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Great laptop for game development? (Budget of +1200,- euros)


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#1 Tjakka5   Members   -  Reputation: 129

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Posted 14 April 2014 - 01:21 PM

Hello,

 

In 4 weeks I will have my exams; after that I want to do Game Development.

I have found a school and found out everything that I have to have.

 

Most things weren't a problem, headphones, external hdd, the basic stuff.

However, you also need to provide your own laptop.

 

I got a list saying what kind of specs the laptop should have, but it wasn't really.. clear...

Intel I7
8Gb ram
500Gb HDD
2Gb video memory
1920*1080 screen

Approximatly 1000,-

Now, I've been saving up a little bit, got about 300,- euros now.

My parents will pay 400,- for the laptop, and the school will pay 10-20% of the price too.

 

I'm getting a lot of pocket money; 85,- euros a month.

This means I'll have atleast 1200,- euros, and I am going to work in the vacation too, because money is always handy.

 

 

 

Now, I know a little bit about computers, and I made a list of specs that I want atleast:

Generation 4 I7, Octocore at ~3.5 ghz.
16Gb DDR3 ram at 1600Mhz
500Gb HDD
120Gb SSD
1920*1080 screen
3Gb video memory, preferably Nvidia because I am very used to that.
Windows 7

I dont want a HP, Dell or Alienware, as I really dont like those laptops.
Preferably I want a black laptop that is an ASUS.

I don't mind if what I can get is slightly worse or better for the money that I have.

Again, I have atleast 1200,- and can probably add another 300,- to it if needed.

 

 

 

The laptop will be mostly used for Game Development; Unity, Maya, Photoshop, and I want to go the route of Programmer later on.

I also want to play a few games on it; Minecraft, Kerbal Space Program, maybe even Tomb Raider 2013.

 

 

 

Can someone recommend a good laptop?



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#2 NightCreature83   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3461

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Posted 14 April 2014 - 01:43 PM

Not sure where you from but if you can read this Dutch Tweakers bi-montly laptop guide might be a good start for you. http://tweakers.net/reviews/3479/laptop-best-buy-guide-april-2014.html the ranges you are looking at this would be either a multi-media laptop or main stream laptop. Do you mean to have 8 real cores in the CPU or is a hyper threaded quad core good enough, because there are no 8 core(as in not hyper threaded) intel chips at the moment.


Worked on titles: CMR:DiRT2, DiRT 3, DiRT: Showdown, GRID 2, Mad Max

#3 frob   Moderators   -  Reputation: 28169

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Posted 14 April 2014 - 01:47 PM

You want it, but you probably don't need it.  

 

Lots of students start out saying "I need this high-end laptop for school to take notes and for classes", only to discover they are better served with a pen and paper during class, and a computer lab's system for the work. What you need can be found in a lab in the CS department. You can have a perfectly acceptable machine for less money if you go for a desktop box at home. A laptop also run risks of both both damage and theft.

 

That said, you are still going to buy a fancy laptop because you are a young student, and that's what you do.

 

 

 

The general laptop recommendations for programming are a large screen and full-size keyboard. You won't be taxing the processor or graphics cards with any of your homework, only for playing games.

 

Also note that most laptops are junk after about 3 years. By the time you are done with your schooling a laptop bought today will be considered trash when you graduate; there is no way to upgrade mid-studies.


Check out my book, Game Development with Unity, aimed at beginners who want to build fun games fast.

Also check out my personal website at bryanwagstaff.com, where I write about assorted stuff.


#4 swiftcoder   Senior Moderators   -  Reputation: 12897

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Posted 14 April 2014 - 02:21 PM

You won't be taxing the processor or graphics cards with any of your homework, only for playing games.

While I agree with the general gist, it's not entirely clear from the OP whether or not he is planning to attend a program specifically geared towards game development.

If so, the recommended specs provided by the school are probably a solid guideline.


Tristam MacDonald - Software Engineer @Amazon - [swiftcoding]


#5 minibutmany   Members   -  Reputation: 1815

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Posted 14 April 2014 - 02:32 PM

No need to spend 1K.

