Hard Choices: Gaming Laptops, Part Two

By Jeremy Laird on September 14th, 2012 at 10:00 pm.


As promised, we’re back again with part two of our deep dive into gaming portables. {Part one} This time around we’re going to dig into the tricky choice between whitebooks and branded bricks, ponder the dark art of graphics upgrades, have a think about screens, and take a closer look at the budget options. And some other stuff. Like CPUs. So, lots to discuss. Let’s get cracking!

Part one threw up a barrage of interesting banter. Some of it, frankly, I wasn’t expecting. Seems a lot of you are having pretty good experiences with mid-range mobile GPUs. It was enough to have me digging through the benchmark numbers I’ve massaged from mobile machines the last few times I did a gaming laptop round up.

I’ve pulled my spreadsheets and there remains a bit of a disconnect between what you guys are reporting and my cold, hard numbers. But we’ll come back to that in a bit. First up, let’s talk whitebooks versus branded goods.

Whitebooks or bare bones laptops are essentially generic designs, cranked out in large numbers and rebadged under various brands. Historically, a company called Clevo has been the biggest noise in whitebooks, cooking up fairly bland designs that a wide range of smaller system integrators pick up and rebrand. Indeed, several of the UK’s biggest whitebook sellers deal in Clevos today, including the likes of PC Specialist.

MSI is another big player in the whitebook market and it seems a number of you have Medion-branded MSI whitebooks. Anyway, how it generally works is that a local system integrator buys bare bones whitebooks with most of the core hardware already fitted, including the screen, motherboard and battery, and then drops in final touches. The CPU, the graphics and the storage, in other words.

It is possible to buy a bare bones PC and source at least some of the above yourself. But in my experience, pricing for mobile parts can be pretty inflated. So there’s better value to be had using a system integrator to do the leg-work for you. That’s before you even think about warranty issues with a home build lappie. The alternative to all this is to plump for a big brand system. I’m talking custom or one-off designs you can’t buy from anyone else. But which should you go for? It’s very much a case of weighing pros and cons.

For starters, the fact that whitebooks are designed for local system builders to add the finishing touches makes them that little bit more configurable. If you’re going to be able to upgrade the graphics on a laptop, your best chance is usually with a whitebook.

Now, there was a time when the MXM mobile graphics module looked like it might catch on and make graphics upgrades the norm for performance laptops. And some manufacturers, including Clevo, do use standardised MXM modules. But we’re still miles from the promised land of easy graphics upgrades using off the shelf parts. Even with those notebook models that do use mechanically standard MXM modules, upgrading is not guaranteed. You might be able to source a card that’s mechanically compatible, for instance but then run into BIOS support problems. And that’s before you consider power supply and cooling issues. So, if you’re really serious about giving yourself the best possible chance of upgrading, you’ll need to dig in and do your research.

Still, the generic nature of whitebooks also tends to make for wider compatibility with mobile graphics driver releases. It can be a real pain getting timely updates for branded systems when the generic driver from AMD or NVIDIA won’t play ball. If that’s the upside to life with a whitebook, there are plenty of downers, too. Build quality and style aren’t exactly synonymous with bare bones-based portables. If you want something slick and stylish, you generally have to go branded.

It can also be hard to know what you’re getting with whitebooks when it comes to screen quality. Admittedly, there are variations among the branded players, too. But if you want, for instance, an IPS panel in your portable, very likely it will have to be a branded system.

I’ve also found that battery life is something the big brands do better, probably because the configurations are more tightly controlled and optimised. The same goes for cooling and more generally for longevity. Whitebooks, I’m afraid, tend to be rather chintzy lash ups with great specs but plenty of rough edges.

The flip side to branded polish, of course, is a lack of choice. If you sniff around the branded options you’ll find lots of prospects that are perfect save for one regard (usually the mobile GPU). And there’s often nothing you can do about it. As for what I’d go for, it’s a very tough choice. If I wanted maximum gaming power for my greenbacks, it would have to be a whitebook. To give you an example, PC Specialist will do you a 15 incher with AMD’s latest Radeon HD 7970M graphics and a 1080p screen for pretty much £1,000 on the nose (the Vortex III, if you’re wondering).

