Budget Laptop For Older Games

Five Seven Five

Honorable
Jan 13, 2014
1
0
10,510
0
Per the Laptop Buyers FAQ, Some information

1. What is your budget?
-$500.00 maximum

2. What is the size of the notebook that you are considering?
-I'd prefer at least a 15.6" display

3. What screen resolution do you want?
-Lenient in this area

4. Do you need a portable or desktop replacement laptop?
-Portability isn't a priority; I am fine with a heavier or bulkier laptop

5. How much battery life do you need?
-I'd be fine with 4-5 hours to be honest, as it would primarily be used at home

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)?
-I am primarily interested in playing some older games
Baldurs Gate II
Neverwinter Nights
Neverwinter Nights 2

as well as a few somewhat recent games

Telltale's The Walking Dead
Alan Wake
Mass Effect 3

For the more recent games, I am fine with lower settings. I plated TES IV: Oblivion with settings at the literal minimum on my old desktop and it looked like something from the Nintendo 64.

7. What other tasks do you want to do with your laptop? (Photo/Video editing, Etc.)
-Web browsing, watching the occasional DVD, and perhaps some word processing; I'm not looking for anything extravagant.

8. How much storage (Hard Drive capacity) do you need?
-500GB would probably be sufficient, but I can always appreciate some wiggle room.

9. If you are considering specific sites to buy from, please post their links.
-I have been considering the laptop at the below link from Staples, as it seems very cheap (for its admittedly low specs)

http://www.staples.com/HP-Pavilion-15-N028US-15-inch-Laptop/product_275820

10. How long do you want to keep your laptop?
-As long as possible - I want something that will last at least 5 years if well cared for.

11. What kind of Optical drive do you need? DVD ROM/Writer,Bluray ROM/Writer,Etc ?
-No need for Bluray, but I would like both read and write capability for DVDs.

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.
-N/A
13. What country do you live in?
-United States

14. Please tell us any additional information if needed.
-I suspect the preceding questions have outlined my situation for the most part. I am willing to play modern games on the very lowest of settings, but would not even attempts anything more intense than Mass Effect 3, which I mentioned in question 6. I feel like the laptop listed in question 9 would meet my needs, but would like feedback before a final decision. Also, I've read from some sources that there tends to be a general price drop in the summer months, and if consensus here is that I might do better to wait until the June-August range, I would be willing to do so.

Thanks, everyone, for any advice you might offer to a newcomer.
 

jaguarskx

Champion
Moderator
I actually recommend that you do not buy that laptop. It has an integrated Radeon HD 8400 which is actually not very powerful at all. It is slower than an Intel HD 4000 graphics core from Intel's slightly older Ivy Bridge generation Core i3/i5/i7 CPUs.

Since it seems you are okay with going larger than a 15.6" laptop, I recommend one the following 17.3" HP laptop from Bestbuy. Both are basically identical. One has a quad core AMD A8-5550m and the other has a dual core Intel Core i3-4000m.

HP - Pavilion 17-e017dx = $380 on sale
- A8-5550m APU @ 2.0GHz (really just a CPU, but AMD calls 'em "APUs")
- Integrated Radeon HD 8550g graphics core
- 4GB of RAM.
- 1600 x 900 resolution screen
http://www.bestbuy.com/site/pavilion-17-3-laptop-4gb-memory-750gb-hard-drive/2878437.p?id=1219080293705&skuId=2878437&st=categoryid$abcat0502000&cp=1&lp=2

HP - Pavilion 17-e019dx = $400
Same as above except:
- Dual core i3-4000m CPU @ 2.4GHz
- Intel HD 4600 graphics core
http://www.bestbuy.com/site/pavilion-17-3-laptop-4gb-memory-750gb-hard-drive/2854029.p?id=1219079079760&skuId=2854029&st=categoryid$abcat0502000&cp=1&lp=4

Whichever one you buy I highly recommend you install another 4GB of RAM for better performance because:

1) - When 2 sticks of RAM is used they operate in dual channel mode rather than single channel mode. This means faster integrated graphics performance and overall performance as well.
2) - Integrated graphics uses system RAM so they are going to use some of the that original 4GB of RAM which leaves the laptop less to have available for other things like running programs.


So which should you choose?

Many people who knows something about gaming on desktops / laptops will tell you AMD graphics is better than Intel graphics. That is true, but it depends on which models you are talking about. The Intel HD 4600 is in fact more powerful than the Radoen HD 8550m. There are only two graphics cores more powerful than the Intel HD 4600 and they are the Radoen HD 8610g and HD 8650g. Both of those graphic cores are in laptops with AMD APUs that are above your maximum budget.

