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Looking for new gaming laptop - questions

Post Date: 2012-04-19

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Brixtan View Drop Down
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  Quote Brixtan Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Topic: Looking for new gaming laptop - questions
    Posted: 19 Apr 2012 at 4:55am
Hey folks,

Having perused the Digital Storm website the past couple of days, have to say I'm quite impressed with their products (and reviews). Before I jump headfirst into a new laptop purchase, I wanted to get some guidance/feedback on some configs I was playing around with on this site.

Budget: I've got a pretty nice tax refund coming in, but I'd like to keep it under $3,500 ideally. I could push it above if persuaded though.

Expectations: I'm a gamer and plan on doing some traveling this summer coast to coast to visit family so I'd like to have a laptop that I can take with me. I'd also like to not be tied to my desk if I want to game in another room in my house.

Usage: Playing a lot of Diablo 3, some WoW, and eventually Torchlight 2. Maybe reload Skyrim on my laptop as well. I also do a lot of modding and use Blender for 3D modeling/mesh manipulations (nothing cutting edge, just hobby stuff).

Special Needs: I am concerned about overheating a laptop. I stayed away from gaming laptops for almost 10 years. The last laptop I had was an old Dell xps from years gone by and that laptop would get HOT. The video card eventually melted in the laptop as well, resulting in a headache when I tried to get it replaced by the company. So, I still have that fear in the back of my mind.

----

So I'm torn between the x17 and x17E. I also realize that the new ivy bridge processors are on the verge of being released so there's a part of me wondering if I should not wait until later in the year and get a laptop with the new processor. (Then again, playing the waiting game is futile...since hardware is always becoming obsolete the day it releases).

I'm going to bold/italicize the elements I have questions about.

1. Laptop -  x17E

Chassis Model: Digital Storm x17E Laptop (Model: 9270)
Display: 17.3 Inch (16:9) (Resolution: 1920 x 1080) (Glossy Surface) LED-Backlit Display

Processor: Intel Core i7-3930K (3.2GHz Turbo Mode to 3.8Ghz) (Six Core) (12MB Cache)
- is it worth the price point to go for a six core versues the x17's quad core?

Thermal Compound: Premium IC Diamond CPU and GPU Thermal Compound (Reduces Thermal & Laptop Noise)

Memory: 16GB DDR3 1866MHz

- on the fence here between this and 1600MHz speed ram. Noticeable difference performance wise on games?

Primary Hard Drive: Intel 240GB SSD (520 Series) (SATA 6Gb/s)
-
really have no idea how much I should splurge on the HDDs. I've read that putting your OS on an SSD makes a world of difference.

Secondary Hard Drive: 750GB Hybrid 7200RPM with 8GB SSD (SATA 3Gb/s)

- again, kinda in the dark on what the second drive should be for setup.

Optical Drive: DVD/CD 8x Multi-Drive (Writes and Reads DVDs, CDs)
Wireless Card: Bigfoot Networks Killer Wireless-N 1103 (Reduces Latency for Online Gaming)

Video Card(s): 2x SLI (NVIDIA GeForce GTX 675M 2GB)
- Big question on this one. Worried that SLI will melt my laptops mobo lol. That or, overkill. Can I get by with just 1 GTX675M 2GB and still devour most gaming software for the next couple years?

Windows OS: Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium (64-Bit Edition)
Warranty Plan: Life-time Expert Customer Care with 3 Year Limited Warranty

----

2. Laptop x17

Chassis Model: Digital Storm x17 Laptop (Model: 9170)
Display: 17.3 Inch (16:9) (Resolution: 1920 x 1080) (Glossy Surface) LED-Backlit Display

Processor: Intel Core i7 2860QM (2.5 GHz Turbo Mode to 3.6Ghz) (Quad Core) (8MB Cache)

Thermal Compound: Premium IC Diamond CPU and GPU Thermal Compound (Reduces Thermal & Laptop Noise)

Memory: 16GB DDR3 1866MHz

Primary Hard Drive: Intel 240GB SSD (520 Series) (SATA 6Gb/s)
Secondary Hard Drive: 750GB Hybrid 7200RPM with 8GB SSD (SATA 3Gb/s)


Optical Drive: DVD/CD 8x Multi-Drive (Writes and Reads DVDs, CDs)
Wireless Card: Bigfoot Networks Killer Wireless-N 1103 (Reduces Latency for Online Gaming)

Video Card(s): NVIDIA GeForce GTX 675M 2GB with NVIDIA Optimus Technology

Windows OS: Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium (64-Bit Edition)


Edited by Brixtan - 19 Apr 2012 at 4:57am
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BF3Addict View Drop Down
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  Quote BF3Addict Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 19 Apr 2012 at 12:54pm
I'm looking at almost exactly what you're considering.  I won't be able to buy until late next month (fingers crossed), but in the meantime I've been trying to answer these same questions.  Here are my perceptions/opinions on these issues.

