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Gaming Laptop

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March 26, 2012 1:47:32 AM

I need to buy a new laptop and I am a hardcore gamer. I will also do some video & music editing, and all the normal browsing/spreadsheet/document creation/etc. I want a machine that will rock games and have the following requirements.

Budget: 3k (If I don't need to spend it all, good. It's not burning a hole in my pocket)

3D capability: YES. I want to play current/future games in 3D. My big concern with this is that it seems 3D laptops use the Nvidia 560M, and I am worried that this card might be to weak. Advice needed.

Battery: 99% of the time I plug in, so not a large concern.

Weight: My current XPS M1710 is approx 8.5 lbs. I will carry my new laptop everwhere, so I would like to stay around this weight or lower. I would just go with a desktop replacement, but I will carry this computer between work and home /every/ day.

Screen Size: 17 inch strongly desired.

Aesthetics: I would love the thing to look cool (lights, etc), but this is in no way a true requirement.

Games: I want to play the very best and the highest settings.

Here are the specs of a computer I have been looking at:

Screen 17.3" 1920 x 1080 Full HD (16:9) LED Display Matte Type 120Hz 3D Ready w/ Nvidia 3D Vision Glasses
CPU Intel Core i7-2670QM Processor, 2.2 GHz (Max Turbo Frequency 3.1GHz), 6MB Smart Cache
Thermal Compound IC Diamond Thermal Compound - CPU + GPU $35.00
Memory 24GB, PC3-12800/1600Mhz DDR3 - 2 x 8GB + 2 x 4GB $255.00
Graphic Cards NVIDIA GeForce GTX 560M w/3GB GDDR5
Hard Drive 750GB/7200rpm Seagate Momentus XT Hybrid Drive w/8GB SSD Memory SATA-600 (SATA III 6GB/s) $132.00
2nd Hard Drive 750GB/7200rpm 16MB Cache Buffer SATA-300 (SATA II 3GB/s)
Operating System Windows 7 Home Premium Edition 64-bit
Microsoft Office No Microsoft Office
Optical Drive 6x Max. Blu-Ray Writer/Reader / 8x Max. DVD±R/2.4X Max. +DL Super-Multi Drive
2nd Optical Drive N/A
Battery Li-ION Battery Pack
Integrated Wireless Lan Intel Advance-N 6230 Wi-Fi + Bluetooth Combo $30.00
Integrated Bluetooth Please Check Option in Integrated Wireless Lan Section
Keyboard Backlit Asus Standard White Backlit Keyboard
LCD Protection Asus 30 Days Zero Bright Dot
Warrany Service: 3 Year ASUS North America Warranty & 3 Year North America Accidental Warranty (Registration Required) $249.00
Priority Service: Ready to ship in 1 business day $39.00
Standard Accessories Asus G Series Gaming Mouse include
Asus G Series Backpack made by Targus include
Built-In HD Web Camera
Built-In Gigabit Ethernet LAN
Built-In 8-IN-1 Flash Memory Card Reader(MMC/RSMMC/MS/MS Pro/MS DUO/MS Pro DUO/SD/Mini-SD)
3 USB 2.0 Ports
1 USB 3.0 Port
1 HDMI Output
1 VGA/Mini D-sub 15 pin outport
1 Kensington Lock Port
2 Audio Jacks for Headphone-Out (S/PDIF) and Microphone-In
1 100/240V Autoswitch AC Power Adapter
1 Year Asus Battery Pack Warranty
1 Year Asus North American Accidental Damage Protection (Must be registered with Asus within 60 days of purchase)

Sub Total: $2,639.00


Again, I would love to have 3D, but my worry with this machine is that the 560M is subpar to the 570 or 580.

Thoughts and advice would be appreciated.

More about : gaming laptop

March 27, 2012 12:33:42 AM

I was always told the best gaming could only be accomplished on a desktop. About 6-7 years ago I bought a Dell XPS M1710 and I am still using it. It is only now (within the last year) come to the point where I can't play the best games on it. That's 5 fulls years of great gaming from a single laptop. I spent about $2500 on it back then, but because it's lasted so long, I am completely happy with it.

So now it is time to buy a new laptop. My budget is about the same, between 2500-3000 and I see no reason why I can't expect to get another laptop that will allow me to game in bliss for the next 5 years.

