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So I'm going to Japan for a year, and I'd like some computer advice since I can't take my current rig with me. First, though, I figure it'd be a good idea to outline what I do and what I'd like.
I'm a Japanese major who studies game content creation and web development on the side. I'm looking into a laptop to a) allow me to work more effectively away from home, whether at university or at a friend's place, and b) to give me something to do on long plane / shinkansen trips. Applications I use the most are Maya, Photoshop, ConTEXT, and Office (mostly Word, Excel and Outlook). I don't play many games on my PC, but I'd like to enter the next Make Something Unreal contest so a rig that can run UT3 would be quite attractive.
Macs are out of the question, no matter how sexy the hardware - I hate the Japanese IME (Kotoeri) on OS X.
I can see two main options
a) A mobile workstation. I can get a HP nw9440 for $3951 AUD - it's a 2.16ghz Core 2 Duo with a Quadro FX1500M (professional equivalent of a Geforce Go 7900GS), is fairly light (3.4kg) and has surprisingly good battery life (3-4h) and expandability (it's a business laptop, so the full line of HP bolt-on batteries work with it).
- Portability - I can take it with me and work wherever I go
- Power - Runs off a 125w power adapter, so it's cheaper to run; also, I can mooch electricity from uni
- It's a light 17", but it's still a 17" - sure I can take it with me, but bags will be a problem (looking at a STM Large Loop) and 3.4kg is actually kinda heavy
- Not that powerful - I mean, sure the GPU's about 25% faster than my 6800 Ultra, but DX10 cards look at this and laugh long and hard
b) A cheap and light laptop now, and a self-assembled 8800GTX system when I get there.
- Best of both worlds? Kinda?
- Best-in-class 3D performance from the 8800
- Compartmentalised use cases - I can do web stuff with the laptop, but I'll only be able to do 3D at home
- Security - I'm planning on taking time off uni for the next winter Comiket, and I'm uneasy about leaving a 8800GTX system all alone in a uni dorm for a few days
- Power - i'm fairly sure i'm going to need a hefty power supply for that 8800
- Hard to take back - I'll probably have to disassemble the rig, sell the case and box everything else up to take home in my luggage
Pricing: (bolded figures indicate purchase price point) HP nw9440: $3951 AUD (391149yen)
8800-based system (w/o monitor): 228540yen ($2308 AUD)
(monitor price not included since i'll have to get one to act as a TV display regardless of what option i choose)
VAIO Type C (13.3"): 174800yen (1.66ghz c2d, Intel GMA950, 1gb ram), 239800yen (2ghz c2d, 7400Go, 2gb ram)
What this means is that Option B is more expensive by a little if I get a GMA950-powered laptop (12191yen, $123 AUD) and a lot if I get a Go7400-powered laptop (77191yen, $779 AUD).
Detailed Prices/Specs: HP nw9440: - $3951 AUD (391149yen)
CPU: Core 2 Duo T7400 (2.13GHz, 667MHz)
Display: 17" WUXGA+ (1920x1200)
Memory: 1 x 1GB (667MHz)
Hard drive: 100GB 7200rpm
Optical drive: DVD+/-RW
Graphics: 256MB NVIDIA Quadro FX 1500M (GDDR III memory)
Self-assembled 8800GTX system (inc. part prices) - 228540yen ($2308.48 AUD)
CPU: Core 2 Duo E6420 (2.13GHz, 4mb L2 cache) - 25800yen ($260.61 AUD)
Motherboard: Asus P5N32-E-PLUS SLI (nForce 680i SLI) - 28980yen ($292.73 AUD)
Memory: UMAX Pulsar DCDDR-2-2gb-800 (2x1gb) - 23800yen ($240.40 AUD) - i may end up buying some ram here and taking it over since i can't find ocz or corsair in any of the online japanese stores
Hard drive: WD Raptor (74gb) - 10800yen ($109.09 AUD)
Optical drive: Asus SATA 18x DVDRW (DRW-1814BLT) - 4580yen ($46.26 AUD)
Graphics: ELSA Gladiac 988GTX 768mb (8800GTX) - 92800yen ($937.37 AUD)
Power Supply: INFINITY EIN720AWT (720w) - 28800yen ($290.91 AUD)
Case: Chieftec BX-03B-B-B/WOPS - 12980yen ($131.11 AUD)
VAIO Type C (GMA950) - 174800yen ($1765.66 AUD)
CPU: Core 2 Duo T5500 (1.66 GHz)
Memory: 1GB (512MBx2)
Hard drive: ~100gb
Optical drive: DVD+/-RW
Graphics: Intel GMA 950
VAIO Type C (Go7400) - 239800yen ($2422.22 AUD)
CPU: Core 2 Duo T7200 (2.00 GHz)
Memory: 2GB (2GBx2)
Hard drive: ~120gb
Optical drive: DVD+/-RW
Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce Go 7400 GPU
So yeah. Any advice you guys could give me would be greatly appreciated.