First time gaming laptop UK (FAQ included)

I need to replace my 4-year-old desktop machine with a gaming laptop for space reasons. I am happy with my desktop's performance so looking for something of similar or better capabilities. It's a Q9550, 8Gb RAM and a Radeon 4800 series (4870 I think).

1. What is your budget?
Not fixed, but I'm aware of diminishing returns at the high-end and don't want/need the best just for the sake of it. Was thinking around £1,200 - £1,500 but could go to £1,700 if there a compelling case for the extra £200.

2. What is the size of the notebook that you are considering?
15" or 17". Am typing this on my wife's 14" screen which seems big enough, but there doesn't seem to be much price/performance diffrence between the 15" and 17" (I guess because the resolution is normally the same?)

3. What screen resolution do you want?
Not fussed. I have no minimumres in mind and am concious that a lower native resolution will allow better frame rates from a given card.

4. Do you need a portable or desktop replacement laptop?
Desktop replacement. But would conider taking it on long train journeys if it's not absurdly heavy. 15" might make more sense for this, but it's not a dealbreaker.

5. How much battery life do you need?
Not important as will be plugged in 95%+ of the time.

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 - it's the main reason for the machine. I play a variety of games - most recently LA Noire, GTA IV, Assassins Creed 2, Civ 5, Fifa. Would prefer high settings, if only because a card that struggles now is only going to get worse wth future games.

7. What other tasks do you want to do with your laptop? (Photo/Video editing, Etc.)
A bit of photo editing (PSP Elements and Lightroom).

8. How much storage (Hard Drive capacity) do you need?
I have a separate NAS for music, movies etc so only really need space for OS and a few games. Was thinking of an SSD for faster access, but wasn't sure how much pace I'll need. Can I get away with a ~200Gb SSD and not bother with a traditional HDD?

9. If you are considering specific sites to buy from, please post their links.
Preferred suppliers in the past for desktop components were Overclockers UK and Dabs;
www.overclockers.co.uk
www.dabs.co.uk
But will consider other reputable suppliers (I've heard good things about Scan)

10. How long do you want to keep your laptop?
My usual PC cycle is about 4-5 years, but I suppose I may need to revise that with a laptop. At least 2 years though.

11. What kind of Optical drive do you need? DVD ROM/Writer,Bluray ROM/Writer,Etc ?
Standard DVD is fine. I don't own anything on Blu-Ray.

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.
This is my first laptop, so no preferences at all. Would like to avoid anything that screams "teenager" (i.e. Alienware). I'm 33 and a dad!

13. What country do you live in?
UK

14. Please tell us any additional information if needed.
GFX: the 7970M card looks best value for money (compared to say the 680M) but I've heard of problems with the Enduro system. The internet seems to go quite on this issue around Nov 2012 - did it get resolved or have people just given up complaining?
16 answers Last reply
More about first time gaming laptop included
  1. Hi :)

    I will say, that you will NOT get anywhere near a desktops gaming on ANY Laptop...

    You would be better off building a new GAMING desktop for that sort of money...

    All the best Brett :)
  2. So a modern laptop cannot match a 4-year old desktop? That's surprising. I'd have thought a 7970, albeit a mobile one, would outperform a 4870.

    As per my opening sentence, a desktop is not an option (it needs to be small enough to put away when not in use.) I did ask this in the laptop/notebook section didn't I?
    Oh well, I may as well buy an Xbox and save £1,000!
  3. Llamaman said:
    So a modern laptop cannot match a 4-year old desktop? That's surprising. I'd have thought a 7970, albeit a mobile one, would outperform a 4870.

    As per my opening sentence, a desktop is not an option (it needs to be small enough to put away when not in use.) I did ask this in the laptop/notebook section didn't I?
    Oh well, I may as well buy an Xbox and save £1,000!



    Hi :)

    A modern desktop has absolutely NO match in a laptop...

    You might find one that beats your 4870 (just) but it will cost a fortune...

    This is my desktop graphics card as an example >>> http://www.powercolor.com/us/products_features.asp?id=423

    Thats £760 ...

    All the best Brett :)
  4. Llamaman said:
    So a modern laptop cannot match a 4-year old desktop? That's surprising. I'd have thought a 7970, albeit a mobile one, would outperform a 4870.

