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Performance Laptop

Last response: in Laptops & Notebooks
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August 6, 2011 9:18:08 PM

I'm looking for a laptop for school and wondering about my options. I'm mostly looking at sales/deals because the selection is too wide otherwise unless I can get some recommendations. I just want the best price to performance I can get.


1. What is your budget?
$500-700, but willing to be flexible up to $800~ for a good deal.

2. What is the size of the notebook that you are considering?
14-15"

3. What screen resolution do you want?
1366x768 or whatever standard resolution for the size. Has to be LED. Display quality is one of my top deciding factors and looking at samples in stores, I'm not settling for anything less.

4. Do you need a portable or desktop replacement laptop?
Portable. Lighter then 5 pounds preferably.

5. How much battery life do you need?
Minimum 5-6 hours on casual use.

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)?
Gaming would be a nice luxury but not a must-have priority. Modern games on low/mid-settings would be great. Example games I might play: LoL, SC2, BC2, MMOs, maybe BF3 and Skyrim.

7. What other tasks do you want to do with your laptop? (Photo/Video editing, Etc.)
General school/office use. Multi-tasking, and streamable 1080p video to HDTV. Nothing too CPU demanding yet.

8. How much storage (Hard Drive capacity) do you need?
I plan to swap out the drive if its 5400rpm like most standard ones. But 300-500GB I guess.

9. If you are considering specific sites to buy from, please post their links.
Online : Newegg.ca, NCIX.ca, Retail : MemoryExpress, BestBuy/Futureshop

10. How long do you want to keep your laptop?
Until I need a better one. 2+ years at least

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

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 like ASUS/Samsung for being a quality brand, and have an unjustified bias against HP/Acer/Dell. Feel free to prove me wrong about their quality though.

13. What country do you live in?
Canada

14. Please tell us any additional information if needed.
I've been comparing AMD Llano and Intel Sandy Bridge and can't really make a proper comparison for what's better. I was about to get this A6, but then saw the instore model and realized I wanted nothing less then LED.

How does the Fusion APU integrated compare to a stronger dedicated card (At this typical price range)? What about that APU Dual Graphics, heard there's some driver troubles with that.

I'm in no rush so I'm just getting some recommendations for now while continuing to be on the lookout for deals since I'm such a bargain hunter. :kaola: 

More about : performance laptop

a c 572 D Laptop
August 6, 2011 9:23:41 PM

Hello Eternith;

For a really good value right now take a close look at this option:
Lenovo IdeaPad Y470 14-inch "Sandy Bridge" Laptop Core i3 $615 or Core i5 $679
i3-2310M 2.1Ghz or or i5-2410M 2.3Ghz CPU, 4GB RAM, 500GB HDD, 14" 1366x768 LCD w/ GT 550M graphics.

Which model Llano laptop were you looking at?
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August 6, 2011 9:45:33 PM

Sadly, I think that coupon is only for the USA store, it didn't work on their Canada one. That i5+550M looks nice though.

I was looking at the A6 Llano ones, no particular brand yet. A8 seems better for gaming but seems a bit out of range, especially the dual-graphics one. Sorry, I only know the hierarchy of desktop GPUs, laptop GPUs seem more confusing.
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a c 433 D Laptop
August 6, 2011 10:46:44 PM

Just to let you know, a laptop with LED backlight does not automatically mean it is a quality display.

The quality of the display is primarily determined by the LCD panel type. In the case of the vast majority of laptops at least 95% of them use TN panel technology. They are generally not considered to be quality displays compared to other LCD panel technologies. However, those panel technologies are more expensive to manufacture and thus would increase the price of a laptop if they were to be used in one.

I have a Lenovo Y470 with LED backlight and a TN panel. Trust when I say I am not impressed.

If you really want a laptop with a quality display then you really need to increase your budget. For example, the HP Elitebook 8000 series has an option for an IPS LCD panel known as "DreamColor". That is a quality display. However, last time I checked it was a $400 option on top of a notebook that starts in the low $2,000's.
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a c 572 D Laptop
August 6, 2011 10:59:42 PM

Within the LED backlit panels you have the low end using white LEDs and then you have the higher end B+RG LEDs.
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a c 433 D Laptop
August 6, 2011 11:34:21 PM

True, but not too many laptops use the more expensive RGB-LED backlight. I don't know of any that use one that costs less than $2,000. There could be, but it's something thing I have not researched.

99% percent of laptops use the less expensive WLED backlight which is simply blue LEDs with a yellow phosphorous coating to imitate white. It is not exactly perfect since some there have been some complaints about LCD monitors with LED backlight which have a slightly bluish tone to the colors as a result of WLED.

However, as I mentioned above, it is not the backlight which ultimately determines the quality of the display. It is the panel technology. To be blunt, TN panels simply sucks because the poor viewing angles causes colors to shift when you either move your head or in my case keeping my head still and simply moving my eye to view different areas the screen. They also have problems producing accurate colors, but for the vast majority of people this is unimportant because they are not doing color critical work.

Generally speaking though, people like TN panel monitors because they are inexpensive, and have 2ms response times. However, there is no real difference between 2ms and 5ms response times; the fastest IPS panels are 5ms. They are used laptops because they are inexpensive to buy.
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Best solution

a c 433 D Laptop
August 6, 2011 11:44:44 PM

WR2 said:
See if you can get this to work for you: Extra $250 off IdeaPad Y470
It's an i5 CPU with 6GB RAM and 750GB HDD.




Eternith, the Lenovo Y470 is overall a good laptop for the price. I am actually in the middle of writing a review for it.

However, I suggest you go with either 4GB or 8GB of RAM for better performance. RAM operates in either dual channel mode (faster), or single channel mode (slower). In order for the RAM to operate in dual channel mode, both memory slots must be occupied with the same type and amount of RAM; in other words, matched pairs.

