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Need some help with laptops.

Last response: in Laptops & Notebooks
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July 22, 2011 8:00:40 PM

I have been looking all around on newegg for a good laptop and I'm willing to spend... enough money. I want some recommendations for laptops that will come with all around specs like this one: http://www.newegg.com/product/product.aspx?item=n82e168...

But I want them to be able to play Starcraft II on high graphics with no problems or Dawn of War II.

I don't know if it's possible, but a friend recommended this computer to me and I'm curious to see what Tom's community might think.

I want it to be a toshiba laptop because I trust them over anything else (even HP). But other than that, those are my specifics. I will be using it for school too, college, but that's not as high demanding as games.

Thanks for the assistance.

More about : laptops

July 22, 2011 8:57:02 PM

First, Pre-assembled or custom made?

P.S:
HP has 2 Class action law-suits against them, because of their poor customer service and poor laptop construction. I suggest outlet stores to minimise markup, a $700 toshiba is a $500 dollar outlet laptop. Toshiba's are assembled by machines, while outlets are hand-built in the US
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July 22, 2011 9:13:29 PM

Hmm... I never thought of that.

I suppose price isn't as important as much as performance. I know the "Fallout 3/Dawn of War II" is a little high-end for a laptop and probably impossible.

But how about one that could run them with decent graphics where they don't look shoddy? Or at least Starcraft II (and possibly DIII decently whenever Blizz releases the specs) on high/very high settings?

Where would I find these "outlet" laptops? Does Newegg have them?
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July 22, 2011 10:04:41 PM

No, try avadirect.com; They have two major options under gaming laptops:
Standard gaming laptops: They have a higher starting price, but each part is priced at market value
Branded Gaming latops: They have a 20% lower starting price, but the cost to change an individual part is around double.

I suggest a branded notebook as the defaults are already good and you can save a decent amount of money.
I also suggest a nvidia 540M or an equivelant ATI GPU (I don't buy ATI, so I wouldn't know)

ALSO:
That newegg one is a good deal, but to maximize your use; what is your budget?
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July 22, 2011 10:22:25 PM

I feel stupid looking at all this stuff. I'm not sure what's what.

I'm ready to spend as much as I want but not *too* much, if you know what I mean, I don't want to fork out 4k (not paying for an Apple). I just want one that's good for school and I can play the games I want on it, like Dawn of War and such. I mostly play old games, like Baldur's Gate and such.

But I do intend to play SCII and DIII, so I would like a laptop that can run those as well, and I want a laptop over a desktop because I'm kinda mobile more-so these days and I'm tired of towers.

If that helps any...
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July 22, 2011 11:00:58 PM

Ok, well if you want a nvidia chip (my specialty), you have two options the cheaper 540M or the more expensive 560M (these are the cards that handle the graphics), plus you'll need an i5(cheaper) or an i7(more performance).(these are the chips that do the crunching like word text and making those jagged edges in games look smoother). Finally, you'll need to choose form factor (15 inch for power/portability or 17 inch for more power at the price of portability). Fill these in and I'll bring up several pc's that each have unique features.

PS:Fallout 3 is child's play, the engine is faairly outdated and can be handled by almost any gaming laptop made in the last 4 years

PSS: There are other laptops outside the above ranges that are even more powerful, but are mostly 17" if you wanna make the portability sacrifice)
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July 22, 2011 11:33:09 PM

On the site, I'm a little lost on a lot of things.

This is the laptop I'm looking at: http://www.avadirect.com/gaming-laptop-configurator.asp...

But Intel is really expensive, isn't AMD the same thing but cheaper? What's the W stand for at the end or the HD Graphics 3000? Lol, there's so much stuff here I don't understand.

The Blizz site shows the recommended is a GeForce 6600 or 8000, what are the 540/560's in that depo?

Maybe a i7 Dual Core? I hear those are nice. And of course, it has to be portable so a 15" is nice.

I heard MSI's are really good brands, compared to others like Toshiba or HP.

