Laptop recommendations and questions

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darknut
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Laptop recommendations and questions

Postby darknut » Mon Jan 12, 2015 6:07 am UTC

I need a new laptop, having never bought a computer myself i dont have much knowledge on the subject
Im not after a top of the line machine, i just want some thing thatll work for me without needlessly spending money on something excessive
I dont really want to spend more than $1000 (canadian). I want to get something that works for me at a good price.

Mostly used for internet browsing and games. Nothing to the degree of GTA or skyrim. Mostly games that are on or equivalent to PSN/XBLA games. The only specific games i know i want to play are minecraft and civilization.
Its not like im taking to and from work/school on a daily basis so weight isnt a concern for me. If i am taking it somewhere ill probably be able to plug it in so battery life also isnt a big concern but within reason. If i do need to run it on battery id like it to last more than a few hours.

If you dont have specific recommendations what are some tips on hardware. What components are most important to take into consideration, whats good, whats not, whats excessive
Ive seen a few discussions about core-i# in paticular and how its not as simple as higher # equals better.
I dont know if theyre all unique in their own way and you need a long list of specs to explain how they differ, or if it could be explained in a more succinct way

So if any one has recommendations, what brands are good/bad, or some general tips about what hardware to look for. Any advice appreciated
Last edited by darknut on Mon Jan 12, 2015 9:12 am UTC, edited 2 times in total.
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KnightExemplar
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Re: Laptop recommendations and questions

Postby KnightExemplar » Mon Jan 12, 2015 8:03 am UTC

darknut wrote:Mostly used for internet browsing and games. Nothing to the degree of GTA or skyrim. Mostly games that are on or equivalent to PSN/XBLA games. The only specific games i know i want to play are minecraft and civilization.
Its not like im taking to and from work/school on a daily basis so weight isnt a concern for me. If i am taking it somewhere ill probably be able to plug it in so battery life also isnt a big concern but within reason. If i do need to run it on battery id like it to last more than a few hours.


The current laptops available today are in various wattage classes.

1. 45W -- Intel QM Class
2. 35W -- Intel M-Class
3. 18W -- Intel U-Class
4. 10W -- Intel CoreM / Intel Core Y-class
5. 5W -- Intel Atom

AMD has cheaper, slower chips, less efficient at 35W, 18W, and 10W. But I've found mine to be more than suitable anyway, so I'm comfortable recommending AMD if you get a good price on one. I would recommend as strongly as possible to get a solid-state drive, but I can't think of any at $600 Canadian.

At $600 Canadian, you're definitely well into the "budget" territory, and its hard for me to think of a computer without a lot of compromises. Still, if that's your buget, then I'd look into an AMD chipset and/or something older.

For example: http://www.amazon.com/ThinkPad-20B20011 ... B00NYAMIQW

This is... roughly $600 USD. But it comes with a 256GB SSD. The screen is... mediocre at 1366x768. The CPU is... mediocre even for AMD. The AMD Richland CPU is from like 2 years ago. GPU is integrated, but this is probably the best you can get for under $600 USD. The SSD is IMO extremely important for a good modern experience, so I'm prioritizing that over other stats. Based on its age and quality, it will have a weaker battery and a slower processor than modern laptops as well... but hey, you get what you pay for.

There are extremely cheap laptops that function as if they were Core2 Duos from 2008 cheaper than this one (Atom-class or AMD Kabini / Temash class. I mean... yeah... they're "new" but they have very poor performance). Still, if you're not going to game and mostly will look at facebook and stuff, I guess they're usable for that. Otherwise, I think you'll want to up your budget a little bit. $800 USD is about the "sweet spot" point, where laptops have compromises but not quite as many as the cheaper price point you've listed.
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darknut
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Re: Laptop recommendations and questions

Postby darknut » Mon Jan 12, 2015 9:08 am UTC

That original statement of 600-700 wasnt meant so much as a limit. Based what ive looked at so far i figured i could probably get something in around that price. I could spend more for sure but the point is i dont want to just go buy something real expensive thats probably more powerful than i need. I want something that works for me at a decent price.
If a hard limit makes giving recommendations easier then 1000 is more than i want to spend
Good machine at a good price is what i after
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Narroo
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Re: Laptop recommendations and questions

Postby Narroo » Sun Mar 22, 2015 8:43 am UTC

You may want to consider non-Big name laptops, but rather the ones who supply the "big names". Several years ago I got a compal FORCE from xoticpc.com for about $700-$800 after taxes and what not. It ran circles around my friend's $1,200 laptops (which admittedly had touch screens.) Still going strong; it's only now running into games it doesn't meet the minimum requirements for, like poorly optimized high end games and what not. I can play DMC4 with 60FPS consistently.

wumpus
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Re: Laptop recommendations and questions

Postby wumpus » Sun Mar 22, 2015 3:38 pm UTC

xoticpc.com seems to come up a bunch in these discussions. What seems to work:
MSI CX61 2PC-499: 15" 1366x768 monitor (a 1920x1080 is $200 more).
MSI GP70 Leopard-010: 17" 1920x1080 monitor for $100 more (and an hour less of battery life).

Price: with the recommended mSATA drive, the 17" model will bump into your price ceiling (didn't see Canadian prices, but scaled to $800 US). Not sure about shipping and taxes, this might be enough to look elsewhere for OEM models.

Note that these come with rotating magnetic hard drives, but include an option of adding a mSATA drive (and still having another mSATA slot open) and [barely] remain under budget. Personally, I would prefer the 120G Intel option [$125 US], but it all depends on how much data you need fast access to and how much can stay on the rotating media (.75T and 1T respectively). Technically, there is an option to replace the hard drive, but most of the options are much more expensive than just adding a mSATA card.

Performance:
comes with an i5-4210M (2.6GHz) [2.5GHz on the 17" model]. Note that this chip only has two hyperthreaded cores (what would be an i3 on a desktop). Still, it should be wildly more powerful than any laptop with an AMD chip.
GPUs are hard to compare, but it looks like the 15" matches the AMD combo KnightExemplar listed, while the 17" is roughly 2-3 times faster. Note that with the 2x extra pixels in the 1080 display, this amounts to a wash in fps. [Data taken from pixel and texture fill on the GPU wikis. Direct reviews were inconclusive].
[PS. Minecraft pretty much depends only on CPU speed. Civ [5] discussions didn't even include GPUs and were inconclusive about memory (best answer seemed to be tuning options ('no combat animation' and 'no movement animation mentioned in a 2014 thread).]

Reliability:
MSI is a [still?] a major name in motherboard and other OEM products. They aren't Dell/Lenova/HP, but I can't say I'm all that impressed with those companies (make sure you can wipe any Lenova computer. New stock shouldn't have superfish, but don't be sure about current inventory). Note that xoticpc has a $15 option to remove all shovelware from the machine (not sure what to think about that).

Extra charges:
There is a something about a $65 shipping issue with Canada. It isn't clear if that is just for warranty shipping or for the initial shipment. At least they ship to Canada. Windows [8.1] is also included (something to check on highly customizable machines).


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