    As per my opening sentence, a desktop is not an option (it needs to be small enough to put away when not in use.) I did ask this in the laptop/notebook section didn't I?
    Oh well, I may as well buy an Xbox and save £1,000!

    Did you look at the link I posted ?
    MSI GT70 is the best option within your price range.670M is a great card and is faster than your 4870 but it's certainly not the fastest card around.
    You can also get GT70 w/680M(which will give you roughly the performance of a desktop 670) but it's out of your price range

    Going with the Xbox is exactly what I did.I was tired of non-optimized games,and crap console ports so I got a Xbox and have been happy with it,but that's me
  5. Brett928S2 said:
    Hi :)

    A modern desktop has absolutely NO match in a laptop...

    You might find one that beats your 4870 (just) but it will cost a fortune...

    This is my desktop graphics card as an example >>> http://www.powercolor.com/us/products_features.asp?id=423

    Thats £760 ...

    All the best Brett :)


    I'm conscious of the fact that a desktop will easily beat a laptop for the same budget. This is why I've always had desktops. But as I said in my first post, and repeated in my second, a desktop is no longer an option for me and I need to replace it with something smaller and more portable. So it's not a case of whether to spend my money on a desktop OR a laptop, but which laptop to get.

    I'm not convinced by your claim that something better than my 4870 will cost a fortune. Your moderator colleague has suggested a machine within my budget which should at least match, if not beat it. As this meets my requirements, I'm not sure how your comment can be justified?

    Finally, I cannot for the life of me see how your desktop graphics card is relevant to the thread. I asked for help choosing a laptop to replace an oldish desktop which needs to be got rid ofand you suggest upgrading the desktop?

    I appreciate you taking the time to post, but I'm afraid that your suggestions are profoundly unhelpful!
  6. Maziar said:
    Did you look at the link I posted ?
    MSI GT70 is the best option within your price range.670M is a great card and is faster than your 4870 but it's certainly not the fastest card around.
    You can also get GT70 w/680M(which will give you roughly the performance of a desktop 670) but it's out of your price range

    Going with the Xbox is exactly what I did.I was tired of non-optimized games,and crap console ports so I got a Xbox and have been happy with it,but that's me


    Yes, thankyou. Unfortunately I got sidetracked into looking for laptop v desktop benchmarks after someone else told me that it wouldn't compare to my old rig...
    I'm not expecting to be cutting-edge on mid-range laptop, but as long a it's not a huge step back from my desktop I can live with that.

    That MSI seems quite expensive for the spec though - the same website do customised Clevo-based rigs and I came up with the following spec;
    P170EM chassis (17.3" screen), i7 3630, 8Gb RAM, Corsair 256Gb SSD, 7970 and Windows 7 for £1,347.
    I assume an SSD will be faster than a Raid0 of two hybrid drives (and use less power)? Admittedly the MSI has more RAM, but the 7970M should be significantly better than a 670M?
  7. Hi :)

    I sell GAMING lappies and PCS in my shops...you NEED to spend around another grand (total £2500) to get ANYWHERE NEAR a PCs gaming performance...

    You don't like my advice fine.... buy you are going to be VERY unhappy if you buy a laptop thinking it will equal a desktop for gaming...very very unhappy...

    We have a saying in this section...

    GAMING + LAPTOP = OXYMORON

    Think about it...

    All the best Brett :)
  8. OK, I was intrigued by the claim that my old 4870 was still superior to a modern laptop card, so I tried finding some comparable benchmarks. Surprisingly difficult to do, as I ouldn't find the exact same spec being tested, but the differences seem big enough that the CPU is a negligible effect compared to the GFX;

    Benchmarked using Battlefield 3 on Tom's Hardware;

    At 1920x1080 at High settings, the 4870 manages 28 FPS;
    http://www.tomshardware.co.uk/battlefield-3-graphics-performance,review-32308-8.html

    At 1920x1080 at ULTRA High settig, the 7970M manages 48 FPS;
    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/xotic-pc-sager-np9150-radeon-hd-7970m,3294-4.html


    Unless I've badly misunderstood the benchmarks, the 7970M is a FAR superior card to a 4870?
  9. Llamaman said:
    Yes, thankyou. Unfortunately I got sidetracked into looking for laptop v desktop benchmarks after someone else told me that it wouldn't compare to my old rig...
    I'm not expecting to be cutting-edge on mid-range laptop, but as long a it's not a huge step back from my desktop I can live with that.

