Another "Help me buy a laptop" thread :)

I need a new computer. I don't want to replace my existing tower, because I've got all my business software set up on it, but it's just too old to play new games.

What I'd like is a laptop that isn't Sony. Wireless isn't mandatory, but plugging into the existing CatV network is. It must be powerful enough to run intensive games, and 3d software apps. (Maya, et.al.) I prefer big keyboards. Pointer device should be part of the keyboard, as I'd like to be able to run the system with a minimum of external doodads. I need to be able to connect firewire or usb (maybe both) peripherals for cameras and backup drives.

Not a brand junkie, now that Alienware is owned by Dell. I am boycotting Sony products, and Dell is pretty low on my desire list. Other than that, I'm pretty open to suggestion.

Thanks in advance!

What's your budget?

Edwin wrote:

What's your budget?

I'm thinking under 2k.

What I, and many others did, was to search at www.notebookforums.com so lets both start there as I too need a new gaming rig.

edit: I know you probably don't need this but regardless. http://www.notebookforums.com/thread...

Pointer device should be part of the keyboard

What the old Thinkpad style eraser nub in the keyboard? I think only Leveno Thinkpads still use that.. possibly some Toshibas?

None of the newer Sat series that I have seen. Granted I haven't seen them all.

Even under Lenovo the Thinkpad is a nice laptop.

Here is a SLI laptop for $3.2k. =\

Check these out.

I know at least some of the Lattitudes have them. I dont think you can get anything in that line with a beefy graphics package, and the XPS doesnt seem to have it. Also its Dell, so I dont know if thats automatically off the list for you.

Those things seem to have a real love/hate reaction from people.

What I'd like is a laptop that isn't Sony.

Just curious why your avoiding Vaio? I've had a couple and they have been great, although they are a bit expensive of course work payed for them so that's not really an issue.

No love for the dell laptops eh?

Well, if you have no love for Dell then I echo Edwin and recommend Sager.

Tons of people swear by those things.

The only real reason I didn't get one over the Dell E1705 that I ended up with was the pricing. The same hardware was just shy of $1000 more than it was on the Dell after a coupon from Gotapex.com.

Stric9 wrote:
What I'd like is a laptop that isn't Sony.

Just curious why your avoiding Vaio? I've had a couple and they have been great, although they are a bit expensive of course work payed for them so that's not really an issue.

Rootkit.

Don't need any "that's nonsense" responses, I won't elaborate if you won't. It's a personal consumer decision not to patronize a company based on past actions.

Thin_J wrote:

The only real reason I didn't get one over the Dell E1705 that I ended up with was the pricing. The same hardware was just shy of $1000 more than it was on the Dell after a coupon from Gotapex.com.

Another vote for the E1705 with the caveat that while Dell makes a good notebook for the casual user, I find them to be lacking for heavy use. A co-worker and I got our Dell Inspiron 8600's at nearly the same time. I use mine for light work at home and an occasional game of Civ4. My buddy's wife ended up using hers heavily everyday and it's just not hacking it -- two bad fans and he's currently waiting on a new motherboard.

Rootkit.

Don't need any "that's nonsense" responses, I won't elaborate if you won't. It's a personal consumer decision not to patronize a company based on past actions.

Ah ok I thought you had something specific to the laptops themselves that was stopping you from buying them.

Deva, check out portableone.com. They are a great builder/seller of Asus laptops and have a sterling reputation. You can read plenty of stuff about them on notebookforums, linked above. I was recently going to buy a new laptop from them for the exact same requirements you have until I got a new desktop.

EDIT: I was specifically looking at the MX model. Also just so you know the new portable CoreDuo chips are supposed to be coming out in the next month or two last I heard and should be a decent sized jump over the current ones. If you can hold out might be worth it.

I have a 9000 series Inspiron from Dell that I customized to be very similar to an XPS. It's about a year and a half old, and I do all my PC gaming on it. WoW, BF2, HL2...you name it. It has a 256meg Nvidia card and 1 gig of RAM...I think it's a 2gHz Pentium M.

