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Guild Wars 2 Laptop Guide

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#1 tijo

tijo

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Posted 21 April 2011 - 04:33 PM

Guild Wars 2 Laptop Guide v3.0

Now that GW2 has been released, it’s time for an update to this guide. This is not the final version yet, as it doesn’t include laptop recommendations yet if I ever get around to doing it.

Also, preferably ask your questions on the forums, I don’t always check my private messages, I don’t know the answer to everything either so you will get a reply faster if you post in the forum. Also, your experience might be invaluable to others who will encounter the same situation as you.

This guide is meant to help you decide which laptop to get, but in the end, you know best what you need and you will also have to do your own research for certain details.

A few important facts

For now I don’t have a whole lot of actual data on mobile GPUs so some of the recommendations are still educated guesses, if you want to post results for your average framerate with a laptop, feel free to do so in this thread.

The first thing everyone should know is that there is no way for a laptop to be better than a desktop in terms of price/performance and that high end desktop hardware is faster than high end laptop hardware. There is no getting around that fact. The main reasons for wanting a laptop are the portability and lack of desk space.

Laptops being so small also mean that the components tend to run hotter than their desktop counterparts. There is a section on thermals later on in this guide that includes what should be considered dangerous temperatures and what should not.

The size of a laptop has a big impact on the performance of the components that can be put inside it. That means that there is no way to fit gaming laptop grade hardware in an ultrabook. In short, you’ll have to compromise on size for more performance or compromise on performance for a smaller laptop. There are some pretty balance laptops out there in terms of size and performance though.

Laptops also have the huge drawback of very limited upgradeability. There are very few laptops where you can upgrade the video card. I’ll get to those in the section about upgrades. The most commonly upgradeable components are the RAM and hard drive. Be warned though, some laptops, especially ultrabooks have the RAM soldered to the motherboard and may use a proprietary hard drive form factor and/or connector which severely limit upgradeability. You can go with the rule that the smaller and thinner it is, the less likely it’s going to be self-upgradeable. It is something to check for and to take into account since when your laptop is going to be a tad old; you’ll have to replace it altogether rather than upgrading it.

A little bit on Apple laptops since macbooks are popular. The first thing you should know is that if you want to run GW2 on a mac, you’ll want to bootcamp into Windows, there is no mac version of GW2 and running windows through a VM like Parallels or using an emulator like wine will result in a performance hit. There are still some macbooks that pack decent hardware like the Macbook Pro Retina as long as you run the game at a resolution of 1920x1200 or lower. Forget about running GW2 at the native resolution of the MBPr. Also be warned that the thermal design of macbooks isn’t very good, so your macbook will run hot. The MBPr gets a special mention here because Apple has improved the thermals somewhat, it still runs hot, but it’s not as outrageous as it used to be.

Where can I find reviews of laptops
There are many laptop review sites, my own two favorites are Anandtech and notebookreview. Those aren’t the only ones, but I prefer the reviews from those two. If it’s user reviews you want, you can check for short reviews on newegg for example, but if you want more in depth reviews, there are quite a few on the notebookreview forums. Hardware Canucks also gets a mention from me, I don’t like their reviews as much but they’re good nonetheless.

Recommendations Roundup

CPU: core i7 (preferable) or core i5
HDD: 7200RPM of the capacity you need or better
RAM: 8GB
GPU by resolution for medium-high or better:
    1366x768 nVidia: GT540m, GT630m, GT640m LE
    1366x768 AMD: HD5670m, GHD6670m, HD7670m
    1600x900 nVidia: GT555m, GT640m
    1600x900 AMD: HD5770m, HDHD6770m, HD7750m
    1920x1080 nVidia: GTX460m, GTX470m, GTX485m, GTX560m, GTX570m, GTX580m, GT650m (GDDR5), GTX660m, GTX670m, GTX675m, GTX680m
    1920x1080 AMD: HD5870m, HD6870m, HD6970m, HD6990m, HD7850m, HD7870m, HD7970m
Note that less powerful GPUs will run the game just fine depending on your resolution, but you will have to sacrifice settings in order to get a playable framerate.

List of laptops

This list is a work in progress and the laptops listed here aren't the only options.

Top Mobile Gaming Performance

Alienware m18x: It has an aluminum chassis, sports dual GPUs and is enormous. Given the right configuration it is a very strong performer albeit an expensive one.
Sager NP9370: Another dual GPU monster, this one is at 17"
Sager NP9170: At 17", it isn't small, but you can pack a GTX680m in it as well as a quad core making it s strong contender if you're after performance rather than size.
Alienware m17x: Isn't made of aluminum like it's bigger brother and it screams gamer, but it packs the same punch as the NP9170 depending on the configuration
Sager NP9150: The 15" brother of the NP9170, can also be configured with top of the line mobile GPUs.
MSI GT70: I don't really like the looks of that one, but you can't argue with some configurations, it's a 17"
MSI GT60: Essentially the little 15" brother of the GT70.

High End Mobile Gaming Performance

Sager NP9130
Sager NP6370
Sager NP6350
Asus G75
Asus G55
Lenovo Y580
MSI GE70
MSI GE60
Macbook Pro retina (it's GT650m is overclocked to 660m levels)

Mid-Range Gaming Performance

HP Envy 17
HP Envy 15
HP DV-6T
Sager NP6175
Sager NP6165
Asus N76Vz
Asus N56Vz
Asus U500
Sony SVS15
Alienware m14x

Small and Thin and Light

Sager NP6110
Sony SVS13
Alienware m11x
Gigabyte U2442N

Business Notebooks

Like i mention in the guide, professional GPUs aren't meant for gaming, but you can still game on them so if you want a mobile workstation that can game, here they are.

