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Sandy Bridge based system for design work - $3000 or less

Last response: in Laptops & Notebooks
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March 24, 2011 5:35:13 PM

After looking pretty intently for a laptop last fall, I finally decided to wait after reading that the forthcoming Sandy Bridge systems were likely to offer substantial performance and, as important in my considerations, power efficiency. So now I'm researching again and am dead certain I want to pull the trigger on a new machine in the next six weeks.

Many thanks to anyone who's willing to share their information.

VENDOR PREFS: Have worked with Dell, Sony, Lenovo, Apple and HP in the past, but thus far I have not found any current system by them that fits what I'm looking for. Am not considering a Mac.

The Dell XPS 17" would work but for the screen, the XPS 15" would work but for the graphics card, the Precision series hasn't updated yet and Dell refused to tell me when this would happen. HP is pretty much the same deal. Lenovo I believe will roll out new systems at the end of the month but I doubt I will be able to afford whatever they produce.

Whoever I buy from, it's important that they are known to stand behind their products and offer responsive service with a minimum of hassle.

PRICE: Upwards of $3000 including Windows 7 Professional 64 bit installed, and with a minimum 2 year warranty. Would prefer a 3 year parts and labor warranty with some kind of accident protection. Would prefer to pay closer to $2000-2500 if possible.

PROCESSOR: This needs to be a Sandy Bridge i7 based system. Can be 2620/2630 or 2720 based.

RAM: At least 4gb installed, needs to have capacity for 8, but I would prefer 12 or 16gb capacity.

SCREEN: 15 to 17 inch, Full HD. Don't really care if it's glossy or matte. I have ZERO interest in 3D.

SYSTEM SIZE: Desktop replacement, up to 9lbs. Prefer less than 8 lbs with battery.

HD: Not decided between getting something like a 128gb SSD and a USB 3 external HD or just getting a 500gb 7200 rpm HD with Flash buffer. I'm not sure that the latter really offers any substantial improvement in performance, but the cost vs. a standard HD is negligable. On the other hand, I'm concerned that only 128gb of onboard storage will soon prove to be a problem. As it is, I'm used to storing all of my media, old work files and backups externally, but programs continue to get bigger and bigger and Adobe temp files can balloon fast

BATTERY: At least 2 hours under load. I definitely would like even more if possible.

CONNECTIVITY: Want at least one USB 3.0 port, and HDMI would be nice.

OPTICAL DRIVE: Prefer a bluray player, but a DVD based drive wouldn't be a deal breaker at all.

MAIN USAGE: This system will primarily be used for interactive publishing design work, intensive editing of large photographic files, and some 2D and 3D rendering.

GAMING?: Yes, although this is not a primary concern. Would like to have the ability to play contemporary games with a fluid frame rate and good details.

LOOKS: This isn't a huge concern, although I would like to avoid that kind of Alienware-ish decoration.

VENDORS:
http://www.xoticpc.com
http://www.sagernotebook.com/
http://www.malibal.com
http://www.pctorque.com/
http://www.avadirect.com/

From what I can tell, there are pretty much only Clevo/Sager and ASUS systems right now that fit what I'm looking for at these vendors. I keep thinking there have to be some other options out there that have eluded me.

RETENTION: Would like to use this system for 3 to 4 years

LOCATION: US
a c 572 D Laptop
March 24, 2011 10:43:36 PM

Hello ironyisoverrated;

Really excellent summary of requirements. And I think your analysis of vendor choices is spot on. You listed all the major players. There just aren't that many vendors out there for a relatively low demand for custom laptops.
There is a good chance your available choices will expand in the next few weeks as the supply chain fills up the Sandy Bridge roll out. No doubt that is part of the reason Dell is reluctant to commit to talking about model refresh plans. They'll want to run down the stock inventory of the old stuff before they let the new goodies roll out the door.
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a c 572 D Laptop
March 25, 2011 12:30:50 AM

A quick check of the 'usual suspects' and not really anything new to report.

Should be an interesting six weeks for you.
March 30, 2011 1:32:42 AM

WR2 said:
Hello ironyisoverrated;

Really excellent summary of requirements. And I think your analysis of vendor choices is spot on. You listed all the major players. There just aren't that many vendors out there for a relatively low demand for custom laptops.
There is a good chance your available choices will expand in the next few weeks as the supply chain fills up the Sandy Bridge roll out. No doubt that is part of the reason Dell is reluctant to commit to talking about model refresh plans. They'll want to run down the stock inventory of the old stuff before they let the new goodies roll out the door.


Thanks. I fear I might have included too many factors for anyone to take into account, but I did at least try to highlight my priorities.

What annoyed me about the Dell rep's inability to be forthcoming was his claim that it was "illegal" for him to provide information. I've since found out that Dell made some announcements in the fourth quarter of 2010 that Precision would receive a refresh with new graphics cards and SB processors. All I want to know is will the refresh happen in weeks or months. If they actually think they can hold back information hoping to pawn off already out of step systems without a discount, they really haven't learned anything from all the bad-word-of-mouth fueled customer revolts they've experienced over the last several years.

MALIBAL said:
Hi, if you have any questions about our notebooks, please let us know and we'll be glad to help out! :)  Here is TH's review of our Lotus P150HM, which meets all of the requirements you listed: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/malibal-lotus-p150h...


Informative link, thanks. I'd seen a review of a similarly outfitted system produced by another Clevo reseller. This corroborates the findings there, which definitely provide me with more confidence in systems sourced by Clevo, which I have not worked with before.

WR2 said:
A quick check of the 'usual suspects' and not really anything new to report.

Should be an interesting six weeks for you.


To say the least. I guess now that it looks like, pending any late announcements, I know who the players are hardware-wise, I mainly need to get some information on which of the contenders are the most reliable in terms of initial quality as well as ongoing support.

!