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Looking for a laptop sub-$500, Sims 3 and flash gaming

Last response: in Laptops & Notebooks
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December 12, 2011 4:40:29 PM

I'm looking for a laptop for my sister for Christmas. I don't have much to put towards it and I'm already asking other family to help. My budget is around $400-$500. I need a laptop that will be significantly better than her recently broken Dell Inspiron 1521. The laptop needs to have at least a 15" screen to keep up with the Dell laptop. It also needs at least 4GBs of RAM, because of what she will be using it for. This laptop must also be able to play Sims 3 without any lag whatsoever. At what quality, it really doesn't matter, the higher the quality the better. She will also be playing online flash games like Cityville. The laptop needs to be able to support not one but a few of these games running at a time without a problem. She will also most likely have a fairly large amount of tabs open in Chrome. Another important factor is a high resolution. The Dell had a resolution of 1280x800, and I would like to upgrade from that. If possible, I was looking to get a laptop with a 17" screen, but I would have to live with a low resolution, and so a 15" screen might be the better choice. Brands don't matter to me. It should look fairly nice. Her Dell was *huge* and heavy, any new laptop will beat that, so I'm not worried. Also, I don't care where I buy it from. I am looking for the cheapest solution to my problem above. I also want the laptop to last as long as possible.

Initially, I started looking for an Intel i3 processor, because I'm not familiar with AMD's naming scheme and don't know the comparative processors. An LED screen would be nice, but definitely not needed.

Thanks for all the help you can give! Below is the standard help-me-pick-a-laptop thing.


1. What is your budget?
$400-$500

2. What is the size of the notebook that you are considering?
15"-17"

3. What screen resolution do you want?
Above 1280x800

4. Do you need a portable or desktop replacement laptop?
Neither, really. This laptop will be carried around from house to house, but it doesn't have to be "portable". Her Dell sure isn't.

5. How much battery life do you need?
As much as a 6-cell battery can give. Doesn't matter, she'll have the charger.

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)?
Sims 3 (as high as possible without lag), flash games (multiple, without lag)

7. What other tasks do you want to do with your laptop? (Photo/Video editing, Etc.)
Nothing extreme. She'll write, browse the web, and play games.

8. How much storage (Hard Drive capacity) do you need?
Not really that important. The Dell had 120GBs, so anything above that is an upgrade. I really really really want a 7200RPM instead of a 5400. The difference is insane.

9. If you are considering specific sites to buy from, please post their links.
Doesn't matter. I love Newegg, but I saw some great deals at Wal-Mart.

10. How long do you want to keep your laptop?
The Dell was my first laptop, and it lasted me from my first year of High School to now (5 years). I would hope that a new laptop would be able to do the same.

11. What kind of Optical drive do you need? DVD ROM/Writer,Bluray ROM/Writer,Etc ?
She should be able to watch a DVD if she wants, but how could you find a laptop without a DVD drive nowadays?

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.
Uhm.. I love HP. I don't really have any problems with any other brand. Well.. I don't like Dell too much. Ugly laptops.

13. What country do you live in?
U.S.

14. Please tell us any additional information if needed.
See above. ^^ :) 
December 13, 2011 3:54:54 AM

That looks nice. Thanks! I like the design. Can it play the Sims 3 without problems?

Does anyone else have any suggestions?

Thanks everyone for the help.
a c 406 D Laptop
December 13, 2011 4:45:32 AM

Your sister should be able to play at low settings.
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December 13, 2011 4:25:40 PM

jaguarskx said:
Your sister should be able to play at low settings.


Without problems? I was hoping for a little higher.. Sims 3 isn't very demanding is it?
a b D Laptop
December 13, 2011 11:48:24 PM

Laptop GPU is not as strong as desktop counter part. I advice against higher res screen because it just put more stress on GPU and performance will be even lower for a low performance GPU if you are gaming. I suggest lower res screen and higher GPU spec. Especially for your price range, when it is be very difficult to get both performance and screen res. The Arrandale i3 has Intel HD 2000 in it and it is slower than the Intel HD 3000 by quite a lot and the HD 3000 is by no mean high end, don't go for it. You will find yourself unable to handle higher demand games should you want to play them. I know you will say you are not going to play battlefield 3, but you are not just going to play Sims 3 right? May be a bit of Portal or Team Fortress and I can assure you that you will want something better than Intel HD 2000 for Portal and Team Fortress.
December 14, 2011 12:17:44 AM

You looking $600 or $700 I'd be thinking... all things consider you get what you pay for some times. Has anyone with a Llano based APU got anything to add... I haven't any thing more to add other than that and "Look away from the Atom and C-50."
a c 406 D Laptop
December 14, 2011 2:35:43 AM

Sims 3 is actually a demanding game. Nothing like Crysis 2 or Skyrim, but it is pretty demanding considering the type of game it is.
December 15, 2011 4:30:17 AM

Does anyone else have any suggestions? I need to get it soon because it's for christmas.

Thanks!
December 16, 2011 3:51:37 PM

I tested Sims 3 on a Core i3 with Intel HD Graphics and it could play it without problems at medium settings at 1366x768. So really, any laptop can play Sims 3 easily.
a b D Laptop
December 16, 2011 10:50:07 PM

I mean it was similar to the laptop I recommend earlier.

I still don't recommend you to get the HP with the older Arrandale CPU with Intel HD 2000, you sacrifice GPU performance and it is not upgradeable. As to the 6GB RAM, you can always add RAM later. Also the Dell Inspiron 1512 is 4:3 1280x800 so it actually has lower res than a 16:9 1366x768, you don't really have to get 16:9 768p+ screen like the HP you picked, to beat the Dell Inspiron screen.

Also, some HP recommendation:

http://www.bestbuy.com/site/HP+-+Pavilion+Laptop+/+AMD+...
http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/ite...
!