Game Dev Laptop [Aus]

Discussion in 'What Notebook Should I Buy?' started by Shadoo, Jul 6, 2018.

  1. Shadoo

    Shadoo Notebook Enthusiast

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    Based in Australia. Ideally would like to not spend more than $2k (Aud) but can go higher if it gets me what I need.


    Aiming for a 15" device, something to take to uni and do work on campus between classes (computer labs during that time are used by other classes so that's why I wouldn't just use the ones there) and to have something to use for group work and while travelling or even emigrating if work demands it.

    I'm not opposed to going through official refurb channels.

    A few main uses, for game dev work this would involve Unity, UE4, Maya, Adobe Suite. Nothing AAA game like but it would be 3D. It'd also be used at times for photo editing and outside of that for general web/multimedia use.

    *Edit:
    Forgot to write this in. I may play a few lighter games on it but probably nothing that'd demand more than a 1050 or 1050ti. I understand when you get more serious with games on a laptop, more compromises have to be made. I own a 3DS and a Vita for gaming on the go anyway.

    Longer battery is more desirable. I'd feel better about a purchase if I could see the laptop in person before buying it.

    Not against MacOS but Windows is probably better for my needs.

    Screen stuff:
    1080p should be fine for me. I think anything higher may just stress the GPU more when running game engines.

    Matte is preferred but wont rule out a glossy screen if it's a good one.

    Other screen stuff, I'd prefer a higher colour gamut for when the laptop is used for photo editing. There's some great deals out there but 50-60% sRGB coverage = no buy for me. I'm not against swapping a screen out but I've heard some ebay stores wont always ship the exact model they advertise, if they have one like it. Not something I feel comfortable with.

    Quality:
    Don't mind the appearance, although too much of a "gamer" appearance is a turn off. Doesn't need to be super slim either, but it'd need to fit in a laptop compartment of a bag and for weight I'd put a limit on 2.5kg.

    Probably buying it in a few months.

    I'd like it to last a few years. I'm on a desktop (3 y/o) that works well and a 5 year old rMBP which is okay now. If I could get 5 years out of this, that'd be stellar. I don't expect it to always be cutting edge but if it can at least function at its best throughout that time then that's all I ask.

    Components:
    SSD only is fine. Can do with no 2.5" bay if it means great battery life. 512gb on that would be more than enough.

    No optical drive needed.


    I've had experience with opening up and upgrading computers before so buying something that may need changes isn't something I'm too against so long as the end result is more than worth the effort. I used to mostly use Macs and opened up and have upgraded iMacs (the white ones, and the black plastic backed ones) and Macbook Pros (the ones with optical drives) and built my PC tower I'm typing on now so that's what I know.

    I've done a bit of research already and have considered a few options.

    1 - Dell XPS 15:

    With previous laptop experience being with a Macbook Pro, this seems like the most clean switch. Something that'd offer a similar experience, albeit on a windows machine. Notebook Check's recent review of the 8th gen i5-1050 model demonstrates good battery life which is appealing. I think spec wise that should be enough for me. I'm a little concerned about higher temps but I suppose some new thermal paste and extra thermal pads would help a little bet. I disliked the slow response time of the 9560's 4k panel when I used it in stores. I hear the 9570's FHD panel is faster than the 60's 4k panel so that's good to hear.
    In Australia I can get the 8300H-1050 model with a 93whr battery for $2000. I can't get it with an i7 + 1050ti and the larger battery without going for a model that costs nearly $3000 so the previously mentioned model is the only option for the XPS.

    Pros:
    Probably will offer a familiar user experience. Good travel device. Great battery life (NBC web browsing at least). Screen seems to fit the bill perfectly.

    Cons:
    Will have to be upgraded after purchase, I'll need to get another 8gb ram stick and maybe swap out the storage for a 512gb ssd. Also, Killer wifi card inside. I'd have to replace that with something from Intel too.

    Also, it's expensive for what power you get and heat is a concern I have.


    2 - Gigabyte Aero 14 v8

    A little smaller. Over budget. A bit more powerful.

    Pros:
    Still has a nice screen. It's 1440p so that brings in possible scaling concerns but it would be nicer for photo editing. i7 and 1050ti, with more power comes more heat (probably) but it does mean it packs more of a punch.

    NBC's review shows good web browsing battery life.

    Cons:
    Over budget. I could be looking in the wrong places but I don't see many places selling this right now here in Australia. Again I worry a little about heat.

    3 - Something from Clevo (Metabox here in Australia)

    I was hoping to see their 14" laptop get 8th gen CPUs but it seems like that model no longer exists which is disappointing.

    The N850 models offer good value but things seem so-so on the screen, NBC review reports weird fan control and bad speakers. It does have a removable battery though!

    A "P651" with an 8th Gen CPU would be cool but that also gone... So a P950 then? I'm waiting on a review on that. It'd mean getting a machine with a 1060 which brings in concerns about battery life.


    My current desktop has an i5 4590 and a 970 and it works well for the games I play and the game dev work I do.

    I appreciate any help I get. Thanks for reading.
     
