Gaming I'll eventually need to get a laptop, but....

the_randomizer

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So, I'm going to be moving out soon and I'm in need of getting a laptop for school work, along with some light gaming on the side, as any notebook with a GPU powerful enough to run Skyrim would exceed my budget.

What I want in a notebook:
- A 2nd Gen Core i5
- Ability to run programs such as PJ64, ePSXe/Xebra, Snes9x, Splinter Cell (all five...pretty much anything at this level of GPU/CPU intensity).
- Anything from the Asus, Acer, HP, Sony, Lenovo or Sager/Clevo line. Other brands such as PowerPro, I never heard of, but look nice nonetheless.
- My current budget is somewhere between $600 to $900 USD. Too broad of a range, I know.

What I don't want:
- A GPU with the nefarious Optimus, as I've seen nothing but complaint after complaint on how it switches to the Intel IGP at the wrong time
and doesn't switch back to the nVidia side at all. I am well aware that not all nVidia GPUs use Optimus.
- Do not want an AMD/ATI GPU. This bias is due to having bad experiences with them in the past, many people swear that their drivers are flaky at best, while others swear they are the better than nVidia. I've been using nVidia since 2000 and never had major issues with their GPUs.
- Dells I tend to avoid like the plague. This is has to do with the time I worked in their Small-Medium Business tech support; I developed a hatred due to their unreliability and overall instability.

Some notebooks I'm considering:

PowerPro J515 (no Windows installation) - http://tinyurl.com/cdnkrfz
Xplorer X6-7200 (comes w/Windows 7 Home 64-bit) - http://tinyurl.com/7lovkqf
Sager 5160 (no Windows) - http://tinyurl.com/7asb9k7

Is it possible to have a notebook that doesn't have an Intel GPU but doesn't suck at playing emulators/some PC games at the same time?
 

Originality

Chibi-neko
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Unfortunately it is rare to find a non-optimus nVidia GPU these days for laptops. Also saying no Intel or AMD graphics rules out every alternative.

Fortunately if your only target is emulation, all you need is a strong CPU and any GPU or IGP would work fine. If you want to play Skyrim though, you need to aim as high up the GPU ladder as you can find in your price range and ignore your reservations against AMD and nVidia.

Edit: I can't comment on the linked laptops because doing this from a smartphone on the bus to work takes too much effort.
 

RchUncleSkeleton

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I've had three dell laptops and never had any reliability issues with any of them, HP on the other hand gave me a whole slew of problems.
My personal suggestion is to give Dell a shot, Good Inspiron and XPS systems can be had for anywhere between $600 to $1000.

You should keep an eye on great deals over at techbargains.com I saw an awesome HP the other day for around $550
It was the dv7tqe 17.3" i7 Quad Core, 8GB Ram, 750GB HD, Blu-Ray Player and 1GB ATI Radeon HD7470M Graphics.

I wish I would've been quicker on that deal but I'm keeping my eye out for a sweet deal like that again.
 

DiscostewSM

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I can run Skyrim on my Lenovo z575 laptop (which has an AMD A6-3400m APU in it) at medium settings at 1280x720, and I bought it for $430 on Newegg.com. It doesn't even have a discrete GPU either, as it is running off the IGP, which is quite good considering. While you have emulation as a requirement, even AMD's APUs can handle what you listed. PS2/Wii emulation is out of the question for those though (although I OCed mine from 1.4Ghz to 2.4Ghz, and can run many Wii games at around 50% execution speed at a minimum, not recommended btw), but you didn't list those.
 

FireEmblemGuy

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You won't find an i5 laptop that won't handle all of those with just the IGP. My old VAIO is close to four years old know, and its outdated 4500MHD could handle all of those (probably, I don't know which Splinter Cell you want to play), plus HD texture packs for PJ64 and decent performance with bsnes' accuracy core. Handled Source games well, although for newer ones like Portal 2 and Dota 2 I had to turn the graphics and such pretty far down. Ran CoD games fine, or at least MW2. The HD3000 is two or three generations past the 4500MHD, and a lot better.

Now if you want Skyrim, yeah, you'll need more than just Intel IGP, although an HD3000 will still get probably 20FPS at native resolution and medium settings. Crank everything down and it'd probably run pretty decently.

Also, Sony machines are usually overpriced, and Acer is nearly as bad as Dell. At my university everyone (except art students who get Macbooks with Adobe CS suites, though at a few hundred dollars a year more) gets a Lenovo Thinkpad, which is covered by their tuition fees. I've never seen one of those break down, and the only issues I've seen were caused by the 2010 models trying to run Windows 7 on a single GB of RAM and multitask with a browser open. I assume other Lenovo machines are around the same level of quality.
 

the_randomizer

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Okay, so based off of everyone who posted feedback, it looks like I might be able to trust ATI/AMD once more, and as for the Splinter Cell games go, a GPU that can play Conviction-level games, but I doubt I can find ones that cheap. As for Skyrim, it's not a big deal if I can't play it on a laptop, as I'll visit my home once or twice a week where it would on my desktop PC. And you're right about the Intel HD3000s, they're not as bad as the older Intel GMA chips. I know that Optimus and nVidia are rarely separate (only a handful of notebooks have Optimus-free nVidia GPUs), so ATI may be the way for me to go. If I wasn't specific about what I want in a notebook before, I apologize. Programs like Dolphin and PCSX2 wouldn't be playable on most notebooks; they don't have a snowball's chance in Hell of running at a decent framerate, so I'll run those on the desktop as well.
 

Originality

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They're discouraged because they're not the "full power" versions, they're the "energy efficient" versions designed to use less power and produce less heat. The result is that they're not as fast/powerful as their desktop counterparts. They won't fry just because you're emulating (otherwise my dad's laptop would fry every time he uses his chess program). They only fry if the cooling is bad (and that's the laptop design's fault, not the chipset or CPU) and this varies from laptop to laptop. However that doesn't mean that they suck at emulation - I've heard many stories of how people can emulate full speed on their laptops from back in the C2D days.

FYI, my dad's laptop is an Acer. The only problem we have with it is that the battery is starting to die (not Acer's fault, it happens to all Li-ion batteries).

As for Intel HD 3000 and OpenGL/D3D API... that's out of my depth. I emulate PS2 on my PC (Core i5-2500K + GTX 560 Ti) with the bigger screen and Wii on my Wii.
 

the_randomizer

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How much are we looking at? I don't feel the need to spend money well into the quadruple digit range. Just enough for emulation and some PC games, as I said before. The fact that the HD 3000 GPU RAM is shared makes me worried. Now to find either a USB powered or AC-powered laptop cooler that doesn't suck.
 

Luckkill4u

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DiscostewSM

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Still, isn't 2.2GHz going to bog PCSX2 down? Then again, the PCSX2 Team is slowly implementing 2+ core support.

Clock frequency isn't the end-all answer. Newer CPUs (such as the i7) can do more with a lower clock frequency than older CPUs can at a higher clock frequency because of the capabilities of the CPU. For instance, a specific instruction on a newer CPU might take fewer clock cycles than the same instruction on an older CPU. Plus, newer CPUs have instructions that older ones don't have built-in, to which in order to mimic them, would require a sequence of different instructions to be executed, resulting in a longer execution time.
 

marcus134

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I don't know if it's on the u.s. Lenovo website, but they advertise a ideapad y470p (it's in y460p category in their website ) for the same price (14",i7, 8gb of ram, HD7690 and ... JBL speakers?)
 

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