Low End Gaming Laptops

AndySt

Estimable
Sep 15, 2014
2
0
4,510
0
Looking for a new low-end gaming & school laptop for my college age daughter who plays Guild Wars 2 a couple of times per week on her old laptop which barely plays the game. She also has SkyRim she hasn't been playing lately.

She doesn't have to play on the highest settings but medium would be nice & $1k+ laptops are out-of-the-question in this household.

So, I'm looking right now at an Acer Aspire V3 for about $750 with the following specs:

Intel Core i7-3632QM Quad-Core processor - 2.20GHz, with a Max Turbo Speed of 3.20GHz
8GB DDR3 SDRAM system memory
1TB SATA hard drive
10/100/1000 Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11a/b/g/n Wireless LAN
Intel HD 4000 Graphics - With HDMI and VGA capabilities

Will this meet our needs for the next few years?
 

wildfire707

Distinguished
Dec 29, 2011
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18,610
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One of the best values out there for economy gaming laptops in the 15.6" size is the HP ENVY 15z-j100 right now. When it is configured with the optional Radeon HD 8750M video card, it can play most games at medium / high settings.

A link to this laptop is at:

http://www.shopping.hp.com/en_US/home-office/-/products/Laptops/HP-ENVY/E1U67AV?HP-ENVY-15z-j100-CTO-Notebook-PC-ENERGY-STAR-

For gaming, you should go into the "Customize & buy" page and select the Radeon HD 8750m video. I would also recommend going for the 1920 x 1080 screen, as it allows for much better multitasking and detail.

I set up a configuration that I believe is ideal for a college student with the following items:

CPU: AMD Quad-Core A10-5750M
Video: 2GB AMD Radeon HD 8750M
Display: 1920x1080
Memory: 8GB DDR3
Storage: 1TB 5400 rpm
Optical: External Tray Super Multi 8X DVD+/-RW
Networking: 802.11b/g/n WLAN and Bluetooth [1x1]

Total Cost: $758.99

This is a portable 15.6" laptop with a high resolution display, a quad core CPU, mid-range video card, good memory, and Bluetooth. Keep in mind that this set up does not have an internal DVD drive (I did opt for the external USB one) and I did not include a carrying case.
 

wildfire707

Distinguished
Dec 29, 2011
59
0
18,610
17
One of the best values out there for economy gaming laptops in the 15.6" size is the HP ENVY 15z-j100 right now. When it is configured with the optional Radeon HD 8750M video card, it can play most games at medium / high settings.

A link to this laptop is at:

http://www.shopping.hp.com/en_US/home-office/-/products/Laptops/HP-ENVY/E1U67AV?HP-ENVY-15z-j100-CTO-Notebook-PC-ENERGY-STAR-

For gaming, you should go into the "Customize & buy" page and select the Radeon HD 8750m video. I would also recommend going for the 1920 x 1080 screen, as it allows for much better multitasking and detail.

I set up a configuration that I believe is ideal for a college student with the following items:

CPU: AMD Quad-Core A10-5750M
Video: 2GB AMD Radeon HD 8750M
Display: 1920x1080
Memory: 8GB DDR3
Storage: 1TB 5400 rpm
Optical: External Tray Super Multi 8X DVD+/-RW
Networking: 802.11b/g/n WLAN and Bluetooth [1x1]

Total Cost: $758.99

This is a portable 15.6" laptop with a high resolution display, a quad core CPU, mid-range video card, good memory, and Bluetooth. Keep in mind that this set up does not have an internal DVD drive (I did opt for the external USB one) and I did not include a carrying case.
 

AndySt

Estimable
Sep 15, 2014
2
0
4,510
0
Thanks for replies ... all being looked at.

