Wanted: Lightweight performance discrete-GPU laptop

Apmaxwell

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1. What is your budget?
As low as possible to fulfill the requirements below.

2. What is the size of the notebook that you are considering?
I don't really care about screen size, I could get by with an 11" or 17" screen just as long as the weight is below 1.4 kg/3lbs. However under 15" would be nice.

3. What screen resolution do you want?
720p+

4. Do you need a portable or desktop replacement laptop?
Very portable.

5. How much battery life do you need?
Three or four hours should be adequate.

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)?
Minecraft high detail
Nitronic Rush/Distance high detail
I want flexibility to expand into more demanding games as well.

7. What other tasks do you want to do with your laptop? (Photo/Video editing, Etc.)
Gaming is the most high-performance task I will be performing.

8. How much storage (Hard Drive capacity) do you need?
I don't care, I never really maxed out my 160gb HDD from my desktop.

9. If you are considering specific sites to buy from, please post their links.

10. How long do you want to keep your laptop?
Three or four years.

11. What kind of Optical drive do you need? DVD ROM/Writer,Bluray ROM/Writer,Etc
A lack of an optical drive is preferred as it will take up space and weight.

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 prefer Asus but don't tend to judge laptops by brand.

13. What country do you live in?
USA

14. Please tell us any additional information if needed.

Three laptops I'v been considering:

Gigabyte p34g: http://www.gigabyte.com/products/product-page.aspx?pid=4636#kf
probably too pricy though, and more power than I really need.

Eurocom Monster 1.0: http://web.eurocom.com/ec/ec_model_config1(1,228,0)
Heavy and somewhat outdated hardware.

Sony Fit E14:http://store.sony.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/SYCTOProcess?catalogId=10551&storeId=10151&langId=-1&LBomId=8198552921666564152&categoryId=8198552921644944498
Perfect, only two pounds too heavy. Touch screen is always a plus.
 

photonboy

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It's almost impossible to help because of two things:

1) you give no budget
2) you are all over the place in your links (one has basic intel iGPU graphics, and one has far better GTX760M graphics but costs far more money).

So basically you've said it needs to "game" but can be 11" to 17" and costs "just enough" to do this while giving examples of COMPLETELY different setups.

While you say you don't care about the screen size, you really might want to pick a smaller range. There's a MASSIVE difference between 11" and 17". You mention 17" while saying "very portable" elsewhere so seriously you need to narrow things down better.

*Finally, while you say you want a "discrete GPU" (and link to an Intel which isn't), the cheapest laptops I consider half decent at gaming in the laptop world contain AMD APU's (CPU and GPU together) such as an A10 model with HD86xx graphics.
 

photonboy

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re: BUDGET

The P34G you linked I saw mentioned for over $1700. The Intel iGPU one you mentioned I believe was $560. See the problem?

I don't mind looking but I'm not going to look between $500 and $2000 dollars.
 

Apmaxwell

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The Sony has an option to add a 740m for $100. I didn't see the price on the p34g. In the post, I said that it's 'probably too pricey'. If you absolutely /need/ a budget, up to $1000. I thought I would find a laptop and set a goal to raise that much money. Also, if you had read more carefully, I said that I don't care about the screen size but weight is a major factor. There are 17" laptops that are lighter than 11" laptops, and if you don't believe me, I can find an example.

My original post, in other words: What's the lightest laptop for under $800 with a midrange discrete GPU? (midrange= ~650m/730m)
 

photonboy

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The TOP decision points are:
1) Budget
2) GPU performance
3) Product quality (read customer reviews)
4) Screen, weight, other features

So here is a link to NEWEGG in the $750 to $1000 gaming/media laptop section:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=Property&N=100006740%204022&IsNodeId=1&maxPrice=5000&OEMMark=N&PropertyCodeValue=2923%3A18470&bop=And&Order=RATING&PageSize=20

My recommended brands are: Asus, HP, Sony, Lenovo.
However you must always look at each laptop quality, features etc. I do NOT like Acer at all. Poor quality and support.

*My recommendation:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16834312438

Main features of above Lenovo:
- 15.6" 1920x1080
- $820
- 2xGT650M

While it's going to come down to Pros and Cons, I do not think you'll beat the overall graphics performance at this price. Normally I suggest avoiding SLI, however laptops are fairly thin so there's a limit to how much you can cool a single GPU.

I hope this helps.

*UPDATE*
http://www.notebookcheck.net/Review-Lenovo-IdeaPad-Y500-Notebook.87585.0.html

The Lenovo I mention above apparently uses a GLOSSY SCREEN. That's a horrible idea for laptops so I can't recommend it. You want an anti-glare screen.

SLI and micro-stutter:
I'm also not certain how well this issue has been solved. While the new NVidia drivers apparently do a great job of sorting out micro-stutter I know sometimes laptop drivers often stop getting updated (usually you need to get the EXACT drivers for your exact laptop, not generic NVidia ones. However reinstalling a non-specific Windows 7/8 version often works fine (company's put code into Windows to prevent generic drivers because they modify the official drivers for laptop-specific features. A crappy idea that prevents updating the drivers.)

