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Recommendation for a new Gaming Laptop





[FuN]goku
Alright first off I don't wanna hear any "Desktops are better/cheaper" or anything of the sort. I really don't care if they're cheaper or better, because well. ANYTHING that's made past 2005 is better than what my current desktop is. Razz (AMD Athlon 2500+ 1.8 ghz ****SINGLE CORE****, Nvidia Geforce 6800, 1gb ram, 160 gb HDD) Sucks eh?

This is going to be my laptop for College for the next 2 years, and after that Probably 3-4 years at university, so I want something that's going to last, and something that's going to be able to run what I play. And also another reason I don't want to hear the "Desktops........." is because I'm going to be taking this with me to my classes, and I can't see myself dragging a case, monitor and such to each of my classes. Razz

Anyways, that being said, I've looked at a few myself already,
Alienware and iBuyPower , to name a few. Though I have heard alot of BAD reviews on iBuyPower, and Alienware are a bunch of Overpriced money gougers.

So, here's what I'm looking for.,

I'm looking for at LEAST a Core i7 (Don't question it, I want a core i7 Razz )

For ram I'm looking for something between 3-4gb ddr3

For the Gpu, I really don't mind if it's ATI or NVIDIA, but if possible it should either be Crossfire/SLI enabled, or if that's not avaliable a GeForce GTX 260M 1gb would do just fine since I've been seen it on several laptop sites i checked out (including Alienware)

Harddrive ehm.... 500 gb 7200 rpm should suffice , If theres an option for Raid 0, that's preferred. No SSD's!!!

And, IF at all possible 17 inch screen is preferred, but 15 inch will do just the same.

It should also have at least a 2 year warranty, and be shippable to Canada.

So, that's pretty much what I want, any suggestions are greatly appreciated (unless you bring desktops into this Razz ).

Right now I don't really have a specific price range. I'd like to NOT pay more than $3400 Canadian if at all possible. (Which is why I'm asking if there's anything cheaper than Alienware)

Thanks in Advance.
william
Ah, your criterea makes it easy to point some notebooks out to you.

Here are my suggestions. For a 15" notebook, look no further than the Clevo W860CU (which is usually sold in North America as the Sager NP8690). You will get a mobile Core i7 processor, up to the 920XM, a 15.6" screen up to 1920x1080, an nVidia GeForce GTX 280m (fastest notebook GPU, nothing faster), DDR3 RAM, single hard drive up to a 640 GB. It is the ultimate 15" notebook. Nobody, Alienware included, can compete. (Note: I sound a bit enthusiastic simply because I was really tempted by this notebook Very Happy ).

If you want to move up to 17", the Clevo W870CU (Sager NP8760) is an option. Same specs as the W860CU, just a bigger screen. Now, for multiple graphics cards, you have two good choices, the Clevo M980NU and the the Alienware M17x. The former is 18.4", the latter is 17" The only drawback is that they aren't using mobile Core i7 just yet. Now, if you want a real Core i7, then you have the Clevo D900F (Sager NP9280), which boasts a real desktop Core i7 processor (up to 3.33 GHz), a GTX280m (sadly, unlike it's predecessor, no SLI), up to 12 GB of RAM, three hard drives (with RAID), etc. It won't game as well as the Clevo M980NU or the Alienware M17x, simply due to having a single graphics card. Nevertheless, it will destroy them in everything else. Desktop Core i7s are incredible.

I'm pretty darn sure you'll be able to get some really good configurations for under 3400 CDN. You can order from a number of places. I can give you a list of reputable Canadian resellers if you would like.
[FuN]goku
william wrote:
I'm pretty darn sure you'll be able to get some really good configurations for under 3400 CDN. You can order from a number of places. I can give you a list of reputable Canadian resellers if you would like.
First off, Thanks for the info! Razz , I think I actually ran into the Sager last night and was havin a look at it. Was pretty nice iirc. But yeah if you can give me a list of some good resellers that'd be great! Thanks.
william
Many Canadians would buy Clevos from Eurocom, since they're located in Ontario. Also based in Canada is M-Tech. You can also purchase from US sellers that ship to Canada, such as Xotic PC. All three of these sellers are pretty good, but I would recommend Xotic PC, because often their prices end up being less than Eurocom despite the additional costs to get it to Canada and their service is top notch. Check out all three of them and see what the prices come out to for your desired specifications.
[FuN]goku
Ahh, Xotic PC looks VERY nice, I seem to be able to get the components I want , plus an extra AC adapter and battery for under $2800 (Just did a bit of maths based on the sub-total so it might not be completely accurate)

