Need help with buying a laptop

OK. I am looking for a laptop that can handle your basic architecture software, adobe suite of software, and I play a few graphic intensive games. I have a HP HDX X16T-1200 CTO Premium Notebook PC, which has done ok. No real complaints. But the farther I get in school and the more I have put on this laptop it's just starting to be too much for it. It overheats even sitting ontop of a fan and it will just freeze if I start trying to do too much at once. So I would like to invest in a laptop that will be able to do anything I throw at it. I don't really know a lot as far as technical specs go, so I'm looking to at least get pointed in the right direction. Thanks for any help you can give me!

1. What is your budget?
Not really a concern. I guess keep it under $5000.

2. What is the size of the notebook that you are considering?
17 in or larger

3. What screen resolution do you want?
Very good

4. Do you need a portable or desktop replacement laptop?

5. How much battery life do you need?
not really important. Long battery life would be nice, but I am more concerned with computer performance.

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)?

Um, you name i've probably got it. Battlefield 3, Elder Scrolls, Call of Duty, etc. So, lots of graphic intensive games

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

8. How much storage (Hard Drive capacity) do you need?
I need a good amount. I don't know what to get without just going overboard with it.

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

10. How long do you want to keep your laptop? 3 to 4 years

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

HATE Toshiba. Have had nothing but bad experiences with their product. Want to use Windows, so no MacBooks. Have had good experiences with HP.

13. What country do you live in?

14. Please tell us any additional information if needed.
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  1. Hello and welcome,
    as far as pointing you in the right direction since your budget is so huge (or did you add an extra zero there by mistake??)

    Basically, a default high end laptop today would have something like the following specs:
    CPU: i7-2630 or better
    GPU: nVidia GTX 560 M or better OR ATI 6870 or better
    RAM: 8Gb DDR3 1333Mhz or better
    HDD: 500Gb 7200rpm HDD or better. Here if you are looking for best performance I would strongly recommend considering an SSD (there's a few options, depending on how many bays does the laptop have, but you can go with a single SSD, or SSD for system drive and HDD for data drive combo, but this will probably sacrifice the CD-rom or there are hybrid drives that offer a small SSD combined with larger HDD, something like 64GB SSD + 500Gb HDD)
    Resolution: 1920x1080 Full HD ready or better
    Networking: make sure the wireless is N-capable, there's not much traction for this yet, because not many places have N routers, but in a couple years I'm sure wireless-N will be the new default standard.

    Everything else in regards to DVD or Blue ray drive, casing design and look, matte/glossy screen, etc. is self explanatory.

    Typical gaming models:
    Asus G series (G54/G74 for 15"/17" respectively)
    Sager (Clevo/Malibal/etc) NP8100 series (NP8150/NP8170 for 15"/17")
    MSI Gaming series (the model naming convention still escapes me, but it's something like GT/GX or something similar)
    HP ENVY series I'm sure you can find something to your liking, or take a look at their business models

    Hmm, what else to say, all of the above listed are at least $1k base price, depending on bells and whistles they could easily touch $3k afaik.

    Some websites I can recommend browsing just to get a feel of what the prices are and what features are available out there: an obvious one - custom laptop vendor in USA

    Alright, hope that helps, if you wish to get more specific model recommendations let me know
  2. Regardless of what you choose, you'd probably get far more out of your budget if you bought one ~$2000 laptop now and another in two years. You could stay on top of technology upgrades, and most 1500-2000 laptops can handle most everything you'd throw at it just fine. From what I've seen, past that point the upgrade-to-cost ratio just gets ridiculous too, and super expensive laptops seem more for people with money to burn that want to show off, because in a number of months their $5000 laptop will be on par with a new one thousands of dollars cheaper.

    I would follow Antizig's hardware recommendations, with the amendment that I would probably say the 2760 or better, CPU wise (though in most cases better than the 2760 seems extraneous): the Sandy Bride refresh means that it gives you a pretty good power increase, as well as certain features that the cheaper quad core (the 2630) doesn't have, and it's not a very expensive upgrade.

    Depending on what your intentions are for the laptop, one advantage of Sager (or other Clevo based models), in my opinion, is that they don't necessarily LOOK like a gaming computer: they have a pretty simple chassis aesthetically, rather than things like Alienware or the Asus G series which might, in certain environments, scream "I'm a gamer! Look at me!" when you don't really want it to.
  3. As Aeir points out the 2K laptop and 2yr upgrade cycle has a lot of benefits.

    An alternative strategy is a desktop/laptop combo. The upgradable desktop (maybe a small form factor LAN box) for powering through large projects and staying competitive with future games and a laptop for carrying your projects to class, taking notes, etc.

    Another alternative is a workstation class laptop (although at ~10lbs it's not exactly lap friendly or something you'd want to tote around all day).
    HP has the EliteBook 8760w Mobile Workstation but it's graphics tops out with the AMD FirePro M5950 graphics card - the Radeon HD 6770M equivalent.
    Dell has the Precision M6600 which offers the AMD FirePro M8900 (Radeon HD 6970M) which would be a great gaming card. Other business class perks are 3yr warranties and a more rugged & reliable build quality.
    With Core i7-2720QM 2.20GHz quad core CPU & FirePro M8900 they start out around $2279 in the ready to ship configuration
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