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2018
  2. RampantGorilla

    RampantGorilla Notebook Deity

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  3. Shadoo

    Shadoo Notebook Enthusiast

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    Thanks for the response. I thought as such for the P950. That battery capacity seemed rather meagre given the components inside and the hours it provides sounds about right. Otherwise it does seem like a nice laptop and a good option to undercut equivalent Asus or MSI options. I'm not ruling it out but options with longer lasting batteries will surpass it for me.

    A friend of mine has an N850 (last year's model) and mentioned its build and random fan behaviour so that gets a no from me too.

    I could look at some of those gaming oriented Inspiron laptops (whatever they're called now) and consider an LCD swap if it otherwise does what I need. It seems Dell Australia still sells the older gaming Inspiron laptops with the 74whr batteries. One with a 7700 and a 1050ti is about $1200 AUD. NBC Review here. Slow SD card reader is a minus for camera work and I'm iffy about an LCD swap but it could be a good project option. I haven't looked into what big pluses the 8th gen CPUs give yet.
     
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2018
  4. p0och

    p0och Notebook Enthusiast

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    check out the lenovo thinkpad e570p aka S5 2nd Gen

    i dont think any other brands can beat the value proposition and its also a from the Thinkpad line albeit the Edge but still any product under the thinkpad banner has great support on bios/driver updates.
     
  5. Shadoo

    Shadoo Notebook Enthusiast

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    I've been looking at Lenovo. That model seems to be discontinued in Australia, but I can see if any stores are still selling it (this could mean a clearance sale). On paper it looks like it's a very good option though. A Thinkpad would probably be the smartest choice for something reliable and with good service. When I look it up it tells me to check out an "E580" which either has an i5 8250U or an i7 8550U paired with an RX 550. Not familiar with where that AMD card sits in the Nvidia line. The i7 model with that card does fit within budget though. There's also a 14" model with similar specs which is tempting for something just a bit more portable.

    I probably am expecting quite a bit for my budget (especially in Australia where these things seem to be more expensive in general) so I can be flexible if it gets me what I want. I just don't wanna spend Apple prices.
     
  6. jeremyshaw

    jeremyshaw Big time Idiot

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    The current generation E series is not that great. With the Radeon GPU SKU, it has high surface temperatures (over 60C!) and little performance to show for it. Even the slowest MX150 variant outperforms it. The culprit comes down to the lackluster cooling system - it looks good, but it badly lets down the CPU and the GPU. The Intel IGP version might be better, though it may deviate from your goals.

    https://www.notebookcheck.net/Lenovo-ThinkPad-E580-i7-8550U-RX-550-Laptop-Review.286856.0.html


    https://www.notebookcheck.net/ThinkPad-E480-i5-8250U-RX-550-Laptop-Review.280524.0.html

    Both of these are early reviews (for the Kaby Lake Refresh CPUs), so it should be known that less than 600 sustained Cinebench R15 Multicore is indicative of noticeable thermal throttling. Both of them perform worse in CPU-heavy tasks than the tiny XPS13 9370 i5-8250U. At the time, NBC didn't have enough data to point this out.
     
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  7. Shadoo

    Shadoo Notebook Enthusiast

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    I didn't expect much from the Radeon laptops but beaten by an MX150, that's poor! And wow that's hot. The main downside I've seen to the Thinkpad options across the board (even looking at reviews of other ones) is the low colour gamut on the screens. I've seen in the spec sheets, some boast higher coverage in 4k panels (I think this seems to be the case for a lot of laptops, they all must be using the same panel) but I suppose I could always swap that out my self.

    I have a couple of friends who get by in our course with iGPUs, maybe not ideal but it'd function. I do still have my desktop at home so as long as the CPU can do the work in Maya or the game engine then maybe I could cut my losses for the laptop. In that case then the XPS 13 would be a better performer than these, as you point out.

    This Asus may even be fine. I don't see it's dimensions and weight as a concern (it's still quite small compared to some of the much thicker and heavier options). It's screen isn't full sRGB but mid-high 80s is fine. I've used similar screens in laptops in stores and they looked nice enough to my eye.

    If an 8th gen revision improved a couple of the cons (the chassis getting hot, dust getting stuck in gaps) then it'd probably do me fine. I've not had experience with Asus though and I guess compared to Lenovo or Apple, their support may offer a different experience.
     
  8. kojack

    kojack Notebook Virtuoso

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    If you want apple/Lenovo support? RUN FAR AWAY FROM ASUS! Just to let you know.
     
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  9. p0och

    p0och Notebook Enthusiast

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    the e480 was a failure as they nerfed the dgpu in the bios update that it only was 10% better than the intel igpu.

    but that said - if you roll back to bios v3 and used XTU plus attempt a repaste i reckon that's what i would do. but no-one should be putting up with such a workaround if you are buying a new product. - that said given the Aus consumer laws i reckon you can afford to play around with it and if its a real deal-breaker, obtaining a full refund would be a very easy process given the well documented issues
     
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2018
  10. kojack

    kojack Notebook Virtuoso

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    Good luck getting anything from asus support or otherwise.
     
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