I know I'm not using the formatting in the sticky, but my question is not about the build itself.
So, I'm about to enter college, and I'll have about $1600 extra in scholarship money each semester. First semester, I'm going to buy a new PC for gaming. Would it be worth giving up portability in order to get more performance from a desktop? I have an iPad that I can take class and my parents will probably make me go back to their house for the weekend once a month at least. I went to a boarding school, so I know my habits. I will usually play at nights when I'll be in my room anyway, but as a social person I'll likely want to sit with my friends in a lobby or coffee shop and talk while everyone is doing work/gaming on laptops.
However, if I'm likely to get noticeably better performance from a desktop (something very similar to Firenutz's build: http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/351568-31-1500-gaming...) over a Sager NP9170 with a 7970m, it might be worth it to be room-bound when gaming. As I haven't followed PC hardware in the past few years, I'm not really that familiar with the current performance disparity between laptop and desktop hardware, so if I really wouldn't be getting that much better performance or longevity out of a desktop, I would prefer to get a laptop.
Definitely get an amazing Desktop gaming computer, and then a cheapish laptop that'll do your basic web browsing/word docs (unless you're some kind of art/engineering/design major in which case I'd look into getting a laptop with an i5 and an okay graphics card for on the go work). I bought a mediocre gaming laptop for college (Lenovo Y570) and it was just that: mediocre. It was cool to real easily go to my friends' rooms and just pop up the lap top and have an instant LAN party but honestly I wish I'd saved money on my laptop and just gotten a desktop.
If you're not gonna move around too much while gaming (LAN parties, etc), and also not be using this computer in class, then you should get a desktop. And just use your iPad for basic gaming, productivity, etc. Buy a bluetooth keyboard if you need one.
And just for your info, a $1600 gaming laptop should already be great for gaming, I myself have a gaming laptop (ASUS G53-JW) and I can get settings to High for 95% of the games out there.
tbh, i think it depends on which kind of person you are. If you are dead set for getting high fps at 1080p, than a desktop is the way to go, with a laptop backup. If you would rather play on lower resolutions, a gaming laptop(dat oxymoron) is more than enough in power.
edit: if your budget is ~17k and you want both a laptop and a desktop then i would say either do,
1200$ desktop + Lenovo z575 for on the go gaming
1400$ desktop + i5/hd3000 laptop or some other lower cost laptop without a dedicated card.
if you go full on laptop, I think you should be able to find one that fits your needs.
I do not need to be able to push out ultra settings on every game for the next year or anything, but I would like to still be able manage high settings or med-high on poorly optimized games until about Junior year. Like I said, I'll have that extra $1600 every semester until I get an apartment (by which point hopefully I'll be working enough to offset that) or do foreign study in Spain (where though it would be nice to be able to take my computer with me, I doubt I'd want to stay cooped up inside in Madrid), so I can always get a new laptop again in two years or so if I find that the laptop I get now is unsatisfactory at that time, but I don't know if I'd rather just get a desktop that I could simply upgrade as I go.
I failed to mention that I already have a laptop that I got when I went off to school (an ASUS G60VX), so if I wanted to go the desktop + laptop route, I'm good to go. I was actually thinking of doing such a thing. I could have my iPad for class, my current laptop for running games at Medium and Low settings when I want to hang out with people, and then a desktop in my room. I feel that it could get fairly cumbersome though. Does anyone have any experience with such an arrangement?
The desktop obviously has more bang/buck and more performance but I'm still not sold on having to leave my most powerful machine in my dorm room. Any suggestions about either build would be greatly appreciated as well as any additional wisdom.
Also, if I find I need to cut down on the cost of the desktop for some reason, what parts would you suggest I use that will not cause me to suffer much on performance?