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When to buy a laptop for college (mobile) and light gaming (plugged-in most of the time)?

post #1 of 43
Thread Starter 
I am going to college next year, and I need a new laptop before the fall semester starts so I have some time to get used to it. My current 16" 6.5 lbs laptop seems to be too bulky for college life.

Max budget: Around $1000

Country: US

Uses: College and light gaming. I don't want to replace it until after I'm out of college.

Brand loyalty
: None

Screen size: 14" or 15"

Screen resolution: 1366 x768 to 1900 x 1080

New or refurbished/recertified/used: Refurbished as long as it comes from a reputable retailer such as Newegg. Not from Craigslist.

Battery life: Not sure since I have no idea how often would I get to recharge the laptop while on campus.

Game preference: I usually prefer strategy games. Team Fortress 2 and Black Mesa are the current games I'm playing, though I'm interested in the upcoming Total War Rome 2.

I may restart on SimCity 4 Deluxe if I purchase a DVD collection of custom contents and mods ( http://www.simtropolis.com/stexcollections/ ) because I accidentally deleted my downloaded collection (not DVD collection) of the stuff when reformatting my current laptop. I had no interest in spending months redownloading hundreds of files with many them coded with individual installer software and requiring correct dependency files, and then organizing them.

SC4 is very light on GPU (doesn't support Anti-Aliasing, and even has the option to set the CPU to render the graphics) and uses only one processor core, but I've seen it stutter on an i5-3570k clocked to 4.4 GHz when running very large cities.

Games' setting preference: Medium

OS preference: I am uncertain about Windows 8. I'm hoping that it would be fixed enough for me to use by the time I purchase the laptop.

Laptop style: Anti-glare, but other than that, indifferent. Something that wouldn't attract attention and make it a theft magnet?

Preferred HDD space: 320GB

Special hardware
: Support for msata, because I plan on installing a 60GB or 120GB boot SSD, find the OS's product keys, and attempt a clean install.

Is there anything else we need to know?: I prefer if the laptop has undervolting capability.
Edited by A Bad Day - 11/30/12 at 9:42pm
post #2 of 43
I love my Sony VAIO E-Series. I paid roughly $900 for it and I had it withing 2 weeks. I can play most games on High and some on Ultra. It has a 500GB HDD (planning on upgrade in a few months). As for a mSATA, I don't believe that there is the possibility on the E-Series that I know of. I customized mine and bought it directly from store.sony.com.

P.S. You may even be able to get a discount through the Education Store.

Edit: Off Topic question: What do you think of the new SimCity that is coming out in February?

Looked at the S Series laptops and they have customization up to two HDDs or SSDs in RAID 0.
Edited by JRuxGaming - 11/30/12 at 10:22pm
post #3 of 43
For school I'd get a laptop with as high battery life as possible, imo this is more important than anything else. I would also go for a 13", but that's just me. Unless it's an unltrabook, carrying around a 15" is an unecessary burden. I doubr you will have the luxuru of having it plugged in during lessons.

Personally I'd just get any ultrabook that fits your taste and with decent battery life. Unless you're buying a gaming laptop, you'll just have to deal with the integrated graphics. But there might be other options, such as buying a laptop with better graphics performance at the cost of battery life, and then just buy an extra battery.
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post #4 of 43
Thread Starter 
Ultrabook? Are there are any decent ones with AMD's Trinity APU? I've read the reviews, and it seems that as long as the RAM is a dual-channel and clocked at 1600 Mhz, it would have decent gaming performance for a budget laptop.
Quote:
Originally Posted by JRuxGaming View Post

Edit: Off Topic question: What do you think of the new SimCity that is coming out in February?

