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Laptop for Game Developing?!?!

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Hey i'm a senior in highschool very interested in game developing. I have recently been buying books and watching tutorials on it so i can get influenced. I was just wondering if anyone knew of a good laptop that would be a good source for game developing as my hobby in college will be dealing with this. I have been looking at an Alienware Laptop but I don't know if they are only good for gaming? If anyone knows or has an idea of another kind please let me know. Thanks, l jsym l

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First of all, decide what you want for a budget. An Alienware machine might be a bit expensive, as a lot of gaming machines seem to be more expensive just because they are called 'gaming' machines. That, and how portable do you need it to be? I think anyone who has lugged around a large 17+" laptop can say that after a while, it will definitely get heavy.

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There isn't really an ideal setup for just game development in general. It really depends on what area you are interested in. My focus has been on graphics research & development, so DirectX10 was very important to me (although it probably isn't for a beginner). Additionally, I needed one that had the capability to play good looking games, but not necessarily flawlessly (as it was really for building them). I got an ASUS M50VM and was very happy with it. It has a 9600GS (same as a GT but clocked a bit slower) and a Core 2 Duo E8400. It doesn't look like you can buy them anymore, but you can buy its successor:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16834220395

I highly recommend this one, as it is relatively inexpensive and packs a punch performance-wise. For a beginning developer it is probably overkill, but it will be useful if you move on to 3D game development. Also, it comes with a 1-year accident warranty! As for alienware... I continue to feel like everything they sell is grossly overpriced, and the only reason I would buy a laptop from them is if I was getting something that was insanely powerful (SLI & Quad core in a notebook). I also had a friend who bought a notebook from them a few years ago. It died recently (out of warranty), and when he tore it apart to see what was up, he found that they had literally put MORE THAN ONE tube of thermal paste on the CPU heatsink. It is supposed to help transfer heat between the heat sink and the CPU... but it ended up being a blanket that ultimately cooked the CPU.

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Honestly, I would say check out a Macbook pro. Why go Apple you ask? Well mostly because I must say, those machines are really powerful. I love them! Plus you could just use boot camp now, boot up into Windows and you have one machine and easily develop applications to be cross platform if you wanted too.

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And then ask yourself... "do I actually need a stoopidly good [expensive] laptop when im just starting out?" Im still using a sony vaio i bought 3 years ago, quick memory upgrade form 512 to 2 gig, and never had a problem.... now compare this next to my friends silly expensive laptop... (if you read this you know who you are:p)

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alright, thanks.
also i'm going to college for computer science so maybe that would put in a word for what i need?
thanks for all the inputs :D

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I had a single-core, 1.6GHz dell that I had been using up until only a couple of weeks ago when I finally upgraded. I bought a relatively low-end laptop, just made sure it had plenty of memory (4GB) because Visual Studio is a bit of a hog :-)

Remember, 90% of your users are not going to have super-computers so you want to make sure your game runs on them at least acceptably. For example, I'm keeping my old Dell for testing, just so I can be sure my game will continue to work on it (it's going to be my "low-end" target).

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Quote:
Original post by l jsym l
alright, thanks.
also i'm going to college for computer science so maybe that would put in a word for what i need?
thanks for all the inputs :D
I basically went without a laptop in college. Well, I had one, but because it was so big and heavy I always left it at home and instead used lab computers while at school.

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I built a really nice desktop for most of my work, and then just recently I bought an ASUS eee pc for my portable computing needs. The thing is awesome, fairly cheap(mine was $400 after I upgraded to 2gb of ram and paid shipping), really small, has a really long battery life, and is perfectly usable for developing software. I love it.

I would recommend against alienware as they are usually very overpriced for what you get. I would also recommend against a Macbook as they are completely overpriced for what you get also. Macbooks are twice as much as a comparable PC and all you are paying for is the ability to use OS:X(because apple won't let you use it without their hardware). If you want to use a unix based operating system, just dual boot a Linux distro.

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What kind of game development are you going to do? If it's 2D a netbook might be sufficient. If it's more advanced 3D you might need a better one.

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Quote:
Original post by Chad Smith
Honestly, I would say check out a Macbook pro. Why go Apple you ask? Well mostly because I must say, those machines are really powerful. I love them! Plus you could just use boot camp now, boot up into Windows and you have one machine and easily develop applications to be cross platform if you wanted too.


I really don't like developing on my own macbook, I only deal with it when porting or doing iphone development. I'd probably enjoy it more if I put windows/visual studio+visual assist x on it though. It's purely a preference thing because I don't use it often enough to be really comfortable with the interface... And I don't like xcode much compared to visual studio. I have a nice tablet convertible laptop that was pretty damn cool though. Great because I sketch too.

Anyway, I'm just winging about preference, but it's important to feel comfortable in your environment. I find myself fighting my tools more on a mac.

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I develop on different machines. For CPU-based stuff like infrastructure I often use my Acer Aspire One Linux box (netbook :) ) which even supports OpenGL 2.1 through Mesa. So I can develop and test my applications with simple setups when I'm commuting. For more complex tests/better experience I'll continue development on my windows or linux desktop at home.

So I'd say a netbook is fine for developping and testing CPU-based parts of your game. However, it's also more comfortable to have a bigger screen at hand. Those IDEs can get quite crowded, especially on a 10" display :)

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Hi!
Apart from performance and GPU features available on a laptop, make sure you check out the keyboard. I cannot stress enough how important a good keyboard is when you really want to get work done on that thing. I consider this even more important than lots of the performance topics. Pay special attention to keys like the spacebar and whether they register input when hitting the key only on one of its sides and not centrally.

