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The 2012-2013 Gaming Laptop Thread | Read OP before asking questions!

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K.Jack

Knowledge is power, guard it well
Mar 10, 2007
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(props to viakado for the banners and headers)

We're finally here! Consider this OP a perpetual WIP, as I continue to streamline the format and add information. All suggestions for improvement are welcome via PM or openly in the thread.

There is now a mandatory requirement for "I need a laptop" posts. See the end of this post for criteria.

Let's start here.....



I feel this is an important question to ask, because with the gaming laptop you usually get roughly 1/3 of the GPU power you'd receive if the same amount of money was spent on a gaming tuned desktop. EDIT: Allow me to explain how I reached that figure. Mobile GPUs are simply much more expensive than their desktop relatives. An aftermarket Clevo GTX 680M is currently $750, while its analogue, the GTX 670, can be found for as low as $350 (as of 12/31/12, and I didn't shop around too extensively). So you can build a desktop with SLI GTX 670 for the price of the single 680M equipped laptop. This example is not quite the "1/3" figure I calculated, but also factor in that the GTX 680M also cost around $900, originally.

Let that sink in a bit. If you're going to be spending the majority of your time at home anyway, tethered and sitting at a desk, the desktop setup is the much stronger and more economical choice.

I've always held that the want for a gaming laptop should be about fulfilling one of very few things: necessity, luxury, or a combination of the two. They're a good option for:

  • Frequent travelers - you spend a lot of time away from home and will rarely see time in front of your desktop.
  • Students - You need something portable enough to take to class/studies and back home for holidays.
  • Casuals - A cheaper laptop to play some games on the couch, or to compliment a more powerful desktop
  • Ballers - Because you want one.

But I have good news, which is twofold. First, is that technology has advanced to the point where pretty much every laptop based on 2012 tech can game, at some level. This is mostly thanks to Intel and AMD's advances in integrated graphics power. Second, you no longer have to spend $1,000 just to get an entry level dedicated GPU, capable of 720p/30fps.

Moving on to hardware.....



There is honestly little to touch on here, outside of 'AMD vs Intel', and 'Dual Core vs Quad Core'.

'AMD vs Intel' is rather easy, as AMD's current lineup of mobile CPUs is objectively horrible. You know there's an issue, when their flagship processor, the A10-4600M, is only as fast as Intel Core i3s. So the best advice is to avoid AMD at all costs.

'Dual Core vs Quad Core' is also a straightforward affair; if you can afford a quad, get a quad. Today, games are still leaning much more heavily on GPU strength, but the number of games which take advantage of more cores is only going to increase, and the next generation of consoles has a lot of people gearing up to make sure they aren't left behind when they release. There's no reason to choose a dual core, when money is not an issue.

Which CPU should you choose? If you do find yourself configuring with a Core i5, don't fall into the trap of spending more and more money on slightly higher binned and barely faster models; the basic i5-3210M is more than fine. Things are a bit different with the choice of Core i7s. The basic i7-3630QM will be adequate for most, but a case can be made for the more expensive i7-3740QM, as it can be manually overclocked via Intel's XTU software, with certain chipsets.



The GPU is priority #1, where you should allocate the majority of your budget.

For the sake of simplicity, I'm going to divide the GPUs into tiers, based on average performance in today's games, generally console ports. They are:
  1. Low: Medium to High settings at 1280x720 (perhaps 1366x768)
  2. Medium: Medium to High settings at 1600x900
  3. High: Medium to High settings at 1920x1080
  4. Ultra: High to Max settings at 1920x1080

This will not be perfect and the absolute truth for each GPU, but it's the best way to help people know what they're generally going to be getting into with each card. Also, current gen cards and rebrands only.
  1. Low: GT 630M, 745M, 7650M, 7670M
  2. Medium: GT 640M, GT 645M, GT 650M, 7690M, 7730M, 7750M
  3. High: GTX 660M, GTX 670M, GTX 670MX, GTX 675M, 7850M, 7870M, 8870M
  4. Ultra: GTX 675MX, GTX 680M, GTX 680MX, GTX 770M, GTX 775M, GTX 780M, 7970M, 8970M
But exactly what are the mobile cards, anyway?
I know a lot of perspective buyers of gaming laptop are coming from the desktop scene, and have little to no idea what the mobile GPUs names actually mean. After all, the GTX 670M has absolutely nothing in common or to do with the Desktop GTX 670. Most of these cards are indeed literally desktop chips, which have simply been undervolted and downclocked, to fit them within a viable mobile mobile TDP. So when I say that X = Y, know already that the card does not deliver 100% of its desktop analogue's performance, unless you are able to safely raise the voltage and achieve the reference desktop frequencies.

Nvidia Cards

GT 630M (which is a rebranded GT 540M, which is a rebranded GT 435M) = GT 430
GT 640M, 650M, 660M, 730M, 740M, 750M = GTX 650
GTX 670M (which is a rebranded GTX 570M) = GTX 550 Ti
GTX 675M (which is a rebranded GTX 580M) = GTX 560 Ti
GTX 760M, GTX 765M = GTX 650 Ti Boost
GTX 670MX, GTX 675MX, GTX 770M = GTX 660
GTX 680M = GTX 670
GTX 680MX, GTX 780M = GTX 680

AMD Cards

7650M, 7670M (which are rebrands of 6630M, 6650M) = 6670 DDR3
7690M, 7690M XT ((which are rebrands of 6750M, 6770M) = 6670 GDDR5
7730M, 7750M, 7770M = 7750
7850M, 7870M, 8870M = 7770
7970M, 8970M = 7870

The best resource we currently have for comparing specs and gaming benchmarks is Notebookcheck. They are considered by many (including myself) to be of dubious consistency, but the fact is that they're the only site dedicated to the compiling of data on mobile GPU. I'd be dishonest if I said I don't appreciate the effort.



