Where do you buy a gaming/school/editing laptop? I am looking at something like a Sager, MSI or Asus in the $1,500 to $1,750 range. I think there will be some customization needed - like two drives, one SSD and one HD - but not much else.
I've seen a lot of links to http://www.xoticpc.com/ (are they a good vendor?). I've been to Newegg and Tigerdirect too, buy they seem to be hit or miss with their inventory and I didn't see any way to customize at those retailers. Are there other sites or stores to consider?
For a laptop in that price range, I'd wager a boutique laptop would be your best bet - so Sager, Clevo, Falcon Northwest, etc (most are owned by Sager anyway). If I recall, xoticpc is indeed a reputable vendor.
I'm not so knowledgeable on vendors for them other than xoticpc, so you may want to also look at their respective websites. I know Falcon NW (which may or may not be a bit too pricy) has hugely extensive customizations available right on their website with the prices all listed.
Honestly, most people are better off getting a gaming desktop and then a cheap netbook/laptop for most school stuff.
Not sure this is a true statement.
To the OP:
Buying a gaming laptop is just like buying a gaming desktop. The same factors come into play: CPU, GPU and memory. To education yourself on what GPUs are up to the task you require of them visit this site:
It outlines the GPUs and their performance in different games very well. Essentially, you don't necessarily need a boutique vendor to provide a gaming experience on a laptop. It is all about what is inside. Some mainstream vendors build laptops that game quite well, given the CPU/GPU/memory in the machine.
What games are you looking to play, at what resolution and what is your expected quality output?
For your price range you should be able to get the highest end GPU, a very good i7 or i5 mobile CPU and a decent amount of HDD (like you mentioned, a SSD/HDD combo).
Gaming on a notebook is getting better everyday. I honestly think that for the mainstream gamer the performance line is being blurred with anything 6970m and better. I use a notebook to play SWTOR, Skyrim, D3, etc. And it performs superbly. Boes my GTX580 at home perform "better" (read more FPS), yes. Is the playing experience diminished or unplayable at high setting on my laptop, NOPE! I love my mobile gaming. I can take it with me. I can't do that with a desktop!
I agree that if all I wanted was pure power, I'd build a desktop rig. But that's not my issue. My son needs mobility and a laptop is the correct answer for his needs. I agree with Po1nted and have found some very acceptable models - and as Mousseng mentioned, Sager is coming out on top.
The only places I found to buy a Sager is at xoticpc.com and the Sager web site (which is much more expensive). And I don't have enough experience in buying laptops to know where to go - so I am wondering where people buy their laptops?
I really wish I could help you here, but I can only offer very limited advice at this point. I did some searching for Sager resellers (as well as their Clevo rebrands) and couldn't find any other website apart from xoticpc. It could be that I was looking in the wrong places, but I don't think so.
So I went ahead and looked through xotic's credentials, which are, to my eye, completely legit. So it seems xoticpc is your most affordable option, and is credible to boot. Take this with a grain of salt, though - I bought my laptop from Dell. I hope somebody with more experience here can step in and give you a better answer, but until then all you've got is my perspective (which seems to be similar to yours).
XoticPC certainly was a good choice. Long, successful track record of doing it right.
There are quite a few other boutique builders including some that re-badge Sager/Clevo notebook chassis with 'house brands'.