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December 19th, 2012, 14:54
Hi all,

I have changed my mind multiple times, but my current laptop is dying (mostly due to my own fault) so I have decided to buy a new one.

I was thinking of spending more than usual on a laptop and so I have set my budget to be somewhere around £900. I don't know if I actually need to spend that much.

I play games, but usually not the latest and newest ones and my current laptop with the specs on the following link can play most games I would want to play(, except maybe for Risen 2?):
http://uk.computers.toshiba-europe.c…UCT_ID=1080938


I have been looking at customising my own and I've found a website called pcspecialist, which seems quite good.

I have found the following specs to be what I think would be a great laptop for me:

Hardware
Chassis & Display
Optimus Series: 15.6" Matte Full HD LED Widescreen (1920x1080)
Processor (CPU)
Intel® Core™i5 Dual Core Mobile Processor i5-3320M (2.60GHz) 3MB
Memory (RAM)
8GB SAMSUNG 1600MHz SODIMM DDR3 MEMORY (2 x 4GB)
Graphics Card
NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 660M - 2.0GB DDR5 Video RAM - DirectX® 11
Memory - Hard Disk
180GB INTEL® 330 SERIES SSD, SATA 6 Gb/s (upto 500MB/sR | 450MB/sW)
2nd Hard Disk
250GB WD SCORPIO BLACK WD2500BEKT, SATA 3 Gb/s, 16MB CACHE (7200 rpm)
DVD/BLU-RAY Drive
8x SATA DVD±R/RW/Dual Layer (+ 24x CD-RW)
Memory Card Reader
Internal 9 in 1 Card Reader (MMC/RSMMC/SD: Mini, XC & HC/MS: Pro & Duo)
Thermal Paste
ARCTIC MX-4 EXTREME THERMAL CONDUCTIVITY COMPOUND (£9)
Sound Card
Intel 2 Channel High Definition Audio + MIC/Headphone Jack
Bluetooth & Wireless
GIGABIT LAN & WIRELESS INTEL® N135 802.11N (150Mbps) + BLUETOOTH
USB Options
3 x USB 3.0 PORTS + 1 x USB 2.0 PORT AS STANDARD
Battery
Optimus Series 8 Cell Lithium Ion Battery (5,200 mAh/76.96WH)
Power Lead & Adaptor
1 x UK Power Lead & 120W AC Adaptor


Other
Operating System
Genuine Windows 7 Home Premium 64 Bit w/SP1 - inc DVD & Licence (£79)
Keyboard Language
INTEGRATED UK KEYBOARD WITH NUMBER PAD
Notebook Mouse
INTEGRATED 2 BUTTON TOUCHPAD MOUSE
Webcam
INTEGRATED 1.3 MEGAPIXEL WEBCAM
Warranty
3 Year Silver Warranty (1 Year Collect & Return, 1 Year Parts, 3 Year Labour) (£5)
Insurance
1 Month Free Laptop Insurance inc. Accidental Damage & Theft
Delivery
STANDARD INSURED DELIVERY TO UK MAINLAND (MON-FRI)
Build Time
Standard Build - Approximately 7 to 9 working days

The price is £861

Can you guys give me your opinion ? I was thinking that maybe I should get a bit faster CPU ? I want my laptop to be quick and responsive and that's why I chose the SSD drive. I got the extra HD for more space to put stuff like games on, but maybe I should reduce the SSD to 120GB then ? Or do you guys think I might be overdoing it if I can already run most things on my current one ?

I decided against a desktop, because I do travel quite a bit and I would like to be able to move with my computer if I go back home or on holidays.
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December 19th, 2012, 15:40
The 660m GPU is excellent, more than fast enough to run most recent games at 1080p; however, these days more and more games are making better use of the CPU. If you want to use this laptop for years it seems you will be bottlenecked by the CPU.

Not sure about how the consumer electronics market compares in UK vs. US, but you can pick up a similar laptop here with much better CPU for around $1,000 - $1,300 ( £600 - £800) which is also going to be thinner and lighter than the Toshiba Satellite A500.

