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Budget Notebook Advice

ragnarok7331ragnarok7331 Registered User regular
My 3 year old laptop recently died on me, and since I repairing it might cost more than it is worth, I have been looking into getting a new laptop. I primarily use my laptop for surfing the internet and certain fairly low-requirement games. I want it to be able to run games like Diablo 2/3, Starcraft 2, Civilization 4, etc. I have no need to play games like Crysis on it. Pricewise, I would like to stay around 400-600 dollars, but I am willing to pay more if it would give me a dramatic improvement.

Currently the one that I am looking at is found here on newegg:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16834115536

Below are the specs for the laptop:
Model
Brand Acer
Series Extensa
Model EX4630-4922
Part# LX.EBS0X.023
General
Operating System Windows Vista Home Premium
CPU Type Intel Pentium dual-core T3400(2.16GHz)
Screen 14.1" WXGA
Memory Size 2GB DDR2
Hard Disk 160GB
Optical Drive DVD Super Multi
Graphics Card Intel GMA 4500M
Video Memory shared memory
Communication Modem, Gigabit LAN and WLAN
Card slot 1 x Type I/II PC Card Slot
Dimensions 13.3" x 9.7" x 1.2-1.6"
Weight 5.3 lbs.
CPU
CPU Type Intel Pentium dual-core
CPU Speed T3400(2.16GHz)
CPU FSB 667MHz
CPU L2 Cache 1MB
Chipset
Chipset Intel GL40
Display
Screen Size 14.1"
Wide Screen Support Yes
LCD Features Glare
Display Type Wide XGA
Operating Systems
Operating System Windows Vista Home Premium
Graphics
GPU/VPU Intel GMA 4500M
Video Memory Shared system memory
Graphic Type Integrated Card
Hard Drive
HDD 160GB
Memory
Memory Speed DDR2 667
Memory 2GB
Optical Drive
Optical Drive Type DVD Super Multi
Optical Drive Interface Integrated
Communications
Modem 56K
LAN 10/100/1000Mbps
WLAN 802.11b/g/Draft-N WLAN
Ports
Card Slot 1 x Type I/II PC Card Slot
USB 2
Video Port 1 x VGA
Audio Ports Yes
Audio
Audio Integrated Sound card
Speaker Internal Speakers
Input Device
Touchpad Yes
Keyboard Standard
Supplemental Drive
Card Reader 5-in-1 card reader for optional MultiMediaCard, Secure Digital card, Memory Stick, Memory Stick PRO or xD-Picture Card
Webcam Yes
Power
Battery 6-cell lithium ion
Physical spec
Dimensions 13.3" x 9.7" x 1.2-1.6"
Weight 5.3 lbs.
Manufacturer Warranty
Parts 1 year limited
Labor 1 year limited

The one concern I have about the laptop is the small screen size - does anyone have any experience with a 14.1" laptop monitor? Otherwise, it looks like a good laptop for the price (almost too good, actually). Does anyone have any suggestions or advice regarding this laptop or others at a comparable price?

ragnarok7331 on

Posts

  • wunderbarwunderbar What Have I Done? Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    I will stop you right there and tell you that you won't be playing very many games on that laptop because of the integrated graphics card, especially since you talk specifically about civ4 and starcraft 2. the GMA 4500 integrated solution will not cut it.

    If you want to do any kind of gaming at all you really should look for a notebook with a dedicated graphics card.

    wunderbar on
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  • ragnarok7331ragnarok7331 Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    Thanks for pointing that out to me. I was hoping that for somewhat low-requirement games, the onboard graphics would be enough. However, if I do want something that will play these games smoothly, it's probably worth investing some extra money into it if it'll last me a while.

    How does this one sound?