Lenovo Thinkpad W530
HP Elitebook 8570w
HP Elitebook 8770w
Dell Precision M4700
Dell Precision M6700

Hardware Components

Now on to the hardware components that you will need to run GW2, I will break them down by category and also break down the GPUs by resolution. You can also refer to dhatcher1’s chart here: http://www.guildwars...nd-resolution/. Note that it hasn’t been updated since launch so it’s a good guesstimate.

Central Processing Units (CPUs or Processors)

At this point, it’s no secret that GW2 likes quad cores, dual cores are still fine, but a quad core is preferred and an Intel quad core at that.

Why Intel, the answer is simple, if you though that AMD had a lackluster desktop offering, you haven’t seen their laptop offerings aside from Llano and Trinity which have found their niche in the bang for the buck. Other mobile AMD CPUs aren’t even worth considering for gaming and you won’t see many notebooks using them anyways.

Some naming conventions from Intel:
    Pentium: The lowest of the low end of Intel’s line with no Turbo Boost or Hyperthreading
    Core i3: Entry dual core with Hyperthreading and no Turbo Boost
    Core i5: Mid to high end dual core with Turbo Boost and Hyperthreading
    Core i7: High end dual core and quad cores with turbo boost and Hyperthreading
    CPU models ending in m: dual core CPUs
    CPU models ending in qm: quad core CPUs
    CPU models ending in xm: extreme edition quad cores, super expensive, but they come with unlocked multipliers and can even match desktop CPUs given adequate cooling.
    ULV: Ultra Low Voltage, in short, you don’t want those for gaming.
    Core i#-###: First generation of Core i CPUs (Arrandale and clarksfield), 2010 tech
    Core i#-2###: Second generation of core i CPUs (Sandy Bridge), 2011 tech
    Core i#-3###: Third generation of core i CPUs (Ivy Bridge), 2012 tech, aka the ones you want.
Now that I’ve thrown features like Turbo Boost and Hyperthreading your way, read the spoiler to know what those are exactly. I should add that GW2 does take advantage of Hyperthreading somewhat.
Spoiler

I’ll conclude the CPU chapter with a small section on AMD Llano and Trinity. Trinity is basically the Llano refresh for those of you who don’t keep up with tech news. Llano won’t beat an Intel CPU with a good dedicated GPU, but Llano CPUs overclock very easily and safely at that making them a great budget option for gaming on a laptop. Anandtech’s thoughs on Llano: : http://www.anandtech...-apu-a8-3500m/1 and on Trinity: http://www.anandtech...600m-a-new-hope. Asymmetric crossfire also deserves a mention here since it allows you to use an AMD mobile GPU along with the integrated graphics on Llano and Trinity for better gaming performance. The last time I checked, drivers still needed work, but that was a couple of months ago so I expect that right now (September 2012) it’s better.

Graphics Processing Units (GPUs)

If you plan on gaming on a laptop, the most important part will be the GPU, the processor also plays it’s part obviously, but the GPU will be the bottleneck in most cases. I will list the GPUs required for med-high or better at the most commonly used resolutions. Sorry guys, 16:10 is dying so I won’t list those, I will list them by the three main 16:9 resolution. Also, always assume equivalent or better. You can also check: http://www.notebookc...ards.130.0.html. It’s not entirely accurate, but it’s the best we’ve got.

1366x768 nVidia: GT540m, GT630m, GT640m LE
      1366x768 AMD: HD5670m, GHD6670m, HD7670m
      1600x900 nVidia: GT555m, GT640m
      1600x900 AMD: HD5770m, HDHD6770m, HD7750m
      1920x1080 nVidia: GTX460m, GTX470m, GTX485m, GTX560m, GTX570m, GTX580m, GT650m (GDDR5), GTX660m, GTX670m, GTX675m, GTX680m
      1920x1080 AMD: HD5870m, HD6870m, HD6970m, HD6990m, HD7850m, HD7870m, HD7970m
    I want to max the game, can I do it on a laptop?

    Short of getting a laptop with dual GPUs, no you can’t. Even a single 680m will take a major performance hit with supersampling, it’ll probably cut it with a decent overclock, but barely. There aren’t that many laptops that can run dual GPUs either, right now there is the Alienware m18x and Clevo will offer something eventually too, they had to delay the launch of their dual GPU model because of a motherboard design problem, but they’ll get it to market eventually if they haven’t yet.

    I have a laptop with integrated graphics, can I run the game?

    If you have an HD3000 or better on the Intel side, it won’t be pretty, but it will run at low resolutions and the lowest settings.

    If you happen to have a Llano or Trinity laptop (AMD A6, A8, A10), the situation is better, at low resolutions and with an overclock to the CPU (the lower end Llanos are a bit weak in terms of CPU performance) you’ll be able to get somewhere around medium at low resolutions.

    Is there anything else I should know about GPUs?

    As a matter of fact there is, it’s not as critical as know which GPU gives what kind of performance, but there are technicalities that could come to bite you in the rear so I will cover those.

    The first thing you should know is that AMD is having issues with Enduro (their answer to nVidia’s Optimus) meaning that performance for the 7970m and other HD7000m GPUs suffers a bit with Enduro enabled. They are working on it and I expect they’ll fix it eventually, but it is something to be aware of. Alienware laptops like the m17x allow you to disable Enduro though which will take care of the performance problem at the cost of battery life.

