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Laptop for a U.S. Army Soldier

Discussion in 'What Notebook Should I Buy?' started by Fayt, Dec 5, 2006.

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  1. Fayt

    Fayt Newbie

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    I'm currently enlisted in the U.S. Army and my Brigade will be going to Afghanistan early next year. I will be deployed for 1 year, and being that I'm in the infantry I won't be staying in the "nicer" Bases for too long, as I will be in one of the Forward observation base(FOB), which I hear arn't the greatest living accomodations, espeicially when it comes to electricity(10-15 different electronics plug into one outlet through various transformers and surge protectors all randomly connected, I may of over exaggerated here, but you get the point).

    I need a Laptop that will keep me entertained for the year I am abroad, as it being my only source of entertainment( Asides from my books). I am really into gaming, and that is what I will mostly be doing with my laptop, but i will also be playing mp3's, watching Dvd's and do some minor photo editing(very minor as i really dont know much about it). I'm sure i will come across other uses for my laptop, but those are my main concerns for now.

    =======================

    General Questions

    1) What is your budget?

    $1800-2400

    2) What size notebook would you prefer?

    c. Mainstream; 15" - 16" screen
    -or-
    d. Desktop Replacement; 17"+ screen (nothing more then 17")


    3) What tasks will you be performing with the notebook?

    Mostly Gaming, and watching Dvd's, mostly entertainment purposes.

    4) Will you be taking the notebook with you to different places or leaving it on your desk?

    My Laptop will be coming with me on my deployment

    5) Will you be playing games on it; if so, which games?

    Yes, Oblivion, Fable, Warhammer, Ages of Empire III, Civ IV, Total War, FEAR, Half Life, Sims and a host of other games. I would say World of Warcraft but no internet in Afghanistan. But when i get back in 2008 it's game on, that is, if my laptop doesn't become completely obsolete while im gone.

    6) Are there any brands that you prefer or any you really don't like?

    Open to all suggestions

    7) How many hours of battery life do you need?

    Going on my first deployment for a year, I don't know how electricity works in our FOB, so i would assume i made need a laptop with decent longevity.

    8) Do you mind buying online without seeing the notebook in person?

    I don't mind buying online with out seeing the notebook.

    9) Please select your country's flag as a post icon and tell us what country are you buying this in?

    US

    Screen Specifics

    10) Would you prefer standard or widescreen?

    Widescreen

    11) From the choices below, what screen resolutions would you prefer?

    Widescreen
    e. WSXGA+ - 1680x1050; Wider viewing version of SXGA, good for movie viewing or spreadsheets.
    -or-
    f. WUXGA - 1920x1200; Wider viewing version of UXGA, good for movie viewing or spreadsheets.



    12) Do you want a glossy/reflective screen or a matte/non-glossy screen?

    Glossy

    Build Quality and Design

    13) Are the notebook's looks and stylishness important to you?

    Style/looks is not a major factor.

    14) When are you buying this laptop and how long do you want this laptop to last?

    2-3years

    Notebook Components

    15) How much hard drive space do you want; 40GB to 160GB?

    ~80GB

    16) Do you need an optical drive? If yes, a DVD-ROM, DVD-CD/RW or DVD-RW drive?

    DVD RW

    ===================


    Also, I was considering a TV tuner, built-in preferabbly, to hook up my ps2, so i can play it off my laptop screen. Do you guys think this is a good idea? I could buy a protable Dvd player(but i got a laptop to do that), if its not a good idea, I was just trying to lighten the my load. We are bringing Tv's but chances are they will all be used for by other people, i need something for myself for my PS2.

    Other things i would consider:
    Any security features. Kinda sad to know that there are some guys you cant trust with your stuff in the Military.

    A Solid built Laptop, something that will withstand the rigors of travel and climate of Afghanistan. And a laptop easy to maintain. There is going to be a lot of sand/dust where I'm going.

    Size and Weight, Smaller the better, but I do understand to get a good gaming rig that usually isnt an option. And I would really prefer it to weigh under <10lbs.

    There is a good chance that I might deploy again, so this laptop needs to last, and to be able to run future programs and games ( and even while I'm in Afghanistan I will hopefully be recieving the newest games sent from my family and friends, haha). I wouldn't want to buy another brand new laptop and put it through to what this laptop is going to go through.


    There are also a lot of other things I need to consider buying a laptop for someone like myself. So I am open to any suggestions that you guys think i should consider. Thanks for all your help.
     
  2. npaladin2000

    npaladin2000 LOAD "*",8,1

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    Ok, the first thing that comes to mind are Panasonic Toughbooks, but I'm hazy on prices and specs (not like I recommend them often. ;) ) so I'll have to do some research on their configurations.

