#1 Posted by Nightriff (5096 posts) -

I am currently in the market for a new laptop but let me give a little background. Getting a nice tax return this year (one of the many bonuses of having a kid now) and decided to upgrade from a 6 year old macbook that I've had for....well 6 years. Great computer that has served me well and still does but it is time to say goodbye. I wish I could buy an awesome/amazing computer but I live in the real world now where there are other priorities leaving me with a budget to spend around $1000 +/- ~$250. I've put many hours into researching computers and trying to find the perfect laptop within my price range. Since this is the first big purchase where I have many, many options to choose from, I want to make the best educated choice I can. So I've narrowed down my search to 5 Laptops, 1 being the ideal laptop that is just outside my price range BUT if I found cheaper, coupon, refurbished (maybe) I would buy. The potential laptops are:

There are things I like about all these computers and at this point I could purchase one of them and be happy for the most part but would like to narrow it down to preferably 2 options so there is as little regret as possible. Basically I need a huge HD for my iTunes library, it's over 500 GB and would like a lot of room for games as well, so I could get away with a 750 but a 1 TB is probably what I really need. My current desktop is ancient and want as good a video card as I can get so I can FINALLY play some PC games. Basically some questions I have, or some areas I would like to be enlightened about.

The Lenovo computer has two video cards, which is awesome I guess. But I really don't understand the complete benefit and haven't been able to find a good article explaining the pros and cons. My assumption is it is twice as good, but does that mean it will rival the video card in the G750JX which is the best out of the bunch? I've used videocardbenchmark.com to compare all the cards but the two video card thing is throwing me off, do I just double the "number" and that is the cards potential?

The Acer computer has a CPU speed of 2.2 GHz, everything else (I believe) is at 2.4, I don't know what the really means...does the .2 really effect the performance that much? Is it a give and take with RAM? I just don't know or really understand the relationship between the CPU and the rest of the computer, just haven't been able to wrap my mind around this stuff yet.

How much RAM is really necessary? 8 fine? Should I shoot for 16? 24, am I crazy?

Once I go SSD, do I never go back?

Is it pretty easy now to go in and upgrade hard drives in laptops? My assumption was/is it is impossible or for really technical people, were I'm barely a novice.

At this point I've stared at these computers for awhile and I'm looking for some outside advice from the community I frequent the most, no not my family, you, the users of Giant Bomb. Any suggestions, answers, advice, guidance will be most appreciated. I'm always open to other laptop suggestions to check out, I'm not married to any of these choices and I'm still in the researching stage, not the purchasing stage. And I'll ask questions, many questions so please be patience with my stupidity and ignorance of this new endeavor for me. Thank you.

#2 Edited by TheHBK (5488 posts) -

I guess I am wondering why you would go with a Laptop instead of building a new rig. But for the specs, those are some pretty sweet choices. I would go with the Lenovo based purely on graphics as they are very similar. From the benchmarks I have seen, the dual 750m in SLI would outperform the 770m in the ACER you have your eye on, though not by much. You don't get double a 750m, you have to look for benchmarks specifically for the 750m in SLI. As compared to the other laptops, I would definitely take the 750m in SLI over the 760m the other laptops have. RAM, for games, you are fine with 8GB. You will need a better system before you need more RAM. But the Lenovo comes with 16GB, so whatevers!

#3 Posted by Aviar (441 posts) -

I picked up an Asus G75 last year for my wife and she loves it, and so do I. The Lenovo looks nice, but I'm not a fan of the smaller displays so that will really come down to your choice as to which size display you really want. While the sli in the Lenovo is nice, I think the 765 is a newer better graphics adapter in the Asus.

As far as memory anything over 8 is butter. Unless you start running virtual machines or start doing video editing the 12 or 16 that is in most of these will be MORE than enough.

#4 Edited by Nightriff (5096 posts) -

@thehbk: Ah, forgot to clarify that I am a student and will use the laptop in my classes, doing assignments, bringing it to work, etc. Would love to build a rig but that will be years from. Hoping to take what I learn from this and can put it towards build my own in a year or two (next tax return).

#5 Edited by bmccann42 (107 posts) -

Could you get one custom built as opposed to a specific make? You might be able to save some money that way.

#6 Posted by Nightriff (5096 posts) -

@bmccann42: I figured that was only for desktops, wasn't really aware of this option for laptops. Do you know of any sites or places that can do this?

#7 Edited by bmccann42 (107 posts) -

@nightriff: There is a good chance I might not know exactly what I am talking about, but I have seen computer places here in Toronto that will custom build laptops, but it might be pricy. Probably best to ignore me, I use Apple stuff cause my actual computer skills atrophied badly after about 2001...

#8 Edited by gokaired (541 posts) -

8gb of Ram is more than enough but more won't hurt

SSD IS better but a decent sized one (1tb) is far too expensive, get 1tb though.

It's exceptionally easy to upgrade harddrives. you just need the correct socket or barrier (some SSD are slimmer than HDD and need something to bind it, not all though). But first you need to transfer all the data from one to the other, I do that via usb to Sata however there is a usb to usb cable. It'll probably take 2hrs as a whole, the time it takes to swap and transfer the info i mean.

The Acer computer has a CPU speed of 2.2 GHz, everything else (I believe) is at 2.4, I don't know what the really means...does the .2 really effect the performance that much?

Actually what's important is how many cores there are, they are (as I remember) all Quad-cores meaning it can process large programs and multi-task said programs, the "GHz" just means speed. Technically the speed is just as important. as it helps the games and other systems run more smoothly and go from page to page etc. faster.

Is it a give and take with RAM?

