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Laptop suggestion thread for a student/designer

Hello everybody, I'm glad I found this site the other day, learned a lot for my upcoming gaming PC, but that's outside the topic...

I am a college student this Fall and have found myself in a precarious position. I need a budget laptop with some omissions from the norm, but additions to the norm in terms of my price range. Here's the FAQ:

1. What is your budget?
$500 +/- $150

2. What is the size of the notebook that you are considering?

3. What screen resolution do you want?
Above 1366, so maybe 1600x900, 1680x1050, 1900x1080 or even 1400xsomething, but in that range. Some additional info follows at the bottom

4. Do you need a portable or desktop replacement laptop?

5. How much battery life do you need?
more than 3hours, willing to get a fatter battery for longer life,as that is preferable

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)?

7. What other tasks do you want to do with your laptop? (Photo/Video editing, Etc.)
Photoshop, HD playback, overnight downloads, internet(ok i am not going where it seems :P) see below

8. How much storage (Hard Drive capacity) do you need?
SSD! 60GB at least, but if that gets too expensive, I'll suffice with a 320GB 7200 rpm, or more

9. If you are considering specific sites to buy from, please post their links.

10. How long do you want to keep your laptop?
My whole life! But, at least throughout college.

11. What kind of Optical drive do you need? DVD ROM/Writer,Bluray ROM/Writer,Etc ?
None, but dvd is fine.

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.
I don't really have a choice here, since this is my first laptop, so I'll leave that up to the wise and the fanboys to decide.

13. What country do you live in?

14. Please tell us any additional information if needed.
Tasks I will be doing are on the go Photoshop, so I need to be able to do so with no hassles, maybe a good keyboard? I prefer backlit but I know i shouldn't ask for miracles with my price point. The laptop's display is not all that important to me, as I need the graphics card to be able to display 1080p output to my external monitor, or to a TV. So, if it's possible to reduce the quality of the display for price, and also still be able to play HD through HDMI (and DVI, but not a must) of the graphics card i'll be more than happy. If I can get a good ssd without a HDD and optical drive, i'd rather have that. No OS is required, I already have a Windows Ultimate x64 with me, and Home edition. I also do some professional video, so I need to play those back on a bigger screen, and hopefully through the laptop. Also, good wifi b/g/n would be good.
An ethernet port will hopefully not be too much to ask for, but that is also just a side note. Highly unlikely I'll be playing any games on it, so it mainly for watching videos, playing HD content to a TV, photo and video editing, and web browsing. Also, if not impossible, I would prefer sandybridge cpu's, and more that 4GB RAM, and finally, hackintosh capabilities for my free time.
If it is not possible at that price point, I would still like to see other suggestions that match all the criteria so that I can have a dream to aim for through my part time jobs. And maybe a couple of hundred more than the price point if absolutely necessary so I can try to ooze out the cash from my labor.
But, the priority is the price point!

Thanks in advance.
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  1. Best answer
    Well for what your looking for your price point is a little on the low end. First off I'd say that an SSD is unnecessary. They only last about a year or so and they'll drive up your price a good couple hundred dollars. The 4GB of RAM is easy but the new sandybridge cpu is a bit pricey. I'd recommend a core 2 duo or core 2 quad instead. You're still going to get good performance out of them and they're fairly cheap now. Now a good idea for all this would be the basic model of the Alienware M11X R2, fits all your criteria and more except its only an 11 inch screen and theres no DVD drive (can get an external one for cheap).
    A little less powered but cheaper and bigger option would be a good ol' dell latitude. 14inch screen and a DVD drive plus a cheap 4GB RAM option make it a good choice, but you'll have to find one with a graphics card.
    A similar option would be the Toshiba Satellite.
    Probably the best option would be a custom PC, follow this link
    and find the Xplorer X6-7200, you can customize it a fair amount, change it down to the I3 processor and even if you REALLY want get a SSD drive.

    Recommendations for all these being either the super portable M11X or the powerful Xplorer
  2. Excellent suggestions throughout!
    The alienware screen seems to be a wee bit tiny, but I am teetering towards the X6-7200.
    Here are some others that I liked:

    And the new HP g6s as well as the dm4x look good. There are just too many to choose from.

