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Searching For School/ Leisure Laptop $1,000-$1,200

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February 13, 2010 5:51:35 AM

EDIT: *Just updates to some fields after a lot more research.*

I'm looking into getting a new laptop (my first laptop) for college and leisure, and I am fairly picky when it comes to buying tech. There's a million different places to look on the internet, and a million different laptops to look at, so I'm hoping that you guys can help me refine my search a little.

1_What is your budget?

$1,000-$1,200 could stretch to ~$1,500.

2_What is the size of the notebook that you are considering?

15"-16", weight is not much of an issue.

3_What screen resolution do you want?

If 16:10 then 1920x1200 or 1680x1050, if 16:9 then 1920x1080 or 1600x900. I don't want to drop any lower because I want to be able to have two applications open on screen at once (split horizontally). Matte finish is high on my list of requirements, however I don't expect to fulfill it.

4_Do you need a portable or desktop replacement laptop?

Portability will be important. I already have a powerful desktop, and that will still be my primary computer when I am at home. I need something that I can take with me and use at school, wirelessly.

5_How much battery life do you need?

Preferably 2-3 hours plus. I will buy a 6, 9, or 12 cell battery for a longer battery life.

6_Do you want to play games with your laptop? If so then please list the games that you want to with the settings that you want for these games. (Low,Medium or High)?

I want to play games on this. Pretty much any modern game that you can think of, preferably running smooth at medium-low settings with a decent battery life. Needs to be able to run Battlefield Bad Company 2 at lowest settings with 1400x900 or 1366x768 with smooth framerates.

7_What other tasks do you want to do with your laptop? (Photo / Video editing,watching movies, Etc.)

The primary purpose of this laptop will be for school. I want it to be able to run for 3 hours+ while watching video (1080p if possible), or longer if I am just using it for typing/ web browsing which is what the majority of what my work would be.

8_How much storage (H.D.D Capacity) do you need?

320GB preferably 500GB 7,200 RPM. Swapping the factory one out (using it for a portable drive) and cloning to a new one is always possible for me.

9_If you are considering specific sites to buy from, please post the links to them.

Not HP, Acer, or anything else along those lines... But when it comes down to it, really, whatever site carries something that meets all of this criteria.

10_How long do you want to keep your laptop?

Minimum of 3 years. If it can't play games that come out by then at good settings, that's fine, just so long as it can play today's games at decent settings while maintaining a good FPS.

11_What kind of Optical drive do you need? DVD ROM/Writer,Bluray ROM/Writer,Etc ?

DVD-RW is all that I need. Bluray is not required.

12_Please tell us about the brands that you prefer to buy from them and the brands that you don't like and explain the reasons.

From a short list of what I can think of, best to worst in the category of laptops:

I would highly prefer a brand that actually creates hardware.

ASUS>Alienware/Dell>Toshiba>Acer/Gateway>Lenovo>HP

ASUS actually creates the hardware, and with great quality. Their laptops look very solid.
Alienware/Dell has put out some good products from what I've seen.
Toshiba has put out some good laptops ~$600 that I've seen. Good quality.
Acer creates some ok cheap stuff, but I'm not too sure what kind of stuff they put out for high end. They're ok in my books.
Lenovo has put out some decent laptops ~$600 that I've seen.
Hewlett Packard sucks. They suck. Really, they suck.

13_What country do you live in?

Canada

14_Please tell us any additional information if needed.

-Full keyboard (numpad).
-Backlit keyboard would be nice.
-4GB+ of system RAM, Win7 64bit.
-Dual-core, I am looking for i5 at the moment. i7 if the battery life is good. Not interested in Core 2 Duo.
-I am looking to strike a good medium between performance (both CPU & GPU) and battery life.
-I can wait a bit to buy this.
-Keeping a resolution higher than 1366x768 is a must.

Thanks for your time, consideration, and input!
a b D Laptop
February 13, 2010 4:17:22 PM

Quote:
ASUS actually creates the hardware, and with great quality. Their laptops look very solid.
Alienware/Dell has put out some good products from what I've seen.
Toshiba has put out some good laptops ~$600 that I've seen. Good quality.
Acer creates some ok cheap stuff, but I'm not too sure what kind of stuff they put out for high end. They're ok in my books.
Lenovo has put out some decent laptops ~$600 that I've seen.
Hewlett Packard sucks. They suck. Really, they suck.


Asus is one opf the few brands that actually makes laptops......everyone else on ya list buys from ODM's. Alienware used to sell Clevo laptops, now they buy from Dell's ODM's. You may find it interesting that the brands above listed as good and the ones listed as sucking come from the same manufacturers.

