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  1. #1
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    Fairly specific PC needed, please help!

    Hello folks,

    I have decided after a long hiatus to get back into PC gaming. I currently have a ps3 which I'd prefer to use for multi-platform games (I like sitting on my sofa). Therefore, what I'm looking for is a PC, most preferably a laptop, that will enable me to play strategy type games that only exist on PC. I'd love to play Crusader Kings 2, Civ 4 & 5, GalCiv 2 and, ahem, The Sims 3. I assume I don't need a top system for these less graphically intensive games which is why I hope a laptop will be available.

    My budget is approx £600-£700.

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Activated Node Wayward's Avatar
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    In your budget you'll find it quite difficult to go wrong looking for a laptop that can run these games. Civ 5 is the most intensive, but providing you don't want to max it out, you shouldn't have many issues with most £500+ laptops.

    The biggest thing to make sure is that you choose a laptop that has a separate graphics card rather than an integrated model. Avoid laptops that don't explain the specific model of card, or have cards from "Intel" or "Integrated" chips. Look out for popular mid-range cards like the 540M and the 630M. Ignore the numbers and use this site to see how games will run with any card.

    As far as CPU is concerned, pick up an i5, or if you want to move towards the top of your budget, an i7. Don't worry too much about ram, 4GB should be fine.

    Think about screen size as well. You'll be spending more with a 17" inch screen and it won't be nearly as portable, but the higher resolution can make a big difference when you're playing games with fairly heavy UI.

    On the lower end of your budget something like this might work out. On the higher end, something like this, which is probably a little overkill.

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    Thanks for the reply, it's very helpful. Would the Samsung model you linked to provide some protection for the future as well? I'd like to perhaps expand my expectations and buy a laptop that would allow me to play the sort of games I mentioned for a few years to come if possible, I assume the Acer model you linked to would be much more focussed at dealing with today's games only.

    Thanks again!

  4. #4
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Ravelle's Avatar
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    I have an 15 inch screen, may seem small but once you're playing a game you won't even notice it anymore.

    I custom-ordered my laptop from dell ( got an alienware ), they let you pick your own things you want in your laptop.
    Last edited by Ravelle; 06-08-2012 at 09:17 AM.
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  5. #5
    Activated Node Wayward's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Asokn View Post
    Thanks for the reply, it's very helpful. Would the Samsung model you linked to provide some protection for the future as well? I'd like to perhaps expand my expectations and buy a laptop that would allow me to play the sort of games I mentioned for a few years to come if possible, I assume the Acer model you linked to would be much more focussed at dealing with today's games only.
    Future proofing is what it is - personally, I tend to buy cheaper and upgrade, but that's far more difficult with laptops, I'll admit. You can't effectively manage airflow, its generally more of a pain to replace keyboards and screens and so on.

    Nobody can really tell you if Civ VI or Gal Civ 3 are going to run on either laptop, but obviously the more you spend now, in very general terms, the longer you'll be able to run games. There's not usually huge jumps in graphical power required in the genre though - a system that can run Civ IV can almost always run Civ V, for example. The i3 in the Acer will struggle sooner than the i5 in the Samsung.

    Personally I'd stick with the Samsung or a similar model if you're not to worried about hitting the top of your budget. The Acer will run the games you listed and £100 cheaper than your budget though, so it really depends on how much you want to spend.

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    Thanks again. I did a quick search and found the Samsung model a bit cheaper on Amazon which I frequently use, is there any reason not to order from them as I've never used them for computer deliveries?

    Moving things on somewhat to software. As I have had a long break from PC gaming I have pretty much missed the rise of digital distributors like steam and other things like DRM. could someone point me to a refresher on these topics so I can work out how best to purchase my games and avoid the sort of problems that seem to be a daily headache for modern gamers?

  7. #7
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Faldrath's Avatar
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    Steam has a quasi-monopoly on digital distribution these days, and is by far the most widely used platform. As far as DRM goes, Steam is rather non-intruding (although if you want to play offline, it's not a good choice - its offline mode is quite wonky), *but* it does not remove any additional DRM chosen by the publisher. So you can end up with abominations like the Batman games, which have Steam+Games for Windows Live+Securom.

