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Programming Laptops (-numerics pad)

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Hi,

 

Iv'e got 600-1000 $AUD to spend on a new laptop It needs to be able to program simple games, some using Unity 3D but all are compact and not graphically intense.

 

1. I want to go 15" screen size, what other specifications should I look for ?

 

2. I notice that almost all latest 15" laptops have a numeric keypad, I think this is a great waste of keyboard space, who manufactures laptops without Numerics?

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ThinkPad is way above budget. But its great that they discarded the useless numeric section. Is there a point to the Numerics?

 

I want a laptop for portability so I can study at library with friends, etc...

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+1 to not use a laptop as stationary desktop replacement. Laptop hardware is really pricey for the power you get.

 

Thanks to the steam boxes (that are now sold as windows desktops) and the drive of Microsoft to battle mobile and chromeboxes, you get plenty of small, low cost Windows Desktops to choose from nowadays.

One of my personal favorites is the Alienware Alpha, especially the smallest config. you get a very good low spec gaming laptop, in a tiny desktop casing. Overheating seems to be no concern, the GPU is really good, and CPU/RAM/Disk is replacable (if only with other laptop spec hardware).

The Windows 8.1 installed got a Steam Big picture / consolesque skin, but you can always switch to the desktop from the launcher. You could also reinstall the windows most probably to get rid of the launcher, altough I haven't heard that alienware has any plans on making this available without re-buying a windows licnese.

 

Add to that a "free" XBOX controller and a nice 550$ price tag, and for the first time you get alienware hardware that could actually be called "good value"...

 

If only they wouldn't have used a slow 5200 RPM drive, this would be the ideal gaming centric SFF for everyone....

 

 

EDIT: read the OPs comment about portability after posting this, so please ignore my rambling above!

 

for your usecase, hardware wise, you can probably take any machine that runs windows and has at least an i3, good integrated GPU or at least a decent low end dedicated GPU, 4G of RAM at least and a usable screen.

 

"Gaming" Laptops are quite expensive for a rather mediocre machine by desktop standarts, all while regularly overheating, so I'd stay away... most of them give you a beefy CPU paired with a cheap low end GPU (lots of preconfigured desktop "gaming" PCs do the same though), which means your "gaming" laptop is more a CPU heavy number cruncher with a GPU that is to weak for state of the art games and yet still saps more juice than the iGPU...

Edited by Gian-Reto

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I picked up one of these recently, to be able to work at a client's location.  (Damn, Dell seem to have raised the price quite a bit since then!)  Great performance, cpu/3d wise, and doesn't overheat; worst it does is make a slight noise when the fan starts.  Lovely machine; if it could swivel the display to turn into a hybrid tablet, I'd want it to have my babies.

http://www.dell.com/us/p/xps-15-9530/pd

 

I haven't missed the numeric keyboard at all; don't worry about that.

 

Interestingly, even though I hook it up to a larger display at the office, I find myself using the laptop as the primary display anyway.  I'd say one specification you definitely should pay attention to is resolution.  If you get an 15" screen, don't accept anything less than 1920x1080.

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ThinkPad is way above budget. But its great that they discarded the useless numeric section. Is there a point to the Numerics?

 

I want a laptop for portability so I can study at library with friends, etc...

 

Fine tuning your requirenments will save you money and grief. If you want to use the laptop to study (wikipedia, text-editor, simple cli and 2d coding) you are good to go with a netbook. If these studies at the library involve coding resource hungry 3d games I'd go with a laptop but I'd also buy a big backpack to transport it with. A laptop is also the first choice if you are designing a lot and want to use the computer to present your desigs. For image reasons I'd go for a Mac in that case. Lenovo is my manufacturer of choice for netbooks, laptops and desktops. I can not vouch for other manufacturers but that does not mean that there aren't others around that create nice products.

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For image reasons I'd go for a Mac in that case.

 

Really? Just for the Starbucks-Street-creds?

 

I mean we are pretty much in Taste-differ-land here, but Macs haven't really been the sole workstations of choice for game devs historically for multiple reasons, so your streetcreds will not go up by using one in this line of work, and I don't think anyone at a presentation will be more positive towards what you present if you plonk a shiney Macbook on the table versus a dull lenovo... IF they are worth presenting too, they will not care if your presentation comes out of a aluminium-clad brick of overpricedness or out of a plastic-fantastic dull black box.

 

If you like Macs for the OS, for the looks or whatever, by all means go for it. They are not bad machines at all, just a little pricey for what you get (so a no-no for a buyer on a budget). Don't buy it for the impression they make on a client though... that might work in certain lines of work and on some people, but generally its not money well spent.

 

 

Maybe I'm crazy, but I HAVE to have the dedicated numpad myself.  It is not only more convenient in general, but I use Blender a lot and several of the keyboard shortcuts use the numpad.

 

My thoughts exactly. As soon as you do 3D Modelling, a numpad IS essential. Having the numpad as shortcut to standart views (Side L/R, Top, Bottom, Front and Back) is mandatory.

Also, the few times I need to hack in numbers, working with a numpad makes it much faster and more convinient.

 

But hey, on the other hand, if you buy a laptop with small dimensions for a Keyboard (and starting from 15", things DO get cramped), and have to make a decision between no numpad or smaller keys in general, I see why somebody not interested in 3D Modelling or hardcore number crunching (Mathlab, the bane of my University years!) would choose the former.

Edited by Gian-Reto

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I would agree with others about needing a numeric keypad.  It helps in many situations.  As for a laptop I got a used hp envy m6-1205dx http://www.amazon.com/HP-m6-1205dx-discrete-class-LED-backlit-high-definition/dp/B00BGYFGKI, got mine from ebay for about 450-500.

 

I also bought 16gb of ram and it works great for unity.  was also able to do that and get a 250gb ssd last year for under $700 US.  I would bet you could put together something like that pretty cheap especially now.  only things I didn't like about it was only 1 hd bay, had to get an external enclosure for the 750gb drive that came with it, and i would have preferred a larger screen. 

 

I would check out the amd apu based laptops if you are looking for a bargain laptop for game dev. 

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For image reasons I'd go for a Mac in that case.

 

Really? Just for the Starbucks-Street-creds?

Read the full sentence. If you do design work for agencies, have a look at what they are using. Usually you will be on one page with the ceo if you are using a macbook air. I did not expect the spanish inquisition.

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