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Need help selecting gaming laptop $6-900 US
05-06-2013, 12:25 PM,
#1
Need help selecting gaming laptop $6-900 US
Hello all. New forum member here. I found this wonderful site when Google turned up the Best Gaming Laptops article, which was very informative.

I'm looking to buy a new laptop that I can use for gaming, but I'm kind of at a loss despite the assistance in that article. Obviously, all those deals are gone and newer stuff has taken it's place, but I'm having a problem evaluating the recommended alternatives that Amazon or NewEgg points me to. I don't know why some machines with i5 processors are more expensive than ones with i7 processors (or why one i7 has a lower listed Ghz vs. another), nor can I really compare the relative merits of GT 650M card versus a GT 730M. If one of the comparisons involves an AMD card, I might as well be comparing bananas to butterflies. I'm trying to find a good deal, in the spirit of the article, but the reasons for the cost of any specific machine are pretty opaque to me and I don't really know enough to tell if something is a "good" deal or not.

My current laptop is a 6 year old hand-me-down from my wife, and I'd like to upgrade to something that could run games from this decade. My budget is $600 to $900 USD. The sort of games I'm looking to be able to play are The Last Stand: Dead Zone, The Legend of Grimrock, Skyrim, and GTA 5 (whenever that comes out). A frequent sub-use for my laptop is projecting maps onto the tabletop for our weekly D&D game, but I'm assuming anything that can handle gaming can handle Paint.net.

So, I'd appreciate it if someone could explain some of these differences, point me to some educational resources that provide some context to the specs, or just link a laptop with a note that says, "This. This right here. Get this one, it will do what you want."

Thanks in advance for any help or advice y'all are willing to provide.
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05-06-2013, 07:05 PM,
#2
RE: Need help selecting gaming laptop $6-900 US
Welcome to the forums.

i5 vs i7
Intel uses i3, i5, and i7 to distinguish three levels of desktop CPUs. Unfortunately, Intel continues to use the same naming for the last three generations of CPUs (Nehalem, Sandy Bridge, and Ivy Bridge). You could find older laptops with older generations of i7 that is cheaper than newer laptops with newer generations of i5. Also, some laptops with i5 may be equipped with other features such as a powerful video card, blu-ray drive, etc. that makes it higher in price. The i5 or i7 may not have to do with GHz. Like you said, some i5 are higher clocked than other i7, however i7 are typically quad-core as opposed to the duo core i5s.

Comparing video cards
It is relatively straight forward when you compare card from the same company. Lets start by using the 650M as an example. Here, we can see that it is Nvidia's 6th generation, 5th level of performance (higher=more powerful), and 0 (used for special cards or other additives). Compared to the 730M, 7th generation, 3rd level of performance, the 650M should out perform the 730M. Generally, the next generation of video card requires one less level of performance to be equal. In other words, the 650M should be similar in performance to the 740M. Keep in mind this is just performance. Efficiency, energy, and heat will definitely improve with newer generation video cards. Also keep in mind this is a very rough estimate for quick comparisons. Sometimes nvidia just restamps old cards and call them new ones. For comparisons between Nvidia and AMD cards, try to look for benchmarks of the games you're looking for. Often, Nvidia and AMD cards will vary in performance depending on what game you are looking to play.

If you skipped all that just to find links of laptops Big Grin. Here you go.

If you want pure performance for price ($900)...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.as...6834312438

Be careful with this guy, SLI in a body like that will produce a lot of heat. Don't use it in warm rooms or on soft objects (pillow, bag, backpack etc.) always use laptops like these on hard cool surfaces.

If you want a more portable, mid-price, single card package I'm a fan of this laptop ($750)...
http://shop.lenovo.com/SEUILibrary/contr...ction=init

The 750M in this should perform similar to a 660M which is very good IMO. The only issue with this laptop is a poor resolution of 1366x768, which is terrible for work/documents but good enough for gaming IMO (lower resolution=more performance!).

I would usually recommend something from customizable laptops, but right now they seem a little pricey compared to these two lenovos.
Desktop: CPU: Intel Core i5 2500 3.30GHz RAM: G.Skill 8GB MOBO: ASRock P67 Extreme4 Gen3 Video Card: SLI MSI Nvidia GeForce GTX 460 768 SSD: Corsair Force 3 60GB HDD: Samsung F3 1TB Sound: Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium Mouse: Storm Sentinal Z3RO-G Keyboard: Das Keyboard Silent/Filco Majestouch 2 Speakers: Behringer MS-16 Headphones: Alessandro MS-1/Shure SRH440 modded Router: D-Link Xtreme DIR-655 Monitor: Dell Ultrasharp U2312HM De-anti-glared Laptop: Lenovo Thinkpad X120e/Thinkpad T430
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05-07-2013, 07:31 AM,
#3
RE: Need help selecting gaming laptop $6-900 US
Thank you!

