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Buying a laptop

  • Hey everyone,

    I want to buy a laptop because my desktop is a bit crusty and I'd like to be more mobile with my computing (coding Construct on the train would be cool haha).

    I don't know much about laptops but I'd like it to do the following:

    • Large screen so I can see lots of code/have hi-res graphics.
    • A nVidia or ATI graphics card for shader programming stuff. NOT an Intel graphics chip. I've tested Construct on them before and they are absolutely terrible, slow with very poorly written drivers.
    • Around or under the �500 pricemark.

    Those are the key things. I've got my eye on this one, a Packard Bell with ATI Radeon HD3200 graphics and a 17.3" screen, at �449, which meets all three points. Batterly life says 2.3 hours which doesn't sound like much, but I guess that is normal for a powerful laptop?

    Good choice do you reckon? Anyone know of any better deals?

  • http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6834115539

    I just found this one recently, and I was pretty surprised to see an acer which had a dedicated GPU. It uses the GeForce 9600m, which is a pretty good graphics card for a notebook. I have an acer laptop, and as cheap as they are I like mine for small things and it works pretty good. My one problem with the acer series is that their keyboards are annoying.. But luckily this model of laptop seems to have a keyboard similiar to regular microsoft keyboard designs. It comes with a sweet virtual surround sound system(which I've never tried, but it sounds sweet). It comes with 4gb ram installed, which is a great deal, and the 250gb hard drive isn't bad either.. I would love to get this one but it comes in at $750 usd for me, which is a little over the Euros for you. Anyway, yeah it's a little over 500 but it's pretty close to your price range. I would definitely buy it if I had the extra cash.

    I definitely would go with NVIDIA over ATI anyday for any graphics card, especially if you are ever planning on playing any sort of game that uses the PhysX engine.

  • Personally I wouldn't touch Packard Bell, or Acer with a 50 foot barge pole... mind you they are still both 100x better choices than Compaq, Lenovo, or Dell.

    I'd be looking to see what's on offer through Alienware, Toshiba, and MSI... though all of those brands probably don't manufacture something in the price range you are looking for.

    The Packard Bell sounds like it has some good features for the price, but I'd be concered about the quality of parts, especially for what you are getting for the price... you get what you pay for when it comes to anything, but it rings more true to home when talking about computers.

    In all honesty, if you can squeeze the budget a little more, you'd be better off pushing up to the �650-700 mark as you would get an infinately better machine for the extra.

    Also 2.3 hours battery life is about average these days, but it depends on what you buy. My MSI EX600 notebook has a battery life of up to 4 hours (core2 2.2ghz, 4gb, 250gb, GeForce 8400) and I bought that over a year ago. Of course this soley depends on turning off things like wireless, and dimming the screen so low you can hardly see it unless it's pitch black in the room. A "realistic" operating time on battery is between 1.5-2.0 hours.

    Also, keep in mind, the larger the screen gets, the less of a "laptop" it becomes and more of a "desktop" you end up with. 17" screens on laptops are generally a regreted purchase from my experience when dealing with customers... they always tell me later on that they wish they didn't get one so big, because the laptop is gargantuan and it weighs more... plus things like carry bags cost twice the price of a 15.4".

    I guess, as long as you know all of this... you can make an informed descision. All of what I have said, can be summed up as an "opinion", or you can put it down to the last 13 years of experience I have had dealing with this stuff just about everyday. Either way... if you buy a Compaq (officially the WORST brand EVER) I will have to fly over there and strangle you in person!

    Good luck!

    ~Sol

  • Thanks for the tips guys...

    Exomarc: nice find but I'm paying in GBP which makes the exchange rate not so favourable... and maybe international shipping too. I don't think any mobile nVidia cards support PhysX yet either (or CUDA).

    Soldjah: Here are some more finds:

    Toshiba with ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3470 (�614)

    Another Toshibal with HD 3470 (�660) (edit: also cheaper here!)

    An MSI with nVidia 8200 G (not impressed they spell it "Nvidea" on that page, but �500)

    Alienware's UK site only seemed to list laptops from �900, which is waay too much. The Toshibas are pretty expensive, but I could stretch that far if it's really worth it. So you say the build quality is much better? They'll last longer etc?