    Video memory or VRAM is also an important factor. Currently, you will see video cards with GDDR3 or GDDR5 VRAM. The difference is rather important, GDDR5 has twice the bandwidth of GDDR3, this doesn’t make that much of a difference with lower end GPUs, but it is actually important with higher end GPUs like the GT650m. The GDDR5 650m will perform faster than its GDDR3 counterpart.

    Next is memory bus width, the bus width (128-bit, 192-bit, 256-bit, etc.) will have an impact on how fast the GPU can send and receive data to the VRAM and that is also important with higher end GPUs. For the current generation of mobile GPUs, there isn’t any bus bandwidth fiasco like the previous generations as far as I’m aware. In the previous generation, the GTX560m for example came with a 128-bit bus or a 192-bit bus depending on the amount of VRAM and again the 192-bit version performed better than the 128-bit one. If you’re buying a new laptop, this won’t be a concern though, but I’ll still mention it in case nvidia and AMD decide to make a mess of things sometime in the future.

    The amount of memory is no longer an issue now either, even Apple saw the light and decided to use decent amounts of VRAM on their GPUs (1GB finally) so you won’t have to worry about not having enough VRAM. You should know though that, aside from the very high end mobile GPUs, 1GB is enough since the GPU isn’t fast enough to use more than 1GB efficiently. Unless there is a difference in bus width, you won’t really see a difference between 1GB or more VRAM.

    I’ll also mention clock speeds, there are some laptops where the GPU is either underclocked or overclocked. An underclocked GPU is usually the result of poor thermal design because the notebook can’t handle the heat from the GPU at stock clocks. There aren’t that many factory overclocked GPUs in laptops, but the Macbook Pro Retina deserves a mention here, its GT650m is overclocked to the point where it performs just like a GTX660m.

    Finally, the professional GPUs like the AMD firepro and nVidia quadro. Those aren’t meant for gaming in the sense that their drivers are optimized for CAD work. You can still game on them, but expect a small performance hit compared to their gaming counterparts. This means for example that a Quadro K5000m will perform a tad slower than a GTX680m in games, not to mention that the K5000m costs over 1000$. Yep, pro grade GPUs are expensive due to multiple factors which I won’t discuss.

    RAM

    There isn’t much to say about RAM aside that I personally recommend 6GB or more, but that 4GB is enough for GW2 if you don’t go nuts with other programs at the same time.

    Hard Drives (HDD) and SSDs

    Again, not much to say here aside that if you go for a HDD instead of a SSD go for a 7200RPM drive if possible, access times are better than a 5400RPM drive.

    If you want a SSD, well all SSDs are 2.5mm drives so unless you have a laptop that requires a 7mm height drive, any SSD will fit in your laptop easily.

    There is a SSD form factor that is becoming more popular for laptops: mSATA. A mSATA SSD is very small and can allow even smaller notebooks to have dual drives either in the form of a SSD cache and a HDD or two separate drives. A mSATA SSD has the same form factor as a full-height mPCI-E card, but the pin layout is different so don’t think you can use a mSATA SSD in a mPCI-E connector.

    Wireless Adapters

    Some of you might be wondering why I’m mentioning this because every laptop now comes with one. Let me put it bluntly, most wireless adapters you see in laptops are either crap or average. The amount of crappy low end Atheros adapters you find in notebooks is staggering. If you have the option, got for a high end Intel adapter (Intel 6200 or better) a high end Atheros (yep, the high end ones are actually good) or a Bigfoot adapter (actually a high end Atheros in disguise). Now if the Intel adapter upgrade is 20$ and the bigfoot is 60$, do yourself a favor and get the Intel, the bigfoots aren’t 60$ good. Sometimes it’s impossible to configure the wireless adapter though and you’re stuck with whatever comes by default.

    LCD Panel

    I’m dedicating a section to the LCD panels this time simply almost every 1366x768 laptop panel out there is junk. By junk I don’t mean black and white era or that it’ll fail after a few months, but in terms of color and image quality, you can’t really go lower than that. Now you’re pretty much stuck with one on low budgets and they’re usable. 1600x900 and 1920x1080 TN panels vary in quality but are usually good. They are no e-IPs or IPS displays, but the colors and color accuracy are better. Read Anandtech reviews of laptops if you’re interested in a good breakdown of displays. You don’t need a 300$ RGB LED IPS panel to get a good image, but the bottom of the barrel panels are still disappointing.

    Other Hardware

    There are other hardware components that I haven’t mentioned like touchpad, keyboard, LAN adapter. Those are pretty variable from notebook to notebook and are better left to full-fledged reviews.

    Size, Weight, Noise and Battery Life

    This one gets its own section because since a laptop is meant for portability (or transportability in some cases), weight and battery life deserve their own section separate from hardware. The size, weight and battery life of a laptop are directly related to its hardware configuration. Higher end components, larger screens all contribute to a higher power consumption which in turns means lower battery life. GPUs are one of the main factors of battery life and the faster ones are real battery vampires. On the bright side, switchable graphics came to the rescue, switchable graphics (Optimus or Enduro) will switch to the IGP when you’re not doing anything intensive thus saving battery live and switch to the GPU when you’re doing something that requires more graphic performance, the switch should be automatic. Not all laptops have switchable graphics though; the Asus G series for example doesn’t have Optimus contrarily to Alienware and Clevo.