    That MSI seems quite expensive for the spec though - the same website do customised Clevo-based rigs and I came up with the following spec;
    P170EM chassis (17.3" screen), i7 3630, 8Gb RAM, Corsair 256Gb SSD, 7970 and Windows 7 for £1,347.
    I assume an SSD will be faster than a Raid0 of two hybrid drives (and use less power)? Admittedly the MSI has more RAM, but the 7970M should be significantly better than a 670M?

    Yeah I totally forgot about the Clevos lol.
    7970M is definitely faster than 670M and of course,it's faster than your old 4870 as well
  10. Brett928S2 said:
    Hi :)

    I sell GAMING lappies and PCS in my shops...you NEED to spend around another grand (total £2500) to get ANYWHERE NEAR a PCs gaming performance...

    You don't like my advice fine.... buy you are going to be VERY unhappy if you buy a laptop thinking it will equal a desktop for gaming...very very unhappy...

    We have a saying in this section...

    GAMING + LAPTOP = OXYMORON

    Think about it...

    All the best Brett :)


    Hi, I don't usually post comments on Tomshardware forums, but I think I should do it this time. First of all, op is not asking for a laptop that could rival new desktop PC at a similar price or even slightly lower price. He's planning to take it on the train and I can't even try to imagine how if it would be possible to bring a desktop pc, find a power outlet and play on the move...
    Also he clearly stated that he has space constraints, so new desktop would not be ideal and most importantly op is currently happy with the performance level of his desktop PC.

    PERSONAL INSULTS TO A MODERATOR OR ANY OTHER USER ARE NOT ALLOWED.... POST EDITED

    I would like to offer 15.6" Vortex III laptop from PCS (https://www.pcspecialist.co.uk) to op. For £1190 it's nvidia geforce 675mx (http://www.notebookcheck.net/NVIDIA-GeForce-GTX-675MX.82580.0.html) has more than twice as much graphics muscle as a desktop 4870 and CPU in this laptop rivals current quad-core desktop CPU's like i5 3470 (http://www.notebookcheck.net/Intel-Core-i7-3630QM-Notebook-Processor.80051.0.html). In my opinion these specs would best suit op needs:
    Chassis & Display
    Vortex Series: 15.6" Matte Full HD LED Widescreen (1920x1080)


    Processor (CPU)
    Intel® Core™i7 Quad Core Mobile Processor i7-3630QM (2.40GHz) 6MB


    Memory (RAM)
    8GB SAMSUNG 1600MHz SODIMM DDR3 MEMORY (2 x 4GB)


    Graphics Card
    NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 675MX - 4.0GB DDR5 Video RAM - DirectX® 11


    Memory - Hard Disk
    240GB KINGSTON HYPERX 3K SSD, SATA 6 Gb/s (upto 555MB/sR | 510MB/sW)


    DVD/BLU-RAY Drive
    8x SATA DVD±R/RW/Dual Layer (+ 24x CD-RW)


    Memory Card Reader
    Internal 9 in 1 Card Reader (MMC/RSMMC/SD: Mini, XC & HC/MS: Pro & Duo)


    Thermal Paste
    STANDARD THERMAL PASTE FOR SUFFICIENT COOLING


    Sound Card
    Intel 2 Channel High Definition Audio + MIC/Headphone Jack


    Bluetooth & Wireless
    GIGABIT LAN & WIRELESS INTEL® N135 802.11N (150Mbps) + BLUETOOTH


    USB Options
    3 x USB 3.0 PORTS + 1 x USB 2.0 PORT AS STANDARD


    Firewire
    1 X 1394a FIREWIRE PORT


    Battery
    Vortex Series 8 Cell Lithium Ion Battery (5,200 mAh/76.96WH)


    Power Lead & Adaptor
    1 x UK Power Lead & 180W AC Adaptor


    Operating System
    Genuine Windows 7 Home Premium 64 Bit w/SP1 - inc DVD & Licence (£79)


