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Need Advice Recommendations for gaming laptop

Discussion in 'Community Broadband & Computers' started by Audrey, Aug 3, 2012.

  1. Audrey

    Audrey Member

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    My son is saving up for a computer of his own to play videogames on. He has his heart set on an Alienware Sentia 223 on Ebay for $299 used but we're leery of buying something like that from Ebay - the vendor has about 100 reviews all positive but still...

    So does anyone here have recommendations? I looked around local listings on Craigslist. But my experience is more with buying computers for office applications and I don't know as much about what requirements there are for gaming.

    My son says it needs to have Steam so he can play Minecraft.

    Ideas? Thanks in advance!
     
  2. Sasquatch519

    Sasquatch519 Member

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    I think it's great that your son wants do the work to save up his money to buy something nice, so I'm sorry if this post rains on his parade.

    I used to build gaming PCs up until a few years ago. My last big build was 2006. I've never built a PC capable of running the latest PC games (at the time of each build) "well" for less than about $1500, so $299 really sounds off to me. As a general rule, electronics priced well below market value on eBay are not to be trusted, so I searched eBay and the rest of the internet for the Sentia 223 to see what the specs are and what the market value is. I only found spare parts (not any whole PCs) and one forum post dated June 2005 in which someone is talking about his new Sentia 223, so I can only assume this laptop is pretty old, which would explain the low price. I don't know the specs of this PC on eBay, but if it's really that old, it's probably overpriced and won't run the games he'll want it to run anyway.

    Which games does your son want to play? How good does he need them to look? Each PC game usually lists minimun requirements and recommended specs for your PC. A PC with the minimum requirements will barely run the game at low graphics settings. Recommended will usually run the game at a medium graphics setting. You usually have to exceed the recommended settings by a good bit to run the game at a decent framerate on the best graphics settings. I'd advise him to look at the requirements for the games he wants to run and then get a PC that will perform to that level.

    As someone who used to play a lot of high-end computer games, I can tell you it's not a cheap hobby. Hardware is constantly changing and each time a new game comes out, it pushes the limits of old hardware and occasional tinkering is required. Unless your son is trying to play a PC-only game such as World of Warcraft, I'd steer him towards an Xbox. $500 will get you all the hardware you'd need plus a few games and an Xbox Live account to play online. There's a few other reasons to go towards and Xbox besides cost though:
    1. Xbox has a huge installed base of users on a consistent hardware platform, so game developers maximize their sales by developing the big games primarily for Xbox. This means the games will often be released first for and run smoothest on Xbox. Many PS3 and PC games are now just ports of Xbox games.
    2. Just because your PC hardware is faster than the specs for a game, it might not run well on it. I had a game once the ran well on nVidia graphics cards, but struggled on faster ATi cards. There's all kinds of potential hardware interaction issues nowadays.
    3. If you play online, it's much harder for your opponents to cheat on Xbox than PC.
    There are of course downsides to a Xbox as well - no mod options, annual fee for online play, can't play on the go like with a laptop, etc.

    Now I've run on... us inner-nerds tend to do that every once in a while. If you let me know which games he's looking to run, I'd be happy to try to give you some options for what might work for you.
     
  3. Sasquatch519

    Sasquatch519 Member

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    EDIT: Now I actually read your entire post... Minecraft is fortunately not the most hardware-taxing program ever written. You can actually run it on pretty low-end PCs when you turn the graphics settings down. You might be able to get a pretty cheap PC to run Minecraft, but it wouldn't really run the latest first-person shooters.
     
  4. hornerjo

    hornerjo Senior Member

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    Try looking at the laptops on Dell outlet, I get all my PCs there (2 laptops, desktop so far and one being an alienware m11x). Look for the 20-25% off coupons to come out and the prices can't be beat. I get the scratch and dent models as the vast majority of the time they have never been used. All of mine have been perfect, its hard to even find a scratch.

    Gaming laptops have gotten considerably better in the last few years, and can play all the latest games. Just do a youtube search on various laptops and you can see many in action. Don't worry about not being able to play the latest games, you will if you pick the right machines (see below).

    For specs, here is what I would look for:

    - Dedicated graphics card. This is a must. Look for a GeForce or Radeon card listed.
    - Anti glare or matte screen.

    Here are a few good ones too from a reputable vendor (newegg) from a list on a gaming site that someone else I know keeps current:

    Best cheapest:
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16834215257

    Best midrange:
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16834246328

    Best mainstream:
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16834215404
     
  5. hornerjo

    hornerjo Senior Member

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    Wow, just looked up the specs on that Alienware Sentia 223. I had never heard of it. Don't buy it, waste of money. It's 7 year old technology. The $380 laptop I have listed above is a far far better buy. I'm not sure if you can do much of any gaming on that thing.
     
  6. IRideYZFR6

    IRideYZFR6 Linux Guru

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    Totally agree with hornerjo on this one, the cheapest one he listed is more than enough to play Minecraft. I use steam also, and that is just the web interface to purchase and download games. Steam doesn't carry Minecraft so I am wondering if he just wants that to expand into other games. If he regularly logs into Steam they do have discounts on their games, sometimes 75% off.


    Minimum Requirements for Minecraft:
    • CPU : Intel P4/NetBurst Architecture or its AMD Equivalent (AMD K7)
    • RAM : 2GB
    • GPU : Intel GMA 950 or AMD Equivalent
    • HDD : At least 90MB for Game Core and Sound Files
    • Java Runtime Environment (JRE) 6 or up is required to be able to run the game.
     

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