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Laptop for university and casual gaming

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a b D Laptop
a b 4 Gaming
July 10, 2011 10:23:30 PM

Hey guys. I am planning to get a laptop for university (I'm starting my first year this fall) and some gaming :) . Hope with your help I can choose a perfect fit for me.

1. What is your budget?

Around 650-700 euros. 750 euros would be an absolute maximum.

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

15-15.6".

3. What screen resolution do you want?

Any would do, however, I'd prefer widescreen (as in 16:10 or 16:9, not 4:3).

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

I need a portable one, since I would be taking it to lectures, etc.

5. How much battery life do you need?

3-4 hours in MS word I guess, so it won't be under heavy load during that time.

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)?

Yes I do! The main game I'll play is World of Wacraft, which I would like to run at maximum settings. I'm kind of addon freak, and addons in WoW reduce fps.. My old machine (Geforce 8600 GT, 2 GB ram, AMD phenom X4 9550 2.2GHz) can barely run it at medium (at 25-40 fps), and I would like the laptop to be able to run the game at maximum with around said 40 fps. I don't really mind about other games, but extra performance will never hurt as long as it fits inside my budget.

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

I also need the laptop for university, which means that I'll be using MS Word, Powerpoint, and since my subject is going to be Computer Science, I'll be definitely programing and doing similar things (not really sure what, since I haven't started said subject yet, however, I hope that some one who has been on similar study knows if I need a powerful laptop for that).

8. How much storage (Hard Drive capacity) do you need?

I would like at least 500 gigabytes.

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

I haven't considered any sites yet, since I thought it would be wise to choose a laptop first and only then search for it in stores.

10. How long do you want to keep your laptop?

I think it would be wise to say 3-4 years, since I am not sure if I'll be getting another desktop sooner than that.

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

I don't really care about the optical drive, but I suppose there aren't laptops nowadays who haven't got DVD writer drive installed.

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 was told by a person I know to avoid HP, and I am sure I won't buy an HP product.

The brands I'd favor are Asus, Acer, Dell and Toshiba.

13. What country do you live in?

I live in Lithuania.

14. Please tell us any additional information if needed.

Well, I've been considering Acer Aspire 5750g, since it fits my budget pretty well (650 euros) and I've read a positive review in a magazine about it. However, I am open for offers.

I am also getting the laptop in a month - that's when my birthday is, and my parents promised it for my birthday. I've also wondered whether it was a good time to wait - maybe an important hardware update is coming soon? Like the one with sandy bridge processors, which happened few months ago.

More about : laptop university casual gaming

a b D Laptop
a b 4 Gaming
July 11, 2011 2:33:20 AM

I highly recommend getting an HP or Asus laptop that has the new AMD APU when it comes out. There will be different versions.

The AMD APU will give the best gaming experience at a low price while also keeping the heat down.

Anything better than a good AMD APU will be much more expensive, noisier and hotter.
a b D Laptop
a b 4 Gaming
July 11, 2011 10:36:08 AM

photonboy said:
I highly recommend getting an HP or Asus laptop that has the new AMD APU when it comes out. There will be different versions.

The AMD APU will give the best gaming experience at a low price while also keeping the heat down.

Anything better than a good AMD APU will be much more expensive, noisier and hotter.


Okay, do you know when it's coming out? And what's the name? I tried looking in google, but words AMD APU are so general that I got no results...

By the way, will it be better than i5 sandy bridge?
Related resources
July 11, 2011 7:16:44 PM

Although in the past I may not have recommended an HP (having used Dell/HP/Acer/Toshiba etc.) but recently I bought HP DV6 6011 TX for about 715 euros, and so far it has been a very satisfying experience.

Considering that you want a notebook which can play games (battery life about 1 hour), have decent battery life during web surfing or using Excel/Powerpoint/Word (about 4:30* hours) etc. I think you may consider having a look at similarly speced notebook. The specs for this notebook are:

Intel Core i7 Q2630 Processor
8GB DDR3 RAM
LED 15.6 Display
640 GB HDD
1GB Mobility Radeon HD 6770
Card Reader + DVD RW
Windows 7 HP x64

I have seen similarly speced Dells' here, roughly in the same price range but with inferior graphics i.e. Geforce 525M.

