Q: Laptops?

#1 Edited by PurpleMoustache (106 posts) -

So I am currently making my mind up on which college to go to. I will be Majoring in Game Design, and both colleges I am looking at require PC computers for these courses.

Here's the problem: I grew up in a Mac household.

I know the OS quite well, but I know damn near next to nothing about internals, and how to pick a computer. I know desktop is better than laptop, and Windows 8 is hot garbage, but that's it.

Help me out duders, what's a good laptop for playing (and making) games? Price isn't a factor.

#2 Edited by believer258 (11795 posts) -

Windows 8 is not hot garbage.

...I can't really help much with laptop hardware. Desktop? I can round up a list of good parts for it. I can tell you that a well-built desktop will last you a whole lot longer than a laptop, and I can tell you that any laptop suitable for gaming is not also going to be one that's easy to carry around. If price is not a factor then I would suggest building a $1000 PC and buying a $400 laptop for portability. And if you're majoring in game design, it should be a safe assumption that you will need to know your way around a computer's innards at some point if not only to know about the hardware you're designing with.

#3 Edited by Slaegar (702 posts) -

If you MUST have a laptop I just learned about the ASUS G46VW.

$1000 for the base model with an i5@2.5GHz 8GB RAM and a 660M. That would handle about everything at high settings.

If price really isn't a factor you should look into what believer said.

Windows 8 isn't THAT bad, its just not as good of a UI as Windows 7. A lot of stuff performs ~5% better on Windows 8 over Windows 7. Some of the UI stuff can be fixed with 3rd party programs as well.

#4 Posted by sins_of_mosin (1556 posts) -

The problem with Windows 8 is that it shouldn't of been a whole new OS, it should of been a add on for Win7.

Anyway, I would find out if a laptop is required and if not then go desktop. Building vs buying complete really depends on how much time you want to save these days. Myself and two friends have bought from www.ibuypower.com with no complaints and each time it was cheaper to customize and buy from them then to buy the parts ourselves.

#5 Posted by PhilipDuck (543 posts) -

I'm doing a degree in games design and production and I have had no need for a laptop.. Desktop pc is great to program on and you'll get a much greater spec for half the price. Go desktop. Also I have windows 8 and it's not garbage :s it's perfectly fine I haven't had a problem with it.

#6 Edited by f00 (49 posts) -

You aren't going to be doing any thing really that intensive, so if you wanted to save money grab a Thinkpad T410 off of craigslist for like 200$, it'll last you forever.

#7 Edited by Jazzycola (662 posts) -

Colleges usually have computers for those specific courses. They can't just be like "oh here you have to make this game", but you don't have the equipment to do it. The CS department most likely has a gaming lab. A gaming lab is just a normal computer lab but with gaming desktops in it (most likely some really overpriced Alienwares, as Dell provides the cheapest contracts). Unless you really want a gaming desktop or to be able to do homework in your dorm then I wouldn't worry about it.

For advice on laptops or desktops, I'd say look into HP. They have a student discount at HP academy. I bought a HP dv6t with a quad core CPU and GT 650m for $700 with student coupon plus student discount(regular price, at the time,$1050 with upgraded GPU). Since it's spring, manufacturers will be putting out their new 2013 line of laptops/desktops. This means you could get a pretty sweet deal on last years models.

Oh and for desktops you should get some experience and build your own.

Dell, ASUS, and most others probably have their respective student discounts, but HP seemingly had the best deal from my research.

Also, windows 8 is actually pretty cool in a lot of ways. I thought the same thing you did before I got my laptop, but there are a lot of nifty things that 8 does.

#8 Posted by f00 (49 posts) -

Colleges usually have computers for those specific courses. They can't just be like "oh here you have to make this game", but you don't have the equipment to do it. The CS department most likely has a gaming lab. A gaming lab is just a normal computer lab but with gaming desktops in it (most likely some really overpriced Alienwares, as Dell provides the cheapest contracts). Unless you really want a gaming desktop or to be able to do homework in your dorm then I wouldn't worry about it.

For advice on laptops or desktops, I'd say look into HP. They have a student discount at HP academy. I bought a HP dv6t with a quad core CPU and GT 650m for $700 with student coupon plus student discount(regular price, at the time,$1050 with upgraded GPU). Since it's spring, manufacturers will be putting out their new 2013 line of laptops/desktops. This means you could get a pretty sweet deal on last years models.

Oh and for desktops you should get some experience and build your own.

Dell, ASUS, and most others probably have their respective student discounts, but HP seemingly had the best deal from my research.