It doesn't fit my taste. I want to manage cities and be a mayor, not manage oil production and other little businesses. I also don't have much trust in EA anyways given their blotched jobs with the SimCity brand after SC4.
post #5 of 43
Try and aim at an A10 or an A8 if you want gaming laptop. My friend just bought this http://www.bestbuy.com/site/HP+-+Pavilion+14%22+Laptop+-+4GB+Memory+-+500GB+Hard+Drive+-+Sparkling+Black/6892224.p?id=1218810957932&skuId=6892224&st=Cyber_Sale_Computers_100928&cp=1&lp=7#tab=overview


A6-4400m, within his 400 budget and a smaller than 15" screen for portability. not too shabby. of course it's lacking in the muscle department. i'd been egging him to get an A8 for $400 but he didn't want a 15" screen.
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post #6 of 43
I'm going to be frank here, laptop versions of the APU's SUCK.
post #7 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by StayFrosty View Post

I'm going to be frank here, laptop versions of the APU's SUCK.

sucking is relative but your input on this thread sucks objectively, not relatively, so i'm going to draw out its implications which are important.

basically your advice would be to build a desktop get a netbook.
i would agree.
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post #8 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by A Bad Day View Post

Ultrabook? Are there are any decent ones with AMD's Trinity APU? I've read the reviews, and it seems that as long as the RAM is a dual-channel and clocked at 1600 Mhz, it would have decent gaming performance for a budget laptop.
It doesn't fit my taste. I want to manage cities and be a mayor, not manage oil production and other little businesses. I also don't have much trust in EA anyways given their blotched jobs with the SimCity brand after SC4.
I would also let you know I am also play mostly Strategy Games and all of my Command and Conquer games and SimCity 4 run perfect on the machine. Also Sony has some nice customizable 13.3" laptops. And I am a college student.
Here is a little snip-it of what I customized under $1000 the only downgrade compared to my laptop is I didn't choose a blueray player/burner and you have the i5 (I got the i7 on my E-Series). Link
Other customizable S-Series laptops have the option for multiple drives as i stated above and are still under $1000. Link
Quote:
Originally Posted by FlashFir View Post

Try and aim at an A10 or an A8 if you want gaming laptop. My friend just bought this http://www.bestbuy.com/site/HP+-+Pavilion+14%22+Laptop+-+4GB+Memory+-+500GB+Hard+Drive+-+Sparkling+Black/6892224.p?id=1218810957932&skuId=6892224&st=Cyber_Sale_Computers_100928&cp=1&lp=7#tab=overview
A6-4400m, within his 400 budget and a smaller than 15" screen for portability. not too shabby. of course it's lacking in the muscle department. i'd been egging him to get an A8 for $400 but he didn't want a 15" screen.
This is a decent laptop as well, but it is limited to the mSATA (i.e. ready for 2 drives) that A Bad Day is needing.
Edited by JRuxGaming - 11/30/12 at 10:45pm
post #9 of 43
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by FlashFir View Post

Try and aim at an A10 or an A8 if you want gaming laptop. My friend just bought this http://www.bestbuy.com/site/HP+-+Pavilion+14%22+Laptop+-+4GB+Memory+-+500GB+Hard+Drive+-+Sparkling+Black/6892224.p?id=1218810957932&skuId=6892224&st=Cyber_Sale_Computers_100928&cp=1&lp=7#tab=overview
A6-4400m, within his 400 budget and a smaller than 15" screen for portability. not too shabby. of course it's lacking in the muscle department. i'd been egging him to get an A8 for $400 but he didn't want a 15" screen.

Is there a place for me the buy a mobile APU so I can swap out the A6 with an A10? I recall replacing CPUs on my previous laptop after the other laptop (which had the better CPU) bit the dust.

Also, does that laptop seriously have a dedicated GPU? I'm wondering about the potential microstuttering with the CrossFiring of two fairly weak GPUs.
post #10 of 43
Thread Starter 
Here are the laptops I'm looking at:

HP Pavilion g4-2235dx: http://www.bestbuy.com/site/HP+-+Pavilion+14%22+Laptop+-+4GB+Memory+-+500GB+Hard+Drive+-+Sparkling+Black/6892224.p?id=1218810957932&skuId=6892224&st=Cyber_Sale_Computers_100928&cp=1&lp=7#tab=overview

Samsung NP355V4-S01CA: http://www.futureshop.ca/en-CA/product/samsung-samsung-14-amd-a10-4600m-laptop-np355v4-s01ca-silver-np355v4-s01ca/10211638.aspx

HP ProBook 6475b: http://h10010.www1.hp.com/wwpc/us/en/sm/WF06b/321957-321957-64295-3929941-3955552-5212932-5212935-5283864.html?dnr=1


I don't think any of the laptops support msata, so I'll be looking for Expresscard SSDs.
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