* It have switchable graphics, i.e. when on power it switches to discrete graphics card, whereas, on battery you can choose to run the Intel HD3000 on chip graphics.
July 11, 2011 7:20:57 PM

The Acer 5750g has much higher performance than the AMD APU machines will. If u Google it, it has a quad core Sandy Bridge and an Nvidia 540m as the base model. (not a high end GPU, but enough to beat the AMD APU's pretty easily)

The AMD APU's target a much lower price segment. I didn't look at the 5750g's upgrade options, but if u can swap the video card for a more powerful one with the ~100 euros left in the budget you'd take it from a decent, to a fairly capable laptop for moderate gaming.
July 11, 2011 7:33:07 PM

Archeans machine would be very good for the price a well (since he posted it while I was typing) Better video performance than the 540m too I think.
a b D Laptop
a b 4 Gaming
July 11, 2011 10:31:47 PM

Thanks for the replies! Archean, as much promising your post seems, I am still sceptical about HP. For the Acer 5750g, I've been looking at i5-2410m model (which AFAIK is dual core), not i7. I really have no idea what's the price for i7 one. The only difference between them is the processor.

Also, is the 540m such a bad video card? As far as I am aware, it is decently priced mid-class model, which could run games just fine.
July 12, 2011 10:40:59 AM

In that case Archeans suggestion is all the better.

The Nvidia GT 540m is between a ATI 5570 and 5670 in performance roughly. While the 6770m is just above the 5670 in performance.

And the quad core i7 vs the dual core i5 is in an entirely different league. The performance difference is way more than enough to justify choosing a brand u may not be as fond of.
July 12, 2011 4:56:46 PM

The Nvidia GT 540m is more than capable of running WoW at max settings with a min of 30 fps. Its not exactly a taxing game.
July 12, 2011 5:25:27 PM

I just thought I'd try and answer your question about what sort of system would be good for a CS major, as I am one myself.

Long story short, you need zero computational power for coursework. You'll probably be using at least one software development package like Visual Studio, J2EE, etc., but those don't eat any more resources than MS office. The majority of my coursework was done in little more than a notepad-esque application.

In my case, nearly no one ever took a laptop to a lecture/classroom. Professors frowned upon it because, either the class requires a computer, in which case you're already in a computer lab, or it doesn't require one at all. In either case, the only reason people would bring laptops to class was to either do work for a different class, waste time with facebook, play games, or run various other programs not related to the class at all. I think the popular perception of everyone in college carrying laptops everywhere just for educational purposes is extremely far from the mark and pretty misleading. Honestly, even as a CS major you could get away with not even having a PC if you were willing to use labs. Not that you should do that of course, but it would be entirely possible.

If you want a laptop to be even remotely useful for new games after the year you buy it, you need to get one with a dedicated video card instead of an integrated one, and even a good dedicated card that's mobile will require you to run things at lowered settings only a month or so after you get it. That said, this raises the price dramatically and also essentially kills any significant battery life, and I wouldn't recommend it. It's almost always better to get a cheaper laptop and leave any significant gaming to a desktop.

If you only care about non system-intensive games like WoW, you could probably get away with an integrated card or maybe AMD's new line of CPU/GPU hybrids. Just don't expect to be able to play anything new on that kind of hardware, that's what a desktop PC is for.

This is tom's review of AMD's new hybrid CPU/GPU line, they aren't readily available in laptops yet, but it shouldn't be too long before systems appear that use them.
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/a8-3500m-llano-apu,...
a b D Laptop
a b 4 Gaming
July 13, 2011 6:07:04 AM

Yargnit said:

And the quad core i7 vs the dual core i5 is in an entirely different league. The performance difference is way more than enough to justify choosing a brand u may not be as fond of.


I may be not fond of, but more than half problems on this forum are about HP laptops, and many people say they sacrifice quality for price. I will be studying far away from home, so I doubt I will be able to get laptop repaired every now and then. I need something reliable, and if I have to sacrifice increased performance, so be it. Also, won't an i7 drain my battery?

ragenalien said:
The Nvidia GT 540m is more than capable of running WoW at max settings with a min of 30 fps. Its not exactly a taxing game.


