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Laptop Advice!


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#1 !Null   Members   -  Reputation: 380

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Posted 04 August 2012 - 08:48 AM

Hey guys, not quite sure where I should have put this thread, but anyway.

I'm going abroad to study for about 6 months in Italy next month.

I already have a really good desktop, but. I am looking to buy a decent development laptop to take with me over there.

I'm basically looking for a reasonably priced laptop that I can do some game dev and general coding on (C++, UDK all that stuff)

I'm looking to spend about £450 - £700 ( $700 - $1000 )

Do you guys have any suggestions for me?

thanks.
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#2 Bacterius   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 9261

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Posted 04 August 2012 - 09:02 AM

This should go in the Lounge (don't repost, threads can be moved).

I recommend a laptop with 6-8GB memory, a decent processor (quad core if possible, but a nice dual core would work too), and if you can, an SSD. And a mid-level mobile graphics card if you are going to be doing game development. Make sure you get a big screen with a large resolution! There should be various options around your price range for this, I can't recommend but for instance, something like this (USD $1000) as a baseline model, default options are quite nice except the hard drive, otherwise there's this one with a lower starting cost so you can customize it a bit (I added more memory, increased the screen to 1920x1080 and added a small SSD all under $1000) but the graphics card is an inferior stepping. Of course these are just examples, I don't endorse the brand or anything and am simply making general statements about what kind of hardware you could be aiming for - although the Sager/Clevo laptops are generally pretty good.

If you are just looking for the cheapest one though you can probably find a functional laptop somewhere for $600 or less, but to be honest if you are going to be buying a laptop you might as well get one that will last you a while.

Edited by Bacterius, 04 August 2012 - 09:06 AM.

The slowsort algorithm is a perfect illustration of the multiply and surrender paradigm, which is perhaps the single most important paradigm in the development of reluctant algorithms. The basic multiply and surrender strategy consists in replacing the problem at hand by two or more subproblems, each slightly simpler than the original, and continue multiplying subproblems and subsubproblems recursively in this fashion as long as possible. At some point the subproblems will all become so simple that their solution can no longer be postponed, and we will have to surrender. Experience shows that, in most cases, by the time this point is reached the total work will be substantially higher than what could have been wasted by a more direct approach.

 

- Pessimal Algorithms and Simplexity Analysis


#3 6677   Members   -  Reputation: 1058

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Posted 04 August 2012 - 09:41 AM

an SSD

I would disagree, £700 is a nice budget to work with but might be better usage of the money to use it towards a better CPU or GPU than a high speed drive as nice as a SSD would be.
One thing you didn't take into account is the increased price of computers in Britain so your $1000 dollar laptop might cost the equivalent of $1200 here hence going over budget.

I don't keep up with the laptop market so I've had to ask a friends opinion. He recommended the medion store. He had a larger budget (spent £800 on a laptop in the sale) but he has been happy with the quality of the hardware and value for money (he also looked at alienwares and got significantly more power from his medion for alot less)

#4 !Null   Members   -  Reputation: 380

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Posted 04 August 2012 - 09:58 AM

Thanks for the replies guys,

Like 6677 says im not TOO fussed about the SSD, the cpu and gpu are quite important to me though.

I took a look at the medion store and I'm actually quite impressed, thanks for that :)
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#5 Ripiz   Members   -  Reputation: 529

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Posted 04 August 2012 - 10:09 AM

I'm basically looking for a reasonably priced laptop that I can do some game dev and general coding on (C++, UDK all that stuff)


Overall it's not likely you'll need more than 4 GB RAM.

For C++ I'd suggest to take Quad Core with at least 3 GHz. Multi-core compilation should give a nice boost, with high GHz linking shouldn't take long either.

How complex graphics you are going to use in UDK? Personally I have GeForce 525M and it runs Prototype 2 on max settings, something cheap like this should be more than enough for you.

SSD would be nice to have, but decent HDD will do as well. Small code files get heavy on drives sadly.
You might consider HDD for stuff and small SDD (might be external) for code.

