen and I could always lower the resolution to play games but that raises the question: When playing games, will you get better results (smoother game play at the same settings), for example, playing at 1600x900 on a 1920x1080 monitor OR on a 1600x900 monitor? Is there no difference?

I ask since I hear some people complain that you shouldn't get the higher resolution screen since it's more difficult to run games on it (they're laggier) but then again that wouldn't make sense since you can just lower the resolution in-game???
August 6, 2011 3:41:45 AM

Also, does Sager have good customer support?

EDIT: Also, keep in mind my mom is already biased towards me getting an Apple so I have to pick a brand that is well-respected. HP might have a well-made laptop like say HP Envy 14, yet it's still just an HP.
August 6, 2011 3:46:44 AM

Does anybody know what materials Sager's are made of, do they have strong "hinges"?
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August 6, 2011 4:27:29 AM

for the most part all laptops basically have the same parts. just because a gpu goes out in a hp doesnt mean that that gpu wouldnt have gone out on a lenovo. also your looking at the wrong line of laptops with the lenovo thinkpads, those are bussiness laptops and are not intended for gaming. if you are leaning towards lenovo try the y560 they are great laptops.

my ultimate advise though is to wait. you dont need a laptop in high school and your only wasting the warranty as you will more likely damage it during your college years rather then in high school. also what type of laptop you get depends on your major. if your a poly science major mostly your laptop will not matter as long as it can handle powerpoint but once you get into some more intense majors you are going to need a pc most likely and a capable one too. my point is that macs are harder to get software for and some majors it is a huge help if you have the software to use at home.

so whats your major.
August 6, 2011 4:50:02 AM

I'm pretty sure I'm not going to go into anything intense like engineering/etc that requires CAD/etc (Not quite sure what it is but I've heard those sort of programs are what require higher-end CPUs).

Also I won't be staying in a dorm room at college (will be living at home) so I'm pretty sure I won't damage it.

I've heard the ideapad series (y560) are, although not bad, compared to thinkpad they aren't so great.

Reason I want to get a laptop now is, kinda silly, I want to enjoy the last of my youth before being thrust into adulthood =D, also the ancient old dell I'm using right now, a dimension 4600, is beyond an antique to say the least. It can type documents but that's about it. Web pages usually take several long moments a while to load even without lag. Say 5-10 seconds, even when the computer is being "fast".

When we go on trips I see how neat it is for my brother to bring his computer along with him and pretty much have a mobile entertainment station.
August 6, 2011 4:53:09 AM

Also, wouldn't 1920x1080 on a 15 inch screen made everything extremely tiny? Even just 1280x1024 on my 17 inch dell monitor (7 years Old) makes everything quite small, maybe that's because I'm so used to using 1080x768 on it until today?

(Trying to get used to larger resolution) Or maybe something is wrong with my monitor.
August 6, 2011 5:08:53 AM

most damage will happen in transportation but heres the deal. thinkpads are a business class type laptop and yes they are higher quality but they are also more expensive and it looks like they will only come with integrated graphics or a workstation gpu.

i would look into the hp quad series or the lenovo ideapad y series or asus makes some great gaming laptops. Sager makes great laptops too and has great customer service from what i hear. i think that you are putting a tad bit too much thought into the reliability thought. they are all about the same, trust me ive seen them all break and youd be surprised how many macs have problems too for the money you pay.
August 7, 2011 12:11:29 AM

No offense but I always seem to get vague answers when I ask a question on this website and the thread always seems to die out after just a measly 5-6 posts. I want people to go into great detail and even have a little debate so I can get as much information as possible.

I'm not a computer expert so I need as much help as I can get.

I've heard the 555m on the NP5165 only has 128 bit but compared to regular 555m's. Is this true? I've heard the Clevo 555m is roughly only 20-30 percent faster than the 540m in the NP5160.

I'm strongly considering the NP5160 since I'm thinking it's heat issues will be much less manageable and it comes with a matte screen at 1600x900, so no need to upgrade. Then again, the 555m is significantly more powerful, yet I'm consider it will kill the laptop MUCH faster while gaming due to the increased heat.

I'm concerned 1920x1080 will make everything too small, thus why I'm veering away from the NP5165, as I've heard that not running a laptop at native resolution (at least while not gaming) will make the screen look odd.

I've also heard the NP5160/NP5165 have flimsy lids, not sure if this is true.

August 7, 2011 12:13:10 AM

As well, this is quite important, will an i7 quad core use more power than an i5 dual core while doing non-demanding tasks like the internet. As well, is a more expensive wireless card really worth it?
August 7, 2011 12:38:17 AM

well we arent going to do everything for you and a 555m will be faster 99% of the time and i do not see the 540m being faster then the 555m ever unless there is a serious problem. also 1080p might make things smaller but nothing is stopping you from zooming in with control -,+. keep in mind that a gt 540 or gt 555 are not gaming gpus. there are good for playing games on but typically are gaming gpus. the gtx gpu series are meant for gaming. just something to keep in mind.

btw the np5160 is overpriced.
look at this one. cant get too much better.
August 7, 2011 12:54:16 AM


Also should I get an i5 2520m or the i7 2630qm. The i7 is a quad core which is future proof but I don't know if I'd ever need 4 cores, also the i5 has a higher clock speed so shouldn't it be faster at playing games? Most people say to get the i7 so I'm confused.
August 7, 2011 12:56:40 AM

Looked at that laptop. Remember I need this to have 4-5 hours of battery life, not too sure about this computer, know much about the quality/battery life?
August 7, 2011 1:38:52 AM

id go with the i7. once turbo kicks in they both turbo to about the same speed as the i7 has a more aggressive turbo. the i7 is more future proof and more games now are quad core optimized and that will only become more prevalent as time goes by. id take teh 99 dollar upgrade and also the 10 dollar upgrade to a 7200rpm hard drive.

battery life should be no different between a 540m or 560m as when your not needing the gpu you can force the laptop to use integrated graphics. its called optimus