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'Portable' Gaming Laptop

Last response: in Laptops & Notebooks
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March 12, 2012 2:49:12 PM

So, I do understand the title suggests I am trying to find the holy grail, but my problem here is balance. Would need a laptop because I travel quite a bit; yet I would also like to play the occasional game. (Desktop is hard cos I may not be in the same country for long.)

1. What is your budget?
Anything.

2. What is the size of the notebook that you are considering?
13"-14"

3. What screen resolution do you want?
Not fussy about this.

4. Do you need a portable or desktop replacement laptop?
Portable desktop replacement. (I don't have a desktop, but I need the portability.)

5. How much battery life do you need?
>6hr preferably for word processing 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)?
Diablo 3 and Guild Wars 2. (Both not out yet, I know). Decent frame rate (50-60fps at medium?)

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

8. How much storage (Hard Drive capacity) do you need?
256GB SSD

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

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

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

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.
N/A

13. What country do you live in?
Singapore

14. Please tell us any additional information if needed.
Would like a HDMI option so I can plug it into my TV (when I'm not travelling)

Thank you very much!

More about : portable gaming laptop

March 12, 2012 3:03:23 PM

I was going for a similar thing and I don't think what you are asking for actually exists at the moment. I ended up with the MSI X-370, it's 13'' and gives that kind of battery life (6-7h for basic use or ~3h for gaming) but is a bit weak for gaming because it only has the E-450 APU. I have managed to play HoN on the lowest settings and Skyrim is just about playable, also on the lowest settings. I would say it might struggle with D3 but GW2 may be OK.

It looks like you are going to have to sacrifice either some battery life and portability or some performance. The E-450 is OK if you are willing to take a hit on performance or something like the A8-3500M if you are willing to sacrifice the battery life and portability. With the A8-3500M and a standard 6 cell battery, you're realistically looking at around 4 hours of basic use or 1-2 hours of games. Maybe add an hour or so to those times if you can find one with a bigger battery.

EDIT: The HP ProBook 6465b looks fairly viable, don't know if it will quite meet your needs in either performance or battery life but it's about as close as I can find. You would be looking at ~20-30FPS at lowest detail settings and maybe 4 hours of battery life for basic use.
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March 12, 2012 3:12:53 PM

Thanks for the quick reply. I'm only gaming if I'm plugged in, so I'm good with 4-6hrs for basic use. Don't really need a 1kg ultralight laptop, so I guess I can give some weight away (though it seems some of the new ultrabooks are pretty.. high performance). Picked 13"-14" so at least with this size of construction it would never get too heavy anyways and will always remain 'portable'. I generally prefer 13", but some of the new 14" ultrabooks seem as small as my ol' 13"!

Didn't want to give too many details so could see what kind of specs others would recommend. Have been looking at a couple of Sandy bridge based laptops (Core i5/i7+Radeon6770M/GeforceSomething-type systems) but am not sure if this is the right direction to go.
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March 12, 2012 4:39:23 PM

gaming laptop and battery life don't exactly go together well.

Sony has a Z-Series laptop which has a 13" 1080p screen and if you get the dock, it will use a external video card when connected to the dock. That video card isn't amazing but it will probably get the job done. It has an i7 option, but it's the Dual Core w/ HT option. It will definitely get the job done, but it won't be knock your socks off for gaming at home. Here's a link if you're interested:

http://store.sony.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/Categor...

If money is no object, you can go with the Alienware M14x - it has i7 quadcore options and a 3 GB GT555M w/ optimus which will be able to handle games with more resource requirements and optimus will help minimize battery usage when you're not fragging on the go.

If you wanted to step-up to a 15" screen, there are a lot more options for gaming laptops. I'll have to research if there are any manufacturers who have laptop docks with PCIe 2.0 ports inside the dock - that would open up the options even more.
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March 12, 2012 4:48:25 PM

I would go with integrated graphics personally, with something like the A8-3500M you have a quad core with decent graphics and the total TDP for the CPU and GPU is 35W. With an i7 or something it's around 35-45W for the CPU alone.
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March 19, 2012 10:37:00 AM

Thanks guys. The Ideapad definitely looks great, except when I see my local store the y470 comes with geforce 550 instead of the ati 7690M. The problem with alienware is that all of them weigh a ton and I don't really need fancy lights running down the sides. The Sony Z-series IS interesting though, cos its really portable (1.2kg) and has the dock that gives it the ati 6650M card.. but its a pretty weak card.

