Not sure what notebook to get

Discussion in 'Computer Games and General Discussion' started by the_randomizer, Dec 1, 2011.

Dec 1, 2011
  1. the_randomizer
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    Member the_randomizer The Temp's official fox whisperer

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    Okay, so for starters, I know exactly what I want/don't want in a laptop. See, I'm moving to an apartment next year and obviously, I can't lug the computer I'm using right now, so I want to get a laptop in the near future.

    What I'm willing to spend:
    Somewhere between $600 to $800

    What I want to use this laptop for:

    - Emulation (not PCSX2 or Dolphin level) such as N64, Playstation, etc
    - Skryim, or games similar in system requirements (on high, not ultra)
    - Photoshop CS5


    What I'm looking for:

    - Intel Core i5 series (in the 2.0 to 2.66GHz range); don't want/need an i7 since that increases the cost dramatically
    - 4GB DDR3 RAM
    - 5400 or 7200 RPM HDD with at least 320GB of space
    - Windows 7 Home 64-bit pre-installed
    - 720p screen (1080p would be fine, too)
    - A dedicated GPU that doesn't suck, but isn't super high-end either (mid-range)

    What I don't want:

    - Anything with the name "Dell" in it (after having worked for their tech support team, yeah, the horror stories small-medium business customers told me make me want to avoid that name like a virulent disease).
    - Anything with the name "Intel HD/GMA", as they suck
    - Anything with the words "nVidia Optimus" since it sucks at switching between the integrated and discrete GPUs whenever you need it to (i.e. you got off from internet surfing and decide to play a game, it doesn't always use the nVidia side of the GPU). To my knowledge, there is no easy way to disable it.
    - Anything with the word "Mac" or "Apple" as I find the argument ridiculous; there's nothing a Mac can do that a Window notebook can't do, but I digress. I have my reasons, mostly due to their being overpriced.
    - ATI GPUs I'm not so sure about; I heard that they're hit and miss as far as program compatibility goes.
    - And I do NOT want anything used or refurbished ("re-certified"). Refurbished is just a company's fancy euphemism for used and fixed up; the second you use it is the second it breaks, I will never trust used and/or refurbished items.

    So, I've reduced it down to a few brands that my brother (being the computer expert that he is) suggested I look into

    - HP http://tinyurl.com/6m3vm8k (a little above my budget but meh)
    - Acer http://tinyurl.com/7ma4g4h
    - Dell (that one confused me)
    - MSI http://tinyurl.com/7ss38gm


    Any suggestions are appreciated
     


  2. YayMii

    Member YayMii hi

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    The Acer one has the better GPU out of all of them, and the HP one has a bigger hard drive and better battery life. But the i3 in the MSI one should've turned you away, and the Nvidia card inside it goes against what you said earlier. And if you can deal with Optimus, the MSI one would get better battery life due to its newer tech. It really depends on your priorities.
    Also, do you not care about how big it is? The laptops you picked are different sizes (HP is 14" at 768p, MSI is 15" at 768p, Acer is 17" at 900p).

    And I assure you that my MacBook Air is not overpriced for what it is (and if it is, it's barely overpriced...$100 at the most). Although if you ignore the fact that it's a Mac, it's still not what you're looking for, so I don't suggest it.
     
  3. the_randomizer
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    Member the_randomizer The Temp's official fox whisperer

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    Anything between 14" to 17" is just fine, and I hear that Acer is getting better, the only concern now is how well ATI GPUs (esp. mobile ones) will run for emulators, games and so on. The thing I have agains Macbook Pros (and Mac in general) is the whole "holier-than-thou" argument, or rather, I've seen some people who think it's the be all end all of all notebooks, but whatever. I'll stick with either Acer, HP or maybe Lenovo, but I don't know much about that brand or quality, other than the fact it's made by IBM. Wouldn't I need to worry about ATI's reputation for instability or are they finally comparable to nVidia when it comes to reliability.
     
  4. Originality

    Member Originality Chibi-neko

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    I'm a little confused by your ruleset. I'll just they to go over a couple things.

    All Core I (first Gen) CPUs have an Intel GMA HD core built into the chip. This is the basis for switchable graphics that ATI/AMD and nVidia have been trying out. All but the highest range of nVidia mobile graphics use this with their Optimus technology, so if you want nVidia, you have to get Optimus.
    Similar story with second Gen Core I CPUs which come with Intel HD 3000. You can't get away from the fact that all laptops with one will use it for their switchable graphics, which tends to mean Optimus. Unless you go with AMD graphics, but you say you're not sure about them, don't want Optimus, and don't want Intel.

