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Laptop build questions for East or others

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Laptop build questions for East or others

Post  Iago on Sat Jul 30, 2011 5:38 am

I am getting closer to the new laptop, and I am sticking with that model for now unless something better magically appears in the next couple of weeks. I was hoping to keep the build to the $3000 range, but it keeps pushing $4000 instead, including operating system and Microsoft Office (which does not appear any cheaper on Amazon than it does to just have them preinstall it.) The question where it is best to spend the money. Currently I have it configured with two 580GTX cards in Sli, with the basic i7-960 for a processor and two 7200rpm 500GB drives, and 12GB of RAM. The question is, would I be better off dropping to a single video card and spending the money instead on either upgrading the processor or putting a solid-state drive in for the OS? The 970 is $300 more, while the 990x extreme edition is nearly $800 more. Similarly, a 120GB solid state drive is $260 more (510 series), and a 250GB is $560 more (again for the 510 series.) So where will I get the most bang for my buck? I am a hardcore gamer who wants to maximize performance and graphics, but this will be a true desktop replacement that I will be using for purposes like Photoshop.

Looking at the SLi vs. a soldi state drive . . . Those 580m cards look pretty potent, and even one of them will be an insane upgrade from what I have now (a single 9800m in my laptop and dual 6800s in my desktop!) However, as far as gaming goes, I think that I would probably be willing to trade off longer load times for an even better frame rate. On the other hand, what would the payoff with the SSD be for non-gaming purposes? And what difference will I get with the processors?
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Re: Laptop build questions for East or others

Post  East on Sat Jul 30, 2011 10:51 am

I would get the best video array available and skimp on the cpu, ram, hard drive, optical drive etc if price is a concern. They are all things that can be easily upgraded down the road. However if you do not purchase the video cards now they will be very hard to find and if you decide you want them later and if the manufacture can still get them sending it in for the upgrade will probably be more expensive then just purchasing them up front.

The performance of most modern games is determined almost solely by your video card. Most games are happy with 4-8gb of ram and any i7 cpu.

Also if you already have a copy of windows 7 you may want to see if you can order it with no operating system.
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Re: Laptop build questions for East or others

Post  Iago on Sat Jul 30, 2011 12:22 pm

You can order it without Windows 7 -- in fact, the configuration screen defaults to no operating system installed. However, I do not have Windows 7; my old laptop has Vista.

Thanks. I was leaning more toward the dual cards, but was having some last minute doubts.
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Re: Laptop build questions for East or others

Post  Seamaster on Mon Aug 01, 2011 2:48 pm

I agree. You can upgrade RAM and hard drive easily down the road, and overall CPU speed is not as important as it used to be. A solid-state hard drive is nice, but I still think they're too costly. The only reason to consider against an SLI setup is if you won't be able to take advantage of the horsepower. For example, you mentioned that you wouldn't be using an external monitor, which means you are limited to the native resolution of the display that comes with the laptop. What resolution will you be running?

To save costs on Office, does your work offer software through an employee purchase program? As an example, I can pick up Office for $30 if purchased through my work. If my work has an agreement with Microsoft, there's a good chance Pepsi does too.
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Re: Laptop build questions for East or others

Post  Iago on Mon Aug 01, 2011 6:15 pm

Pepsi might, but I do not think that Bernicks does.

I am going to get 1920x1080.
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Re: Laptop build questions for East or others

Post  Seamaster on Tue Aug 02, 2011 10:19 am

Well, might as well get that SLI setup. At least then you won't second-guess yourself post-purchase.
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Re: Laptop build questions for East or others

Post  ethelred on Wed Aug 03, 2011 8:34 am

I have had 2 DTR's ( one Voodoo and one Dell), both plagued by heat problems. My advice would be to do anything that will reduce heat generation. If the resulting level of performance is less than what you are looking for, then I would stick to a desktop for gaming.
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Re: Laptop build questions for East or others

Post  Seamaster on Thu Aug 04, 2011 9:16 am

Good point, ethelred.
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Re: Laptop build questions for East or others

Post  Iago on Thu Aug 04, 2011 1:28 pm

The chassis based on that Clevo platform are rather large and have multiple internal fans. I am also getting a cooler to be safe, and upgrading to the best thermal paste that I can get on the thing. The problem if I get a desktop is that I will still want another laptop. I would rather just get one new computer.
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Re: Laptop build questions for East or others

Post  Seamaster on Thu Aug 04, 2011 3:43 pm

Thermal paste is only one part of the equation. Are they upgrading to a better heat sink as well (though your options are limited at best in a laptop)?
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Re: Laptop build questions for East or others

Post  East on Thu Aug 04, 2011 7:55 pm

Using a better thermal compound such as IC Diamond or Arctic Silver should shave a couple degrees off of your temps. Nothing astonishing but should help to extend the lifespan of the laptop.
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Re: Laptop build questions for East or others

Post  ethelred on Fri Aug 05, 2011 8:11 am

Considering how little high end desk tops currently cost, I'm thinking that you could purchase a gaming desktop and a decent laptop for the same price that you are going to pay for a gaming dtr. A year ago, I purchased an i7-960 computer w/ 12 gb of RAM; 2 750 GB hard drives (RAID 1); 2 -RW drives (1 BDE & 1 DVD); cardreader; wireless; Sony Vegas Platinum 9.0: Adobe Elements; and Office 2007 for $3200 from Dell.
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Re: Laptop build questions for East or others

Post  Iago on Fri Aug 05, 2011 8:29 am

Dude, you bought a Dell!