From some reading I was doing, I was under the impression that the Intels were better than the AMD's for these type online RPG gaming applications .... and that CPU power is a bit more important than graphics?
 

wildfire707

Distinguished
Dec 29, 2011
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The Intel CPUs are higher end - the A8 AMD is better than the Intel i3 series, and the AMD A10 compares well with a lower end Intel i5 series. An Intel i7 with a Geforce 840m (or 850m) would perform better, than the system I mentioned in games, but it would also be about $150 more expensive (at least).

I was attempting to build a system that performed much better than the one you originally mentioned, but at the same price.
 

jaguarskx

Champion
Moderator
The Acer Aspire V3 for $750 is not really a good option for playing games. The Intel HD 4000 was pretty decent at the time for an integrated graphics solution, however, it was considered a bit weak for games beyond low settings and low resolution.

The recommended HP laptop configured with the A10-5750m and the Radeon HD 8750m is pretty decent. AMD's APUs have less processing power compared to Intel CPUs, but their integrated graphics core is more powerful. The Radeon HD 8750m is a fairly decent mainstream GPU that should allow your daughter to play games at 1080p with a mix of low and medium graphics settings. Lowering the resolution will allow for decent performance with a mix of medium and high settings in many games that are not very graphically demand.

Laptops with both an AMD APU and AMD discrete graphics chip can operate in what's called "Dual Graphics Mode" where both the integrated GPU core (Radeon HD 8650g) and the discrete GPU (the Radeon HD 8750m in this case) can work together to provide better performance. That performance increases varies depending on the game and can range between a slight and decent performance boost. However, there is a caveat...

Dual Graphics Mode will only work with games that are DX10 or above. DX9 and below games will simply use the integrated Radeon HD 8650g and completely disregard the dedicated GPU (unless AMD has somehow changed this discrepancy). Skyrim is a DX9 so it can only be played with the Radeon HD 8650g, thus negating the benefits of having a dedicated GPU.

If you do not mind a refurbished or scratch & dent (cosmetic blemishes), then perhaps the Dell Latitude 3540 (business laptop) from Dell's outlet store is worth looking into. As of now there are 4 available for sale; 2 older models with the i5-4200u and 2 current models with the i5-4210u ranging between $669 - $719. The main difference is 100MHz between the two CPUs; so nearly the same performance. It comes with a 1920x1080 matte finish screen (not a glossy reflective screen). It has the "Radeon Venus Pro" which is more commonly known as the Radeon HD 8850m DDR5 (with maybe slightly slower clock speed). It also has a DVD drive.But it only has 4GB of RAM. I recommend buying a another 4GB stick and installing it yourself.

i5-4200u versions:
http://outlet.us.dell.com/ARBOnlineSales/Online/SecondaryInventorySearch.aspx?c=us&l=en&s=dfb&cs=28&puid=75f7be2c

i5-4210u versions:
http://outlet.us.dell.com/ARBOnlineSales/Online/SecondaryInventorySearch.aspx?c=us&l=en&s=dfb&cs=28&puid=1012be27

I bought a refurbished Dell Latitude 3540 from eBay back in January 2014 for about $500 and it works fine. Unlike most laptop nowadays which has a Windows 8 recovery partition on the hard drive, Dell provides you with the actual Windows 8 install DVD. The only thing I find lacking about the laptop is that the keyboard is not backlit. The laptop performs pretty well overall. While I have Skyrim I completed the game before I ever bought this laptop so I cannot say exactly how well it will run with the Radeon HD 8850m. Compared to nVidia GPUs it performs roughly equal to the GT 845m / GT 660m. That is what I would refer to as "high end mainstream" graphics performance. The only game I have actually played with the laptop though is Star Trek Online and it runs pretty smoothly.

Prior to actually purchasing the Dell Latitude 3540 I did some research and found out that some time between Black Friday and Christmas 2013 Dell was actually selling these laptops for $375. Therefore, whoever I bought the laptop from must have purchased it for that low price and made about $100 - $125 off of me. If I see the Latitude 3540 for $375 in Dell's outlet this year, then I will like pickup another one for myself.
 
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