Help me find a laptop that will play the games I've been missing out on
March 18, 2013 5:37 PM   Subscribe

I'm in the market for a new computer, and I'd like to find one that can handle some of the RTS and city building games I've missed out on in the past 5 or so years. I'm on a budget and I don't really understand computer hardware requirements. Can you help?

-My budget is around $600

-The games I'd like to play are Tropico 3, Anno 1404, Crusader Kings 2, and possibly Minecraft

-Besides these games, the only things I'd be doing is word processing and internet browsing

-I'd prefer that it didn't run Windows 8.

Does such a laptop exist? I'm definitely open to purchasing used/refurbished. Thank you Metafilter!
posted by el chupa nibre to Computers & Internet (3 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
After a bit of googling, but also based on the minecraft thing you're in a great place with that price looking for that.

I'd also add that you can get a laptop that would easily handle that for $400ish on craigslist no problem. Anything with an intel hd3000 or better, hd4000 will handle that stuff with ease.

Pretty much, look for any laptop with a core i3/i5/i7 that has a CPU model number that's four digits, you want either 2XXX or 3XXX and it'll have one of those graphics chips integrated. Anything with one of those CPUs will also include a windows 7(probably home premium) license.

I've seen seriously nice laptops in great shape with i7 CPUs and even dedicated graphics(which would run not just those games, but probably almost any games well) pop up on craigslist and go quickly for as little as $300, but regularly in the $4-500 range. search the site for "i3" "i5" "i7", maybe throw a "core" in there and put a price cap on at $600. leave it open and refresh every time you're bored or have a break during the day, and be ready to instantly call someone and step out of work/etc to grab it.

$600 is serious used gaming laptop territory too, i just sold an extremely powerful machine for less than that. For that much you're in to the territory of it possibly including an SSD, definitely having dedicated graphics, and a quad core.

You could easily halve that price and get something that would make you happy though. Spend the extra cash on getting 8gb of ram, and maybe an SSD. but mostly just keep it.

I also wouldn't look on eBay. Every single machine I've purchased on there had some small, not worth returning for but generally disappointing flaw that wasn't described or mentioned in the ad(rubber feet missing from the bottom, little scuffs, slightly loose keyboard, etc).

With craigslist you always get to look at it in person and most importantly actually try it out. This way you aren't stuck with a machine with a keyboard you hate, with a case that feels flexy and flimsy, a screen you don't like, that doesn't fit in your backpack, that has an annoyingly loud fan, is too heavy, or a million other reasons i could think of. It's also regularly cheaper since people can't really get in to bidding wars.

If you just want a set it and forget it solution/answer to your question though, look for a lenovo thinkpad T series with one of those CPUs(i just looked it up, a t420/t520 would do it, a t430/530 is even better). It will last until you get tired of using it, and nearly all of the ones out there used are off-lease from businesses or were otherwise owned by people who treated them with care. You shouldn't need to pay more than about $400 for a great one if it's a 420, and more towards your top end if it's a 430/530. the batteries/chargers/other bits are super common and available INCREDIBLY cheap on ebay if you ever need to replace anything. They're also incredibly well made and resistant to drops/small spills/other crappy normal life things that break computers.
posted by emptythought at 6:12 PM on March 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

Watch for about a week. Laptops will show up in on the main page, tech page or sellout page with some regularity. Look for the ones that say Windows 7. They're mostly refurbed models from last year, but almost all of them will meet your requirements and will be very inexpensive. Make sure you check the comments, because usually people will post reviews and personal experiences.
posted by empath at 8:45 PM on March 18, 2013

The games you want to play don't strike me as very taxing. The two things you need most to play games well is RAM and CPU (processor) speed. The closest you can get to 6GM RAM and 3ghz CPU, the better. That number can be deceptive though because a processor with more cores will perform better and bottleneck less than a single core CPU. Graphics cards would matter if you were playing a graphic intensive game, but the games you mentioned don't really sound too demanding there. I think most computers you buy nowdays should handle games on low settings at a minimum. Just go for a good processor and plenty of RAM. At least that's what I'd do. And shop around at various manufacturer websites: Dell, Asus, Acer, HP, etc.
posted by AppleTurnover at 11:09 AM on March 19, 2013

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