£800 Portable All Rounder

jmsellars1

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Dec 31, 2010
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Hi guys,

I'm thinking of maybe buying a new laptop sometime in the next few months. I already have a laptop but it is aging a bit now and has seen better days in general. My current one is an MSI X-370. It is the model with an AMD E-450 and 4GB RAM. I upgraded it with a 128GB SSD. It is a decent all rounder but I have a bit of a problem with the screen, the battery isn't holding it's charge anymore and I wouldn't mind something a bit more powerful. It is the model with the massive battery that sticks right out so it isn't actually all that slim, it is 22.8mm without the battery and much thicker with it. It probably brings it up to around 35mm at the back. The battery life is absolutely incredible and the best I have ever seen in a laptop, I can get 9-10 hours if I'm very careful. Realistically more like 4-5 max if I'm gaming. It does have a massive battery though as mentioned so I could make do with 3 hours of gaming or 6 hours of light use and go with a slimmer thing with a smaller battery.

I have a few reasons for upgrading:

- It has a relatively cheap plasticky feel, meaning it got a bit crushed in my bag and I think that damaged the screen a bit. I wouldn't mind something a bit more durable.

- The E-450 feels a bit slow now. I do a bit of gaming (Warcraft 3, Civ 5 and Football Manager 2013 all on the lowest settings @ 720P) and the occasional bit of audio recording (mics only really, the E-450 can't handle software instruments very well.) The E-450 stood up OK to both but I would definitely benefit from something more powerful in terms of both CPU and GPU. Just to clarify again, this is very low level gaming, the E-450 handles it OK at the moment. I don't need dedicated graphics. HD 4000 or better should be fine.

- It takes up quite a lot of space in my bag, I wouldn't mind something that is a max of 1'' thick at it's thickest point (25mm). The X-370 does fit but I think something just a couple of mm smaller in each dimension would be a much better fit. Basically I would like something a bit smaller if possible with a minimum screen size of 13.3''.

- I would love to have a monitor with a higher resolution. 1920x1080 would be fantastic but realistically I'm looking at 1600x900 I think.

- Budget is around £800. It is relatively flexible but I would prefer to keep it under this budget if possible.


Any suggestions guys?

Thanks.


EDIT: I just noticed the Sony Vaio S Series, you can get an i5-3230M model with a GT 640M LE and a 1600x900 resolution for around £760. That's fantastic, don't know about the durability bit though.
 

jmsellars1

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For anyone that cares, I have narrowed it down to 2 options so far.

1) Dell XPS 13 Ultrabook

Pros:
Very small and light for a 13'' laptop
1080P IPS Screen
SSD Included
Aluminium/Carbon Fiber chassis with a gorilla glass screen, meaning it's extremely tough with a very high quality feel

Cons:
Performance is basically adequate
Price/performance isn't great
Lacking in ports/connections

2) Sony Vaio S (Configured with the 1600x900 monitor, dedicated graphics, i5 and 4GB RAM)

Pros:
Absolutely outstanding performance for the price considering it is a slim 13'' laptop
Loads of ports including slot loading DVD drive
Standard voltage CPU with a dedicated GPU
Decent Price considering the performance and features

Cons:
A Couple of mm bigger than I hoped
Battery life should be OK but not great
Looks like a standard 'plasticky' laptop that might get damaged in my bag like my last 2 did
I will have to buy a SSD separately which will push the price up


Basically the Dell is almost exactly what I was looking for but the Sony threw me off guard a bit, I'm astonished at the performance you can get for that price out of a slim 13'' laptop. Considering I do some gaming on it, it is tempting. I'm leaning towards the Dell though because the gaming I do is pretty low level and I'm worried the Sony might not be sturdy enough for me.
 
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