Been out of the computing enthusiast community for about a year now, but that's like 10 years most other places.
My recent laptop has died. I have allotted about $2,000-$2,500 dollars (not including shipping) for a nice gaming/regular use laptop. I've narrowed down to either Sager or Asus, but there might be brands I am not aware of.
As far as I know, for longevity purposes, an Intel i7 and DDR3 are a "must" to keep up (at least for a few months). That's just from what I've read, if anyone has anything different let me know. I also need at least 500gb of hard-drive. Anything less is too small nowadays. And Windows 7 64-bit is a must due to Windows XP being no longer available.
Things that don't matter much:
Screen Size (anything less than 15.4 is probably a netbook.)
Brand name (that means you Alienware)
Built in crap like web-cams and mics.
Battery Life (I always keep it plugged in.)
Weight (as long as it's not my 50lbs desktop mega-rig not including the monitor, keyboard, mouse, etc.)
Stupid security crap like fingerprint scanners or facial recognition.
I can probably afford a few hundred more, but it would strain me a bit and really have to be worth it.
If anyone could help me out on my search I'd greatly appreciate it!
With a budget like that, your best bet is to find a site that allows custom builds to a degree. I'll take a look around and see what I can find. You might as well go with the i7-820QM, as I think that is the top of the line CPU for laptops right now.
I am looking at xoticpc.com for my customization. I tried iBuypower but they seemed a bit overpriced. Don't know many other sites other than the main ones like Alienware and Falcon Northwest. I appreciate your comments, I at least know what processor to shoot for.
Haha on a side note, a friend recommended an Apple. One of those cult-like followers of Apple, he tried telling me that Apple was the greatest for any kind of computer needs, was the best with Apple.
15.6" Full HD LED Display with Super Glossy Surface (1920 x 1080)
Nvidia GeForce GTX 280M Graphics with 1GB DDR3 Video Memory
Intel® Core™ i7-820QM Processor ( 45nm, 8MB L3 Cache, 1.73GHz )
IC Diamond 7 Thermal Compound - CPU + GPU
Genuine MS Windows® 7 Home Premium 32/64-Bit Edition
6GB DDR3 SDRAM at 1333MHz - 1 X 4GB + 1 X 2GB
160GB Intel SATA2 Solid State Disk Drive
2X Blu-ray Reader/8X DVD±R/2.4X +DL Super-Multi Drive & Software
Intel Wi-Fi Link 5300AGN - 802.11A/B/G/N Wireless LAN Module
I suggest this because if you are willing to spend $2.5k+, might as well get a little more so your laptop can keep up for a long time. I recommend the FULL HD instead of 1600x900 for better experience (only $60 difference). *Screen would be very hard to upgrade later on* The i7-820QM is well good enough while 920XM for another $555 is definitely not worth it, but you could upgrade down the road when price comes down. Win7 Professional and Ultimate just give you more services running in the background that most people won't need. (1/26/10)*There are some reported compatibility issues with Win7 and even though I'm sure there will be patches for it, Win7 Professional is suppose to let you run in XP mode*
Moving on, I recommend 6GB DDR3 over 4GB because 4GB is no longer good enough IMO. For this laptop, it is 1x4GB and 1x2GB. Full 8GB would be another $155.
SSD FTW!!! 160GB SSD is a must IMO, I cant even imagine going back to the old spinning HD. Its quiet, smooth, and fast. You could also get the 250GB 5400rpm HDD instead, you save $470 and get the OCZ or G.Skill SSDs for about 2/3 of this Intel SSD. But Intel is hella smooth while write speed is not too great compared to other SSDs.
SSD: Intel Pro:Smooth on all data sizes Con: Write speed is a lot slower compare to competitions. Expensive.
OCZ and G.Skill: Fast on overall read & write speeds. A lot cheaper than Intel's SSD. Con: Tends to lag or pause while processing smaller data files.
***NO MATTER WHAT, SSD is a whole different world compared to traditional hard disks, you will have to do major-ultra-multi raid 0 HDD setups to try and match SSD's performance, which is not possible for a 15.6" laptop. So the *CONs* I gave is based on many comparison benchmark tests, most problems people experience are on Vista and XP OS. SSD is mainly designed for Win7. And when I say Intel's write speed is slow, its still WAYYYYY faster than HDD.
I personally use the G.skill Titan with all the tweaks that exist to smooth it up,... and its hella smooth.
Moving on again... I WOULD HIGHLY recommend the 2xBlu-ray reader(not writer). See, its not that 15.6" laptop gives a great movie experience, but this laptop has HDMI output. Just get a $10~$15 10ft HDMI 1.3b cable from ebay and you can watch true HD movies on HDTV.
Compal btw is the #2 largest notebook company in the world. While its factory is in China, it is a Taiwanese company (R&D and operations). They manufacture the production for companies like Acer, Dell, Toshiba, Hewlett-Packard, and Fujitsu Siemens.
IMO, Alienware's M15x 15.6" laptop is the closest comparison... and it is no comparison. (only offers 260gtx, LCD screen...etc) Ive build all kinds of custom Compal laptops over 200+ times at where I used to work, and while Compal's designs don't look as fancy as Alienware, its cooling is superb. To me, NP8690 looks simply professional, and hides the gamer identity in you :]
01/26/10 update on Alienware's M15x - Also does not offer blu-ray and cost $350-400 more than Compal's (Sager rebranded) NP8690 for far less performance. Also found out that Alienware, a Dell company, is made by a chinese manufacture called COMPAL!!!
NP8690 vs M15x
LED 15.6" vs LCD 15.6"
280GTX vs 260GTX
Blu-ray vs no Blu-ray
$300-400 chearper vs $300-400 more expensive
Sager badge(you can request to have no badge) vs Alien Head badge
Everything else is 99.9% identical (not including the case and the fancy lightings)
Conclusion: You do the math.
I've ordered the sager NP8690 in Australia with the added feature of a 160GB SSD Intel hard drive.
I'll let you know how it goes when I get it
Cool, let me know when you get it, I'll send you some sites where you can further tweak the system to make it even faster and customized it to your personal usage. I've been looking around lately for comparable laptops and so far, none.