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Laptop For School and Recording

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Last response: in Laptops & Notebooks
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July 17, 2011 3:10:27 AM

1. What is your budget?
Around $1200, I can go as high as $1500 or $1600, but I’d rather not.

2. What is the size of the notebook that you are considering?
14” or 15.6”, as I’ll have to lug this to class but I still want decent screen real-estate.

3. What screen resolution do you want?
1600x900 or 1920x1080 are ideal. I’ll use an external monitor for a lot but 1366x768 won’t cut it.

4. Do you need a portable or desktop replacement laptop?
Something reasonable weight wise, again, I have to carry this around.

5. How much battery life do you need?
4 or 5 hours at least.

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’d like to do starcraft 2 on medium as well as dragon age, but it’s not a priority.

7. What other tasks do you want to do with your laptop? (Photo / Video editing,watching movies, Etc.)
- Basic computing – word processing, websurfing
- Watching movies – hopefully bluray
- Basic Photoshop work – mostly color correction/ cropping pictures of my works.
- Audio recording/mixing – This is my major priority, any comp will handle word docs and I can use school comps for photoshop, but I need to be able to do recording stuff on my own.

8. How much storage (Hard Drive capacity) do you need?
At least 500Gb 7200rpm. SSD would be awesome but I doubt my budget allows.

9. If you are considering specific sites to buy from, please post their links.
No specific sites, somewhere with a student discount would be cool though.

10. How long do you want to keep your laptop?
4 or so years

11. What kind of Optical drive do you need? DVD ROM/Writer,Bluray ROM/Writer,Etc ?
DVD RW, Bluray is wanted but not necessary.

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.
No brand preference. My school is associated with Dell, Lenovo and Apple though.

13. What country do you live in?
US

14. Please tell us any additional information if needed.
It needs to be able to connect to a monitor either through VGA or HDMI. TI firewire 1394 is technically not necessary but is definitely desirable, or at least a PCMI slot to add it.

I’m going to art school so I’ll do a good bit of image work on this. I also want to continue to play and record guitar, so it needs to handle that. Audio processing will be handled by my audio interface, so there's no need for a designated sound card. Gaming is NOT a priority.

So long as it has a quadcore (2630QM is good), 8Gb RAM (or 4gb 1 dimm), decent screen, and is solidly built it will serve my purposes.

I realize this subforum gets swamped with college kids in the summer so thank you in advance for any advice.
a c 244 D Laptop
July 17, 2011 7:42:22 AM

AW M14x is currently the best 14" laptop you can find and fits your price range.
As for 15",have a look at Sager NP8130(will give you around 2-3hrs of battery life though)
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July 19, 2011 4:01:55 AM

Hows the HP envy 14? The screen isn't great now that they did away with the 1600x900 one, but everything else seems on par with the alienware M14x. They offer a dual SSD/HDD thing too which seems cool.

The NP8130 is definitely an option, but the low battery life is a bummer and its nearly 7 pounds, which will make lugging it to class a bummer.

Some more suggestions would be awesome.

EDIT: Is the Dell XPS 15 any good, its a bit big (1.5" thick and almost 6 pounds), but I can get everything I need plus bluray for only $1100. Thoughts?
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a c 244 D Laptop
July 19, 2011 6:53:23 AM

Both Envy 14 and XPS 15 are both good.The first has 6630M which is on par(slightly faster in some games) with 540M offered in XPS 15
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July 19, 2011 7:30:28 AM

The XPS 15 really seems like the best option. It doesn't have firewire though, or any way to add it, is there anything I can do about that. I'm in the market for a new audio interface as well and the better ones are firewire, I'd at least like the option on a laptop. Any ideas?
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July 19, 2011 4:23:17 PM

If I'm understanding that correctly it would go: firewire audio interface -> fw port on HDD -> HDD usb -> Laptop USB.

If I need a firewire interface I suppose that could work though by going through usb I lose the speed benefits of firewire. There are plenty of good usb interfaces so I suppose I could make due. Its a shame so few laptops have fw now.
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July 19, 2011 9:44:36 PM

Its a bit more money and the screen isn't nearly as nice but what about the ASUS U31SD-A1. It's far more portable while still offering the 2630QM and 8gb of mem. Thoughts? There doesn't seem to be a lot of info on it.
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July 20, 2011 3:11:38 AM

I think I'm sold on the Asus, either the U31SD or U36SD (if it comes out in the next few days). I just have a question on HDD options as I'm going to get it at xoticpc.

Is a Hybrid hard drive worth the extra money? recall reading before the performance difference was minimal in desktop models but was unsure whether that had changed or it would be different in a laptop.

I'm still open to suggestions, really any kind of input is appreciated.

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a c 244 D Laptop
July 20, 2011 6:24:11 AM

Those are both good but don't expect a great gaming performance from either.
As for HDD,well Hybrid drives are faster than normal HDDs(especially the 16MB models that XoticPC offers).Overall the system is more snappier.(It's nothing like a SSD but it's still a step-up from other HDDs)
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July 20, 2011 3:40:00 PM

I don't plan to game, maybe a bit of starcraft, so that isn't an issue. I read some more on the HDD and it seems like a nice middle ground between SSD and trad. HDD.
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