The best advice one can give: Spend as little as you possibly can on memory. A mere 4GB of 1333MHz is still more than enough, but 6 to 8 gigs of 1600MHz RAM is the standard for comfort right now. Just don't blow large sums in the laptop manufacturer's Configurator, because 8GB (2 x 4GB) of good 1600MHz RAM is dirt cheap right now. Always take the minimum they offer and DIY upgrade it yourself at home.



This is another area where it's best to check prices and upgrade yourself after purchase. SSDs are amazing boot drives, but if you aren't buying a laptop with two drives slots or an mSATA slot, you'll either need to sacrifice space or drop a wad of money on a large capacity SSD.

Do SSDs benefit gaming? Well, yes, but not greatly, as you won't gain in the framerate because of a faster drive. They definitely cut load times by a significant amount. Sometimes I feel mine loads too fast, as I in certain games never have enough time to read the cool little tidbits and tips the devs put in the load screens. I'll choose the faster loading any day though.

Their is also a major safety benefit to the SSD. Not too long ago, my brother accidentally let his powered on laptop slide off of his lap, onto a lightly carpeted floor. No problem right? The next morning, it refused to boot. Turns out, the HDD had locked up due to the shock of the fall.

With an SSD, such a freak occurrence is not an issue, as there are no moving parts.



As new technology is revealed, I will update this section. The next big industry event is the 2013 International CES, which runs from January 8-11.



Check out Desktop GAF and Tech Support GAF!
Consider joining the Notebook Review Forum, as it's a great community and there's a wealth of information help on individual laptops and notebooks there. You can find me posting under the name Kevin on that site.
Gaming Mouse Advice Thread
Recommended System Monitors: CPU-Z, HWMonitor, and GPU-Z

There will now be mandatory format requirements for "I need a laptop" posts.

This is information we need included in your request for help finding the right laptop, so posts don't have to be wasted with asking and waiting for the simplest of information. Failure to comply may cause your post to be ignored. Simple inclusions:

Country where it will be purchased.
Maximum budget.
Max size (can be in screen inches, dimensions, weight).
Planned usage (what kind of games or specific games it must run, if heavily gaming at all). Ideally you'll point out what resolution and settings are your standard, based off of what I've laid out in the OP.
Whatever else you find relevant, misc. things such as desired battery life, screen resolution, fan noise, etc.
 

K.Jack

Knowledge is power, guard it well
Mar 10, 2007
24,187
0
1,140
In this post, will be my bang for buck laptop recommendations. For right now, it's US only, but I will be gradually updating with the best buys for those in Canada, the countries of Euroland, and abroad. Under each machine, I'll include its performance category (Low, Medium...), and if it's a custom machine, I will give my opinion on what should be upgraded or left stock.

There's one thing I'd like to cover first....



Clevo is a Taiwanese laptop ODM which makes custom machines and sells them to other companies, which them rebrand them under their own labels. We know the sellers by many names: Sager, Eurocom, and Pro-Star are the largest in the North America; mySN.de (Schenker) in Germany; PCSpecialist in the UK, and so on it goes.

NBR member jaug1337 has created the amazing thread Clevo Resellers in the European Union, which will guide all internationals in the right direction.

Why are Clevo gaming notebooks so popular? For one, people like the understated, more professional look they hold vs. the other gaming brands. This is the 17.3" P170EM w/ up to the GTX 680M:



Some say it's ugly, others say it's sleek.

Second, they cost hundreds less than the comparably equipped Alienware machines. But it's important to know you're also buying a lower quality product. Clevo blows the budget on internal components, and the means to cool them, while spending very little on the outer casing, features, or anything else which can elevate them above being considered the "value line" of gaming laptops. Average to mediocre speakers, average at best keyboard, just average average average. MSI, ASUS, and Alienware all present themselves as more premium brands, offering other amenities beyond LOOK AT THIS FAST GRAPHICS CARD.

---- On to the laptops. -----

This section may require constant updates, as machines come in and out of stock. If you would like to recommend that a laptop be added or removed, send me PM.

Best deals under $500 to $750

Dell Inspiron 17 Price: $549.99
Specs: Core i3-3227U | AMD Radeon HD 8650M 2GB GDDR5 | 4GB 1600MHz RAM | 500GB 5400rpm HDD | 1600x900 17.3" LCD | Windows 8
Performance: Low

Lenovo IdeaPad Z710 Price: $729.99
Specs: Core i5 4200M | NVIDIA GeForce GT 745M | 6GB 1600MHz RAM | 1TB 5400rpm HDD | 1920x1080 17.3" LCD | Windows 8
Performance: Medium

Best deals $800 to $1,000

Lenovo Y410p Price: $799.00
Specs: Core i7-4700MQ | NVIDIA GeForce GT755M 2GB GDDR5 | 8GB 1600MHz RAM | 1TB 5400rpm HDD | 1366x768 14.0" LCD | Windows 8
Performance: High (due to the 768p resolution)

