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Laptop purchase





snowboardalliance
PLEASE SEE LATEST POST ALSO (scroll down)


Next year I'll be buying a laptop for college. I'll probably spend around $1500 tops. I was wondering, would that be decent for some gaming (not like high setting, latest games) or video editing?

Right now I have an AMD Athlon 64 3800+, 1.0GB RAM, and an NVidia GeForce 7600 GT and I think it's good enough for what I do (though the ram is feeling a little low). It's like 2-3 years old now. Anyway, could a laptop in the $1500 range compare? I won't start shopping until the summer probably, but I was curious.
william
You can expect a lot of new notebooks to come out in the summer, with the introduction of the Montevina platform. Right now, you can actually get a really solid laptop for gaming in that price range. If you want to keep it under $1000, a Dell Vostro 1500 will get you a powerful 8600m GT, which should outperform your 7600. I have the 8600m GT, and I can play almost every game on high. The only game it really struggles with is Crysis, but it will run with shaders on low and everything else on medium. Now, if size and battery life isn't a problem for you (like it was for me) and are able to go with a 17" machine, you can't get better bang for the buck than the Gateway P-6831FX. I think that model can only be purchased from Best Buy but it comes at only $1249. It comes with a Core 2 Duo T5450 CPU, which isn't the best (to keep the price down) but can easily be upgraded, and I think there is another model with Penryn. You get 3 GB of RAM, 250 GB hard drive, and... for your gaming, an nVidia Geforce 8800 GTS. It's the second most powerful card you can get in a notebook, and don't expect anything besides the GTX to beat it for a long time (that is, unless the Mobility Radeon 3870 turns out well). It will play any current game, and future games with ease. Compared to your 7600 GT, it's a huge jump. Video editing should also be fine. The CPU has the power for it, but you may want more. (However, it is more powerful that the 3800+). If you want more, you can easily upgrade it, or get the Penryn model.

So, basically $1500 can do you a lot for you. If gaming is a priority, the Gateway is the best in the price range. If not, then you can go down to an 8600m GT or Radeon 2600 and still get one solid notebook.
Kelcey
Also make sure you keep track of what resolution your monitor will be running at. You'll want your games to run at the monitor's native res. Obviously it doesn't have to, but then there's funky interpolation going on and you'll get a blurry image. So keep in mine what res you'll run your games at because you'll be stuck with that monitor (unless you hook your laptop up to another monitor).
jackill
Look about new Dell's XPS 17". Great performance, good price and solid design.
ForceRun
No matter how you do it, Laptops will cost twice as much for half of the hardware power of any good desktop. If I was going to invest in a laptop I would go with a Nvidia/intel combo. The Conroes, and Penyrn are unmatched but AMD and will give you a lot more processing power, with more battery life.
fadirocks
this one looks very interesting
http://www.dell.com/content/products/productdetails.aspx/xpsnb_m2010?c=us&cs=19&l=en&s=dhs
it's more than your budget but still interesting
snowboardalliance
william wrote:
You can expect a lot of new notebooks to come out in the summer, with the introduction of the Montevina platform. Right now, you can actually get a really solid laptop for gaming in that price range. If you want to keep it under $1000, a Dell Vostro 1500 will get you a powerful 8600m GT, which should outperform your 7600. I have the 8600m GT, and I can play almost every game on high. The only game it really struggles with is Crysis, but it will run with shaders on low and everything else on medium. Now, if size and battery life isn't a problem for you (like it was for me) and are able to go with a 17" machine, you can't get better bang for the buck than the Gateway P-6831FX. I think that model can only be purchased from Best Buy but it comes at only $1249. It comes with a Core 2 Duo T5450 CPU, which isn't the best (to keep the price down) but can easily be upgraded, and I think there is another model with Penryn. You get 3 GB of RAM, 250 GB hard drive, and... for your gaming, an nVidia Geforce 8800 GTS. It's the second most powerful card you can get in a notebook, and don't expect anything besides the GTX to beat it for a long time (that is, unless the Mobility Radeon 3870 turns out well). It will play any current game, and future games with ease. Compared to your 7600 GT, it's a huge jump. Video editing should also be fine. The CPU has the power for it, but you may want more. (However, it is more powerful that the 3800+). If you want more, you can easily upgrade it, or get the Penryn model.

