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Ultrabook or similar alternative

Last response: in Laptop General Discussion
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July 31, 2011 7:36:46 AM

Hello everyone. I will be purchasing a new laptop when I return from Africa in 2-3 weeks. I appreciate any and all suggestions. I am calling it an ultrabook, but it can be a little thicker or heaver if meets my needs.

1) What is your budget?

2-3 thousand usd if necessary

2) What size notebook would you prefer?

Thin and Light; 13" - 14" screen

3) Where will you buying this notebook? You can select the flag of your country as an indicator.

United States

4) Are there any brands that you prefer or any you really don't like?

No preference

5) Would you consider laptops that are refurbished/redistributed?

Not unless the warranty is the same

6) What are the primary tasks will you be performing with this notebook?

This is for basic on the go things like microsoft office, web browsing, and movies. I do want to note that I am still tossing around the idea of building an egpu setup to accompany it. For this reason I would prefer one with an available PC slot if I am saying that correctly. The mac thunderbolt is also enticing, but I do not fully understand if it can handle a beefy egpu like say the gtx 580.

7) Will you be taking the notebook with you to different places, leaving it on your desk or both?

I would like a thin and light easily portable laptop to take to class and around, with the ability to hook it up to an egpu and my big hd tv at home. I know I could get a great Sager gaming laptop, but they are too bulky. Hopefully, there are options for someone like me who wants the best of both worlds

8) Will you be playing games on your notebook? If so, please state which games or types of games?

No gaming while its portable, but yes at home. Ideally I'd like to run Crysis and others on high with the 580 connected.

9) How many hours of battery life do you need?

At least 4, but the more the better.

10) Would you prefer to see the notebooks you're considering before purchasing it or buying a notebook on-line without seeing it is OK?

I trust the online community and do not need to see it first.

11) What OS do you prefer? Windows (XP or Vista or Windows 7), Mac OS, Linux, etc.

No preference

Screen Specifics

12) From the choices below, what screen resolution(s) would you prefer? Keep in mind screen size in conjunction with resolution will play a large role in overall viewing comfort level. Everyone is different. Some like really small text, while others like their text big and easy to read. Click here for Screen resolution information.

900p is preferred, but if I will accept 1366x768 if the screen is high quality and most of my other criteria are met.

13) Do you want a Glossy/reflective screen or a Matte/non-glossy screen?

No preference

Build Quality and Design

14) Are the notebook's looks and stylishness important to you?

Sadly yes, but I have seen many that I like. This will not be a deal breaker.

15) When are you buying this laptop?

Ideally 2-3 weeks. Sooner if there are deals or even willing to wait if the new ultrabooks set to come out are a better alternative.

16) How long do you want this laptop to last?

At least 2 years

Notebook Components

17) How much hard drive space do you need; 80GB to 640GB? Do you want a SSD drive?

SSD would be great, but not necessary. 128 or 256 should be enough

18) Do you need an optical drive? If yes, a CDRW/DVD-ROM, DVD Burner or Blu-Ray drive?

No need for an optical drive. I would only want one if it could be swapped for another battery


Thank you in advance for any insights. And here's a totally unrelated side note for anyone still reading. Conditions in Africa are unimaginably dismal. Anyone who can help or wants more information, PM me.
a c 572 D Laptop
July 31, 2011 11:30:52 AM

You'll be wanting to take a look at the Sony VAIO Z


July 31, 2011 4:16:12 PM

I had such high hopes the new vaio z. Everything is perfect except that the video card in the dock is sub par. I was hoping something more equivalent to a gtx 460 or better.
Related resources
a c 462 D Laptop
July 31, 2011 4:42:41 PM

The problem with a powerful video card in a small notebook is heat. The heatsink must be large enough to dissipate heat. That usually means a larger and heavier laptop.
a c 572 D Laptop
July 31, 2011 5:34:35 PM

AMD Radeon HD 6990M laptop graphics will get you performance similar to a desktop HD 6870.
And a NVIDIA GeForce GTX 580M or GTX 485M will get you similar performance to a desktop GTX 460.
July 31, 2011 9:04:53 PM

I am intending to add the graphics card as an external gpu with its own power supply and enclosure so heat should not be an issue. Ideally, I would like a thin and light notebook with a great screen (around 13-14 inches) for just web and office apps and then to plug it into the egpu setup when i get home for hardcore gaming on my hdtv. Anyone have any ideas? I was looking at the macbook air with i7, but i think the single thunderbolt will not support both a beefy egpu and external display. If anyone can enlighten me, please do :) 
July 31, 2011 10:45:58 PM

I think the z is 100% better than the air and it uses a better faster port than thunderbolt. The air uses a ULV cpu that will be alot slower. The z seems to have a bit better battery life than the air and then with the 150 battery add-on it is way better.

August 1, 2011 4:03:01 AM

Macbook Air fits all your needs, as long as you are ok with not having Windows, and therefore no gaming. You still could get a OEM purchase and install using boot camp, but thatsa extra $100

Either way, the Air is very thin, its SSD (believe me, you WANT that) and 13" In addition, yes the thunderport would work with a external GPU
August 1, 2011 9:59:57 AM

My concern with the Macbook Air is that the thunderbolt is only half of the Pro's. Can anyone confirm that I will be able to hook up BOTH an egpu and a external display? Also I would install Windows for gaming, so another issue might be the cpu bottlenecking a beefy egpu like a gtx 580. Would the upgrade to the i7 be worth it even though its only dual core? Thanks.
August 1, 2011 12:08:49 PM

why not just buy a normal thin and light for traveling and get a desktop for gaming? It can double as a backup computer something happens to your laptop.
a c 572 D Laptop
August 1, 2011 12:38:58 PM

I certainly favor the desktop and laptop option on a 3K budget.
Lenovo ThinkPad X220 12.5" laptop ~$900
and a SFF PC with a i5 2500K CPU & top graphics card with a 23" LCD ~$1200
August 1, 2011 4:00:30 PM

For what it' worth, I do not have the option of building a desktop too. This is meant to be an ultraportable for now and then in a few months, I'll add the egpu unit and external display. The only real requirements for it now is a high quality 13-14 inch screen with a good battery life. To be able to optimize a gtx 580 or so, it needs to have the best cpu and either an expansion slot or tb/lp. Other than these reqs, I am totally open to suggestions. Thanks.
a c 572 D Laptop
August 1, 2011 4:36:15 PM

You're asking too much from a single notebook from what's now available.
August 1, 2011 4:45:51 PM

physicsiseasy said:
My concern with the Macbook Air is that the thunderbolt is only half of the Pro's. Can anyone confirm that I will be able to hook up BOTH an egpu and a external display? Also I would install Windows for gaming, so another issue might be the cpu bottlenecking a beefy egpu like a gtx 580. Would the upgrade to the i7 be worth it even though its only dual core? Thanks.


I don't think you could do both with one port and a spliter would limit the GTX 580. The I7 would help some, but the ULV cpu's are not good for gaming at all. The air is just not for gaming or anything taxing on the cpu.
August 2, 2011 4:27:55 AM

The Air's Thunderbolt port is as fast as a regular Thunderbolt port it just can't support as many devices. It can handle 2 channels plus a display port, while other chips handle four channels and two display ports. Think of it as a motherboard having fewer ePCI slots.
August 12, 2011 8:47:02 AM

Bump for more opinions. Much appreciated before I buy.
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