    My suggestion, look first for laptops with second Gen Core i3 or i5. Both are strong enough for gaming. Then find the ones that have at least nVidia GT520. Those should be in your price range but it is possible to find GT540 and GT550. Don't expect high details in Skyrim either - your budget isn't quite there for that, either with nVidia or AMD graphics.
     
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  5. the_randomizer
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    Member the_randomizer The Temp's official fox whisperer

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    Sorry about the confusion, my brother recommended I get something in the Core i5 range, and with an nVidia GPU, and since Optimus is more than likely going to be an inevitable part of the laptop in question it makes me kind of worried. Some have said the the Intel side of the GPU can be switched off in the BIOS settings, others say there's way to add/remove programs to a list that tell the GPU which part to use (a whitelist/blacklist sort of thing), so essentially, I don't want to be SOL when I get a laptop. In other words, how will I know that the notebook I get will let me control how Optimus is used (I really don't care about batter power that much); I want to be able to tell the GPU to exclusively use the nVidia side and not the Intel. Surely, there must be a way to do this.
     
  6. Originality

    Member Originality Chibi-neko

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    All I know are the basic facts. As for how to use Optimus, I've never had a laptop with one so I don't personally know. I've heard many things on forums (both of the problems it has and how people get around it) but most of what I heard are just that it falls down to driver issues and if you get the latest drivers, most of those problems get solved.

    The nVidia support forum is the best place to get your answers.
    EDIT: They do have a video tutorial on how to navigate/use the Optimus drivers in the sticky. Check that out.
     
  7. the_randomizer
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    Member the_randomizer The Temp's official fox whisperer

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    Hmmmm. Perhaps that can assuage my fears for Optimus once and for all. As long as there's a way around, it doesn't seem that bad, I suppose. Still, I don't feel 100% comfortable with it, maybe I'll give ATI another chance; it's been over ten years since I used an ATI GPU. At least with their combo GPUs, forcing it to use either the Intel side or ATI side actually works. However, I will look at those nVidia threads some more.
     
  8. iggloovortex

    Member iggloovortex GBAtemp Advanced Fan

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    Lenovo. Their laptops are always on sale and most come with nvidia geforce 540m, which is pretty damn good. the only issue might be what processor would be inside
     
  9. Originality

    Member Originality Chibi-neko

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    The Lenovos I've seen with 540M and second gen Core i5, tended to be $1000+. That said, they are a very popular brand (and have IBM's level of quality).
     
  10. yusuo

    Member yusuo GBAtemp Addict

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    Im using an acer aspire one 522 and its pretty good, can play 1080p smoothly on a dual monitor setup through my tv, while being able to use the internet at the same time with a few tabs open, it beats the crap outta my old netbook which couldnt even play 720p.

    Plus its got a dual core c-50 processor

    Oh yeah did I mention it only cost £200 from PC world, which is a rip off store, which means if you look around you're bound to get it cheaper
     
  11. the_randomizer
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    Member the_randomizer The Temp's official fox whisperer

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    No issues with Optimus at all? I'm impressed, as I'm seeing quite a lot of complaints on the nVidia forums.
     
  12. iggloovortex

    Member iggloovortex GBAtemp Advanced Fan

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    well ive seen them on sale for around the op's price range.

    as far as i know, optimus is only when a laptop has both integrated and chip gpu. kind of like HP's Mobile Radeon Catalyst
    I thought all you had to make sure of was that the laptop ONLY had the chip gpu

    if anything check this site: http://dealzon.com/computers/laptops
    it shows what sales are going on for laptops and such

    EDIT: http://shop.lenovo.c...3A000049D0%253A

    This laptop has Geforce 550m, 4gb of ram, but the only thing is 2nd gen i3 not i5, but the processing speed is still 2.2 ghz
     
  13. the_randomizer
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    Member the_randomizer The Temp's official fox whisperer

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    So, no matter which laptop I get that has an nVidia GPU, that will almost always be combined with the Intel POS HD chip, right? Ah, bullocks.
     
  14. iggloovortex

    Member iggloovortex GBAtemp Advanced Fan

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    No? i thought only when the laptop says it has intel in it as well.
    but here, i found this Lenovo with i5 and Geforce 555m like you wanted
    http://shop.lenovo.c...3%3A00004D2A%3A
     
  15. the_randomizer
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    Member the_randomizer The Temp's official fox whisperer

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    HOLY CRAP THAT'S CHEAP FOR THAT KIND OF HARDWARE! oO
     
  16. Originality

    Member Originality Chibi-neko

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    Firstly, Intel HD 3000 is not POS - it can run some modern games (reportedly Crysis too, which is a huge step up from previous generations of Intel IGP). Secondly, it's built into the freakin' CPU. You can't get a Core i3/5/7 2xxx (i.e. second gen) without one. Thirdly, laptop specs tend to only mention Intel HD graphics when they do not have another GPU on board (like nVidia or AMD). It's this reason that nVidia and AMD are trying to emphasise their switchable graphics and the improved battery life it offers. To give you an idea, the HD 3000 is roughly as strong as a GT 510M. That's why I recommend getting a 520M or above (540M is good, 555M is about as good as you can get without the price jumping by another $200).