Start8:
Windows 8 is the best OS, but I recommend Start8 from Stardock for $5. You can avoid ALL aspects of the new interface if you wish but still have a link to the new interface.

SUMMARY:
I'm not picking one, but I suggest reading everything I wrote to help give you a guideline then pick your own. WRITE DOWN a must-have checklist like I suggest and follow it.
 

photonboy

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http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16834126031

Okay, I did pick one. A few points:
1) NVIDIA Optimus switches to the NVidia GPU, but if your game isn't registered properly it runs off the Intel iGPU (you can easily add a game or program to the list)

2) I think the overall specs are good for the price.

3) You may find cheaper. No reviews here either, but any laptops don't (especially if newer).

4) *MAKE SURE screen is not glossy (that it IS anti-glare).
 

Apmaxwell

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Actually anti-glare screen protectors are available from Amazon for a couple of dollars. Another thing: The Sony you linked to is the 15-inch version of the Sony I linked to. Interesting that we arrived at essentially the same conclusion.
 

Apmaxwell

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Well, do you know of any lighter laptops? I'm willing to sacrifice power, but weight is a major factor for me. A couple of years back I had an Asus eee pc 700 that I literally wouldn't notice the weight if I tossed it in a backpack to take it to school. That was really nice, and while I know that I'm not likely to get quite that portable with a discrete GPU, I'd like something under 3.5 lbs. (the EEE pc was 2 lbs.)

So, do you know of any other laptops like the one I posted (gaming ultrabook) but cheaper? Gigabyte may be great, but they tend to be pretty expensive.
 

photonboy

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Light and powerful translates into expensive.

You won't find a 2-lb laptop with the performance you want.

There aren't many places to even reduce the weight below 3.5 lbs on a 14" laptop. There's a current minimum weight on the case, battery, motherboard, screen etc..

The Google Chromebooks were designed to be light originally by using a mobile chip and small amount of flash memory (it's different now) but if you want a Window's PC with half-decent gamin potential there's not much you can do.
 

Apmaxwell

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Yeah, I know. Another one I'm keeping an eye on, though, is the UX32VD. It's the Zenbook Prime with an aluminum sandwich case (not unibody) and a 620m. The 620m is only around three times as powerful as an Intel HD 4000, and while that's probably all the power I need, I'd like the extra power there for when I decide to move to more demanding games.
 

Apmaxwell

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Yeah, I know. Another one I'm keeping an eye on, though, is the UX32VD. It's the Zenbook Prime with an aluminum sandwich case (not unibody) and a 620m. The 620m is only around three times as powerful as an Intel HD 4000, and while that's probably all the power I need, I'd like the extra power there for when I decide to move to more demanding games.

Another downside to the UX32VD is that it lacks a touchscreen. I don;t need a touch screen, but I want it. It's been a couple of years since the Iphone made touch screens mainstream, and while I've used tablets at school, I've never owned a touch device myself.
 

photonboy

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Touchscreens mean fingerprints. It's not a huge issue on a phone or small tablet but it's pretty annoying on a larger screen.

I think the Gigabyte with 730M graphics for $999 is the best choice for you.

It's small, light, with a fairly high-res screen and great graphics for a laptop.
 

Apmaxwell

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Yeah, after thinking about it, I realized that for the same price, the Asus has a much poorer GPU and no touch screen for only .2 lbs lighter.

By the way, the Gigabyte does have a touch screen, if I remember correctly. I want to be able to try one out. It's not that hard to wipe fingerprints off with a cloth. Also, even if I don't use it, it will add resale value.
 

jaguarskx

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Applying an anti-glare screen protector is not the same as actually having a laptop with a screen that has an anti-glare coating. I should know, I applied a GreenOnion Anti-Glare screen to my Lenovo Y470. It is more or less a pain because even if you properly clean the screen before applying the screen protector you can still have dust particle float onto the screen. Dust particles will cause air bubbles and while I managed to get rid of most air bubbles due to dust particles, I could not get rid of them all. Eventually after around a 1 and a half it started to peel off.

Right now I basically use the Y470 without the anti-glare screen protector because between some of the air bubbles (due to trapped dust particles and the screen protector starting to peel off, I simply removed the anti-glare screen protector all together.

My next laptop will have an anti-glare (matte) screen much like my old IBM ThinkPad T40.

 

Apmaxwell

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I'm aware that it's difficult to apply a screen protector. However, I think that if you had taken more care when cleaning your screen and applying the protector, you would not have had such problems.
 

jaguarskx

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I took a lot of care, time and precautions and I know the screen was clean.

The issue is dust particles in the air that you have no control over even is a clean room. Applying a screen protector to cellphones and tablets are fairly easy due to the smaller screen size. I'm sure if I tried a few more times applying an anti-glare screen protect to my laptop I may get better results. However, I prefer not having to bother with that and I will simply buy a laptop with an IPS screen with an anti-glare coating.

If you have applied screen protectors in the past on laptops and you feel you are an expert about or if you simply want to try, then by all means do so. I'm just providing you info about my experience.
 

Apmaxwell

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Well, my requirements for a laptop are fairly specific and there may be few enough laptops that meet those requirements that none of them are available with anti-glare screens. Thanks for the input, though.
 
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