I'm still lost on things like these "memory" with little chips, 16 GB's or something. What are those for? RAM? What's the difference between HD's? There's so many brands and specs, are any really that much better in terms of specs?
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July 22, 2011 11:45:42 PM

Okay... I'll correct/ answer those in chronological order

Intel and AMD are tottaly different beasts (and to my knowledge, they cost about the same)

Those Geforce chips are desktop GPU's...

You mean the clarksfield processors? Trust me, go with the i7 quad-core or at least an i5 quad-core. i7 dual cores aren't compatible with the latest technologies...

15" sounds like a good choice

MSI is a good brand, but so is Clevo

Memory is a whole other lesson... http://www.youtube.com/user/CrucialMemory?v=4YQuoBpz8dk...

HDD's come in two basic types with some smaller sub-categories:
HDD:Traditional hard drive, laptops use the 2.5" variety and they spin at two different speeds, 5200 or 7400 RPM, The higher the RPM, the higher performance the hard drive
SSD:Flash memory drive or Solid State, laptops still use the 2.5" variety, but they don't spin, the advantage is that the removal of any moving parts makes your computer 2x as resistant to drops and can (in some instances) triple your computers file transfer speed. The downside is that the technology is so new that the price is much higher and less dependable.

To put things simply:
This laptop could work:http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
It has a 2.5Ghz quad core processor, 6GB of RAM (better than average amount),
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July 23, 2011 12:05:20 AM

That video helped a lot, comparison was good.

Thermal is to stop the computer from overheating but... how long would it last until it had to be replaced?

I did some tinkering with one of the Clevo's and this is what I got: http://www.avadirect.com/gaming-laptop-configurator.asp...

Seems like a very good price, what do you think?

Edit: Never mind, I switched the chip with a 2 x 4 one, that was around 49$ and moved the processor to an i7 Quad Core, the top one.

Other than that there wasn't a change in anything else.
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July 23, 2011 1:03:57 AM

Why can't I view the full site? It cuts off on the left.
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July 23, 2011 1:14:08 AM

ok let me try and correct some things here. it seems like avadirect.com is overpriced. not by much but they are. also amd and intel cpus and not even CLOSE to the same beast. AMD processors get raped by intel processors but intel costs a tad more with the SB models. also dont just get and i7 get a Sandy Bridge i5 or i7 denoted by a 4 digit code following the i5 or i7. it the number is 3 digits its and old series i5 or i7. another thing is hard drives have to main speeds 5400 and 7200 not 5200 and 7400.

so with your none existant "budget" lets see what i can dig up without you having to get too confused.

http://www.xoticpc.com/force-16f2-msi-16f2-p-3078.html?...
if your going to spend around 1000 dollars this laptop will be hard to beat and nothing mentioned so far will beat it. it has the 560m and make sure to upgrade the hard drives to 7200 rpm and the cpu upgrade is up to you. i would get an i7 but and i5 will be "enough".

http://www.xoticpc.com/sager-np8170-clevo-p170hm-p-2971...
if you feel like spending a lot of money take a look at this one. the 580m is just about the fastest single gpu for a laptop out there outside of amd's 6990. this laptop will play every game you throw at it on high. even metro 2033.

the gt 540m is a good gpu but it is not a "gaming" gpu. gaming gpu's are denoted by a gtx not a gt. but that gpu will play most games on medium or high. some other gpus to look at are the 550m 555 the 560m 460m(thats the 560m but old gen) 470m 485m(thats a fast one right under the 580m) or amds offering of there extreme 6970(just as fast as the 485m but half the price).

let me know what you think and ill try to steer you in the right direction
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July 23, 2011 1:24:11 AM

Thanks for all the help.

The second one seems a little pricey, but more reliable and more customizable. If that helps.

Edit: I have a minor question, though. If at any point I decided to try out more impressive gaming and didn't get everything high-end, but it has slots available. Could I upgrade without purchasing a new laptop?
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July 23, 2011 2:15:48 AM

technology moves fast, while you can upgrade with whatever is available now, the tech of tommorow would require a new plug here or a new frequency there.
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July 23, 2011 2:21:54 AM

Ah, well it will be a month or so before I'm able to purchase the computer, schoolbooks and whatnot come first.