* Quanta sells to (among others) HP/Compaq, Dell, Toshiba, Sony, Fujitsu, Acer, NEC, Gateway and Lenovo/IBM - note that Quanta is currently (as of August, 2007) the largest manufacturer of notebook computers in the world.
* Compal sells to Toshiba, HP/Compaq, Acer, and Dell.
* Wistron (former manufacturing & design division of Acer) sells to HP/Compaq, Dell, IBM, NEC, Acer, and Lenovo/IBM.
* Flextronics (former Arima Computer Corporation notebook division) sells to HP/Compaq, NEC, and Dell.
* ECS sells to IBM, Fujitsu, and Dell.
* Asus sells to Apple (iBook), Sony, and Samsung.
* Inventec sells to HP/Compaq, Toshiba, and BenQ.
* Uniwill sells to Lenovo/IBM and Fujitsu.
* Clevo supplies for Sager and most of the boutique laptop vendors.

http://forum.notebookreview.com/showthread.php?t=91510

17" Gaming laptops w/ latest mobile GPU's a d CPU'sare in the $1500 category. You can also buy laptops w/ desktop components. I'd suggest you find a Clevo distributor and have them build you something that meets your needs. Here's one but you can find others for where you live at the link above

http://www.pro-star.com/index.cfm?mainpage=product&filt...
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February 13, 2010 4:34:50 PM

Hey, thanks for the brief lesson on the parts. I'm not claiming to be any kind of expert, but this is just what I have gathered from the companies as a whole (things like customer support included), but I also have yet to purchase a laptop for myself, so I am somewhat ignorant on all of it.

I am somewhat gradually starting to realize that I will probably end up spending closer to around $1,500 to get what I want :)  This is ok because I can afford it, I had just wanted to start a bit cheaper if possible. I have found myself greatly leaning towards ASUS and something like the G51JX, and straying away from the others who don't actually manufacture any of the parts.


I will look into Clevo, I hadn't heard of them before. Just a little bit into the article explaining Clevo, this is some useful information. Thanks for the tip, I really appreciate it!


*Edit*

Something I love about my PC is that I built it, and there isn't another one quite like it, there isn't a "Dell" or "HP" logo on it. I don't really much care for the idea of having the same laptop as a million other people will, so:

"5.) Uniqueness ("It Ain't a Dell"): Subjective to personal preference. But having a custom high-end notebook that the masses cannot identify is pretty 1337."

Appeals to me a great deal, especially if it means I can get picky with its specs.
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February 15, 2010 6:30:27 AM

From what I've seen, laptops that carry your desired resolutions aren't really considered "portable." Especially with a full keyboard, those laptops are 17-18.4" diagonally across. They're usually in excess of 6 pounds (without battery) and weigh a bit with batteries installed.

I think Toshiba has some Matte screens stock (quick google search), but you always have the option to buy a sticker to add on yourself. That way, you can focus on getting a good laptop with good equipment inside and add the matte afterward as a finishing touch.
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February 15, 2010 4:28:04 PM

Thanks, I had heard mention of this film once or twice but hadn't looked into it. The resolution is proving to be a bit of a bummer (I wanted to be able to have two applications open at once, side by side to avoid downsizing or having to make one window smaller, it makes work so much more efficient).

If this anti-glare film is as good as it looks, then it will make my day! I'll end up wanting to throw this crap onto every reflective/ glossy screen that I come across.

Thanks for the input!
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February 17, 2010 4:24:46 AM

I don't have personal experience with those films, so I can't recommend any websites or brands to use.

Regarding resolution, there should be plenty of laptops with a 1920x1200 resolution. That's what I'm running on my Dell i9300 from 2005. I know I was playing around with configurations on Dell's US site and got one with a core-i5, 4 GB RAM, ATI HD 4570 (I think that was the GPU), and 1920x1080 resolution for around $1k (that's with a 3-year warranty + completecare). If you look a bit harder, you should be able to find a 1920x1200, but maybe not from Dell.
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February 17, 2010 4:00:12 PM

With Asus as my preferred brand, I'm not finding much resolution selection as far as i5's go. 1366x768 seems to be almost all that they put out 16" or under, with some 17"+ at 1600x900. Their gaming series use higher resolution screens, but they don't meet what I am looking for (mostly too expensive, mostly quads, not battery friendly; desktop replacements). All are glossy screens.