Alternatively, I could swing the other way and get the new 15" macbook pro (i7+ati6770M). lol

I'm actually quite keen to hear more about these laptop+dock combinations. Is sony the only one doing it? Have looked through most of the mainstream manufacturers and seems like no one's big on the dock thing.
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March 19, 2012 3:37:30 PM

If you are going to be playing Diablo 3 you need some serious firepower. I have a beta key and it is FAR more demanding on my system than I thought it was going to be. I have a Sager 8150 with a 580m and an 17-2630m, which, while not as powerful as desktop, is pretty powerful as far as laptops go. I can't, however, recomend Sager enough. Their customer service stinks but they really make an awesome system. I got mine for over 2K, but had I known better, I would have bought it through one of the resellers instead of from Sager themserlves and saved a boatload of cash.

Also, if you want to get into REAL gaming territory, you could go with dual 580's but at that point your laptop is becoming so bulky and so expensive that it is hard to justify purchasing it instead of a desktop, which you could build for half the cost and get way more power out of.

The system has two massively powerful fans, one for the CPU and one for the GPU, and they are kind of loud, but that is the price you pay for mobile gaming. They are really effective though. I know some people overclock with this computer without even adding any additional cooling systems, but I need my warranty so that is out of the question for me!

I may sound like a Sager fanboy here, but I really do believe they make a quality product. I wouldnt think of buying another brand unless I knew for a fact it would outperform Sager. No gaming laptops I have seen match their quality control and construction.

That being said, I am sure there are many good alternatives out there, and I am a relative newb in the computer business compared to most people around here, (but I am trying to learn more :-)

Also, if I could go back, I might have just built myself a system for gaming and bought an el-cheapo laptop for school, and I may have spent around the same amount of money overall! Still though, there are some major advantages to having a mobile gaming computer. If you are a student and move a lot, it is great. I like taking it to visit family around the holidays, etc.

Good luck!

P.S. I totally feel you about the fancy lights of Alienware. I don't know about you, but I am 27 and I am not interested in owning a computer that looks like it belongs to a 15 year old boy. That in of itself has scared me away from Alienware for all these years. It looks like they spend more time on making their computers look cool than on actual performance. The cool thing about Sager is that it looks professional. I take it to school all the time and no one bats an eye. Seriously, I think Monster Energy Drink was the visual inspiration for Alienware's machines.
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March 20, 2012 6:35:14 AM

Thanks for all the inputs. Looks like I got a real short-list right now.

Sony Z-Series: 6650M might be too weak.

Lenovo Y470: 550M is too weak.

Samsung Series 5 & 7: Great construction. 7550M is weak, I guess 6750M is oh-kay. Love the 'express cache' but rather go full-on SSD.

MacBook Pro 15": Good overall but it's pricey, its 15" and it's a Mac (pay extra to get Windows on it).

Acer Aspire Timeline Ultra M3: Heard construction is good. i5-2467M is weak. 640M is great. 15" a bit of a bummer. No SSD also bad.

Asus G- series: 15". Heard great cooling but looks chunky.

Sager: Really powerful system but not sure about the construction/cooling/weight.

If anyone can shed more like on the above would be great. Also, I've read a lot of reviews where there's always some contradicting opinions on whether the 6990M or the 580M is better.. which is better? Seems like 6990M performs poorer but produces less heat and uses less power (and is cheaper). Any thoughts?

Thanks!
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March 22, 2012 10:54:29 PM

swiftlight said:
Thanks for all the inputs. Looks like I got a real short-list right now.

Sony Z-Series: 6650M might be too weak.

Lenovo Y470: 550M is too weak.

Samsung Series 5 & 7: Great construction. 7550M is weak, I guess 6750M is oh-kay. Love the 'express cache' but rather go full-on SSD.

MacBook Pro 15": Good overall but it's pricey, its 15" and it's a Mac (pay extra to get Windows on it).

Acer Aspire Timeline Ultra M3: Heard construction is good. i5-2467M is weak. 640M is great. 15" a bit of a bummer. No SSD also bad.

Asus G- series: 15". Heard great cooling but looks chunky.

Sager: Really powerful system but not sure about the construction/cooling/weight.

If anyone can shed more like on the above would be great. Also, I've read a lot of reviews where there's always some contradicting opinions on whether the 6990M or the 580M is better.. which is better? Seems like 6990M performs poorer but produces less heat and uses less power (and is cheaper). Any thoughts?

Thanks!


I can see the concern about the Sager weight and mobility issue, but I can vouch for the fact that the cooling and construction are absolutely first rate. The CPU and the GPU both have these massive heat sinks attached to them. The first thing I thought when I looked inside my computer was that it the whole system literally looks like a life support system for a graphics card. If I keep the heat sinks clean, which I do, I can play The Witcher 2, the most demanding game I own, and the GPU never goes above 78-79c. This is normal for that particular card, the system is designed to dissipate that kind of heat. Also, go with the IC diamond thermal compound, it helps a lot.

Noise is an issue, but only when gaming. I have taken it to the library many times and the fans have never been an issue while word-processing or browsing.

Remember, the modern gaming lap-top is not very powerful at all compared to the modern desktop. You may find the gaming power under-whelming if you dont go balls-out with the power.

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