- Lenovo Y580 with 660m, 1920x1080 display and i7-3630QM - 1.40" (3.5cm) thick, 6.15lbs (2.78kg), around $1,000 from Lenovo direct

- hp dv6-7200 Quad with 650m, 1920x1080 display and i7-3630QM - 1.16" thick (2.9cm), 5.66lbs (2.5kg), $1,100 from hp direct

- hp dv6-7200 Quad with 650m, 1920x1080 display and i7-3820QM - 1.16" thick, 5.66lbs (2.5kg), around $1,300 from hp direct
Last edited by CountChocula; December 19th, 2012 at 16:15.
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December 19th, 2012, 16:15
I have a very bad experience with Toshiba laptops. Can't think of a problem that I haven't seen on one (I work as support in a certain company).
Then again, I'm at the market outside of UK and it's possible they deliberately toss low quality stuff in stores here, wouldn't be the first time someone does that.
Since you linked to the UK site, if you order it there you'll probably get the best stuff.

No problems with HP (apart from perhaps too "touchy" battery that's easily replacable) or with Lenovo (old models were pure junk, but after R60 series they went pretty reliable choice) laptops.
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December 19th, 2012, 16:20
No, the Toshiba is my current laptop. I am thinking of ordering from pcspecialist ….

Apparently the reviews for PcSpecialist are amazing, except for the part that it doesn't look very nice on the outside.

@CC, do you think the i7-3630 would be better than the i5-3360 ? And would that be enough for the CPU not to be a bottleneck ?

@joxer, what do you think of the specs ?
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December 19th, 2012, 16:46
Originally Posted by Pladio View Post
@CC, do you think the i7-3630 would be better than the i5-3360 ? And would that be enough for the CPU not to be a bottleneck ?
Yes, the i5-3360m is dual core and the i7-3630QM is a quad core.
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December 19th, 2012, 16:54
I ordered from pcspecialist - a laptop made by Clevo designed for games. The delay was inexcusable (>20 days) but that was around Christmas last year, and a major competitor selling Clevos had just gone bust (Kobalt) so they'd mopped up a heap of refugees.

As for CPU - there's a bit of misinformation around imo - I personally think you'd need to go back a generation of CPU to get bottlenecked by that component. I'm the sort of person that gets a GTX680M with a core i3, save £400++ vs an i7 and get 2-3 FPS less in some games (but still running Witcher 2 at 50FPS on ultra ultra).

For comparing mobile graphics cards, notebookcheck.net is good. To see what issues your new laptop is currently suffering with users who wish they'd found the forum before, I'd recommend forum.notebookreview.com

That battery + that size screen will get you around 2hrs of wi-fi in real life, in case that matters to you.
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December 19th, 2012, 16:58
Originally Posted by Gaxkang View Post
As for CPU - there's a bit of misinformation around imo - I personally think you'd need to go back a generation of CPU to get bottlenecked by that component. I'm the sort of person that gets a GTX680M with a core i3, save £400++ vs an i7 and get 2-3 FPS less in some games (but still running Witcher 2 at 50FPS on ultra ultra).
That used to be the case, and certainly the choice of graphics card is generally more important for gaming, but these days more and more games are optimized to make better use of multi-core processors and faster, modern CPUs.

Witcher 2 is sort of a throwback, it's extremely GPU-bound to the point where your CPU makes much less difference.

Incidentally, you really have a laptop with core i3 and 680m? What kind of laptop is that? I imagine you would have difficulty with some recent games, even with 680m you need some CPU power.
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December 19th, 2012, 17:31
Yes, I actually have a number of Clevos in the family, and the good thing about them is they're easy to switch components around. So a 680MGTX will work in other mxm3 machines, unlike say Acer's GTX680M.

I swapped my i3 out for an i7 and saw no difference in anything other than Metro 2033 and Xplane 10. That said, the i3 is working almost at 100% and is showing some temps. But yeah, Intel have been known to "make donations" to a few devs to design games specifically for quad core, just so Intel can get a couple of fingers into Nvidia's gamer-milking pie. From my home tests, I can only see i7 being a hedge against future game design, or for transcoding. One thing I do have trouble with on an i3 is vid playback and simultaneous capture + encode + save.
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December 19th, 2012, 17:50
Originally Posted by CountChocula View Post
Yes, the i5-3360m is dual core and the i7-3630QM is a quad core.
Yeah, but the clockspeed is faster on the 3360 than the 3630. Still go for the i7 ? And would it make a noticeable difference you think?
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December 19th, 2012, 17:52
@Gax, I'd prefer not going much slower than the 3320 as I would not get a much better improvement on why I have right now.