Lenovo Y510p Price: $819.00
Specs: Core i7-4700MQ | NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M 2GB GDDR5 | 8GB 1600MHz RAM | 1TB 5400rpm HDD | 1366x768 15.6" LCD | Windows 8
Performance: High (due to the 768p resolution)

Sager NP7355 (Clevo W350ST) Price: $969.00
Specs: Core i5-4200M | NVIDIA GeForce GTX 765M 2GB GDDR5 | 8GB 1600MHz RAM | 750GB 7200rpm HDD | 15.6" 1920x1080p LCD
Performance: High

Sager NP7330 (Clevo W230ST) Price: $999
Specs: Core i5-4200M | NVIDIA Geforce GTX 765M 2GB GDDR5 | 8GB 1600MHz RAM | 750GB 7200rpm HDD | 1920x1080p 13.3" IPS
Performance: High

Best deals $1100 to $1400

Lenovo Y510p Price: $1,063.99
Specs: i7-4700MQ | Dual NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M SLI | 8GB 1600MHz RAM | 1TB + 8GB SHDD | 1920x1080 15.6" LCD | Windows 8
Performance: Medium/High

GT60 2OC-022US Price: $1,399
Specs: i7-4700MQ | NVIDIA Geforce GTX 770M 3GB GDDR5 | 8GB 1600MHz RAM | 1TB 5400rpm HDD | 1920x1080 15.6" LCD | Windows 8
Performance: High

MSI GT70 2OC-065US Price: $1,399
Specs: i7-4700MQ | NVIDIA Geforce GTX 770M 3GB GDDR5 | 8GB 1600MHz RAM | 1TB 5400rpm HDD | 1920x1080 17.3" LCD | Windows 8
Performance: High

Best deals $1500 to $2,500

Sager NP8275-S
Starting Price: $1519.00
Base Specs: i7-4700MQ | NVIDIA GeForce GTX 770M 3GB GDDR5 | 16GB 1600MHz RAM | 120GB Samsung 840 EVO + 750GB 7200rpm HDD | 1920x1080p 17.3" LCD
Performance: High

MSI GT70 2OD-064US Price: $1,899
Specs: i7-4700MQ | Nvidia GTX 780M 4GB GDDR5 | 12GB 1600MHz RAM | 1TB 5400rpm HDD | 1920x1080 17.3" LCD | Windows 8
Performance: Ultra
 
Oct 16, 2006
13,624
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I know the OP says you get about a third of the power for the money on a laptop as you would with a desktop, but what does that mean exactly?

A desktop is actually not ideal for my setup, but I was thinking about sinking about $700 to build a PC to hook up to my TV.

Would I really need $2100 for a comparable laptop? How can I quantify what I'd lose by spending just under $1k on a laptop instead of just under $700 on a tower setup?

(Edit: Nice OP btw.)
 

Hazaro

relies on auto-aim
Jan 21, 2008
32,249
1
1,090
Southern California
Huzzah!

I have actually been looking into 17" laptops recently for someone. It's proving to be a royal pain and I only saw a Samsung and Clevo rebrands + one other for choices that aren't gamer designed.
 

X05

Upside, inside out he's livin la vida loca, He'll push and pull you down, livin la vida loca
Looking great!! :D

There was an article and video somewhere comparing the performance difference of that A10 equipped MSI with a similar one but sporting an IvyBridge... will post it when I find it :p
Also this.
 

terrisus

Member
Feb 8, 2012
40,934
18
905
Just wanted to say thanks again K.Jack for your help in the other thread. Definitely appreciated your ability to work with a variety of different budgets to come up with some great options.

One of these days I need to get a new laptop for myself, since I've done about all the upgrading I can with this one (a SSD as the boot drive since it does have two hard drive slots, maxed out at 8GB of RAM, and a USB 3.0 adapter in the ExpressCard slot just to make some use of that and since the regular USB ports are just 2.0).

Obviously I assume most everything is going to be Windows 8 going forward, which is a discouragement for me when I decide to upgrade (moreso from an aesthetics point of view - my computer setup right now could easily be mistaken for Windows 95 at a glance). Is downgrading from 8 to 7 really going to be a problem or anything, or should that be straightforward enough?
 

K.Jack

Knowledge is power, guard it well
Mar 10, 2007
24,187
0
1,140
I know the OP says you get about a third of the power for the money on a laptop as you would with a desktop, but what does that mean exactly?

A desktop is actually not ideal for my setup, but I was thinking about sinking about $700 to build a PC to hook up to my TV.

Would I really need $2100 for a comparable laptop? How can I quantify what I'd lose by spending just under $1k on a laptop instead of just under $700 on a tower setup?

(Edit: Nice OP btw.)
Well, that statement is not 100% absolute for every comparison, and it gets exponentially worse as we go higher up the performance ladder. But look first at the fact that the cheapest gateway to the 7970M is $1,200. How much do you have to spend to mock up a 7870 build? And $2100 on a laptop will net you one GTX 680M, or two 7970Ms. Can't you build a tri-GTX 670 desktop monster for that?

Hazaro's $754 build nets you a GTX 670, where as $699 on a laptop only nets you the equivalent of a downclocked GTX 650 gimped with DDR3 memory. Oh and an Ivy Bridge dual core.

Spending $1k, you can have the Lenovo Y580 SKU with the i7-3630QM, GTX 660M GDDR5 (this time a straight up downclocked GTX 650), and 1080p screen. I like to pull no punches about the fact that gaming laptops are horrible performance per dollar, in comparison to desktops. That's why I put them down to necessity or luxury, because you're getting HOSED by Intel, Nvidia, and AMD.