But before I bought, I’d do some research into the the underlying whitebook model and do my best to gauge the screen quality. However, if you make battery life and portability more important parts of the mix – and especially if you’re not too price sensitive – the big brands are hard to beat.

Next up is screens. We’ve already touched on the general issue of screen quality and the difficulty knowing what you’re getting, especially with whitebooks. There’s no easy solution to this. If you can get a look at a sample system before you buy, that’s obviously the best bet. Whatever, you can still decide on size and resolution. Personally, I tend toward high resolution panels. Partly, that’s because I love the sharpness you get in-game with higher pixel densities. But it’s also because low res screens are ghastly, restrictive things for non-gaming larks. At this stage, I’d be reluctant to go below 1,600 x 900 for any portable whatever the screen size or less than 1,920 x 1,080 for anything 15 inches or larger.

Odds are, the latter 1080p standard will soon become the norm, even for low end lappies, thanks to the recent trend for high res screens in smartphones and tablets. Anyway, the obvious corollary is that the higher you go with the res, the bigger the stress on the GPU, which you have to factor into your choice of mobile GPU. Bandwidth becomes the big issue here. So, I’d be reluctant to match a 1080p screen with anything less than a GPU with a 192-bit memory bus. That said, it’s worth remembering that high pixel density makes the need for anti-aliasing less acute. I’d always take a high res panel running natively without AA than a lower resolution running interpolated with AA. Yuck.

As for size, it’s really a question of playing off portability with power. You can’t have a top end mobile GPU in a thin and light. Not yet, anyway.

Anyway, to get back to that disconnect I mentioned at the beginning, it might be my preference for higher resolutions that explains why some of you are feeling differently about mobile graphics. I’ve pulled out my numbers and among the mobile GPUs I’ve tested in the past 12 months are NVIDIA 670M, 640M, 570M, 560M, 555M, 540M, 485M and 460M and a few less on the AMD side but including the 6990M, 7660G, 6620G.

There have been others, but those are the ones I could unearth up at short notice. And I’m a little baffled at comments suggesting mid-range mobile GPUs making mince meat of games with all the eye candy maxed out. To take a couple of the examples mentioned in the comments last time, I wouldn’t be terribly crazy about having the likes of the NVIDIA 555M or 640M in a laptop I’d bought primarily for gaming. They’re just about tolerable at moderate settings in current games. But I wouldn’t fancy loading up the latest shader-soaked spectacular a year from now.

I suppose it comes down to context. Both of those chips do have some gaming chops. If you’re on a tight budget or if you want something more portable, they’ll do a passable job at playing games. But if you’re serious about gaming, I say plough as much money as you can into the thing from the get go.

That’s especially true when you consider that you’re probably stuck with whatever graphics it came with. In other words, saving a couple of hundred is likely to turn out a false economy in the long run. I say again, if it was me I’d get the fastest GPU humanly possible. But not necessarily the fastest CPU. You’ve got to be careful not to overdo the GPU-CPU balance. But I’m much more flexible on CPUs in laptops. A mid-range dual-core Core i5 mobile chip is just dandy. On that very note, I’ve got an AMD-based lappie coming from MSI shortly. It sports the Trinity APU combined with AMD’s latest 7970M mobile GPU.

On paper you could have the ultimate gaming notebook. The APU can handle everything when away from the mains, delivering excellent battery life. Then you spool up the 7970M when you want to play games. But will the CPU part of the Trinity APU be up to proper gaming? Admittedly, the concept is already available in the form of NVIDIA Optimus and AMD Enduro. But there’s something about the overall Trinity package that’s particularly intriguing.

A little further out, we have the promise of Intel’s Haswell chips, which have double the performance of current Ivy Bridge CPUs from its integrated graphics core. It might just make for an interesting budget chip for gamers. Gaming on an integrated GPU? You never know.

__________________

« | »

, , , , .

38 Comments »

  1. airmikee says:

    My roommate just bought a laptop with an nvidia 540M chipset, the thing runs GW2 smoothly on medium settings, though nowhere near as nicely as my desktops GTX560. It wasn’t eye catching, but decent enough graphics that I was surprised.

