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Advice for buying a new laptop (UPDATED)

SharGuidesMyHandSharGuidesMyHand Member Posts: 2,388
edited April 2015 in Off-Topic
I'm currently using a Dell Vostro 1500 laptop with Windows XP installed, that someone gave to me about 7-8 years ago. It still runs OK and has served my needs quite nicely thus far (namely, gaming and browsing the web). Even the EE games run smoothly on it.

However, I'm getting a hankering for trying Pillars of Eternity, and Tides of Numenera if that ever gets released, but it appears that my archaic laptop won't be able to run those games. Between that, and the end of support for Windows XP, I fear that the time may finally have come for me to buy a new laptop. I'm hoping to keep the price under $500 if possible, but I want to ensure that the laptop is quality enough to run a new game like Pillars. The problem is, I'm basically technologically illiterate, and have no idea what terms like "intel celeron" or "Xth generation i#" mean or how they compare to the requirements for a game like Pillars.

So I now turn to you kind folks here for guidance - any insight or suggestions that anyone here has to offer on this subject would be greatly appreciated.

Post edited by SharGuidesMyHand on
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Comments

  • BelanosBelanos Member Posts: 968
    My advice? Don't bother with a laptop, get a desktop instead. As for "Celeron", if you come across a machine that has that kind of processor in it, avoid it like the plague.

    xscott71x
  • cyberhawkcyberhawk Member Posts: 350
    if there is no way to avoid gaming on a laptop, you should be fine if you just follow the system requirements of PoE. Like 4GB RAM, intel i5 cpu, etc. You need at least a 15" for gaming, imho.

    Choosing the videocard is more tricky. Videocards on laptops are usually named differently than desktop versions. Read online tests of the laptops in question to know what performance they have. Looking at the minimum requirements of PoE, I believe most modern laptops should have enough "graphic power" for it.

    If you have to buy a used machine, go for lenovo. I would.

    You should REALLY consider buying a desktop though. Same performance levels are cheaper and it's better for gaming in all regards.

  • BelanosBelanos Member Posts: 968
    cyberhawk said:

    Same performance levels are cheaper and it's better for gaming in all regards.

    Not to mention that you can easily replace any outdated components. With a laptop, if just one thing becomes redundant, you're stuck having to replace the whole machine. All you can change in them is the RAM and the hard drive, everything else is integrated.

    wubble
  • the_spyderthe_spyder Member Posts: 5,017
    As has been said, there's a lot of reasons to not go laptop. Size of monitor, relative ease of replacement/upgrading components, price. In addition, laptops that are made to run beefier graphics games and cards are, by necessity, heavier and almost not worth being a laptop. They also have huge power requirements and almost always have to be tethered to a wall socket. Plus, they get HOT if you have it on your lap. You are 99% of the time much better off getting a desktop for your gaming needs.

    "If" money isn't a concern and you don't mind dealing with the limitations inherent in a laptop, there are several models that work great. My personal laptop is a Sager and pretty much custom built. It's a solid machine and can run just about any game out today. Alienware used to be a good choice, but I haven't heard good things about them lately so....

    If price is a factor? As stated above, go with an i5 or i7 desktop. Make sure that you get something that doesn't use an integrated video card. Make sure that you can go minimum of 8GB of RAM and make sure that you get a solid video card.

    The big thing today is to get a solid state drive. This is an excellent way to go, but they can be pricey. If price is a factor, get a small one that only runs your operating system. That will speed up your boot and seek times. make sure that you have enough hard disk space to handle all of your needs without having to go an external drive (which will seriously slow down your gaming). Also, don't cheap out on memory. Make sure that you have a good name with a low interrupt.

    All of this can be gotten for reasonable prices. If you can avoid it, don't go with pre-built systems as they will often come with loads of bloatware that is unnecessary. And unless you are very tech-savy, make sure that you get some form of tech support package at least initially.

    If you find something that looks good, come back with the specs and let us check it out.

  • TJ_HookerTJ_Hooker Member Posts: 2,438
    edited April 2015
    Most cheap laptops have integrated graphics (e.g. Intel HD Graphics), which means they rely on the built-in graphics of the processor. I don't know if these are adequate to play PoE, so I'd personally recommend getting a laptop with a discrete video card (Nvidia Geforce/AMD Radeon). But I'm not sure there'll be many discrete-gpu options in the $500 range. Unless you get a used one, but I don't know much about the used laptop market.