Edited by Ripiz, 04 August 2012 - 10:11 AM.


#6 Tasaq   Members   -  Reputation: 1250

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Posted 04 August 2012 - 10:17 AM

I have notebook with 6gb ram + GT540M, i3 2310(yep, it's the lowest performance cpu from Sandy Bridge as far as i know).
Bought in December. It's fine for me, I used it for playing with CryEngine and more seriusly for programming in C#(and not only game programming), also I never had performance issues :)
The price was in range You gave (at least in my country), so now You should be able to get far better lapy for same price ;)

#7 dilyan_rusev   Members   -  Reputation: 1066

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Posted 04 August 2012 - 10:57 AM

Just my 2 cents.

Second-hand laptops (called refurbished here in the UK) do offer a better deal, but you should be mindful of the warranty you get. Also, if you have the option, do ask your university if they are part of the MSDN-AA network (or Dreamspark). If they are, you can buy a laptop without Windows, and install the one that is provided for free by your university. You will save a few pounds that way, and still get a legal copy (Windows-less laptops are usually offered by Dell and sometimes Asus, and are usually marketed as Linux laptops),

Other than that, I'd better choose a laptop with a nice, fast HDD and good keyboard. Be very careful of anything that embeds the arrow keys without a dedicated space for them... at least I'm used to the old DOS shortcuts and coding on such a keyboard is a pain.

On the GPU - you don't need anything fast. Entry-level cards like 525 (or the newer 6xx) would do just fine. In fact, if it weren't for the drivers, even the new integrated graphics would do the work for most amateur-ish game development.

Also, portability is very important. If you don't live on campus, you'll have to carry that thing in a backpack. 2,5 kg might not sound very much, but if you add adapter, and maybe food and a book, it quickly adds up. Do think about that. I don't think you need super-duper fast processor, hard-disk is the more limiting factor in compilation - especially with modern processors. Even dual-cores can support 4 threads, and even sandy bridge i5 are insanely fast.

I would also advise you to think about the type of screen. If you plan on working in the university halls, and your university is anything like mine, it will be very well lit. Glossy screens will make your head hurt if the lighting is not very even, or if the light source is behind you. Unfortunately, there are very few makers that offer the combination of matte screen, good keyboard and fast hard disk.

Here in the UK there are shops that offer big discounts for students. Do check if that is the case in your university, the cost difference can be as high as 20-30%! Discounted laptops have a bit weaker specs, but I guess you should make certain yourself.

And you should always consider the option to *not* buy a laptop. Here the School of CS has huge labs for MSc and BSc students, with 24-hour access, even during holidays, so you don't really need one. Ask if this is the case. IMO you should think, cause it might not be worth it if you get a worse accommodation because of the laptop. And the social experience is probably more important than coding :)

As a general framework: look for no more than 15" screen with at least 1680x1050, 7200 HDD, the latest i5, and an entry-level GPU. It should be more than enough, unless you plan on heavy gaming (in which case you need way more money, anyway).

gl & hf :)

#8 6677   Members   -  Reputation: 1058

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Posted 04 August 2012 - 11:27 AM

even the new integrated graphics would do the work for most amateur-ish game development.

He stated he was using the UDK, dependant on asset quality he might get away with an integrated chipset but in that price bracket he can probably get dedicated

2,5 kg might not sound very much, but if you add adapter, and maybe food and a book,

This is a very valid point. My laptop weighs 2.3Kg I think, I took it to school and with my standard stuff which consisted of a chemistry textbook, a physics textbook, lunch, pencil case, ethernet cable and charger it weighed a god damn ton. Going for an uber lightweight laptop might not be the best idea either but at least think about what your taking with you each day, maybe some of your textbooks are available as PDF's assuming reading them on a laptop is viable

And you should always consider the option to *not* buy a laptop

Said he had a good desktop already but is going abroad and can't bring it with him.

#9 !Null   Members   -  Reputation: 380

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Posted 04 August 2012 - 11:29 AM

Just my 2 cents.

