Looking for a Desktop Replacement (variable budget)

Jebediah Smith

May 27, 2012
1. What is your budget?
Ideal goal would be in the $1,300 to $1,600 range, but am willing to go higher ($2.2k+) if the performance is worth the upgrade.

2. What is the size of the notebook that you are considering?
prefer 17", but willing to do 15" if the downgrade saves at least $400.

3. What screen resolution do you want?
1920x1080 minimum

4. Do you need a portable or desktop replacement laptop?
Desktop replacement. As a desktop replacement, I am most likely going to be using it in a stationary setting 90 to 95% of the time. This means I will have another monitor available for dual screens. I would like to look at laptops for the 5-10% of the time I travel, in addition to the possibility of job changes in the future that increase that travel time significantly. Because I would like to keep similar performance regardless of location.

5. How much battery life do you need?
2 hours should be sufficient.

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 looking for a computer that will play fps/mmo games on high/ultra for 2-3 years, and have functional life for 5 or so years. I realize this is likely a stretch, but this is more or less my last ditch effort to replace a desktop with something portable. Current games are WoW (with lots of intensive addons) and Eve (goal of running 3+ instances simultaneously). As mentioned above, I am looking for something that can support a game on one screen, and have a spare screen for browsing the internet, etc.

7. What other tasks do you want to do with your laptop? (Photo/Video editing, Etc.)
Potential for CADD/multi-tasking.

Also, my wife is a fledgling graphic artist, so she may have some needs beyond my gaming desires. How important is a screen upgrade?

8. How much storage (Hard Drive capacity) do you need?
Relatively minimal ~ if I run into storage problems, there are always external drives. I am looking for one SSD drive (currently eyeing 64 or 128 gb), and a storage drive (300gb to 750gb).

9. If you are considering specific sites to buy from, please post their links.
Any reputable site with a good service record

Alienware provides customization, but tops out quickly and tends to carry high prices.

Lots of deals, but the lack of customization bothers me. Their high-end machines tend to upgrade everything rather than parts that are specific

10. How long do you want to keep your laptop?
5+ years as a functional desktop replacement.

11. What kind of Optical drive do you need? DVD ROM/Writer,Bluray ROM/Writer,Etc?
DVD ROM/writer. I am not looking at Bluray at this time (unless a particularly good deal is available).

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.
Primary goal is cost-effectiveness. Intel/nVidia tend to have a better track record for reliability from what I have seen, but I am not tied to a specific brand.

13. What country do you live in?

14. Please tell us any additional information if needed.
I have been primarily looking at an Intel Ivy Bridge chipset with a quad core processor, but would be willing to go AMD if an equivalent system is out there.

In terms of performance and future proofing, I would like to hear opinions on whether it is feasible to put more into parts now, and to get a few more years out of the computer's life. As indicated in the budget, I am flexible on cost. However, I am only willing to go higher for significant gains in the longevity of the notebook.

An example of what I am looking at (this one from Avadirect):
CLEVO P170EM Core™ i7 Notebook Barebone, Intel® HM77, 17.3" Full HD LED Glossy, FPR, PCIe x16 MXM-III Discrete Graphics
INTEL Core™ i7-3720QM Quad-Core 2.6 - 3.6GHz TB, HD Graphics 4000, 6MB L3 Cache, 22nm, 45W, EM64T EIST HT VT-d VT-x XD, Retail
ANTEC Formula 7 Nano Diamond Thermal Compound
ATI Radeon™ HD 7970M 2GB GDDR5 Mobile Graphics Card for P170EM
KINGSTON 8GB (2 x 4GB) XMP HyperX PC3-12800 DDR3 1600MHz SDRAM SODIMM, CL9, 1.5V, Non-ECC
CRUCIAL 64GB M4 SSD w/ Data Transfer Kit, MLC Marvell 88SS9174, 500/95 MB/s, 2.5-Inch, SATA 6 Gb/s, Retail
WESTERN DIGITAL 750GB Scorpio® Black™ WD7500BPKT, 7200-RPM, 16MB cache, 2.5-Inch, SATA 3 Gb/s, OEM
RAID No RAID, Independent HDD Drives
CLEVO Dual Layer Super-Multi DVD±RW Optical Drive for Clevo P170EM
NETWORK Built-in 10/100/1000 Mbps Ethernet LAN Card
MOUSE Beige Optical Mouse, PS/2 + USB, Scroll
NOTEBOOK ACCESSORY Built-in Fingerprint Reader (Included)
WENGER Sherpa Black/Gray 17" Notebook Case
ANTEC Notebook Cooler, Black/Pearl
MICROSOFT Windows 7 Professional 64-bit Edition w/ SP1, OEM
WARRANTY Standard 1 Year Warranty for Clevo Notebooks

Jebediah Smith

May 27, 2012
Let me ask this again in a different way. Is it possible to make a laptop that would compare to a gaming desktop? If not, what are the differences in real terms? I have been doing a lot of reading attempting to find direct benchmark comparisons, but have had no direct luck.

I only find responses like "Well any enthusiast knows that a laptop doesn't compare."