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Going to college and need a laptop to game with?

Last response: in Laptops & Notebooks
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March 22, 2012 3:05:56 AM

XPS 17
MEMORY - 8GB Shared Dual Channel DDR3 Memory

PROCESSOR - 2nd generation Intel® Core™ i7-2760QM processor (2.40 GHz, with Turbo Boost 2.0 up to 3.50 GHz)

OPERATING SYSTEM - Genuine Windows® 7 Home Premium, 64-Bit, English

HARD DRIVE 750GB 7200 RPM SATA Hard Drive

VIDEO CARD NVIDIA® GeForce® GT 555M 3GB graphics with Optimus

HD DISPLAY 17.3" FHD (1080p) with 2.0MP HD Webcam & Facial Recognition

INTERNAL OPTICAL DRIVE 8X Tray Load CD/DVD Burner (Dual Layer DVD+/-R Drive)

SOUND OPTIONS JBL 2.1 Speakers with Waves Maxx Audio 3 + Creative SoundBlaster X-FI MB 1.2

So this is a rig I just made and the price is $1,757.. Would this be enough to run games like bf 3, Skyrim, MoH Warfigher (speccs haven't been released I don't think), and demanding games like that? If you have suggestions, PLEASE post them. Also, I absolutely hate customizing laptops for gaming because I don't know what the bare essentials are for what I am looking to do with it. I simply do not know enough about computers to be able to know 100% what I am doing. Prince range is around $1500-$2000. I want to avoid getting it too close to $2000 and definitely do not want to go over $2000. Any help is highly appreciated :love:  Also, I am not sure if this is the correct thread to get this viewed by the gaming people of TomsHardWare so if I should move it somewhere else, please let me know!

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March 22, 2012 3:44:19 AM

Based on what I see in that graph, it is comparing various video cards price and performance. The green bar represents the price of the card while the blue bar represents the performance. If you notice the nvidia 555M card you are talking about costs (green bar) a ton more than other video cards and yet delivers far less performance (blue bar)....

Gaming on a laptop is expensive and mediocre at best. The difference in capability of a desktop computer vs. a laptop is great. That being said the mobility of a laptop is great for various things. Might I suggest you simply buy a really cheap laptop and spend a large portion of the remaining money on a decent gaming desktop??

Decent laptops for anything other than gaming these days are really cheap and it doesnt take that much to build a decent gaming desktop either.

Its also really useful to have both a desktop and laptop especially now with cloud services like dropbox etc.
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March 22, 2012 3:48:44 AM

geogolem said:
Based on what I see in that graph, it is comparing various video cards price and performance. The green bar represents the price of the card while the blue bar represents the performance. If you notice the nvidia 555M card you are talking about costs (green bar) a ton more than other video cards and yet delivers far less performance (blue bar)....

Gaming on a laptop is expensive and mediocre at best. The difference in capability of a desktop computer vs. a laptop is great. That being said the mobility of a laptop is great for various things. Might I suggest you simply buy a really cheap laptop and spend a large portion of the remaining money on a decent gaming desktop??

Decent laptops for anything other than gaming these days are really cheap and it doesnt take that much to build a decent gaming desktop either.

Its also really useful to have both a desktop and laptop especially now with cloud services like dropbox etc.


I understand where you are coming from and I am knowledgeable to the point that I know a gaming desktop has better performance for cheaper. BUT, as I said, I am going to college and need something mobile to be able to do work and play games on. I am not carrying a desktop back and forth from college, that's out of the question. I understand I will pay a lot for a gaming laptop when I can get a similar gaming experience on a desktop for nearly half the price, but I am paying the extra for portability, homework, gaming, school etc. Thanks for trying though :D 
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March 22, 2012 3:52:57 AM

geogolem, good idea. For $400-$500 one can get an entirely good laptop and have $1200 left over for a fairly awesome desktop gamer.
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March 22, 2012 3:54:58 AM

Suit yourself, you will get 20FPS in BF3 or even less at 1080 resolution on that laptop even though it costs $1700.
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Best solution

March 22, 2012 4:04:37 AM

Any laptop you purchase with gaming in mind will be bulky (not portable) run hot and totally underachieve when it comes to game performance/usability...

I doub't you'll want to be playing games in the library or on a bus let alone with a huge and bulky laptop that has horrible battery life and heats up like the sun ;) ..

Honestly I think you would benefit from having a nice reliable desktop computer in your room or house where you live and a nice cheap portable laptop. You don't want to be carrying around a 17" laptop trust me. Its just not portable.