    If you are wondering what hardware configuration has to do with size and weight: everything. The larger the laptop, the more materials it will have which means increased weight. The other main reason for increased weight is the cooling system; the cooling system on a laptop is made of metals like copper and aluminium. You can’t cool a GTX680m and a core i7 with a small heatsink, most laptops with those components use two separate ones, one for the GPU and one for the CPU as a matter of fact. If you want high end performance you have to be willing to sacrifice size and weight in order to accommodate the components and the cooling system.

    Finally, noise, that one is pretty variable too. You can have a laptop packing high end hardware that has low noise levels and a laptop with much weaker hardware that sounds like a jet engine. That is something that is better left to reviews as well. Some laptops are engineered with noise in mind, others not.

    Thermals and Maintenance

    I’ll start the part on thermals by saying that the belief of laptops overheating because laptops overheat in general is a complete myth. Laptops overheat because of improper maintenance, improper use, something broken or bad thermal design. I’ll get to those three shortly, but before, I will give a list of various components and general rules of thumb as to what are safe temperatures and when you should worry. Temperatures will be listed in Celsius, if you want them Fahrenheit, you’ll have to do the conversion yourself.
      CPU: 70C to 80C or below is considered safe, 80C to 90C is in the you should worry and anything above 90C means do something now. Current Intel CPUs are rated for up to 100C
      GPU: 80C to 90C or below is in general just fine, 100C is where you know there is something wrong. Note that specs may vary more per GPU, but those temps apply to most of the ones currently available in notebooks.
      HDD: Anything below 40C is perfectly acceptable, once you are nearing 50C, it’s time to worry and 60C will be harmful to your HDD
      The rest doesn’t usually have temperature sensors and isn’t prone to overheating anyways. You might want to keep an eye on the chipset temperature, but that’s usually the last thing that will overheat.
    So now that you have an idea of what’s dangerous and what isn’t, you want to keep an eye on your laptop’s thermals. Fear not, here is a list of utilities that you can use:
      HWmonitor
      HWiNFO
      GPU-Z
      CrystalDiskInfo
    Now, I’ll discuss the various factors that cause overheating. First on the list is bad thermal design, that one is a total screw up on the manufacturer’s part and is a textbook example of a badly designed product. Bad thermal design is the only thing you can’t do something about it aside from returning the laptop or claiming the warranty. This illustrates the importance of looking for reviews and user experiences.

    Improper use that will cause overheating is usually because of insufficient airflow. Putting a laptop that has its fan intakes on the bottom on the bed or couch is a good way to cause heat related problems. Some notebooks take their air from the top or side which means that it isn’t as much of a problem, but I still don’t recommend it.

    Improper maintenance is obviously not taking care of your laptop. You don’t have to baby it, but you still have to make sure the heatsink(s) is(are) clean. The easiest way to do this will cost you 0$ and take a whopping 5 minutes. Get a can of compressed gas meant for dusting electronics, they are easy to find too, and simply blow short bursts through the air intake. If you’re worried about the fan bearings, you can use something like a paperclip to make sure it doesn’t spin. You should do this every few months; notebooks gather dust faster than desktops. If you smoke or have pets like dogs and cats, you’ll want to do that monthly instead. None of my notebooks have overheated because I am taking care of them. Below, you can see a log of the average CPU temperature for all 4 cores on my laptop on a period of a little over a year.

    Attached File  July_2012_CPU.png   272.58K   36 downloads

    Here is what your heatsink may look like if you do not take care of it. Don't be a sucker and dust that thing before it becomes that bad. Credit for these pictures goes to Gentech PC, i just borrowed them. :o

    Attached File  GT780RMA-1.JPG   114.73K   66 downloadsAttached File  GT780RMA-2.JPG   75.02K   67 downloads

    If you want to take maintenance to the next level, it’s going to require a little bit more skills. You can remove the laptop’s back panel and remove the fan is possible to dust the fan and heatsink separately. Make sure the battery is removed and the laptop is unplugged if you do this. You can also go further with the disassembly and completely remove the heatsink to clean it, but I that is something reserved only for the more tech savvy owners. If you feel uncomfortable about doing this, then don’t do it and just use aircans like I first described. The difficulty of disassembly varies from laptop to laptop, my G73Jh is probably the best example of an overly complicated disassembly if you want to get to the heatsinks.

    Finally, defective components are the last possible source of overheating. If your fan breaks, you’ll need to have it replaced, same with thermal paste that degrades or broken heatpipes. Those cases are pretty rare, but can happen. If your laptop is under warranty, claim it. If you’re out of warranty, you can order the parts do it yourself which again is for power users or have a technician do it for you. It will cost you money to have a technician do it, but a technician knows what he’s doing.

    Upgrades

    So, you want to upgrade your laptop or want to know what you can upgrade. There are some components that are easy to upgrade and others that aren’t. I’ll go through both starting with the easy ones. There are always rare cases where the usually easy upgrades aren’t easy though. Also don’t forget that the level of upgradeability varies from laptop to laptop.

    HDD and SSD

    This is one of the most straightforward upgrade for most laptops. The procedure boils down to open the laptop’s back panel, remove the old drive and replace it with the new one. You will of course have to either clone your old drive to the new one or reinstall windows and your programs. Most laptop manufacturers provide instructions on how to do this and this won’t void your warranty.

    RAM

    Upgrading your RAM is as straightforward as upgrading the hard drive. Remove the access panel, remove the old RAM and pop the new one back in. That procedure should once again be detailed by the manufacturer or their tech support should be able to provide it. Upgrading the RAM won’t void the warranty either.