    A Thinkpad Z61m might be nice if you're willing to put up with non-glossy (You get a fingerprint reader and a fairly rugged machine...and the higher-res screen can be had with a webcam so you can video-chat with the folks at home maybe).
     
  3. runninkyle17

    runninkyle17 Notebook Consultant

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    I would have to say look at what Dell has to offer. For your budget you can get a maxed out system from Dell.

    I am normally not one to promote Dell's but they do make pretty good media and gaming laptops. Most of the top spec'd laptops today will easily handle the games of the future.

    If you are serious about gaming, try to get at least an nVidia 7950GTX as the GPU. The Hypersonic CX7 is a good choice that a lot of people have been happy about.

    You could also just check out the forums at this site and notebookforums.com and see what people are selling to get a better price.

    Be safe overseas! I'm sure I will be over there sometime within the next few years. The Army is paying my way through medical school. Hopefully my post helps a little.
     
  4. npaladin2000

    npaladin2000 LOAD "*",8,1

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    Ok, forget the Toughbooks...no widescreens, and I think they're all integrated graphics. Such a shame.
     
  5. Jason

    Jason Overclocker NBR Reviewer

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    XPS M1710 from dell is a good option. Look out for deals from dell outlet! In the 15.4" range the Asus G1p is a great option.
     
  6. idofgrahf

    idofgrahf Notebook Evangelist

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    Dell XPS M1710 is within his price range and they are very good gaming machines and have pretty reliable build. Dell E1705 is also good, he can max out everything and it will rivial a base build M1710 in graphic and performance while still costing less.

    Asus A8js is also pretty good, though it graphics card isn't as powerful as the dell mentioned above, only a 7700 instead of the 7900 from Nvidia.

    Clevo M57U is also very good, not too bulky, at around 9 pounds and 17 screen. Future proof with upgradable parts

    Alienware m9700 have sli and is still within your price range with sli enabled it cost around 2300 right now.

    PS I though the military provide you with notebooks.
     
  7. Redline

    Redline Notebook Prophet NBR Reviewer

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    I would say XPS M1710 or E1705. They are pretty much the same notebook with slightly different look and different options. The E1705 will run you anywhere between 1500 and 2000, the XPS will be between 2200 and 3k. The XPS is better for gaming, but not by a whole lot.

    Other option is the Clevo mentioned above. The m9700 is too heavy, the A8Js is a relative weakling that weighs 5lbs....The Asus G1 is identical in specs to the A8Js, but its bigger.
     
  8. idofgrahf

    idofgrahf Notebook Evangelist

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    I don't know for sure but he does not appear to be lugging his laptop around the base. Most of his task are best performed when plugged into a power outlet so I don't see how the m9700's weight has anything to do with it. I mean you can game on battery but he'll get like 1 1/2 hours at best.
     
  9. chrisyano

    chrisyano Hall Monitor NBR Reviewer

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    There is one decision you will have to make. You can get more graphical power with a 17" system at the cost of less battery power. Gaming on a 17" system is ridiculous--you'll get maye 45 minutes to an hour.

    A 15.4" system or even a 14.1" system will give you better battery life but at the cost of GPU power. You simply can't get a high-end GPU in a 15.4" or smaller system.

    Personally I've owned both versions and like the compromise afforded by the 15.4" system I currently have.

    17"--I recommend the Sager NP5760. Top-notch quality, power, and price.

    15.4"--I recommend the Asus G1, Asus Z96J, Compal HEL80, or HP nc8430.

    I know the Compal HEL80 has an available internal TV tuner but it has a matte screen (a really good one though). I'm really not sure about the others--but I'm quite sure the Sager has it as well.

    I've heard connecting the PS2 to a laptop can be a pain, so you may want to look further into that issue.

    As far as security goes, you can get a Kensington lock, but it's really just like a bicycle chain for your laptop. A bolt cutter can make quick work of it. There also used to be notebook alarms but I haven't really seen them around much lately, so they may have left the market.

    Good luck.
     
  10. Fayt

    Fayt Newbie

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    Wow, thanks for all the replies already, I'll have to read them all more in detail after work today. I gotta go in to work right now, you know morning PT very important, haha....

    And no, the Army does not give out notebooks( i guess they used to), but they do buy note books for your particular unit... My section, just got a Dell inspiron from Supply, and its not a bad looking laptop. Well gotta go, i'll try to provide more input after work. Thanks again.
     