But this is giving me a better idea of where to look and what to look for.
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July 23, 2011 2:24:06 AM

Quote:
Thanks for all the help.

The second one seems a little pricey, but more reliable and more customizable. If that helps.

Edit: I have a minor question, though. If at any point I decided to try out more impressive gaming and didn't get everything high-end, but it has slots available. Could I upgrade without purchasing a new laptop?


no you will not be able to upgrade the gpu unless it says you can. most laptops these days have none replaceable gpu's as the are soldered down. you could upgrade the cpu but the new SB cpus will take a long time to be the bottle neck. my cpu never goes over 20% usage in ANY game.
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July 23, 2011 2:35:03 AM

Also, there's another "less overpriced" site called rjtech, they take training wheels off when building a comp. Just remember: the prices are without the windows and cpu price added; to change the price to the actual one you must use the drop down bars to add them on.
The best PC I found you can really buy at the moment:
http://www.avadirect.com/NVIDIA-3D-Vision-Gaming-Notebo...
It has the most powerful mobile gfx card to date, (optional)dual HDDs, up to 16GB of RAM, support for a SB i7 Extreme processor, and a 3d screen with free 3d glasses!

Obviously, you probably don't wanna spend 2K on a laptop how's 1K?
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July 23, 2011 2:36:51 AM

Well, the computer chaorace showed me it said I could replace the graphics card, hard drives should be able to be replaced at any time, right?

What's a GPU?
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July 23, 2011 2:40:29 AM

Quote:
Also, there's another "less overpriced" site called rjtech, they take training wheels off when building a comp. Just remember: the prices are without the windows and cpu price added; to change the price to the actual one you must use the drop down bars to add them on.
The best PC I found you can really buy at the moment:
http://www.avadirect.com/NVIDIA-3D-Vision-Gaming-Notebo...
It has the most powerful mobile gfx card to date, (optional)dual HDDs, up to 16GB of RAM, support for a SB i7 Extreme processor, and a 3d screen with free 3d glasses!

Here's the most powerfull Laptop



Wow, that's... pricey. Lol. But it does look a lot cheaper with better mods than some of the others I looked at with more "top notch" gear slammed in them. 2.2k compared to that one sites computer with all the stuff was around 3k.
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July 23, 2011 2:44:29 AM

yeah, that was essentially the "max" you can expect from a laptop, the "min" being a netbook with an atom processor.

Now, with so many options... a price range could really help any loose limitation like 800-1200 or 1000-1500
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July 23, 2011 2:52:16 AM

I'll probably fork out the 1500 or so for a decent laptop for SCII and DIII.

Probably forgo Dawn of War II for a desktop. Since the laptop will mostly be for school.
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July 23, 2011 2:56:35 AM

Quote:
Also, there's another "less overpriced" site called rjtech, they take training wheels off when building a comp. Just remember: the prices are without the windows and cpu price added; to change the price to the actual one you must use the drop down bars to add them on.
The best PC I found you can really buy at the moment:
http://www.avadirect.com/NVIDIA-3D-Vision-Gaming-Notebo...
It has the most powerful mobile gfx card to date, (optional)dual HDDs, up to 16GB of RAM, support for a SB i7 Extreme processor, and a 3d screen with free 3d glasses!

Obviously, you probably don't wanna spend 2K on a laptop how's 1K?


Quote:
yeah, that was essentially the "max" you can expect from a laptop, the "min" being a netbook with an atom processor.

Now, with so many options... a price range could really help any loose limitation like 800-1200 or 1000-1500


ok come on man do some reasearch. the 485m is not the top mobile graphics card on the market. if your going to give advice atleast know your stuff. http://www.notebookcheck.net/Mobile-Graphics-Cards-Benc...
now the 580 isnt that much better but its definitely better. the 6990 is about 10 fps better in starcraft II but its hard to find a laptop with it.

i personally think the laptop you linked is way to expensive and no one needs 16gb of ram and i have heard not to much good things about nvidia 3d vision due to driver support.
http://www.xoticpc.com/sager-np8150-clevo-p150hm-p-2972...
about 1500 with the same options as the clevo lacking 3d.
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July 23, 2011 3:07:53 AM

I like the look of that one, it looks sleek and more professional.
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July 23, 2011 3:30:37 AM

Honest mistake, I was reading a nvidia blog and some misinformed designer misinformed me about a comparison of the two. notebookcheck.net shows a very negligible 7% +/- difference in performance for the +$300 difference in price...

