Hello! I'm looking to buy my first laptop, and I'm a bit out of my league. I'm fairly knowledgeable about desktops, but I know very little about laptops. I've filled out the survey questions below. My primary concern is the graphics card - I'd like to be able to run modern games (low settings are fine) and the integrated video cards I'm seeing on laptops in my price range worry me. I'd really prefer a dedicated card, if there's something good and affordable.
My budget is $800 tops. I'd prefer closer to 500-600, but after looking at my options I may spring for the $800. If people could be so kind as to recommend laptops in both the 500-600 and 700-800 range, I'd really appreciate it.
Screen size should be 15" or more. I don't know a lot about screen resolution though.
The reason I need a laptop is that I will be doing a lot of traveling over the next year or two. I generally prefer desktops but I need something that I can easily bring on a plane. Still, it doesn't need to be too small, it will spend most of the time sitting in my apartment.
I'd say 2 1/2 hours minimum battery life? But obviously more is better.
I would like to play games, though I don't have many specifics in mind. Arkham Asylum looks good but beyond that I haven't really thought it out. I play TF2 and L4D sometimes but I don't think those are too graphics-heavy. The lowest settings are fine, I don't care about how it looks as long as the FPS is good enough that I can play the game without trouble.
Beyond gaming, I just need something for web surfing, basic office-type work, watching DVDs, and so on. Pretty simple stuff.
I'd like a 320 gig Hard drive, but 250 could work if necessary.
I'd like the laptop to be good for at least 2 years, after which time I'll probably be stationary and using a desktop most of the time.
For optical drive, I just need a CD/DVD burner.
I have no brand preferences. I've had great luyck with Athlon processors and, all else being equal, would take them over Intel, but I'm good either way.
I live in the United States.
Lastly, I'd like Windows 7 on the laptop. Thanks again for any help you can provide.