-----------------
Processor: Intel Core i7-3930K (3.2GHz Turbo Mode to 3.8Ghz) (Six Core) (12MB Cache)
- is it worth the price point to go for a six core versus the x17's quad core?

Probably not.  For gaming, and especially the games you listed, I don't think the CPU is overly taxed.  I know for BF3 it really doesn't make a perceptible difference in frame rate.  I can see where FPS games would be more GPU centric than a strategy/MMO type game that would rely more on the CPU.  I don't know if your listed games are programmed to use that many cores.  For my laptop I'll be getting the i7-3820.

-----------------
Memory: 16GB DDR3 1866MHz
- on the fence here between this and 1600MHz speed ram. Noticeable difference performance wise on games?

In a word, no.  Save your money here.  You see some small incremental gains in benchmarks, but nothing perceptible during game play.

-----------------
Primary Hard Drive: Intel 240GB SSD (520 Series) (SATA 6Gb/s)
-
really have no idea how much I should splurge on the HDDs. I've read that putting your OS on an SSD makes a world of difference.

Secondary Hard Drive: 750GB Hybrid 7200RPM with 8GB SSD (SATA 3Gb/s)

- again, kinda in the dark on what the second drive should be for setup.

This all depends on how much storage you need.  Are you storing video and/or images?  These take lots of space.  For games, unless you have lots and lots of them you can get away with the 240GB SSD and a 500GB HD.

The SSD is expensive, but you get something for your hard earned greenbacks.  Speed.  Lots of it.  From the benchmarks I've seen you can expect between four to ten times faster performance from the SSD.  You will have faster boot up times (my desktop takes about 15 seconds from Win7 logo to ready to use) and faster level/map loading.  Once you go with the SSD you'll never look back.

As for the secondary hybrid HD, I'm not sure about it.  Sure it will load a bit faster than a straight HD (but slower than a pure SSD), but do you really need it?  Typically you load your OS and programs you want fast loading on the SSD and use the secondary HD for storage or games that you don't want or need to load faster.  Given that the typical game is about 15GB, you could still load lots of games before you start running into space limitations.

-----------------
Video Card(s): 2x SLI (NVIDIA GeForce GTX 675M 2GB)
- Big question on this one. Worried that SLI will melt my laptops mobo lol. That or, overkill. Can I get by with just 1 GTX675M 2GB and still devour most gaming software for the next couple years?

I'm not sure you need SLI for your list of games.  Sure you'll see higher FPS, but I suspect you'll get high enough FPS to be happy.  You might consider getting a single card and upgrading later (it's really easy) if you find you need the extra GPU horses.

As for the heat I'm confident that DS does stress tests to ensure that temperature are within limits.  Alex (DS employee and uber-mensch LOL) can comment better than I on this.

As a side note, be aware that the 675M is a rebranded 580M GPU with minor tweaks.  It's based on the previous generation Fermi architecture and not Kepler.  As of right now it's one of the most powerful mobile cards out there.  I'll be using the 675 SLI for my needs, but I'm hoping that when I buy the Kepler based mobile cards will be available.

If heat is a concern you can get a laptop cooling pad.  Amazon has several different models.  I'm leaning towards getting one myself.  Also you have to keep the dust out of the cooling intakes.  Laptops are a bit more sensitive to dust/cooling than typical desktops.

Any way you slice it you're going to have an awesomely powerful laptop!  Awesome



Edited by BF3Addict - 19 Apr 2012 at 12:57pm
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Brixtan View Drop Down
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  Quote Brixtan Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 20 Apr 2012 at 7:42am
Thanks for the suggestions...after doing some more tweaking, this is kinda what I'm leaning towards.

