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My incredible tale of laptop indecision

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
Note: tl;dr at the bottom, sorry for length confused.gif

I've spent the majority of my free time in the last two weeks researching laptops. It's getting a little ridiculous - I'm sure many of you can relate - and I'd like to just make a decision so I can get back to enjoying my life, haha.

My currently laptop is the Alienware M11X R1, which I got for $550 or so in February. I've been mostly happy with it, but of the games I play on a regular basis, the only one it plays especially well is League of Legends. Starcraft 2, being CPU intensive, still stutters somewhat on low, and Battlefield 3 is pretty much out of the question. MW2 runs amazingly well maxed out, but I don't play it very much due to long matchmaking, and Black Ops doesn't run well.

Since the M11X is heavy, chunky, and not particularly good at the games I play, I decided to sell and replace it. Ebay prices seem to be relatively close to what I paid for it, so I shouldn't take much of a loss. My first thought was to replace it with a laptop better suited for gaming, so I could play BF3 on the weekends, which I spend away from my desktop.

Candidates:
HP Envy 14 - latest generation with 160gb SSD for $999 on Amazon, last generation with Radiance + 256gb SSD for $1100 on eBay

Lenovo Y470 - $850 for i7 QM model, $699 for i5, both with 550m

M11X R3 - lacks the new and fun aspect of other choices, but maintains the portability while beefing up the specs substantially


There are quite a few more options in this category, but the trouble really comes from this: it occured to me that getting a laptop that is BAD at gaming could be a very GOOD thing. I'm a writer, and I have a nasty procrastination habit, which gaming contributes to. So, getting an ultraportable would mean that gaming isn't a distraction 3 days a week.

Candidates:
Macbook Air: 2011 or 2010, 2010 brings lower price and better gaming performance for moments of weakness, while 2011 is snappier overall with a slightly better keyboard.

Samsung Series 9: $1039 13" refurb on Ebay - sexy, but falls short of the MBA's touchpad and resolution. Also has many reports of poor Wifi performance.

Ultrabooks: I'm not big on the Acer that just launched, but the Asus UX21 looks promising.


The short list today seems to be HP Envy for the first category, due to SSD, build quality, display, and great audio w/ headphones or speakers, and an 11" Air for the second. I think I would slightly prefer the 13" for pure use considerations and battery life, but the size of the 11 would make it more easy to bring everywhere, and it's cheaper.

tl;dr Replace M11X with an ultraportable to focus on writing/schoolwork or a more capable 14" laptop, and which one [for both]

Thanks, I'd appreciate any help getting this godawful decision out of the way.

Corin
post #2 of 13
Being the happy owned of a gaming notebook myself I see the dilemma you're having. I too could at some point play most games on average details, while now the GPU is overwhelmed by every game. Since any gaming notebook is going to be obsolete a year after launch I'm just gonna pass on this from now on. The Envy 14 is a god choice, but the one without the discrete graphics (might be called dv6 or som').

I would like to like the ultrabooks, but the downsides are just far too numerous: low grade screens, low quality sound, have to choose between low speed and very high price; most of all I find 11" screens tiresome after a while, 13" being borderline acceptable.

My pick then goes to a 14-15" slim laptop with screen as good as possible, some 6 hours battery life, IGP only if possible (keeps battery full and weight down) and no optical drive to keep light. Good sound would be appreciated, so I guess I'd look more towards a 14" Envy w/ Radiance and mount my own SSD.

About the Air vs the world debate for me there's only one thing to bother with: you need Windows - there will be a good ultrabook (Asus UX, etc); you don't need Win get the Air - proven design, great quality and tech support. If an Ultrabook is only as good as the Air and only 100$ cheaper one should always get the Air at least to avoid the dreadful _____ (replace with any laptop vendor name) tech support / warranty service.
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post #3 of 13
The plan to get something smallish and light for portability is a solid one in my opinion.

If you have - say - about 1000 $ you would get better experience across rthe board in my opinion by getting about 400 $ 12'' ultraportable or even bigger size netbook and spending the remaining 600 $ on a desktop gaming rig. A 600 $ desktop gaming rig will net you better results in games than a 1000 $ "gaming" laptop. Plus you can upgrade it down the road if needed.

For example Asus Eee PC 1215B with E-350 new AMD Fusion CPU and something on the lines of quadcore Phenom II + 6790 or 6850 gfx card. If you are lucky with discounts you might even be able to squeeze a display into that "600$" gaming desktop.

Assuming you are not always on the road. Desktop PC is somewhat uncomfortable to transport on regular basis.
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post #4 of 13
Thread Starter 
I haven't updated my rig sig yet, but I do have a desktop gaming rig. It kinda needs a refresh, but not urgently (E8400 @ 3.5ghz, HD6850, 4GB, 2x1.5TB). Getting a lower quality/price ultraportable would be a smart economic decision, but I have qualitylust atm. I want aluminum or duralumin or magnesium alloy all over my new laptop, haha.