  2. SexualHarassmentPanda says:

    The bit about going all out for the best mobile GPU is pretty good advice. If you going to get a laptop for gaming, you should get the most shelf life out of your mobile GPU as possible.

  3. Dinger says:

    Hey, I always appreciate your articles.
    Gaming laptops still strike me as a bit of a mess, thanks to contradictory system requirements. It used to be, we’d say: “Power,Portability or Price: pick no more than two.” Now, I’ve come to see that usable life factors in there too: Apple’s fancy materials have been known to break, cheap caps can kill your laptop, and cheap batteries are a hazard for air cargo, and high-end graphics cards will cook your system.
    So, while I appreciate your love for the fastest: I’ve bought those myself, I wonder if the field’s not more complex than that.
    No worries: save part three for when they make OLED panels big enough for a laptop. Then, OLED +SSD + midrange graphics and low power cpu = mobile gaming done right.
    If a whitebook is a generic OEM design, what’s a “name brand” design where you specify every major component?

  4. trjp says:

    I’ve always been a bit confused by people who buy gaming laptops – because they’re paying a fortune for something which will always be compromised from every perspective.

    Against a gaming desktop, it will be slow, run hot, have almost no upgrade potential and cost many times more!

    Against a regular laptop it will big and heavy with crap battery life and in the case of many of the ‘whitebooks’ you talk about, have a quality level somewhere below the gutter…

    Who buys these things and why? There’s this idealised image of someone who spends a lot of time at LAN parties – but when you goto one of those, you almost never see laptops there (at least not being played on)? There’s also the student/travelling type but anyone who travels a lot wouldn’t want to lug these breezeblocks around much surely?

    or have I just been spoiled with not needing to travel much and having a nice light laptop when I do :)

    • BarneyL says:

      Cost of a gaming desktop plus the cost of a decent laptop (or a second desktop for work) is usually more than one gaming laptop that does it all so it saves you money overall. Plus if you have space issues at home the laptop is easier to store away.
      I’ve just got a desktop box now but back when work kept me away from home having one big laptop that I could take everywhere and do everything on (and which worked out cheaper than the alternatives) was the best choice. Size and weight were never an issue, it only went from home to the car to wherever I was staying on the other end.

      • Sakkura says:

        I wouldn’t be so sure. Especially not when you factor in the TCO – the gaming desktop can last far longer than a gaming laptop, meaning fewer total upgrades = reduced cost, less fiddling with setup etc.

        • rockman29 says:

          I’ve had my gaming laptop for 2 years and it’s running like a charm. I clean it for dust every month or two and it’s fine, no overheating. Thin form factor, 325M, and 4 GB RAM, and running plenty games I play (other than Crysis, Metro 2033, Battlefield 3) without a problem. Costed 900 USD without tax, and 1000 USD with. Saves the cost on the monitor and I can bring it to school as a double as my gaming machine and my work machine.

          I could get a similar MSI laptop that weighs just as light at 5 lbs, with a 650M, an i7, 8GB RAM, and a 1080p screen for 1000 USD base right now. Or a Lenovo with identical specs for 900 USD.

      • Jason Lefkowitz says:

        Cost of a gaming desktop plus the cost of a decent laptop (or a second desktop for work) is usually more than one gaming laptop that does it all

        But that was trjp’s point — the gaming laptop may “do it all,” but it does it all poorly. A “gaming laptop” is both a sub-optimal gaming machine (slower CPU and weaker graphics vs. desktop) and a sub-optimal laptop (reduced battery life, larger size, greater weight, and higher operating temperature vs. non-gaming laptop). It’s a device that does many things, none of them well.

        • Falcon says:

          If you buy a good laptop, I find the heat is a non-issue. The laptops specifically designed for gaming tend to have very good cooling. My old Asus laptop vented the air extremely well and while it was warm on my lap, it was never hot. It was also whisper quiet. Also, with many laptops having dual GPUs these days, your battery life comment is also wrong. Laptops that use the smaller, more efficient GPU for everything but gaming can last just as long as any other non-gaming laptop.

          Yes, a laptop won’t match a desktop in terms of raw performance, but if the performance is enough to play everything you want to play at native res smoothly, as fast as your monitor can display it, what’s the extra performance matter?