Looking great!! :D

There was an article and video somewhere comparing the performance difference of that A10 equipped MSI with a similar one but sporting an IvyBridge... will post it when I find it :p
Also this.
At the bottom of that Engadget article they link to Anandtech's preliminary findings from working on the GX60 review. The full article is still coming, but they did post this video of the GX60 vs a Clevo in Arkham City benchmark. Hmm...

Obviously I assume most everything is going to be Windows 8 going forward, which is a discouragement for me when I decide to upgrade (moreso from an aesthetics point of view - my computer setup right now could easily be mistaken for Windows 95 at a glance). Is downgrading from 8 to 7 really going to be a problem or anything, or should that be straightforward enough?
In my mind, formatting the HDD and clean installing Windows 7 seems easy. As long as the laptop doesn't have any proprietary drivers which are Windows 8 only, it shouldn't be too complicated.

I'm actually looking at the same issue for myself.
 

terrisus

Member
Feb 8, 2012
40,934
18
905
In my mind, formatting the HDD and clean installing Windows 7 seems easy. As long as the laptop doesn't have any proprietary drivers which are Windows 8 only, it shouldn't be too complicated.

I'm actually looking at the same issue for myself.
Nifty. It'll be a while probably until I'm able to get to that point, but, you'll have to let us know more about all of that when you can.
 

Fredescu

Member
Jan 30, 2007
15,388
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0
Sydney, Aus
Why are Clevo gaming notebooks so popular? For one, people like the understated, more professional look they hold vs. the other gaming brands. This is the 17.3" P170EM w/ up to the GTX 680M:



Some say it's ugly, others say it's sleek.

Second, they cost hundreds less than the comparably equipped Alienware machines.[/quote]

The main reason I went with Clevo was customisation. Most of the Alienware's and MSIs don't let you put a beefy GPU into a 15.6" chassis for example.
 

sgjackson

Member
Sep 6, 2012
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0
490
Fantastic thread. I'm not looking to upgrade for a year or so (by then I assume Haswell+the next generation of graphics cards will be out) but I'll be keeping up here until then.
 

X05

Upside, inside out he's livin la vida loca, He'll push and pull you down, livin la vida loca
At the bottom of that Engadget article they link to Anandtech's preliminary findings from working on the GX60 review. The full article is still coming, but they did post this video of the GX60 vs a Clevo in Arkham City benchmark. Hmm...
Yes, exactly that one.
Seems like the 7970M is potentially wasted there, I'd wait for the complete review but it's looking like it's instead of getting that one, either save and get a better cpu and worse gpu, or spend more to keep the gpu and upgrade the cpu.
 

Tizoc

Member
Jun 23, 2010
81,146
13
960
33
Oman
Thanks for the thread, just read the first post so here's my request if anyone can help please, but take note that I was recommended Lenovo Y580 & ASUS N76VZ based on the preferences I mention below:

Country where it will be purchased: Middle East
Maximum budget: $750-1000
Max size: 16-17"

Planned usage:
a) For the laptop's convenience, I plan on gaming at a maximum of 720p, if I can find within my price range that it can run games fine at 1080p and 60 FPS, then the better.
b) Battery life is tricky, for the long run I expect to play on my laptop for maybe say 3-5 hours, I don't like keeping my laptop charging all the time and may want to turn off the electricity if I'm not using it for gaming.
c) Aside from the usual PC games I would also like it to run emulators well, I could list what emulators I want if that's OK?
d) Low fan noise and if possible one that doesn't overheat a lot.
 

Ninja_Hawk

Member
Jan 20, 2009
2,252
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0
I'm actually thinking about picking one of laptops you listed soon. This one...

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16834152378


If I just want to be able to play the older GTA's, Kingdoms of Amalur Reckoning, Burnout Paradise, and some suggestions for shooters that can be played on the hardware, would it work?

I actually looked it up, but assuming you guys know a bit more than I do, I just want to be sure.
 

Somnium986

Member
Nov 10, 2009
1,982
0
0
I was thinking about picking up the MSI CX61 0NF-257US, but now that I look at some of the other deals in the in this new thread I dunno. That Levono Y580 for only a hundred something more looks sweet. Would I be able to play most new games near at max settings? Willing to save up little more if so.
 

dLMN8R

Member
Dec 14, 2007
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LOL about time a thread like this was created. I can't believe the old one was a repurposing of the original one I made for the first Alienware m11x (RIP)
 

Naked Snake

Member
Jun 6, 2004
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Wow this thread popped up just in time when I was looking for it.

I'll probably have more questions later today, but here's a quickie:

i5-2450M + GT 630M (1GB)

vs.

i5-3317U + GT 630M (2 GB)
 

mrklaw

MrArseFace
Jun 10, 2004
59,896
1
0
Windsor, UK
I know the OP says you get about a third of the power for the money on a laptop as you would with a desktop, but what does that mean exactly?

A desktop is actually not ideal for my setup, but I was thinking about sinking about $700 to build a PC to hook up to my TV.

Would I really need $2100 for a comparable laptop? How can I quantify what I'd lose by spending just under $1k on a laptop instead of just under $700 on a tower setup?

(Edit: Nice OP btw.)
It'd be interesting to see what you'd need to spend for a nice SFF PC under the TV just for games (and maybe a bit of HTPC duty), and then a simple laptop for day to day productivity.

