A Tough Decision

Hello everyone, this is my first time posting here, so if I seem ignorant on something already discussed here, thats probably why, also I wasn't really sure where to post this, but since this problem only came about because of gaming, I figured this would be a good a place as any to post it. Here is my situation.

This summer I decided to pick up Age of Conan and give it a try. So far I like it, its definitely has some software and balance issues, but its got potential. My problem is I can only run it with everything turned low, and pulling back to 1400 x 1050. Now in all honesty, I can deal with this, this is fine it still runs smooth even if its a bit fugly, but this does present a problem. Sure my current computer can handle coan, if a bit on the barely side, but what about pc games on the fall and winter line up? This brings me to the conundrum of getting a new computer system, a tricky and costly choice.

My current Computer is an HP Pavilion dv9500 NoteBook. Its current specs are:
Processor:Intel Core 2 Duo CPU T7300
Memory: 2.00GB
OPS:Windows Vista 32-bit
Graphics Card: NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GS

I know, these are just the basic specs, there is probably more, but this does show the main problem. Now besides conan I can pretty much handle anything else I do on this machine at full. Now I am not a huge fps fan, I don't play crisis or CoD4 so this wasn't a problem back in the winter/spring, but I am a fan of good rts, rpgs, mech games, and mmorpgs. I don't have to have the best machine out there 100% of the time as long as it still runs good. I am now kicking myself for not getting the 2.4 GHz when I had the chance and am now up creek without a paddle.

Laptops are for the most part not upgradeable(If anyone can who sees this can point out a site/place that does make Laptops that can switch out their Processor AND Video Card to any that come out on the market PLEASE CORRECT ME) and the ones I have found have the same problem of being able to upgrade every thing BUT the graphics card is upgradeable. This leaves me in the hole which is do I want to spend 2.5k a year on a new laptop with decent specs or do I want to spend 5k every year and half-2 years on a top of the line laptop.

Now I like the mobility of laptops. I am currently a college student so the mobility is a nice asset, but the price range is making me think twice about it. I've been looking around at desktops from HP, Dell(ugh), and a company a friend recomended, falcon northwest.

From what I found for the price, HP seems to give you a lot of bang for your buck, and Falcon Northwest gives a decent price for qaulity machines. Now I am not not trying to knock dell here, but they are to pricey for thier parts. When I stacked up systems against eachother I was finding that falcon northwest could deliver better then dell for cheaper, so I have kind of thrown them out the window for now.

Two desktops in particular I have been looking at are the fragbox and the HP TouchSmart IQ506, becuase despite having the power of a full desktop, they are a bit easier to move and are still in the desktop price range. Now I know these are no laptops, but to my knowledge(correct me if I am mistaken) at least the frag box is fully upgradeable and is much more mobile then a full size desktop. I can deal with not having it everywhere with me if its still easy to travel from home to college or if I'm going somewhere for week, etc.

I have a question though regarding the hp desktops- why are they so much cheaper then dell's and falcon northwest for its specs? What am I getting skimped out on and if I am, is it cheaper to just buy these pieces sepereately?

I do realize that the best way to get the most bang for my buck is the build my own desktop, but I have a few questions regarding that. From what I know of a computers hardware, the parts required for such a venture are -
Cooling System
Graphics Card
Sound Card
Hard drive
Disk drive
Optical drive(?)
Power Supply
Networking Card(?)

Am I missing anything?

I also have a few questions regarding these parts.
1. CPU wise, I have heard mixed things about dual and quad core proccessing, what gives me the most power for my dollar?
2. I have heard mixed things about the 9800GTX. Would it be better to just SLI 2 8800GT?
4. I don't know to much about motherboards, what should I look at when trying to purchase one?
3. As of right now, I am looking to buy this new maching at the end of july. This does not have to a 100% top of the line parts out next week computer, but I do want it to be pretty powerful, something that will last me 1.5-2years without major upgrades(this may be impossible) and should be able to play most games on full without to much trouble. What do you suggest on parts? Is their anything on the horizon I should hold off till it comes out?
4. A little off the self built, but are their any other desktops out there that are more like a frag box style?

