Jump to content
OtakuBoards

Gaming Laptop Conundrum


Zidargh
 Share

Recommended Posts

Hello all.

Well, to cut to the chase - my second university year starts in a month and so I'm going to be moving into a house and truly experience the big, scary world, exempt from the security of campus... Yeah right.

Anyway, for the first year, I ended up lugging my big Dell Desktop to and fro for when terms began and ended and it was a bit annoying to say the least.

Therefore, my mother's confronted me with an idea that she would give me my christmas present early in the form of a nice laptop. I feel pretty bad as they are expensive no matter the specs, but I enquired as to what the budget was and she said around £1000. In dollars, with the current exchange rate, that's 2000 bucks, give or take.

I'm pretty excited but laptops have always been a bit of a taboo for me as I didn't find them particularly practical for my interests. I realise I'm going to mainly use it for coursework, however I try to feed a pretty hardcore gaming habit.

Therefore, I was wondering if any of you tech-whizzes knew if laptops were capable of playing games like... hmmm... Supreme Commander? With my budget of course.

Also, do you guys know of any particular builds I should be looking for/companies? Basically, any advice/anecdotes would be much appreciated.

Thankya' kindly.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

[FONT="Tahoma"]The best types of laptops for gaming can be found with companies such as Alienware, Dell, and HP. Alienware being at the top of the list, especially it's Area51 m9750 model. Alienwares will typically come standard with larger graphics cards than most other companies will. I just recently built a HP and put a little extra into it to put a 512MB card into it. It's a bit pricey (the alienware that is) starting off over the $2000 mark, but minus the gaming friendly luxuries you can get a Dell or an HP with compareable or better features in reference to their HDD, RAM, and even processor speed. They may not have as many ports or card slots as the Alienware though.

Not taking your budget into consideration (so you can look each one up and see which one is most convenient for you, though most of them will be friendly to your budget anyhow after customization), I suggest the Alienware Area51 m9750, the Dell XPS M1710, the Dell Inspiron 1720, the HP dv9500t or z, or the HP dv6500t. All of them are 17 inch screens minus the HP dv6500t which is a 15 inch. Having recently built a desktop replacement for myself with ample gaming capabilities, I find that nothing under a 17 inch screen will suffice.

Most of the more expensive ones will either come or have the option of coming with an 802.11n networking card, though you may find g to be acceptable if you aren't gaming very heavily and it's just something you want your laptop to be capable of. I know the HP has the option of having up to a 400gb HDD, the Alienware up to 500gb. You can get a 512mb gfx card at least on any of them, whether it's a customization option or simply buying one. I suggest a processing speed no less than 2.0ghz, definitely dual core, Intel is good but AMD Turion isn't a terrible alternative.

Hope that helps you out a bit. [/FONT]
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thankyou BK, that's [i]extremely[/i] helpful. Thought I was going out on a whim for a second with no replies. You sound like the expert.

I'm going to research them further having looked at that Alienware one which looks really sweet but also really expensive.

A couple more questions though... As this is a lot of money to spend, I'm going to want it to last, and knowing technology as I do, it seems that once you purchase a model, it's out of date immediately. So will the laptop still be respectable in 2 years time? Because obviously Direct X10 is going to be utilised, and I always read criticism of Vista... so how would, say, a Dell XPS M1710 hold up with top of the range games out at the moment?
Link to comment
Share on other sites

[COLOR=#001824][SIZE="1"][FONT="Trebuchet MS"]I can speak from experience (Seeing as my current laptop is an Alienware Area 51 model, [URL="http://www.alienware.com/product_detail_pages/area-51_m9750/area-51m_overview.aspx?SysCode=PC-LT-AREA51M9750&SubCode=SKU-DEFAULT"]this [/URL] very one in fact) I bought it about three maybe four years ago and it is still able to play many high end games today. I'd like to keep in mind though that when I purchased it I bought a lot of high end add ons with the laptop that ended up costing about $5,500. I don't know how many things have changed since I purchased mine, but I can bet that it may be the same case.

The only (slight) nitpick I would have with the system would be the memory, even with all the things I got with mine I only topped out at about 100GB of memory. If you wish to hold a large amount of things on your laptop (I burnt through mine so fast) I'd recommend buying an external drive if they don't offer any more memory.

Some of my facts may be out of date so I'd advise if you're looking at Alienware to go in deeper.[/FONT][/SIZE][/COLOR]
Link to comment
Share on other sites

[FONT="Tahoma"]You can definitely deck out that same model further then possible three years ago, it has more customization options now. Their Aurora model I believe will be switching to dual core technology soon, so they are always keeping their products up to date whenever possible. It will certainly cost you a pretty penny however. In terms of memory and HDD, as I said before it's easy to find one from another company with equal features in those categories. It's the gfx card, built in networking card, processing speed, and hardware ports that are going to make the Alienware shine above the rest. The XPS will have very similar customization options however, and actually probably turn out to be more expensive. It will work great though, but i think the highest in HDD capacity they both reach is 500gb. It comes down to price and reliability via brand name at that point, but keep in mind that Alienware is a company that was made to specifically create gaming computers.