    As others have said, you're better off getting a desktop unless you need the portability of a laptop.

    Edit: I did a quick search, and it seems like some people are playing with integrated graphics, albeit with somewhat mixed results. So you might be ok without a discrete card, especially if you're ok with playing at lower resolutions (e.g. 720p). As an additional note, AMD integrated graphics tend to be superior to Intel's.

    Post edited by TJ_Hooker on
  • wubblewubble Member Posts: 3,156
    edited April 2015
    I got my laptop for around £280 in september, it has an Intel Celeron N2830 @2.16 GHz, Intel HD graphics (integrated) and 4GB of RAM. It can play PoE on the lowest settings, it's a little sluggish especially in big fights but it scrapes through. If you're using dollars that means you're one of those lucky people who can buy laptops from cheap(ish) websites, alas these sites do not cater to the UK, all we have are giant overpriced corporations. I seem to remember hearing that http://www.newegg.com/ is a good place to start.

    Edit: bear in mind that there were some problems with intel graphics running the Enhanced Editions. I'm not sure whether these have been officially solved but my laptop works fine.

  • FinneousPJFinneousPJ Member Posts: 5,860
    edited April 2015
    This is the cheapest decent one I could find with a quick search

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16834314807

    EDIT: newest i5, GT840M, full HD, 8 GB RAM

    wubbleTJ_HookerSharGuidesMyHand
  • iKrivetkoiKrivetko Member Posts: 934
    My MBP sports an Iris Pro and I am running the game maxed @1920*1200 with virtually no hiccups. I'd say that even a HD4000 should run the game pretty well, since most sub $500 laptops don't have displays with resolutions that high anyway. Besides, OS X isn't particularly famous for its gaming prowess.

  • the_spyderthe_spyder Member Posts: 5,017
    @wubble - wow. I'm impressed that PoE will run on your machine. But kudos for that. I had heard that the published "Minimums" were no such thing. That's awesome.

    As far as newegg, it's a great site to shop. Another is tigerdirect, but you have to know what you are looking for. I would almost suggest though that getting something at a (reputable) local computer store might be better simply because you can take it in instead of mailing it anywhere for repairs. If there is a Frys in the area, that would be a good place to look.

    If the OP is looking for something under $500, probably a lot of my previous post is out the window. Certainly a good solid desktop can be had for that price (or less), but you are probably relegated to a stock system. In that case, even checking out something like Dell is a good thing. At least you would have the tech support backing it. And if that is the price point, again:

    Look for an i5 CPU with at least 4GB RAM. If it is expandable, consider that even if you need to hold off on that till later. Don't go crazy here and pay for a system that can take 16 or 32, you won't ever need/use it with the system you are getting.

    Make sure it has a separate graphics card. Just to put in perspective, an integrated card will share CPU and memory with the core system. That means that it competes with processing and memory with every single other application running. It can work, but higher end graphics games, particularly those with physics engines and loads of other rules/mechanics processing won't be happy about that. The best names on the market (only???) are Nvidia and ATI. I personally lean towards Nvidia but either will do. And I don't say one is 'Better' than the other, merely that I like one more.

    If you can get a system that is network wireless ready, that's a good thing. It makes such that you don't need to purchase/install a network card. I think 99% of systems today come that way, but it is worth noting. Also, if you have a hard line connection and don't want to worry about wireless (it is a desktop after all), that might be even better because most hardline connections are faster than a wireless network.

    Some good(ish) names in the business are Dell, Asus and HP. Of these Asus is the highest end and probably the best. Don't limit your searches to these alone, but if you have a choice, I'd go with one of these over something else. My Ex had an Acer and it was no end of trouble, so I'd stay clear of them.

    At the end of the day, getting something under 500 is extremely possible, you just aren't going to get anything that will out-think Skynet or anything.

  • FinneousPJFinneousPJ Member Posts: 5,860
    But I would agree get a desktop unless there is a particular reason you need a laptop.