Anyway, I know you have no great desire for a Dell, but you can indeed make some great things happen with those coupons. Mine has been great. I actually got it not using coupons, but using discounts that they offered to my company's employees (even on computers for personal use), and part of that whole deal was getting a great warranty that covers everything, including dropping it into a bucket of water - the way the deal worked it was actually cheaper WITH the good warranty than without it. I recently had some weird stuck pixel problems, and they sent a guy to my workplace with the part and he fixed it on site. That was great compared to having to ship it off, etc. I also lost my Windows disc and they replaced it for free in less than 2 days.

So yeah, I've been very happy with my Dell. I think I may have gone overboard with the 17" widescreen, but that makes it great for gaming out of town - at home I could, but never have, plugged in a monitor/keyboard/etc. It's wireless (and wired), and the only things I regularly plug in are the power cord and a mouse. Sometimes I plug in headsets for Ventrilo, etc.

Hope this info is helpful. I'm not really up on the current state of laptops.

My Baby

I'm going to echo Thin J and say that my Dell Laptop has been one of the most solid pieces of hardware I've owned. The screen is to die for, and with the right coupons, you can get an amazing gaming machine as well. My laptop blows the pants off of my home system, which is already pretty decent.

Plus, with the 3 year Complete Coverage, I can throw this thing of my balcony or spill a ton of coffee on it.

Playing WoW at 1920x1200 with FULL options at 60FPS? It was like discovering zones again for the first time. It's that breathtaking.

If you're even remotely interested in gaming, Dell (Less expensive) and Sager (More expensive) are definitely the way to go.

pol wrote:

Those things seem to have a real love/hate reaction from people.

All it takes is one bad experience to completely sour a person's brand recognition. I've pretty much given up on Sony after being their bitch for many, many years.

Really though, everything has a defect rate and customer service is all subjective. One bad experience shouldn't ruin the bunch. Many bad experiences? Yes, time to move on.

Clarify: pointer: I was trying to avoid the nubby eraser thing, and go with one that has scanpad, for lack of a better term, below the space bar, where you can use your thumb to manipulate the pointer. (Note that I understand I'll need a mouse for some games and whatnot, but for just checking a recipe online, or checking email at the coffee table, I don't want to have to set up a rig, I want to just pop it open, do my thing, close it and put it out of danger.)

Heat seems to be a big problem with Dell, not counting the batteries that catch fire.

When I was talking about getting an Alienware laptop a few years back, people recommended Sager then too, come to think of it.

Lots of good leads and links here guys, thanks!

Yeesh...started going through all the sites and my eyes started glazing over.

It appears that everyone is promoting the dual core mobile processors. Now, to look at them, they seem to be running at slower speeds than other processors, and are significantly more expensive.

Other than the fact that they're designed for mobile systems, so take less juice and generate less heat...what does a dual core do for me?

A gig of ram is a bare minimum, isn't it? Everything is configured with 512.

Some companies have upgraded hard drives at 7200 rpm...isn't that going to be a serious battery drain?

Why, oh why, does everyone have built in cameras as a "standard" item for gaming laptops? I don't want to take pictures with my laptop, I don't want an extra bit of equipment weighing the system down, both literally and figuratively. I wonder if I can make them take it out.

Anyway, I've confused myself with details...someone help me out on this whole dual core thing.

Dual Core = Distributed Workload.
Two average people under the right conditions can achieve more than one hyperactive overachiever.
Also, you have to feed them less caffeine, and they can share many resources.

Nutshell.

I would heartily recommend stay away from Dell, having owned three of their laptops and had problems with all of them, but that's just my experience like Swat said.

Deva, even though the ghz might be lower, the coreduos do more work per clock or however you want to measure it. It's like when the first Pentium-Ms came out at like 1.4ghz they were equivalent to a 2.8ghz P4 on a desktop. I personally would not buy a laptop these days without a coreduo.

Get 1gb of ram, definitely if you plan to play WoW on it.

7200rpm drives will give you a performance bump, but also a heat/noise/battery drain bump. You decide what it's worth to you.

Cameras - portableone doesn't.

