Which laptop for gaming?

Hi, I've been looking around for a new laptop at about the £400 price range (I guess that's around $500 these days?). I want to be able to play some modern games at moderate settings so it's been hard to find something at that price, but I've narrowed it down to 2 Dell Inspiron laptops. The differing specs are as follows:

£418 Inspiron:

CPU: Intel Core I3-2310M 2.10Ghz
GPU: Nvidia Geforce 525M 1GB
RAM: 4GB 1333Mhz
HDD: 500GB 7200RPM

£380 Inspiron:

CPU: Intel Core I3-380M 2.53Ghz
GPU: ATI Radeon HD5650 1GB
RAM: 3GB 1066Mhz
HDD: 320GB, assume the speed is 7200RPM

The cheaper option has a better processor and the graphics cards are about equal, but the 5650 seems to good for overclocking. The only thing that concerns me hugely is memory speed, will it make a difference to a laptop playing games? I don't mind upgrading it to 4GB as it will still be a lot cheaper than £418 in total.

Last thing, the £380 model is a nicer colour. :D
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  1. Thought I'd fill out the form in case someone could find me something else in my price range, but I've done a lot of searching so good luck!

    1. What is your budget? £400

    2. What is the size of the notebook that you are considering? 15 inch

    3. What screen resolution do you want? 1366x768

    4. Do you need a portable or desktop replacement laptop? Desktop replacement, but I will ocassionally carry it around.

    5. How much battery life do you need? Couple of hours would be nice, but it doesn't matter too much.

    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)?

    Crysis - Med-high 1366x768
    Dawn of War 2 - High 1366x768, reasonable?
    Starcraft 2 maybe - Med-high 1366x768
    Diablo 3 when it comes out, med settings I guess

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

    Use Office a lot, watch movies and streams, ocassionally use a DAW.

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

    Anything over 200GB is fine really.

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

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

    2 years.

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

    DVD RW is fine.

    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 preference really.

    13. What country do you live in?

  2. You really should assume the 320GB HDD in the £380 Inspiron is a 5400rpm drive. It's the 'standard' speed in the budget models.
    RAM speed differences will be negligible.
    Check on the GT 525M OC ability using RivaTuner. I believe its on par with the HD 5650 using CCC.
    Core I3-2310M 2.1Ghz would be equivelent to a 2.4Ghz 1st gen Core i CPU. That's not enough difference to be noticed.

    The one other difference is probably the resale value a few years down the road favors the 2011 model, not the 2010 model.

    Everything is 'close enough' to pick the lower priced option if you prefer it.
  3. Thanks for the reply. At factory settings are the graphics cards about equal? Would I notice any difference in gaming between the two laptops? If not then I'll go for the cheaper model and upgrade to 6GB memory to take the cost to my budget of £400.
  4. Do not bother with 6GB RAM upgrade. It won't make a difference in performance.

    Virtually identical performance: If you check the list next to the reviews the cards are ranked in order of performance. Look midway down in Class 2.
    ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5650 review
    NVIDIA GeForce GT 525M
  5. I'm going to assume those benchmarks are at 450Mhz because the 5730 shows better performance and is essentially the same card with a higher core speed.


    Thanks for the help. I think I'll go for the £380 model as I won't be paying anyway and £40 extra for a laptop purely because it has a better hard drive and memory would make me feel bad. As I see it, performance where it matters to me in games will be similar, if not better in the cheaper one.
  6. I really would like to upgrade the memory to 6GB, but can I use any brand of memory in a Dell? Kingston do a 4GB stick for £20 which fills the budget and gives me peace of mind with regards to memory usage in Crysis.
  7. Use CPU-z program and get the specific details of RAM installed in the laptop.
    Choose RAM that closely matchs the spec details of what's installed.

    If in doubt you can ask here, or in the THG Motherboards & Memory Forum
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