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Laptop For Life


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#1 ubiquitously

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Posted 09 September 2006 - 09:03 PM

Hey guys, I've been looking at laptops since I started school for several reasons. The main reason is that I write very slow and ugly.

A cheap notebook would handle that, but I also do other things;

Like 3D games, which we all know try their best to kick our compy's booty. I also compose music on programs such as Fruity Loops, Nuendo, and Pro Tools, which can be more resource demanding then many games out there. (Yes, on the Video Cards too.)

So here's a list of what I'm looking for and some questions I have about laptops

A laptop that can EASILY handle;
-School work
-Gaming (Such as Fable and Dungeon Lords with zero lag)
-Music (Mobile Multi Track Studio capabilities.)
-Looks (It could look and weigh like an old retired army tank for all I care)
-My income (I'm freakin poor, so under $1k, please)

Questions;
-What software, such as operating system and security, should I run to reduce CPU usage as much as possible?
-What is the sweet spot for the price/performance ratio and where can I find the best deals?
-I've seen old laptop cases that can hold desktop components. I would LOVE to take advantage of that because I care more about performance than I do looks/weight/battery life. I understand the cooling problem. Where could I find those cases and hardware to take advantage of the extra room?
-Should I go Mac? (Give me REAL facts please, opinions on that issue have yet to make sense to me.)

Please let me know where and how I can get ahold of a machine like this. Any opinions and experiences would be education too.

Thanks for the help your community has provided in the past. I hope you can do it again for this noob.

P.S. I found an Acer with dual core AMD @ 1.6gh, DDR2 RAM and 100g HD for 750 dollars, is that an investment? Had good reviews too.

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#2 protozero

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Posted 09 September 2006 - 09:41 PM

Well, for games make sure the labtop has a dedicated video card, if you intend to play relatively modern 3D games. So if it says in the specs of any labtop "Intel G#### graphics controller" don't buy it, it'lll suck. Look for one of the ATi Mobility, an Nvidia one would be good to, but their harder to find in labtops.
Programming today is a race between software engineers striving to build bigger and better idiot-proof programs, and the Universe trying to produce bigger and better idiots. So far, the Universe is winning.

#3 cowsgonemadd3

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Posted 09 September 2006 - 10:05 PM

750.00 sounds pretty descent for what you have listed there. Show us the model and where your getting it at.

I have a hp zv6000 laptop with a AMD 3200 64bit 768mb ram and 100gb hard drive. I think I paid 850 for it about 8 months ago. Mine also have a dvd burner and media card reader and a 15.4 hd(16x9 ratio) widescreen with anti glare on it.

Anti glare is a must I found out. If you want to use the laptop in the daytime light that is.

100gb hard drive is good too for a laptop.

I got a 128mb ATI vid card(not sure if its dedicated) and it seems to handle the games I play on it. I dont play many games but I have tried the AOE 3 demo and it works great. And call of duty 2 worked good.

As far as I know my laptop uses a standard socket 939 AMD socket that you would find in a desktop. I can upgrade my cpu all the way up to a AMD 4000 or faster(the biggest they sold on this model was a 4000)

I cant talk much on mac because I have never used it. I will say if you want mac for security that every OS has a weekness and so going for security isnt that best way to determine what OS to get.

I use XP pro with service pack 2. I use the firefox browser for safer web browing and havent had spyware problems since I installed firefox about 2 years ago.

I have had 2 hp notebooks and 1 compaq and all have been good. This one I have weighs more than the other two I have had before at like 7+ pounds but its worth it being a desktop replacement.

I hope I have helped a bit. I know one thing retail computer stores charge a lot for there computers. But some have good deals so be sure and check around because sometimes they are on sale and you can get a nice deal. Buying new or used on ebay can save lots of money. Or online stores(check pricerunner,bizrate or nextag for computers for the best price for retail stores and online only stores)

One thing if you buy on ebay make sure the seller has good feedback and use paypal for protection of up to 1000 dollars. If paying by cash use a postal money order and insure it to the amount of the laptop. This is important online now days because of scammers.

Goodluck finding the right laptop.