If you don't mind some follow up questions, how do I tell what generation a given CPU is part of? For example, I'm looking at Amazon and I see an i5-3317U, i5-3337U, and i7-3517U--is the i7 a newer generation than either of the i5's? Are these numeric designations supposed to be read in the same manner as the video cards you mentioned below?

Is this Asus N56DP-DH11 one of the integrated card type machines you mentioned avoiding in the article?

I really like the first laptop you linked and I have a question about resolution because you brought it up with the second one. Is it possible to have a higher-resolution for general laptop usage (internet, documents, art programs) and casually switch to a lower resolution as necessary for gaming?

Thanks again!
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05-07-2013, 06:03 PM, (This post was last modified: 05-07-2013, 06:08 PM by ichigeki.)
#4
RE: Need help selecting gaming laptop $6-900 US
The CPUs you listed are undervolted CPUs. They are lowered in clocks to help with battery life. Even though video cards are usually first to be bottle necked, I wouldn't recommend getting a laptop for gaming with an undervolted CPU.

All of those CPUs are of the same generation (ivy bridge). This can be seen in the (3, third generation) in the first number in the name of the CPU. The iX(3,5, or 7) doesn't determine the generation of the CPU. The iX tells you what level of performance you are looking at with Intel processors. Generally, i7s are fastest, i5s are mid, and i3s are lowest.

The numeric designation is similar, in that the first number is the generation. However, Intel's naming scheme can be a little odd. It's harder to quickly compare processors, compared to video cards. For processors, I would just look at a page like this,

http://www.notebookcheck.net/Mobile-Proc...436.0.html

Another things to note is that the U at the end of the processor indicates that it is an undervolted processor.

For gaming, you definitely want to stay away from integrated cards.

About resolution:
Yes, it is possible to have a high resolution screen for documents and programs and then lower the in game resolution to improve performance. However, this immensely lowers the true image quality of the game, because the game now has to render at a low resolution and stretch it across a native resolution that is much higher. It is much better to have a game run at a low resolution on a screen that has the same low resolution natively.

In short, 1366x768 gaming on a 1920x1080 screen results in much lower actual game image quality than 1366x768 gaming on a 1366x768 screen.

Edit: I also want to correct myself from my first post. You should never use your laptop on soft material. The lack of airflow will damage your laptop.
Desktop: CPU: Intel Core i5 2500 3.30GHz RAM: G.Skill 8GB MOBO: ASRock P67 Extreme4 Gen3 Video Card: SLI MSI Nvidia GeForce GTX 460 768 SSD: Corsair Force 3 60GB HDD: Samsung F3 1TB Sound: Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium Mouse: Storm Sentinal Z3RO-G Keyboard: Das Keyboard Silent/Filco Majestouch 2 Speakers: Behringer MS-16 Headphones: Alessandro MS-1/Shure SRH440 modded Router: D-Link Xtreme DIR-655 Monitor: Dell Ultrasharp U2312HM De-anti-glared Laptop: Lenovo Thinkpad X120e/Thinkpad T430
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05-07-2013, 07:48 PM,
#5
RE: Need help selecting gaming laptop $6-900 US
Thank you again for all your explanations--I certainly feel a little more educated now. After reading the reviews on Newegg and Amazon, and talking with one of my friends, I ordered the Y500. I appreciate you pointing that one out to me; I'd been waffling on this decision for the past month. Smile
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05-07-2013, 09:34 PM,
#6
RE: Need help selecting gaming laptop $6-900 US
No problem. Good luck with the laptop. Keep up with the forum if you run into any issues.

Cheers!
Desktop: CPU: Intel Core i5 2500 3.30GHz RAM: G.Skill 8GB MOBO: ASRock P67 Extreme4 Gen3 Video Card: SLI MSI Nvidia GeForce GTX 460 768 SSD: Corsair Force 3 60GB HDD: Samsung F3 1TB Sound: Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium Mouse: Storm Sentinal Z3RO-G Keyboard: Das Keyboard Silent/Filco Majestouch 2 Speakers: Behringer MS-16 Headphones: Alessandro MS-1/Shure SRH440 modded Router: D-Link Xtreme DIR-655 Monitor: Dell Ultrasharp U2312HM De-anti-glared Laptop: Lenovo Thinkpad X120e/Thinkpad T430
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