But yeah, it's a beautiful machine. Even years from now it will be a capable machine. Alienware service plans are pretty good too. It sucks our store doesn't get any Dell or AW products regularly though, I find myself talking about them a lot to people who come into the technology department. We have decent HPs for gaming but specialize more in labtops and desktops for businesses and normal home use.

Just a little note about Vista too since you mentioned it, it is an abomination of an operating system. I very much dislike how they completely reformulated the entire criteria for the OS rather then simply elaborating or updating like it has been doing since windows 95. Eventually however, the earliest form of Vista is going to be considered outdated and everyone is going to have to update whether they like it or not. I do intend on milking my XP for all it's worth before installing my new OS into my laptop.[/FONT]
Link to comment
Share on other sites

[quote name='Zidargh']So will the laptop still be respectable in 2 years time? Because obviously Direct X10 is going to be utilised, and I always read criticism of Vista... so how would, say, a Dell XPS M1710 hold up with top of the range games out at the moment?[/QUOTE]

Short answer to your first question is no, at least not for games that will be the norm in 2 years. You can almost guarantee that even the first generation of DX10 games will run poorly at best on any current (DX10 capable) laptop. The M1710 has a DX9 card but it will play most of today's games very well.

I guess all of the below only applies if you don't go for that Dell model ;)

Get a dedicated graphics card! You don't want a 100% integrated card (anything from the Intel GMA line as an example), since these use your computer's RAM (memory) rather than their own. Newer Nvidia & ATI cards do use some system memory but they also come with their own - that's the kind of card you'll need if you want to play any recent games.

If the laptop comes with Vista, downgrade it to XP. Vista chews up available memory & generally makes a system chug due to all the fancy bells & whistles.

Don't settle for anything less than 2 gigs of RAM. For the HDD, speed rather than size is important; a 7,200rpm hard drive will be much nippier than a 5,400rpm. Use USB/FW drives if you need oodles of storage (though I wouldn't advise storing games on external drives)!

Last but not least: unless you've moved away from blighty, don't buy your laptop from the US.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thankyou very much guys, you've all been a superb help. I'm caught betweenthe [b]Alienware Area 51 m9750[/b] and the [b]Dell XPS M1710[/b]. I can get the Alienware for £1,350 with the 2 gigs RAM and 7,200 RPM hard drive, also contemplating the downgrade from Vista. Is this a good deal? For alot more (which I can't afford) an upgrade with the Alienware Area51 m9750 model is Dual 512MB NVIDIA GeForce Go 7950 GTX GDDR3. I can't afford this but would this be phenomenal power, or would I be fine with just the single card? Actually, how good is the damn card? lol. Argh I'm confused. It's too much money to throw away.

It's annoying about this DirectX10 situation as I can't really wait due to term starting again and whatnot. And I know that uni consists of alot of partying (I'm a second year now) but work's going to be more serious and thus I need more play capabilities. ;)

Haha, Red I was thinking of cutting a few quid on ordering from the US, but I decided for guarantee purposes that I'd better not. What was your reason for not ordering from the US?

Oh, and it also says that it won't ship 'til October? Is it not out yet or something in the UK?
Link to comment
Share on other sites

[quote name='Zidargh']Oh, and it also says that it won't ship 'til October? Is it not out yet or something in the UK?[/QUOTE]

I believe the ship date means that they don't actually have them in stock with the current specs as you want/ordered, so most of their Laptops/PC's are custom built, then shipped. After it's is finished and shipped, then you add the days it takes for it to arrive to your destination. I personally haven't ordered from Alienware, but like you, I am planning on getting one of those M1710's, mostly for gaming on the go, as well taking it to work and such.

Ready for ship models are usually ok, and are usually shipped faster, maybe a week or two. I personally would go with a custom built one, meaning that I pick what I want in it, so to speak.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

[quote name='Zidargh']Thankyou very much guys, you've all been a superb help. I'm caught betweenthe [b]Alienware Area 51 m9750[/b] and the [b]Dell XPS M1710[/b]. I can get the Alienware for £1,350 with the 2 gigs RAM and 7,200 RPM hard drive, also contemplating the downgrade from Vista. Is this a good deal? For alot more (which I can't afford) an upgrade with the Alienware Area51 m9750 model is Dual 512MB NVIDIA GeForce Go 7950 GTX GDDR3. I can't afford this but would this be phenomenal power, or would I be fine with just the single card? Actually, how good is the damn card? lol. Argh I'm confused. It's too much money to throw away.[/quote]

You'd be fine with a single card - the one you've mentioned is very powerful, a close match to one nvidia's highest rated 7 series desktop cards (the 7900GTX). That bugger can run nearly all DX9 games flawlessly.

If you did feel like going way over budget in the end, an SLI (dual card) setup would give you roughly 50% extra graphics performance over a single card.

[quote]Haha, Red I was thinking of cutting a few quid on ordering from the US, but I decided for guarantee purposes that I'd better not. What was your reason for not ordering from the US?[/quote]

Warranty. You'd end up losing the dollar savings when they asked you to mail the laptop back to the US :p
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...