    Office Software
    NO OFFICE SOFTWARE


    Anti-Virus
    NO ANTI-VIRUS SOFTWARE


    Keyboard Language
    INTEGRATED BACKLIT UK KEYBOARD WITH NUMBER PAD


    Notebook Mouse
    INTEGRATED 2 BUTTON TOUCHPAD MOUSE


    Webcam
    INTEGRATED 2.0 MEGAPIXEL WEBCAM


    Warranty
    3 Year Standard Warranty (1 Month Collect & Return, 1 Year Parts, 3 Year Labour)


    Intel Anti-Theft Technology
    FREE 90 Day Intel Anti-Theft Trial - Prevent Data Access upon Theft


    Insurance
    1 Month Free Laptop Insurance inc. Accidental Damage & Theft


    Delivery
    STANDARD INSURED DELIVERY TO UK MAINLAND (MON-FRI)


    Build Time
    Standard Build - Approximately 9 to 11 working days

    If op decides to spend more money, it's possible to change current SSD to a higher capacity one, upgrade graphics card to 680m, add another SSD/HDD of his choise (Vortex 3 holds 2 HDD's/SSD's) etc.

    Hope that was helpful :)
    P.S. my native language is not English, so I'm really sorry if I've left too many typo's....
  11. {Edit: This post was in reply to one by skyEvil which has since been removed (without explanation} by the moderators}
    Thanks SkyEvil - I was beginning to think I was writing in some strange language no-one could understand! (By the way, your English is superb - I wouldn't have guessed it wasn't your native tongue).

    Thanks for the PCS suggestion - I heard about them from another forum so have had a look at their custom rigs. The one you suggested was on my short list, as was the equivalent with a 7970, which is £10 more. I think I've decided against a 17" - they're just too big and heavy, even for a desktop replacement.

    I'll have to do some research as to whether a 675MX or 7970 is better, but I think I'm not closing in on my specs...
  12. 7970M is faster but Nvidia drivers are usually better and more stable(for laptops)
  13. Brett928S2 said:
    Hi :)

    I sell GAMING lappies and PCS in my shops...you NEED to spend around another grand (total £2500) to get ANYWHERE NEAR a PCs gaming performance...

    You don't like my advice fine.... buy you are going to be VERY unhappy if you buy a laptop thinking it will equal a desktop for gaming...very very unhappy...

    We have a saying in this section...

    GAMING + LAPTOP = OXYMORON

    Think about it...

    All the best Brett :)


    Hmm... so my response was deleted just because you didn't liked my opinion? Somehow I though that on Tomshardware everyone can express their opinion, well maybe that was just my imagination and it only works for moderators...


    And yes, 7970m is a faster graphics card, maybe ~20% faster than 675MX. Sadly problems related to Enduro are not completely resolved yet, so I would go nvidia route, just for the better drivers :)
  14. SkyEvil said:
    Hmm... so my response was deleted just because you didn't liked my opinion? Somehow I though that on Tomshardware everyone can express their openion, well maybe that was just my imagination and it only works for moderators...

    I think your error was in criticising him - although to be fair, you were politely criticising his opinions on the thread topic, NOT his acts as a moderator, so removing the post seems a little heavy-handed. I hope it wasn't Brett himself who removed it - moderators editting posts of which they are the topic is pretty poor form.
    Can one of the other moderators please confirm exactly why this post was removed?
  15. Brett928S2 said:
    Hi :)

    I sell GAMING lappies and PCS in my shops...you NEED to spend around another grand (total £2500) to get ANYWHERE NEAR a PCs gaming performance...

    You don't like my advice fine.... buy you are going to be VERY unhappy if you buy a laptop thinking it will equal a desktop for gaming...very very unhappy...

    We have a saying in this section...

    GAMING + LAPTOP = OXYMORON

    Think about it...

    All the best Brett :)


    But I'm not expecting the laptop to equal a new desktop. Why do you keep making this statement when no-one in the thread has made the claim?

    I only gave my current desktop specs to give an indication of what kind of performance I was used to. It appears (from other user's posts) that a modern laptop should at least be able to come close to/match my current desktop, and so will be a satisfactory replacement.

    As to "not liking your advice", it was not a case of not liking it - it is a case of it not being relevant to the situation being discussed. As I made clear, a destop is not an option for me, so repeatedly stating that a destop will be much better isn't helpful at all - it comes across as smug taunting.

    If a man asks you what car to buy, don't tell him an aeroplane will go faster!
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