I expect you could probably spec both of those for the price of a well performing gaming laptop, and still have more capability in the dedicated gaming PC.

so if you think you'll only really game on it in a fixed location, I'd go that route - two can be cheaper than one and better.
 

K.Jack

Knowledge is power, guard it well
Mar 10, 2007
24,187
0
1,140
Yes, exactly that one.
Seems like the 7970M is potentially wasted there, I'd wait for the complete review but it's looking like it's instead of getting that one, either save and get a better cpu and worse gpu, or spend more to keep the gpu and upgrade the cpu.
Yeah hopefully he tests it not only against the i7+7970M, but also some GTX 660M, 670M and 675M setups. The unhindered 7970M leads the 675M by 50%, so it'll be interesting.

I'm going to leave the GX60 in the OP until the review comes out, with the asterisk next to it.

Thanks for the thread, just read the first post so here's my request if anyone can help please, but take note that I was recommended Lenovo Y580 & ASUS N76VZ based on the preferences I mention below:

Country where it will be purchased: Middle East
Maximum budget: $750-1000
Max size: 16-17"

Planned usage:
a) For the laptop's convenience, I plan on gaming at a maximum of 720p, if I can find within my price range that it can run games fine at 1080p and 60 FPS, then the better.
b) Battery life is tricky, for the long run I expect to play on my laptop for maybe say 3-5 hours, I don't like keeping my laptop charging all the time and may want to turn off the electricity if I'm not using it for gaming.
c) Aside from the usual PC games I would also like it to run emulators well, I could list what emulators I want if that's OK?
d) Low fan noise and if possible one that doesn't overheat a lot.
I'd say that the Y580 is the good one to look at, as long as prices are fair in your region vs USD and Euros.

I'm actually thinking about picking one of laptops you listed soon. This one...

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16834152378

If I just want to be able to play the older GTA's, Kingdoms of Amalur Reckoning, Burnout Paradise, and some suggestions for shooters that can be played on the hardware, would it work?

I actually looked it up, but assuming you guys know a bit more than I do, I just want to be sure.
It will run all of those games on High at its native res of 1366x768.

Wow this thread popped up just in time when I was looking for it.

I'll probably have more questions later today, but here's a quickie:

i5-2450M + GT 630M (1GB)

vs.

i5-3317U + GT 630M (2 GB)
The 2450M mops up the ULV (ultra low voltage) 3317U pretty handily, with base clocks of 2.6Ghz vs the latter's 1.7Ghz.

And I need to add to the OP that having different amounts of VRAM are worthless to the majority of GPUs. The GT 630M does not at all benefit from 2GB vs 1GB.
 

Naked Snake

Member
Jun 6, 2004
20,978
0
1,715
41
Amman, Jordan
The 2450M mops up the ULV (ultra low voltage) 3317U pretty handily, with base clocks of 2.6Ghz vs the latter's 1.7Ghz.
Right. For some reason I thought their turbo clocks were very close, and I assumed during gaming they would be running in Turbo most of the time. But now I realize that there is a big gap even in their turbo clocks. And good to know about the extra VRAM being useless.

Anyway it turned out I had the wrong GPU on the first laptop, it's GT 525m (paired with the 2450M), not 630m. Doesn't make much of a difference I reckon, I think just realized the painful truth that you're pretty much splitting hairs (shitty hairs too) at the bottom end.

I'm leaning towards a 3210m + 7670m combo. Even though I usually try to avoid AMD, this laptop is significantly cheaper than the one with 630m.

One final and interesting option is AMD A8-4500M with HD 7640G + 7670M Dual GPU. I know you said to avoid AMD CPUs like the plague, but this particular one is reportedly better for gaming (see this thread), and the Dual GPU / Hybrid Crossfire seems like a great idea on paper, and should outperform the 630m when game/drivers behave, some nice test videos here... although microstutter is scary.

Any thoughts?

It's hard to find reviews/benchmarks for much of these chipsets, I guess because they're relatively new and/or too low-end for reviewers to care.
 

XiaNaphryz

LATIN, MATRIPEDICABUS, DO YOU SPEAK IT
Nov 5, 2005
52,177
0
0
SF Bay Area
OP may also want to note that another advantage to SSDs in a laptop is that there's no need to worry about possible physical damage to the drive resulting from jolts/drops/etc.
 

K.Jack

Knowledge is power, guard it well
Mar 10, 2007
24,187
0
1,140
Right. For some reason I thought their turbo clocks were very close, and I assumed during gaming they would be running in Turbo most of the time. But now I realize that there is a big gap even in their turbo clocks. And good to know about the extra VRAM being useless.

Anyway it turned out I had the wrong GPU on the first laptop, it's GT 525m (paired with the 2450M), not 630m. Doesn't make much of a difference I reckon, I think just realized the painful truth that you're pretty much splitting hairs (shitty hairs too) at the bottom end.

I'm leaning towards a 3210m + 7670m combo. Even though I usually try to avoid AMD, this laptop is significantly cheaper than the one with 630m.

One final and interesting option is AMD A8-4500M with HD 7640G + 7670M Dual GPU. I know you said to avoid AMD CPUs like the plague, but this particular one is reportedly better for gaming (see this thread), and the Dual GPU / Hybrid Crossfire seems like a great idea on paper (and should outperform the 630m)... although microstutter is scary.

Any thoughts?