Also, how do you reduce temps ?when gaming, do you use a cooling pad ?
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December 19th, 2012, 19:11
Originally Posted by Pladio View Post
Yeah, but the clockspeed is faster on the 3360 than the 3630. Still go for the i7 ? And would it make a noticeable difference you think?
Yes, the quad core i7-3630QM is faster than the dual core i5-3360m, even if the i5 has a higher clockspeed.

I've never used any laptops with either of those specific processors, so I can't speak to the specific comparison, and it probably depends on which game you are playing, but the overall trend is moving toward games that are optimized to make better use of multicore processors.

Valve games, 4X strategy and RTS titles, GTA series, recent open world games like Skyrim, Far Cry 3 all make use of multi-core CPUs, and most 2012 AAA releases are now including quad core CPU in the recommended specs.

The 660m is a great laptop card, but considering you probably want to game on this for a few years, IMO the dual core would be a mistake, if you can find a comparable system with quad core that fits in your budget.

Also, how do you reduce temps ?when gaming, do you use a cooling pad ?
Yes, I use Zalman NC-3000 laptop cooler - does a great job of keeping my laptop frosty
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December 19th, 2012, 19:27
Agreed, notebook cooler is a good investment. All the Arctic Ceramic Silver Titanium Nuclear Winter etc pastes are mostly snake oil. The main thing is not to cock up the application of any normal paste.
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December 19th, 2012, 19:45
Originally Posted by Pladio View Post
@Gax, I'd prefer not going much slower than the 3320 as I would not get a much better improvement on why I have right now.
In my experience the two things that make any noticeable difference in terms of not "feeling slow" are GPU and SSD. Also, some manufacturers skimp on tiny components so that same config with OEM1 =/= performance on exactly same config with OEM2. That's why I tended to prefer Clevo (one of pcspecialists ODMs btw) over Alienware in the past. I'd recommend asking pcspecilist who the ODM is on the machine you're looking at, and then head over to forum.notebookreview.com to see what trouble people are having with it (hopefully only minor, but better to be informed nonetheless).

For CPU, shelling out for quad core Xtreme Supersonics etc just for a few FPS on a couple of games and some video encoding power is not worth the (large) price premium for me (I put all my spare $ into SSD and GPU).
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December 19th, 2012, 23:44
Thanks for all the answers

What do you think of dropping the 660 and going for 650 instead, which would let me get an i7-3740 instead (2.70GHz) and I would then go for a 240GB SSD drive ?
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December 20th, 2012, 17:00
Adding some info. According to PcSpecialist, the computers a re Clevo. So I guess that's good.
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December 20th, 2012, 17:30
Originally Posted by Pladio View Post
Thanks for all the answers

What do you think of dropping the 660 and going for 650 instead, which would let me get an i7-3740 instead (2.70GHz) and I would then go for a 240GB SSD drive ?
SSDs are great for reducing Windows boot / shutdown times, application load times and really helpful if you work with massive files in creative apps like Photoshop. It will significantly reduce your loading times in games, but does not improve your frame rate.

The 650m is more than fast enough to run most recent games at 1920x1080, as I have a significantly weaker graphics card and I can easily do the same. Not quite sure about certain extremely GPU-bound games like Witcher 2. I have the AMD 5830 Mobility and I can run every other game I've ever played at 1920x1080 just fine but Witcher 2 runs like crap and I have to reduce the resolution. With the 650m, which is much faster than my card, it's possible you may still need to reduce anti aliasing for some highly GPU-bound games, but you should be able to max most other settings.