    Wireless Adapter

    Upgrading the wireless adapter can be very easy, tricky or downright impossible. If the adapter is easily accessible, it boils down to delicately unplugging the antennas, removing two screws, doing the swap, screwing the new adapter back in place and plugging the antennas on the new adapter. There are two form factors for wireless adapters, full-height which you won’t find in any recent notebook (it pretty much died in 2009) and half-height which is the one in use right now.

    CPU

    That one will void your warranty, so attempt it at your own risks. Upgrading the CPU is possible in most notebooks, but often requires a hefty disassembly. If you ever want to attempt it, you will have to find a disassembly guide on your own. This is something I do not recommend to others. I’ve done it, I wouldn’t mind doing it again, but I’m crazy and know that this is something only the most tech savvy users can do safely.

    GPU

    GPUs aren’t upgradeable in probably over 99% of all available laptops. Notable exceptions include Alienware, Clevo, MSI and mobile workstations are notable exceptions. If you have one of those laptops, they use either MXM type A or MXM type B GPUs. Note that you won’t be able to upgrade to anything, your bios has to support the new GPU and the heatsink also needs to fit. Only when those conditions are met will you be able to upgrade the GPU. Below, you can see a non-standard Asus MXM type B HD5870m (green PCB) and a Clevo HD6970m (cyan PCB) which follows the standard MXM 3.0 type B layout. If you want to upgrade your GPU because your laptop has a MXM connector, it’s best to inquire as to what you can upgrade to. The upgrade won’t be cheap either, currently a GTX680m runs in the 500$ range.

    Attached File  SANY0051.JPG   175.57K   39 downloads

    Other Components

    There are a few other components that can be upgraded like the LCD panel under the right circumstances. I won’t detail those; you’ll have to look on your own if you’re interested in doing that.

    FAQ

    Q: Your previous guide included gaming laptop recommendations and the new one doesn’t, why not?
    A: I might get around to it eventually, the recommendations were outdated and had to go anyways.

    Q: I saw Clevo mentioned a few times, but I never head of them, where can I get a Clevo notebook?
    A: Clevo doesn’t sell their laptops directly; they sell them to resellers and builders that sell them under their own brand name. Sager is an example of a Clevo builder and reseller. If you see a configurable gaming laptop that isn’t an alienware, it’s usually a Clevo

    Q: There is no section on overclocking in this version, why not?
    A: I decided not to give it a section in this guide because overclocking can be dangerous, I may add one at a later date though, but I need to think of how I’m gonna phrase the whole thing before I even think of adding one.

    Q: If I have a laptop related question, where can I post it?
    A: Anywhere in the technical support forum, but keeping everything in this thread might make things easier to find in the future.

    Q: I noticed other smaller sections of the previous guide aren’t present either, what aren’t they there?
    A: They weren’t as detailed as I would have liked and there are better guides on how to handle that on the Internet or even here on GW2Guru.

    Q: Will you update this guide periodically?
    A: I don’t plan to update it on a regular schedule, but I do plan to update it. You might see some sections make their return, if there is any important news; I will update the guide as well. I may eventually include a list of recommended laptops.

    Q: I preferred the old version of this guide; can you revert back to it?
    A: No, I won’t revert back to the previous version, but leave a post in this thread as to what you’d like to see make a return. I do have a backup of the old version so I still have access to everything that was previously present so I can always put some info back by popular demand.

    Edited by tijo, 10 October 2012 - 11:02 PM.
    Version 2 is up


    #2 The Comfy Chair

    The Comfy Chair

      The best at space

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    Posted 21 April 2011 - 04:53 PM

    I'll move this into the building/buying section and sticky it when it's done :)

    #3 Evlin Heron

    Evlin Heron

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    Posted 21 April 2011 - 05:44 PM

    I like my toshiba qosmio x505, noticed you didn't have it listed :)

    #4 tijo

    tijo

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    Posted 21 April 2011 - 06:34 PM

    Evlin Heron said:

    I like my toshiba qosmio x505, noticed you didn't have it listed :)

    Added Toshiba to the list do you have any complaints, things you like in particular with the laptop, how's battery life/weight and pricing?

    Oh and i believe my post is good enough to be shown. I have most of the sections done.

    Edited by tijo, 21 April 2011 - 06:58 PM.


    #5 The Comfy Chair

    The Comfy Chair

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    Posted 21 April 2011 - 06:38 PM

    aye, trying to get a link added to the main sticky :) it'll stay on the front page for now though anyway.

    #6 Elder III

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    Posted 21 April 2011 - 07:25 PM

    Well I skimmed over the meat of the article and at first glance it looks very good to me.  Nicely written and easy to understand. :)  

    I'll agree that Toshiba may be worth adding.  I have personally owned 2 and bought a third as a gift.  All 3 are still going strong; 2 of them after several years.  The build quality is definitely better than any of the mainstream Dell or HP models and I like their pricing better than say a Lenovo or Sony.   I had a 17" Toshiba Satellite (don't recall the exact model atm) that is 5 years old now and looks and performs as well as day one... and that is after allot of gaming and several trips abroad as well.

    My only complaint with Toshiba is that their bloatware is every bit as bad as most and worse than some other companies.....  but that is more of a general problem with pre-built laptops than a jab at any particular company.   I've always found that wiping a HDD and re-installing Windows is the best option when purchasing a new laptop or desktop.....

    #7 tijo

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    Posted 21 April 2011 - 07:28 PM

    My 6yrs old M40 from Tosh is still working too :). Thanks for the comments it made me realise that i should add short section on bloatware because people should know about it. I already know where to get a bloatware guide for Asus, i'll try to find one for toshiba, sony and acer since they are major bloatware culprits but for now i have to get back home.