@drago, I don't mind the smaller screens at all - 14 is as large as I would buy. I'm used to 11.6 from having the M11X, though the lower vertical resolution seems more noticable on the MBA due to the lower height/placement. I also wouldn't really need Windows for anything in particular, since I have a Windows desktop to fall back on, unless I get a gaming capable laptop, which wouldn't be a Mac. Unless it was a 2010 model with the 320m, but that's a lot of sacrifices.
post #5 of 13
These "small and light and BEAST GAMING (OH AND THREE WAY W/ KATY PERRY AND ZOEY DESCHANEL) LOLLZZZZ" threads are all the same. You have essentially six choices:

m11x r3 (you know these I won't give links)
m14x r3
Lenovo Y whatever
HP Envy whatever model

MSI X460DX (http://www.xoticpc.com/msi-x460dx-p-3150.html). I think this would be your top choice. It has enough gaming oomph and a sleek design. 540m is getting long in the tooth, however.

ASUS U46SV-DH51 (http://www.xoticpc.com/asus-u46svdh51-preorder-p-3349.html)

You're so much better off with a light 15.6" it's stupid, but if you're set on 14 this wur you at

Oh, I hear the 13" macbook is fairly beast as well.

If you want a laptop purely for writing, lenovo thinkpad of your choice. Nothing even comes close to their keyboard.
Edited by Axon14 - 10/11/11 at 7:44am
    
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post #6 of 13
Thread Starter 
That's roughly what I'm seeing as far as gaming laptops go. The y470/570 are on sale right now, with $850 getting you a quad core i7 and 550m/555m. I'm inclined towards these, as they rival m14x performance at much lower cost, while adding mSATA support. Unfortunately, the displays suck and there are oddly no good reviews of them.

I would consider a 14/15 inch high end laptop if it could comfortably replace my desktop. While an m14x or y470 would easily best my desktop's processor, I have a 6850 and 3tb of storage that would be more problematic.

My end goal is good bf3 performance. Does anyone have a good idea how much better the 555m would be than a 550? Or an m11x with a 540?

Thanks for the replies
post #7 of 13
The M11x R3 is the best choice here. It matches, if not surpasses, the Lenovo with the older gen i7/i5 and dusts the HP, which doesn't seem to have anything going for it aside from the ridiculous SSDs. o_____o

However, since you are still looking, did you think about trying the NP 5165?

Base specs include:
2nd generation i5, GT 555m, decent hard drives, 1080p screen, etc... >.> what's not to love? biggrin.gif
     
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post #8 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by SupremeBeing;15262201 
That's roughly what I'm seeing as far as gaming laptops go. The y470/570 are on sale right now, with $850 getting you a quad core i7 and 550m/555m. I'm inclined towards these, as they rival m14x performance at much lower cost, while adding mSATA support. Unfortunately, the displays suck and there are oddly no good reviews of them.

I would consider a 14/15 inch high end laptop if it could comfortably replace my desktop. While an m14x or y470 would easily best my desktop's processor, I have a 6850 and 3tb of storage that would be more problematic.

My end goal is good bf3 performance. Does anyone have a good idea how much better the 555m would be than a 550? Or an m11x with a 540?

Thanks for the replies

Take a look at the Sager NP 8130 (15.6"). Really good performance. I have one, and I have to say it's a touch heavy with the power brick, but it ran the BF3 beta at 60 FPS on high.

I can't say how good the 540m is vs. the 555m, but I'm sure the 555m slightly edges the other two.

check out http://forum.notebookreview.com. Those guys really know their stuff.
    
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post #9 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Imglidinhere;15262807 
The M11x R3 is the best choice here. It matches, if not surpasses, the Lenovo with the older gen i7/i5 and dusts the HP, which doesn't seem to have anything going for it aside from the ridiculous SSDs. o_____o

However, since you are still looking, did you think about trying the NP 5165?

Base specs include:
2nd generation i5, GT 555m, decent hard drives, 1080p screen, etc... >.> what's not to love? biggrin.gif

The Lenovos use current-gen processors. Also their 550s beat the m11x's 540, right? The price/performance looks like an easy win for Lenovo. I hadn't looked into Sagers, but they do look like a good choice. My only qualm is the 15.4" size, but the 1080p may be worth it. Thoughts on the m14x? I guess the smaller size probably isn't worth the premium over the Sager. I'm curious about how much the Sager or m14x would outperform the m11x, with or without resolution considerations.
post #10 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Axon14;15262844 
Take a look at the Sager NP 8130 (15.6"). Really good performance. I have one, and I have to say it's a touch heavy with the power brick, but it ran the BF3 beta at 60 FPS on high.

I can't say how good the 540m is vs. the 555m, but I'm sure the 555m slightly edges the other two.

check out http://forum.notebookreview.com. Those guys really know their stuff.

Thanks. I just started looking at Sager, and that's certainly looking like a good choice. 60fps on high beats my desktop handily, so I could sell it and get eSATA docks for my hdds? I'm amazed the 555m does so well. Granted my desktop is very CPU bottlenecked in bf3, but i saw some benchmarks showing dual 6970s required for solid 60fps
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