So, basically $1500 can do you a lot for you. If gaming is a priority, the Gateway is the best in the price range. If not, then you can go down to an 8600m GT or Radeon 2600 and still get one solid notebook.


Ok thanks that really helps.

I'll look into it more in a few months, I just wanted to kind of know what is out there.
ForceRun
I was looking at a laptop with the 8600M it looks pretty good, and worth the upgrade for a new laptop if thats the way you like to go.
snowboardalliance
Ok I've started shopping around, and I'm looking mostly at laptops with the NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GT, NVIDIA GeForce 9500M GS, ATI Mobility Radeon HD 2600, or the ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3650 (this is what I've seen on newegg mostly). Also I'm looking at Intel Core 2 Duo T7500, T8100, T8300, and T9300. I think a 15.4" wide (seems to be pretty standard) will be fine for me but I'm gonna go to the store to make sure I don't feel the need to get a 17". Battery life isn't a major issue, but I would like to be able to bring my laptop around campus a little (and I don't know if 17" will be too big).

So those are the basics that I've searched on newegg, and I want some advice on what is important based on what I want to do (a little gaming, video editting, photoshop).

I also wanted to know, should I upgrade the HDD to 7200rpm? Most seem to be 5400 and that's the biggest negative review I'm seeing. Is the price difference big and is it difficult to swap a laptop drive? (I've only dealt with desktops). Sites like Dell and Alienware advertised upgrades with 7200rpm drives with fall protection which seems like a good idea, just wanted to hear some input on it.

oh, and if I want to run XP since vista still seems to have issues, are there any hardware problems? Some people mentioned that on newegg. I don't think I'll make it a priority, but I'd like to know.

Finally, what brands do you recommend? I've seen a lot of Asus and Acer. Then some by CyberpowerPC, Toshiba, and Lenovo. Also, the Dell XPS M1530 with a few upgrades is in my price range. So I just want some first-hand insight on what is a good brand.

Well that was a long post, but hopefully I'll get some good advice. Thanks in advance.
william
Well, let's see. All of the cards you've listed are very decent, and all capable of gaming. The 9500m GS is essentially a more efficient 8600m GT, with pretty much identical performance. The HD 2600 is, as far as I know, a little slower and not found on too many notebooks. The 3650 is about the same as well, although I've heard that it may be slightly faster than the 9500/8600. For CPUs, all the ones you listed are very good. The T7500 is an older model, while the three others are newer Penryn models. Personally I'd aim for the T9300 just for the extra cache, but none of them will hold you back. If this laptop is meant to be taken around, then 15.4" and 14.1" are the ideal sizes, but it varies from person to person. I agree that you should go to the store and check out the sizes for yourself. (By the way, if you want a 14.1" machine, the PC Microworks Impulse/Zepto 6225WD will get you an 8600m GT).

For the tasks you're doing, you need to be strong on both the CPU and GPU sides, and all the parts you've listed will be more than capable. The only thing about gaming is if you want to play Crysis, you may have some trouble (though I play Crysis at medium settings with stock clocks).

Well, for hard drives it sort of depends. I like how my 7200 RPM drive results in decent boot times and relatively fast game loads, but a 5400 RPM drive wouldn't be too bad. I'd say if you can afford it, go for it. However, there's one thing. A 250 GB 7200 RPM drive is about the same speed as a 320 GB 5400 RPM drive, so density helps performance. All in all, I'd say it's up to you, some like the quicker loads, and others are just fine with 5400. Fall protection I'm not too sure about. Any hard drive can fail...but again, I don't know anything about that.

It depends on the company. Some companies no longer release drivers for XP, but usually you can get it to work. Some things like Robson will require Vista, but again, it varies from company to company.

Brands...well, I could go on and on about how the notebook industry works. Actual brands, I personally like Sager and Asus, but it depends on your price range. If you are willing to spend $1500, you've got numerous options, especially in the 15" category. 14" I'd just say get the PC Microworks Impulse, that thing is amazing. 15", I can say the Dell XPS m1530, the Lenovo T61p, the Sager NP2092, and the Asus M50. Those are the best 15" models I can think of in that price range.