If you are willing to spend a little more money I would go for a Thinkpad that features a decent GPU and screen resolution. The built quality of those machines is simply awesome. Keyboard is great and the UltraNav Pointer keeps your hand in the same place when switching from typing to "mouse" movements. You might also keep an eye open for the refurbished systems which are great as well and sometimes quite cheap. I would recommend something in the T60 T61 range.

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If you are going to school and want something to take to class, then get a netbook. Seriously, after a year, none of my friends that had a full sized 14+ laptop bothered bringing it to class. Usually notes are far easier to take by hand because eventually the prof is going to want to make some quick sketch of something. Those that I now with a 17+ inch laptop left it on their dorm room desk after a few weeks. You get no battery life, and they weigh a tonne. Don't bother.


If you are doing computer science stuff, usually for the first few years any classwork can easily be done on something with 300mhz or less for the most part. They're not making you write Doom X on your first year. Sometimes you'll get large number crunch problems, but usually I've found just going to a computer lab best for those.


Get a cheap system now, and upgrade when you actually NEED the power, and for serious power, get a desktop. All the "Gaming" and "Extreme" laptops I've seen friends use have had fairly short lifespans due to the fact that they double as a cooking grill. If you wander around the Library at my University you can find tables with strange bubbles in the laminate top. These are from friends playing GTA or some other game with their laptop, and melting the glue.

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Yeah, I dont recall if I said but I'm not really that into computer games as much as 360 games. So I wouldn't really be spending a whole lot of my time on this laptop for gaming. I would mostly use it for taking notes, surfing the web, and (beginning) game developing. I don't need the greatest computer but anything under 1500 would be acceptable because the parents would pay for some :P...buy yeah, if I was to get reaaaaaally into Game Development would there be a mininum amount of space I need? specific processors? anything?

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Quote:
Original post by Talroth
If you are going to school and want something to take to class, then get a netbook. Seriously, after a year, none of my friends that had a full sized 14+ laptop bothered bringing it to class. Usually notes are far easier to take by hand because eventually the prof is going to want to make some quick sketch of something. Those that I now with a 17+ inch laptop left it on their dorm room desk after a few weeks. You get no battery life, and they weigh a tonne. Don't bother.

How about one of those new Intel Classmate Tablet PCs? $550 or so, and it can fold over to become a writing tablet of sorts.

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Quote:
Original post by Talroth
If you are going to school and want something to take to class, then get a netbook. Seriously, after a year, none of my friends that had a full sized 14+ laptop bothered bringing it to class. Usually notes are far easier to take by hand because eventually the prof is going to want to make some quick sketch of something. Those that I now with a 17+ inch laptop left it on their dorm room desk after a few weeks. You get no battery life, and they weigh a tonne. Don't bother.
Couldn't agree more - I traded in an all ready light 15" MackBook Pro for a 13" MacBook, just to lose the pound of weight. Next time around is an eeepc (or similar), and a desktop for my apartment - in fact, half the time these days I take notes on my iPhone, and upload them when I get home.

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Quote:
Original post by M2tM
Quote:
Original post by Chad Smith
Honestly, I would say check out a Macbook pro. Why go Apple you ask? Well mostly because I must say, those machines are really powerful. I love them! Plus you could just use boot camp now, boot up into Windows and you have one machine and easily develop applications to be cross platform if you wanted too.


I really don't like developing on my own macbook, I only deal with it when porting or doing iphone development. I'd probably enjoy it more if I put windows/visual studio+visual assist x on it though. It's purely a preference thing because I don't use it often enough to be really comfortable with the interface... And I don't like xcode much compared to visual studio. I have a nice tablet convertible laptop that was pretty damn cool though. Great because I sketch too.

Anyway, I'm just winging about preference, but it's important to feel comfortable in your environment. I find myself fighting my tools more on a mac.


Really? I love developing on a MAC. I hardly ever find myself fighting the tools at all. X Code is just fine for me. I never find my self fighting the OS unlike I do in Windows. Then again I develop on an iMac and not a Mac Book Pro. I just don't see the need for a notebook for me. I take notes by hand in school and it works out just fine. I'll even take notes with my iPod Touch sometimes if I am lazy and don't feel like writing.

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If you're going to get a Macbook, do not get one yet. Wait until mid-summer when Apple starts running their back-to-school promotions. I got myself a Macbook this most recent summer, and I got a free iPod Touch and a free printer out of it.

I love my Macbook. The new Macbooks seem especially nice, although I've only been able to test-run one at a local Best Buy. The extra-large touchpad in tandem with multi-touch is a huge step forward in usability.

However, if I were to do it over again, I'm not sure I'd get a Macbook. I originally got a laptop instead of a desktop because I planned on taking notes in class and because I feared I wouldn't have room in my dorm for a desktop, but I've discovered that I hate taking notes on a laptop in class and that, with a bit of clever rearranging, it's perfectly possible to fit a desktop in a dorm. Having a laptop is still nice since it's easy to transport home and back, but a desktop's not that much harder to transport when you have the whole back of a car to put it in.

So my recommendation would be to save yourself (a lot) of money and get a desktop, not a laptop. After you've been in college for a semester or so, if you find yourself yearning to take notes on a laptop during classes, get a netbook. Netbooks are very small, extremely portable, and cheap--cheap enough that the combined cost of a netbook and a decent desktop would be less than that of a good laptop such as a Macbook if you plan your purchases wisely.

And when I say netbook, I exclude the Macbook Air because of its extremely high price.

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