Things are changing so rapidly in the laptop/portable market its a really foolish idea to drop a ton of money into such a device. If you spend $2000 on a laptop I bet you will only get 1 - 2 years use out of it and will feel that it is not satisfactory... if that.. maybe even less... If you want mobility don't buy a 17" laptop. Buy a nice 13" laptop with decent battery life. Save your money and build a nice desktop computer that will give you a good backbone for a number of years. Hell you could buy a new laptop for $500 every year and the second one you buy will be much better than if you spent $2000 on one laptop now.

This is from experience of someone who spent $3000 on a laptop when they started university (albet it 9 years ago)... lol

You don't want to have a heavy bulky laptop. If you buy with the intention of playing games I am quite certain the end result will be a bulky laptop with horrible battery life that will not meet your expectations for any games. You'll end up not really being able to use it for gaming and you'll regret being stuck with such a bulky system..

Just my opinion/experience... no offense...

Plus I think laptops/portable market will change alot after this October when Windows 8 comes out.
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March 22, 2012 4:11:19 AM

Best answer selected by VictorV.
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March 22, 2012 4:12:15 AM

Ok I get it! You guys persuaded me I think. I'll do a little bit more research and I'll figure it out. Thanks a lot for your help guys, really appreciated.
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March 22, 2012 4:18:58 AM

On second thought, you seem to be very knowledgeable Delroy. Can you show me a good gaming desktop for around $1500-1700? I WILL NOT order piece by piece and build it. I am definitely not that guy :) . Ill open or look at a thread that has suggestions but I kind of trust you now so if you can, that would be highly appreciated as well :) 
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March 22, 2012 4:33:59 AM

I just wanted to clarify my point as well... When in university/college a laptop is definitely a great/wonderful thing to have for (1) schoolwork (2) communicating (3)watching movies/tv shows. I wouldn't go to school without a laptop - you will find your studies that much more feasible and enjoyable with such a portable and useful device....

Having said all that, laptops just don't seem to fit the profile for gaming.. the energy/heat issues are a major issue and there is a severe penalty and cost associated with the high requirements of gaming on a portable device.

Things are improving alot and I would expect this situation to hopefully change alot in the next 2 years as the portable market is really heating up with competition and progress.

I would have been at a loss in school without my laptop; however I would have benefited by having a decent desktop rig at home in my room etc.

From my perspective, school requires a laptop. Gaming requires a desktop. The beauty of the situation is that today you can probably get both while back when i started/went to school the cheapest laptops were still at least $1700.

If you select/build the right desktop computer its highly upgradable and can last a long time. Laptops not so much... they are typically a use/replace type of device... especially these days.

Its not that spending 1700$ on a gaming laptop is out of the question. Its nice to be able to do everything with one device; however I just think you really need to investigate the performance of the device and make sure that it will meet your expectations for usability/performance and lifespan...

Again from experience of having multiple devices/computers/laptops over the years I have decided that the ideal situation is to have a decent desktop computer at home while maximizing the portability of my other devices.

Perhaps this article can be of some help:
http://computers.toptenreviews.com/gaming-laptops/the-d...

I'll be interested to see what Delroy comes back with in his suggestion and how his views clash/support mine ;) 
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March 22, 2012 4:46:07 AM

You might try looking to see if that video in your currenly selected laptop can be upgraded but it will be expensive for little gain. You have just about reached the limit for a gaming laptop.
Here is a link to compare laptops and respective cards. The $1999 laptop will outpace your current video card. The lower priced laptops will be about equal to what you already have.
http://www.dell.com/us/p/alienware-m17x-r3/fs
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March 22, 2012 5:09:39 AM

I agree with you posters on the laptop college/gaming responses since you've had the actual experience of finding out what a 10# or 12# laptop can feel like after dragging it around for a few weeks. But if VictorV wants a laptop, he's gonna get a laptop.
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March 22, 2012 11:54:07 AM

Ok well I am not sure if you guys are familiar with college dorming but would bringing a desktop to a school (CUA which is 5 hours away from me) a good idea or even possible? And I am leaving all options open regarding buying a gaming laptop but I will research. Your opinions are highly appreciated, but some other peoples opinions differ from yours so I will investigate further. Thanks a lot guys!
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March 22, 2012 12:39:23 PM

I agree with Geodude. $1000 will buy you an amazing desktop that can handle any game at 1080p at Ultra settings. $1000 also includes a decent monitor, Windows 7 (though you can probably get a great discount as a student), and peripherals.