Just one other thing, Montevina is almost out, so you will be seeing some newer notebooks out soon enough.
snowboardalliance
Thanks a lot for the tips. I've narrowed it down to a few, so I'd like some advice

I can get the Dell M1530 with the 15" WXGA+, Intel T9300, 8600M GT, 3GB RAM, 160GB 7200rpm drive, 9Cell battery, bluetooth
(25% until thursday) for $1350

Or, the Sager np2092 with the 15" WXGA+, Intel T9300, 8600M GT, 4GB RAM, 200GB 7200rpm drive, 9Cell battery, bluetooth
$1300 (that is $300 off "while supplies last")

Or, from newegg:

ASUS M50 Series M50Sa-X1 NoteBook Intel Core 2 Duo T9300(2.50GHz) 15.4" Wide XGA 4GB Memory DDR2 667 250GB HDD 5400rpm DVD Super Multi ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3650 - Retail
$1300

CyberpowerPC Gamer Xplorer X5-7933 NoteBook Intel Core 2 Duo T9300(2.50GHz) 15.4" Wide XGA 4GB Memory DDR2 667 250GB HDD 5400rpm DVD±R/RW NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GT - Retail
$1350

ASUS M50 Series M50Sv-A1 NoteBook Intel Core 2 Duo T9300(2.50GHz) 15.4" Wide XGA+ 3GB Memory 250GB HDD DVD Super Multi NVIDIA GeForce 9500M GS - Retail
$1350

ASUS M50 Series M50Sa-AK023C NoteBook Intel Core 2 Duo T9300(2.50GHz) 15.4" Wide SXGA+ 4GB Memory DDR2 667 500GB HDD 5400rpm DVD Super Multi ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3650 - Retail
$1500

So I only have a few days for some of these deals, but I'm sure new ones will come up.
william
OK, first the Sager NP2092 and the CyberpowerPC Gamer Xploere X5-7933 are the same notebooks (Compal JFL92). However, from those two, the Sager is the better choice because their service is unmatched. Also, I highly recommend that you go to XoticPC or Powernotebooks if you want the Sager. I just configured the same model there for $1165 with cash discount (normal $1202). I think they also have student discounts as well. Buying from them will get you the laptop cheaper than buying from Sager direct, plus a very nice upgrade on the service.

Now, the M1530 will have a slight edge in gaming abilities, but it will be held back in everything else compared to the Sager due to the lower RAM.

And then the Asus M50 series. It's a new lineup from Asus, and I've heard mixed reviews. Some people say the build quality isn't particularly impressive, but the performance is excellent. The $1500 one will be the most powerful of all your choices, and the higher resolution screen and whopping 500 GB hard drive are nice features.

I would say you'd be happy with any one of them, but you ought to check out some reviews of the Asus if you plan to go that route. I've heard great things about the Dell, and it's one of the two Dells I actually recommend. As for the Sager, I personally own the NP2090, and I find it to be a great notebook. I got mine almost a year ago, and it's just excellent, and remarkably powerful.

The only thing is that montevina is on the horizon, but it shouldn't be too big of a deal.
snowboardalliance
Just as an update, I got the Dell m1530 and it's awesome. I need to pick up some blank cds and install ubuntu, but I'm liking it so far. Thanks to everyone here for the tips.
william
Great choice. I've heard loads of great things about it. Did you get the same specifications you listed above?

Oh, by the way, just out of curiosity, what's the model of the screen you got?

Enjoy your new notebook!
snowboardalliance
william wrote:
Great choice. I've heard loads of great things about it. Did you get the same specifications you listed above?

Oh, by the way, just out of curiosity, what's the model of the screen you got?

Enjoy your new notebook!


I upgraded to the 320 GB harddrive.

The screen is the LG, which I think is supposed to be the better one.

Also, I was able to replace the Dell Media Direct software (which can be booted by a separate button) with Ubuntu and it's pretty cool.
william
320 GB of hard disk space, very respectable for a notebook. Very Happy

Yeah, you definitely got the better one. Was just wondering since some of the Dells screens are excellent (LG), while others (Samsung)...not so much.

And that's a pretty good idea. Glad it's working out.


Anyhow, enjoy that awesome machine. Cool
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