That is about what I am going to spend on the laptop minus the top-of-the-line video cards. Right now, my build has similar processor, drives and memory, with two 580s in SLi for about $4000. Add in the money for a decent laptop, and it is definitely more money.

Having a desktop of any kind does not solve my problems with no internet access at home (and no, I am quite happy without it at this point.) One of the reasons for the laptop is that I can take it out with me and keep it updated easier. My desktop is woefully out of date right now. I also currently have a seperate desktop and laptop, and I would much prefer to consolidate things and have everything on one system. I appreciate your suggestions, but I still think that a single portable system meets my needs the best. Thanks!

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Re: Laptop build questions for East or others

Post  Seamaster on Fri Aug 05, 2011 10:17 am

And once your laptop is bought, we can start discussing portable audio solutions!
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Re: Laptop build questions for East or others

Post  East on Fri Aug 05, 2011 10:18 am

For $3200 you could have easily built or bought a top of the line gaming pc

Code:
core i7 960                                                                $290
Patriot PV7324G1600ELHK Sector 7 24GB PC12800 RAM                          $255
EVGA X58 FTW3 Intel X58 3-way SLI LGA1366 MB                                $250
Zalman cnps9900max                                                          $80
LG bluray writer oem                                                        $80
LG bluray writer oem                                                        $80
Patriot PT2128GS25SSDR 128GB SSD                                            $200
Patriot PT2128GS25SSDR 128GB SSD                                            $200
Hitachi 2tb 7200rpm                                                         $100
Hitachi 2tb 7200rpm                                                         $100
EVGA 012-P3-1571-KR GeForce GTX 570 HD                                      $320
EVGA 012-P3-1571-KR GeForce GTX 570 HD                                      $320
EVGA 012-P3-1571-KR GeForce GTX 570 HD                                      $320
LIAN LI PC-7FN                                                              $99
CORSAIR Professional Series Gold AX1200                                      $280
NETGEAR WG311                                                                $7
SONY Vegas Movie Studio HD Platinum 11                                      $70
Microsoft Office Home and Business 2010 Product Key Card                    $170.
Adobe Photoshop Elements 9 & Adobe Premiere Elements 9                      $150

-$3371 All prices were taken from tigerdirect and newegg.

The prices have fallen slightly so this build would have probably run you about $3600, $3900 with shipping a year ago. That being said this build has 2 128gb ssds in raid 0, 4tb of storage space, 24gb of ram and 3 570's in sli, if you take 3900 and subtract the ssds and 3rd video card your right at 3180. And for the money I genuinely belive that everybody is better off avoiding dell.

Dell got there popularity back in the days of pentium 1 2 and the early days of pentium 3. They made very affordable solid machines back then. The stuff they make these days is a far cry from what they use to make (I have fixed enough of them to know) All of there more modern models suffer from weak power supplies, faulty mobo caps and the life of the bearing in that single fan they put in there to cool everything is subpar at best. That compounded with there incredibly cheap looking and feeling case designs would turn anybody off.
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Re: Laptop build questions for East or others

Post  Iago on Fri Aug 05, 2011 11:57 am

That would still be a desktop, and would still require someone to put it all together since I cannot do so, and someone to bail me out if there are any problems. And it would still be a bitch to lug to the coffee shop for wifi.
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Re: Laptop build questions for East or others

Post  East on Fri Aug 05, 2011 12:40 pm

Iago wrote:That would still be a desktop, and would still require someone to put it all together since I cannot do so, and someone to bail me out if there are any problems. And it would still be a bitch to lug to the coffee shop for wifi.

I meant that was the direction I thought ethelred should have gone.

For what you are looking to do I think your best bet is the Clevo X7200. (Despite the fact its 1366 based)

If you are going to order it you may want to do it asap. From my own experience when ever I drag my feet on something like this it always gets phased out before I get it.
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Re: Laptop build questions for East or others

Post  ethelred on Fri Aug 05, 2011 5:46 pm

east: although I am not currently plannning on a purchase, I may be by next year, so I appreciate your advice. If I do not want to build myself, do you have recommendations for a source. Also, I would do very little gaming on the desktop, it would mainly be used for editing high definition video and for distributive computing.