How about the actual CPU processing power? The Core i3 only has two cores versus 4 cores in the A8-5550m. Intel's CPU cores are powerful compared to AMD's CPU cores. At the same clockspeed each Intel core is about 30% more powerful than what AMD can muster. Additionally, the Intel Core i3 is clocked at 2.4GHz which is 400MHz higher than the AMD A8 APU. That means each of Intel's core is equivalent to an AMD core running at 3.1GHz.

Okay, so each core in the Intel CPU provides 50% more performance compared to the AMD APU. But the AMD APU has 4 cores. So which is actually more powerful? Well, the depends for games and programs that can only use one or two core, the Intel CPU will by far give you the best performance. There is no doubt. However, what about games or programs that can use 4 cores? Well, that's a bit more difficult to answer. Yes, the AMD APU has 4 cores, but the higher performance Intel CPU cores will likely make up for the lack of 2 cores where end the end the AMD APU might only perform a little better.

In the end the Intel Core i3-4000m is not only the more powerful CPU overall, it also has a more powerful graphics core.
 

jaguarskx

Champion
Moderator
I actually recommend that you do not buy that laptop. It has an integrated Radeon HD 8400 which is actually not very powerful at all. It is slower than an Intel HD 4000 graphics core from Intel's slightly older Ivy Bridge generation Core i3/i5/i7 CPUs.

Since it seems you are okay with going larger than a 15.6" laptop, I recommend one the following 17.3" HP laptop from Bestbuy. Both are basically identical. One has a quad core AMD A8-5550m and the other has a dual core Intel Core i3-4000m.

HP - Pavilion 17-e017dx = $380 on sale
- A8-5550m APU @ 2.0GHz (really just a CPU, but AMD calls 'em "APUs")
- Integrated Radeon HD 8550g graphics core
- 4GB of RAM.
- 1600 x 900 resolution screen
http://www.bestbuy.com/site/pavilion-17-3-laptop-4gb-memory-750gb-hard-drive/2878437.p?id=1219080293705&skuId=2878437&st=categoryid$abcat0502000&cp=1&lp=2

HP - Pavilion 17-e019dx = $400
Same as above except:
- Dual core i3-4000m CPU @ 2.4GHz
- Intel HD 4600 graphics core
http://www.bestbuy.com/site/pavilion-17-3-laptop-4gb-memory-750gb-hard-drive/2854029.p?id=1219079079760&skuId=2854029&st=categoryid$abcat0502000&cp=1&lp=4

Whichever one you buy I highly recommend you install another 4GB of RAM for better performance because:

1) - When 2 sticks of RAM is used they operate in dual channel mode rather than single channel mode. This means faster integrated graphics performance and overall performance as well.
2) - Integrated graphics uses system RAM so they are going to use some of the that original 4GB of RAM which leaves the laptop less to have available for other things like running programs.


So which should you choose?

Many people who knows something about gaming on desktops / laptops will tell you AMD graphics is better than Intel graphics. That is true, but it depends on which models you are talking about. The Intel HD 4600 is in fact more powerful than the Radoen HD 8550m. There are only two graphics cores more powerful than the Intel HD 4600 and they are the Radoen HD 8610g and HD 8650g. Both of those graphic cores are in laptops with AMD APUs that are above your maximum budget.

How about the actual CPU processing power? The Core i3 only has two cores versus 4 cores in the A8-5550m. Intel's CPU cores are powerful compared to AMD's CPU cores. At the same clockspeed each Intel core is about 30% more powerful than what AMD can muster. Additionally, the Intel Core i3 is clocked at 2.4GHz which is 400MHz higher than the AMD A8 APU. That means each of Intel's core is equivalent to an AMD core running at 3.1GHz.

Okay, so each core in the Intel CPU provides 50% more performance compared to the AMD APU. But the AMD APU has 4 cores. So which is actually more powerful? Well, the depends for games and programs that can only use one or two core, the Intel CPU will by far give you the best performance. There is no doubt. However, what about games or programs that can use 4 cores? Well, that's a bit more difficult to answer. Yes, the AMD APU has 4 cores, but the higher performance Intel CPU cores will likely make up for the lack of 2 cores where end the end the AMD APU might only perform a little better.

In the end the Intel Core i3-4000m is not only the more powerful CPU overall, it also has a more powerful graphics core.
 

jaguarskx

Champion
Moderator
In the link below are ranking order of the graphics cores mentioned above (though I didn't mention the Intel HD 4400) and two nvidia discrete graphic chips just for comparison.


Notebookcheck.net - Limited List of graphic cores / chips comparison


Also, here's a link to a general gaming laptop video guide when trying to figure what gives better performance. A laptop with a weaker CPU, but stronger GPU (graphics), or a laptop with stronger GPU and weaker CPU. Note that you are not buying a gaming laptop, but the principle still applies to integrated graphics.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wfis7_buOMo
 
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