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 Post subject: My Laptops keep getting bigger....
PostPosted: Mon Aug 12, 2013 7:39 pm 
8086
8086

Joined: Mon Nov 30, 2009 2:56 pm
Posts: 68
I never used to be very interested in any kind of mobile computing, including notebooks and laptops. Entering university really changed my perspective on that and now I'm using them daily.

My issue was that I never thought I needed a smartphone to be able to check my email between driving from my computer at home and to wherever I was going that would also have internet access. Well I got my first smartphone because my flip-phone died 2 weeks before my first son was born and I needed something now, and I've never looked back.

the funny thing is how my laptops have grown since I started using them. I started out with the mentality that my laptop should not rival the power of my desktop at home, where I'll be doing most of my work.

My first laptop was an Acer Aspire one, back before they were dual core. $200 gave me a full fledged windows xp system, when most netbooks were chromium or some low functioning linux derivative. 10.1" screen. I could run GZdoom and System Shock Portable on it. and take my notes in class. It was fun.

Then I needed something with a little bit more horsepower because I needed to do some assignments that required some processing. But not wanting to ditch the tiny netbook formfactor.

So I sold the netbook and upgraded to an ultraportable laptop, an Acer Timeline X. 11.6" i3 dual core with HT. 4 gb of ram. 64 bit. etc etc. Ran with that one for a year and a half worked really well. i had an actual 16:9 aspect ratio instead of the odd 1:2 that the aspire one had.

then I got a research scholarship and needed a computer I could do development on and actually have a screen that I could show things to people sitting beside me on without them having to lean in so close they could smell my breath. So I gave the Acer to my wife and went out and bought a refurbished Samsung QX410. Brushed aluminum, looked like a knockoff macbook pro (which went well with my classmates because every last one of them was an apple fanatic). i5 quad core with 4 gb of ram, a 14" screen and my first dedicated graphics card in a laptop, a Geforce 310M. It has served me well these last 2 1/2 years. I finally played through all of oblivion on it. Deus Ex 1 and 2, replayed. Developed a bit of software, mixed some music etc. But now its falling apart. (i'm actually typing on it right now)

one of the 3 usb ports is physically broken. Linux doesn't play well with the Nvidia Optimus drivers, or the touchpad. Half the time, and for no explicable reason, my up, down, del, backslash, and home keys just do not work (a real pain when it happens at boot and i'm trying to navigate grub). etc etc... I guess that's what I get for buying a refurb. It has served its purpose, and now it has to go.

Here's the thing though. Now I'm away from home more than at home, and the laptop I'm looking at to replace it is not some modest little thing that barely does what I need it to do. I'm not entirely sure it doesn't out perform my desktop. It's a pretty slick, monstrous little machine, and I really want it bad.

Here's my situation. I am finished my Undergraduate degree and I'm working on my own time to flesh out my research for Grad School before I apply in a couple of years. I want to know what I'm doing going into it and have it be a part of my application, rather than trying to figure it out when I get there. At the moment I am a night security guard at a rural hospital and I have a bucket load of free time at work. ( I walk around the place a half dozen times a night and then sit in my office on my laptop working on my research or playing games ) So I use that time as much to my advantage as I can. I would like some help making my decision, because it might just be a bit over kill, or maybe I can get something similar from somebody else for a better price. Or maybe there is something out there that is a perfect fit and I just can't find it.

What I need:

- 1920 x 1080. I've found that anything lower than a 15" will not have this. 1366x768 is getting a little crowded.
- Touchscreen, if I'm running windows 8.
- A high end i5 or mid range i7 - I'll be doing a lot of realtime audio processing, and I honestly don't know a thing about AMD procs anymore.
- >= 8GB ram.
- Large HDD, An SSD would be nice, but I'm one of those guys that held onto their CRT until about 2009 and I'm not convinced I need to switch yet, plus I need storage. 750GB - 1TB would be sufficient. Although a hybrid setup wouldn't be scoffed at.
- Dedicated graphics. something decent that I can run modern games on medium settings with a nice framerate.
- High Speed I/O ports. What I REALLY want is something with Firewire 800 or something with Thunderbolt that could use a breakout cable and support firewire. I don't WANT to need this, but companies like Avid, MOTU, and Pre-sonus are just not getting the message that firewire is dead, and the audio world should move on. I can work around this if possible, but it would be a strong factor in steering me toward something.