I certainly cannot say that I am satisfied with Dell quality and I expecially detest their customer service. Dell customer service has to rank close to that offered by Voodoo. The only reason that I would not yet rank it as being equal to Voodoo is that I have been fortunate enough to have had 5 machines from Dell and not one of them has been as bad as the one machine I purchased from Voodooo. That being said, my limited contact with Dell has already taught me that I am better off paying for a repair locally. As far as good customer service, I have never experienced customer service that would compare with that offered by Gateway in the early 90's.
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Re: Laptop build questions for East or others

Post  East on Sat Aug 06, 2011 5:01 pm

We will see whats available at that time. Xoticpc, avadirect and maingear all have good ratings if you want to shop around.
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Re: Laptop build questions for East or others

Post  Iago on Sun Aug 07, 2011 5:27 pm

If you have time, East, would you take a look at the AVA Direct page for the Clevo x7200 and give me your best choices on some of the build options? The basics will probably be an i7-960, 12 GB RAM, 2 m580s, probably a pair of 7200RPM 500GB drives, and a Blu-Ray drive. There are way too many choices for some of them -- the memory alone has dozens of options, and even the thermal pastes have a fair number of choices. If I went with them, I need you help whittling down the options a bit. Let me know your suggestions. Thanks!
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Re: Laptop build questions for East or others

Post  East on Sun Aug 07, 2011 7:35 pm

Optical drive,memory and the cpu are extremely easy to upgrade down the road. If something has to get cut do to price constraints that is what I would cut. The hdd is just as easy to upgrade if you dont mind reloading or imaging your system.
.
Ram wise the best 12gb value appears to be the crucial 12gb (3x4gb) pc3-10600 ddr3 1333mhz kit. It is the same thing as (and significantly cheaper then) its corsair and kingston counterparts. I have never had a problem with crucial ram. Every stick of crucial ram I have owned has been supplied to crucial by micron. So basically if you buy crucial you are getting micron ram. (Quality stuff, no sarcasm intended)

I can tell you that out of all the centrino cards I have tested they are all crap so that is definitely something I would avoid. In your position I would probably go with one of the bigfoot network cards since you are not looking to upgrade your own card down the road. (I am not sure what the difference in between the 2 bigfoot cards is other then the price, You should probably ask avadirect)

http://hothardware.com/News/Bigfoot-Networks-Adds-Killer-NIC-Technology-To-Alienware-Laptops/

Although its doubtful that any card can compete with the ralink based alfa and (atheros I believe) based gigabyte gn-wiag01 super g wireless card that I have become use to. Both chipsets seem to suck in even the weakest wifi signals like nobody's business.

You definitely want to opt for a non conductive thermal compound. (You can guess what happens when you go to clean your heatsink and re-gel your laptop and the conductive compound gets on your pcb when your trying to clean it off...)

You definitely will need to opt for a 64bit version of windows 7 to take advantage of the 12gb of ram you are ordering.

If video capture is something you plan on doing you will definitely want to order your video capture card now as it is something that is semi proprietary to the model laptop you are ordering and will not be easy to locate for a future upgrade (except maybe directly from avadirect)

Other then that skip all of the third party accessories that can be picked up elsewhere online for cheaper and opt for the longest warranty possible. (As when these things break you can easily sink more into them in parts then they retailed for new) The $279 they charge for 3 years is more then reasonable especially if you are going to beat on it as your primary system. (run it 24/7, all night gaming sessions etc)

When you game on it at your desk you are going to definitely want to use an external keyboard and mouse.

Not only does it feel so much better but it also takes the wear and tear off of the ones built into the system, Not to mention if your like me you type quick and are hard on keyboards. This kind of typing can easily damage non solid state hard drives (Especially on models that the hdd is in direct contact with the bottom of the keyboard (cough hp n5150 cough cough)

I have been using a first generation logitech g15 for years and have never had a problem with it standing up to the abuse I throw at it.

That about covers everything I can think of by looking at the order page.
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Re: Laptop build questions for East or others

Post  ethelred on Mon Aug 08, 2011 8:58 am

Just for fun, I configured a desktop from Avadirect and came in less than $2,100 without a monitor. One thing that I couldn't find, however, was a dual layer BDE writer. Are those not generally available for desktops?
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Re: Laptop build questions for East or others

Post  East on Mon Aug 08, 2011 1:22 pm

I don't understand why they would not offer a duel layer bluray writer. My lg is ancient and it writes duel layer blurays. Chances are the one they offer does write duel layer blurays they just forgot to mention it. Did you look up the specs of the drive they are offering? Alternatively you could contact them when you are putting together the order and ask them about it. In the very worse case they could probably get you the writer you want and install it to make the sale. Or alternatively you can do what I would probably do and order it with the cheapest drive available and put your own writers in once you get it. (Of course then I would take said dvd multi writer and resell it in a system I was building, You could save it as a spare though but I suspose that option is less practical for you.)
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Re: Laptop build questions for East or others

Post  ethelred on Mon Aug 08, 2011 2:18 pm

Thanks, interestingly, when I configured a pc on Maingear the same thing happened.
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Re: Laptop build questions for East or others

Post  Iago on Mon Aug 08, 2011 3:08 pm

East: what about all the million of different hard drives? Like I said, I will skimp on the SSDs and go with a couple of 500GB 7200RPMs. There are way too many to choose from.
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