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Notebooks Looking for a new laptop and being fussy about it. Help appreciated!

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by Zurechial, 14 Nov 2011.

  1. Zurechial

    Zurechial Elitist

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    I'm in the market for a new laptop but trying to find one that actually ticks all the boxes for me is proving frustratingly difficult.

    Requirements:
    + Available to buy in Ireland/UK/Europe
    + 15.6"
    + 1600x900 resolution or better. 1920x1080/1920x1200 preferable.
    + Discrete GPU: nVidia GTX560M/AMD6950M or equivalent
    + i5/i7 Mobile
    + 4-8GB RAM
    + Budget: ~£1100 but the cheaper the better.

    Reasons:
    + I need a 15.6" laptop since 17" is just too big to carry around every day (and I carry mine around a lot, working as a lecturer/researcher at university) and anything smaller than 15" doesn't feel practical to me for getting work done without an external monitor.
    + 1440x900 is the resolution of my current laptop and that just isn't enough for my typical usage (audio software, programming IDEs, etc.). I want a sidegrade at least in this regard, if not an upgrade.
    + I like to game on my laptop when I can and I feel that the more commonplace GT555 GPU occupies that middleground between integrated graphics and discrete graphics where it isn't really worth it and falls a good deal short of the GTX560M, despite being only slightly cheaper. (The GTX560M can supposedly get BF3 playable on High, whereas it's only just about doable on Medium with the 555; for instance).

    I would have thought this kind of system would be easy to find, but that's not proving to be the case at all - Mainly because of the proliferation of the horrible 1366x768 resolution in the laptop market.
    Anything from Dell with a decent GPU is either a 14" @ 1366x768 or a 17" @ 1920x1080 - Neither of which suit.
    Asus have some nice models in the N55 range that I was taking to Bindi about last week, but they lack the GPU grunt (GT555... ). An Asus G53SX would probably be ideal if I could find one at a reasonable price and in-stock; but I can't seem to do that!
    MSI have the ideal model in the form of the GT683 (i5, GTX560M, 6GB ram) but those have gone EOL for some reason and I can't find them in-stock for love nor money. Komplett.ie have 1 in stock but I won't be able to buy until December and it'll probably be gone by then!
    And I refuse to buy anything from Acer. Ever.

    Years ago I bought my current laptop from a company in the UK called Rizeon who used to sell custom Compal/Clevo whitebooks along the same lines as Rock laptops or xoticpc in the US, but Rizeon disappeared in the last few years and I can't find any other companies in Europe who offer custom whitebooks at reasonable prices.


    I know I'm being awkward with some the boxes I'm trying to tick here, but my demands aren't that outlandish and the MSI models show that the very kind of laptop I'm looking for was available at some point. Why not now? :(
    How hard must it be to get a SandyBridge-era laptop with a GTX560M and a decent 15.6" screen better than 1366x768?

    Any links/brands/etc would be very welcome.
    Bindi, any chance you could get me an N55 with a GTX560M? :p

    Edit:
    ------
    I can spec up precisely the model I want from PCSpecialist.co.uk. Has anyone else had any experiences with them? Good/bad?
     
    Last edited: 14 Nov 2011
  2. lava

    lava Minimodder

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    A friend at work has had two desktops from pcspecialist and both were good. (One of them is still going now, after 6 years, in work) Build quality is good but unfortunately i can't comment on the laptops. The company itself I wouldn't have a problem ordering from.
     
  3. kenco_uk

    kenco_uk I unsuccessfully then tried again

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    Aye, PCSpecialist - I think it's where my next laptop will come from. The fact you can have a GT555M with an i3 for £552 is pretty darn good. Over a grand, well the world's your oyster. Their 15.6" Vortex II 15 looks like it should fill your boots and from £864 it's well under your budget.
     
    Last edited: 15 Nov 2011
  4. Edwards

    Edwards Minimodder

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    You can get everything you want in a dell xps15, save for the graphics card. The highest they go on discreet cards on the model is a GT540 M. Except for this, they go up to 1080P, 4-8gb of ram, i7-2670QM and are 15.6".
     
  5. xaser04

    xaser04 Ba Ba Ba BANANA!

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    Sainsburys current have the Medion Erazer X6811 on offer at £699.

    It has a i7 740QM, GTX460m, 6GB memory, 640GB HD and a 15.6" 1080p display.

    Essentially it is a rebadged MSI GX660R without the awful lights / paint job.

    It won't be as fast or as friendly to the battery as a SB based laptop but for £699 it can't be beaten.
     
  6. halcyondays

    halcyondays What's a Dremel?

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    I don't know how much they are currently retailing for but I find it hard to beat a Mac book pro, running either/both Mac OS and Windows (or windows under Parallels, which is an excellent option). Sure they are more expensive, but you get what you pay for. And if you appreciate good engineering, you'll love it :)
     
  7. Edwards

    Edwards Minimodder

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    When it comes to apple products, that simply is not true. The apple logo instantly whacks a premium on to the components within the system. Mac book pro's may be good, but they are very expensive for what you get.
     