Lenovo has good think pads for ~$800.

Thinkpad T series.


Stay gold, Pony Boy.

#6 Ravyne   GDNet+   -  Reputation: 10405

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Posted 14 April 2014 - 04:17 PM

A larger T or W series Lenovo Thinkpad would be a good bet. Either a 15.6 or 14.1 inch screen would be good, you should be able to find either in 1080p. You can choose between discrete or integrated GPUs, you'll be able to have a larger GPU in 15.6" models (heat dissipation and size considerations).

 

In most laptops smaller than 17" you can't fit more than one HDD -- but some have an mSata slot in addition to their 2.5 inch HDD bay, so you can have your SSD and mechanical drive too if the SSD is mSata. That said, If you can afford a 512GB (or even 256GB) SSD it might just be better to do that alone -- people always get these big mechanical drives for their media and such, but then they play music from it and drain their batteries. Also, get a *good quality* SSD -- Like a Samsung 840 pro or intel drive. These have great reputations for reliability, the last thing you want is a flaky boot drive.

 

Do go with nVidia for the GPU, but you don't need the highest-end thing. In fact, try to get the 860m specifically -- its a mid-range part, but unlike the more-powerful entries in the 800m series, its based on the newest Maxwell architecture, which draws about half the power of Kepler-based parts, and also improves the architecture to support the latest CUDA features, etc. These parts won't be out until May or so, though. Going with nVidia in general for a laptop is important because of Optimus, which AMD doesn't do.

 

Yes to 4th-gen Intel -- either quad-core i5 or i7 (+ 4 hyperthreads) which are the lowest-power i-series CPUs, and they support AVX2.

 

Yes to 16 GB of RAM -- Most laptops have 2 so-dimm slots, you want dual-channel, so you can't have 8GB now and upgrade later without tossing the original sticks. Just max it out now and be done with it.

 

Regarding the specs overall -- everyone is right to point out that you don't need a high-powered machine to take notes, or even for any of the programming you're likely to do in the next 2-3 years; but the school is probably advising you based on specs they think will carry you through the entire length of the program, and even a little beyond. I know Digipen recommends similar specs to what you're saying for their new students.


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#7 Ravyne   GDNet+   -  Reputation: 10405

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Posted 14 April 2014 - 04:29 PM

I'll also add, I like the T or W-series because you can dock them properly (no silly one-cable USB video adapters) when you're at home. Laptops are great, but when you're not mobile, having a great big monitor or three, a mouse, ethernet, and a full-size keyboard with proper key-travel is so much more comfortable.

 

I have a powerful gaming desktop that I use for some development things -- mostly testing out higher-end discrete GPUs; but my primary working machine (game programming) is a maxed-out Lenovo W530 that I dock into my 30" monitor + 2x 20" monitors. I have everything I could want spec-wise from that laptop, everything I could want comfort-wise when I'm docked at home, and I can scoop up my laptop at a moment's notice when I have to work somewhere else.

 

I've probably got $1500 US into the laptop itself, a $250 into the dock because I got the fanciest one, and another $1200 into the monitors (they're all high-end Dell monitors), you could get 2x 27" Korean imports for about $300 each, or a pair of 24" for under $200 apeice (or a single 39" 4k monitor for < $500).


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#8 3Ddreamer   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3281

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Posted 14 April 2014 - 05:20 PM

Hi,

 

I feel that most laptops are great for game development, obvious that some much more than others.

 

Multi-core processor (Quad or more is great but at least Dual), Gigabyte motherboard, and NVidia dedicated graphics card are my personal recommendations. Processor needs to be at least 3.0 Ghz these days, get DDR-5, and look for plenty of ports such as for USB 2.0 and USB 3.0

 

You will use storage faster than you now realize, but not an urgent issue for a while. Getting a 64-bit has performance advantages while 32-bit might be compatible with more legacy applications and software.  If you are not going to dip into legacy issues then no problem - go 64-bit.  The higher bit is the way of the future sooner than people realize.  Microsoft, for example, is turning the "32-bit needs to die" drumbeat up and more frequently, as are a number of other industry leaders such as the creator of Mantle.