Then spend $500-600 on a 13-inch laptop with great battery life. Here's a decent one: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
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March 22, 2012 12:42:13 PM

victorv said:
Ok well I am not sure if you guys are familiar with college dorming but would bringing a desktop to a school (CUA which is 5 hours away from me) a good idea or even possible?

Absolutely - unless you've got your heart set on gaming in the cafeteria or library. Seriously, don't waste your money on a hulking $2000 gaming notebook that only provides the equivalent performance of a $600 gaming desktop.
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March 22, 2012 1:30:48 PM

jessterman21 said:
Absolutely - unless you've got your heart set on gaming in the cafeteria or library. Seriously, don't waste your money on a hulking $2000 gaming notebook that only provides the equivalent performance of a $600 gaming desktop.

I do agree now. So now, what do you suggest i do with a desktop? Would the alienware x51 be a good choice? It is small, portable, and the more expensive edition: Intel i7 2600 quad with the Nvidia Geforce GTX 555. That would come up to be around 1300-1400? I need help! Ahaha any advice, again, is appreciated. Please remain off subject on the laptops now, I get it :) .
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March 22, 2012 1:46:54 PM

victorv said:
I do agree now. So now, what do you suggest i do with a desktop? Would the alienware x51 be a good choice? It is small, portable, and the more expensive edition: Intel i7 2600 quad with the Nvidia Geforce GTX 555. That would come up to be around 1300-1400? I need help! Ahaha any advice, again, is appreciated. Please remain off subject on the laptops now, I get it :) .

Sure - that's a nice pre-built desktop that will game pretty darn well. Don't waste your money on the i7 though - the i5 will give you the same performance. Get the i5 configuration with the GTX 555 and 6GB RAM. That will game very well on a 1080p monitor (that you should buy separately from Newegg). I suggest this one - will be great for gaming: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
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March 22, 2012 3:52:38 PM

Something like this will do a good job: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
though that is not an actual reccomendation but more of just a guideline for component specs.

The portable formfactor of the Alienware X51 will definitely be convenient for you. Keep in mind that while the sem-portable form factor may be conventient and offer decent performance you will lose the upgradability factor that comes with a regular form factored desktop... I'm also uncertain as to the performance of the GTX 555 but its most likely much superior to the nvidia 555M.

The AMD graphics cards may provide slightly better performance (so I hear) though I prefer Nvidia due to past experiences with both...

Definitely go for a computer with an Intel CPU. The i5 is probably where you want to end up The i7 is too expensive and doesn't offer that much performance unless you want to delve into overclocking etc. and even then most games are GPU intensive and don't need anything more than an i5. Yes, the CPU is important but CPU technology is general is far beyond GPU technology. If you have the cash, go for it. If you decide on the alienware formfactor I would even more highly reccomend not getting an i7 and only an i5 because you won't be able to upgrade the graphics card in the future. If you do get a regular form factor desktop the i7 isn't such a bad choice though I would still get an i5. The reason being that if in the future you decide to upgrade by getting a new graphics card the CPU could provide a bottleneck etc. In general you should go with the i5 but at the end of the day you have to make the call ;) 

Definitely grab a machine with 8GB of memory. 6GB is probably "good enough" but memory is so cheap these days it won't really affect the overall price. Also upgrading memory later can be a pain because of the need for dual channel etc (matching memory) which means you will most likely replace all your memory if you upgrade in the future anyway. 8GB now is safe, anything more is nice but probably overkill for your needs.

It may be a good idea to wait a few weeks to a month from now before you buy the desktop. Nvidia should be releasing their new graphics card anyday right now which (a) will give you the option to get that new graphics card, or (b) reduce the price of the existing graphics card. I'm not sure how long this release will take to trickkle into pre-built systems. and I don't know how much this applies to the GTX 555 in the alienware x51.

Personally I need a new graphics card for my existing desktop and posed the question on here. I plan on grabbing an Nvidia 560 TI as soon as nVidia releases the new generation and the price on the 560 TI drops.