  8. loftie

    loftie Modder

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    The only thing Macbooks are pretty good at, are battery life. I still don't think anything comes close to them in terms of it for the same size. Though i'm sure battery life will be reduced if you're running windows on it.

    But in all honest, if you want a windows machine, don't by a macbook to run windows. It's a waste of money.

    In terms of screen res, i was going to say there's no point getting 1080P at 15", but since I'm satisfied with 1366x768 at 15", i would suggest looking before you buy. I'd still argue that 1600 x 900 is more than enough, also allowing better frames in game while sticking to a natural resolution.

    Good luck!
     
  9. The Protocol

    The Protocol What's a Dremel?

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    Zenbook?
     
  10. matt_lumley

    matt_lumley You're only supposed to...

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    Just about to order me an xps 15, 8GB Ram, 500GB HD, 1080p monitor, i5-2430M, GT525M...all for £719, i think its excellent considering the wifi/bluetooth, backlit keyboard etc
     
  11. The Protocol

    The Protocol What's a Dremel?

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    On paper it's a good deal but in reality it's Dell...
     
  12. matt_lumley

    matt_lumley You're only supposed to...

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    Personally Ive never owned anything other than my own rig and dells, never ever had a problem with any of mine, i guess its all down to personal experiences, the acer and the HP my sisters have had broke within 2 years which isnt long enough in my opinion for kit over £500!

    Whats your opinion on dell?
     
  13. j4mi3

    j4mi3 What's a Dremel?

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    i bought my dad a similar one to what you are after for about 1k, from pc specialist

    it had a sandy bridge i7 mobile
    8gb ram
    and like a gt 550 or something cant remember

    it also had an ssd

    i dont think you can beat pcspecialist if you dont want to build it yourself but still want customisation
     
  14. The Protocol

    The Protocol What's a Dremel?

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    Overpriced junk. HP are very reliable but Acer are even worse than Dell.

    Dell/ Alienware make their money off of people that buy in to a brand rather than the hardware thinking it will always magically be up to scratch and make money off of aftercare by deliberately making their systems die after a couple years, scare mongering users to buy warranties they wouldn't need with a properly put together custom build. I bought an Acer and the power supply exploded within two minutes of first boot.
     
  15. The Protocol

    The Protocol What's a Dremel?

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    You can build your own laptop? How? Where do you buy the chassis, heatsinks, fans and motherboards aswell as onboard chipsets?
     
  16. j4mi3

    j4mi3 What's a Dremel?

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    not sure if thats sarcasm there, but i actually dont know, i just presumes you could although im sure the components would be hard to source. i doubt it's impossible though
     
  17. The Protocol

    The Protocol What's a Dremel?

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    My point is how do you customise a laptop when 50%> of the parts are soldered together - i.e. you can't remove them without tearing them out

    GPU & SPU for instance
     
  18. Zurechial

    Zurechial Elitist

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    Thanks for the feedback, everyone. :)
    I'm leaning towards an Asus G53SX if I can find it at a reasonable price at a store that ships to Ireland. Failing that I might fall back on pcspecialist and customise a vortex II 15" to get the specs I want + a matte screen and spare battery.
    I've seen some negative reviews of PCSpecialist elsewhere, but it's hard to weigh up those kind of complaints against reality sometimes.

    It depends on the base model.
    Many of the laptops sold by companies like Acer, Dell and HP are just rebranded models from OEM suppliers like Compal/Clevo/Sager/Asus, etc.

    For example: I suspect that the Vortex II from PCSPecialist is actually an unbranded/OEM Asus judging by the fact that its arrangement of ports and the fan vents etc are identical to some Asus models; or the Asus models use the same base as the VortexII.
    I may be wrong on that count, as I'm only judging from the sales pictures.

    Some resellers (like PCSpecialist, Kobalt computers, ROCK, xoticpc etc) sell on so-called 'whitebooks' which are customisable laptops.
    In those ones, components like the GPU often aren't soldered to the mainboard and are instead supplied as MXM modules or similar; while parts like the WiFi/bluetooth module are separate daughterboards inside the chassis.
    If by SPU you mean soundcard - They're very rarely discrete cards in desktop machines these days, nevermind in laptops. :p

    Buying a custom whitebook can work out a hell of a lot cheaper than a branded laptop, but actually doing so is a lot harder these days in Europe/UK than it was say 5 years ago when I bought my last laptop - A compal FL92 whitebook.
    I think the recession wiped out a lot of the whitebook resellers.
     
  19. The Protocol

    The Protocol What's a Dremel?

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    Well I couldn't call it a card as such :cooldude:

    I just don't like giving my money for someone else to get half the fun of buying a PC (building it)
     
  20. Zurechial

    Zurechial Elitist

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    It is possible to buy barebones whitebooks, or it used to be at least; but actually getting your hands on laptop-compatible components to put into a whitebook is so difficult as to make it not worthwhile in most cases.
     

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