          I do all of my gaming on a desktop now, but a few years ago when I spent a lot of time over at friends’ or travelling, it was extremely nice to have a gaming laptop to lug around everywhere. There’s simply no way I could have taken a desktop to everywhere I went. It ran everything I needed it to run at 60fps for a couple of years. Was it as mobile as another laptop? No, but it was as mobile as I needed it to be. Was it as powerful as a desktop? No, but it was as powerful as I needed it to be. I don’t regret the purchase at all and it did exactly what I needed it to do. A laptop was right for me then, a desktop is right for me now. It’s not one size fits all.

    • Recidivist says:

      It’s hard enough lugging a suit case, large bag and hand luggage on and off a train, now add a desktop to that. It wouldn’t be so bad if you did it once, but 3-5 times a year would just get silly. So I bought a Samsung G700, upgraded it with an SSD, and there isn’t a game I have found that I can’t play on max settings with a smooth FPS. It’s regularly on for 16+ hours at a time and never gets too hot. It was £1300 and I could have got a much better desktop for that price, but it would sit in my house un-used for months at a time and I would be gaming on my phone.

    • Caiman says:

      When you’re constantly traveling around for work, having a laptop that can handle some decent games is a must. But these days a mid-range mobile GPU can handle a hell of a lot more games than a mobile GPU from 10-12 years ago. Back then, and I know because this was a big purchasing decision for me, laptops could do 2D games fine but forget 3D graphics at anything other than slideshow speeds. These days even fairly cheap mobile GPUs can handle a much wider range of 3D games albeit at low graphics settings. My 4 year old mid-range laptop (GeForce 9600M GT 256Mb) can still play Skyrim just fine with the settings dialed down. Oblivion is smooth as butter. No way could I have done that 10 years ago without buying a Gaming Laptop (TM) and taking out a mortgage and hitting the gym to carry it. These days I certainly don’t see the appeal of gaming laptops unless you absolutely, positively have to be able to crank up the settings on nearly everything.

      The other reason I don’t buy gaming laptops anymore is sheer embarrassment. They all look utterly ridiculous (see Toshiba Qosmio picture above!), designed to appeal to 12 year old kids, and I’d never be seen dead getting that out during a work meeting! I much prefer a stealth gaming laptop, thanks very much.

      • mashakos says:

        “My 4 year old mid-range laptop (GeForce 9600M GT 256Mb) can still play Skyrim just fine with the settings dialed down. Oblivion is smooth as butter.”

        I really wish people would preface their comments with what they term “smooth as butter”.
        I own a 17″ Macbook Pro with said GPU and I have to say it’s awful for gaming. Not a problem for me as I bought it for work, but for gaming?
        Left 4 Dead runs at 30fps when everything’s maxed out. That’s a source engine game mind you. EDIT: the game dips below that in a few areas, 30fps is pretty much the max if I’m not zoomed in on a brick wall.
        Resident Evil 5 runs at a slideshow pace of 15fps when everything’s maxed out.
        Proun, an indie game, runs at 30fps with everything maxed out. Even on medium it still runs at 40fps if the resolution is above 1280×800.

        This is definitely not my definition of “buttery smooth”. I remember a friend trying out Unreal Tournament at 60fps, but I don’t think people buy $1000+ gaming laptops expecting to play games from the year 2000.

        EDIT: Just checked, the model I own is the 512mb ram version of the 9600M GT.

        • Caiman says:

          I use “smooth as butter” to indicate that it runs at a sufficiently high frame rate at all times for my liking. What the actual frame rate is, to me, is irrelevant if it plays smoothly and looks fine. It’s highly subjective of course, but that’s ok because my standards appear to be different to yours. However, as most people find 30 fps to be about the minimum to achieve this look, I’d say for certain Oblivion was running at a higher frame rate than this “with everything maxed out”.

          But then you go on to describe a bunch of games that I didn’t mention at maximum settings that don’t run at a high enough frame rate for you. Sure, if I dial Skyrim up it turns into a slideshow, but that’s not what I said at all. I said that I can get most games running fine on the laptop, even if I have to dial the settings down. That’s not something that was even possible a decade ago with a mid-range laptop unless you were restricting yourself to 2D games.