Also, good choice, I'm using the clevo they used as barebones for that sager for my build; go for the extra color gamut if you've got the money.
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July 23, 2011 3:42:33 AM

What's the difference between those and the "90% color gamut"?

Also, what's the optimal RAM for a gaming laptop? Around 8,000 MBs or so?

And which of these Intels would be best? There's a few and they're only a few points of GHZ and 300$ apart which... doesn't make much sense.

And what's "overclocking"? I hear this term a lot and I have no idea what it means or does, it says it shows the safe levels so your computer doesn't overheat but... is that it?
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July 23, 2011 4:30:30 AM

The higher the gamut, the more colors a screen can display; it's a decent upgrade for gamers and movie watchers if they can spare $100

Optimal RAM would be 8GB+ 1600Mhz. Of course, you need to use use special tools to take advantage of the extra 300Mhz, so go with 1300Mhz or the PnP (plug n' play) RAM.

The extra Ghz only offers minimal performance gains... it's really for splurging...

Overclocking is a process that changes the frequency of the processor, it gives the processor a roughly 15-20% boost, but voids the manufacturer's warranty and can cause the processor to wear out faster. Luckily, XoticPC offers their own warranty on their OCed processors for 2-months (much less than intel's 3 year warranty)
OCing can also raise the temp's depending on the degree of OC; usually to counteract this effect, OCers apply thermal paste such as IC-Diamond, Artic Silver, or MX-2
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July 23, 2011 4:56:00 AM

Ok so... OCing is not what I want to get then?

The graphics card says on the side "user upgradeable" does that mean I can switch it out for another graphics card later on?

Edit: I can replace the HD, disk drive and RAM cards someone said, is that true?
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July 23, 2011 5:30:15 AM

if it says that the gpu is user upgradeable then yes you can upgrade the gpu later but there is a catch. the catch is that you can only replace the gpu with a limited range of gpus as many laptop gpu's dont have the same socket. if you plan on going that route now id do some research on different sockets. for example an AMD gpu cant be upgraded for a Nvidia and chances are you wouldnt be able to upgrade a gt 540m to a gtx 560m or 580m, it would be surprising if you could but i have not heard to many people doing it so i wouldnt know for sure. also one more thing to note, from what i understand the replacement gpu's are more expensive then what it would be to upgrade now by a large amount.

yes you can replace the hard drive, i assume by disk drive you mean like a dvd player optical disk and yes you should be able to replace that, and ram you will be able to upgrade as it is the easiest thing to do.

about the overclocking, i personally wouldnt do it for gaming but comparing the 2630qm and the 2720qm there is a decent jump in performance. the base clock is .2 ghz higher but it turbo's .4 ghz higher which is a decent amount. id would consider that upgrade if you have the extra 100 dollars.
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July 23, 2011 2:37:01 PM

I got that upgrade, check out the difference in benchmarks:
2.0Ghz: 3DMark 06 - CPU: 4892 Windows experience index: 7.4
2.2Ghz: 3DMark 06 - CPU: 5529 Windows experience index: 7.5

In other words, I found that $100 bucks extra was better spent on an ssd... Corsair makes some pretty decent ones right?
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July 23, 2011 4:38:31 PM

Quote:
I got that upgrade, check out the difference in benchmarks:
2.0Ghz: 3DMark 06 - CPU: 4892 Windows experience index: 7.4
2.2Ghz: 3DMark 06 - CPU: 5529 Windows experience index: 7.5

In other words, I found that $100 bucks extra was better spent on an ssd... Corsair makes some pretty decent ones right?