    Now, I spent about 20 minutes sifting through the nVidia forums and it looks like the 555M runs great for Skyrim (high detail) but terribly for SWTOR. Sounds like a driver problem to me, or maybe that TOR hasn't been optimised for mobile graphics. Based on that, looks like the Lenovo laptop linked is your best option. And with that, I have nothing left to say.
     
  17. the_randomizer
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    Member the_randomizer The Temp's official fox whisperer

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    Didn't know that Intel IGPs got that good over the years, so I was wrong about that. It's just I used computers in the past with Intel GMA and that gave me a bad taste in my mouth (and never really gave them a chance), It seems that it's more or less on par with lower/mid-range GPUs, which is definitely a huge step in the right direction. The question is, how will I know that programs, such as emulators (ePSXe, PJ64, etc) will run properly and not give me missing shader-related errors (like what happens when my brother uses Glide64 on his laptop's Intel GMA)? Which is a more stable mobile GPU, nVidia or ATI? The thing that makes we not want to get Optimus is knowing whether or not the right GPUs kick in at the right times, and I hope nVidia can actually FIX it.
     
  18. Originality

    Member Originality Chibi-neko

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    Fact of the matter is, even though the Intel HD 3000 is strong enough to play modern games, most games are only coded to recognise AMD or nVidia graphics and use a substandard comparability mode when dealing with Intel graphics. That's why gaming laptops always come with GT540M or better or HD6570 or better. Both are good enough to play most games, but remember that mobile graphics are not as strong as desktop graphics. They tend to be scaled down, cut back and undervalued just to keep temperatures in check for extended use.

    Also, ATI are AMD now. Starting with the HD 6 series, they've dropped the ATI name entirely (even though it happened a couple years back). Get used to thinking that the only 3 brands that matter in the computing industry are Intel, AMD and nVidia, for both CPUs and GPUs (well, there's ARM too, but thats in a league of it's own).
     
  19. the_randomizer
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    Member the_randomizer The Temp's official fox whisperer

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    *Sigh* After reading those posts about Optimus and noting the lack of viable solutions that nVidia can't pull out of their a**, I weep for the future. If AMD can give users the option of using only the discrete side of the GPU, why can't nVidia? It can't be THAT hard to implement. I guess I could always test the notebook out a Best Buy or something, and then decide. I if I was able to switch it off in the BIOS, then that could make or break the deal for me. As much as I think the Intel HD 3000 is a huge step, I doubt Skyrim or any somewhat demanding game could run on medium settings at 60 fps.
     
  20. I2aven's_Sag

    Member I2aven's_Sag GBATemp Otaku

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    nVidia's offering is "Optimus" - Switchable Graphics
    AMD offering is "APU's" - Where Graphics & CPU reside on the same chip.

    They're fairly different strategies. Optimus has fairly more powerful GPU's in general. As someone with a powerful laptop, having researched it pretty thoroughly beforehand, I'll go out on a limb
    and tell you that the Lenovo posted at the end of the last page with the 555M is probably the best you'll get at this price-range. Even at that, it's an awesome bargain. The only catch is that it only
    just runs at a 1366x768 (720p) resolution, on the other hand, with a GPU like the 555M it more than likely means you'll be able to pull of Medium/High settings at 60 FPS.

    AMD & nVidia are using radically different approaches to solve similar problems. Considering the investments that nVidia has made into Optimus, it makes sense that they don't want to abandon it.
    Furthermore, they actually have very little to no say in whether a notebook manufacturer decides to implement Optimus in their machines. This is why you see Optimus -at best- in notebooks with a
    GTX 460/560M. AMD's APU offerings are generally more budget minded and can offer/cater to the budget-oriented light/casual gamer.

    This would be my suggestion: http://www.xoticpc.com/sager-np5165-clevo-w150hr-p-3063.html?wconfigure=yes
    + 1920x1080 Full 1080p HD resolution
    + 555M / Optimus
    + 640 GB HDD > 500GB Lenovo
    + or (-) Install your own OS.
    (-) $830.00
     

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