    #8 Elder III

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    Posted 21 April 2011 - 11:06 PM

    Yeah a good guide on what is safe to remove and what isn't would be beneficial.  Some of us know what we can get rid of without any problems or how to fix it if there is a problem (or have access to legit. ways of re-installing Windows), but the avg. person doesn't have a clue on how to remove the un-needed software that is bogging them down.... :)

    #9 Serafita Kayin

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    Posted 21 April 2011 - 11:30 PM

    If you can't get it stuck how you want it PM me and I'll GLADLY move this.

    This is an excellent post, and anyone looking for a laptop should be steered here.
    If I see you flaming, I'm going to assume you're on fire and put you out.

    #10 Evlin Heron

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    Posted 22 April 2011 - 12:02 AM

    About the toshiba: its 10lbs, and is a bit of a beast. But honestly I don't know why you'd want a small, light laptop to game on anyway, this is a desktop replacement to me. It stays cool near your hands, gets a bit hot near the upper part of the keyboard area but hasn't been a problem yet (I probably will end up getting a cooling pad for it in a few months anyway, I think that most gaming laptops will need a bit of a help to keep them cool). I guess there was a bit of bloatware, but a lot less than my previous dells and most of it I kept (toshiba has a few programs which monitor your laptop's performance and automatically update drivers etc. for you).

    #11 tijo

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    Posted 22 April 2011 - 12:18 AM

    If you're going to university and you attend lectures with your laptop, then you're better off with a 15" than a DTR.

    #12 tijo

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    Posted 27 April 2011 - 01:06 AM

    Ok, so i added and changed a lot of things since the first iteration of this guide and i would like the opinion of the techs here on if i missed anything or made any blatant mistakes. I intend this guide to be aimed at everyone looking to buy a laptop and setting it up to get a good gaming experience. There's still a few things to add in the laptop brands sections but i think i got the rest covered.

    Also, excuse the grammar and spelling mistakes, french is my main language.

    #13 Elder III

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    Posted 27 April 2011 - 02:39 AM

    Well, I'll start by saying that I would not have guessed that English is your second language.  You have nothing to apologize for my friend. ;)

    Your guide is excellent, and I really appreciate the work that it took to compose it all.  If you are ever in central OH, I would be happy to buy you a latte, beer, or whatever your beverage of choice may be. :)
      My only quibble of note would be that I personally do not recommend that the average person turn of Windows Updates; at least have it enabled for the high priority/essential ones.  I've had too many people bring in their computer and have all sorts of incompatibility issues and viruses etc. because they never had Windows update anything in 3 years.  There were a couple of other things, but they amount to personal preference and don't merit mentioning.  Once again, nice job. :D

    #14 tijo

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    Posted 27 April 2011 - 12:50 PM

    You are absolutely right about the important updates. I just disable them everytime but i check every morning to see what's new and what i want and don't want. Changed it in the guide.

    Edited by tijo, 27 April 2011 - 03:13 PM.


    #15 Vencoris

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    Posted 05 May 2011 - 06:26 AM

    This is an excellent post, but focuses far more on the high end of the performance spectrum.  Many people may be helped by more information on the midrange options.

    This is a situation that I'm sure is not unique.  I need a laptop for mobile use that I can easily carry around by hand.  I don't plan on getting a large dedicated gaming laptop, but am rather looking more in the 13-14" (5 pounds or less), but would still like to be able to play when away from my desktop (which should easily max the game, so when I need eye candy I can play there), only medium settings would be needed

    Browsing through the forums I see people asking if this or that low to midrange GPU can handle GW2.  Many people aren't going for the high end gaming options, but rather the more portable systems, or just the systems their family picks up from best buy and hoping they can handle the game after they get it.

    It seems worthwhile to give some feedback on the integrated, or low to midrange discrete (520-550M / 6470-6650 range) GPUs and how they are expected to perform relative to the higher end cards.

    Obviously they won't be nearly as strong, but even being half as fast at a lower resolution (say a 550M on 1366x768, vs a 460M at 1920x1080) could be a good performer, and potentially cheaper and easier to get for some people as it isn't in a dedicated gaming laptop.  And judging from the queries elsewhere in the forums, this would help many people when picking out new mainstream laptops that could still potentially play the game.

    Thanks!

    #16 Lux et Veritas

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    Posted 05 May 2011 - 08:35 AM

    Very nice guide tijo :D

    Will you be constantly updating this guide ? Or will you stop once the game is out ?

    I exceptionally loved this part

    Quote

    Alienware:
    Price: Overpriced. Like ZOMG what were they thinking when they put the price tag on it.
    Haha :P

    #17 tijo

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    Posted 05 May 2011 - 02:25 PM

    Vencoris said:

    It seems worthwhile to give some feedback on the integrated, or low to midrange discrete (520-550M / 6470-6650 range) GPUs and how they are expected to perform relative to the higher end cards.

    Obviously they won't be nearly as strong, but even being half as fast at a lower resolution (say a 550M on 1366x768, vs a 460M at 1920x1080) could be a good performer, and potentially cheaper and easier to get for some people as it isn't in a dedicated gaming laptop.  And judging from the queries elsewhere in the forums, this would help many people when picking out new mainstream laptops that could still potentially play the game.

    Thanks!

