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buying a laptop for desktop replacement, need advice

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July 30, 2014 10:58:24 AM

Hey people,

I'm buying my first laptop, and I want it to be able to replace and surpass my aging tower(athlon x2 64, geforce 450gt, 4gigs of ram). Having read a lot of product descriptions and reviews of different laptops, I've determined that I'd like these minimum specs:

processor: i7 4700mq or better (for playing long games of dwarf fortress)
ram: at least 8gb (seems a good base)
video: dedicated graphics (so I can still play 3d games, mainly skyrim and diablo 3, but I want to have the option with newer games too)
keyboard: backlit and containing a numpad (not a deal breaker as I think I can get a decent numpad peripheral)
screen: 15.6" or 17.3"
ssd: 250gb +/-
price: less than 1500, preferably less than 1000

I've had a hard time finding these exact specs in laptop I could afford, So I started researching clevo laptops, and discovered resellers such as sager, avadirect, xotic, and mythlogic.

Initially I thought the Clevo W370SS/W350SS might be a good fit, though recently I've noticed the Clevo P157SM-A is much more upgradable, and supposedly better at staying cool.

for some reason the P157SM-A seems to cost $500 more from sager(where they call it NP8258-S) than from avadirect(link), but I was under the impression sager was the cheapest clevo reseller, maybe I'm mistaken and they are different machines.

obviously I want a good, long lasting laptop for the lowest price, I hang onto my electronics for years and years normally.

some specific questions, feel free to comment on the rest of it though:
are there good options I'm not considering?

are solid state drives worth buying if you aren't planning to push your system to the limit?

should I be concerned with cooling between those two models?

what upgrades are worth it? cooling pads, copper pipes, thermal paste, etc.

Hope I didn't forget anything, thanks in advance.
a b D Laptop
July 30, 2014 11:12:38 AM

Both Clevo laptops you posted are good. SSD helps with quicker boot times and load times in games. Upgrades for laptop? Maybe ram cards with time, but I wouldn't get any upgrades you mentioned. I recommend Y510p which comes with i7 and Dual gt 750ms.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/New-Lenovo-Y510p-i7-4700MQ-3-4G...
a b D Laptop
July 30, 2014 1:34:48 PM

The W355SSQ is a great little system, and despite having a smaller chassis and different cooling system than the P15xSM-A, the 860M in it offers a pretty big improvement in keeping temps low compared to the previous generation.

The P series isn't utilizing Maxwell 8xxM cards just yet, but they should be when NVidia unveils the overhaul on the series later this year. The P series tends to have a more study look and feel to them, though the W355 has good build quality.

Solid states are absolutely worth it, as long as you have the budget.
Neither model has egregious cooling concerns, just keep the system clean and use it on a flat surface.
IC Diamond compound is worth it if you're pushing the laptop. The copper will help but is not a must.
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July 31, 2014 4:49:07 AM

thanks guys, that is really helpful. though, Prostar, I'm not really understanding what you mean about Maxwell 8xxM cards, doesn't the P series come with a 860m minimum? maybe they are different versions, does that mean I'd have to upgrade later?

now I'm trying to figure out how to reduce the costs a bit, it seems like I can buy the ssd myself for about 60 bucks less, is it a pain to install an msata?

alternatively, with the p157SM-A, it looks like I could get a ssd that fits in a hd slot, is that a better option?

would I miss out on anything significant by not having the reseller do that part?
a b D Laptop
July 31, 2014 4:19:47 PM

Andersm said:
thanks guys, that is really helpful. though, Prostar, I'm not really understanding what you mean about Maxwell 8xxM cards, doesn't the P series come with a 860m minimum? maybe they are different versions, does that mean I'd have to upgrade later?

now I'm trying to figure out how to reduce the costs a bit, it seems like I can buy the ssd myself for about 60 bucks less, is it a pain to install an msata?

alternatively, with the p157SM-A, it looks like I could get a ssd that fits in a hd slot, is that a better option?

would I miss out on anything significant by not having the reseller do that part?


Maxwell is a new architecture developed by NVidia. It's more efficient and runs cooler than the previous architecture, dubbed Kepler. Currently, there are some 860M chips that are Maxwells, and some that are Kepler cards, but all 870M and 880M cards are Kepler architecture. While a 870M or 880M in a P series laptop will outshine a 860M Maxwell, a 860M Maxwell does better than a 860M Kepler (I hope this is making sense).

NVidia plans to refresh their mobile GPU product line soon, which will bring Maxwell to broader production so that the next gen GPUs will all be Maxwell.

msata drives are easy to install, but if you don't have any experience, you might want to opt to have the reseller do it (or buy a techie friend a beer or wine spritzer or something to do it for you). The larger, 2.5" SSDs that fit a storage drive bay are about as easy to install as the mSATA (maybe easier, depending on how you look at it), though they'll perform about the same as a mSATA.

The only thing you might miss out on from the reseller is the convenience of having them test the component(s) you opt out of. You're essentially paying them more than what you can purchase the drive for, for a small mark up and labor (installation and testing).
July 31, 2014 6:05:15 PM

Prostar Computer said:

Maxwell is a new architecture developed by NVidia. It's more efficient and runs cooler than the previous architecture, dubbed Kepler. Currently, there are some 860M chips that are Maxwells, and some that are Kepler cards, but all 870M and 880M cards are Kepler architecture. While a 870M or 880M in a P series laptop will outshine a 860M Maxwell, a 860M Maxwell does better than a 860M Kepler (I hope this is making sense).

NVidia plans to refresh their mobile GPU product line soon, which will bring Maxwell to broader production so that the next gen GPUs will all be Maxwell.

msata drives are easy to install, but if you don't have any experience, you might want to opt to have the reseller do it (or buy a techie friend a beer or wine spritzer or something to do it for you). The larger, 2.5" SSDs that fit a storage drive bay are about as easy to install as the mSATA (maybe easier, depending on how you look at it), though they'll perform about the same as a mSATA.

The only thing you might miss out on from the reseller is the convenience of having them test the component(s) you opt out of. You're essentially paying them more than what you can purchase the drive for, for a small mark up and labor (installation and testing).


I see now, thanks for the explanation. I ended up going with a 860m on the p177sm-a, ordered from prostar as a matter of fact. I noticed the larger screen was only a bit more expensive. down the road, would it be possible to change out the current gpu for a maxwell?
a b D Laptop
August 1, 2014 8:22:41 AM

We'll have to see what kind of changes NVidia makes before we can promise anything on that front. As long as the change isn't so radical that it warrants new main boards, then it may be feasible! i.e. as long as things are electronically compatible, then it's just a matter of making sure the firmware works. But for now, you at least have the option to upgrade the card to a 870M or 880M if you ever want to. :) 

And congrats on the purchase! Feel free to let us know what you think of it (and us)!
!