  • jackjackjackjack Member Posts: 3,247
    I always buy MacBook Pros and run half the drive for Windows, but if you don't need OS X, there's always this monster:
    https://www.falcon-nw.com/laptops/tlx

  • BelanosBelanos Member Posts: 968

    I would almost suggest though that getting something at a (reputable) local computer store might be better simply because you can take it in instead of mailing it anywhere for repairs.

    Buying something online isn't necessarily that much cheaper than dealing with a local store, and as you mention you can expect better support. I rebuilt my system a little over a year ago, replacing pretty much everything, and went through a brick and mortar shop near where I live. When I compared their prices to what was being offered through NewEgg, there wasn't really that much of a difference between them. With a few components, the prices were virtually identical. It was much more convenient for me as I didn't have to wait around for the parts to arrive, plus they were willing to put it all together for me at no extra cost.

    TJ_Hookerthe_spyder
  • TJ_HookerTJ_Hooker Member Posts: 2,438
    edited April 2015

    I would almost suggest though that getting something at a (reputable) local computer store might be better simply because you can take it in instead of mailing it anywhere for repairs.

    I second this. When I bought a new laptop a year and a half ago, I decided to go local in case I had any issues. Even though I can't actually get my laptop repaired there, I was able to quickly and easily get a replacement after discovering my laptop had a screen defect after I opened it up. And if you're lucky like I was you can even find a local store that offers price matching.

  • SharGuidesMyHandSharGuidesMyHand Member Posts: 2,388
    Thanks to everyone who has contributed advice.

    To answer some of the questions, I prefer a laptop over a desktop because it's a lot more convenient for me - I don't really have an ideal spot in my house to set up a desktop, and besides, I like to relax on the sofa when I'm playing a PC game or browsing the web.

    However, price is also a concern for me, and if getting a desktop is better in terms of both cost and efficiency, then I will give a lot more consideration to that as well.

    joluvwubbleJuliusBorisov
  • jjstraka34jjstraka34 Member Posts: 5,647

    Thanks to everyone who has contributed advice.

    To answer some of the questions, I prefer a laptop over a desktop because it's a lot more convenient for me - I don't really have an ideal spot in my house to set up a desktop, and besides, I like to relax on the sofa when I'm playing a PC game or browsing the web.

    However, price is also a concern for me, and if getting a desktop is better in terms of both cost and efficiency, then I will give a lot more consideration to that as well.

    I bought myself a HP Pavillion Laptop to upgrade from my crap 3 year old Wal-Mart model. For $550 bucks I got a i7, 6 GB Ram. No dedicated graphics but the CPU is so overpowered that I can run most reasonable games on medium settings with relative ease. In my experience, most games that say they require a half-Gig dedicated graphics card really don't if you make up for it in other areas. I'm not going to be running The Witcher 3 anytime soon, but something like Skyrim is a breeze, Pillars of Eternity is smooth as silk.

    I still have to run Divinty: Original Sin on low, but it loads about 10 times faster than my old machine. I seriously don't get the outrageous system requirements for both that game and Pillars. Pillars especially has no business requiring the kind of power they are asking for. On the plus side, Tides of Numenera runs on the same engine, so if you can play one....

    joluvSharGuidesMyHand
  • JuliusBorisovJuliusBorisov Member, Administrator, Moderator, Developer Posts: 16,272
    Have a look on this thread, @SharGuidesMyHand : http://forum.baldursgate.com/discussion/37512/affordable-gaming-laptop

    There're plenty of good advice there.

    I still can recommend ASUS ROG laptops. I have one and it absolutely rocks!

    The temperature is very low, it's one of the most prominent features of these series of laptops. The laptop is very silent - sometimes, I don't even hear it's working.

    I love this laptop for its performance, a wonderful screen and very solid graphics card.

  • BelanosBelanos Member Posts: 968


    However, price is also a concern for me, and if getting a desktop is better in terms of both cost and efficiency, then I will give a lot more consideration to that as well.

    If cost is a concern you should definitely consider a desktop. You can get a rig that's comparable to a laptop performance wise for up to half the price. And as mentioned, if a specific component becomes obsolete in the future, it's easy to replace it instead of having to buy a whole new machine.