Also, windows 8 is actually pretty cool in a lot of ways. I thought the same thing you did before I got my laptop, but there are a lot of nifty things that 8 does.

What would they have game design students be doing that requires a 650m?

#9 Edited by Jazzycola (662 posts) -

@f00: I didn't say they would require it. I said I got a good deal on it. I was giving a recommendation on where to buy a laptop if he really wanted it.

#10 Edited by bearsteak (6 posts) -

If i was going to buy a gaming laptop which I assume you want since you are going to a game design school, I would go with a Sager as my first choice or an MSI. They are not well known in the market as much for laptop but they make really strong machines but the problem is you have you get them from their resellers. Sager is great as their machines are very customizable but their case designs are plain. MSI does not have quite as much customization but their audio is great and their designs are good.

#11 Posted by CameronSmith13 (4 posts) -

Do not buy a HP! They suck. The best gaming laptops or laptops in general are sager, msi, and alienware. I just received my Sager NP9150 Special edition a few days ago and I highly recommend it to anyone. It comes with a 2.4(3.4 Turbo boost) I7 3rd gen Intel CPU, a GTX 680m GPU, and 16 GB of ram. The GTX 680m is the fastest laptop graphics card and that thing is amazing. I have maxed out every game I have tried so far(GTA IV, Bioshock Infinite, Dead Island: Riptide, Dishonored) and that's without even overclocking in which this thing is supposed to overclock like a beast. It costed $1857 total but its well worth the price. It doesnt even get hot while playing games. Sager is known for there build and cooling quality and it is spectacular. I got windows 8 on it and it runs pretty good. I haven't ran into any problems playing games and it actually seems faster then windows 7 and there are benchmarks out there to prove it.

#12 Posted by rynbeed (143 posts) -

I don't know anything about making games, but I sure do love to play them.

When I decided to look into getting a laptop that would suit my needs (be able to run most games that I'd want to play, and still be affordable) I found this: HP M6DX. It plays all the games on my steam list, the majority on high settings. And when I got it, it was $450 with free shipping. So for it's been a steal so I wouldn't over look what HP has to offer - just look into it first. My friend got an HP just under the model I purchased and it isn't able to pull off gaming quite like mine does. When I was doing research I was looking around at forums youtube videos etc making sure the machine could game like I would want it to.

Like @jazzycola said, it's more then likely that the University will provide you with workstations that'll be where you will be doing most of your work. Not knowing a thing about game design, I am willing to bet that the laptop a duder/gamer is going to want is probably going to be able to handle the work you'll be doing while away from one of the University computers.

#13 Edited by daedelus (92 posts) -

I'm pretty sure you don't need a gaming laptop. My friend who is doing a game design major right now just uses a macbook pro. He does not have a desktop. They will have computer labs for you to work in, so I would just build a cheap desktop for if you want to play or test stuff at your dorm/home. There really is no great PC laptop that won't be outdated in 2 years or weigh less than a ton. I think it would be fine to have a 13 inch macbook air to carry to classes and an inexpensive pc desktop for any development.

#14 Posted by jdh5153 (1034 posts) -

So I am currently making my mind up on which college to go to. I will be Majoring in Game Design, and both colleges I am looking at require PC computers for these courses.

Here's the problem: I grew up in a Mac household.

I know the OS quite well, but I know damn near next to nothing about internals, and how to pick a computer. I know desktop is better than laptop, and Windows 8 is hot garbage, but that's it.

Help me out duders, what's a good laptop for playing (and making) games? Price isn't a factor.

You can run Windows just fine on your Mac via BootCamp. It's not hard at all and works just like a Windows PC.

I run Windows 8 on my 2012 MacBook Pro without issue (except for issues caused by Windows 8 of course). You can also use Crossover to install and run Windows programs while booted to OS X. It works fine for some stuff, but other programs don't work as well in that emulated state.

I definitely recommend staying Mac and running Windows. You'll be incredibly disappointed with any hardware not designed by Apple.

#15 Posted by CameronSmith13 (4 posts) -

Ha apple. There overpriced hardware that sucks. A $1,700 macbook pro doesnt even have a graphics card and the best macbook pro which costs $2700 only has a 650m. For that price, you should almost be getting two 680m's and running SLI. I dont know why everyone suddenly thinks that mac is some incredible gift from god. The OS isnt even all that good. I much prefer linux over mac and then of course windows for gaming. I bought a $3000 imac 2-3 years ago and its the worst decision I have ever made. I run bootcamp 24/7 and havent touched mac for a year. Macbooks are un-upgradeable like sager, msi, and alienware so when you buy a $2000 macbook pro with a 650m(which isnt all that good), you are stuck with it. If you are interested in game programming, windows will always be the main OS. The only reason you should get a macbook is if you want to do any sort of IOS programming and you should check to see what your college uses if you want to test out the programs you make in class on your laptop.