Chassis Model: Digital Storm x17E Laptop (Model: 9270)
Display: 17.3 Inch (16:9) (Resolution: 1920 x 1080) (Glossy Surface) LED-Backlit Display
Processor: Intel Core i7-3930K (3.2GHz Turbo Mode to 3.8Ghz) (Six Core) (12MB Cache)
Thermal Compound: Premium IC Diamond CPU and GPU Thermal Compound (Reduces Thermal & Laptop Noise)
Memory: 16GB DDR3 1600MHz
Primary Hard Drive: Intel 240GB SSD (520 Series) (SATA 6Gb/s)
Secondary Hard Drive: 750GB 7200RPM (SATA 3Gb/s)
Optical Drive: Blu-Ray Player & Blu-Ray/DVD/CD Writer (Blu-Ray 6x)
Wireless Card: Bigfoot Networks Killer Wireless-N 1103 (Reduces Latency for Online Gaming)
Video Card(s): 1x NVIDIA GeForce GTX 675M 2GB
Windows OS: Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium (64-Bit Edition)
Warranty Plan: Life-time Expert Customer Care with 3 Year Limited Warranty
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  Quote Runecrow Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 21 Apr 2012 at 1:58pm
One thing you need to keep in mind is that a laptop will become obsolete pretty fast and (from what I can see) upgrading is limited to maybe the hard drive and possibly the RAM.

I spent nearly $5000 on the top of the line gaming laptop from DS at the time (not even 10 months ago) and I've never even loaded all my games because it only came with a 120 GB SSD (which I guess I didn't notice at the time of ordering) and its graphics card (NVIDIA GeForce GTX 485M) is already the main bottleneck.

Even more frustrating still is that they're offering one now that is a lot better with the latest and greatest mobile gaming GPU, bigger SSD and HDD for $1000 less than what I paid for this one.

The positives of going with a laptop is mobility if you move a lot but don't want to keep lugging around a gigantic top of the line gaming rig.  The downside is the cost and apparent lack of being able to upgrade it.  I don't mind spending $500 every year or so to extend the life of a computer, but having to spend $3000+ every year or two is a bit much.

It all depends on if the ability to quickly move it is worth the extra overall cost if you're going to buy another one every 2 or 3 years rather than be able to extend the life of a desktop by upgrading the parts that need it.  It's a cost vs convenience issue, I guess.
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  Quote Alex Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 21 Apr 2012 at 3:20pm
The processor, video card, memory, and storage can be upgraded on the laptops. They all use standardized sockets. However, you just need to make sure the upgrades don't require more power than what the laptop can provide. It shouldn't be too big of an issue, as usually newer next-gen hardware draws as much power or less (NVIDIA's Kepler and Intel's upcoming Ivy Bridge is a good example).
 
I do agree that the prices of laptops will always come down, that's going to happen with anything with consumer electronics. No matter what we buy, a new TV, laptop, desktop, etc... the price will definitely come down as newer technology comes out.
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  Quote Runecrow Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 21 Apr 2012 at 7:52pm
Originally posted by Alex

The processor, video card, memory, and storage can be upgraded on the laptops. They all use standardized sockets. However, you just need to make sure the upgrades don't require more power than what the laptop can provide.


I didn't question that the laptops you provide could be upgraded.  The problem is finding someone that actually sells the parts.  The problem is the GPU in particular.  I've searched for the latest GTX 675M and even the older GTX 580M with no luck.  It seems you can only get your hands on one with a new laptop.
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  Quote Alex Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 22 Apr 2012 at 12:12am

Send me an email (Alex@digitalstormonline.com) with your order details and I'll be more than happy to look into the possibility of a GTX 675M, etc...

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  Quote Runecrow Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 22 Apr 2012 at 1:53am
Originally posted by Alex

Send me an email (Alex@digitalstormonline.com) with your order details and I'll be more than happy to look into the possibility of a GTX 675M, etc...



Ok, I feel like a complete idiot.  I decided to go into the Nvidia Control Panel again to check everything out.  For some reason SLI had disabled itself.  I ran the Windows Experience Index again and my GPU rating went from a 7.5 back to a 7.9.  In fact my lowest rating is my SSD at 7.6.  Processor and RAM are at 7.8 each.

So...a year later and my laptop from DS (other than the SSD) is still ranked at the top or really close.

So, OP, I'm having to take back some of what I said earlier.  You will probably be good for a while with your setup, though the tricky part may still come when it comes time for GPU upgrades, but hopefully that won't be for a couple of years down the line. Smile
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  Quote Alex Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 22 Apr 2012 at 10:22am
Glad to hear! Big%20Smile
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