Ahoy! So I'm looking for a laptop to use to spend my free time between classes next semester.
I actually only have 6 classes left before I graduate, and none of them really require a laptop, but I'm used to having a laptop for various things.
I program/draw/develop 2D amateur video games, and I like to chat on IRC + browse forums and stuff simultaneously. Or watch an internet video stream while playing minecraft/terraria in a window. The last laptop I had had a 1680x1050 screen resolution; I wouldn't go any lower, but since laptops all have 16:9 resolutions now this means full HD 1920x1080. (My desktop monitor is 2048x1152 and I use all of it)
I play a lot of 3D games; I used to play World of Warcraft and these days I play League of Legends and Portal 2. I'll definitely want to play Guild Wars 2 when it comes out.
I will buy a separate SSD hard drive, most likely the 120gb intel SATA3 model.
I also wouldn't mind buying additional ram for a laptop that comes with only 4gb.
So, the tech specs I watch for are:
Screen: Full HD 1920x1080 screen resolution is a must. I'll consider 15.4 inches and 17 inches models, but I have good eyes, so it's more about the extra weight and extra hardware that comes with it.
Processor: I could live with anything but at the price range I'm aiming for, an i7 @ 2 ghz would make more sense.
Video card: This is where I'm really undecided. Price isn't the issue here; it's really a question of balancing weight/portability vs gaming capabilities. My old laptop had a geforce 8400, which I found barely acceptable at the time; I've played through Borderlands on it and it was just on the edge of being playable. On the other hand, most multiplayer / social games have been running great with no issues at all (League of Legends, Team Fortress 2, Starcraft 2, Minecraft, World of Warcraft just to name a few). I've looked at currently available cards on the market and it seems that the GeForce 525m, 540m and 550m are all awfully similar in terms of performance (they're all basically the same chip with minor clock differences), with the 460m way up ahead. The GeForce 555 seems to be halfway between the two groups. TLDR: Geforce 525 seems to be decent enough, but a 460m wouldn't go to waste.
Weight: I've carried an 15.4 inches laptop to school for 4 years. It broke, I'm using my parent's netbook as a replacement for now and I really enjoy how light it is. So, I do look at how heavy laptops are.
Memory: Not an issue, if only because I'll buy more separately if it has 4gb or less.
Hard drive: having physical space and slots to add an SSD without taking out the original hard drive would be nice but not required. I have a desktop PC at home with plenty of free space, so I can live with 120gb.
Price: I'm a software engineering student, I live at my parent's place so I have no expenses, I use computers all the time, so my budget here is 1800$ CAD. That's including taxes and an expensive SSD.
Battery: I almost never used my old laptop's battery and would prefer a lighter laptop with less battery life vs a heavier laptop with more battery life.
So, let's see what our options are here...
Here's the laptops I could find that can be bought in Canada from online retailers:
Dell XPS 15:
For 1150$ CAD, I get a core i7 2ghz with a GeForce 540m and 4gb of ram.
Weight: Starting weight of 5.96lbs (2.70kg) with 6-cell battery; 6.33lbs (2.87kg) with 9-cell battery
Dell XPS 17:
For 1250$ CAD, I get a core i7 2ghz with a GeForce 555m and 6gb of ram.
Weight: Starting at 3.36kg / 7.41lbs (with 6-cell battery); 3.53kg/ 7.79lbs (with 9-cell battery)
(they require the 9-cell battery for the GeForce 555m. At this point I'm better off with the 17.3" Asus model, I think.)
Dell XPS 15z:
For 1100$ CAD, I get a core i5 2.3ghz with a GeForce 525m and 6gb of ram.
Starting at Weights
Starting at 5.54lbs (2.51 kg)
(Significantly less powerful, but also significantly lighter than anything else. Maybe the build quality is good? I can get an i7 2.7ghz version with 8gb of ram for $1400, is it worth it?)
ASUS N53 Series N53SV-XV1 Notebook Intel Core i7 2630QM(2.00GHz) 15.6" 4GB Memory DDR3 1333 500GB HDD 7200rpm DVD Super Multi NVIDIA GeForce GT 540M w/ NVIDIA Optimus
Weight: 6.4 lbshttp://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16834220996
ASUS G Series G53SW-XN1 Notebook Intel Core i7 2630QM(2.00GHz) 15.6" 6GB Memory 500GB HDD 7200rpm DVD Super Multi NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460M
Weight 7.90 lbs.
(What's the point? The 17" is the same weight with a significantly bigger screen)
ASUS G Series G73SW-XN2 Notebook Intel Core i7 2630QM(2.00GHz) 17.3" 8GB Memory DDR3 1333 500GB HDD 7200rpm DVD Super Multi NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460M
Weight 8.00 lbs.
And here's a few more which I can't get but are listed for comparison purposes:
MSI GT680R-008US Notebook Intel Core i7 2630QM(2.00GHz) 15.6" 8GB Memory 1TB HDD 7200rpm DVD Super Multi NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460M
Weight 7.7 lbs.
(Too expensive. Quite heavy for 15.6")
Alienware 17 inches: Starts at $1650
Weight: Starting at 5.3kg* (11.68 pounds)
(Woah that thing is ridiculously heavy)
Macbook pro 15-inch:
For $2250, I get 2.2GHz quad-core, Intel Core i7, 4GB 1333MHz, 750GB 5400-rpm, Intel HD Graphics 3000, AMD Radeon HD 6750M with 1GB GDDR5
Weight: 5.6 pounds (2.54 kg)
(Only goes up to 1680x1050. Ridiculously light for the processor and video card it has! I wish I could get one.)
Macbook pro 17-inch:
For $2500, same specs, 1920x1200
Weight: 6.6 pounds (2.99 kg)
So, basically: the two extremes are the Dell XPS 15z for light and portable and a 17.3" Asus for heavy but powerful. Both are tempting, for different reasons. I can't decide
If anyone has recommendations, links or can comment on the build quality of any laptop with full HD screens, please tell.