It's hard to find any reviews/benchmarks for much of these chipsets, I guess because they're relatively new and/or too low-end for reviewers to care.
You aren't too off about the turbo clocks. The i5-3317U would likely hold it's Turbo of 2.4Ghz steadily while gaming, and it may not hold the 630M back significantly.

Funny thing about 525M vs 630M, is that the 630M is just a rebranded 540M, which is itself simply a 525M with higher base clocks. So even if you took the 525M it could easily be overclocked into a 630M.

I'm down with taking the i5 and 7670M combo. Just how cheap is that costing and where did you find it? Link?

The people on Tom's who were hyping the APU were not well informed. AMD's asymmetrical CFX drivers are horrid, and there's very few games where it actually works. When it works you would indeed outperform the 630M, but when it doesn't, you're saddled with a really crappy CPU with no benefits. Thing is, the 7670M is all by itself 20% faster than the 630M, so I'd take that with an i5 and run.

OP may also want to note that another advantage to SSDs in a laptop is that there's no need to worry about possible physical damage to the drive resulting from jolts/drops/etc.
Good idea.
 

Dylan

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Naked Snake

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You aren't too off about the turbo clocks. The i5-3317U would likely hold it's Turbo of 2.4Ghz steadily while gaming, and it may not hold the 630M back significantly.
Now you're yanking my chain! The fewer choices I have to think about, the easier this becomes: p

I read a couple of reviews for this CPU and GPU combo, and impressions were kinda bad, like something was holding the performance back.

I'm down with taking the i5 and 7670M combo. Just how cheap is that costing and where did you find it? Link?
The laptops are $55 apart, but they're different makes (Lenovo and Dell) and I just noticed the higher priced one comes with 6gb RAM vs. 4gb. There might be other notable differences but I don't have the full specs; I jotted down the basics while doing the rounds in brick and mortar stores today. So no link, and I'm in Jordan so it's a different world here.

The people on Tom's who were hyping the APU were not well informed. AMD's asymmetrical CFX drivers are horrid, and there's very few games where it actually works. When it works you would indeed outperform the 630M, but when it doesn't, you're saddled with a really crappy CPU with no benefits. Thing is, the 7670M is all by itself 20% faster than the 630M, so I'd take that with an i5 and run.
7670M it is I guess. I just hope the sales guy didn't make a mistake about that when I asked him what gpu was in there.

Thanks for the help!
 

Tizoc

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@K. Jack, thanks mate, will ask about it during the weekend with various shops. Thing is that Asus is VERY tempting but it doesn't seem to be available in my region >o<.
EDIT: I'll ask what GPU they can provide and check back in the thread with my findings.
 

Naked Snake

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K.Jack, where'd you get that 7670M is 20% faster than the 630M? On game benches I've seen they seemed about equal, with one or the other winning slightly depending on the game.

Also, this is a long shot, but do you have any idea about Nvidia vs. AMD stereoscopic 3D performance on low-end laptop GPUs? I know it might sound crazy to be thinking about 3D with these GPUs, but both actually support it and I think it should be doable on old games in 720p.
 

Swig_

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Can someone explain the whole graphics card switching situation to me? From what I understand, some laptops offer a discreet card for gaming and integrated for normal use and switch between the two. Does this increase battery life? What manufacturers/models offer this? Is it more of a gimmick or is it solid tech that works well?

I'm trying to find a powerful gaming machine that will still give me several hours (4-6 if possible) of use when I'm just browsing the web or using basic apps. It sounds like that would be idea for me.
 

Danj

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I notice that all the laptops in the opening posts are standard screen size (e.g. 15.6") or lower. Are there still options for people looking for a larger screen, or are those dismissed as "get a desktop instead" or "stratospheric price" these days?
 

Danj

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I love my 17" laptop. Plus u can always connect ur laptop to a HDTV if u want a bigger picture.
At the moment I have an Acer Aspire 8942G which I got on a 3-year finance plan back in 2010. So far, it continues to play everything I've asked it to, in full HD resolution, but what with Crysis 3 being just around the corner I've started thinking about what I could do in terms of an upgrade if I end up needing one.

Here's the information the OP says I should post:
Country of purchase: UK
Maximum budget: ~£1400 (as long as it's available from somewhere with monthly finance payment options)
Size: at least 17" 1920x1080 LED backlit screen (my current screen is 18.3")
Usage: it needs to be able to play Crysis 3 at 30fps in 1920x1080.
User category: Student (I'm not actually a student, but of the 4 categories listed this is the one that most closely matches - I don't have a lot of space where I live right now, and I want something I can take to my parents' place at the holidays)
Minimum spec: Ivy Bridge quad core, at least 8GB RAM, whatever discrete GPU is at least DX11 capable and better than a Radeon 5850M

I've noticed that nearly every laptop with a discrete GPU these days is NVIDIA, are we friends with them again even after the 8800GT/bumpgate/renumbering fiascos? I got burned on that which is why I went with a laptop with a Radeon GPU (and touch wood, I don't seem to have experienced the myriad of driver issues which everyone else seems to have with them), is all the badness in the past now and NVIDIA are made of rainbows and unicorns?
 

K.Jack

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K.Jack, where'd you get that 7670M is 20% faster than the 630M? On game benches I've seen they seemed about equal, with one or the other winning slightly depending on the game.