          • mashakos says:

            Ok, then, a less misleading description would be: “Not as good as consoles but pretty close, which is great for a budget 4 year old laptop”.

            When you say “smooth as butter on a PC” most readers I think would assume that you’re playing Oblivion and other 2006/2007 era games at maximum settings which is simply not possible on anything below a desktop level 8800gtx or 9800GT gpu

          • RvLeshrac says:

            Skyrim *barely* ran well on my desktop 9800 at middling settings. I highly doubt your 9600M, which is a substantial step down from desktop, runs it any better.

    • Asokn says:

      I think it really does depend on your lifestyle. When I was younger I played games on my desktop in my room for hours on end and wouldn’t think of buying a laptop. Now I have a job that requires a lot of travelling and includes a lot of downtime so a laptop would really help me pass a few hours. Also I now live with my gf and wouldn’t want to go up to my office for a few hours each night and play games alone, I’d much rather sit with her while she’s watching TV. Finally, I have a ps3 which satisfies most of my gaming needs so a desktop wouldn’t really add much too my life.

    • darkmouse20001 says:

      I have a pretty serious gaming desktop (although for some reason I’m not enjoying games as much as I used to, but anyway….), but I’m currently faced with quite a long stretch of moving about and living out of a suitcase, and seriously considering a gaming laptop – something I would never even contemplate if not for my imminent nomadic lifestyle.

    • Snuffy the Evil says:

      I move around a lot. Having a single moderately powerful computer I can easily carry around or pack is a lot more convenient then having a monstrously powerful desktop and a middling netbook. Besides, I don’t have to set up some way to sync my important files between computers either.

  5. rb2610 says:

    IMO, it seems that whitebooks cater fairly well to aesthetic tastes as long as you aren’t looking for super-thinness. Clevo models generally seem to cater to people who prefer not to look like a 5 year old carrying round a toy ferrari and MSI caters to those who do, with all the garish lights and colours.

    Although, one thing to note with the upgradable graphics is that by the time you’d be wanting to upgrade a laptop’s GPU, you’ll probably want to invest in a new CPU too to avoid bottlenecks. But given that afaik even whitebooks don’t have interchangeable mobo’s and that Haswell is due next year, now probably isn’t the time to get a lappy with a view to upgrading components in a year or two’s time.

  6. bakaohki says:

    Whenever I look at it closely, I end up staying with my midrange subnotebook (which still can run indie games nicely) + the xbox hooked up to the tv. I just don’t have the money to burn (and the spine to carry around anything that’s heavier than 2kg) – I mean holy crap, a real, usable gaming laptop would fully eat up two or three months of salary for me around here, and whenever I would look at the machine I’d feel like a fool.

  7. DuddBudda says:

    a year or so ago a friend who was looking for a gaming notebook came to me for advice

    I did some research and decided on, if I recall correctly, the Clevo P150HM with a 570M, 15″ 1080p screen and sandy i7, which wasn’t available in the UK, but sold in the US for ~$1000

    I emailed PC Specialist, OCUK and [someone else] asking if they could import one while I scoured EU websites

    PC Specialist (I think, it was a year ago…) offered to bring it in and assemble whatever needed assembling for a pretty reasonable fee

    I’d certainly advise anyone looking for a lappy that’s not sold at home to contact local oems and see what they say, something may be possible

    Didn’t help us: I’d spent about a month rooting out the Clevo and, a couple days before PCS replied with their offer, my buddy got impatient and bought a Dell XPS (i5 and 555M) for about £250 more than the Clevo (might have been 17″ though)

    • DuddBudda says:

      on an unrelated note, US readers out for a decently priced gaming lappy may do well to give Xotic PC a browse – their Sagers (rebranded Clevos) are very well priced – I can’t speak to the service or aftersales of course

  8. achromicia says:

    I recently purchased an ASUS G55VW and while it’s definitely not an ultra portable machine because of the battery and the weight, it runs all games on max settings, 3d edit with no problems and run the UDK without any issues. I’m extremely happy with this purchase!

