1. What is your budget? up to $1200 (possibly a tad more if the build includes things I would normally add myself afterwards, such as RAM upgrades)
2. What is the size of the notebook that you are considering? 13"-16" (basically anything smaller than a 17" laptop)
3. What screen resolution do you want? anything higher than 1366x768 (1920x1080 would be great, but I'd take 1600x900 too)
4. Do you need a portable or desktop replacement laptop? portable, as in under 6-6.5 lbs
5. How much battery life do you need? this is super-low on my priority list, but the more the better (I mean at least 2 hours I guess...)
6. Do you want to play games with your laptop? If so then please list the games that you want to with the settings that you want for these games. (Low,Medium or High)? Yes, I do. D3, Skyrim, Sins of a Solar Empire, Rift -- I want to be able to play modern games at medium to high settings at the native resolution for the laptop
7. What other tasks do you want to do with your laptop? (Photo/Video editing, Etc.) Lots, but nothing that will be more spec-intense than gaming
8. How much storage (Hard Drive capacity) do you need? 500 GB minimum, but this is easy to replace myself later...I do definitely want a mSATA ssd or even second drive that's a boot ssd if possible.
9. If you are considering specific sites to buy from, please post their links. Newegg, Amazon, Xoticpc (which I've never bought from and am a bit hesitant...is it recommended?
10. How long do you want to keep your laptop? 2-3 years
11. What kind of Optical drive do you need? DVD ROM/Writer,Bluray ROM/Writer,Etc ? None. Frankly, I'd prefer a laptop w/o one, or with the option to use another graphics card, hard drive, whatever, here
12. Please tell us about the brands that you prefer to buy from them and the brands that you don't like and explain the reasons. Poking around, I've looked at MSI, Lenovo, and a few others -- pretty much anything but Alienware, due to bad hardware experiences I've had before (m11xr2 hinge issues)
13. What country do you live in? USA
14. Please tell us any additional information if needed.
Great cooling would be really nice, and something that is not so fragile that moving it around in a laptop bag will hurt it. After poking around for a few months now, it seems that the MSI GE60 0ND-257US is a fairly good fit, only downsides I could see to it are: -no backlit keyboard, -and no touch screen (I upgraded my current laptop, m11xr2, to Win8 when it came out, and frankly, I just don't like it. I hear it's better with a touchscreen, though, and Macs seem too expensive since I need a discrete graphics card). I also looked at the Lenovo Y580 and Y500 variants, which are a bit cheaper and have backlit keyboards, but they all seem to have high heat production, which bothers me, as I frequently use my laptop on my, well, lap (yes, yes, bad, I know).
I basically want the best graphics for gaming I can get in a 13-16 inch laptop, for $1200 or so, with good cooling, and not a 12 lb beast. In the end, those first three are what matters to me the most. I have seen that Xotic PC lets you customize various builds, including that MSI model I mentioned, with things like better cooling, optical drives replaced with extra hdd, whatnot, but I'm not familiar with them, and they don't seem to have a great "advanced search" feature where I can say things like "discrete graphics, 15.6", price range, etc" and have a billion options.
Any advice? Let me know if I forgot to list anything...