On my desktop I am getting similar frame rates on low-medium graphics on WoW and on Crysis 2 (on low as well). Though I am quite aware it's not as GPU intensive, though my CPU is on constant load (two cores actually, since WoW doesn't support more yet) while raiding/hanging in crowded places.

By the way, AnUnusedUsername thanks for clearing it up. I've read the whole review and as far as I understood it, Llano is a clear winner versus Intel HD 3000, but for some reason I doubt it can compete versus sandy bridge i5 AND discrete graphics card altogether.

For the bringing laptops to class part: I planned on recording the lecture as a sound file, so I could listen to it later if I need something :) .
a b D Laptop
a b 4 Gaming
July 13, 2011 6:25:04 AM

What about this one? MSI FX620DX:

CPU: Intel Core i5 2410m 2.3 GHz
Chipset: Intel® HM65
Memory: DDR3 1066MHz 4 GB
LCD Size: 15.6” HD (1366 x 768) TFT LCD
Graphics: nVIDIA Geforce GT540M 3D Graphic Card
Graphics VRAM: DDR3 1GB
HDD: 500GB SATA
Optical Drive: Super Multi DL DVD+/-RW
Audio: 4 Theater Class Speakers
Bluetooth v2.1+EDR
D-Sub (VGA): 1
HDMI: 1
USB 2.0 port: 2
USB 3.0 port: 2
eSATA N/A
AC Adapter: 90W
Battery: 6 Cells
Power Management: Turbo Battery+
Dimension: 383(L)x249.3(W)x32.5(H)mm
Weight (KG): 2.4(w/Battery)

The price is 620 euros, which is even cheaper than the Acer 5750G.
July 13, 2011 6:31:50 AM

What I would do is get the HP dv6-6135dx from Best Buy. It has an A8 llano chip, 6GB of ram and it also has discrete graphics so you can crossfire the llano graphics with the discrete graphics. It can also just use the llano chip under normal load which actually includes a lot of game stuff.

That is probably the laptop I will get for going back to college or something very similar to that for engineering classes. The reason is that stuff like mathematica can do GPGPU which would allow that laptop to smoke an intel laptop with an HD3000 and better battery life then an intel laptop with a discrete graphics card for the same tasks.

So for most normal usage I expect to just use the llano graphics since even that is fast enough for GPGPU stuff I would do in class with mathematica.

Also more and more apps are getting GPU acceleration. Even word and excel do some level of GPU acceleration now with more to be added in the future. Current versions of all browsers are GPU accelerated except safari. Sure the intel cpus are a little faster but for most apps you will run on a laptop the GPU is going to help more for regular usage.
July 13, 2011 1:26:53 PM

You're completely right Sunius. The Llano APU's are no match for a current i5 processor. In fact, the laptop version of it can't even compete with the first generation dual core i3's (only a slight difference). Think of them as a less power hungry AMD Athlon II cause thats pretty much all they are until the bulldozer based Trinity comes out this winter.

And as for combining Llano into a crossfire setup Immudzen, it doesn't really work. Check out the laptop Llano review here on toms, it shows that you usually get worst fps using that setup.
July 13, 2011 6:48:51 PM

By no match in most productivity software you are talking about times that are below the human perception level. Most tests run are things that laptops don't normally do. Why would you care about rendering speed on a laptop?

However for running office apps, web pages, flash games, watching videos the llano laptop will give a better experience and at a lower price. You have to be honest that for most of what people use a laptop for now they are not cpu bound in any way and so a faster cpu will give them nothing.

Well some review sites show that crossfire works for some games but for most games the integrated card alone is fine and for others the dedicated one on this laptop will do the job. However for what I plan to do with it both can be used for GPGPU work.

When looking at the same price range at places like amazon, best buy, newegg it sure looks like the llano laptops will give better performance at that price range for the typical programs that people will run and for better battery life.

It is interesting how so many review sites show the llano getting slaughtered by machines that cost far more then the llano laptops do. In some cases I have seen $700 laptops going up against $2500 laptops and the reviewers saying the llano laptop was not very good by comparison where they are in entirely different markets.