#16 Posted by McTangle (157 posts) -

Gonna chime in and say I love my Dell Inspiron N5110, it's powerful as all hell and has hardly slowed down the two years I've had it. It's durable enough and can take some serious heat - I've had the GPU run up to 100c numerous times before auto-shutoff.

The only problem is the motherboard design, the HDD and the GPU are right next to each other, so if you're playing games the left side of the keyboard becomes Heat Central, USA. I don't know about these new-fangled Inspirons, but my ol' gal has done alright by me.

G'luck, duder!

#17 Posted by Jazzycola (662 posts) -

@daedelus said:

I'm pretty sure you don't need a gaming laptop. My friend who is doing a game design major right now just uses a macbook pro. He does not have a desktop. They will have computer labs for you to work in, so I would just build a cheap desktop for if you want to play or test stuff at your dorm/home. There really is no great PC laptop that won't be outdated in 2 years or weigh less than a ton. I think it would be fine to have a 13 inch macbook air to carry to classes and an inexpensive pc desktop for any development.

You realize that any macbook is about twice as much as any equivalent notebook/gaming laptop/ultrabook and will be outdated in the same time. There are plenty of great ultrabooks that are about half to three-fourths of the price as the cheapest macbook air($999) and a lot better specs. Not to mention buying 2 different versions of software for each OS.

#18 Posted by daedelus (92 posts) -

@jazzycola: Some people value the superior quality hardware design of the MacBooks and like the OS better...like me. And I have used PC's i've worked in IT. I'm reccomending the Macbook Air as a computer to take to class, because it's a great portable light laptop. To take notes on, do photoshop, coding, it will do everything fine except play games, which you should just have a desktop for. And since the OP said price is not a concern, and knows OS X already, I think it would be best for him to stay Mac. As others have mentioned you can bootcamp too. He's gonna have to carry this thing to class so the weight of the laptop is important.

#19 Edited by Jazzycola (662 posts) -

@daedelus: Oh you mean painting it white and putting an Apple on it. The only advantage the macbook has over any other (equivalent) laptop(ultrabook), hardware or design wise, is the retina display on the higher priced models.

#20 Posted by CameronSmith13 (4 posts) -

@daedelus Jazzycola is right. There is nothing magical about the hardware that apple uses. It doesn't have some kind of special Intel processor or specially built graphics card(which most dont even have). They use the same generic hardware as everyone else with the exception of the motherboard in which almost every laptop company has their own and their retina displays. Other then that they sell the same hardware for 2-3 times the price.

#21 Edited by daedelus (92 posts) -

@cameronsmith13 I didn't mean to troll everyone into a pc vs Mac debate. But yes, you are correct that if you completely ignore the unibody aluminum construction of the enclosure and the OS and custom motherboard design and custom battery design, which together make the experience completely different, then yes it is the same.

#22 Edited by EXTomar (4685 posts) -

Macs do something that standard Win-Intel machines don't do: Run Mac OSX and Windows. That is something to keep in mind in case it turns out you need to use Mac tools but still need Windows.

Complaining about Win 8 is like complaining about Macs where the arguments are thinly veiled "I don't like it" wrapped with some psuedo-scientific mumbo jumbo. I didn't recommend people do OS X "Cheeta" because that was too new and needs to get the problems worked out. I don't recommend people use Win 8 because of the same reason: It is too new and has problems that need to be worked out.

#23 Edited by nobel (57 posts) -

Specifications are a thing to consider for sure, but you should also go out and get a machine you will enjoy working on for extended periods of time.

A lot of my fellow students got all these tricked out gamer laptops with blue lights and bells and whistles. Spec-wise they're probably fine, but a lot of them have terrible keyboards and trackpads, and their hinges go rotten real quick.

If there is some place nearby that sells laptops, go check out some models and see if you find anything you like using. I'd specifically try and find something with a chiclet keyboard, and a nice not-too-plasticky trackpad.