    If you want DRM-free games, your best choice is GoG.com (I personally always check there first before buying from anywhere else). Gamersgate is also lightweight, and probably the best choice for Paradox games (like Crusader Kings II). EA's Origin isn't really that bad, working mostly as a less elegant Steam (at least from my experience, but there have been reports to the contrary).

    Basically you want to avoid Microsoft's Games for Windows Live and Ubisoft's Uplay, which are the DRM systems that can cause the most issues. It's always worth googling the games you want to buy to see if any of them have lesser known DRMs that can be quite painful.

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    Thanks for the reply. I have heard of newer games requiring an active Internet connection every time you want to play. Is this a common (or even real) thing? If so, how do people use laptops to game on the move?

  9. #9
    Activated Node Wayward's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Asokn View Post
    Thanks for the reply. I have heard of newer games requiring an active Internet connection every time you want to play. Is this a common (or even real) thing? If so, how do people use laptops to game on the move?
    Honestly, DRM isn't nearly as much of an issue with PC gaming as some gamers and journalists make out. Only a handful of games have always-online DRM, and some of those have had it patched out. Diablo 3 uses it, as do several - but by no means all - Ubisoft titles.

    Games for Windows Live can be a real pain, but standard DRM services like Steam and Securom don't usually cause all that many problems. I've been a PC gamer for twenty years, and my single bad experience with DRM was when I couldn't play Dawn of War 2 in university because my halls had blocked GFWL. Keep in mind though that I do avoid any games that require me to be online to play them.

    As far as actually buying games goes, Steam is a good place to start but it's not usually the cheapest. Steam sales are excellent, but outside of a sale there's a good chance you can pick up box product from Amazon cheaper. Many people still go with Steam anyway as they like all their games to be in one place - that has it's own advantages and disadvantages. Bear in mind that many retail copies and games bought from other stores may still be 'Steam' games and require Steam.

    Unless you're in a real hurry to play games as they come out there's very little reason to pay full price for a game - keep an eye on sites like ShockedFish which do a good job of tracking the price of games.

    As for you question regarding Amazon - no idea, sorry. I can't see why you would have a problem. I rarely use Amazon myself as I prefer Ebuyer's delivery system and customer service so rarely have a reason to go anywhere else.

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    Thanks for your continuing help. As a, probably, final question; are there any other good strategy-type games that have come out in the last five years or so other than the ones I originally mentioned that I really do need to play?

  11. #11
    Network Hub Hunchback's Avatar
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    Starcraft 2, Shogun and the rest of the Total War series, the Warhammer series ... All quite intense graphically.
    Then there's the number cruncher games like Hearts of Iron and others from Paradox.

    I get your point with having a laptop to play on a sofa, but i'd strongly un-suggest it (?), if it's all that it will be used for (as in, you don't really need a laptop except for playing stuff on your sofa). Laptops tend to be much more expensive than desktops, both at buy-point and in the long term. For the same price you'd get a so-so laptop you can build yourself quite a nice gaming rig if you spend some time shopping online. What i'd suggest is getting a wireless keyboard and mouse and a long HDMI cable - You plug your TV, or even better your amp if you have one, into your graphics card, hop on the sofa with some sort of a breakfast-in-bed table in your lap and play away. This will allow you to play from your sofa, on a (usually) larger screen than your PC screen, probably with real 5.1 surround if you have a decent home cinema amp, and all that on a decent rig that you can always upgrade and keep in form easily. Don't worry about going wireless with gaming, if you'll be playing strategy kind of games even if you get some input lag it won't really show. You'll also be able to play other stuff, if you feel like it - RPGs, maybe some action games, quests/adventures, whatever.

    It's up to you.

