Good gaming laptop?
November 15, 2005 2:17 PM   Subscribe

Recommend me a laptop for gaming.

I feel like I'm running in circles right now, looking at the options but unable to figure out what's best. Let me list what I know I want:
  • Pentium M CPU, around 2.0GHz (fast and lower power consumption)
  • 1GB RAM
  • At least 80GB HD, at least 5400RPM
  • At least a 15.4" WXGA screen
  • Decent portability, but it's ok if it's a bit heavy, I'll use a backpack
  • Capable of a few hours on battery alone
Now here's where I start to get confused. Do I want a super new nVidia Go 7800 GTX, or the almost year old ATI X700 Mobility or nVidia Go 6600/6800? Do I want a 17" screen? Does the larger screen kill batteries? Finally, which companies should I be considering? Alienware, XTreme Notebooks, Sager, etc. Finally, the price cannot be astronomical, I'd prefer it to be under $2k, but if it goes a little over that may be acceptable.

Currently I play Call of Duty (and I will be getting the sequel), HL2, CS:S, etc. My biggest concern is that I don't get something that is outdated tomorrow, because laptops are impossible to upgrade. This is a significant investment on my part, so I want it to be useful for a few years.

Let me know if there's any extra info I can give to be helpful in answering. The more specific the answers, the better.
posted by knave to Computers & Internet (10 answers total)
Don't touch alieneware. Sager is much better and Alienware just buys from them. Most laptops are exactly the same inside except for badging and add in components. You will be buying an image if you buy alienware.

6800 Go's have begun to get more affordable since the 7800 GTX came out. Oh and you want it to be useful for a few years?

Ha. You obviously haven't owned a laptop. Gaming is one of the more consumer taxing things to do on a desktop and you want that same functionality on a laptop that will still rock after 2 years? The battery won't last nearly long enough to enjoy in two years anyway. If you must have a gamers laptop, a 6800 Go with 2 GB ram 7200RPM hard drive and at least 2.0ghz P-M will be good enough.
posted by Dean Keaton at 2:22 PM on November 15, 2005

This is pretty damn nice from Sager, brand new and has the 7800GTX. Right under $2,000, though I would at least double the ram and then double it again when you get your hands on Battlefield 2.
posted by Dean Keaton at 2:24 PM on November 15, 2005

I should refine a little bit. I don't need mind-boggling performance for games. If I have to run with antialiasing off, or whatever, that's fine. I don't need the frills, just something that's capable enough. My experience with desktops is a mid-to-high range desktop will still play games adequately 2 years later, but it will be nearing the end of it's usable life.
posted by knave at 2:32 PM on November 15, 2005

No expert opinions/personal experience to contribute here, but PC World magazine has a new (DEC 2005 issue) roundup of the best laptops.
posted by CrunchyFrog at 3:29 PM on November 15, 2005

I'd re-iterate not going with Alienware for a laptop. I had used one of their computers and liked it, but now that I have one of their laptops, I've been pretty disappointed.

The performance, parts and screen are great.

However, if I'm only using Word, it still only gets 30 minutes max on the battery. It runs so hot, I wouldn't think of putting it on my lap without something between me and it. We have to position it certain ways so that the fans don't blow on my boyfriend when we are gaming together because it's *warm*. It's incredibly heavy (even without the charger!), to the point that I've not been able to find a bag to carry it in that I trust.
posted by ugf at 5:27 PM on November 15, 2005

ugf - was that a P4 CPU? The heat and power consumption are the reasons I am specifically after a Pentium M instead of a P4.
posted by knave at 5:33 PM on November 15, 2005

I purchased this Toshiba laptop in the spring and play Rome Total War on it as well as Splinter Cell Chaos Theory. Both game play without a problem. I tried to install Call of Duty once, but the installation process hung and I never reattempted it (I play COD on my desktop instead).

One caveat, the Canadian version of the M40 had the nVidia GeForce Go 6600 with 128mb of RAM. US versions used an integrated graphics card.
posted by smcniven at 5:52 PM on November 15, 2005

This isn't the advice you're looking for but: Get an idea of the heft of these laptops before you commit. A screaming gaming laptop rig is going to be heavy and run hot.

To me it sort of defeats the purpose OF a laptop, but I don't know your needs, so get what you need. If you're gonna get a gaming laptop, I recommend Sager too.
posted by onalark at 5:56 PM on November 15, 2005

BTW, that Sager looks really nice, but it sure as hell isn't $2000. Once I get it up to reasonable specs (DVD-RW, 100GB HD, 1GB RAM, high res screen) it's more like $2600. Maybe I'm just asking too much. :)

onalark, that's part of the point of this question. It does need to be portable, but I use that word loosely. Portable means I can throw it in a Targus backpack (which can accomodate a 17" laptop) and it doesn't break my back. The Sager Dean linked to is 8.3lb with battery, which I don't consider terrible. But I still am curious about the concept of something that big sitting on my lap. I'd love to hear from people who have laptops this big.
posted by knave at 6:25 PM on November 15, 2005

Acer Aspire 9504WSMi seems to fit your specifications and is not quite as expensive as the sager.
posted by lazy-ville at 8:16 PM on November 15, 2005

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