If you have some flexibility to customize model you're ordering, go for 660m and quad core CPU. You can always replace the hard drive with SSD later, but you simply can't upgrade the GPU and CPU in most laptops. Also, you may want to consider the weight and thickness. There are some super powerful desktop replacement type laptops that are great for gaming, but so heavy and bulky that they sort of defeat the purpose of buying a laptop in the first place.
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December 20th, 2012, 17:53
Thank you. that makes a lot of sense. So I'm currently thinking of the following build now:


Chassis & Display
Optimus Series: 15.6" Matte Full HD LED Widescreen (1920x1080)
Processor (CPU)
Intel® Core™i7 Quad Core Mobile Processor i7-3630QM (2.40GHz) 6MB
Memory (RAM)
8GB SAMSUNG 1600MHz SODIMM DDR3 MEMORY (2 x 4GB)
Graphics Card
NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 660M - 2.0GB DDR5 Video RAM - DirectX® 11
Memory - Hard Disk
240GB INTEL® 330 SERIES SSD, SATA 6 Gb/s (500MB/sR,450MB/sW) (Special)
DVD/BLU-RAY Drive
8x SATA DVD±R/RW/Dual Layer (+ 24x CD-RW)
Memory Card Reader
Internal 9 in 1 Card Reader (MMC/RSMMC/SD: Mini, XC & HC/MS: Pro & Duo)
Thermal Paste
ARCTIC MX-4 EXTREME THERMAL CONDUCTIVITY COMPOUND (£9)
Sound Card
Intel 2 Channel High Definition Audio + MIC/Headphone Jack
Bluetooth & Wireless
GIGABIT LAN & WIRELESS INTEL® N135 802.11N (150Mbps) + BLUETOOTH
USB Options
3 x USB 3.0 PORTS + 1 x USB 2.0 PORT AS STANDARD
Battery
Optimus Series 8 Cell Lithium Ion Battery (5,200 mAh/76.96WH)
Power Lead & Adaptor
1 x UK Power Lead & 120W AC Adaptor
Operating System
Genuine Windows 7 Home Premium 64 Bit w/SP1 - inc DVD & Licence (£79)


So I removed the second HD and went for a larger SSD and a quad core 3630.

It comes down to £873 for now. I still need to save some money to be able to buy it though. So maybe it'll get a bit cheaper by end of January of start of February.

What do you guys think of getting the Dead Pixel Guarantee they offer ? I don't want to spend so much on a computer and end up with two dead pixels in the middle of the screen which the warranty does not cover

Have you ever had this problem ?
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December 20th, 2012, 18:02
Originally Posted by Pladio View Post

What do you guys think of getting the Dead Pixel Guarantee they offer ? I don't want to spend so much on a computer and end up with two dead pixels in the middle of the screen which the warranty does not cover

Have you ever had this problem ?

Sounds like great specs. Who is the manufacturer, their warranty doesn't cover dead pixels?

Never had any kind of dead pixel problem but I had a good experience with hp tech support.
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December 20th, 2012, 18:11
PcSpecialist : http://www.pcspecialist.co.uk/

They say the following regarding dead pixels :

"Every notebook screen we supply complies with ISO-9241-302, 303, 305, 307:2008 with regards to pixel defects. However, the ISO standard allows for pixel defects and neither the manufacturer nor supplier can be held liable for defects that fall within the ISO standard.

Dead pixels can be frustrating, especially when you have bought an expensive high specification laptop. Therefore, in order to protect customers against a possible dead pixel we have created two very reasonably priced packages to protect against dead pixels.

Should you report a dead pixel within the specified time period on your chosen dead pixel guarantee, we will collect the laptop from your premises and replace the screen with a defect free model of equal or better specification. Collection and re-delivery charges are also included along with all labour fees, and the service can be used an unlimited number of times during the guarantee period.

The dead pixel guarantee commences on the day you receive your order and any dead pixels must be reported within the guarantee time period in order to qualify for replacement.

Screens that are cracked, damaged or broken are not covered under the dead pixel guarantee regardless of how many pixels are not functioning.

This guarantee does not cover external monitors purchased, only the notebook screen itself is covered."
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December 20th, 2012, 18:19
Originally Posted by Pladio View Post
PcSpecialist : http://www.pcspecialist.co.uk/
This guarantee does not cover external monitors purchased, only the notebook screen itself is covered."
No idea how common this problem is, but it seems like a retailer tactic to persuade the customer to spend a little more. Do they offer any sort of unconditional return policy within a short period of time after purchase? If so, perhaps you could simply return the laptop for refund if it ships with a dead pixel and buy a new one.
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