When it comes to keyboard/mouse i prefer wireless/bluetooth for less clutter etc; however my current Microsoft bluetooth keyboard/mouse have given me headaches and aren't the greatest for gaming. You can simply use a wired keyboard/mouse (which are dirt cheap) but perhaps someone has some advice for the both of us regarding a good and reasonably priced wireless and/or bluetooth keyboard/mice that are decent for gaming. Regarding a game controller - I don't know. I simply use my dualshock3 PS3 controller which works extremely well via usb or bluetooth with a specific 5$ bluetooth dongle from dealextreme.
http://www.dealextreme.com/p/ultra-mini-bluetooth-2-1-e...
It wouldn't work with my computers integrated bluetooth so I bought that for $5 and it works perfectly. I hear xbox360 controllers offer better integration with Windows but this is another issue entirely.

The monitor jesterman suggests will do a good job!

FYI: Also Dell monitors have also been known to be good. A friend/coleague of mine highly reccomends the Dell IPS monitors (he recently bought one for a good price on sale). Take care in choosing a good monitor. Its just as significant and is quite distinct from choice of computer. Often the monitor will serve you well and last a long time, potentially even into the life of your next computer. Take interest also at the aspect ratio of the monitor. I prefer 16:10 or 15:10 over 16:9. 16:9 is nice because if you watch a movie there are no black bars on the top or bottom but 16:10 just feels so much more useful for a computer monitor. I feel 16:9 monitors are too wide looking. Anyway, this is subjective but take interest and determine what you want so you don't end up with something you don't like. The native resolution is also obviously a key point of interest when choosing a monitor. This is likely the resolution you will want to use when gaming and using the desktop.

If I were in the market for a new monitor I would try and buy a monitor that is IPS although those are quite a bit more $$$ for even a smaller size. I currently have a Samsung monitor I picked up a few years ago for like $160 which serves me well for gaming. The best way to buy a monitor is to go to Bestbuy and look at all of them in addition to comparing specs. Its hard to decide on a monitor without looking and comparing the picture etc.

Then search for the cheapest price on the monitor and price match at Bestbuy (or buy it elsewhere).
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March 22, 2012 4:25:35 PM

Hey, I just bought a laptop, and i`m at the University, etc, you know... I bought an Asus A53T whic has an AMD A6 quad core and HD 66501gb ddr3 graphics. I tell you, i have no problems doing my studies with it, watching videos, and all that ¨light¨ stuff, but the real surprise is i can play some games to waste time while i´m bored, for example i play a lot Burnout Paradise maxed out, i just love crashing and doing stunts, haha. And the best part is it cost me around 450€, i´m in Spain. What i am trying to say is that you go for a cheap laptop, like they said above, and you could even buy one to waste some time playing some older games or turn down the eyecandy, i´m extremely happy with mine that´s for sure. At home i have a desktop for ¨hardcore¨ work and gaming, and all this under 1000€, so you decide.


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March 22, 2012 5:32:25 PM

jessterman21 said:
Sure - that's a nice pre-built desktop that will game pretty darn well. Don't waste your money on the i7 though - the i5 will give you the same performance. Get the i5 configuration with the GTX 555 and 6GB RAM. That will game very well on a 1080p monitor (that you should buy separately from Newegg). I suggest this one - will be great for gaming: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Thanks so much Jesterman. I just have one last question. Isn't the i7 supposed to be so much better than the i5? I mean, the i5 is obviously less money opposed to the i7, so how bad will it effect me if I go with the i5 than the i7? Is the price really that much different? Thanks again, you and everybody else really helped me a great deal.
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March 22, 2012 5:35:23 PM

Glad we could help. Also check out the following website: http://game-debate.com/

it is surprisingly good. You can make an account enter your computer specs and it will tell you how well different games will perform on different settings. I found it surprisingly accurate.
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March 22, 2012 5:54:55 PM

geogolem said:
Glad we could help. Also check out the following website: http://game-debate.com/

it is surprisingly good. You can make an account enter your computer specs and it will tell you how well different games will perform on different settings. I found it surprisingly accurate.

Man you guys are great. No joke, you really helped me out a lot and probably saved me a good amount of $$. Love these forums, happy I joined.
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March 22, 2012 6:24:40 PM

victorv said:
Thanks so much Jesterman. I just have one last question. Isn't the i7 supposed to be so much better than the i5? I mean, the i5 is obviously less money opposed to the i7, so how bad will it effect me if I go with the i5 than the i7? Is the price really that much different? Thanks again, you and everybody else really helped me a great deal.

Now that I look at the price difference, either one would be fine. With the i7 you get Hyperthreading, 400Mhz more on the CPU, and 2GB more RAM. Might get you one or two more frames-per-second in games. :) 
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