Budget 2-in-1 for Game Development/Coding


Sep 2, 2014
Hey everyone, I'm in the market for a 2-in-1 and hoping not to spend too much on this one, as my desktop is more than capable of handling itself and this is more for coding on the go/testing (and, if it doesn't add much to the cost, some light gaming (old MMOs), but I could take or leave that on this device as long as it handles the stuff I'm developing). I also would like the 2-in-1 style for (what I anticipate) ease of use and, more importantly, drawing sprites for games. Details are listed below, as best as I have preferences.

1. What is your budget?
I was hoping to keep this under $500 if possible, but I'm not sure if that is. I can spend more, but lower is better given the specific purpose of the machine.

2. What is the size of the notebook that you are considering?
Not too particular, although lighter always helps, so a shift towards lower sizes is generally a plus.

3. What screen resolution do you want?
Again, not much of a preference here. As much as I enjoy higher resolutions, I'm not entirely sure that they would be necessary.

4. Do you need a portable or desktop replacement laptop?
This would be a portable laptop that I'd also like to be able to use as a tablet for drawing sprites/modeling.

5. How much battery life do you need?
I would prefer a minimum of 7-8 hours in order to comfortably get me through the day not just now, but down the road too after the charge doesn't hold as well.

6. Do you want to play games with your laptop? If so then please list the games that you want to with the settings that you want for these games. (Low,Medium or High)?
Maybe some old games along the Lord of the Rings Online caliber, although definitely not a top priority if it'll jack up the price. Also games such as EV Nova, which I doubt will have any issues. That one even ran on my Thinkpad from 6 years ago.

7. What other tasks do you want to do with your laptop? (Photo/Video editing, Etc.)
Primarily game development and testing. Lately, I've been using Gamemaker Studio, although if possible without adding much to the total, I'd love to also be able to use Unity (and, to a lesser extent, Blender).

8. How much storage (Hard Drive capacity) do you need?
Not very much. I don't expect to need more than 128 GB. 64 may even cut it, although that's a bit tight.

9. If you are considering specific sites to buy from, please post their links.
http://www.dell.com/us/business/p/inspiron-11-3147-laptop/pd?oc=smi113nw10b1240&model_id=inspiron-11-3147-laptop - I spotted this device, although after looking through numerous reviews (and trying Dell's tech support multiple times to no avail), I spotted one professional reviewer that claimed the graphics driver was able to top out at 32 MB VRAM via sharing. That, unfortunately, doesn't meet the specifications I need for my programs.

10. How long do you want to keep your laptop?
I am hoping to hold onto this for at least 2-3 years. It's not going to be working with something like new games where specs need to be high end and getting better all the time.

11. What kind of Optical drive do you need? DVD ROM/Writer,Bluray ROM/Writer,Etc ?
Not expecting to need one, and I figure if I do I'll likely use an external.

12. Please tell us about the brands that you prefer to buy from them and the brands that you don't like and explain the reasons.
I have heard nightmarish things about Asus's tech support, but if the machine was good enough I'd still consider purchasing one.

13. What country do you live in?
I'm in the United States.

14. Please tell us any additional information if needed.
If possible, a machine that's easy to upgrade would also be a plus. The one listed above I know is touted for being easy to upgrade the storage and memory for. And if I did purchase that, I'd almost certainly look for an SSD to help with battery life and protecting the data and drive in case of impact. Additionally, for reference, program specs are listed below (as per their respective sites).

GameMaker: Studio (Program)

Windows XP or above
128MB graphics
Screen resolution of 1024×600
Internet connection for some features


OS: Windows XP SP2+, 7 SP1+, 8; Mac OS X 10.8+.
Windows Vista is not supported; and server versions of Windows & OS X are not tested.
GPU: Graphics card with DX9 (shader model 2.0) capabilities. Anything made since 2004 should work.

Additional platform development requirements:

iOS: Mac computer running minimum OS X 10.9.4 version and Xcode 6.x.
Android: Android SDK and Java Development Kit (JDK).
Windows 8/8.1 Store Apps / Windows Phone 8/8.1: 64 bit Windows 8.1 Pro and Visual Studio 2013 Update 2+.
WebGL: Mac OS X 10.8+ or Windows 7 SP1+ (64-bit editor only)

(Not sure how much the additional requirements will come into play as I haven't thought much about that or used the software yet, but I copied them anyway).


Minimum hardware
32-bit dual core 2Ghz CPU with SSE2 support.
24 bits 1280×768 display
Mouse or trackpad
OpenGL-compatible graphics card with 256 MB RAM

Recommended hardware
64-bit quad core CPU
Full HD display with 24 bit color
Three button mouse
OpenGL-compatible graphics card with 1 GB RAM

I believe that about does it, but if any more details are needed, feel free to inquire. Thanks in advance, and looking forward to your responses!



The lowest priced model ($670) only has a Core i3 (though it should be adequate), but more importantly it only has a 64GB SSD. Windows 8 itself can easily use 22GB or more by itself and updates can increase the amount of storage space it will use. The next model up has a Core i5 and a 128GB SSD which is generally the minimum amount of storage I would recommend for anyone. But it cost $780. Additionally, those model probably only has 4GB of RAM and integrated graphics will be using a chunk of that RAM.

There is no way to upgrade the RAM in the Surface Pro 3. The SSD is not upgradeable either. The only way to increase storage capacity is to insert a SD card or attach an external hard drive.
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