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Need help selecting between Dell Studio 17 & Studio 16 XPS for gaming

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August 19, 2010 1:01:32 AM

Hi everyone,

I am looking into buying a desktop replacement laptop with the primary purpose of gaming. I am not interested in top of the line, but definitely looking to invest in a solid gaming machine that will allow me to comfortably play a variety of games for the coming years. Of particular interest to me are running Starcraft 2 at top settings, WoW with no problems, and hopefully the upcoming Diablo 3.

I have had good experience with Dell in the past, so I have been considering 2 of their systems, have done some customization and I am trying to differentiate these two systems to help make a decision.

Studio 16 XPS ~$1694
CPU: Intel Core i7-720 QM quad-core 1.6ghz
RAM: 4 gb DDR3
GPU: ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5730 1 gig
Screen: 15.6" edge-to-edge WLED LCD (1920x1080)
Blu-ray slot load
All other components comparable

Studio 17 ~$1434
CPU: Intel Core i7-720QM quad-core 1.6ghz
RAM: 4gb DDR3
GPU: ATI Mobility Radeon HD 560v 1 gig
Screen: 17.3" Full HD (1080p) B+RG LED display
No blu-ray
All other components comparable

Of particular interest to me are the difference in the screens i.e. what is B+RG vs. WLED (other than the obvious size), the difference in graphics cards, and if anyone has experience with either one's case, specifically the cooling components and how well it can regulate internal temperature. Any feedback is greatly appreciated, thanks for your time.
August 19, 2010 1:12:52 AM

Also: I am willing to examine other laptop brands than Dell, but looking for a reliable brand (3+ years with good assembly and components), good customer support, warranty service, and Microsoft Office Home & Student, which is factored into the prices I listed above.
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August 19, 2010 5:22:44 AM

For gaming? Why not get this one, which has a far better GPU than either of the Dell models and costs $500 less.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Main drawback I can see is that it's only got a DVD drive, not Blu-Ray ... but at this point, I don't see that as a huge deal unless you plan on using it to watch all your movies, or for very heavy video-related uses.

Honestly, rather than spending $100+ for Office, try openoffice.org first. It's free and does most of the same stuff. Yeah, it might not turn out to work for you, but if not, you can always go to MS Office later. Worth a shot IMO.
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August 19, 2010 2:39:50 PM

Thanks for the feedback so far guys. Captain, I have been considering an ASUS or Sager as well since they are more gaming oriented, I have not heard of MSI, does it have a good reputation for building a reliable machine? I am trying to find something that will last well for at least 3 years, and preferably a manufacturer with a good track record, strong customer support, and good warranty options.

My main concern with the ASUS models I was looking at is their lack of extended accidental coverage warranties. Dell offers a 3 year accidental damage warranty for drops, spills, etc. But the ASUS case seems to be a little better made for keeping the components cool and little more sturdy, though the screen is supposedly not as nice as the XPS. Like I mentioned, I'm certainly willing to peruse other manufacturers, but looking for a solid support network, not just the fast components.

I have not tried Open Office yet, but I have heard good things so maybe I will hold off on that and buy MS Office at a later time if I feel I want it.
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August 19, 2010 4:14:39 PM

MSI has a *pretty good* reputation, and as a manufacturer of desktop components like motherboards and video cards, they're pretty solid, just about on a par with Asus. I would not worry too much about an MSI or Asus machine clunking out on you before three years unless you're particularly unlucky, which could happen with any manufacturer.

As for support, I can't speak to MSI for laptops specifically ... but my experience with pretty much any laptop of any brand that I or my friends/family have owned is that the first time you call for warranty repair, 95% of the time they will just tell you to reinstall the operating system, and then when that doesn't work, they'll say they need to replace the motherboard. Beyond that, they'll tell you that you need a new machine. I've dealt with Asus and MSI for warranty issues on desktop components before, and while their customer support is pretty Made in China, the end result ends up being about the same as with any other company. I don't think many other companies will have anything that matches Dell's accidental coverage, though, so if that's an overwhelming concern, you may be best sticking with them.