But, maybe you can clarify something for me, about the warranty. What exactly is the "No dead pixel" policy, I keep seeing it on all the laptop sites. Does it have to do with your screen? Or is it something to do with DOA parts? Also, what's like... the "1/2/3 Years labor" bit in the warranty? I'm guessing the 3... Parts , is for if... say... your gpu dies or something, and they'll replace it?

And one last thing. I've never really dealt with soundcards much before so I'm not to knowledgeable on the topic, but is it worth upgrading the soundcard of the laptop at all? For someone who uses high quality headphones 90% of the time that is. (Sennheisers ftw Razz)

Oh on a sidenote, I noticed Eurocom has a 5% student discount that I could possibly get! Razz
william
Yes, the Dead Pixel warranty applies to the screen. In Xotic PC's case, the standard one guarantees that there won't be any more than 5 dead pixels on the screen (for Sager notebooks). Their upgraded policy guarantees no dead pixels whatsoever for the first month. Not worth it, though, if you ask me. After all, if you don't like the notebook, you can return it within the first 30 days anyway.

Now, Parts/Labor warranty. Their standard warranty is 3 years labor, 1 year parts. What this means is that if anything fails in the first year, you won't have to pay anything for a new part. Once the 1 year of parts is over, you'll still have 2 years of labor left. So, in this period, if something fails they will replace it free of charge, but you will have to pay for the replacement part.

Generally for most people, upgrading the sound card is not that important. However, if you are an audiophile (and you might be if you own sennheisers Very Happy ) it may not be a bad idea. Sound card options aren't that expansive for notebooks. USB versions aren't the best to use on the go, leaving the Expresscard version. While it does enhance sound quality significantly, my only gripe is that it uses software acceleration, as opposed to hardware acceleration found on deskop X-Fis. Still, you probably will notice a difference, especially in lower quality sounds. I would suggest to buy it seperately, though, since you may be able to save some cash by buying it from some other online reseller (Newegg, TigerDirect, etc.).

Oh yeah, I forgot about the student discount from Eurocom. Xotic PC has one as well, where they'll cut the shipping in half. Not as good as Eurocom's, but will still save you few bucks.
[FuN]goku
william wrote:
Once the 1 year of parts is over, you'll still have 2 years of labor left. So, in this period, if something fails they will replace it free of charge, but you will have to pay for the replacement part.
Okay... Just so I have this straight, lemme rephrase this, If something breaks after the parts is over, they'll do the maintenance , but you gotta provide the component?


william wrote:

However, if you are an audiophile (and you might be if you own sennheisers Very Happy ) it may not be a bad idea.
Yes! I love being able to listen to something in full bass without any distortion! But one thing I do notice between my 2 desktops and my current laptop, are that if I play the same drum n' bass song on each of them they sound completely different. I'd have to say though the pc I'm on now has the best sound out of the 3.

But I think I might just end up upgrading the sound card as well Razz , but if I do, I'll probably end up buying a set of Sennheiser muffs as well, (I currently have a set of sennheiser earbuds... got em for roughly $47 CDN about a year ago. Totally worth it) , since they'd be really nice for playing FPS games. That way you can hear people sneaking up Twisted Evil

But anyways Thanks for all the help! This helped out tonnes! Now I won't be stuck with an overpriced Alienware, and I'll probably have a few extra bucks. Though, only downer with one of these notebooks, is that they don't have the illuminated keyboard like Alienware does, but oh well.
william
[FuN]goku wrote:
william wrote:
Once the 1 year of parts is over, you'll still have 2 years of labor left. So, in this period, if something fails they will replace it free of charge, but you will have to pay for the replacement part.
Okay... Just so I have this straight, lemme rephrase this, If something breaks after the parts is over, they'll do the maintenance , but you gotta provide the component?