    I may decide to increase the budget to accommodate a high res screen, $700-850, but I am not sure if it's necessary*, (see below).

    As far as I know, with TRIM enabled in windows 7, it deletes the undeleted deleted files in the SSD, which fixes the short lifespan of the SSDs. But, I may just buy a hdd with 7200 rpm, as I've always used 5400 rpm. Is there a significant improvement between the two?

    Also, I have a core 2 duo e7400 on my backdated pc atm, but it is awfully slow with photoshop and horrible at multitasking. Were the core 2 duo's improved upon after that?

    *One more thing that I am unclear about, as I have never owned a laptop: Will the laptop be able to scale up the resolution if I connect it to a 1920x1080 or 1650x1050, or a HD 1080p/720p TV, even if the laptop has a lower res like 1366x768?

    So from the top, other than the Lamborghini ASUS, I chose options as the following:

    Intel® Core™ i7-2630QM Mobile Processor 2.00 GHz 6M Intel Smart Cache, Max Turbo Freq. 2.90 GHz
    Intel® Core™ i5-2410M Mobile Processor 2.30 GHz 3M Intel Smart Cache, Max Turbo Freq. 2.90 GHz
    Intel® Core™ i3-2310M Mobile Processor 2.10 GHz 3M Intel Smart Cache

    4GB (4GBx1) DDR3-1333 SODIMM Memory or 6GB if available

    Video card: Need some help here, not sure what to do :(

    *Screen res: tried to get full hd, or 1600x900 above for >15"s, but smaller screens were ok with 1366x768 (just to make sure, 1366x768 doesn't look good on a 15.6" does it?)

    Opinions are welcome!
  3. The resolution of the laptops screen has no effect on the resolution that it can output. That will depend on the graphics card. The bigger and higher resolution the screen, the more powerful your graphics card will need to be. Generally speaking, a 1gig graphics card will be able to output to just about any screen with no lag or issues.
  4. :sarcastic: Well first off there is a BIG difference in ROTATIONS PER MINUTE between the two types of hard drive.

    7200rpm is always prefered

    I like the cyberpower x6-7200


    stay with the i7-2630 its faster and has a 6mb cache as compared to the i5 and i3 who only have 3mb

    Upgrade the ram to 8gb only if you are willing to pay extra otherwise stay with the 4gb which is basically standard for most laptops

    The video card is AMAZING. The nvidia 520m with 1gb of ddr3 has been benchmarked pretty high and can play most games and videos. Its a pretty good graphics card for the price

    Hard drive:ssd for laptops still have along way to go...stay with the 320gb 7200rpm hard drive
    (if u need more memory, purchase an external hard drive, sd card, or flash drive)

    Yes 1920x1080 is nice but y do u need it?

    The 1366x768 display is just fine and if you really want better resolution: invest in a vga or hdmi cable to place into a hd monitor or tv. (THATS WHY THE PORTS ARE THERE IN THE FIRST PLACE!!)

    Stay with the default wifi wireless module
    The bluetooth module comes standard: a feature which some laptops dont have(its also the latest 3.0 version so it will detect your bluetooth devices no problem)


    A blu-ray player would be great be costly, the 8x drive will ok

    Office software:

    Torrent microsoft office or download openoffice for free


    The built-in mic and 2.0mp camera is a lovely touch. (if u want a better camera or mic go buy one cheaper somewhere else lol)

    The chic-lit keyboard and touchpad are fine. (Again if u want a mouse or keyboard, just buy it seperate for cheap somewhere else)

    The sound is great at least to me. (U can put a 3.5mm audio jack from a speaker in the headphone port if you want better sound)

    The laptop also had 3 usb ports (2x 3.0 / 1x 2.0)

    If stay with 320gb 7200rpm and 8gb ram, its should price around $917 including shipping as long as you dont buy any accessories or software from cyberpower.

    If that is still too pricey, downgrade the proccessor, hard drive, and RAM till it meets your price range
  5. if u rly want that 1920x1080 hd screen with sacrifice of a good graphics card here you go:

    its a hd laptop but its graphics card isnt as good and the hard drive isnt as fast
  6. Best answer selected by mash_designer.
  7. This topic has been closed by Maziar
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