The only question now is, which one do I get?

My biggest question is with the video card. I want 3D, but it seems all the cards for this are the Nvidia GTX 560M. Everything I read leads me to believe that the 560M is a midranged gaming card at best. So is it the 3D that is holding me back? I would think to accomplish 3D, it would require one of the best cards! Getting a midranged gaming card now won't lend to keeping this computer for 5 years.
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March 27, 2012 6:06:37 AM

I am torn on how to as to how to advise you on this one. I went with the gaming notebook option because I needed a new computer for school, and I had 3k to blow on it as well. I assumed I would get the best of both worlds, mobility and gaming power. However, I didn't really realize how far behind laptops are in comparison to desktops. I have a Sager 8150 with a i7 processor and a 580m, which is pretty powerful as far as laptops go. Yes, I can run most modern games pretty well, but what I failed to realize is that, for $3K, I could build myself a screaming desktop gaming power-house.

Don't get me wrong, I love my computer and I truely believe Sager puts out the best gaming notebook on the market. However, the sheer fact that I spent 3K on this laptop makes me very cautious about hauling it around campus every day. Eventually, it will get dropped or smacked into a wall, or get coffee spilled on it. The more I fall in love with my notebook, the less I move it around.

In retrospect, this is what I would have done: (1) I would have bought a thinkpad for school. They make a great, no frills, small, portible and inexpensive business computer for under 1K. I have had friends who have dropped them down a flight of stairs, and they still work. (2) I would have used the rest of my 3K to build the best gaming machine I possibly could.

This would allow me to rip through any game on the market, and still have a solid school computer.

Now, if you are set on a laptop, please consider buying a Sager or any other notebook build on a Clevo frame.

http://forum.notebookreview.com/sager-clevo/

They are really the best out there when it comes to gaming. Sager has bad customer service, but a great quality product, therefore I recomend you buy through one of the resellers on the website I linked you to. You will get a great machine with an extremely powerful GPU and an ingenious cooling system. More people need to know about this company. It is better than alienware, and it also lacks the stupid looking frills that a lot of gaming computers sport.

Anyway, even if you don't buy one, at least take a look at the link I gave you. I'm not a fan-boy, I just believe they have a great product and are a great option for mobile gaming. :D 
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March 27, 2012 6:43:09 AM

I'm a little confused on your standards. You play on a gaming laptop for 6-7 years? You'd have better performance with the $357 A6-3400M w/ Radeon 6650M I just bought than the Dell XPS M1710 I just googled with a 7900M GTX.

I guess I just mean that you'd spend more time with a good computer if you upgraded every 4 years for $1600. And I'm more comfortable recommending something in that price range than the $3K range. Anyhow, I'm gonna go see what I can find on xoticpc.com. They sell Sagers.

Btw, can you link the laptop you were originally looking at? I'd look for something with upgradeable dual MXM Type B slots.
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March 27, 2012 6:57:50 AM

Get a cheap laptop/netbook and build a gaming PC. THAT is the best of both worlds. The laptop will be more portable, have better battery life and wont give you 3rd degree burns when you use it, and the PC will play everything far better than the laptop.

There really is no reason to spend so much on a laptop unless you have money to waste.
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March 27, 2012 9:40:14 AM

welshmousepk said:
Get a cheap laptop/netbook and build a gaming PC. THAT is the best of both worlds. The laptop will be more portable, have better battery life and wont give you 3rd degree burns when you use it, and the PC will play everything far better than the laptop.

There really is no reason to spend so much on a laptop unless you have money to waste.


This. I love my Sager 8150, and I think it is an excellent machine and pretty damn good for gaming, I would do what he recomends and get a cheap, durable, small laptop and build a nice gaming computer.

My gaming laptop is essentially just a life-support system for a massive GPU anyway--and while its engineering is pretty amasing and it's pretty cool how far laptops have come in the gaming department, I would just build myself a desktop if I were you.

Are you uncomfortable with building your own machine? There is lots of great info out there. I haven't built a desktop yet but it is a priority of mine to build an awesome gaming PC within the next year or so. Personally, I think it's more fun to build your own anyway. You will learn a lot if you are a relative noob like myself, and it takes a lot of the mystery out of computers.