Essentially yes. You don't have to pay for the service to repair the notebook, but you do have to pay for the replacement part.


[FuN]goku wrote:

william wrote:

However, if you are an audiophile (and you might be if you own sennheisers Very Happy ) it may not be a bad idea.
Yes! I love being able to listen to something in full bass without any distortion! But one thing I do notice between my 2 desktops and my current laptop, are that if I play the same drum n' bass song on each of them they sound completely different. I'd have to say though the pc I'm on now has the best sound out of the 3.

But I think I might just end up upgrading the sound card as well Razz , but if I do, I'll probably end up buying a set of Sennheiser muffs as well, (I currently have a set of sennheiser earbuds... got em for roughly $47 CDN about a year ago. Totally worth it) , since they'd be really nice for playing FPS games. That way you can hear people sneaking up Twisted Evil


I know what you mean. Very Happy A good notebook X-Fi card seems great for you, coupled with a set of Sennheiser muffs, and that ought to create a satisfying experience! Cool $60 should get the 5.1 external USB X-Fi, with some nice 5.1 surround, or for a bit more ease, $90 can get you the Expresscard version. I suppose if you're getting a powerful notebook with the best of graphics, you should be treated to realistic sound as well. Very Happy

[FuN]goku wrote:

But anyways Thanks for all the help! This helped out tonnes! Now I won't be stuck with an overpriced Alienware, and I'll probably have a few extra bucks. Though, only downer with one of these notebooks, is that they don't have the illuminated keyboard like Alienware does, but oh well.


No problem, glad to have helped. Very Happy I agree on the illuminated keyboard, namely for the M980NU, which has lights everywhere but the keyboard. Confused Say, which model are you going for?
[FuN]goku
william wrote:
Say, which model are you going for?

Ahm, I'm leaning heavily towards Sager NP8690 (Clevo W860CU), But I might end up going with the SAGER NP8760 (Clevo W870CU)

It's likely I'll just go with the first one. I've been using a 15.4 inch screen on my current laptop so I'm already used to a smaller screen anyways. If I'm really bothered with resolution, I'll just go buy a widescreen monitor for when I'm in my dorm room. I Doubt if I'd be gaming on battery mode anyways... since well.. a Core i7 + geforce 280m would probably suck the life right out of it Razz

I'd be using it for coding and such if I was on battery life.

Also, one of my friends was saying I should put in a solid state drive , cuz you can load stuff up near instantly and stuff like that... but he doesn't seem to understand the phrase "Considering what I have is complete crap, anything new that I get , will load faster than what I have! No need for a SSD" Razz

Plus I've heard SSD's have a lower life expectancy since they're more or less like a giant flash drive.
His logic was that "Theres no moving parts, so it will last longer". But in all honesty, I think a 500gb @ 7200 rpm is good enough for me!
william
A 500 GB 7200 RPM drive will be very quick, without a doubt. Not only is it 7200 RPM, it's also very dense, allowing quicker access times. As for life expectancy of SSDs, an MLC SSD is predicted to last, say 7-10 years, which isn't too bad. An SLC SSD will last 50-150 years, and be tremendously quicker than an MLC, but it also costs a lot more. SSDs will last awhile, but so will good HDDs. But you really can't go wrong with a 500 GB drive spinning at 7200 RPM. Tons of space, a really quick.

And no doubt on the battery life. Razz Even on much weaker laptops, gaming will drop the battery life 30-60% from my experience. Not much you can do with that little time. Wink

Oh, by the way, consider investing in a good notebook cooler. I feel any gaming deserves one, especially under heavy load. You can get a major drop in temperatures, improving the lifetime of your components. The W860CU has one of the finest cooling systems of any notebook to date, but it always helps having a cooler. And it also helps to periodically clean out the dust. I've noted a drop of about 7-8 degrees in GPU temperatures after cleaning out some dust.

Anyhow, W860CU and W870CU, that is awesome. Could use the former to challenge Alienware's claim of having the "fastest" 15" notebook. Laughing I guess they refuse to acknowledge the W860CU's existence. I know you'll have a lot of fun with that machine.
[FuN]goku
Hehe, yeah I was gonna get one of the surfaced with the fans under it. I never had one for my current laptop but, wishing I did.