Also, this is a long shot, but do you have any idea about Nvidia vs. AMD stereoscopic 3D performance on low-end laptop GPUs? I know it might sound crazy to be thinking about 3D with these GPUs, but both actually support it and I think it should be doable on old games in 720p.
That figure may have come from some GDDR5 version which doesn't exist anymore. The DDR3 version looks to be pretty tight with the 630M.

3D? I'd expect it to work out for console ports, but you may have to go with low/medium settings.

Hmm I'm using the Lenove site's compare option to check out the Y580-
Should I go with recent or latest generation Intel? ...and is Dynamic Graphics worth getting?
Only the Y470 uses outdated parts, so just ignore that one. Dynamic Graphics is referring to Nvidia Optimus, which turns off the GPU when not in use, lowering usage of power and greatly increasing battery life.

Can someone explain the whole graphics card switching situation to me? From what I understand, some laptops offer a discreet card for gaming and integrated for normal use and switch between the two. Does this increase battery life? What manufacturers/models offer this? Is it more of a gimmick or is it solid tech that works well?

I'm trying to find a powerful gaming machine that will still give me several hours (4-6 if possible) of use when I'm just browsing the web or using basic apps. It sounds like that would be idea for me.
It works exactly as you describe it, and it increasing battery life by hours.

Give your budget and I can tell you what laptops in your range have GPU switching.

I notice that all the laptops in the opening posts are standard screen size (e.g. 15.6") or lower. Are there still options for people looking for a larger screen, or are those dismissed as "get a desktop instead" or "stratospheric price" these days?
I personally love 17" gaming laptops. I own one myself, and will never go back to something smaller.

I still need to continue adding non-15" laptops under each section, which I'm doing now. The $1200+ the most.
At the moment I have an Acer Aspire 8942G which I got on a 3-year finance plan back in 2010. So far, it continues to play everything I've asked it to, in full HD resolution, but what with Crysis 3 being just around the corner I've started thinking about what I could do in terms of an upgrade if I end up needing one.

Here's the information the OP says I should post:
Country of purchase: UK
Maximum budget: ~£1400 (as long as it's available from somewhere with monthly finance payment options)
Size: at least 17" 1920x1080 LED backlit screen (my current screen is 18.3")
Usage: it needs to be able to play Crysis 3 at 30fps in 1920x1080.
User category: Student (I'm not actually a student, but of the 4 categories listed this is the one that most closely matches - I don't have a lot of space where I live right now, and I want something I can take to my parents' place at the holidays)
Minimum spec: Ivy Bridge quad core, at least 8GB RAM, whatever discrete GPU is at least DX11 capable and better than a Radeon 5850M

I've noticed that nearly every laptop with a discrete GPU these days is NVIDIA, are we friends with them again even after the 8800GT/bumpgate/renumbering fiascos? I got burned on that which is why I went with a laptop with a Radeon GPU (and touch wood, I don't seem to have experienced the myriad of driver issues which everyone else seems to have with them), is all the badness in the past now and NVIDIA are made of rainbows and unicorns?
First, the Nvidia thing. Yes, we are friends with Nvidia again. Not close, but we've made up over that mess from a few years ago. Why? Because they've really become ultra reliable and AMD really dropped the ball on their first implementation of switchable graphics, called Enduro. They're fixing it with each new driver update, but the situation has really driven home with a lot of people that Nvidia leads AMD by a good distance right now. Of course, people were too quick to forget the HORROR which was Nvidia's first version of Optimus. But Optimus 2.0 is rock solid, while Enduro is still just getting there. That's one thing to consider, when choosing between the 7970M and the Nvidia options. But I'm in the same boat as you, because I've ha next to zero issues in the 1.5 years I've had the 6970M. It's been smooth sailing with AMD's drivers.

Now, I have the perfect laptop for you. 17.3" Vortex III from PC Specialist. PCS are one of the Clevo resellers I mentioned in the OP. Fully customizable, and they are one of the only sellers that finance.

My recommended upgrades and things to discuss:

CPU: i7-3630QM
RAM: 8GB Samsung 1600MHz (2x4GB)
GPU: do you want Nvidia or AMD?
HDD1: SSD for boot drive?
HDD2: HDD for bulk storage?

Take a look at it, mess around with the Configurator, and let me know what you think. You have a lot of room to play with, before you reach ~£1400.
 

Danj

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Now, I have the perfect laptop for you. 17.3" Vortex III from PC Specialist. PCS are one of the Clevo resellers I mentioned in the OP. Fully customizable, and they are one of the only sellers that finance.

My recommended upgrades and things to discuss:

CPU: i7-3630QM
RAM: 8GB Samsung 1600MHz (2x4GB)
GPU: do you want Nvidia or AMD?
HDD1: SSD for boot drive?
HDD2: HDD for bulk storage?

Take a look at it, mess around with the Configurator, and let me know what you think. You have a lot of room to play with, before you reach ~£1400.
I like the range of available options. I like that I can pick all the stuff on my wishlist and it's still reasonably priced. I like the generous finance terms (better than what PC World/Currys are offering, which is where I got my last one). I like that I can still choose to have Windows 7 on it. But why does it have to look like a blocky oversized Dell Latitude? :(

Other, slightly more relevant questions:
  • Are there some in-depth examination articles about the Nvidia GPUs listed on that list somewhere? I'd feel more comfortable about choosing an Nvidia GPU if there was something on a well-respected site like Tom's Hardware or Anandtech saying "it's okay to get this GPU, it doesn't suck because this that and the other".
  • Are there some comparison benchmarks for the GPUs? Both in terms of performance and in terms of TDP - because if there's not much between them in performance, I'd take the one with the lower TDP.
  • SSD boot drive with secondary high capacity HDD seems like a common configuration these days, so it sounds pretty sensible to go with that; does Steam have a properly officially supported alternate installation folder function yet? I remember hearing it was in beta. Or can I just install the whole Steam folder to D: or whatever?
  • Is there any truth to the rumours I've heard about the WD Scorpio Blue drives? I.E. that they have a whole bunch of annoying power saving features that really put the kibosh on performance and can even cause problems with certain games.
  • Will games actually start needing/using the enormous amounts of GPU memory on offer? Will Crysis 3 actually be able to make use of that 4GB of graphics memory on some of those Nvidia options?
 

