Laptop Questions

Discussion in 'Computers' started by Darryl, Aug 25, 2006.

  1. Darryl

    Darryl Stunt Coordinator

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    I'm in the market for a new laptop. I really don't know anything about laptop hardware and was wondering what to expect from today's machines.

    For work I've been using a Dell M60 with a Pentium M 2.0 GHz. How do current processors compare? A lot of new laptops seem to come with a Core Duo T2050 running at 1.6 GHz. How much of a difference would I see compared to my Pentium M?

    Another issue I've had with my work laptop is heat. It only takes a few minutes before it's uncomfortably warm on my legs. Kind of ironic that it's called a laptop when you can't keep it in your lap without burning yourself. Is this typical, or is it just my M60?

    And finally there's the graphics card. When I bought the work laptop I splurged the company's money to get a top of the line mobile graphics card. When I ran graphics intensive programs I was disappointed to find that the expensive mobile graphics card was a worse performer than a middle of the road nothing special desktop card. It wasn't a huge deal for work because I only occasionally apply textures to the 3D models I work with and wireframe performance was good enough. My new laptop will be for home, and I definitely want to play games, so disappointing graphics performance will be, well, disappointing. Do laptop graphics always suck, or can I actually get decent performance from today's laptops?

    Any other advice, considering I'd like to keep the price under $1k?
     
  2. Kimmo Jaskari

    Kimmo Jaskari Screenwriter

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    First thing would be that if you want a full-on gaming laptop for $1k, you'll be disappointed. I honestly don't see that happening. In fact, I don't think that will ever happen, as the top-of-the-line will always be priced beyond $1k. In a few years, $1k will buy todays state of the art equivalent, but by then it will of course be outmoded.

    This, of course, if you want to seriously game. If you want to play Solitaire you can do it for $1k, but if you're talking about firing up F.E.A.R. or some other modern high-quality-graphic shooter... forget it.

    A realistic gaming laptop would be (to pick one I can find the price for on the net easily) something like a Dell XPS M1710. One of those will set you back $2300 (probably more since you'd want it fairly high-speced for games). A GeForce Go 7900GTX is a pretty decent performer, but well below the specs of the current state of the art in desktops. So, in other words, you can get a laptop that will do games quite gracefully, but you'll be spending well over twice your budget.

    If games is a consideration, and your budget is $1k, you're looking at a desktop machine, and even there you'll be hard-pressed to assemble something really worthwhile for $1k. "Gaming class" rigs are expensive.

    After a little tinkering at newegg.com and setting up a decent mid-range system, it's possible to get something somewhat game-worthy for around $1k. It will use lots of less-than-stellar parts but it won't be downright bad.

    However, a gaming laptop for $1k is out of the question, at least as far as I know.
     
  3. Kimmo Jaskari

    Kimmo Jaskari Screenwriter

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    Oh... maybe I should answer some of those questions: yes, heat is unavoidable, and the higher performing the laptop the hotter. My work laptop has a Core Duo T2400 in it (1.83 GHz) and that would not only warm my leg, it would burn it. So "laptop" these days means "portable computer" much more than something you can actually use on your lap.

    The Core Duos (original Core generation, there is a new generation out now called Core 2 Duo) are dual-core CPU's (duh [​IMG] ) so you'll essentially have two CPU's in there. That will help a lot in some cases and not so much in others, depends on how the program works. It won't be insanely faster than the Pentium M 2.0 when single threading, but will of course kick butt and take names with multithreading applications.
     
  4. Andrew Pratt

    Andrew Pratt Producer

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    I agree you aren't going to get a gaming notebook for anything close to $1K. My Asus W3J would do what you want but its slightly more the twice that price point as are the XPS dells. Heat is just something we have to live with these days with the fast chips. P4's where really bad while the mobile Pentium M's where better. The Core Duo's run pretty hot though esp in smaller notebooks where space is tight.
     
  5. Darryl

    Darryl Stunt Coordinator

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    I'm not really looking for what most people would call a gaming notebook, but something that can play some of the less demanding 3D games at a tolerable resolution. I may be clueless, but not so clueless that I think I'm going to get a top of the line laptop for $1k.

    It's just that my work laptop was $3,500 2 years ago and it can't even play Doom 3 at anything better than 640x480 at low settings (don't tell my boss I tried it). I'm guessing that part of the problem is that it has a CAD-oriented graphics card in it, but still, it's an experience I'm hoping to avoid. If a thousand dollars today can't do better than that then I won't bother. If I can play world of warcraft at 1280x1024 I'll be happy. I appreciate the comments so far, but I still can't tell what to expect from $1k machine.
     
  6. Rommel_L

    Rommel_L Second Unit

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    A $1K or lower is a range for mid-lo to low end laptops. Playing games like Doom 3 at decent quality is definitely out of the question. On a good day there are deals for laptops with dual core cpus that can definitely a big help when you're a multitasker. If you want to do gaming then you have to go the desktop route, which you can get a fast PC and an additional video card for around $650.
     
  7. Kimmo Jaskari

    Kimmo Jaskari Screenwriter

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    What determines gaming capability is basically three components - memory amount (you want 1GB), CPU power (you want as high numbers as possible, but a Core Duo should do passably) and last and by far most important, graphics card.

    Anything with integrated graphics, like Intel GMA 950, won't be gameable.

    Anything with a Radeon below X1400 or below a Geforce Go 6600 won't be satisfyingly gameable. With an X1600/6600 or better you can start running (modern) games at reduced resolutions and with features turned off.

    If you want a chance to play the hot games at 1280 and some/most graphical features on, you're looking at Geforce Go 7600-7800GTX or Radeon X1600-1800, I'd say, and you'll still be behind what you can do on a desktop.

    The closest thing to something gameable I've seen that is below two grand (I'm sure there are others, but this is just what I've spotted) is a Compaq NX9420 in its minimum configuration. It has the Radeon X1600 in it, and a 17 inch screen (surprisingly affordable machine considering the feature set.) According to Notebookreview.com you can find it for a a few hundred over $1k.

    Probably though, you'll have to decide what is more important - portability or gaming. Well, either that or boost your budget.
     
  8. Tekara

    Tekara Supporting Actor

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  9. Will_B

    Will_B Producer

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    It's true. I've got a notebook with 1.86 Ghz Intel Pentium M with Intel GMA 900 Integrated Graphics, and 2 gigs of RAM, and it cannot play F.E.A.R.

    It can however play older games from about four years ago, like the first Splinter Cell (2002).
     

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