I'm in the market for a gaming/video editing laptop. I've been looking around and started personalizing one on alienware. What do you think of these specs for this price? Am I missing something crucial and are there similarly speced laptops at a cheaper price? I do need some portability, but battery life is more important to me than weight. I prefer a stylized laptop to a brick any day though.
Primary Battery: 90WHr 9-Cell Primary Battery
Processor: 3rd Generation Intel® Core™ i7-3610QM (6MB Cache, up to 3.3GHz w/ Turbo Boost 2.0)
Operating System: Genuine Windows® 7 Home Premium, 64bit
Memory: 6GB DDR3 at 1600MHz
Hard Drive: 750GB 7,200 RPM + 32GB mSATA Caching SSD
2GB GDDR5 NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 660M
Display Panels: 17.3-inch WideFHD 1920 x 1080 60Hz WLED
Wireless Networking: Intel® Centrino® Wireless-N 2230 With Bluetooth 4.0
Optical Driver: Slot-Loading Dual Layer DVD Burner (DVD+-RW, CD-RW)
Creative Sound Blaster Recon3Di with THX TruStudio Pro Software
1) what type of editing workload are you doing? (1080p? 720p? SD? Red ONE media?) (24fps, 30fps, 48/60fps, 2D 3D?) (compressed, lightly compressed, uncompressed?)
2) How intense are the video projects? (simple cuts and edits? full on aftereffects environments?) (simple 5 minute shorts? or full 2 hour productions?)
As battery life is important to you I would look for something with an 'adequate' CPU (meaning it will work on the fly when you are on site, but can do major renders on your own time while plugged into the wall), which would be more of an i5 CPU. Still, an i7 is very nice, just know that the bulk of your bottleneck is going to be the GPU and HDD.
Spring for 8GB of ram, as even small projects can eat 8GB fairly easily, and ram is not exactly the expensive part of the system. Typically I see my desktop eating ~5-7GB of ram for a 15minute video with ~30min-1Hr of raw footage. Larger projects obviously eat more if it is available (had one project eat all 16GB of physical ram, as well as an additional 10GB of virtural memory... so just throw ram at it, it is always worth it).
If you can afford it then ditch the cache drive and go with a full blown SSD. I would personally want a system that has a 120-256GB SSD for system, programs, oft used docs, and scratch disc, and then a separate internal 500+GB HDD, or external USB3 1-4TB HDD for content and backups. Video editing improves a lot from having multiple single purpose HDDs, or single large SSDs. This is more important for both editing time and battery life than your CPU or GPU.
1080p is great for editing SD or even 720p footage, but if editing 1080p footage you really want something larger. Sadly, higher res and larger screens means worse gaming, and less battery life on the system if editing on battery is a concern.
The nice thing about modern equipment is the low idle state of performance parts. For doing document work, web browsing, and even light gaming you can expect the system you picked to last for several hours. But for video editing you really want to be near an outlet. It will last a few hours, but it is hardly going to last for a work day, or even a good editing session of 3-4 hours if you get in a good groove.
Alianware is gaming equipment. I would look into something aimed at a more professional market (Dell Precision, or HP ProBook series) for extra HDD space, and better quality parts. It may not game quite as well, but you will have more behind it for doing the work end of your workload.
basic i7 CPU
8 of DDR 1333 (not a major difference between 1333 and 1600, money should be spent elsewhere)
standard firePro graphics (only upgrade to quadro if you 'really need it' for major rendering or extra gaming potential)
Take the 500GB drive it comes with
Add your own SSD, transfer (acronis, or reinstall) image from the HDD to the SSD, use the SSD as your primary drive, and use the 500GB drive for content and backups
get all recovery discs (they are $3ea to get them now, or ~$20ea to get them later... better safe than sorry)
~$1500 for the laptop
+~$100-300 for an aftermarket SSD
+~$200 for an external monitor for video editing