Good luck, and if you decide to get a gaming laptop get a clevo-based notebook.
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March 27, 2012 2:44:33 PM

I really appreciate all the great advice. The comment about a $650 current computer running things better than my 5 year old 3k computer has really opened my eyes.

Here is where I am at. I need a computer for my work. On this computer I will be using Indesign, Photoshop, word, excel, and then I will also be doing some video/sound editing via Movie Studio Pro and Sound Forge. I want this computer to be portable so I can work at Starbucks, Library, on a plane, at home, etc. I will also use this computer to watch movies and play some games when away on vacation.

Now, I also need a computer that I can do high end gaming on at home. This is where I hear you guys saying I should do the desktop thing, and I hear you. My main concern is this:
If I buy a computer through work I can pay for the whole thing (up to 3k) and I can write it off. If I spend just enough to get the work laptop, say 1k, then I will have to come up with all the money for the desktop out of my own pocket. So it seemed like I should just go ahead and get a rocking laptop.

What are your thoughts on this?

Also, if I was going to get a laptop for work that would do the above, how much would a good one cost, and any advice on which to get? (assuming I would do the gaming on the home desktop)

Again, I really appreciate you guys taking the time to help.
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March 27, 2012 10:45:00 PM

in that case, the laptop does seem like a much more reasonable choice.

In all honesty, I would go with a laptop that will do what you need without going overboard. something with a good nvidia portable card, but not so overpowered that it will destroy battery life.

personally, I would still build a gaming PC. cause no matter how good the laptop is, the PC will be better.
But if the laptop is not going to cost you? head over to origin PCs and get a beauty.
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March 27, 2012 11:59:21 PM

If you're doing Photoshop, then there's actually a utility to an i7 laptop.

I think you should pick up an i7 laptop with dedicated graphics and see if you're happy with that machine for around $600. HP regularly has them for $650 after it's 33% off deals. Keep an eye on slickdeals.net or techbargains.com for laptop deals.

Earlier this week, there was a Lenovo Refurb w/ i7-2670QM & GT 555M: http://outlet.lenovo.com/laptops/0862xd1.html?AID=10383...
Lenovo "Refurbished" or "Scratch & Dent" are essentially "like-new" and come with a 1 year warranty. Something like this will come up again in the next week or so.

This isn't the cheapest this has ever been, but here's a thread that discusses it: http://slickdeals.net/f/4117287-Refurb-Lenovo-IdeaPad-Y...

So I'm thinking you try something like that is that will play all games out there better than your current laptop for $600-$650 (maybe cheaper if you find a deal). Would it be impossible to build a desktop and call it a "business" desktop? I don't know your business arrangement, but there's no laptop (shy of the LGA 2011 laptops) that will keep up with a desktop for productivity.

As far as comparing mobile GPUs, this is the best place: http://www.notebookcheck.net/Mobile-Graphics-Cards-Benc...
And Mobile CPUs: http://www.notebookcheck.net/Mobile-Processors-Benchmar...

I looked into that mobile 3D gaming and didn't see a lot of options. Like you said, there's the one Asus with the GTX 560M and then there's an HP Envy with a ridiculously inadequate GPU--I assume the focus is 3D movies mostly?

EDIT: If you can find something with a GTX 460M or better for around $1,000, it may be worth your money. But I have trouble recommending you pay $400+ to upgrade from a good mobile GPU to a great one while keeping the same CPU and everything else.

Also, I neglected to mention the importance of screen resolution. You'll probably be wanting to look at 1600x900 or higher screens since you'll be doing productivity on your laptop. That will impact the strength of the GPU you'll want for gaming. Btw, what games do you play. If you play Just Cause 2, then all the machines I've mentioned will do a great job. If you play Metro 2033, BF3, and Crysis 2, then you'll have to settle for medium settings.
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March 28, 2012 2:52:32 AM

So, I found this!

http://www.techbargains.com/news_displayItem.cfm/291949

I know nothing about this video card. Will it allow me to use photoshop/indesign/etc. And how about games like metro 2033? Diablo 3? BF3? Star Wars Online?

Looks like this deal will go fast, so any quick advice will be appreciated.

Also, can the memory be upgraded later?

