Buying a laptop

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Post » Sun Apr 19, 2009 8:05 pm

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?
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Post » Sun Apr 19, 2009 10:40 pm

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.
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Post » Sun Apr 19, 2009 11:27 pm

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! :D

Good luck!

~Sol
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Post » Sun Apr 19, 2009 11:56 pm

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.
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Post » Mon Apr 20, 2009 12:56 am

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
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Post » Mon Apr 20, 2009 2:17 am

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 ...
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Post » Mon Apr 20, 2009 5:52 am

[quote="Ashley":3f39jp4s]
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).
[/quote:3f39jp4s]
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 :P just something I found.
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Post » Mon Apr 20, 2009 12:56 pm

Nvidia is must if you ever gonna use unix.
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Post » Tue Apr 21, 2009 6:27 pm

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.
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Post » Tue Apr 21, 2009 7:37 pm

[quote="Ethan":jd0bs4sn]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.[/quote:jd0bs4sn]
And its good think becous you dont need to reinstall that crap load every time.
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