Yes. See certain programs require an amount of memory to run (think of it as space or lead time) but if the processor is slow or fast with little ram you can't run multiple systems, like the OS, internet security and all those background programs you don't notice. They needs that.

For every other basic Laptop 4gb of RAM with a 2GHz dual core processor is enough, but to run games, 3D software etc you need twice as much RAM, a Quadcore processor (usually, many old and some new games can run on a dual) with 25% more GHz in processing speed.

As for Graphics Card, the AsusG750 GTX 770m is the best but the Lenovo one is good aswell. 1gb is fine but 2gb (which they all have) and over is Ideal.

You don't need a blu-ray disk I don't think because it isn't quite standard or necessary yet, an external one when you're ready will do. You may not need one at all actually, I haven't used my optical drive in years

Think about the size of the screen, I'm a small dude a 17"er would look ridiculous around me plus, it'll be heavy to lug around. :/

All and all the Lenovo I think is the best, huge storage, good Graphics Card though not the best, real good amount of RAM, the Processor though will get the job done, and it is in my experience Lenovo's are a sturdy brand, the built quality is top notch. plus it's more affordable than the best option which is ASUS G750.

Geez, I hope i didn't over load you. :P

By the way, I have a custom built Lappy and I work at a computer hardware store.

#9 Posted by Nightriff (5096 posts) -

@gokaired: Thanks for the fantastic post and all the information. I've been leaning toward the Lenovo recently (and by recently I mean like the past 12 hours) and thinking about getting a stock model and purchasing a 1 tb SSD and throwing that in there. My understanding is that it will obviously be faster (booting, loading, etc) but will also give me more battery life…maybe? Had a coworker tell me that when he did this with his laptop it increased his battery life by a lot, not sure if its true or he just thinks it did. Also as you said 8 GB of RAM will be enough but then I will also have the option to upgrade to 12 or 16 if I really want/need to.

Is there a way to tell if a laptop can have 2 hard drives? I would love to just be able to throw in a smaller SSD into the Lenovo to go along with the stock Hybrid, but I can't tell if a laptop has the capability or if it doesn't.

#10 Edited by JJWeatherman (14558 posts) -

@nightriff: I'd say forget the SSD. Besides the fact that a 1TB SSD will cost you nearly as much as your whole computer, you probably won't see that drastic of a battery life improvement. You'd still be running dual discrete mobile graphics chips, after all. SSDs are nice, but not at all worth it in this case.

#11 Posted by Nightriff (5096 posts) -

@jjweatherman: So its because of the dual graphics chips that the battery is so bad compared to the other laptops, I guess that makes sense, needs more power to run both of them. And you don't think the price of an SSD is worth it yet to do something like this, maybe in a few years?

#12 Posted by gokaired (541 posts) -

JJ is right It's not worth it right now.

The Graphics card takes up a lot of juice when used, (when it is used, turn off all background applications to help a little)

SSDs aren't made equal, depending on the make there won't be a significant increase in speed (and some just won't notice anyway :/), and as for battery life, same difference. Honestly, in that regard there's no definite answer beyond "wait till it's cheaper" or on sale.

#13 Posted by JJWeatherman (14558 posts) -

@jjweatherman: So its because of the dual graphics chips that the battery is so bad compared to the other laptops, I guess that makes sense, needs more power to run both of them. And you don't think the price of an SSD is worth it yet to do something like this, maybe in a few years?

I don't think you ever need to buy an SSD if you go with something like that Lenovo. The hybrid drive in there should be perfect for you. In your case, an SSD would be just way too expensive for the insignificant bit of luxury it'd provide.

And I bet it really wouldn't help battery life perceptibly. Laptops like the ones you're looking at just aren't built to run all day without a power source. If you want that, there are slimmer, more power-efficient options. But then of course you don't get the gaming power you want. You'll just have to know going in that the battery life on the type of computer you want isn't ever going to be good. This is why I much prefer a portable laptop like a MacBook Air coupled with a proper gaming PC, but that's understandably not always an option.

#14 Edited by Rokkaku (222 posts) -

@nightriff said:

@jjweatherman: So its because of the dual graphics chips that the battery is so bad compared to the other laptops, I guess that makes sense, needs more power to run both of them. And you don't think the price of an SSD is worth it yet to do something like this, maybe in a few years?

I don't think you ever need to buy an SSD if you go with something like that Lenovo. The hybrid drive in there should be perfect for you. In your case, an SSD would be just way too expensive for the insignificant bit of luxury it'd provide.

And I bet it really wouldn't help battery life perceptibly. Laptops like the ones you're looking at just aren't built to run all day without a power source. If you want that, there are slimmer, more power-efficient options. But then of course you don't get the gaming power you want. You'll just have to know going in that the battery life on the type of computer you want isn't ever going to be good. This is why I much prefer a portable laptop like a MacBook Air coupled with a proper gaming PC, but that's understandably not always an option.

I agree with this guy, you said you were student, and, as a student who just recently got an Air, I can say that it's been a revelation. Its portability and quick functionality means that I can do work in cafes, on trains, anywhere really, increasing productivity; the quality of the pre-loaded software (Pages, etc.) and the compatibility with uploading to Office means the saved hassle of getting Word and the like on a Windows laptop. But, if you definitely want to play games on your laptop, an Air isn't the choice - you know your priorities better than I do!

#15 Edited by Nightriff (5096 posts) -

@rokkaku: @jjweatherman: I would love to do something like that, even get a tablet just to do things on campus and have a desktop that plays games, but yeah that isn't the case so I kinda got to pack in everything I can into this laptop. As always thanks for all the insight.