For a college laptop right now I don't see anything better then these llano laptops and as more things go to GPGPU that will further help them and software is adapting fairly quickly. A year ago almost no browser did any GPU acceleration now we have IE9, Firefox, Chrome and Opera that all do it.
a b D Laptop
a b 4 Gaming
July 13, 2011 7:53:23 PM

Immudzen, you probably didn't read what I said. Basically, I want this laptop that I'm going to buy to be able to play World of Warcraft without fps lag. Atm, on my desktop, my CPU is not allowing the game to get more fps (that's what I guess, since my desktop runs crysis on the same performance level as World of Warcraft, which graphic engine is ENTIRE from a different league). I think, that it cannot be my GPU that's throttling, so it must either be: motherboard (which I doubt), memory (I've got 2 GB, but what kind of program wants more?), or my processor, which is Phenom 9550 X4 2.2 GHz. I installed it when I built my machine because it was cheaper than intel ones at a loss of performance. That was my mistake basically, which I suffer from everyday. And I really don't want to repeat said mistake again.
July 13, 2011 9:48:13 PM

Look at review sites. These llano laptops that have graphics cards in addition to the ones on cpu like the one I linked do very well playing world of warcraft.

How fast do you you want to play World of Warcraft anyhow on a laptop? How fast does your desktop run it? With a cpu like that you should easily be getting over 60fps in your desktop.
a b D Laptop
a b 4 Gaming
July 13, 2011 10:20:02 PM

Immudzen said:
Look at review sites. These llano laptops that have graphics cards in addition to the ones on cpu like the one I linked do very well playing world of warcraft.

How fast do you you want to play World of Warcraft anyhow on a laptop? How fast does your desktop run it? With a cpu like that you should easily be getting over 60fps in your desktop.


On my desktop I feel lucky when I get over 30 fps in raids on 'good' (medium) settings. I do get 60 fps on high settings not in raids if I disable all addons, but without them it isn't the same game for me. However, that's how WoW benchmarks are made and they don't really show realistic FPS. Also, could I get a link to those reviews?
July 13, 2011 10:28:19 PM

Darned if I have links to them but this site did a review of the llano laptops and should have wow benchmarks, same with anandtech and techreport so look at all of them and see what you think.

I have no idea how much raids cuts things down.
July 14, 2011 3:44:09 AM

For WoW the Llano APU will be perfectly fine, a dual core or quad core will still play it with decent frame rates on the higher settings. Not to mention the long battery life which is useful when you're away at school.

However, for future games, or things like Crysis, you're not going to be able to play on more than medium to low settings. As for future games it's not going to stand up very well, its based on an outdated architecture that should have been phased out years ago were it not for the cheap cost. Face it, until bulldozer comes out (cross your fingers) AMD is way to far behind to justify using it for anything more than its cheap.

For light gaming Llano works fine, for you, I wouldn't recommend an APU untilthe bulldozer based trinity comes out in December (although knowing AMD that probably means March)
a b D Laptop
a b 4 Gaming
July 14, 2011 8:17:55 AM

Ragenalien how sure are you that it will run just fine?

Anyway, I'll consider those. Am I correct to say that they're not available yet? Couldn't find anything about them in local stores.
July 14, 2011 8:31:10 AM

I gave you a model number that best buy has. At least the local stores where I live have them in stock and in the store so you can play with them. The one I linked even has a dedicated video card in it in addition to the one that is part of the cpu.
a b D Laptop
a b 4 Gaming
July 14, 2011 9:41:59 AM

Oh sorry missed that. Unfortunately, The shipping to my country is expensive, and that laptop is not available in my country (at least of today).
July 14, 2011 1:22:55 PM

What country? Llano is available in the U.S. right now and should be moving out to other countries within a few weeks or so.

I'm positive it'll run WoW just fine, AMD really knows what its doing when it comes to graphics. I've seen the benchmarks for systems that use that APU and its fairly impressive (for AMD). Just make sure you get the quad core version.
a b D Laptop
a b 4 Gaming
July 14, 2011 2:35:10 PM

I'm from Lithuania.. Have you read the OP?
a b D Laptop
a b 4 Gaming
July 26, 2011 10:24:10 PM

Anyway, My birthday is coming close, and I haven't found anything better than the Acer Aspire 5750G. AMD APUs still didn't come to my country yet, and I am staying away from HP products. I guess it's the best option for me right now?
a b D Laptop
a b 4 Gaming
July 31, 2011 11:35:12 PM

bump..
!