    If you take a look at the recommendations in bold, i posted the mobile GPUs that i assume will run the game on high settings for the three most used resolutions right now (i.e. 550 for 1600x900). My suggested laptops do indeed only cover the high end spectrum though. I intend to add more when the game actually comes out and we can test it on different laptops. Of course if you have an eye on a particular laptop, don't hesitate to ask and another tech or i will be happy to give you an answer. I can't add all the GPUs either, that's why i provided a list of mobile GPUs in the post. I'll re-add it below the recommendations to make it easier to check for people.

    EDIT: A 550m will destroy the game at 1366x768, you can go for something like a 540m and still expect very good performance. I've decided to update the post to include comments on the 520m/AMD equivalent but the update won't come immediately, i wasn't planing on it after all.

    @Lux. The guide will receive less frequent updates now since i got most of it done. I wasn't planning on doing mid/low until GW2 came out, but i will do a small segment on it after all. The guide will receive a major overhaul including suggestions for all price ranges when the game comes out. After GW2 is out, the only updates will be user experiences (i want to compile some data on actual experience with various laptops) and when new stronger GPUs come out that can max the game completely. I think the 6970m/485m will be capable of doing it though.

    Oh and check Falcon-Northwest laptops, alienware seems affordable compared to those.

    Edited by tijo, 05 May 2011 - 03:33 PM.


    #18 Vencoris

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    Posted 06 May 2011 - 01:55 AM

    Tijo, sorry I completely missed those lines.  Looks like the midrange is covered quite well for now.

    So far I've been looking at laptops with 6630M or 540M (one possibility has a 550M and quad core in a semi-light 14", but not available yet in the US).  I haven't found anything higher in the 13-14" range (outside of the alienware 14" which is really a size class above by weight).

    Unfortunately for my gaming, I am also trying to find a 1600x900 screen for general use, which will hurt my framerates and/or details using any of those cards.

    Is GW2 expected to use DX9 or 10?  That could help point towards which benchmarks to use for comparisons (3dmark06 vs vantage).

    #19 tijo

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    Posted 06 May 2011 - 02:56 AM

    Your first post made me realize that i should do a round up of my recommendations to make it easier to find since the only actual laptops i cover are the high end ones and the mid-range recommendations are scrambled a bit everywhere in the post.

    Anyways, finding a 13-14" with a 1600x900 resolution isn't going to be easy but not impossible, you could always change the LCD panel yourself but i wouldn't recommend it to anyone but me (i'm crazy enough to disassemble and reassemble my laptops ;)), depending on your warranty terms it could void it. Your laptop manufacturer might let pros do it without voiding your warranty though, but it'll cost you $100-150 for the LCD panel itself + the tech's honoraries.

    GW2 will be dx9/10 so you could run both benchmarks, but i find that synthetic benchmarks aren't as useful as live gaming tests. I think sony and hp may have decent 14" offerings but i'm not entirely sure. If you're fine with medium a GT540 should be good enough. Acer also has one or two 13/14" models with mid-range GPUs. I think they are in the timeline series, but i'll have to verify that. Asus also has few sandy bridge models like the N43S but i don't think they have 900p screens.

    EDIT: Acer timeline 3830TG/4830TG

    Edited by tijo, 06 May 2011 - 03:15 AM.


    #20 Infamous

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    Posted 06 May 2011 - 03:08 AM

    I have the G73JW-3DE from Asus and I just want to give them more money because I feel like I robbed them.  It's the best piece of awesome I ever owned besides my old Chevy.  I bought it on Black Friday of 2010, and no problems so far.

    I don't see why anyone would complain about the weight.  It's a 17" gaming laptop, so compare it to 17" gaming laptops, not ipads!  You'll see what I mean.
    It is the coolest gaming laptop period.  It's like 20 C cooler than my roomate's Toshiba gaming 19" laptop running the same games.
    Fan noises?  I forgot what those are sorry.  This just doesn't have that.

    My biggest complaint is that the backlight is barely visible when its on.  So if your super anal about having flashies on your rig, don't buy it.

    Edited by Infamous, 06 May 2011 - 03:22 AM.


    #21 Vencoris

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    Posted 06 May 2011 - 03:31 AM

    You're right, it's the timelineX series.
    Here's my cheatsheet of options that I'm looking at now.

    Do you have any other suggestions in this same vein?


    Sony SB (13.3")
    Dimensions: 13.04" (W) x 0.95" (H) x 8.84" (D) / 331 x 24 x 224
    Volume: 109.5 in^3 / 1779 cm^3
    Weight: 3.8 lbs. (1.7 kg)
    SB dual
    AMD 6630M
    There is an SA model coming soon with 1600x900 res, so I'm watching for that as well.

    N43SN (14.1")
    Dimensions: 13.8" (W) x 1.3" (H) x 9.5" (D) / 350 x 240 x 33
    Volume: 170.4 in^3 / 2772 cm^3
    Weight: 5.28 lbs. (2.4 kg)
    SB Quad
    Nvidia 550M


    Acer Timeline X 3830TG (13.3")
    Dimensions: 12.8" (W) x 1.14" (H) x 9.3" (D) / 324 x 235 x 29
    Volume: 135.7 in^3 / 2208 cm^3
    Weight: 3.96 lbs. (1.8 kg)
    SB dual
    Nvidia 540M

    Acer Timeline X 4830TG (14.0")
    Dimensions: 13.5" (W) x 1.18" (H) x 9.6" (D) / 342 x 245 x 30
    Volume: 153 in^3 / 2514 cm^3
    Weight: 4.6 lbs. (2.1 kg)
    SB dual
    Nvidia 540M


    Dell Vostro 3450 (14.0")
    Dimensions: 13.5" (W) x 1.26" (H) x 9.68" (D) / 343 x 246 x 32
    Volume: 164.7 in^3 / 2698 cm^3
    Weight: 5.02 lbs. (2.28 kg)
    SB dual
    AMD 6630M

    #22 Craywulf

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    Posted 06 May 2011 - 03:46 AM

    I own a Asus G73JH-A1. its an absolute dream. Best laptop I've ever owned and I'll likely get another one in year or two, just have a spare. Quality and value are top notch.