    Musigny
  • joluvjoluv Member Posts: 1,944
    Why is everyone trying to push desktops for performance optimization and upgradability on someone who wants a laptop, self-describes as technologically illiterate, and has been relatively happy so far with an eight-year-old Dell?

    iKrivetkomodestvoltaJuliusBorisov
  • MusignyMusigny Member Posts: 1,017
    Don't neglect the mechanical parts. keyboard, trackpoint if any, hinge between the main body and the screen, air flow entry points. It is always better to try it before buying.

    wubblejackjack
  • the_spyderthe_spyder Member Posts: 5,017
    joluv said:

    Why is everyone trying to push desktops for performance optimization and upgradability on someone who wants a laptop, self-describes as technologically illiterate, and has been relatively happy so far with an eight-year-old Dell?

    because within the parameters of what they want, a desktop is the most likely find for the price that they are talking about. They would get the best bang for their buck and by a SIGNIFICANT margin. Considering that they are asking advice, we are giving the best advice that we have. And the best advice is, if you want a gaming machine that won't top out within the next year, and you are only wanting to spend $500, a Desktop is probably your best bet.

    And no one says that you have to be able to build your own desktop to buy/use one. Even when people are talking about upgrading, it is quite easy to take a desktop into a computer store and have them do the work.

  • FinneousPJFinneousPJ Member Posts: 5,860
    If you can build lego you can build a desktop. Actually, building a desktop is easier.

    wubblejackjack
  • the_spyderthe_spyder Member Posts: 5,017
    @FinneousPJ - that's a bit of an oversimplification, don't you think?

    TJ_Hookerjackjack
  • FinneousPJFinneousPJ Member Posts: 5,860
    edited April 2015
    @the_spyder No. Building a desktop couldn't be simpler. The CPU fits the CPU socket, the RAM fits the RAM socket, the PCIE card fits the PCIE socket, etc. You can't even put them in the wrong socket. You can build legos wrong ;)

    Building a desktop:
    image
    :wink:

    wubble
  • the_spyderthe_spyder Member Posts: 5,017
    @FinneousPJ - then of course there is the whole thing with figuring out what CPU goes "Best" with what Motherboard, not simply one that can handle it. Same with RAM. Getting the right type of GPU to go with your rig and what works best. Figuring out how much you need and how much you want. Understanding the difference between SATA and Solid State.

    Oh, and then there's what type of cooling to use and where. How to apply the conductivity jell when applying the CPU (this isn't easy as I've messed it up several times).

    Not to mention what case to use, what motherboard to use, what cooling system to use. How much is too much and how much is not enough.

    And finally, if you mess up with legos, you take them apart. if you mess up with a CPU installation, you can fry both the board and the CPU, thus rendering them REALLY Expensive lego pieces.

    I know some VERY intelligent people who could build masterpiece Lego sets that couldn't put together a computer to save their lives.

    Musignyjackjack
  • MusignyMusigny Member Posts: 1,017
    A laptop usually comes with sane BIOS/UEFI defaults. This is far from being the case with a home-made desktop for instance.
    Even though I concur with those promoting a desktop if there is no clear requirement for a laptop, I think that building a desktop is less simple than physically plugging devices.
    On the other hand, branded laptops also come with a ton of crap programs supposed to ease your life. If you opt for a laptop, make sure you understand how to set it for power management efficiency and minimize the use of those superflous programs.
    Sorry if all of that sounds obvious.

    the_spyder
  • FinneousPJFinneousPJ Member Posts: 5,860
    @the_spyder I'm sure there are also system builders who can't build legos. What's your point?

  • wubblewubble Member Posts: 3,156

    can't build lego

    Burn them with fire!

    FinneousPJthe_spyderjackjackMusigny
  • the_spyderthe_spyder Member Posts: 5,017

    @the_spyder I'm sure there are also system builders who can't build legos. What's your point?

    @FinneousPJ - that's a bit of an oversimplification, don't you think?

    That's my point.

    TJ_Hooker
  • TJ_HookerTJ_Hooker Member Posts: 2,438
    edited April 2015
    The lego analogy only holds up if you can buy computer components as a single set, which has all the parts you need and they're all guaranteed to work/fit together. Now it is possible to find bundles like this, but I don't think it's the norm when it comes to building computers.

  • FinneousPJFinneousPJ Member Posts: 5,860
    Are you being deliberately obtuse? I - you, anyone - can give him the list of components to buy. What I said is BUILDING the computer couldn't be simpler.

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