    • mashakos says:

      I bought an Asus 15″ gaming laptop for my younger brother (don’t remember which one, it had a gtx340m if i remember correctly) for his birthday a few years ago and was really impressed by it’s performance.
      One thing I was not very impressed with was the screen. It was awful! Dim, very poor viewing angles and a 16:9 aspect ratio in an already small 15″ footprint. My brother got sick of the screen and ended up hooking the laptop permanently to a 22″ lcd he got.
      Another thing that was hilariously lacking was the battery life. Before giving my brother the laptop, I of course went the extra mile to set up win7 again and remove all the bloatware. After I was done, I decided I’ll give my brother all the retail box games I have which I now own on Steam, so I installed Batman AA and Tomb Raider Underworld for him.
      Took the laptop with me on the way to my favourite cafe and decided to test gaming on the go. Fired up Tomb Raider Underworld and started playing with a gamepad. Literally 28 minutes later, the laptop was out of juice and shut down. Pretty pathetic!

      So, not really mobile and with a crappy display. It’s basically an “ultra portable desktop” with a built-in 25 minute UPS :D

  9. ShatteredAwe says:

    Well I got a ASUS G74SX, not portable but it gives me what I want in other aspects. I like ASUS. I think I’ll buy from their other series next time.

    • Gnoupi says:

      With ASUS, you mostly get an alienware for cheap, on the paper. In practice, the build quality is random, and the customer support is nonexistent. So it’s a lucky draw.

      Bought a G73JH. Here’s what it does several times per day: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CLiMwENbATg

      And when it doesn’t do it, the graphical card just randomly freezes. It got sent back to ASUS service, and came back the same way. Apparently they “couldn’t reproduce”, I assume. Lot of people had this problem, but no official word from ASUS on the topic. It’s clearly a hardware fault, but they won’t acknowledge it.

      Aside from that, the keyboard is losing keys after a year of regular use, and the touchpad is randomly not receiving your input.

      So, be aware that it’s not all great with ASUS.

    • Nougat says:

      The main problem with gaming laptops is their all-in-one nature, and if something goes wrong you’re usually out of luck. Out of me and two of my friends that bought Gateway gaming laptops around the same time, two have worked flawlessly for 2 years and the other had some sort of GPU failure. He can’t play pretty much any modern games without the system crashing and freezing intermittently, and attempts to get Gateway to fix or replace the card have been fruitless.

  10. acpc2203 says:

    I’ve found that Dell Outlet can have some really good deals on all kinds of laptops if you are fine with refurbished computers, with the added benefit of a shorter waiting time to get your laptop due to it already being ready to ship. They have sales pretty often for 25% off Alienware laptops, downside is the limited selection and the varying quality of the refurbished computers, as well as Alienware’s divisive styling and lack of matte screen option. Also 640M LEs on Sony laptops can be turned in the GDDR3 version of the 650M with a bios tweak, so if you were looking at their IPS laptops you can get more gaming performance from them rather easily. Main annoyance for me when I was shopping for a laptop was the lack of IPS equipped laptops outside of Sony (Whose screens can’t display red properly) and very high end business laptops, hopefully that will be remedied in the near future.

  11. Zhiroc says:

    The only desktop system I have or will ever replace is the one for work, and my company pays for that. This is OK since I don’t mind being chained to a desk for work.

    But I have not since at least 2000, or will ever likely again, own a desktop for recreational computing of any kind. Nothing, performance or price, will influence this decision to be able to plunk myself down anywhere in my house and play, surf the web, or do whatever else I want to do.

    Plus, I don’t have a fascination with having 60+ fps with maxed out settings. I find 30+ perfectly fine for any game I’ve played, and I play for fun, not eye candy. Not photorealistic? Don’t care.

    Ah, one other thing. The article mentions screen sizes. Back in early to mid-2000s, it seemed that it wasn’t hard to find many 17″ laptops with a 1920×1200 screen. When I went to replace my old one with the one I have now (2-3 years ago), I hardly found any, much less one that I wanted. Now I know that 16:9 is the rage now, but when you’re not watching a video, those extra pixels really help.

  12. drewski says:

    I’m gaming on an integrated GPU right now (the old HD3000, for what it’s worth.)