    Alienware and Clevo/Sager are overpriced and overkill for a laptop.

    #23 tijo

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    Posted 06 May 2011 - 03:57 AM

    Alienware is overpriced, clevo isn't depending on the reseller/rebrander. You can configure a NP8170 at xotic pc with a 460m for roughly the same price as a G73SW, it's a little more expensive but considering you get additional ports like e-sata it's reasonable and the G73 has a love or hate look. Nothing beats the G73 for quiet in gaming laptops though.

    If that SB dual is an i5 there's no problem getting one, they also consume less battery than the i7s.

    In order of performance, higher to lower: GT550 - GT540 - HD6630. You should also check if any of those come with GDDR5 instead of GDDR3 though i doubt any of those will be with GDDR5.

    Just out of curiosity, Cray did you suffer from the infamous GSOD issues on the JH?

    Edited by tijo, 06 May 2011 - 04:00 AM.


    #24 Elder III

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    Posted 06 May 2011 - 04:00 AM

    Vencoris said:


    N43SN (14.1")
    Dimensions: 13.8" (W) x 1.3" (H) x 9.5" (D) / 350 x 240 x 33
    Volume: 170.4 in^3 / 2772 cm^3
    Weight: 5.28 lbs. (2.4 kg)
    SB Quad
    Nvidia 550M






    This is the one I get, it's the closest thing to a gaming laptop of the list and should handle GW2 very well at that resolution and be pretty decent if you could find a 1600x900 screen too.

    #25 Craywulf

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    Posted 06 May 2011 - 04:01 AM

    I bought my G73 from Xotic, I'm aware of their Clevo/Sager prices. Yes I suffered the initial GSOD, but it only lasted a week before I fixed the issue with Bios.

    #26 tijo

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    Posted 06 May 2011 - 04:04 AM

    Totally unrelated, but do you use the asus 93vBios or Chastity's with the insanely low battery clocks? Oh and did you get a repaste like some of us did? Sorry for sidetracking, but i like knowing what ppl did to their G73 :p.

    EDIT: @Vencoris Xotic/Gentech might be willing to upgrade to a 1600x900 screen for you if you contact them, when and if they offer the N43SN.

    Edited by tijo, 06 May 2011 - 04:12 AM.


    #27 Lux et Veritas

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    Posted 06 May 2011 - 04:20 AM

    Got another question ,

    Although my laptop does not run extremely hot while gaming , I still wanna know how to do this .

    Quote

    8. Clean it regularly, after one shutdown due to heat i started cleaning my M40 regularly and i never had the problem again on any laptop i owned.

    How do you clean your laptop ? Unscrewing the bottom and blowing air on them ? o.o

    edit :

    Quote

    One more thing on heat. Laptop heatsinks and fans collect dust overtime. If you don't clean them every few months, you will run into heat problems eventually, see the following section for a link on how to clean the fans and heatsinks and more "advanced" tweaks. I've seen a lot of people on notebookreview that got their temps down a good 20 degrees by cleaning the vents after 9 -12 months of use. It's also the first thing to troubleshoot if you run into heat problems. Even if you think your environment is dust free, well it isn't period. After 9 months, a monthly heatsink cleaning, i could see there was almost no dust in my system when i disassembled to repaste so it goes a long way to keep your laptop healthy.

    More useful links:

    Guides and How to:
    Cooling your laptop: http://forum.noteboo....-computer.html
    Disabling core parking (learn what it is forst and if it will affect you or not): http://forum.noteboo....ows-7-a-3.html


    Nevermind (: If I've got more questions , I'll ask !

    edit 2 : I'll see if I can get that can of compressed air in this area .

    Edited by Lux et Veritas, 06 May 2011 - 04:25 AM.


    #28 Craywulf

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    Posted 06 May 2011 - 04:23 AM

    honestly I don't recall, I think I used "Chasity's" for awhile then used Asus updated bios. I haven't had any issues since and pretty much have forgotten about it.

    Despite that initial hiccup, it's been smooth sailing since, I love my G73.

    #29 tijo

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    Posted 06 May 2011 - 04:29 AM

    Asus' and Chas' are the same except for the unlocked overdrive (yay overclock!) and lower battery clocks in the latter. She was one of the beta testers for the new asus vBios after all.

    @Lux, you don't necessarily need to open it up every time you use canned air like it says in the guide, i blow through mine every month and only open the bottom panel every three months or so. When i disassembled my G73 after 9 months of use to repaste (bad luck there, stock paste degraded), there was only negligible amounts of dust in it...

    Edited by tijo, 06 May 2011 - 04:33 AM.


    #30 Craywulf

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    Posted 06 May 2011 - 04:44 AM

    G73 doesn't have very many intake areas. They are on the bottom, which as long as its on clean surface, shouldn't pick up much dust.

    Keeping food away from the keyboard and wiping it down will go a long way. Also I close my laptop whenever it's off to keep the dust out. I also lay a light towel over the hinges so dust doesn't settle in the cracks while it's closed.





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