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Help a tech-illiterate out: which one should I grab?

Last response: in Laptops & Notebooks
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March 27, 2012 1:31:43 AM

Ok, I'm not completely tech-illiterate, but I'm stuck in some sort of dilemma, and I'm hoping one of you can make it easier for me to choose. TL;DR @ bottom.

I'm looking for a new laptop to replace both my stationary and my old laptop computer. I'm soon traveling to Australia to study, and therefore I need a portable computer. I would very much like the computer to be able to play games with high resolution (17'' with 1920 x 1080), but also be able to handle music production (RAM and lots of cores is needed, I guess).
I saw these two DELL computers just a minutes ago:

TL;DR:
I want to play games, and produce music. Preferred games: Skyrim, BF3 and the likes...

DELL XPS L702X CI5 2.5 6GB/750 GT555M 17.3" W7HP
Screen: 17'' LED / 1920 x 1080
Processor: Intel Core i5 2,5 GHz
RAM: 6 GB / 16 GB 1333 MHz
HDD: 750 GB @ 7200 RPM
ODD: Blu Ray & DVD
GPU: GT 555M with 3072 MB dedicated memory

DELL XPS L502X CI7 2.2 8GB/750 GT540M 15.6" W7HP

Screen: 15,6'' LED / 1366 x 768
Processor: Intel Core i7 2,2 GHz
RAM: 8 GB / 16 GB 1333 MHz
HDD: 750 GB @ 7200 RPM
ODD: Blu Ray & DVD
GPU: GT 540M with 2048 MB dedicated memory

Which one should I grab and why? The former has the screen and resolution I want, while the latter holds more RAM and a better processor (I think). I'm not really sure which GPU of the two is better.

Thank you :) 

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March 27, 2012 1:39:14 AM

Go for the first, I think. The 555's definitely a better GPU, and it sounds like you'll appreciate the bigger and better screen. I doubt you'll max out 6gb of RAM, but if you do you can just add some more. How much do these cost?
March 27, 2012 1:44:58 AM

I live in Norway, where they cost NOK 6950 (17'') and NOK 7199 (15,6''). This translates to about USD 1225 (17'') and USD 1270 (15,6''). They would handle better graphics than consoles, no? That's where I'm coming from, a PS3 :) 
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March 27, 2012 1:55:51 AM

I would also say go for the first one. From what i've read GT < GTX, and seeing as how you can't change the GPU later on down the road as you can with a desktop, get the best one you can buy. Also, you can easily add more RAM later on down the road. I went from 6GB to 8GB and didn't see that much of a difference in games and such, though.
March 27, 2012 2:03:58 AM

kyraiki said:
I would also say go for the first one. From what i've read GT < GTX, and seeing as how you can't change the GPU later on down the road as you can with a desktop, get the best one you can buy. Also, you can easily add more RAM later on down the road. I went from 6GB to 8GB and didn't see that much of a difference in games and such, though.


Thanks for fast replies :)  My gut tells me I should buy the first one. How about processors? Is the i5 sufficient? And are there other better computers in this price range (computers are usually a lot more expensive in Norway, compared to the US)?
March 27, 2012 2:41:30 AM

The array of laptops out there is bewildering to me, so I can't pull a superior one out of the air. What are the specific models of the CPUs?
March 27, 2012 2:56:46 AM

The i5 is sufficient for most computing tasks as Hyperthreading is easily overshadowed by higher clockrate, including gaming.

However, if you plan on using software that are heavily threaded, such as photo/video editing, then the i7 might shine.
March 27, 2012 11:29:44 AM

kajabla said:
The array of laptops out there is bewildering to me, so I can't pull a superior one out of the air. What are the specific models of the CPUs?


It didn't say on the site I'm buying from, but after looking at the same computer on DELL's homepage, I think I found it:
The 17'' has a (Second generation) Intel® Core™ i5-2450M processor (2.50 GHz with Turbo Boost up to 3.10 GHz), while the 15'' has a (Second generation) Intel® Core™ i7-2670QM prosessor( 2,2 GHz, with Turbo Boost up to 3,1 GHz)
March 27, 2012 11:32:41 AM

A Bad Day said:
The i5 is sufficient for most computing tasks as Hyperthreading is easily overshadowed by higher clockrate, including gaming.

However, if you plan on using software that are heavily threaded, such as photo/video editing, then the i7 might shine.


I plan on producing music, but I guess the i5 is sufficient, considering my ancient Intel Pentium D 3.0 GHz CPU barely manages now. However, if I end up with a lot of samples, and a lot of different sounds, the computer starts to choke.
March 27, 2012 11:46:39 AM

When you talking about 'soon', how soon will that be. You might opt to wait for Nvidia 680M laptop.
March 27, 2012 11:53:10 AM

tiang said:
When you talking about 'soon', how soon will that be. You might opt to wait for Nvidia 680M laptop.


When would this arrive to the market? Would such a computer cost the same as these? I'm moving in July, so worst case scenario would be to wait until then. I'm getting pretty fed up with my old computers, as I'm only limited to web browsing. Even Farmville type of games make my computer stutter.
March 27, 2012 11:57:33 AM

I found a 17 incher with the same processor as the 15 incher listed in the OP, and the same amount of RAM.