#24 Edited by nobel (57 posts) -

@cameronsmith13 said:

Ha apple. There overpriced hardware that sucks. A $1,700 macbook pro doesnt even have a graphics card and the best macbook pro which costs $2700 only has a 650m. For that price, you should almost be getting two 680m's and running SLI. I dont know why everyone suddenly thinks that mac is some incredible gift from god. The OS isnt even all that good. I much prefer linux over mac and then of course windows for gaming. I bought a $3000 imac 2-3 years ago and its the worst decision I have ever made. I run bootcamp 24/7 and havent touched mac for a year. Macbooks are un-upgradeable like sager, msi, and alienware so when you buy a $2000 macbook pro with a 650m(which isnt all that good), you are stuck with it. If you are interested in game programming, windows will always be the main OS. The only reason you should get a macbook is if you want to do any sort of IOS programming and you should check to see what your college uses if you want to test out the programs you make in class on your laptop.

Also, this post makes my brain hurt.

EDIT: I should probably be a bit more constructive:

Saying Macs are overpriced is one thing, saying that it sucks is another. Macs use the same Intel processors, Nvidia graphics and RAM and Harddrives from a lot of the same suppliers that the PC manufacturers use. They put a lot of effort into cramming all that hardware into an enclosure that allows it to have a nice big battery at the same time, and for me that is a plus. I move around our campus a lot, and being able to just flip the machine open and go for 5-6 hours straight is really nice. I've never had a PC that could do that, but to be fair i never tried any of the new ultrabooks.

OSX is built on Unix, and has a lot in common with Linux. I think people have a tendency to think of Macs as dumbed-down machines that are only good for basic computing. This could not be further from the truth. Fire up a terminal and you have a lot of the same flexibility that Linux offers, and far more than Windows.

It's true that Windows is the biggest player when it comes to gaming on both laptops and desktops, and that's probably why his school recommends PCs, so i agree he should get a PC. But your reasoning is idiotic at best.

#25 Posted by Ben_H (3341 posts) -

If you absolutely need a laptop, go for a Macbook of some type and use Bootcamp to install Windows 7. After using Apple hardware for a few years, any other laptop feels like complete garbage. Even the more expensive laptops from other companies are usually pretty terrible. Most of the modern Windows laptops I have tried are plagued with issues like poor keyboards, terrible trackpads, and cheap screens. Not to mention abysmal battery life. My 15" MBP gets more than the advertised 7 hours most of the time.

Also, stay away from gaming laptops. They're garbage and a complete waste of money. Sure they are powerful, but they are not even remotely portable, have useless battery life, and are often lacking in other areas to compensate for the costs of the more powerful parts (usually terrible keyboards and screens). If you need that kind of power it would be a way better use of money to instead buy a desktop of some type.

#26 Posted by daedelus (92 posts) -

@ben_h said:

Also, stay away from gaming laptops. They're garbage and a complete waste of money. Sure they are powerful, but they are not even remotely portable, have useless battery life, and are often lacking in other areas to compensate for the costs of the more powerful parts (usually terrible keyboards and screens). If you need that kind of power it would be a way better use of money to instead buy a desktop of some type.

Well said!

Also, OP you have to understand the amount of work you will be doing in college that requires a powerful machine is very small. I think pretty much working with Unreal SDK or others is the only thing a laptop woud struggle with since it runs a live engine and i'm sure they will have a computer lab you can use for that. For college an ultra portable laptop would serve you best in my opinion.

#27 Posted by ajamafalous (11959 posts) -

I wouldn't give the OP misinformation; a friend of mine was actually forced to buy a laptop for her major, and it had to be a Mac (which she hated and sold after she graduated). Either way, the policy is completely dependent on the school he's going to.

#28 Edited by CameronSmith13 (4 posts) -

@nobel I said they use the exact same hardware just not as higher up the tier as other laptops at the same price. I know that Linux and Mac are both based on Unix and in my opinion Linux is way better then windows. For me it goes Linux > Windows > Mac. For what mac is, its not worth the price when you are basically paying 2-3 times the price for the operating system which you could say it is better then windows but not better then linux(which is free). It is way better to get a good PC laptop for half the price of a Macbook and duelboot linux and windows. Anyways most colleges now teach some sort of dumb engine like Unity which runs on all operating systems instead of teaching them the basics like opengl or directx, so it really doesnt matter what OS he gets but if you read his whole post, at the bottom he says he wants to PLAY and make games on it so it would be better to get a nice gaming laptop such as Sager, MSI, or alienware.

@ben_h I dont know what kind of crappy gaming laptops that you buy but the Sager that I bought is way better then my last macbook pro. The Screen quality is the best i have ever seen and the keyboard is a customizable backlit keyboard which feels really nice. The battery power does suck(3-4 hours on windows, way more on linux) but it doesnt weigh all the much(6-7ish pounds maybe). Some people do complain about the weight but I think its very light. If you think 7 pounds is heavy, maybe you should be hitting the gym a little bit more often then playing on your computer.

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