Also, how about this one?
http://www.techbargains.com/news_displayItem.cfm/292213


orrrrr, this one:
http://www.techbargains.com/news_displayItem.cfm/292264
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March 28, 2012 2:56:23 AM

the second laptop would be better for gaming. SWTOR and BF3 are both very demanding games so i would go with the latter.
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March 28, 2012 5:02:09 AM

You can look up the video card (GPU) on the notebookcheck.net link I gave you above.
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March 28, 2012 5:11:44 AM

Look here to compare notebook graphics/GPU: http://www.notebookcheck.net/Mobile-Graphics-Cards-Benc...
Look here to compare notebook CPUs: http://www.notebookcheck.net/Mobile-Processors-Benchmar...
I give you these links so that you can look stuff up on yourself faster than I can to help you.

The Dell Dell XPS 17 is equivalent to the Lenovo one I linked above for $610. So at $1200, that's a pretty big rip off.

The Dell XPS 15 w/ a GT 525M for $850 won't play many games very well. Metro 2033 will essentially be unplayable considering I don't really consider it playable on the much stronger 6770M--although it works on LOWEST settings, it looks like it's from 2006.

The HP dv7tqe with the $25 Radeon 7690M upgrade for $860 total is a solid buy. It's a better gaming machine than either of the others. I'd also get the $20 750GB 7200rpm HDD upgrade. Don't be too worried about this deal though. HP has been offering it every two weeks for the last year. The only changes are different HDD offerings, more RAM, higher resolution screens, and Blu-ray. So, basically, they only sweeten the deal with time, so this will always be available for you in two weeks if you miss it today.
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March 28, 2012 5:14:06 AM

So it seems I am down to 3 choices, each having pros and cons:

https://www.shopping.hp.com/webapp/shopping/cart_detail...
(Price of this is actually $1128.27 after coupon.)
Pro: 3 year warranty. 33% coupon bringing price down (or is this like the car trick...raise the price and then offer a great discount)
Con: I don't know if this is a good video card for gaming compared to the other choices

http://www.techbargains.com/news_displayItem.cfm/292213
Pro: seems like a great price. Bigger battery. 17 in monitor.
Con: again don't know how this video card compares to the others for gaming


http://www.techbargains.com/news_displayItem.cfm/292264
Pro: Least expensive of the three. 525m w/ Optimus...is this the best card of the three?
Cons: small screen! Would rather have 17in, but could live with it for the price if the computer is the best of the three by a large degree.
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March 28, 2012 5:18:43 AM

dalauder said:
Look here to compare notebook graphics/GPU: http://www.notebookcheck.net/Mobile-Graphics-Cards-Benc...
Look here to compare notebook CPUs: http://www.notebookcheck.net/Mobile-Processors-Benchmar...
I give you these links so that you can look stuff up on yourself faster than I can to help you.

The Dell Dell XPS 17 is equivalent to the Lenovo one I linked above for $610. So at $1200, that's a pretty big rip off.

The Dell XPS 15 w/ a GT 525M for $850 won't play many games very well. Metro 2033 will essentially be unplayable considering I don't really consider it playable on the much stronger 6770M--although it works on LOWEST settings, it looks like it's from 2006.

The HP dv7tqe with the $25 Radeon 7690M upgrade for $860 total is a solid buy. It's a better gaming machine than either of the others. I'd also get the $20 750GB 7200rpm HDD upgrade. Don't be too worried about this deal though. HP has been offering it every two weeks for the last year. The only changes are different HDD offerings, more RAM, higher resolution screens, and Blu-ray. So, basically, they only sweeten the deal with time, so this will always be available for you in two weeks if you miss it today.




Doh! My previous post was written at the same time as yours.
So xps 15 is out!
Xps 17 is same as Lenovo, but overpriced.
Sounds like I need to see if they are still selling the Lenovo.
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March 28, 2012 5:40:31 AM

The Lenovo was OOS earlier today. But it might come back. The good news is that thanks to the impending Ivy Bridge launch, Sandy Bridge i7's are finally tanking in price. Personally, I'd definitely wait until the Ivy Bridges launch though if I couldn't find a deal like the Lenovo one (which is worth the price even with Ivy Bridge coming).
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March 28, 2012 5:42:34 AM

So the site with the Lenovo is down. Either way, I am taking your advice with the hp and upgrading a few of the components. Are you not recommending the upgrade to the 2ig video card? Also, looking at it now, it seems silly to spend $200 for a warranty on a machine that is only worth $900. Any reason to upgrade the battery? Wireless card?