Second-hand laptops (called refurbished here in the UK) do offer a better deal, but you should be mindful of the warranty you get. Also, if you have the option, do ask your university if they are part of the MSDN-AA network (or Dreamspark). If they are, you can buy a laptop without Windows, and install the one that is provided for free by your university. You will save a few pounds that way, and still get a legal copy (Windows-less laptops are usually offered by Dell and sometimes Asus, and are usually marketed as Linux laptops),

Other than that, I'd better choose a laptop with a nice, fast HDD and good keyboard. Be very careful of anything that embeds the arrow keys without a dedicated space for them... at least I'm used to the old DOS shortcuts and coding on such a keyboard is a pain.

On the GPU - you don't need anything fast. Entry-level cards like 525 (or the newer 6xx) would do just fine. In fact, if it weren't for the drivers, even the new integrated graphics would do the work for most amateur-ish game development.

Also, portability is very important. If you don't live on campus, you'll have to carry that thing in a backpack. 2,5 kg might not sound very much, but if you add adapter, and maybe food and a book, it quickly adds up. Do think about that. I don't think you need super-duper fast processor, hard-disk is the more limiting factor in compilation - especially with modern processors. Even dual-cores can support 4 threads, and even sandy bridge i5 are insanely fast.

I would also advise you to think about the type of screen. If you plan on working in the university halls, and your university is anything like mine, it will be very well lit. Glossy screens will make your head hurt if the lighting is not very even, or if the light source is behind you. Unfortunately, there are very few makers that offer the combination of matte screen, good keyboard and fast hard disk.

Here in the UK there are shops that offer big discounts for students. Do check if that is the case in your university, the cost difference can be as high as 20-30%! Discounted laptops have a bit weaker specs, but I guess you should make certain yourself.

And you should always consider the option to *not* buy a laptop. Here the School of CS has huge labs for MSc and BSc students, with 24-hour access, even during holidays, so you don't really need one. Ask if this is the case. IMO you should think, cause it might not be worth it if you get a worse accommodation because of the laptop. And the social experience is probably more important than coding Posted Image

As a general framework: look for no more than 15" screen with at least 1680x1050, 7200 HDD, the latest i5, and an entry-level GPU. It should be more than enough, unless you plan on heavy gaming (in which case you need way more money, anyway).

gl & hf Posted Image


Thanks, that was a really good detailed reply.

The University is registered with dreamspark / msdn-aa so i agree with you on the windows 7 thing.

the money / accommodation thing isn't really an issue, I have this money especially aside for getting the laptop.
I have thought about portability and i've been looking about on HP, Dell and ebay and i've seen a few laptops that have caught my eye.

I'll keep all your advice in mind
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/**********************He Who Dares, Wins**********************************\
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#10 !Null   Members   -  Reputation: 380

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Posted 04 August 2012 - 11:32 AM

He stated he was using the UDK, dependant on asset quality he might get away with an integrated chipset but in that price bracket he can probably get dedicated


I am actually hoping to find one with dedicated graphics :)
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#11 GWDev   Members   -  Reputation: 281

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Posted 04 August 2012 - 04:14 PM

Hi,

i think the Lenovo Y580 might be an option.

+ i7 3rd Generation (Quad Core)
+ GTX 660M (2GB)
+ 8GB
+ Full HD Display (the new ones)

- Heavy (2.8 kg)
- 15.6 screen. Too big to carry around all day.
- Not available at the moment (est. september)

Starts at 799,-- Euros.

Personally i would prefer something smaller and lighter. Like 12.1 or 13.3 display and under 2kg. But it is not easy to find notebooks with power in this size. Most are Ultrabooks. Nice to look at, but with U-series CPUs and a really small (dedicated) GPU at best.
I like the Schenker (XMG) A102, but it has no DVD drive and costs more than 1000 Euros with the i7 and GT650M. With an i5 you might find some cheaper models.

--GWDev

Edited by GWDev, 04 August 2012 - 04:15 PM.


