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CdrTomalak

Laptop game developers... minimum requirements?

8 posts in this topic

Hi,

This is a question for those out there who use laptops for game programming.

I have to upgrade my laptop due to it's obsolete graphics hardware. I can't run the basic triangle tutorial SlimDX program on my Dell D600, whilst this runs fine on my desktop gaming rig with a 9800GT. I take my laptop with me when travelling, so I can program on trains and in hotels etc.

So what I need is a laptop that can run Windows 7 (and DirectX 11), with dedicated (preferably Nvidia) graphics hardware. There are a huge number of options of course, but I was wondering what people are using?

I am tempted to just go for a fail-safe option such as the Alienware M11x, but since this costs about £700 - should I go for something like a Fujitsu Lifebook AH531 (NVIDIA GeForce GT 525 Optimus).

The thing is, I don't need high-end hardware on the laptop, since I'm not at that level of graphics programming (as you can probably already tell...).

My quesiton is a bit vague, but please feel free to comment. :huh:
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All you *need* is a text editor to write code, and a minimum spec graphics card to view it.

Everything else is a combination of your budget and your wants.

Personally I would love a high-end laptop every two years. But my budget says I get to own a single desktop with a 5-year life cycle. It isn't what I want, but it is what I can afford.

Can you afford to pay the premium for a DX11 card? There are tons of laptops with Intel's integrated "HD" graphics chips, which are DX10 and offer great performance considering their cost. They are far cheaper then the DX11 gaming laptops.
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I can afford a DX11 card, but I want a laptop so I can code on the move. I have been doing that whilst learning C# and designing console (text) driven games, on a Dell Latitude D600. However, the graphics hardware is obsolete, so needs to be upgraded. I'd rather not fork out loads for a laptop with some decent DX11-capable hardware, but it means I can code away without worrying about using obsolete hardware.
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Get something with an AMD APU. You won't approach the levels of performance that you might get with proper dedicated cards, but you'll have slightly above average performance, all the new DX11 features, and decent battery life. You'll be much better off than with the Intel Integrated graphics.
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Ok, so I checked out the HP Compaq Presario CQ57-420EA 4GB graphics hardware on http://www.notebookcheck.net/AMD-Radeon-HD-6310.40952.0.html

This laptop only costs £300 and 'should' do what I need it to do right?
Manufacturer AMD Brazos Series
[url="http://www.notebookcheck.net/AMD-Radeon-HD-7340.70636.0.html"]Radeon HD 7340[/url][color=#666][size=1] 80@523 - 680MHz[/size][/color]
[url="http://www.notebookcheck.net/AMD-Radeon-HD-6320.54746.0.html"]Radeon HD 6320[/url][color=#666][size=1] 80@500-600MHz[/size][/color]
[url="http://www.notebookcheck.net/AMD-Radeon-HD-7310.70634.0.html"]Radeon HD 7310[/url][color=#666][size=1] 80@500MHz[/size][/color]
[b]Radeon HD 6310[/b][color=#666][size=1] 80@500MHz[/size][/color]
[url="http://www.notebookcheck.net/AMD-Radeon-HD-6290.51810.0.html"]Radeon HD 6290[/url][color=#666][size=1] 80@280 - 400MHz[/size][/color]
[url="http://www.notebookcheck.net/AMD-Radeon-HD-6250.40958.0.html"]Radeon HD 6250[/url][color=#666][size=1] 80@280MHz[/size][/color] Codename Zacate Architecture Terascale 2 Pipelines 80 - unified Core Speed * 500 MHz Shader Speed * 500 MHz Shared Memory yes [color=#ff0000][b]DirectX[/b][/color] [color=#ff0000][b]DirectX 11, Shader 5.0[/b][/color] technology 40 nm Date of Announcement 16.11.2010
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[quote name='orizvi' timestamp='1338916856' post='4946515']
You'll be much better off than with the Intel Integrated graphics.
[/quote]While they were pretty bad a few years back, the last rounds of their DX10 and now DX11 chipsets are rather good.

Sure they don't compete with the high-end dedicated cards, but they are a stable workhorse that does the job very well. You cannot turn the graphics settings on the latest game up to 11, obviously, but that isn't the point. They are able to play all the major games with reasonable results.
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Thanks orizvi, Frob - All being well and good I think I'll go for the Compaq. £300, DirectX11 and Shader 5.0 supported, plus the low power consumption - all looks good to me. :)
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Note that while Intel HD graphics run Direct3D decently, their OpenGL driver still leaves a lot to be desired. While the rendering looks correct, I've seen abysmal vertex throughput (let's say more than 20000 triangles and FPS may drop to 20 and below; it may be running part of the pipeline on the CPU.) So what to choose also depends on the API you plan to use. In that regard both NVIDIA and AMD are safer, as by now you should be able to count on them supporting both APIs well.
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I went for one of these in the end for £360:

http://h10010.www1.hp.com/wwpc/ie/en/ho/WF06b/321957-321957-3329744-64354-64354-5145704-5189706.html?dnr=1

Thanks for your help everyone. :)
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