Powerhouse Laptop with Switchable Graphics (student)

UniversityOfPi

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Mar 5, 2013
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I'd like to keep the price below $1500
something reasonable sized; 13-16"
I'd prefer something with a higher resolution but will accept 1366x768
I need something that I can move around; weight isn't as much a factor as battery life; I'd like something with 5+ hours when doing light stuff (chrome, office, etc) but I'd settle for 4-5
I'm not a huge PC gamer (in part because I've never had anything good enough to do serious gamin) but I do plan on playing some newer games like Civ V
I'm going to be doing quite a bit of compiling (code) along with some 3-d rendering
hard drive size is basically irrelevant (100GB+; I have external drives)
I'm open to buying from reputible stores, have been looking at dell, lenovo, bestbuy, amazon and newegg
It needs to be in decent shape for four years
I'd perfer something with a built in burner, but would be willing to buy an external (but that factors into cost)
I don't really care about what brand as long as it's high quality; dell or lenovo would be preferable but really only as like a tie breaker
I'm going to college in Brooklyn and it's primarily for school so I can wait until the end of august

I really want something with a quad core i7, an mSATA slot, support for 16+GBs of RAM and switchable graphics. Mostly what I've found are gaming laptops like the Alienware M14x which is looking like the best choice right now. With the upgraded CPU, screen and windows 8 pro it works out to $1244 plus $100 for the RAM on newegg and maybe another ~$100 for a decent mSATA drive
so thats
Windows 8 Pro, i7-3630QM
16GB DDR3 at 1600MHz (plus a 4gb and a 2gb stick)
500GB 7,200 RPM SATA 3Gb/s
+ 128GB mSATA SSD
1 GB GDDR5 GT 650M with Optimus™
14.0" 1600x900
Intel® Centrino® Wireless-N 2230 With Bluetooth 4.0
Slot-Loading Dual Layer DVD Burner (DVD+-RW, CD-RW)
for $1444

I haven't found anything else that really competes
any thoughts?
 

UniversityOfPi

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I looked at that but the issue is battery life; from what I've read it's pretty poor
 

UniversityOfPi

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:facepalm: I assumed that because of the Y500's battery life the Y580 would be poor too

see the Y580 looks pretty nice but is maxed out at 8GB of RAM

it's not that I think I need 16GB now but I need to be prepared for a couple years down the road at least in terms of being able to upgrade it

Edit: I have seen someone report 16GB does work (at least some G.Skill, 1.5V sticks)
now that I have a good contender to compare the M14X to, this should be easier (before it was like me saying "this one" and then failing to really answer "but why?")
 

UniversityOfPi

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through some more searching I stumbled upon the MSI GT60. It has pretty good battery life for this kind of machine (4-5 hours) has 2 hdd bays and 4 rams slots
It comes with 12GB, a 1080p screen and a bluray player standard
at $1400 it's looking pretty good

it has the keyboard color options of an alienware but is overall less obnoxious

I've only seen 2 serious and widespread complaints; windows 8 and the power brick is huge

it's virtually identical to their 17" version the GT70

amazon link if anyone else is interested

also haven't looked at Asus's offerings very much (except the ROG models) but the 15" G55VW lacks optimus (poor battery life) and the 14" G46VW which is not user service friendly
and the XPS 15 seems a tad expensive (for the i7 models)
 
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