Edited by 3Ddreamer, 14 April 2014 - 05:21 PM.

Personal life and your private thoughts always effect your career. Research is the intellectual backbone of game development and the first order. Version Control is crucial for full management of applications and software.  The better the workflow pipeline, then the greater the potential output for a quality game.  Completing projects is the last but finest order.

 

by Clinton, 3Ddreamer


#9 minibutmany   Members   -  Reputation: 1815

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Posted 14 April 2014 - 05:40 PM


Processor needs to be at least 3.0 Ghz these days

That is only relevant as far as desktops are concerned, but I believe that most mobile processors are somewhat lower to save battery.


Stay gold, Pony Boy.

#10 Ravyne   GDNet+   -  Reputation: 10405

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Posted 14 April 2014 - 06:02 PM


Multi-core processor (Quad or more is great but at least Dual), Gigabyte motherboard, and NVidia dedicated graphics card are my personal recommendations. Processor needs to be at least 3.0 Ghz these days, get DDR-5, and look for plenty of ports such as for USB 2.0 and USB 3.0

 

There is no DDR-5, DDR4 will be supported on the next round of Intel (and probably AMD) processors. Ghz is hard to measure by, most times the speed on the box is the single-threaded boost speed. The nominal speed of an Intel CPU is a fair bit lower -- 2Ghz is pretty much a given, 2.4-2.6 common, 3.0-3.2 on the high-end. AMD has a different architecture and achieves higher Ghz, but has lower single-threaded performance (basically, they aren't able to extract as much parallelism from the instruction stream as an i-series CPU, or issue/retire as many instructions). I would say that 4 physical CPU cores (or two compute modules in AMD-speak) is minimal these days. going to an i7 doesn't give you more physical cores, just enables hyperthreading. Some low-end i5s are dual physical cores + hyper-threading, particularly in the laptop space.

 

Storage actually goes by pretty slowly unless you're the type that has a 80+ GB music collection that you *just have to* have on your laptop at all times, or you install many modern high-end games. Certain single games can occupy around 50GB (*ahem* Titanfall), but most are in the more reasonable range of 20GB. I've got around a dozen games (most of them circa 2005) from my steam collection, along with Windows 8, Office, and VS 2010 and 2012 installed on a 256GB SSD, around 30GB of music, and I've still got some room to spare.


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#11 superman3275   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2061

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Posted 14 April 2014 - 10:14 PM

I use an Ideapad y500 (You can get a y510p), and it's absolutely amazing. It's incredibly fast, and the new y510P supposedly has great battery also. It also has everything on your list.

 

 

There is no DDR-5

Yes there is. It's used in almost all modern graphics cards.

 

 

Processor needs to be at least 3.0 Ghz these days

In a laptop? You're dreaming. You want around 2.4 Ghz.


Edited by superman3275, 14 April 2014 - 10:17 PM.

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#12 Bacterius   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 10554

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Posted 14 April 2014 - 11:43 PM


Yes there is. It's used in almost all modern graphics cards.

 

Ravyne meant as system memory... rolleyes.gif


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


#13 Ravyne   GDNet+   -  Reputation: 10405

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Posted 15 April 2014 - 04:45 AM

Right. Fun fact: GDDR5 is based on DDR3.

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#14 Satharis   Members   -  Reputation: 1733

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Posted 15 April 2014 - 04:49 AM

Am I the only one that thinks its kind of laughable to suggest that some sort of game program at a.. I dunno, university, trade school, wherever this is, is asking for requirements that high? Like.. really, if they expect you to tinker with Unreal or something on a laptop I would question the sanity of people running said program.

I'm with Frob on this one.. you could probably use a 10 year old laptop if all you're going to be doing is taking notes. If they're really expecting you to run games on a laptop for classes I am mind boggled.

Although if you're that interested why don't you try and contact them somehow and ask about it? To me it sounds a lot more like they just took some fancy sounding specs and listed them just to make you buy something expensive to bring.