If you don't mind my asking, is there any particular reason you NEED a laptop to replace your desktop, or is it just a voluntary choice? Keep in mind that if you built your own desktop, you could get something better than any of these for less than $1,000, and desktops are infinitely easier and cheaper to repair. If something breaks, it's often just one component that you can repair or replace yourself. I don't mean to be overly aggressive about pushing you to build your own machine, but just something to think about.
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August 19, 2010 5:25:08 PM

To answer the laptop vs. desktop question, I have done all of my gaming on desktop PCs through my whole life (been gaming since I was 2 in 1986 ;)  ), and I definitely prefer the power, ease of repair and upgrade, as well as cooling factor of the desktop. However, I am living a somewhat mobile lifestyle, moving around a lot, and I have also found myself bringing my PC over to friends' houses for side by side gaming. My major concern is that I am living in Alaska currently, going to be moving again within 6 months, and to have a decent gaming machine that fits easily into a car and doesn't require a tower, monitor, keyboard, and a powerstrip/available desk space to set up and enjoy some games is a big motivational factor. I have wanted a laptop for some time just for travel, email, financial planning on the road etc, and as a gamer I figured I could combine the two.

I am not opposed to the idea of picking up an extremely cheap laptop (like a Netbook) for mobile internet/word processing/spreadsheets, and then investing in a desktop, but my current desktop is 7 years old, and I would need to buy the desktop, monitor and peripherals all from scratch. It's a hard choice to make, so I appreciate any advice or feedback. Also, while I have tinkered a bit with computers throughout my life, I am by no means an expert, and not sure I have the knowledge to accurately build my own machine.
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August 19, 2010 9:21:25 PM

Well, if you bring your computer with you a lot of places in day-to-day life (and for side-by-side gaming), then there's really no substitute for a laptop. You can build a pretty awesome gaming machine in a Micro ATX case, but that's still going to be a pain to unhook and re-hook every time, not to mention lugging around the keyboards, mice, monitors and so on. Laptop is probably the right call for you right now; didn't mean to pry.

When the right time comes, though, don't be scared of building your own desktop. It's not as hard as it used to be several years ago. I also did not know very much when I built my first machine, but it's very possible to learn, and to learn quickly. The first one is going to be the hardest, of course -- but once you've done that initial research once, any other machines you build will come easy as pie, and you'll never want to buy a pre-built machine again. You can basically build yourself the equivalent of a $4,000 Alienware machine for half the price.
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August 19, 2010 10:18:00 PM

Thanks very much for the advice Cap'n Taco =), it is much appreciated and I have no problem at all divulging my desired uses for the computer based on my lifestyle, it's an important factor in my decision.

On your advice, I started looking into the cost of building my own desktop, and you were very right that there is a lot that can be done very cheaply, and overall not too intimidating. I am still not sure if that is the right choice for me though, as I really have traveled with my gaming computers quite a bit in the past, and even wearing a headset lugging everything else around is difficult and increases the risk of accidental damage.

I have been looking at an Asus G51Jx on XoticPC that I think is overall a better deal. It offers a bit more power than the XPS 16, similar screen capabilities, and appears to run a little cooler. It doesn't offer quite the warranty of Dell, but for the price I think is a bit more what I am looking for. So hard to make the call between building my own desktop and laptop when looking to spend this kind of money! But I am thankful for dealing with the "issue" of what system to buy and still able to at least choose one!
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August 20, 2010 12:46:22 PM

What is your budget for this laptop.
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August 21, 2010 4:25:33 AM

I would definitely say the G51Jx you found is a better deal, and probably a better machine too. At least if this is the one you mean: http://www.xoticpc.com/asus-g51jxx5-p-2811.html

I wouldn't worry about the warranty difference .. looks like Asus gives you a 2-year warranty on that machine, along with FREE accidental damage coverage for 1 year. (I stress FREE, because from everything I've read, Dell seems to charge about $200 for its accidental coverage.)

Anyway ... that's the one I would get out of the three. Good find.
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August 21, 2010 4:10:23 PM

Thanks for the feedback everyone, and much appreciated advice Taco. I did end up picking up the Asus, essentially the same as you linked with a couple of customized features. After weighing a lot of the options, the mobility factor combined with the issues of shipping rates for doing home-build desktop made a decent gaming laptop feel like the best decision for me, and this Asus seemed to be the best machine for the dollar.
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