The laptop challenge!

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The laptop challenge!

Postby Primal ShadoW on Fri Dec 20, 2013 1:00 pm

Hello beauties :D

My faithful laptop has done its job for many years now, and it's time to find a new one. I'm a uni student where I do a fair amount of data processing (STATA, spreadsheets etc.), I do some basic video editing (Vegas, After Effects and the occasional 3D modelling programme) and I would want to have the possibility to play games as well (CS:GO, SC2, Battlefield) at decent graphics.

I have spent the last 2 days browsing all sites I can think of for a new laptop, and I'm a bit of a loss as to what to get.

For some reason I keep wanting an i7-4700 processor, and i also want a dedicated graphics card which can run the mentioned tasks at an acceptable level. RAM can always be upgraded, so can storage, so I have put less emphasis on that.

So,
1. Would buying an i7 justify the extra cash you would have to put up or is an i5 still more than enough? Should I look for a quad core, or would a dual core be good enough? I've seen dual and quad cores for both i5 and i7.
2. Are there any big differences between class 2 graphics cards (GeForce GT730M/740M/750M)? How much of a difference would getting an Intel HD integrated graphics be?
3. Is it better to get a decent PC overall, or would giving up some features for an i7 and an alright graphics card be better?
4. Does it matter what brand I get? I have found that the best bang for buck generally is found in Lenovo laptops. I have also looked at msi, Acer, Asus, Fujitsu and HP. Are there any I definitely should NOT get?

TL;DR
Basically I want to get the best possible laptop for general use (data processing, video editing and rendering and some games) for a maximum of £600.
Please help me :)


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Re: The laptop challenge!

Postby Slavechild on Fri Dec 20, 2013 2:21 pm

for a maximum of £600.


Good luck... :wink:

I would get a desktop if you're going to do any sort of video work, unless you're going to buy a top of the range £2k laptop. I got my desktop last year for around £1k with a Intel 990X, Nvidia GTX 680, and 4GB of ram + water cooling system, SSD, HDD etc. etc. but I looked for months and hunted down the best deals.

If you're set on laptops look at the sony custom range, I've had 2 in the past and you get a decent amount of stuff for your £ and they have lasted a good while, I had an HP laptop before my sony's and I chucked it out as it use to get scalding hot :/ but that's like 6 years ago now.
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Re: The laptop challenge!

Postby Primal ShadoW on Fri Dec 20, 2013 3:53 pm

Thanks!

Yeah, I know £600 is sort of ridiculous, but I keep my fingers crossed for some good deals.

The Sony custom series, do you mean the vaio laptop then? If so, that's quite overpriced, no? I've seen many laptops with the same specs for a lower price. The vaio looks pretty good, but that's of less importance to me.


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Re: The laptop challenge!

Postby Slavechild on Fri Dec 20, 2013 4:32 pm

With the sony it's the build quality that I found to be very good but looking over the recent specs they don't offer performance one's anymore :(
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Re: The laptop challenge!

Postby Little_Devil on Sat Dec 21, 2013 12:31 pm

Be wary, a laptop CPU can be no where near as powerful as its Desktop equivalent and in some cases be a lot worse off.
Take an i7 Laptop playing games, then compare it against an i5 desktop. The desktop wins hands down and will cream the i7. On the other hand, when you want to do some intensive graphic editing work, the i7 has the edge.

btw i3 desktop computers are not slow, and some are actually faster than the i5 laptop, in both games and graphical editing.

You really have to look at what you are using the machine for, and come to a roughly informed decision based on the facts you know at that time.
So here are a few facts.

Games engines :
do not need high multiple core CPU's they don't use the cores efficiently, if at all.
Need high core clock speeds.
Need lots of memory to keep the processing speed high, both on board and graphics memory.
A good graphics card.

LT(laptop) is not good since it does not cover the prerequisites for games. A higher end LT may cover these.

Video processing
Need computational speed over brute force speed, and many scientific and mathematical programs utilise the multiple cores available.
Memory although important does not need to be a vast amount, particularly since a higher spin rate HDD compensates, by using it as memory. When buying a LT you have to be careful because a lot will have 5400 spin rates, or SSD's which may or may not be high speed.

ergo a Crossover computer between the best for games and for the video work would need to be a desktop, to get the best of both worlds.

Personally I would concentrate on the best for my course, and make do for games. An i7 LT is of course the best way forward, but for the price difference you should be looking at the i3 and i5 types. i5 being better for computational work such as yours. Make sure you check out the core clock speeds of whichever LT you choose, and remember there is no difference perceptionally between 2.2 GHz and 2.4GHz, its mainly just a placebo effect unless you are doing something that is ultra time critical.

On another note I have had a number of computers over the years, both LT and DT, and they perform different tasks. I Have games on an i5 LT, but use it rarely for that, but I do video processing and programming on the LT, whereas I use games more on the desktop, and Video processing less.
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Re: The laptop challenge!