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16834152094
    Model
    Brand MSI
    Model GX710-280A
    Part# 9S7-171A86-1W7
    General
    Operating System Windows Vista Home Premium
    CPU Type AMD Turion 64 X2 TL-66 2.3G
    Screen 17" WSXGA+
    Memory Size 4GB
    Hard Disk 320GB
    Optical Drive DVD Super Multi
    Graphics Card ATI Mobility Radeon HD 2600
    Video Memory 512MB
    Communication Modem, Gigabit LAN and WLAN
    Card slot 1 x Express Card
    Dimensions 15.55" x 10.94" x 1.04 - 1.38"
    Weight 7.5 lbs.
    CPU
    CPU Type AMD Turion 64 X2
    CPU Speed TL-66(2.30GHz)
    CPU L2 Cache 1MB
    Display
    Screen Size 17.0"
    Wide Screen Support Yes
    LCD Features ACV (Amazing Crystal Vision)
    Display Type Wide SXGA+
    Resolution 1680 x 1050
    Operating Systems
    Operating System Windows Vista Home Premium
    Graphics
    GPU/VPU ATI Mobility Radeon HD 2600
    Video Memory Dedicated 512MB
    Graphic Type Dedicated Card
    Hard Drive
    HDD 320GB
    HD Interface SATA
    Memory
    Memory 4GB
    Max Memory Supported 4GB
    Optical Drive
    Optical Drive Type DVD Super Multi
    Optical Drive Interface Integrated
    Communications
    Modem 56K
    LAN 10/100/1000Mbps
    WLAN 802.11b/g Wireless LAN
    Bluetooth Yes
    Ports
    Card Slot 1 x Express Card
    USB 3
    IEEE 1394 1
    Video Port 1 x VGA, 1 x HDMI
    Audio Ports 1 x Mic-in Port
    1 x Line-in Port
    1 x Headphone Output
    Audio
    Audio SoundBlaster Compatible
    Speaker Internal Speaker x 4 + 1 Subwoofer
    Input Device
    Touchpad Yes
    Keyboard Standard
    Supplemental Drive
    Card Reader 4-in-1 Card Reader, SD/MMC/MS/XD
    Webcam 1.3MP
    Power
    AC Adapter Output: 19V DC, 90W / Input: 100~ 240V AC, 50/60Hz Universal
    Battery 6-cell lithium ion
    Physical spec
    Dimensions 15.55" x 10.94" x 1.04 - 1.38"
    Weight 7.5 lbs.
    Manufacturer Warranty
    Parts 1 year limited
    Labor 1 year limited

    The one big problem that stands out for me is that it has 4 gigs of ram + .5 gigs on the video card, but only a 32 bit OS so I won't be able to use it all. So I also looked at a couple other models that cost $100 more.

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16834220459
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16834115506

    Weight really isn't a concern for me, but a decent screen size always helps, and I'm not sure about which graphics cards/processors are the best bang for your buck nowadays. Would either one of these computers be worth the extra hundred dollars? I have a copy of xp 64 lying around so I can get around the limitations of the 32 bit OS (or just wait for Windows 7 and buy a 64 bit version of that).

    ragnarok7331 on
  • RuddurBallRuddurBall Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    Since it comes with Windows Vista, you can just call Microsoft with your software key and get a free version of Vista 64. The version you buy from the store actually comes with both in the box. Since you have an OEM version, I think they charge you 5-10$ for the upgrade CD, but I'm not sure of that.

    RuddurBall on
  • ImprovoloneImprovolone Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    14'' is a small laptop?
    erm, kay...

    I have a 9'' screen on mine and its fine. My old laptop was 14'' and its huge. I wouldn't worry about screen size.

    Improvolone on
    Voice actor for hire. My time is free if your project is!
  • ragnarok7331ragnarok7331 Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    Since it comes with Windows Vista, you can just call Microsoft with your software key and get a free version of Vista 64. The version you buy from the store actually comes with both in the box. Since you have an OEM version, I think they charge you 5-10$ for the upgrade CD, but I'm not sure of that.

    I didn't know you could do that with Vista. Thanks!
    14'' is a small laptop?
    erm, kay...

    I have a 9'' screen on mine and its fine. My old laptop was 14'' and its huge. I wouldn't worry about screen size.

    My old laptop has a 17 inch widescreen, and my desktop uses a 17 inch monitor, so I am used to 17 inch screens. For internet surfing and word processing screen size isn't a huge deal, but since I enjoy strategy games, larger screens do help.

    What do people think about the laptops I posted?

    ragnarok7331 on
  • OremLKOremLK Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    The graphics are better on the second one, but I doubt it would be up to playing Diablo 3 and Starcraft 2. If you want to play newer mainstream PC games for that price, you're going to need to get a desktop. Otherwise accept the fact that you will be limited to older games and indie 2D stuff.

    OremLK on
  • ragnarok7331ragnarok7331 Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    My hope has been that Blizzard games will tend to have fairly low requirements for their day, to make it accessible to as many people as possible.

    What does everyone think of this one? It seems like an amazing deal, and so far I haven't found anything wrong with it except maybe only having a WXGA screen.