    If you do decide to go on with a desktop setup, drop by Tom's Hardware and Tom's Guide (google them if you don't know them) for nice guides and best-cpu/gpu/whatever-for-the-money-2012 kinda guides that really help a lot when choosing your components. Then, based on your location, get on them online retailers and find the best prices for your stuff, order, build it, have fun. :D

    P.S. I guess all that might sound scary for someone who's not used to building his own hardware, but believe me it's really easy. You just gotta spend some time, don't rush it and there's basically no way to go wrong. And it's fun too
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Asokn View Post
    Thanks for your continuing help. As a, probably, final question; are there any other good strategy-type games that have come out in the last five years or so other than the ones I originally mentioned that I really do need to play?
    Anything by Paradox from the last few years with the odd buggy exception, and Dwarf Fortress.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hunchback View Post
    You plug your TV, or even better your amp if you have one, into your graphics card, hop on the sofa with some sort of a breakfast-in-bed table in your lap and play away. This will allow you to play from your sofa, on a (usually) larger screen than your PC screen, probably with real 5.1 surround if you have a decent home cinema amp.
    I can't say I recommend this for playing the type of games Asokn wants to play, unless (s)he has a particularly excellent television. To load up Dirt, or Assassin's Creed, or Bioshock, totally agree... for UI heavy, text heavy games? Sofa gaming would not be my choice. I can't really see Civ V or Crusader Kings II as a 'lean back experience'.

    Having said that I agree with Hunchback that if you do have any choice at all, gaming on Laptops is never the 'ideal' from a budget perspective, being more expensive and difficult to upgrade. I assume you want a laptop for either portability reasons or because you simply don't have the room or desire for a desk, so I didn't mention the idea of getting a desktop.
    Last edited by Wayward; 07-08-2012 at 02:37 PM.

  13. #13
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    Thanks for the suggestions. I think a laptop would suit me better than a desktop as I frequently travel for work and have a lot of downtime during the working day that needs filling. Also, my plan is to use my laptop while my gf is using the TV to watch, goddammit, neighbours and eastenders so although I'll still be with her on the sofa I will not be bored out of my mind! Thanks again though.

  14. #14
    Network Hub Hunchback's Avatar
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    Well there's always Alianware, who are supposed to build specially "gamer" laptops, but it's usually WAAAAAAY to expensive.

    On a general basis i'd suggest getting a decent HP Probook, they are really sturdy, usually metal casing, have good hardware and are overall good. Not built for gaming, but you can have some 3d and i5 on it np...
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    Thanks. I have looked at Alienware but it seems to be the choice for extreme gaming and therefore far outside of my budget, I'd welcome any links to affordable options though!

  16. #16
    Network Hub Hunchback's Avatar
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    HP Probook 4520s - what me and the wife have. It's slightly old now, it's having a bit of trouble with Crusader Kings. Check out some newer versions on the net, perhaps with some more graphical power.
    As i mentioned earlier, i highly recommend the HP Probook series, if you are looking for some serious and robust machine that will last. Most of the other brands like Acer, Dell and Toshiba have a cheap filling about them, all plastics and lightweight and stuff.

    Then again, the budget is different, i guess you could have an not-HP Probook with the "same" specs for 1/2 the price, if you are lucky. It's something to consider and weigh - quality, price, heat, noise etc.


    And once more, i wouldn't invest in a "gaming" laptop since you can never upgrade it. But it's up to you :)

    P.S. Check http://www.tomshardware.com/ and http://www.tomsguide.com/ for pro reviews and comparisons and shit.
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  17. #17
    neighbours and eastenders so although I'll still be with her on the sofa I will not be bored out of my mind! Thanks again though.

  18. #18
    neighbours and eastenders so although I'll still be with her on the sofa I will not be bored out of my mind! Thanks again though.

  19. #19
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Grizzly's Avatar
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    As far as CPU is concerned, pick up an i5, or if you want to move towards the top of your budget, an i7.
    Quite sure you will never need an i7 unless you intend to use CPU intensive programs for your line of work. If you are say, a professional graphics designer, the i7 will save you lots of time in photoshop, but the i5 works just as well for games, as games these days are not that cpu intensive at all. Getting the i7 is the equivelent of buying a Bugatti Veyron in a country with very strict speeding limits., or for the purposes of racing down the Nurnburgring. Neither application will allow the car to reach it's full potential. Gaming will not allow the i7 to reach its full potential.

  20. #20
    Network Hub Hunchback's Avatar
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    Just saw Steam's Big Picture announcement and i thought about this thread...

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EFrL6...layer_embedded
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