    Also as for 15" vs. 17" - I'll be putting it on a table with a mouse and using it as a desktop for a fair amount of time as well - it'll effectively replace my current desktop. So a 17" will be big, but is that too big to comfortably use on the move? I don't mind if it's heavy, but it's not going to fall off my lap or anything? I'd still like the screen area if it's not impossible to use on the move.

  • 17" isn't impossible to move or anything, it's just a little cumbersome if you plan on using more as a mobile computer, but since you specifiy it will be used as a desktop most of the time, you probably won't care

    And yes, definately go with the Toshiba... the quality of construction is superior to a lot of other brands, plus the parts they use tend to be more favourable across the board, ranging from speed, quality, and warranty coverage.

    Toshi wins the day again!

    ~Sol

  • http://www.cyberpowersystem.co.uk/

    I highly recommend this site. Several of their notebooks are right in the range you want, and NONE of them have intel graphics.

    I have one from them myself and love it

    Example: http://www.cyberpowersystem.co.uk/syste ... _Notebook/

    17"

    Core2Duo 2Ghz

    9600M 512MB

    �752

    I know that's more, but if you are replacing your desktop ...

  • Exomarc: nice find but I'm paying in GBP which makes the exchange rate not so favourable... and maybe international shipping too. I don't think any mobile nVidia cards support PhysX yet either (or CUDA).

    I looked it up to be sure, and I guess CUDA and PhysX are both enabled on the 9600m. Not that that has anything to do with the topic anymore just something I found.

  • Nvidia is must if you ever gonna use unix.

  • Prepare yourself for the mountains of junk that comes preinstalled.

    My brother got a new laptop a few months ago and not kidding we spent about 2 hours unistalling all the pointless adware and trial software they bundled it with.

    Also you need to make your own backup discs now, they no longer come with recovery discs.

  • Prepare yourself for the mountains of junk that comes preinstalled.

    My brother got a new laptop a few months ago and not kidding we spent about 2 hours unistalling all the pointless adware and trial software they bundled it with.

    Also you need to make your own backup discs now, they no longer come with recovery discs.

    And its good think becous you dont need to reinstall that crap load every time.

  • Do they send the Windows CDs with laptops? I'll just format and do a clean Windows install if they do. If they don't what am I meant to do if my HD crashes?

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  • Do they send the Windows CDs with laptops? I'll just format and do a clean Windows install if they do. If they don't what am I meant to do if my HD crashes?

    Example acer has this program that keeps popping up until you do backup dvd of your windows so they dont have any cd:s until you create one.

  • Do they send the Windows CDs with laptops? I'll just format and do a clean Windows install if they do. If they don't what am I meant to do if my HD crashes?

    It depends on the brand AND model. I'm pretty sure the Satellite Pro series you are looking at have a seperate Windows disc. A lot of brands in general have a "recovery partition" (like HP and Dell) or you have to make discs (like Acer).

    I know that MSI models all come with Windows discs... no preinstalled recovery garbage... If all else fails, you can always download a Windows ISO from any torrent site, and use your legit key to install. The disc makes no difference, it's the product key liscense that you are essentially paying for.

    ~Sol

  • I'm still not sure whether to go for a 17" or 15" - I've read 17" and bigger are "not at all portable", whereas 15" would be easier to carry around on the go. Anyone have any comments? Anyone own a 15" or 17"? How portable are they?

  • my 15" macbook can be carried in a small messenger bag, but it's quite a strain on the back, so i mostly opt for a backpack anyway. a friend's 17" still fits in a slightly larger bag, so it's just as portable, if slightly heavier.

    however, i could not do serious work on my 15" screen; not only is the fact that it's attached to the keyboard ergonomically challenging for me (because my hands and my head are quite a distance apart when in any comfortable position), but it's also too friggin' small. i've got friends that can work on small screens with ludicrous resolutions, but i'd prefer a physically larger screen to a higher resolution every day. so my tip would be on the 17"; for slightly better posture and prolonged health to our beloved devs! :)

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