wait till bf3 comes out then say it was a bad upgrade. new games will be quad core optimized and put more load on the cpu especially bf3 which will have its physics engine cpu based. is a big jump and based on your numbers it is an 11% gain for only 50-100 dollars.
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July 23, 2011 5:36:46 PM

both feature 4-cores and like I said, I think the 40% +/- gain from using an ssd would offer more bang for the buck
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July 23, 2011 6:07:00 PM

Quote:
both feature 4-cores and like I said, I think the 40% +/- gain from using an ssd would offer more bang for the buck


ssd's have no effect on gaming. i used to have my games installed on an external hard drive thorugh usb 2 which is limited to about 25 mbp/s compared to a ssd which for a good one will transfer over 200mbp/s and when started putting them on my hdd i saw no performance gain. now i absolutely love ssd's i would never go back but for purely gaming the 2720qm would be a bigger gain.

toms had a article a while back comparing a SB mobile cpu to a i7 990x and the mobile cpu won in gaming. granted it was a 2920xm but still.
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July 23, 2011 8:21:28 PM

ssd should shorten the loading times, the new processors won't bottleneck for another 2 years anyway, and at that point, the money is more well spent on the backwards compatible ivy bridge cpus
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July 23, 2011 10:21:09 PM

What in the world?

Stupid question; what's an SSD?
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July 23, 2011 10:37:59 PM

ssd's are solid state drives they replace hard drives. Why should the hard drive need be replaced? Good question, hard drives have not changed much in the last 15 years, they have higher storage capacities and faster speeds; but it still stays true to a design that's older than the internet. So, SSD's were designed to replace HDD's. They have faster read speeds (which boosts load times and boot ups), are more energy efficient (saves battery), and they have NO moving parts, which will make your computer much more likely to fuction normally after a harsh drop. The downside? Slower write speeds, general performance loss in some specialised applications, Less storage space (even the priciest SSD's have only 500GB), they cost more per GB ( a 128GB SSD runs in at $200), and they are still a new technology ( like a beta product, they are so new to the market that the are still kinda buggy)

PS:
any mobile processor with a 2 at the begining of the model number is a SB chip, so the only difference between the two chips is .2 Ghz and $100
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July 23, 2011 10:40:52 PM

a SSD also known as a Solid State Drive is a type of storage device that has no moving parts and is much faster than a conventional spinning hard drive. it is basically a oversized flash drive. a flash drive and a ssd use the same principle but a ssd is MUCH faster.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solid-state_drive
its main benefits is that they are impact resistant, faster, and use less power. they reduce operating system load times and program load times as well as loading levels inside games but will not increase frames per second.
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July 23, 2011 10:45:31 PM

my post was 2 minutes faster!

PS:
in responce to your previous question: What's a GPU?
Simple, a GPU is a graphics processing unit, it takes the load off the cpu for rendering your game and does about a 10x better job! Picking the right GPU is tough and a higher price or model number doesn't neccessarily mean it's better!
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July 23, 2011 11:27:16 PM

Hmm. Neat.

I wish I came to this site a long time ago, I'm learning a lot.

So SSD's are slightly better, but like some other things that come with laptops, they're still "iffy" and come with cons, like glare vs. matte screens?

I play on a matte screen on my desktop, and the anti-glare, I find to be extremely useful, compared to the glare of my iPad. While the iPad has some nice colors, I notice the matte has a smoother vision to it.

Edit: Something I was going to ask sooner and it slipped my mind: What's "SB mobile CPU"?
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July 23, 2011 11:35:43 PM

This topic has been moved from the section Video Games to section Laptops & Notebooks by Mousemonkey
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July 23, 2011 11:42:24 PM

Sorry if I put it in the wrong section. I was initially asking about gaming laptops but it moved into educational. Lol...
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July 24, 2011 12:21:32 AM

SB stands for Sandy Bridge. It's Intel's latest performance processor line. They are more commonly known as the 2nd gen i processors (think i3 i5 and i7). The i5 and i7 are best for gaming (I prefer i7). The i5 features a base clock of 2.5Ghz and 4 cores (Think mini CPUs) and uses hyperthreading technology which gives each core some extra internal "organs" that allow each core to be treated like 2 mini-mini-CPUs.
The i7 features a base clock of 2.0Ghz, 4 cores, hyperthreading, and turbo boost(lets the processor automatically "OverClock" to 2.9Ghz). The turbo boost effectively makes the i7 more smart and power-efficient than the i5.
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July 24, 2011 12:38:12 AM

But if it "overclocks" the processor, isn't that bad? Also, I looked up some other lappys and switched this one around.