Looking at my list, it would seem I want a MacBook Pro, and I would triple-boot it with Windows 7 or 8 and Ubuntu Studio, but no touchscreen, and at $2500+ No thanks apple. My budget hovers around the $1000 mark. +/-

This is what I have picked out as my possible contender:
http://h20386.www2.hp.com/CanadaStore/M ... L&sel=PCNB

it has everything I want except for Firewire or Thunderbolt, and the stuff it does have it has in excess. and Best Buy has it here for $1099. Feels good to me, and maybe I can play a bit of LA Noire without a 400ms mouse lag and 12 fps.

I need it for working in some rapid prototyping programs like Max/MSP and PureData. Some visual programming like Processing.org. Hardware prototyping with Arduino, Raspberry Pi and BeagleBone. Enough graphics hardware to keep up with my visualizations (that are computed real-time) and of course some gaming. I'm also playing around in a 3D game engine trying to make my first game in my spare time, what little there is of it (think UDK). Being able to do some recording with it is a big plus, Thus the firewire. But if that isn't possible then at least I can do some mixing on it with Cubase or Ardour.

Let me know if you have some hidden gem somewhere that I haven't found. And share your story of Laptops that seem to get bigger and badder every year.


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 Post subject: Re: My Laptops keep getting bigger....
PostPosted: Tue Aug 13, 2013 9:58 am 
Smithfield
Smithfield

Joined: Sun Jun 18, 2006 7:37 pm
Posts: 5033
If you nix the touchscreen requirement then it opens up a whole lot more doors for you. You don't need a touchscreen to run Windows 8 and some laptop manufacturers (at least from ASUS) mimic the touchscreen gestures anyway with the trackpad.


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 Post subject: Re: My Laptops keep getting bigger....
PostPosted: Tue Aug 13, 2013 2:21 pm 
8086
8086

Joined: Mon Nov 30, 2009 2:56 pm
Posts: 68
Well i'd be ditching the touchscreen if I found a good laptop with firewire or thunderbolt. My requirements are flexible if my priorities are met. I'll take a look at what Asus has to offer.


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 Post subject: Re: My Laptops keep getting bigger....
PostPosted: Tue Aug 13, 2013 2:55 pm 
Smithfield
Smithfield

Joined: Sun Jun 18, 2006 7:37 pm
Posts: 5033
Speaking of, my laptop from ASUS has a Thunderbolt port, but it's a gaming laptop and it was $1300. They might have it on some of their other newer models. I also am led to believe Sony put it on some of their laptops.


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 Post subject: Re: My Laptops keep getting bigger....
PostPosted: Tue Aug 13, 2013 9:42 pm 
8086
8086

Joined: Mon Nov 30, 2009 2:56 pm
Posts: 68
Sony seems to be going the way of Apple. You're paying for the VAIO label rather than the hardware. Specs don't seem to meet or exceed other laptops, yet its a good $400+ more expensive.

Why on earth does a Gaming Laptop need something like thunderbolt? Odd that it would be put on a gaming laptop but not one designed for office work.

How do you like ASUS for laptops? All of their hardware I've ever used has had major issues. (mobo, gfx, tablet)


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 Post subject: Re: My Laptops keep getting bigger....
PostPosted: Tue Aug 13, 2013 11:34 pm 
Smithfield
Smithfield

Joined: Sun Jun 18, 2006 7:37 pm
Posts: 5033
Advoc wrote:
Sony seems to be going the way of Apple. You're paying for the VAIO label rather than the hardware. Specs don't seem to meet or exceed other laptops, yet its a good $400+ more expensive.
Last I checked with Sony when buying new laptops, they're pretty competitive depending on what model you're looking for. Except the real problem is that most of their stuff is in the "Ultrabook" category, which for some reason carries the same price point as Apple's laptops.

Quote:
Why on earth does a Gaming Laptop need something like thunderbolt? Odd that it would be put on a gaming laptop but not one designed for office work.
Because Thunderbolt is still a high-end feature, not to mention all the peripherals are pretty damn expensive still, and most people who buy laptops won't use it.

Quote:
How do you like ASUS for laptops? All of their hardware I've ever used has had major issues. (mobo, gfx, tablet)

ASUS is first on the list of considerations for buying a laptop for me. I did have an issue with the first laptop I bought, but they were really good with the RMA process. Otherwise, I haven't had a single issue with them since. My second choice for considerations is Dell, only because I haven't had a problem with their hardware. People do knock on their customer service, but I was able to get a screen replaced under warranty, despite the fact that I may have damaged it (it was getting a blotch of dead pixels were I flicked something towards it).