LeapingGnome wrote:

Cameras - portableone doesn't. ;)

http://laptopsinc.com/Merchant2/merc...

- Intel Core Duo T2400 1.83GHz 2MB Cache, 667FSB
- 14.1" Ultra Viewing Angle (UVA) 160° WXGA LCD (1280x800)
- (Optional TrioView Transflective (UVA) 160° WXGA LCD for optimum viewing under direct sunlight)
- 1GB Dual Channel DDR2 (2GB Max currently)
- NVidia GeForce Go7600 512MB VRAM (Upgradeable)
- 100GB Shock Mounted 5400RPM Hard Drive
- Dual Layer Multi Format DVD±RW Drive
- Built-in 1.3 Mega-Pixel web camera w/motion detection security
- 5 USB 2.0 Ports, Firewire, S-Video, Express Card, VGA & DVI Ports
- SD/MMC/MS/MS PRO Card Reader
- Integrated 10/1000 Gigabit LAN
- Integrated Intel Tri-Mode 802.11a+b/g Wireless LAN
- Integrated Global 56K Modem
- Integrated Bluetooth V2.0 EDR PAN
- Built-in Touchpad pointing device w/scroll & lock function
- High-Xchange efficiency copper molding heat sink with heat pipes and Arctic Silver 5 (CPU & GPU)
- Built-in High Definition Audio w/Surround Sound
- Embedded Trusted Platform Module Security (TPM 1.2)
- Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition
- Optional Windows XP Professional w/VCOM6 & P1 Recovery System
- Only weighs 5.25 pounds w/6 Cell Battery

That's not to be snarky, I'm just pointing out they do. Two of the non-sony portableone's have it. It's becoming a standard "thing" now, just like speakers, microphones, touchpad-mice, DVI. If you do webcam stuff, videophone, netmeeting, whatever, it's probably nice not to have to plug in a quickcam. These things probably add a few ounces, tops.

I for one hate the idea of gaming computers without 7200rpm HDs, but I'm an impatient person.

Also, while I agree that dual core is the way to go, that's because it is the way of the future. It is not the way of the right now. Software has to be specifically written to take advantage of both cores in order for you to get the positive effect of the two procs. Wikipedia has an excellent writeup:

wikipedia wrote:

Current software titles that fully utilize multi-core technologies include: City of Heroes, City of Villains, Maya, Blender3D, Quake 3 & 4, Elder Scrolls: Oblivion, Falcon 4: Allied Force, 3DS Max, Adobe Photoshop, Windows XP Professional, Windows 2003, Mac OS X, Linux, GigaSpaces EAG, and many operating systems that are streamlined for server use.

EDIT: That said, WoW will probably run just fine even without taking advantage of the dual-cores. I have a 2.0 gHz single-core and no complaints.

Ducki, clock speed is not as important as it once was. Think of clock speed like horsepower of a car engine, it is one of many factors descriptors that tells you how fast a processor is. In a car horsepower matters, but so does torque, engine configuration (V-6 vs. V-8), etc.

In a CPU what really matters is the CPU architecture, which can allow a lower clocked CPU to perform better than a higher clocked CPU of a different line. For example, an Athlon X2 4800+ is only clocked at 2.4 GHz, but AMD named it the 4800+ because it performs closer to a 4.8 GHz Pentium than a 2.7 GHz Pentium.

Core Duo Processors perform very well, but they get their speed from architecture, not clock speed.

Like Fedaykin said, dual cores will be much more useful in the future than they are now. However, they will not hinder performance of things that are not designed for them.

That's not to be snarky, I'm just pointing out they do.

Doh! Didn't notice that.

Rezzy wrote:

Dual Core = Distributed Workload.
Two average people under the right conditions can achieve more than one hyperactive overachiever.
Also, you have to feed them less caffeine, and they can share many resources.

Nutshell.

Best layman's terms explanation of dual-core I've ever heard

I'm tempted to post purty pictures of my E1705 in all it's glory just to smite the dell haters, but there's no point. It's essentially the exact same system as Swat's but without the fancy exterior on the laptop and a 7900GS instead of the GTX, so you've pretty much seen it already