Rsearching the notebook arena

Hi all,

I've been doing quite a lot of reading, and researching, across these forums, and notebookreview and notebookforums, since I am preparing to buy my first laptop. I *think* I've learned enough to start asking some more educated questions - although no doubt I'll learn otherwise :oops:

To sketch my picture - I'm looking to use this laptop/notebook as my primary computer, possibly for the next 2 years. As such, I intend to use it for:

>Software development (Visual Studio 2005) and SQL Server 2000/2005
>Gaming (FPS all the way through to strategy games like Civ IV, and online gaming, especially NWN 2).
>portable computing, since I work in IT and may need to use it in my day-to-day job
>music and possible DVD watching

top priority probably even between working and gaming :?
portability quite important,
music and DVD especially DVD watching less so.

In addition to the above, I expect to be living in something like 3 (or more) countries over the next 3 years, so international support and warranty are pretty important.

After being quite enamored with real DTR's like the alienware m7700 and similar Sager systems, I've more-or-less decided that those are just too un-portable to justify (I've heard 45minutes battery life, or less), so I'm currently vacillating between:
Dell M170
Pentium M780 (2.26 Ghz, 2MB L2 Cache, 533 fsb)
Windows XP Pro SP2
2GB 533 Mhx ram (2x1024)
100GB 7200 rpm sata HDD
17" WUXGA (1920 x 1200)
256MB NVidia GeForce 7800 Go GTX (!! :-) )
9cell whr80 Li-Ion battery
10/100/1000 gigabit ethernet nic
intel prowireless 2200 802.11 b/g mini PCI wireless lan card

Dell i9400
T2600 (2.16 Ghz, 667 fsb, 2MB L2 cache)
Windows XP Pro SP2
2GB 667Mhz DDR2 SDRAM (2x1024)
100 GB 7200 rpm SATA HDD
17" WUXGA (1920 x 1200)
256MB NVidia GeForce 7800 Go (<-- not a GTX :-( )
9cell whr80 Li-Ion battery
3945 (802.11 a/b/g 54 Mbps) internal wireless
10/100 NIC

Obviously, I'd love comments/advice from people who have the above systems, or else something they believe is better. From what I've seen, the Tom's hardware review LOVED the M170 under its old name of XPS2 - how does the i9400 stack up (and any idea when Tom's will do a review of one?). I've read of i9400 scoring +- 5500 on 3dMark05.

Other areas I'd like some advice are:

ExpressCard - The i9400 has it, the M170 doesn't. From what I've seen, there doesn't seem to be much out there that uses this - will it really be the way of the future, or another Rambus struggle that never (or at least for the next 3 years doesn't) take off?

Sound :
Do I go with something like a Creative® Sound Blaster Audigy2 ZS Notebook, or perhaps the "E-MU's new 1616M Laptop Digital Audio System"? Is there anything else thazt compete's with the Audigy2 ?

Creative tout the E-MU as "the most powerful and portable laptop audio system ever created, offering the same powerful DSP effects, zero-latency monitoring and mastering-grade 24-bit/192kHz A/D and D/A converters of E-MU's best selling PCI Digital Audio Systems". Reading the E-Mu spec, I found this nugget: "The ultimate portable system - for recording, editing, mixing and virtual instruments - use the E-MU 02 CardBus Card alone for its hardware-accelerated effects and premium stereo headphone/line output or together with the MicroDock M for complete analog and digital I/O flexibility " - sounds like you can use the card for moible sound, and plug into the "main board" when you're home, and want to use the whole sound for your home audio system.

Webcams for Notebooks:
I've seen the Logitech® QuickCam for Notebooks Pro reviews that love it. Then there's the WebCam Live! Ultra for Notebooks which did pretty well in the only notebook webcam review I could find.

More.... I plan to use external storage to supplement the notebook - I've seen vantec has a external storage housing that takes IDE or S-ATA, so I can have quite a bit of extra storage, and I *should* be able use that external storage in 3 years when I return to a full desktop, and use the notebook as (by then) a normal laptop and not my main computer.

From what I've read, the Logitech wireless headphone is good , but has a tendancy to break !? From one of the Tom's hardware reviews, a creative headset was rtated quite highly as a portable option - but are there any good, portable, wireless ones?

I know it’s a lot of questions – hopefully I can get some clarity as to how to proceed.

6 answers Last reply
More about rsearching notebook arena
  1. can't really comment to much on the notebooks themselves, but either one looks killer...though still don't know how 'portable' a 17" notebook is 15.4" and its pushing the portability boundaries for me cause i drag it to school almost everyday. mine is a asus z70va and works pretty well for most games (it has a bit of trouble with FEAR though, but it still plays alright).

    what i do know is that the audigy 2ZS is quite an amazing piece of hardware. works just like advertised and puts out great sound...i got it for is great value for the money that you pay

    haven't really heard about the E-MU, i'll have to check that out cause it sounds like a pretty sweet piece of hardware.

    lastly, apparently there are some issues with the audigy2ZS with certain manufactures PC slot controllers, there is a list somewhere on the creative website. apperently mine is on that list, and occasionally i hear a bit of 'fuzz' coming out of the speakers, but just for like a split second then its fine. i'd say its fine for 99.8% of the time. so if you are going for this and are really fussy check out the compatibility.
  2. Thanks kriztoff.

    Given it is my primary machine, and the fact that I really would like a decent sized keyboard, I'm pretty sold on the 17".

    Glad to hear your machine can handle FEAR - shuold mean that , as long as my machine is equivalent, it'll handle all my gaming needs.

    Thanks for the heds up about the ZS - I've read that in a few places.

    Any more feedback, anyone?

  3. I highly suggest you check out this company's notebooks, especially the Pentium M 722V 17" Fusion/Reactor/Accelorator models. I used to only buy Dell since 1996 but they are a nightmare now with bad hardware issues, outsourced customer service (people you can't understand in INDIA) and the worst is they tried to bait and switch my most recent online order.

    I just ordered my Accelerator from Xtremenotebooks and the Owner (yes, the Owner) called me within a half hour to thank me for placing my order. He had transferred me to a sales rep to go over my order. No pushy sales upgrade tactics like Dell and the best part is that they spoke English!!!

    You don't have to even get an OS with them and get stuck with bloatware or reformatting to get rid of it. Buy your own OS with clean install. They ship you the driver cd's. They build on the Clevo shell which is exactly the same as Sager and Alienware.

    You can look them up on and they have about 390 reviews with almost a 10 rating, then look at the Dell site on there also with the 1000's of poor reviews.

    Call them, they are more than happy to talk with you and I guarantee you will more than likely not be on hold for more than a few minutes.

    Good luck hunting!
  4. Thanks for the response TopToBottom.

    I've sent them a question, since the concersn I have about the Chem laptops are regards international warranties, support and deliveries.

    How heavy is your laptop, and what kind of battery life do you get from it, out of interest?

    Thanks again...
  5. doh!! :oops:

    I see my work machine remembers the login I created, but forgot. To clarify:
    RGForums = GethWho (= idiot, I'm sure you're all thinking :roll: )
  6. Quote:
    Thanks for the response TopToBottom.

    I've sent them a question, since the concerns I have about the Chem laptops are regards international warranties, support and deliveries.

    Thanks again...

    The (VERY QUICK!) response I got from them was much as I feared :cry: ....


    Thanks for contacting XtremeNotebooks!

    We currently do not ship to International addresses.

    If you can arrange to have your order forwarded from a US or Canadian
    resident please don't hesitate to place your order online or give us a call
    - we'd be happy to help.

    Xtreme Blessings,

    So on I go on my search&research mission
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