Otherwise the only other manufacturers I hear get high marks are Toshiba and Lenovo.


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 Post subject: Re: My Laptops keep getting bigger....
PostPosted: Wed Aug 14, 2013 1:55 am 
8086
8086

Joined: Mon Nov 30, 2009 2:56 pm
Posts: 68
My wife had a Dell, the HDD died in it and they were pretty good at replacing it iirc. It was the retailer that gave us grief in that department. (extended warranty all that jazz)

My acer's HDD died as well 20 days into owning it. it was replaced without any problems.

I know ASUS has a good RMA procedure just because I've used it so many times. Especially with GFX cards. I had a 8800GT that fried itself, and they coudln't fix it, so they sent me a GTS250 instead. Then it fried itself a couple months later. And the MOBO i used to have of theirs never gelled with my audio hardware, always caused lockups. I've moved to Gigabyte for my desktop and so far its been pretty good.

I get that thunderbolt is a high end feature, but what would a gamer need it for? that's what I'm asking. I've only ever heard it being used for hard drives. Something I can see being used in an office or some sort of a studio, I just don't understand why you'd want it on an Alienware or something.

So far the ENVY is still winning, its got a better price tag than the ASUS and Sony offerings I've found. With just a little bit more for just a little bit less. Surprising considering I found it in a big box electronic store.

I'll look at Toshiba and Lenovo too. I wanted the first satellite so badly when it came out. Very first widescreen laptop, remember that? I'll also take a look at the Acer v3, I haven't heard any reviews yet but its intrigued me.


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 Post subject: Re: My Laptops keep getting bigger....
PostPosted: Wed Aug 14, 2013 4:55 am 
Smithfield
Smithfield

Joined: Sun Jun 18, 2006 7:37 pm
Posts: 5033
What I took after all the Thunderbolt hype is that you can plug in monitors and hard drives and whatever else was planned into your laptop using just one cable. Which is limited to Apple's stuff anyway since I think you can count the number of monitors that can daisy chain DisplayPort with one hand and USB 3.0 has enough bandwidth to supply external hard drives.


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 Post subject: Re: My Laptops keep getting bigger....
PostPosted: Thu Aug 15, 2013 1:35 am 
8086
8086

Joined: Mon Nov 30, 2009 2:56 pm
Posts: 68
Damn.. the envy m7 was on clearance at best buy, they're all gone. and they aren't getting it in anymore. Price is back up to $1300 ... and the search continues.

Yeah. I just want thunderbolt because of the breakout possibilities. For audio hardware. I wish these audio hardware companies would switch everything over to USB3.0

Unless of course they want to start including ADAT ports. (yeah right)


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 Post subject: Re: My Laptops keep getting bigger....
PostPosted: Thu Aug 15, 2013 9:27 am 
Smithfield
Smithfield

Joined: Sun Jun 18, 2006 7:37 pm
Posts: 5033
After looking around for a bit, I came to this conclusion... Most laptops in your price range are have low voltage processors (because you know, battery life is king here [/sarcasm]) and thus are probably classified as a ultrabook, or if they do have a regular processor with a dedicated GPU, it's a shoddy one that while better than Intel's current offerings, won't let you play most games past medium, and some of the newer ones past low.

So if you're looking for high performance, you have to step it up to about $1200-$1400. As far as I know about laptop GPUs, if it's not a NVIDIA x50M (e.g., 650M or 750M) or a Radeon HD x700M (e.g., 7730M), then they're not worth looking into if you care about gaming performance.


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 Post subject: Re: My Laptops keep getting bigger....
PostPosted: Sat Aug 17, 2013 4:50 am 
8086
8086

Joined: Sat Aug 17, 2013 4:39 am
Posts: 1
Right now I'm running a HP DV6z-7000, it has a 1080p screen, windows 8, really nice backlight keyboard, fingerprint sensor for logging in which is rad as hell, a AMD A10-4600m Quad core 3.2GHz, with a Radeon 7770m DDR5 2gb VRAM, crossfire with the APU's 7660g, 6 gb of RAM, 750GB 7200rpm hard drive, 4 usb 3 ports, dvd drive, ethernet, vga, hdmi, the cooling is nice, and quiet, mostly aluminum body, oh and the newer version comes with the A10-5750 which is the same part just over clocked to 3.4GHz, and the new Radeon 8770. You can get it for about $950 on HP's website.


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