Tizoc

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K.Jack said:
Dynamic Graphics is referring to Nvidia Optimus, which turns off the GPU when not in use, lowering usage of power and greatly increasing battery life.
Oh so when I'm not playing games and just using my laptop for say watching videos or the internet, the GPU doesn't use up a lot ofpower then? Sounds cool, but will it affect the themes or video quality of stuff I watch, etc.?
 

Danj

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Oh so when I'm not playing games and just using my laptop for say watching videos or the internet, the GPU doesn't use up a lot ofpower then? Sounds cool, but will it affect the themes or video quality of stuff I watch, etc.?
Intel GPUs may be shit for games but they are well capable of playing back video etc. with no sweat. Basically what happens is when you're not playing games it uses the CPU's built in Intel GPU, and then that gets switched over to the Nvidia discrete GPU for games.
 

K.Jack

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Oh so when I'm not playing games and just using my laptop for say watching videos or the internet, the GPU doesn't use up a lot ofpower then? Sounds cool, but will it affect the themes or video quality of stuff I watch, etc.?
Won't be a problem, because the HD 4000 is pretty potent for an iGPU.

I like the range of available options. I like that I can pick all the stuff on my wishlist and it's still reasonably priced. I like the generous finance terms (better than what PC World/Currys are offering, which is where I got my last one). I like that I can still choose to have Windows 7 on it. But why does it have to look like a blocky oversized Dell Latitude? :(

Other, slightly more relevant questions:
  • Are there some in-depth examination articles about the Nvidia GPUs listed on that list somewhere? I'd feel more comfortable about choosing an Nvidia GPU if there was something on a well-respected site like Tom's Hardware or Anandtech saying "it's okay to get this GPU, it doesn't suck because this that and the other".
  • Are there some comparison benchmarks for the GPUs? Both in terms of performance and in terms of TDP - because if there's not much between them in performance, I'd take the one with the lower TDP.
  • SSD boot drive with secondary high capacity HDD seems like a common configuration these days, so it sounds pretty sensible to go with that; does Steam have a properly officially supported alternate installation folder function yet? I remember hearing it was in beta. Or can I just install the whole Steam folder to D: or whatever?
  • Is there any truth to the rumours I've heard about the WD Scorpio Blue drives? I.E. that they have a whole bunch of annoying power saving features that really put the kibosh on performance and can even cause problems with certain games.
  • Will games actually start needing/using the enormous amounts of GPU memory on offer? Will Crysis 3 actually be able to make use of that 4GB of graphics memory on some of those Nvidia options?
Yes, the completely pedestrian looks are the tradeoff with Clevo. Now's a good time to note that the Alienware M17x is an option . It'll run about ~£1,500 with everything at stock except the 7970M and 1080p LCD upgrades.

On to your questions:

  1. GPUs: Well the 670MX and 675MX are still too new to expect in depth professional reviews (check out the hyperlinks to Notebookcheck though), but Anandtech has a few GTX 680M related articles: Clevo P170EM GTX 680M vs 7970M Grudge Match and Alienware M17x R4 GTX 680M Review.
  2. SSDs: Steam now allow us to choose which drive games install to, so you can spread the load across multiple drives as you see fit.
  3. Scorpios: I have no clue. I don't keep up on that tech.
  4. VRAM: It'll be nice to have, but I don't see 4GB of VRAM ever being utilized, unless the next-gen consoles really do push hardware requirements beyond what we're expecting.
 

Swig_

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It works exactly as you describe it, and it increasing battery life by hours.

Give your budget and I can tell you what laptops in your range have GPU switching.
Maybe around $1000 USD.. possibly more if I need to, but the max would probably be around $1500 and I'd like to stay as low as possible. I've mostly been looking at the ASUS RoG series (I have an older one now.. the G50VT-X1, it's nearly 5 years old and has been a great machine). Including the G55VW and G46VW. I know that these would probably have worse battery life than other options. Also considered the Lenovo Y580 (does that sound right? not sure on the model#).

I actually considered the Zenbook Prime with a discreet graphics card, but I'm afraid it won't perform as well as I would like.

I do realize that there's a balance of battery life/performance and that I'll probably have to sacrifice one for the other, depending on my options.


Another quick question.. Like I said, I was considering the G46VW. I realize they don't yet offer a 1080 model. If they do release one, would the 1080 model have worse battery life or is that really not a factor I need to worry about?
 

Yopis

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Thanks for all the help in the past kjack. Awesome thread will hang here from time to time.
 

Neckbeard

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Awesome new thread, thanks kjack!

Question...

I just received my y580. I can't tell how the HDDs are formatted. Is there a guide somewhere describing how to upgrade the ssd?
 
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