#4 ubiquitously

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Posted 09 September 2006 - 10:22 PM

That acer;

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?...N82E16834115254

The video is shared (crap). I'm thinking of upping the RAM to 2 gig at some point though. Plus its DDR2 which is... faster?

I did a bunch of research on those Macs and wasn't impressed at all. Security and stability. I am always going to run Firewall/AV because I don't care what the probability is, I'd rather be safe. I'm not happy that I would have a tough time finding games for Mac too.

The only noticably good thing is all the music software has Mac versions because that's what most studios use.

So let's forget the Macs okay? (Unless you can give me a GOOD reason my personal studio should use it over that Acer or better.)

It seems the OS is what is really killing computers. Could I go Linux? Or is there a better/easier way to strip my laptop of all its extra "User Friendly" automatic and bubbly looking crap?

If I had my laptop built up, I'm thinking Linux to cut out the extra 200 dollar Windows OS.

Thanks for all that info, keep it coming guys!

Edited by ubiquitously, 09 September 2006 - 10:25 PM.


#5 Enthusiast

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Posted 09 September 2006 - 11:57 PM

$750 and gaming and laptop are mutually exclusive terms.

Take a look at Alienware laptops - some of those will fit what you say are your requirements (except for price).

Shared video and rather small processors (compared to desktops) wil not be gaming stars.

Edited by Enthusiast, 09 September 2006 - 11:57 PM.


#6 ubiquitously

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Posted 10 September 2006 - 07:54 PM

My desktop is a Dell Dimension 4500 and over 6 years old. It can handle Fable and most games of that quality at normal settings without ANY noticable lag. I have not put more than 150 dollars into upgrades. (Used 1024Mb RAM, $80 256Mb Nvidea Geforce Sound Card sale at Sam's Club.) So should a medium 2006 laptop be able to (at least) keep up with a medium 2000 desktop?

I am not asking for FLAWLES gameplay at max settings. Just at normal settings.

Keep in mind that I want more of a mobile recording studio than a game machine. Though I understand that both have high processing requirements. The music programs use a lot more video card than most would think. (I used to have a song that would crash my comp, until I got that video card.)

What I'm trying to say is that I don't want to pay another $1000 for that extra two tenth of a gh processor. I want the "sweet spot" for the price/performance ratio.

That Acer Laptop has a Dual Core AMD that I was told is great for audio recording computers.

I'm not pushing that Acer, just asking.

By the way, I'm a jobless college student. Now do you understand the penny penching?

As usual, thanks for the replies and keep em coming!

#7 jgweed

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Posted 11 September 2006 - 12:16 AM

Unless you simply HAVE to have a laptop, you will get much better performance for the price if you buy a regular tower model. Either can help you take notes or write term papers, etc., but a tower will be much better for gaming and music editing. In addition, even though you won't look "cool" carrying one around campus, you have much less worry about breakage, theft, or repair.
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#8 ubiquitously

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Posted 11 September 2006 - 11:11 AM

...The main reason is that I write very slow and ugly.


Seriously, I do. I would be able to take complete notes for the first time in my life. And that could mean pass/fail in most of these classes. Which, by the way, would pay for itself if it keeps me from retaking a course or two throughout these next few years. (Which it very well could, I believe.)

... -Looks (It could look and weigh like an old retired army tank for all I care)

... -I've seen old laptop cases that can hold desktop components. I would LOVE to take advantage of that because I care more about performance than I do looks/weight/battery life.


I obviously wouldn't give a penny for just looks or "coolness". But I already have a desktop that is adequate. In fact, all of those requirements are using my 6 year old desktop as the standard. And yes, my 6 year old Dell Dimension 4500 can handle Fable with no noticable lag at normal settings. (not much lag at all with highER settings.) It's called routine maintenance people.

I really do need something portable though, I plan on making a mobile recording studio and would hate to have to by laptop for school, then within the next year have to buy another one for music.

Keep in mind I'm not looking for Alienware performance, just a realistic workhoarse for under $1k. I am more than willing to sacrifice looks, weight, size, and battery life (within reason) to accomplish this.