Edited by Satharis, 15 April 2014 - 04:50 AM.


#15 Serapth   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 5986

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Posted 15 April 2014 - 06:03 AM

Am I the only one that thinks its kind of laughable to suggest that some sort of game program at a.. I dunno, university, trade school, wherever this is, is asking for requirements that high? Like.. really, if they expect you to tinker with Unreal or something on a laptop I would question the sanity of people running said program.I'm with Frob on this one.. you could probably use a 10 year old laptop if all you're going to be doing is taking notes. If they're really expecting you to run games on a laptop for classes I am mind boggled.Although if you're that interested why don't you try and contact them somehow and ask about it? To me it sounds a lot more like they just took some fancy sounding specs and listed them just to make you buy something expensive to bring.



I'm not sure why you have this impression? I use nothing but laptops now and my current laptop ( Razer 14" ) and my prior 2 year old ( Asus g53 ) have absolutely no issue running UE4. But yes, you have to pay for a solid GPU and a non shit hard drive.

#16 Tjakka5   Members   -  Reputation: 129

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Posted 15 April 2014 - 08:41 AM

To get things clear; I want this laptop to be a bit of a beast, do the things I want it to do without problems, and then a little bit.

 

I understand that I can get away with a I7 at 2,4 ghz and I made some alterations, so here's my new list:

4Th generation I7 @2,4 ghz. Dual core with Hyperthread
16 GB DDR3 memory @1600 mhz

500Gb HDD and 250Gb SSD
Or
500Gb SSD

Nvidia 860m

1920*1080 monitor
Windows 7

Again, no HP, Dell or Alienware

I also plan to record some stuff with the laptop and don't want to just trash all the videos, thus why I want more storage then usual.

This laptop also needs partitions; 1 for school and 1 for myself, so thats why I need some more also.

 

I'm thinking I probably want the Ideapad Y510P


Edited by Tjakka5, 15 April 2014 - 08:50 AM.


#17 minibutmany   Members   -  Reputation: 1815

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Posted 15 April 2014 - 09:02 AM


500Gb HDD and 250Gb SSD
Or
500Gb SSD

You could get a laptop with just a normal HDD in it, and then save up for a WD hybrid drive if you really need it.


Stay gold, Pony Boy.

#18 Alessio1989   Members   -  Reputation: 2672

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Posted 15 April 2014 - 09:49 AM

A good screen (Full-HD no-glare or better), a good keyboard and a decent weight is all you need. Take a look at some "cheap" SSDs (like the crucial) too...


Edited by Alessio1989, 15 April 2014 - 09:51 AM.

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#19 3Ddreamer   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3281

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Posted 15 April 2014 - 11:13 AM

I use an Ideapad y500 (You can get a y510p), and it's absolutely amazing. It's incredibly fast, and the new y510P supposedly has great battery also. It also has everything on your list.

 

 

There is no DDR-5

Yes there is. It's used in almost all modern graphics cards.

 

 

Processor needs to be at least 3.0 Ghz these days

In a laptop? You're dreaming. You want around 2.4 Ghz.

 

All of the specs that I wrote can be had for a $1200 laptop that he wants if he shops around the internet.


Personal life and your private thoughts always effect your career. Research is the intellectual backbone of game development and the first order. Version Control is crucial for full management of applications and software.  The better the workflow pipeline, then the greater the potential output for a quality game.  Completing projects is the last but finest order.

 

by Clinton, 3Ddreamer


#20 mark ds   Members   -  Reputation: 1654

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Posted 15 April 2014 - 04:09 PM

The trouble with high-end laptops is that they're not very portable, in the sense that battery life suffers - I generally have run my Vaio F series at 50% in the power settings.

 

However (just to throw another option out there) an alternative is to buy a cheap tablet for note taking (assuming you'll have access to a school PC in class), and build yourself a better specified, but cheaper, desktop for home. Upgradeability and storage won't be an issue then (nor will overheating, which is always a problem with high end laptops).






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