Screen: 17'' LED / 1920 x 1080
Processor: Intel Core i7 2,2 GHz
RAM: 8 GB / 16 GB 1333 MHz
HDD: 750 GB @ 7200 RPM
ODD: Blu Ray & DVD
GPU: GT 555M with 3072 MB dedicated memory

Clearly, I should take this one. Costs about USD 250 more than the lower end 17 incher. Now my question is, is the processor worth it? A Bad Day wrote that the i5 is sufficient for gaming, but for media editing the i7 might outshine the i5. Would the i7 be worse when it comes to gaming, yet better at media editing?

March 27, 2012 11:55:32 PM

Yes, it will be better, but it may not be worth another $250. That choking you describe is almost certainly caused by your old computer's lack of RAM.
March 28, 2012 11:52:58 AM

kajabla said:
Yes, it will be better, but it may not be worth another $250. That choking you describe is almost certainly caused by your old computer's lack of RAM.


I have just bought the first 17 incher :)  Hope it's good! Read on other forums that the GPU isn't all that good, since it's DDR3 RAM, yet it stills runs games smoothly if not on ultra settings, on high. I guess high would still be an upgrade from console graphics. Plus, I would have to look a loooooong time for a better laptop, with say a GTX560M, in the same price range. I just don't hope the 3GB is just boloney to attract the average consumer, and that I would be better off buying the 1 GB GT 555M.
March 28, 2012 10:53:14 PM

Oh, it's total baloney. You'll never use more than 1gb VRAM.
March 28, 2012 11:10:10 PM

kajabla said:
Oh, it's total baloney. You'll never use more than 1gb VRAM.


Would you say it's crap? Will the GPU run Skyrim and BF3? I'm so uncertain, because I've seen videos of people with this very same computer and GPU, play games like these and Crysis 2 on Ultra. Yet, I read on other forums that the GPU isn't "all that", bla bla bla. My standards aren't very high though. I usually take what tech-heads say with a pinch of salt, because I know their standards are way higher than mine.
March 28, 2012 11:37:20 PM

I have a mate with a 560M in his ASUS Lamborghini laptop thing. It can hardly handle skyrim on ultra and he's usually sitting near 26 FPS.

But you can't really expect much from a laptop in the way of games.
March 29, 2012 12:00:37 AM

That's not "handling" Ultra. Skyrim's pretty CPU-dependent, but that's not too relevant. I consider almost any settings worth dropping in the pursuit of 60fps in FPS games. You may be fine with less, but 26 is nothing at all.
a b D Laptop
March 29, 2012 12:13:09 AM

My i5-2450M GT540m (slightly overclocked to give it an edge) 14" laptop, both on the built-in 1366x768 LED and the 1440x900 work monitor I play on occasionally, downright "handles" Skyrim (55fps) and Mass Effect 3 (65fps) on High. You'll be happy with that i5 and that 555m. No doubt.

My only grief is that Star Wars: The Old Republic FPS (I leave it on High but this happens even if I drop to Medium) drops over time, from a starting 65fps in lower populated areas to 35fps in Fleet, but that's not inherent to either the i5 or the 540m... it's all Bioware's bad MMO game code. The CPU/GPU combo destroys all otherwise, plus it's good enough to handle my work VM's with ease.
March 29, 2012 12:30:02 AM

GT 555M's are very varied in specs, the most important thing is how many CUDA processors your model has.
a b D Laptop
March 29, 2012 12:39:54 AM

sabot00 said:
GT 555M's are very varied in specs, the most important thing is how many CUDA processors your model has.


Though the 555m will usually trump the 540m anyhow.
March 29, 2012 4:04:32 PM

AidanJC said:
I have a mate with a 560M in his ASUS Lamborghini laptop thing. It can hardly handle skyrim on ultra and he's usually sitting near 26 FPS.

But you can't really expect much from a laptop in the way of games.


This. I have a 460M in my gaming laptop and it struggles at 1920 x 1080 on ultra and high on 'demanding' games like skyrim. Still playable, though, at lower detail. Not to mention, the 6990M and GTX 580M were only as powerful as a Radeon HD 6850-6870, iirc. Imo, thats not that good considering the premium those things command...

Back on topic: OP, you'll probably be very happy with the laptop. Just adjust your expectations going in. You may have to lower the res or detail, but you'll still be able to play games.
March 29, 2012 4:06:19 PM

kajabla said:
That's not "handling" Ultra. Skyrim's pretty CPU-dependent, but that's not too relevant. I consider almost any settings worth dropping in the pursuit of 60fps in FPS games. You may be fine with less, but 26 is nothing at all.


I thought that after the last patch Skyrim depended more on the GPU. May be wrong though; it HAS happened before. :na: 
March 29, 2012 10:45:18 PM

kyraiki said:
This. I have a 460M in my gaming laptop and it struggles at 1920 x 1080 on ultra and high on 'demanding' games like skyrim. Still playable, though, at lower detail. Not to mention, the 6990M and GTX 580M were only as powerful as a Radeon HD 6850-6870, iirc. Imo, thats not that good considering the premium those things command...

Back on topic: OP, you'll probably be very happy with the laptop. Just adjust your expectations going in. You may have to lower the res or detail, but you'll still be able to play games.


I'm coming from a PS3, and from what I've heard, that equals "low setting" on PC. My standards are very low when it comes to computers :)  Though I hope to be able to play on 1920x1080... seen multiple videos of it on YouTube, and it runs pretty well.
March 30, 2012 2:04:00 AM

Have fun and happy gaming! :D 
!