Ahm, maybe you can help me clarify yet another thing. I just had a long conversation with my dad about Sager notebooks... (Though he doesn't really have any control over what I buy anyways Razz )

And he's somewhat of a techie, but anyways, he's saying something along the lines of "Well I've never heard of Sager/Clevo. So they're probably not reputable. They probably have bad service." etc...

He reads alot of reviews and stuff online , and he said he's never heard of a Sager at all. So he starts looking for some reviews on google, from sites he's actually heard of before.. and from what he's said (I never actually looked, or was linked), Their tech support may be available all the time, but "have fun getting a hold of them"... or that was his summary of the article he read. (I think he read it on..... TomsHardware? meh... could be wrong.)

But anyways after that he starts linking me some stuff to.. OCZ gaming laptops, which didn't look too bad, but.... no Core i7's (I was surprised he's actually never heard of a Core i7 o.O ) or at least none that I could see. http://www.ocztechnology.com/products/diy_notebooks/ <- He linked me to that in case you were wondering.

But, now that he's gone through this big discussion, I'm wondering if you know of any reviews, or anything. I'm not really all that worried about buying from them in fact, I'd rather buy from them than Alienware at this point, but It'd make me feel better if my dad would agree with me on something techie for a change instead of trying to find it's "Flaws". He usually looks at the Cons, moreso than the Pros. ^^,
william
Oh boy, I've heard stories like that multiple times. It's a shame, really. First of all, OCZ's 17" Whitebook (the Arima W840, also rebranded by Alienware as the M17) is a decent notebook, but a bit outdated.

Tom's Hardware lacks real information. It seems way too orientated for the normal consumer. If you want real information on notebook computers, this is where you should go. If you look at their forums and check out the Sager and Clevo section, you will see the plethora of satisfied customers. Also, Clevo is a very large manufacturer of notebook computers. They used to make the computers for Alienware until they switched to Uniwell and Arima. Has he ever heard of Quanta or Compal? What if I were to say those two companies made over half of the world's notebook computers? The notebook industry is somewhat of a mystery to many people. These major "brands" (OEMs) don't actually build them, the ODMs do. You ought to point these facts out.

And getting hold of their tech support is difficult? Not a chance. Unlike major brands where you have to go through some pointless automated system, if you call Xotic PC, a real person picks up the phone right away, every time. They are open 24/7 every day of the year (minus Christmas). They also have online live chat and their own forums.

For some reviews on Xotic PC, check this out. Then compare it with a more generic brand.

Major websites don't tend to review Sagers. Most consumers aren't familiar with Sager or Clevo. But I like to think of them as the hidden gem of the notebook industry. They don't waste money on advertising, and the appeal to a niche group, but their products are hard to beat.

I would suggest just to simply explain how the notebook industry works and the whole idea of ODMs and OEMs. This article can help. Then point out all of the satisfied customers from the forum I linked to above. It has some reviews as well, so that should also help. And finally, finish it off with the Reseller Ratings of Xotic PC. Hopefully that should work out.
[FuN]goku
william wrote:
It's a shame, really. First of all, OCZ's 17" Whitebook (the Arima W840, also rebranded by Alienware as the M17) is a decent notebook, but a bit outdated.
Yeah that's the laptop i was looking at a few weeks ago, the M17. They don't have it listed anymore, but the page still seems to be up. After customizing it now though, they only have 1 yr warranty, so , It's really no good to me, as I want the full warranty Smile

But this is what forced me to find a different gaming laptop. And I just said to hell with it , I'll go Core i7 instead of Core 2 Quad, since they don't seem to differ too much in price(Or at least the laptop overall is about the same price) , and the i7 has nice performance.

But I'll definitely have a look at those links and be sure to show him! Thanks once again Wink been a great help.

If you ever need any help in the programming area, feel free to contact me. Very Happy
william
Yeah, when that notebook came out, it was really good value for money. Xotic PC still sells it and you can get a 2.0 GHz Core 2 Quad and Crossfire for under $2000. Still, it will be beaten out by the new Clevos with their i7.

Anyway, hopefully things work out. I'm glad to have been of help.

Good luck! Very Happy
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