Also, I did upgrade the screen to the higher resolution.
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March 28, 2012 5:51:13 AM

dalauder said:
Look here to compare notebook graphics/GPU: http://www.notebookcheck.net/Mobile-Graphics-Cards-Benc...
Look here to compare notebook CPUs: http://www.notebookcheck.net/Mobile-Processors-Benchmar...
I give you these links so that you can look stuff up on yourself faster than I can to help you.

The Dell Dell XPS 17 is equivalent to the Lenovo one I linked above for $610. So at $1200, that's a pretty big rip off.

The Dell XPS 15 w/ a GT 525M for $850 won't play many games very well. Metro 2033 will essentially be unplayable considering I don't really consider it playable on the much stronger 6770M--although it works on LOWEST settings, it looks like it's from 2006.

The HP dv7tqe with the $25 Radeon 7690M upgrade for $860 total is a solid buy. It's a better gaming machine than either of the others. I'd also get the $20 750GB 7200rpm HDD upgrade. Don't be too worried about this deal though. HP has been offering it every two weeks for the last year. The only changes are different HDD offerings, more RAM, higher resolution screens, and Blu-ray. So, basically, they only sweeten the deal with time, so this will always be available for you in two weeks if you miss it today.


I am looking at the gpu comparison chart and I don't see muh difference in the benchmarks between the 7960m and the 525m. I don't really know how to read them, but most of the benchmarks on the right side of the chart look the same. With the exception that the 525m has numbers in the first category while the 7960m doesn't.
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March 28, 2012 5:57:50 AM

just a note: the HP DV7 series laptops have dual HDD bays. My hp has a ssd that i added in bay 1, a 1 tb in bay two, and i didnt have to give up my dvd
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March 28, 2012 6:13:49 AM

Etera said:
So the site with the Lenovo is down. Either way, I am taking your advice with the hp and upgrading a few of the components. Are you not recommending the upgrade to the 2ig video card? Also, looking at it now, it seems silly to spend $200 for a warranty on a machine that is only worth $900. Any reason to upgrade the battery? Wireless card?

Also, I did upgrade the screen to the higher resolution.
For me, personally, I don't find an upgrade from 1600x900 to 1920x1080 to be THAT important, considering it's $100 (after 33%). I suppose since all the upgrades are 33% off, I'd pay the $40 for a 9-cell battery with a 6-cell extra. Since we all know laptop batteries die in time, you may be pretty happy to have an extra sometime. It'll also be handy if you want to game during a plane flight or something like that.

Keep in mind that your graphics card will be 69% as fast at 1920x1080 as it will be at 1600x900 (144% pixel increase). I doubt upgrading the wireless card will ever be noticeable, if even measureable.

The 2GB graphics card will pretty much NEVER matter: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/radeon-hd-6950-1gb-...
And, of course, your graphics would be on lower settings than these high-end desktop cards, so the performance difference between the 1GB and 2GB versions will be smaller.

As chudddds said, the 2nd HDD bay will be perfect for an SSD upgrade. I'd buy a Crucial M4 when it goes on sale.
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March 28, 2012 6:18:28 AM

Etera said:
I am looking at the gpu comparison chart and I don't see muh difference in the benchmarks between the 7960m and the 525m. I don't really know how to read them, but most of the benchmarks on the right side of the chart look the same. With the exception that the 525m has numbers in the first category while the 7960m doesn't.
The simplest thing to look at is ranking. The second simplest is the 3DMark Vantage score. You'll see the 7690M (not 7960M) gets 5337.5 while the 525M gets 2927.4. Theoretically, this would translate to a 7690M getting 182% of the framerate of the GT 525M. And in practice, it'll vary between a little less than that and a little more than that. So these cards really aren't comparable. Whereas the 555M gets 4847.1, or about 10% less performance than the 7690M. This is a decisive advantage for the 7690M, so you can expect the 7690M to be significantly faster in a some games and about the same speed in others.
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March 28, 2012 6:19:44 AM

Btw, I do think the upgrade from 1366x768 to 1600x900 is a big deal. But 1920x1080 beyond that doesn't matter too much to me. If it matters as much as $100 to you, then it's worth it. But it's not worth the gaming performance loss to me.
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April 1, 2012 11:13:31 PM

I'm closing this tab in my browser. PM me if you come back.
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!