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Laptop upgrade questions.

Last response: in Laptops & Notebooks
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June 29, 2006 8:45:32 AM

I'm buying a gaming laptop and really haven't found anything that steers me away from Alienware. If anyone knows of a better place to get a gaming PC for EQ2/Vanguard for around 2.5k I am open to suggestions.

Questions:

Would I notice a difference gaming on a 1.86ghz vs. a 2.0ghz Intel CoreDuo Processor? Is it worth $100 dollars to upgrade? For that matter would it be worth dropping down to 1.66ghz to save $150 over the 1.86 model?

How does the 256mb ATI Mobility Radeon X1800 compare to the Nvidia 7900GS? I know the ATI desktop chips are superior to nvidia for the type of games I play but is it the same with these laptop versions?

The laptop comes with DDR2 SO-DIMM 667mhz ram. If I wanted to upgrade the ram would I need to replace it with 667mhz ram or could I buy the cheaper 533mhz chips for half the price? Also will the ram be easily accessable to upgrade? Should I just fork over the $375 to go from 512 to 2G?

With the CPU at 2GB, the X1800 Video Chip, and 2GB of ram it comes to $2,464.00 before tax or any rebates. If anyone knows of any rebates for Alienware that info would be appreciated also. Any input would be appreciated.

Thanks
June 29, 2006 5:27:37 PM

Have you looked at KillerNotebooks? Plus ATI's X1900 is due soon for laptops. How soon do you need your new laptop?
June 30, 2006 12:02:22 AM

Hi, sorry I couldn't answer you sooner, I was in HELL... I mean, visiting relatives that didn't have internet access (?). If yyou are at $2,500 budget, and can wait about 2 more weeks, i will have a new motherboard in my Executioner and the 7900 GTX card will have 512 MB RAM.

For your gaming question about the 1.66 - 1.8 - 2.0 Ghz Core Duo. If you can check my site in a couple of days I can get these benchmark results posted on my Mobile GPU Comparision Page that show just what you are asking. I benchmarked a 1.8, 2.0 and 2.16 Core Duo Wakizachi all at 1280x800 resolution all identically configured and tested. I am going to put it all in an easy to read graph so you can see if it is worth the price of upgrading. I would then like to do it all with 1 & 2 gigs of RAM, so you can see exactly where you should be spending your upgrade money.

Your x1800 vs 7900 GS question, I believe you can find on my page I linked to above. I also should note that several games are optimized for ATI or nVidia cards. For example, ELDERSCROLLS is totqally optimized for ATI cards and they work better with it. 7900 GS is a pretty crippled version of the 7900 GTX I must say. They do this to keep the power consumption down to 20 watts. If they put dual 7900 GS's with 512 MB RAM in an SLI it would make A LOT of sense, but don't accuse the manufacturers of making a lot of sense.

As far as your DDR2 RAM question. You do not want to mix the RAM speeds or your system will clock the RAM down to the lowest speed (in this case 533 Mhz).

You also may run into a problem if they put crappy RAM in your system to start with (you have to remember these guys are out to stretch every buck they can). If they put sub-standard RAM in with slow timings it is going to do the exact same thing I stated above (or worse) if you put in a good chip with fast timings.

You always run into the possibility of getting a chip that is incompatable with either the system or the other chip (this is why I use the best ones I can get and put the RAM box right in with the system when I ship it so you know)

Also consider, along with the CPU and GPU the speed of the hard drive. Make sure you get a 7,200 rpm hard drive or it will be the bottleneck in your system.

I would look out for Alienware on their "delivery dates" because I have heard some real horror stories about that.
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June 30, 2006 4:20:15 AM

I'm not in a rush to buy it right now really, but I would like to be ready to buy within a month. I would rather poke around to make sure I'll be satisfied with what I'm getting.

My understanding about the video card question is that the games I play are heavy on vertex shaders and the ATI architecture is superior to Nvidia. That's the only reason I would lean towards getting a X1800XT or better. I'm sure the 7900GTX is a solid card though so if the price was right that would work.

As for the RAM question Alienware charges too damn much to upgrade to 2GB so I was thinking I could just get the standard 515MB shipped in the system and not even use it. I would just get 2GB of 533mhz from Newegg for roughly $170 and know I was using solid RAM. The problem is how can I know that the board will even take the 533mhz sticks?

I believe the HD was 7200 SATA.

I need something that will last me a minimum of five years. I realize the CoreDuo chip is only 32bit. Will I be able to install/run Vista eventhough my CPU is 32bit?

I'm looking for a solid Dual Core CPU, high end Video Card, 2GB of ram, 17" Widescreen. If I can find something like that on your site for around 2.3-2.5k then I would gladly buy from you. I looked around your site but everything I saw ended up a few hundred dollars more expensive than the Alienware rig.

I'll be waiting for the CoreDuo benchmarks for sure.

Thanks again for the help. It is greatly appreciated.
June 30, 2006 6:31:01 PM

I wonder, even if a game is optimized for ATI, if you had a 512 MB 7900 GTX if you wouldn't have more performance. I don't know. I think it is their 1900 class card that more directly competes with the 7900 GTX variant. 7900 GS, yea, a$$ beating is handed out.

The board will take the DDR2-533 chips.

You will be able to run 32 bit windoww, but the core duo 2 will be 64 bit, so you aren't going to have a problem there. It is going to be interesting to see once Intel has the 64 bit, if it is just going to be a mass exodus on their part and market the heck out of the virtues of 64 bit, or are they goin to wait until Vista is in full swing to do it. You would think they would START the bandwagon rolling.
July 5, 2006 3:30:09 PM

Can the X1800XT fit in a 15.4'? Or do you have to bump up to 17""
July 5, 2006 4:10:40 PM

Right now the x1600's I have are embedded onto the board no problem with size at all. I doubt they are going to change to a MXM3 slot when they can just replace the chipset and keep doing things the old obsolete (cheaper) way.

So guestimation answer, Yes. Real life answer, I don't know.

I wouldn't hold my breath for x1800 cards though. We can't even get X2's, SXGA+ screens, 14.1" notebooks with x1600's in them. I think this is pretty far down the priority list of the ODM's. I wish it wasn't, but... I think it is.
July 5, 2006 8:42:15 PM

Ya. The ole wait and hold your breath. Heck back in Jan. We heard about X1900 mobile. It's now 5th July. And no X1900. With very little X1800s.
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