#12 !Null   Members   -  Reputation: 380

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Posted 04 August 2012 - 04:52 PM

i Have actually heard a lot of good things about Lenovo. so I'm seriously considering it.

Weight isn't too much of an issue, I'm quite used to carrying a bag full of heavy programming books about, I'll just get comfortable well sized rucksack.

I do really like my screen space as well.

All you guys are great, I'm getting really good feedback. I love the gamedev community.
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#13 dilyan_rusev   Members   -  Reputation: 1066

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Posted 05 August 2012 - 05:52 AM

Just a few quick words. Don't rush into buying anything, unless you are out of time. The best thing possible is to test the laptop live in the store - try imlementing something simple in notepad or bring notepad++ on a flash drive to test the keyboard. Try to load it a bit to see how noisy it gets (it's embarassing when during a lecture you take notes and the laptop gets louder than a vacuum cleaner, since it's hot in the room, and in Italy it's quite hot and humid).

The best web site for reviews that I know of is called notebook check - a German site that is translated into English. Do check out the notebooks that you are considering over there - these guys go into crazy details.

#14 Vodahmin   Members   -  Reputation: 233

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Posted 05 August 2012 - 06:48 AM

I'd personally recommend Dell L702X. With its i7 processor and GT 555M (3 GB) GPU it runs all modern games. In addition, the 17" display is just the right size for programming - you can comfortably program with multiple windows of code being opened next to each other.

I'm not sure about the prices in the UK, however I bought a 8GB RAM, no OS version for about £760.


EDIT: One thing though. When running high performance-demanding programs, the laptop gets quite hot. There is a huge built-in fan, so the components' temperature is pretty stable (at least in my case) but you can feel a lot of hot air coming out of the vents (but I guess the laptop could be also used as a radiator during the cold winters).

Edited by Vodahmin, 05 August 2012 - 07:07 AM.


#15 dilyan_rusev   Members   -  Reputation: 1066

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Posted 05 August 2012 - 07:07 AM

The right size for programming is a desktop with at least 2 monitors and a full, proper keyboard. Laptops make no sense if they are big. Programming, gaming, and working on a laptop is inferior experience in any way imaginable. What you get in return is mobility. To sacrfice mobility with 17"-er is not something I'd recommend. For gaming, many university dorms offer common rooms with huge TVs, or if you've got 24-hour access, you can hook your console to the lecture projectors (do try and watch movies in the lecture halls... it's a lot of fun !)

It all comes down to preferences in the end.

#16 Vodahmin   Members   -  Reputation: 233

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Posted 05 August 2012 - 07:16 AM

The right size for programming is a desktop with at least 2 monitors and a full, proper keyboard. Laptops make no sense if they are big. Programming, gaming, and working on a laptop is inferior experience in any way imaginable. What you get in return is mobility. To sacrfice mobility with 17"-er is not something I'd recommend. For gaming, many university dorms offer common rooms with huge TVs, or if you've got 24-hour access, you can hook your console to the lecture projectors (do try and watch movies in the lecture halls... it's a lot of fun !)

It all comes down to preferences in the end.


It is true that with multiple monitors you can increase your efficiency even more - and you can do it as well with a laptop. The 17" I've posted above has a full keyboard as well. This is probably not the best choice in terms of mobility but rather a desktop replacement, which as I've read is what we're looking for (as the larger size issue doesn't matter).

Edited by Vodahmin, 05 August 2012 - 07:16 AM.


#17 !Null   Members   -  Reputation: 380

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Posted 06 August 2012 - 07:16 AM

Guys, just wanted to let you all know, thanks for all your advice, I went and bought a laptop today.

I ended up getting a Sony Vaio dual core 15 at 2.5ghz 6gb ram ati dedicated graphics 15"

I took all your advice intro concideration and I thought this was best config / price ratio.

It was the display model in the shop as all the others had sold out, me and my good friend check it out for dents and stuff and it looks fine.

I'm using it at the moment and its amazing.

Picked it up for £500, thanks guys
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/**********************He Who Dares, Wins**********************************\
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