A laptop configured with 4GB of RAM will have 2GB RAM modules in each slot. A 8GB configuration means each slot is occupied by 4GB RAM modules. These are matched pairs and they will operate in dual channel mode.

A laptop configured with 6GB of will have one slot with a 2GB RAM module and other slot will have a 4GB RAM module. Even though both memory slots are occupied this is not considered a matched pair and so the RAM will operate in single channel mode.
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August 7, 2011 12:12:16 AM

Yep, I know about IPS panels and how ridiculously expensive they are.

Quote:
I have a Lenovo Y470 with LED backlight and a TN panel. Trust when I say I am not impressed.

Quote:
the Lenovo Y470 is overall a good laptop for the price.

Those two facts are kinda contradictory, so how bad is the display? I mean, I've never actually seen an IPS panel in real life before, so I have nothing to compare it against. (I do have a Super AMOLED phone though, so I know what quality looks like)

Not too worried about the 6GB RAM, I could just take out the 2GB stick if its affecting performance.

$750 is stretching my budget a bit, but how great of a deal is this? $250- does seem like quite a bit though.

Under specs, it did say this though.
Quote:
Display
14.0 " HD Glare with integrated camera 1366x768

What does that Glare mean? You sound like you have the laptop in hand, so is this really visible glare on the screen or something? Glare is one of the things I hated most on my old family laptop and this is going to be a deal breaker for me if its too visible.
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a c 572 D Laptop
August 7, 2011 12:26:12 AM

Glare = glossy screen, as opposed to anti-glare = matte screen.
You find the matte screen a lot more often in business class notebooks.

Without a requirement for gaming you could get something similar to Dell Vostro 3450 14-inch laptop
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a c 572 D Laptop
August 7, 2011 12:29:15 AM

The 14" Vostro had a configuration option that allows you to add a Radeon HD 6630M for $90. That would make the i5 2410M version total out to about $729
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a c 433 D Laptop
August 7, 2011 12:37:37 AM

Eternith said:
Yep, I know about IPS panels and how ridiculously expensive they are.

Those two facts are kinda contradictory, so how bad is the display? I mean, I've never actually seen an IPS panel in real life before, so I have nothing to compare it against. (I do have a Super AMOLED phone though, so I know what quality looks like)

Not too worried about the 6GB RAM, I could just take out the 2GB stick if its affecting performance.

$750 is stretching my budget a bit, but how great of a deal is this? $250- does seem like quite a bit though.

Under specs, it did say this though.
Quote:
Display
14.0 " HD Glare with integrated camera 1366x768

What does that Glare mean? You sound like you have the laptop in hand, so is this really visible glare on the screen or something? Glare is one of the things I hated most on my old family laptop and this is going to be a deal breaker for me if its too visible.


Chances are you have only used TN panel monitors and laptops because they are just about everywhere. It would be very difficult to walk into a store to by an IPS panel monitor unless you look at the more expensive 27"+ Apple monitors.

Personally, I dislike TN panel LCD technology for reasons I listed above (and some others); I am pretty picky when it comes to displays. However, it is pretty difficult to avoid in a laptop unless I want to buy a HP Elitebook 8000 series that's around $2,500+. For you and most other people TN panel LCD tech should be fine. Besides with only a $500 - $700 budget, that's all you're going to get.

If you get 6GB of RAM with your laptop and you remove 2GB of it, then the RAM will still be operating in single channel mode so you might as well leave the 2GB module in anyway since all you are doing is reducing the total amount of available RAM. I have 4GB of RAM in my Y470.

It means it is a glossy screen. It is very reflective. Most laptops have glossy screens. I plan on buying a protective screen skin that reduces the glare; such as the Green Onion Anti Glare screen protector.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001BYASQ0/ref=ox_sc_a...


Trying to find a laptop with a matte finish screen (not reflective) and can play games will be very difficult. I was looking around for one and I couldn't find one. I was considering buying another ThinkPad like the T420s for around $1,300 - $1,400 after customization, but I was just looking around for a laptop to toy around with so spending that amount of money on a toy just wasn't worth it.
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August 7, 2011 2:09:29 AM

I'm still a little iffy on pulling the trigger so soon in my deal hunting. I have a month of potential sales left after all. Does Lenovo often have deals like this or is this a one time opportunity?

The 4 hour battery life sounds a little bad. I can understand if it was using the 550m full time, but isn't swappable graphics suppose to help with that? How's the battery life JaguarSKX?
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a c 433 D Laptop
August 7, 2011 4:16:09 AM

I am currently running a series of battery tests. So far based on two tests and with my current power settings (include a screen @ 50% brightness) I am getting 3 hours and 40 minutes on a full charge from the moment I press the power button to when the laptop goes into hibernation at the moment the batter drops to 5%.

If you want something with a little more battery life then consider the Lenovo IdeaPad Y460 with a Radeon HD 6550 (I think). It's rated battery life is 5 hours, but it also costs more than the Y470.

Simply stated, if you want a laptop focused more on performance, then you generally sacrifice some battery life. I would have preferred more battery life, like 4 hours and 30 minutes. But I think this laptop will provide sufficient battery power for my needs especially since it will be sitting at home most of the time.

The primary problem with the Y470's battery is that is somewhat small and light. It is certainly lighter than the battery for my old ThinkPad T40. Therefore, it stores less energy.

You may want to consider the Dell Vostro 3450. Based on a test I saw it was able to last 4 hours and 45 minutes on a single charge. But it did not have a dedicated video card, it relied on the Intel HD 3000 graphics core.
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August 17, 2011 5:53:05 PM

Best answer selected by Eternith.
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