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16834115550
    Model
    Brand Acer
    Series Aspire
    Model AS6530-5143
    General
    Operating System Windows Vista Home Premium 64-bit
    CPU Type AMD Turion X2 RM-70(2.0GHz)
    Screen 16" WXGA
    Memory Size 4GB DDR2
    Hard Disk 320GB
    Optical Drive DVD Super Multi
    Graphics Card ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3650
    Video Memory 512MB
    Communication Modem, Gigabit LAN and WLAN
    Card slot 1 x Expresscard Type 54
    Dimensions 15.7" x 11.5" x 1.6-1.7"
    Weight 7.71 lbs.
    CPU
    CPU Type AMD Turion X2
    CPU Speed RM-70(2.00GHz)
    CPU L2 Cache 1MB
    Display
    Screen Size 16"
    Wide Screen Support Yes
    LCD Features Acer CineCrystal TFT LCD
    Display Type Wide XGA
    Resolution 1366 x 768
    Operating Systems
    Operating System Windows Vista Home Premium 64-bit
    Graphics
    GPU/VPU ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3650
    Video Memory up to 2304MB of HyperMemory (512MB of Dedicated DDR2 Memory)
    Graphic Type Dedicated Card
    Hard Drive
    HDD 320GB
    HD RPM 5400rpm
    HD Interface SATA
    Memory
    Memory Speed DDR2 667
    Memory 4GB
    Memory Spec 2GB x 2
    Optical Drive
    Optical Drive Type DVD Super Multi
    Optical Drive Interface Integrated
    Communications
    Modem V.92 56K
    LAN 10/100/1000Mbps
    WLAN 802.11b/g/Draft-N WLAN
    Ports
    Card Slot 1 x Expresscard Type 54
    USB 3
    Video Port 1 x VGA, 1 x HDMI
    Audio Ports Yes
    Audio
    Audio Integrated Sound card
    Speaker Internal Speakers
    Input Device
    Touchpad Yes
    Keyboard Standard
    Supplemental Drive
    Card Reader 5-in-1 card reader for optional MultiMediaCard, Secure Digital card, Memory Stick, Memory Stick PRO or xD-Picture Card
    Webcam Yes
    Power
    Battery 8-cell lithium ion
    Physical spec
    Dimensions 15.7" x 11.5" x 1.6-1.7"
    Weight 7.71 lbs.

    ragnarok7331 on
  • warmepwarmep Registered User
    edited February 2009
    Mobility 3650 is a class 2 GPU so it should be fine for light gaming.

    warmep on
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
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  • FremFrem Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    I fully intend to be playing StarCraft II on an Intel X3100. It is Blizzard, you know. Their games have never been particularly demanding. :wink:

    The X3100 also seemed to run the Civ 4 demo at an a playable (if rather low) framerate. The X4500 is an update of this and supposedly noticeably faster. If you can stand 800x600 resolution with everything on low, a lot of older games are quite playable.

    Note that we're also talking about the difference between an integrated card and a discrete card. The discrete ATi card is going to run games a lot better, but you'll get substantially less battery life. Though the battery is an 8 cell, so [random estimate] you should get at least four hours or so.

    Frem on
  • OremLKOremLK Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    But even WoW has a really hard time on an X3100. You have to run it on near minimum settings to even get a playable frame rate, don't you? And that's a lot older of a game.

    OremLK on
  • corcorigancorcorigan Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    I've just been running Civ4 on a GMA950 at 1920x1200 without any issues (excluding it not playing nice with Windows 7). Was a bit choppy, but it's not exactly a fast-paced shooter is it?

    corcorigan on
    Ad Astra Per Aspera
  • OremLKOremLK Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    Well, speaking of Blizzard games, after a little research it appears the X3100 can run WoW at low to medium settings with barely playable frame rates. Considering WoW is a five-year-old game, I wouldn't expect to be able to play SC2 and Diable 3 at all, but who knows.

    OremLK on
  • FremFrem Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    Barely playable? Most people I've seen online claim to be getting ~30 FPS in WoW.

    Blizzard has been really good about making fairly scalable games in the past. The min specs for WarCraft III involved a 8MB 3D video card and a 400MHz pII processor, and that was in 2002, two years after the Pentium 4 was introduced and the same year the GeForce 4 came out.

    Frem on
  • OremLKOremLK Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    As far as I'm concerned averaging below 30fps in a game like WoW is barely playable. Reason being, at the times when it really counts, like large-scale raids, frame rates will often be much lower than the average because there will be a lot more shit going on.

    But what I've heard is that the X3100 typically nets you more in the low 20s FPS-wise. For me, that would be unacceptable even in Crysis, which demands lower frame rates because it has motion blur. Without motion blur you need a lot higher FPS to play without hiccups.

    How much do you want to bet that Diablo 3 and Starcraft 2 will be much more demanding than WoW, in any case?

    OremLK on
  • FremFrem Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    From what I've read, it's normally 20FPS if you've got the graphical settings turned to medium and a resolution higher than 800x600. With everything on low, it should be faster than that. Providing there you don't go on massive raids, yes.


    Re: Starcraft II

    http://www.starcraftwire.net/articles/comments/starcraft-2-system-requirements

    They mention the GeForce FX cards, which are reasonably low end and close enough to the X3100 in terms of performance for me to be optimistic.

    Edit: Sorry, wrong link. http://www.starcraftwire.net/articles/comments/starcraft-2-graphics-requirements-confirmed

    Frem on
  • ragnarok7331ragnarok7331 Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    Thank you guys for the help. I ended up grabbing this laptop: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16834114631

    It's a little more expensive than the Acer one (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16834115550) but I think the superior processor and the lighter weight make it worth the extra 50 bucks.

    ragnarok7331 on
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