NP5160
15.6" "Matte" type, 95% NTSC Gamut, 1920x1080
i5-2520m
nVidia 540m with Optimus Technology
8,912MB RAM 1333MHZ dual channel memory
500 GB HD (w/ 4GB SSD memory) Seagate XT 7200RPM
6x Blu-Ray/8x DVD/RW
Windows 7 Home Premium.

This is the link to the laptop I was looking at: http://www.xoticpc.com/sager-np5160-custom-laptop-built...

Is it a good setup or... ?
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July 24, 2011 12:44:43 AM

Firstly, this "overclocking" is both safe and covered by warranty and is therefore not really overclocking but "overclocking"

Awesome screen!

go for the i7 if you can!

540 w/ optimus is great for saving power and boosting performance, but for even more kick (at the cost of optimus) you can go for the 560M or 555M

8GB is a great number! just right.

I actually have that HDD. good pick.

I couldn't afford that drive, better pick.

Home premium is good for consumer use; unless this is also a work laptop, you should be fine
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July 24, 2011 12:47:43 AM

In terms of gaming, what would be the downfall of the 540 over something like the 555 or 560?

It's going to be for gaming and school. I intend to get one when my financial aid comes in.

As for the i7, also in terms of gaming, which one would be optimal without "splurging"?
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July 24, 2011 1:26:02 AM

the base or the 2.2Ghz; either one works
3DMark 06 - CPU Benchmarks of the SB processors (higher=better):
i5 2.5Ghz: 3496
i7 2 Ghz: 4892 (40% gain)
i7 2.2 Ghz: 5529 (58% gain)
here is a 3DMark 11 benchmark of the three (higher=better)
GT 540M: 987 (Runs most new games at 30 FPS on medium settings)
GT 555M: 1220 24% gain (Runs most new games at 45 FPS on high settings)
GTX 560M: 2075 101% gain (Runs most new games on ultra at 37 FPS)
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July 24, 2011 2:01:27 AM

Hmm... those components alone, the 560 and 2.2 probably run around 500$ alone, don't they? Finding a computer with more expansive modules is tough too.

Besides the one that cbrunnem showed off. Although that one with those was in the high 1.7k. Wonder if I could find a similar one that's a little less pricey.
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July 24, 2011 2:45:22 AM

What's the difference in wireless cards? Wider wifi range?

And what is the "Zero Dead Pixel" insurance? It says that it might arrive as "DOA", does that mean it might come and the monitor won't work?
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July 24, 2011 2:52:40 AM

Ok, the difference is that the more expensive one's like bigfoot have a longer range and more reliable connection, at the cost of your bluetooth module.

The Zero dead pixel insurance adresses a minor issue with many laptop screens, there is a remote chance (3-4%) that your screen might have 1 or more broken pixels that always stay black. The policy states that if your screen does have a dead pixel, they will treat it as if the whole computer was broken and allow you to send it back for repairs. I didn't get the insurance, no complaints. you won't even find the dead pixel on these 1080p screens unless you really look for them...

No, the screens never ship out as DOA, they do have SOME product testing, though it may be damaged in shipping, in which case, it may be the shippers problem, but it could also be the manufacturer's problem depending on the policy.

Always order a PC a week or more before you need it, in case it has ANY minor defect. Noone wants to go back to school with a laptop that starts to smell like an oil fire after ten minutes...
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July 24, 2011 3:02:09 AM

Ah, ok, that clears it up. Thanks.

Is Bluetooth really a big thing for laptops? I have bluetooth on my phone and I never use it.

Edit: I also read that gaming can wear out laptops pretty fast. How fast?
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