    I have to pick and choose my games, obviously…

  13. Doctor_Hellsturm says:

    I am writing this from a Clevo p150 with a i7-2720qm processor and a radeon 6900m gpu. Since i bought this last year it has brought me nothing but joy and positive surprises. I feared that the 6900 would melt it, but the cooling is really outstandingly good compared to other laptops i have owned. Runs BF3 silky smooth on high and laughs in the face of most other games.

  14. boundless08 says:

    I wish I had something like this to go on when buying my lappie. About 2 years ago now I bought my HP Pavilion dv6 for 570yoyos(euros). I thought it was a great buy for the money, dual core 2.8, 512 graphics which is dedicated gaming, has second gpu for menial stuff, DX11, HD screen, but jesus does this mother run hot!!! I mean really hot! And not only that, found ut after buying it I can’t get best performance without a higher capacity power source, which makes it run even hotter!

    Could anyone let me know why the higher power source increases performance or is it simply “more power make better”?

  15. bumma says:

    sorry matey, but picking AMD CPU for gaming has just invalidated your last bit of credibility
    back to drawing board :E

  16. YourMessageHere says:

    “low res screens are ghastly, restrictive things for non-gaming larks”

    This makes no sense at all. Resolution for non-game stuff is almost completely irrelevant; what non-game stuff are you doing that actually requires 1920×1080? I honestly think this all ought to be taken with a pinch of salt after seeing this.

  17. PopeJamal says:

    Gaming laptops are fine for “normal gamers”. If you have a mental condition that forces you to only be able to play all of your games on “Ultra”, then gaming laptops aren’t for you.

    With a high end gaming laptop, you can play almost anything new on at least high and damn near ANYTHING on medium. My current Nvidia 680M gives me slightly better performance than the 560ti in the desktop I sold, and that was more than adequate for most things.

    If you’re looking to go with a lower end card, I would suggest going with a lower res screen. I just recently played through Dead Space 1 & 2 on a 14″ MSI with a 630M. I played them on High with shadows turned down and it was just fine. The screen resolution on that guy was 1366×768 which is fine for gaming unless you’re completely spoiled by having a top end desktop setup.

    If you don’t like gaming on laptops, then that’s fine, but it can be a perfectly enjoyable experience these days and only getting better. Personally, I don’t see myself buying another desktop gaming rig any time soon, if at all.

    • Nougat says:

      Gaming laptops are obviously great if you have a particular need for mobility, but I wouldn’t recommend them generally for most people. In the past, when I had jobs that required up to 100% travel, it was a necessity, and before that it was great for frequent LAN parties. Now I still get some use out of mine for when I visit family…but not enough to justify the price difference between gaming laptops and desktops.

      I’d say most people are better off getting a gaming desktop and something cheap and portable for when they do travel. Both put together are going to be cheaper than a gaming laptop of equivalent power, and should provide a more pleasant experience at home and on the road. Using a laptop for gaming definitely requires sacrifice – higher price, driver issues, screen size/resolution, limited ability to upgrade or replace failed components. Probably not worth it for the typical gamer.

  18. 357SIG says:

    I have to say, I was skeptical of gaming laptops at first, I always thought they had too much tradeoff for the price. Then I joined the Army. I’m in the US Army, PFC so my paycheck isn’t the most impressive but I did manage to save enough to nab myself a nice gaming laptop ; It is an ASUS G73, I would highly suggest the ASUS 17″ laptops for a good portable desktop/gaming laptop.

    Even if you’re not strapped for money. The thermal design is EXCELLENT, it’s cool, never burns your lap, never overheats on the desk. Your CPU and GPU both have seperate heat sinks and fans that exhaust out the back. I’ve got a GTX 560M with 1.5 gigs of video memory, 8 gigs of DDR3 and a core i7 2630qm. To put this in perspective, this i7 is about as powerful as a core i7 920 in a desktop.

    EDIT: for context, I bought this laptop for 1300 USD

    I have never had any issues with not being able to run a game and at the most I’ve had to reduce a few settings in games. It’s really nice to have a powerhouse like this on the go (I am, a lot) and when I’m at home, it performs amicably while running a 24″ 1080 monitor as a primary screen.

    I don’t think I’ll end up with another desktop until I’m out of the army, moving it around is too much of a hassle and quite frankly, if laptops aren’t there performance wise…. they’re close enough.

Comment on this story

XHTML: Allowed code: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>