Asus, Sager, or Alienware?

mitch1116

Estimable
Feb 20, 2014
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Hello,
I am looking to buy a new gaming laptop to replace my current laptop. In my research, I have come across three laptops in my price range ($1500-2500), the ASUS G750JH, the Alienware 17, and the SAGER NP9380.

The specs in each laptop are shown below:
i7-4700HQ
NVIDIA 780M
16GB RAM (any recommended brands?)
240 Intel SSD (good brand for SSD?)
1 TB 7200RPM Drive
Some sort of wireless connection (which wireless connection is best? I don't see lots of differences between them...?)
Windows 8.1, etc., etc.

The main uses for the laptop are gaming (primarily StarCraft II, WoW, League) as well as a good bit of CAD, MATLAB, etc. as I am a design engineer.

Recommendations on the brands, as well as the components listed above? Is this a good setup?

My main questions are:
Best brand (in terms of reliability, cooling, etc. Weight is not a factor, and I can deal with the way it looks)
Should I wait for the 800-series NVIDIA cards? I've heard the Maxwell technology is pretty innovative, is it worth waiting a few months for?
Which laptop would be the most flexible for future upgrades?
Very unclear on which wireless network adapter to get - not sure the benefits of each, what makes one faster/better than another, etc.
How much RAM/what type? I've heard 16 is overkill, so I'm not going higher than 16, but some brands are $200 more for 16GB than others. What makes one brand better than another?

Thank you guys for all your help, and I will answer any question I can to the best of my ability!
 


The GPU is not upgradeable in the Asus either. Asus uses a proprietary interface. Alienware and Sager (or Clevo) use what's known as MXM 3.0 for their graphics cards. MXM is a little more generalized and so you can put a different card in there, though we won't know if the 8xxM cards will work in it yet as that will be up to system BIOS and vBIOS restrictions. Chances are, the 800 series won't work unless somebody mods the BIOS (which has been done before). :)

Glad I could offer some insight!
 

TriBeard

Honorable
Jan 13, 2014
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10,520
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I personally have had bad experience with both sager and alienware. That being said, I would be willing to give alienware another shot as the support I got from them was much better than what I got from sager, and I really think my issues were chronic problems related to the specific models I had rather than the entire line of their computers or the brand.

Sager usually gives you more performance for the money, but my laptop isn't hardly 3 years old, and its been through 2 motherboards, 2 GPU's, had to have the casing replaced due to the front with the trackpad litterally falling off (they made me pay for that because it was supposedly my fault that the internal screw mount broke off), and the USB port on one side broke off completely once, and this time the plastic guide or whatever it is inside just pulled out with my flash drive one day, I didn't do anything to it. Needless to say, their build quality leaves a little (or a lot) to be desired. Also, they didn't include whatever the chip is that enables the battery meter to give you an estimated run time, so all I ever could get was % remaining, which was annoying to say the least.

The alienware I did have had issues with the keyboard etching into the screen (they swore it was glass, but it was plastic) and some other issues like that. I haven't heard anything like that about their recent computers, and the one I had was the first model after dell took over, so it's possible there was some weirdness going on then that they had to work out. They are generally a little more expensive than the asus and sager counterparts, but the metal build quality is really nice, and dell's in home support is much more convenient than having to mail it across the country for basically anything like you have to do for sager and asus. They also generally get better battery life than the sager's in particular due to dell doing a better job of implementing nvidia optimus and similar technologies. The keyboards are also generally pretty good, and they include display port unlike the other laptops, so you can, at least in theory, run 2 external monitors and use the internal display, provided that you have either an active display port adapter or a monitor with display port input.

I like asus as a brand, and their laptops are good. If it was a choice between the asus and the sager, asus wins for me, hands down, every time. They are a pretty good compromise between the (lack of) build quality in the sagers, and the more robust build of the alienware. They aren't metal like the alienware's are, but they are still fairly sturdy. They also perform well and stay fairly quiet, even under full load. The only thing that I don't like about them is that they have a little bit of flex in the display when you open it, and the model I saw had a sort of grainy look to the screen, more so than any other matte display I have seen. That could have been an isolated thing though.


Basically, for me at least, it comes down to this:

Pay a little more, get a little better support and build quality with the alienware, as well as a better display and speakers. You also get the lighting effects and a flashier look, if you're in to that.

or

Save a little, and get the asus. It will give you almost identical performance, but you give up a little on display and audio quality, and get all plastic in the build.

It's a personal choice, but money not an issue, I would probably go alienware.
 
Alienware: Good build quality, so-so support (from what I've been told).
Asus: Good build quality, quiet, support is not bad.
Sager: Good build quality, usually best value, not as quiet as competition, good support (depending on who you purchase from).

You'll get similar - if not identical - performance from all three if they have the same hardware. The CPU in the Alienware and the Sager however is actually a MQ, not an HQ, which means you can upgrade it.

The 800 series looks promising and will, at the very least, be more power efficient. It's up to you whether to wait or not, though. The 780M is still a very noteworthy GPU. :)

On the wireless cards: the basic/stock ones are fine for everyday use, but don't yield the best range or great performance. The Intel cards are pretty reliable and the AC7260 takes advantage of the new wireless protocol (you need access to a router capable of AC though). Bigfoot Killer cards have firmware optimized for gaming sessions, though they have a history of buggy drivers and are not quite as reliable as the Intel cards.

People seem to prefer Kingston memory, though Samsung and Crucial have proven reliable from our end. 16 GB is more than you'll need but it will future proof you. The speeds will probably be the same ("1600 MHz") but if the seller lists the CAS latency then the lower the number, the better (CAS is also known as timing).

Sager will be the most flexible in terms of upgrades. Their warranty policy is more lenient on end users servicing the system themselves and their design generally allows easy access to components.

Oh, and as far as the SSD: yes, Intel is a great brand! Extremely reliable. Samsung drives are about as reliable, but perhaps perform better (subjective to each model).
 

mitch1116

Estimable
Feb 20, 2014
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4,510
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Awesome answer, thanks for the support! I have one last question: You mentioned the CPU was upgradeable in both the Alienware and the Sager, but not the Asus. What about the GPU? Is that interchangeable in all three models? I currently am purchasing the GTX 780M, but if a new series comes out sometime in the future (assuming it still matches the dimensions) is the GPU upgradeable in all three models as well? Thanks again for the immense amount of help!

-Mitch
 


The GPU is not upgradeable in the Asus either. Asus uses a proprietary interface. Alienware and Sager (or Clevo) use what's known as MXM 3.0 for their graphics cards. MXM is a little more generalized and so you can put a different card in there, though we won't know if the 8xxM cards will work in it yet as that will be up to system BIOS and vBIOS restrictions. Chances are, the 800 series won't work unless somebody mods the BIOS (which has been done before). :)

Glad I could offer some insight!
 
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