Postby Primal ShadoW on Mon Dec 23, 2013 7:17 pm

Thanks a lot Devil!

At the moment I move around between cities and apartments due to my studies, so I haven't settled down anywhere yet. That's why I won't buy a desktop PC. When I find a place with my girlfriend I will, though. And since most of my time is spent studying, I probably won't have much spare time for games. Judging by that logic, I should get a laptop which covers my video processing needs, then get a desktop when I find a place to settle down.

However, could what you're saying be interpreted as if I buy a laptop with high multiple core speed (e.g. 2.2 GHz dual/quad cpu), 8 GB of RAM, a 7200 rpm HDD and a good graphics card I have both worlds covered and can run both video processing and games?

After looking at a couple of laptops, I came across these:

£635


Matt Intel® Core™ i5-4200M, 8GB, 750GB 5400 rpm, GeForce GTX 760M, DVDRW, no operating system



£700 Is this worth the extra £65? Better HDD and a slight gfx upgrade?


Matt Intel Core i5-4200M, 8GB, 1TB 7200 rpm, GeForce GTX 765M, DVDRW, no operating system



£780 This has a better processor, which you said didn't matter that much when playing games, since games rarely use the cores effectively.


Matt Intel® Core™ i7-4700MQ, 8GB, 1TB 7200, GeForce GTX 765M, no operating system



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Re: The laptop challenge!

Postby Little_Devil on Mon Dec 23, 2013 8:37 pm

I will take these in turn

£635


Matt Intel® Core™ i5-4200M, 8GB, 750GB 5400 rpm, GeForce GTX 760M, DVDRW, no operating system



My only qualms would be the spin rate of the HDD, but since you could pick a higher spin rate for a small difference with the next one, that would probably be better.
I am however rather perturbed when I see such high prices being charged without an O.S. being installed. However given this CPU is bang up to date and can turbo boost to 3.1GHz, and along with the gfx card you will have no trouble playing games, then the added cost of the O.S. may not be too bad.

£700 Is this worth the extra £65? Better HDD and a slight gfx upgrade?


Matt Intel Core i5-4200M, 8GB, 1TB 7200 rpm, GeForce GTX 765M, DVDRW, no operating system


Better value for money given the increased disk size and spin rate, along with the better gfx card.

£780 This has a better processor, which you said didn't matter that much when playing games, since games rarely use the cores effectively.


Matt Intel® Core™ i7-4700MQ, 8GB, 1TB 7200, GeForce GTX 765M, no operating system



Very good for your video processing work, and of course all three are classed as gaming laptops so will certainly fit the bill for your dual purpose role.

tbh the i7 is probably more future proof, however the middle one of these is no slouch and looks to be good value for what you get, i7 at that price and performance looks decent too, and I would imagine that many would be sold at the +1000 mark, with an O.S. although I have not looked around as yet.

My laptop is an i5, bought about 2 years ago now, and I have no problems with calculations from Mathcad, Video processing, Auto routing PCB's, compiling in different languages or most anything else I do on it. Mind you I have not put games on it, on purpose, wanting to keep that for my work.
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Re: The laptop challenge!

Postby Primal ShadoW on Tue Dec 24, 2013 1:42 pm

Appreciate your help :)

So if I just want a laptop where the general speed is fast (i.e. opening applications and programmes quickly, as well as having multiple demanding programmes open and working simultaneously) then the third one is better due to the i7? Or will the i5 be good enough, as long as the HDD speed is 7200?

I've never done either overclocking or turbo boosting (is this the same thing?). Is it done through the BIOS on startup, or can you do it through pre-installed software on your desktop? Or is it done automatically, so when the laptop needs some extra CPU power, it does it for me? And, when you do it, do you have to reset it to go back to normal?


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Re: The laptop challenge!

Postby Little_Devil on Tue Dec 24, 2013 2:56 pm

Where the i7 comes into its own is with some of the higher end packages that are used for video editing. These can be optimised for multiple cores so the i7 performs extremely well.

However the i5 will be good enough in the majority of the cases.

It is not the amount of packages you have open, since these will just be run as a real time scheduled task. Just a simple explanation, In other words, 4 programs open, divide available time slot by 4 and switch between each package for (CPU time frame)/4, 6 programs open (same CPU time frame)/6. Increase the number of packages means less and less time for each program.

The answer is of course to have more CPU cores, but this only works if you have a sensible software control scheduler written into the O.S. which will choose a core, or the program utilises the cores you have. Many programs do not do this, unless they are specialised types, and even I do believe games engines are only using 2 cores at the most in their code.

The Turbo boosting is automatic with many, and my older motherboard has this built into the software which switches between boosting and not, depending on CPU load.
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