In fact I don't need an audio card because I'm definately going to use an external one for music(creation) purposes. I am thinking about usingLinux because, from what I hear, it can be made much more resource efficient than Windows. Plus it's free.

And there is no doubt I am going to go with 2gh RAM, performance RAM if I can find a deal.

I hope that defines what I'm looking for better.

I know it's in our human nature to tell others (and ourselves) what we CAN'T do. Try to think of how I CAN do this, because that's the question that I'm asking. I know most of the negatives of a laptop. I'm not that noobish. By the way, REAL technical information would be appreciate just as much as your experiences and other input. I can handle tech talk, even if I have to bust out my computer dictionary.

Sorry about all the typing, but I am seriously considering spending more money than I have in my bank account and would like to know if it's worth the sacrifice.

Thank you all for your time and information.

#9 Grinler

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Posted 11 September 2006 - 12:04 PM

Take a look at Alienware laptops - some of those will fit what you say are your requirements (except for price).


I would look at VoodooPC laptops instead (in case you decide to drop the extra cash). I have heard that since Dell purchased Alienware they have gotten a bit dodgy.

#10 Grinler

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Posted 11 September 2006 - 12:11 PM

Btw, I am in the market for a laptop as well and though I dont need as pwoerful one as you (no music editing/composing here), I still want something that is all around good.

I am currently looking at the Dell InspironTM 9400

#11 ubiquitously

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Posted 11 September 2006 - 05:13 PM

I am currently looking at the Dell InspironTM 9400


Is that even in the U.S. yet? I did a search and it all U.K. websites.

I'm not really that interested in Dell though. My family has paid for nothing but Dell's and got nothing but crap. My Dell is only running right now because I've busted my ass keeping it up, with ZERO help from the "customer service" people. It had a bluescreen of death within a few months of its purchase and all they could say was "reformat." In fact, the only solution they have had for any of my (numerous) problems has been to reformat.

Not to mention their propriatory hardware makes upgrades hell. There are only two kind of people that make their products propriatory: One is good, the other is bad, and Dell isn't the good one.

Thanks for the input though.

#12 Grinler

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Posted 12 September 2006 - 10:19 AM

Thats good input to know. As of today...I am actually looking at HPs as someone in my family supposedly can pull a favor and get a good deal on it. Will see.

#13 ubiquitously

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Posted 15 September 2006 - 07:37 PM

I don't want this thread to change topics now. Remember, I'm SERIOUSLY considering a new laptop, which means the second I figure out what I need I am going to lay down the $$$. I already hesitated too long on a deal. (Found an upgraded version of that previously mentioned Acer for same price. Now it is no where to be found.)

Please help me.

#14 Grinler

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Posted 16 September 2006 - 09:16 AM

I think the main problem is your game requirements. If you want to be able to play games that are graphic intensive, I just do not think the $750 budget will be good for you. The decent cards themselves can be as much as 200 dollars of the total cost of the laptop.

They did make laptop cases that took normal pc parts but those things were giant. My client had one and it was more of a suitecase than what I would call a laptop.

For the OS, well 98 is definitely less intensive, but wont run much these days. You really need xp home/pro. If on the other hand, you dont mind losing the games, you can go a with a linux operating system. It would be a huge learning curve and their may not be the types of apps you need so I would research if linux has the types of music apps you want.

That acer actually looks very nice. This acer lokos better:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?...N82E16834115250

As for the non-shared memory, its going to be hard to find at these prices

#15 ubiquitously

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Posted 16 September 2006 - 02:35 PM

Why would I pay 150 dollars more for just 512mb more RAM? (Oh, and 20gig of Hardrive, that I don't need.)
I'd rather buy it without any ram and wait for a deal on some performance hardware.

Unless the Windows Media Center Edition actually helps to physically speed performance, instead of just throwing more software at the problem, then how is it better? (Never heard anything about it.)

Now I've said this about 3 times now, I'm NOT looking for a hardcore game machine, just something that won't lag at normal settings. If you have to pay 1.2k+ for that then laptops are just plain stupid.

So you guys are telling me that there isn't a laptop out there for under $1k that is worth it?

:thumbsup: I'm starting to get frustrated here. :huh:






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