midline college/gaming laptop for 400-700 dollars

Discussion in 'What Notebook Should I Buy?' started by galoisien, Sep 12, 2008.

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  1. galoisien

    galoisien Notebook Enthusiast

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    The official computer store is a ripoff, and some ebay offers look quite good, but I'm quite scared at buying used laptops before I physically look at them because I have burnt out a laptop before (gaming on an integrated graphics card -- I was so young and naive!)

    Basically, my concern is the smoothest FPS for games like ET, America's Army, and maybe the Halo series, if I decide to buy it. I don't mind playing on the lowest quality settings. I love classics -- Cossacks, Age of Wonders, IL-2 Sturmovik and so forth and I love RTS's ... I'm all about awesome gameplay and decent graphics than the other way round, so I just want performance that is "sufficient", and maybe some video editing and good enough for computer science classes. I know that if I even play old games on an integrated-graphics notebook the machine automatically heats up to insane temperatures!

    I want something that is fairly durable, and will last me all my four years, if not more.

    Does this forum offer advice about buying used laptops? Is it possible to buy a used laptop and still expect it to last you half a decade or more?

    I see some cheap gaming laptops on ebay selling for 200 to 700 dollars with fairly decent stats. My criterion is basically a dedicated GPU with 128+ MB video memory, a fairly fast processor, a wireless card [I assume that's a given], and maybe even a chance in the future for retrofitting?

    I normally buy desktops -- am quite clueless about what good market prices are for notebooks!
     
  2. galoisien

    galoisien Notebook Enthusiast

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    Oh, and the obligatory question list. I forgot.

    1) What is your budget?

    400-700 dollars ideally, maximum price 799-899 if it's a really good offer.

    2) What size notebook would you prefer?


    c. Mainstream; 15" - 16" screen
    d. Desktop Replacement; 17"+ screen

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

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

    Would prefer to stay away from Compaq or Acer. I hear Toshiba is durable.

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

    Decent-FPS gaming -- prefer smooth frames over sharp graphics. Even 30-35 FPS on a game like America's Army will be fine!

    Programming, compiling (anticipated)

    Scientific modelling

    Video-streaming / music-playing

    Some multimedia editing

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

    I plan to use it in cafes, in the classroom, and on busses, in airports ...

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

    A range of older games to mid-intensity recent games -- Alpha Centauri, Simcity 4, old FPS's like Wolfenstein ET, Half-Life (2?), etc. Maybe the Halo series. Lots of RTS's ... a flight simulator (IL-2 Sturmovik). America's Army.

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

    I would be happy with 4. 6 would be even better. 2 and a half is the minimum.

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

    Uncomfortable. I want some way of ascertaining if the "great condition" the seller says it has is true.

    10) What OS do you prefer? Windows (XP or Vista), Mac OS, Linux, etc.

    I want to dual boot Windows and Linux. Would prefer XP over Vista, but this is not a must.

    Screen Specifics

    Note - When this FAQ was started many years ago, the split between standard screen notebooks and widescreen notebooks was about 50-50. In the meantime, widescreen notebooks have become the new standard. If you're looking for a standard screen notebook, some people are, you may wish to mention it. There are a few standard screens still being sold, but they're going the way of the Dodo bird.

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

    d. WXGA or WXGA+ - 1280x768/800 or 1440x900; Wider viewing version of XGA, good for movie viewing or spreadsheets.

    I like more "space" but I'm not really into widewide screens. It doesn't matter to me, but I prefer desktop proportion screens.

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

    I don't mind either; slight preference for non-glossy.
    13) Are the notebook's looks and stylishness important to you?

    No.

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

    At least 4 years. Hopefully more.

    Notebook Components

    15) How much hard drive space do you want; 40GB to 500GB?

    50 GB minimum; 200 GB should be more than I will ever desire.

    16) Do you need an optical drive? If yes, a CDRW/DVD-ROM, DVD Burner or Blu-Ray drive?

    DVD-RW would be nice, but it must be at least DVD-RW.
     
  3. Prizmatic

    Prizmatic Notebook Enthusiast

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  4. galoisien

    galoisien Notebook Enthusiast

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    Hmm, I was looking at the Studio 15 ... Why is this version more expensive (without discount) than this one even though the initially cheaper one (they're the same price after discount) has the dedicated graphics card?
     
  5. galoisien

    galoisien Notebook Enthusiast

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    The Gateway looks like a better bang for the buck, but one of the reasons why I want a dedicated video card is not actually for power, but just to avoid heating up the laptop by taxing the CPU with graphics processing ... durability and heat are issues I am concerned about, but otherwise the Gateway looks like a good deal.
     
  6. Prizmatic

    Prizmatic Notebook Enthusiast

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    there's always odd different deals around dell, you just have to look around. The first one has a larger hard drive though, 320 gb while the second only has 250 gb, thats the only real difference that i could spot, so if they're both the same price then go for the larger hard drive one
     
  7. galoisien

    galoisien Notebook Enthusiast

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    So reading the reviews it does look that the gateway you linked is a real beast in terms of power ... so that is encouraging ... but will the Studio 15 heat up less, have longer battery power and last longer over the years?

    (And the Studio 15 with the 250 MB has the dedicated video though ... so I'm going for that.)
     
  8. Prizmatic

    Prizmatic Notebook Enthusiast

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    The gateway i linked you too was actually on sale for $650 during labor day... It may drop again but i dont know if you would want to or have time to wait...
    As for battery life, I'd say that both laptops have similar battery life time, Around 2 to 2.5 hours... in terms of quality both should also be similar. Personally i would go with the gateway since it is the better bang for the buck and its graphics are almost twice as good as those of the studio 15 (its GDDR3)
     
  9. galoisien

    galoisien Notebook Enthusiast

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    Any way to get an additional battery or a more energy-dense battery for the gateway?
     
  10. joshthor

    joshthor 100% Crazy Sauce

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    it looks like you can buy a 8 cell battery on the gateway site.
     
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