And so, Asus is looking like it may be out of the picture for me if a high resolution is to remain a requirement.

As for the screen film, one that has my eye is reviewed in this Youtube video (product site). It looks like it does a good job creating a matte finish, and with great screen protection to boot! Well priced too. Mostly <$20 on their site, plus shipping I would imagine.

Just further cementing ideas on the different brands, I found this chart rather informative.

I will continue the search though, and branch back out a bit. I started searching with a more wide view on brands, then narrowed down to Asus, but I'm just not seeing any good resolutions there, so I will once again widen my search... I don't want to end up with a Dell... Where is the nerd status in that?!

I'm also a bit iffy about buying from some of those custom sites.
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February 22, 2010 7:39:13 PM

Well, Dell's Studio 15 with the 1920x1080 screen and 85 WHr battery comes in at just over $1000 with the Basic 1-year warranty.

HP and Acer are pretty inexpensive, but are rather unreliable in the long run. If you want to be nerdy with Dell, you can always get the backlit keyboard and do some custom mods to the outside.

There's also the XPS 16, which runs just over your budget. 1920x1080 screen, 2-year basic warranty, Creative Xi-Fi for better sound, slot-loading dvd-rw.. etc

Another thing you can do is just lurk on Newegg. Their prices are pretty reasonable and you can read reviews to see user experiences.

Oh, and the only reason I don't look at Toshiba is because I don't think the Radeon 4200 would match my demands. Of course, if you don't need the laptop for gaming, it should handle all your everyday tasks pretty well. I think most of the Toshiba systems on Newegg have the 4200.
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February 22, 2010 10:56:23 PM

After looking around, and even more time to think about my needs, I've come across one in particular that has my attention, the Sager/ Clevo NP7652/W765CUH. Looking around, usually configured with 1600x900 15.6 4570 i5 520 4gb 250 7200 win7, it's around $950-$1015. A few links on it that I've gathered... (these prices might not match up)

Forum topic on it.

Sager $1024 -------- 1600x900 15.6 4570 i520 4gb 320 5400 win7?
XoticPC $919 ------- 1600x900 15.6 4570 i520 4gb 250 7200 win7
ProStar $1019 ------ 1600x900 15.6 4570 i520 4gb 320 7200 win7
PCTorque $1009 ---- 1600x900 15.6 4570 i520 4gb 320 5400 win7
RJTech $1075 ------ 1600x900 15.6 4570 i520 4gb 250 5400 win7
Cyberpower $985 --- 1600x900 15.6 4570 i520 4gb 320 5400 win7
Cyberpower $1004 -- 1600x900 15.6 4570 i540 4gb 320 5400 win7

The 9 cell battery is available for it via Clevo's Site, but none of those sites carry it, or 1920x1080. However 1600x900 isn't that bad for a 15.6". I think I would prefer it's keyboard over most others (somewhat replicates spacing on a desktop keyboard, which I find nice, typing on laptops can be annoying), and it has a rather clean looking black design without any flashy crap on it. I'm not quite sure if the Radeon HD 4570 512MB DDR2 will cut it for graphics... But I'm not sure yet. My graphical requirements are going to be Battlefield Bad Company 2 with lowest settings, smooth framerate, and 1366x768/1400x900.

It has still been somewhat hard finding something with mid-low range discrete graphics, 15.6", i5+, 2 hour+ battery life, 1600x900+ res. If I can find what I want, I might be a bit more flexible on the price. I'm being quite picky, but there's nothing wrong with that!

I was looking at the MSI GT640 (1656), however it's a quad core at around ~$1400.

The MSI GX640 comes out mid-late March, and it looks appealing. ~$1200, price & parts cannot be confirmed until release.

RKComputer $1158 - 1680x1050 15.4 58501gb i5 430 4gb 500 7200 win7
XoticPC $1219 - 1680x1050 15.4 58501gb i5 430 4gb 500 7200 win7

I can go without a laptop until next semester, which is a few months away. So I have time to pick and choose.
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February 23, 2010 10:44:54 PM

I ran across someone who uploaded quite a few videos of their Acer 7535G's gaming capabilities. It has a crappier processor/RAM than the W765CUH, but the same video card (Radeon HD 4570 512MB DDR2). I posted my findings HERE, and I am actually quite impressed considering what I originally figured the video card was capable of. This can most definitely run everything on lowest settings!

I think I may just buy this laptop. However, the 9 cell doesn't appear to be very obtainable in North America, and the battery life is only 2 hours (general use, wifi, 50% brightness) with it's standard 6 cell.
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