Finally I would like to thank anyone who has read all the way through this post, I knwo it was long. If anyone could answer some of these questions I would really appreciate it. I know this is a bit of an opinionated matter but I do want more input
from others on this becuase of the size of the investment.
7 answers Last reply
More about tough decision
  1. Or you could just build a desktop for gaming, get a cheaper laptop and go that way. Just keep upgrading the desktop, and the laptop less often. Or I know a buddy of mine bought a dell laptop, he paid a lot for it in the beginning I believe, but I think he got some kind of deal if he renews his warranty every 2 years they give him a new one, or let him trade the old one in. So that may be something you want to look into.
  2. Hey man, if you give me a budget you would like to spend on a desktop then I could pick some parts out for you. Please let me know if you need Keyboard/mouse and monitor and if you would be reusing any parts from your current setup. Or I could point you in the direction of some places that have decent laptops for decent prices, but they wont game to your liking. I would recommend a desktop. You can build in a frag box type case, but note that you will have cooling problems if your components use alot of power. Feel free to ask any more questions.


  3. Sorry, geuss I didn't make my budget clear enough, Its around 2000-2500 dollars, not includeing monitor mouse and keyboard(I have friends with some decent ones that they just replaced so I can get those cheap) so I am really just looking for some chasis suggestions and for the parts inside. As far as the Chasis goes, to adress 3Ball's post, where can I find these frag box sized chasis? Again, I don't really plan on getting this till around the end of july so if their is some stuff on the horizon, I don't mind those as suggestions. Thanks for the input so far, I'll look into that dell thing... Might make the dell worth the price.
  4. Wow, that's a hefty budget - I personally think you can get a great machine with that. For just the computer, I bought the parts for the desktop I'm using now for $1300, and then "built" it myself. That includes case, motherboard, DVD drive, 4 GB RAM, decent power supply, and a whopping $500 for the 8800 GTX...a year ago. Nowadays the 8800 GT can almost match the 8800 GTX and for $300 less...I really think going SLI with 8800 GT would be a great deal, and faster than the 9800 GTX. (Someone correct me if I'm wrong...I don't have performance charts to back that up) Two 8800 GT's would last you for a while, too...might be a little slow on Crysis with everything turned up, but from what I've heard of AoC it would run fine, and that kind of system would rip everything else to shreds on resolutions short of the highest out there. Also, not that I know any details, but you might want to check out the new GTX 280 (or whatever it's called) from Nvidia when it comes out later this month, if you don't have to have this system until July. Hopefully it will be everything everyone thought the 9800 GTX would be.

    And yeah, I think Dell is waaaay overpriced, especially since after working at Staples for 2 years it was the laptop we got the most complaints about. (breaking down, customer support, etc.)
  5. Here are a few pretty decent fragbox like cases. You will need to find youself a good mATX mobo for them. I actually like these more than the fragboxes, because they allow better airflow.


  6. Thanks for the quick replies all. Yeah I know its a hefty budget, and if I can go cheaper I definitely will, its just when I was speccing out systems on HP, Dell, and falcon northwest that is around the range I was getting so Thats what I put my budget at. If I can build a computer on that budget that will last me 1.5-2 years without to much in the upgrade department than thats an excellent money sink for me.

    Also, I have a few more questions regarding parts.
    1) I have been hearing things that the ATI 4000 series is just around the corner and was wondering what people have heard on that compared to the Nvidia 260.
    2) I don't know much about motherboards as stated in the first post, so what do you suggest for a mobile motherboard?
    3) Should I invest in the 750W power supply or just go with a 500W?
    4) Since I am looking at a smaller case than usual, what kind of cooling systems do you suggest? Air or liquid is fine, if you know of another please do tell.
    5) Since I am going to try and go with a high end processor and graphics card, should I go to 8 gigs of ram or stick with 4?

    Well thats it for now, I'll try and think up some more and post them later.
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