  11. mach_zero

    mach_zero Casual Observer NBR Reviewer

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    If you decide to go with the Dell XPS M1710 don't forget that you can order it through AAFES and save a pretty good chunk of change. The M1710 with the T7200 and 7900GS through them starts at just under $2000, plus you get free 3 day shipping. Best of luck to you.
     
  12. Fayt

    Fayt Newbie

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    Thanks again, for the replies, after looking over all your suggestions, I think i've narrowed down my choices. I was really leaning towards the Clevo M570u, which i found was built in many other forms( hypersonic, widowpc, etc.). And now with the release of the Asus G1p, I'm really considering the smaller 15.4" laptop. I'm torn between the two.

    And Chrisyano basically said it, do i want the GPU power of a 17" M570u laptop, or go for the more affortable and portable 15.4" Asus G1p. I do like the portability and battery life of a 15.4" but also the M570u has the upgradable parts.

    How does the Nvidia Go 7700 512MB compare to the higher end 7950GTX 512MB? Would i even notice a difference with the games i'm playing now...

    And I found several sights that sell the Clevo M570u, but the Asus G1 seems to be a bit more limited when it comes to sellers.

    I really need to think of what i want now, so i can get the laptop soon and test it out before i leave and not have customer service there to help me out.
     
  13. chrisyano

    chrisyano Hall Monitor NBR Reviewer

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    There's a pretty sizable difference between the go 7700 and the 7950 GTX. The release of the 7700 did close the gap some.

    Will you be able to have an enjoyable gaming experience on just about any games with a card like the go 7700? Absolutely. You just may not be able to enable all settings at max with a higher resolution like you can with the beastly go 7950 GTX.

    Read through Chaz's GPU guide for some great information on Gaming GPUs.
     
  14. vespoli

    vespoli 402 NBR Reviewer

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    To answer your question regarding TV tuners-they are generally not a good way to hook up a PS2 as there is considerable lag. This is not an issue when recording TV or watching a movie, but when gaming it can mean the difference between life and death :p I think coriolis has something called a "gamebridge" which is a better solution.

    EDIT: Coriolis is a person, not a company! ;)
     
  15. Fayt

    Fayt Newbie

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    Thanks again Chrisyano, that link was really helpeful. And after browsing through your Gaming forum, i found out i probably would be better with the smaller more affortable 15.4 laptop. Even though the M570u is upgradable, it wouldnt be able to be upgraded to handle the new directx10, since it has to do with the motherboard aswell, am i correct ( i'm such a newb when it comes to things like this).
    So I really should just get a laptop that can handle the current games and some near future games just fine. i can settle for graphics less then maximum settings, as long as game quality is still enjoyable. And when i come back from my deployment i can probably look into the larger 17" notebook with a higher end Graphics cards and build later in the year. In a year from now who knows where laptop technology will be, and i will be stuck in the dark and not know anything when i get back....

    So according to the link you sent me, the 7600Gt still out performs the 7700? or did i read something wrong, and its just becuase the 7700 is a newer card that there isnt much info on it.
     
  16. Fayt

    Fayt Newbie

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    Thanks Vespoli for bringing up the TV tuner issue, I'll look up more info on this gamebridge.
     
  17. idofgrahf

    idofgrahf Notebook Evangelist

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    What types of games do you play? (besides those you mentioned and no you notebook depending on what you buy will not be obsolet, though other high end notebooks will superseed yours, most however, will not) If you play games such as battlefield 2 or 2142 or the latest FPS than everything enabled will give you an edge in game play ie max draw distance will let you see you enemy before they see you, or max detail allow you to see them clearer than they see you, shadows on will let you see them hidding behind something etc. I have seen BF2142 sinpers not shooting at me eventhough I was in their field of vision and I see them, they are either really stupid or their draw distance was not set on max. If its just stratgey games like C&C or civilization series than the 7700 will do just fine.

    Here is a graph of the 7800 vs 7900gtx, keep in mind that the 7700 still slower than the 7800 despite having more video ram. For first person shooters the optimal frame rate is usually accepted as averaging 60 frames per second instead of the normal 30 although 30 is certainly playable.

    http://www.anandtech.com/mobile/showdoc.aspx?i=2766&p=8

    As for directx10, to be honest, we don't know if the Clevo is upgradable to a 8xxx series or not. Motherboard have nothing to do with directx, it is the software and graphics card that handles that deparment. case in point, a motherboard with AGP 8x port can install anytype of AGP card from an old geforce 2 with direct X 7 i think (its been awhile) to the newest 7 series with directx 9 support. The desktop version haven't even comeout yet. Just as a reference though, a dell XPS m170 with 6800 is able to upgrade to the 7900 so it maybe possible, but its impossible to tell at this time.
     
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