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Old April 11, 2011, 08:18 PM
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Red face Game-Capable Laptop for Girlfriend

So I've been bugging my girlfriend about getting a new laptop so we can play Portal 2 together (she has an old junky Acer) but I'm a little out of the loop hardware-wise, so I was hoping you guys could help me out.
  • She doesn't need super high-res gaming, just that she can play games on it for a few years.
  • She's also trying to save money and was hoping to spend somewhere around $800-$900.
  • We'd like to stick to more quality brands like Asus or Sony and shy away from stuff like Acer or HP. (She was even unsure about looking at a Lenovo since they were lower on the failure rate rankings: Laptop reliability survey: ASUS and Toshiba win, HP fails -- Engadget)
  • We'd probably prefer to stick to Memory Express since they're local, and their IPR is really good (side note: Is NCIX's ESP any good? I haven't heard much about it)
So a bit of a challenge.

I'm also not really sure how to rank mobile graphics cards, or what will last for a few years. For instance, how does a Radeon 5730 compare to a 6370?

One model she was looking at was this, but I'm not sure if the card is good enough:
Asus K52DR-A1 w/ Phenom II N830, 4GB, 500GB, DVD+/-RW, 15.6in HD, Radeon HD 5470, Win 7 Home Premium 64-bit at Memory Express Computers

This one was another consideration:
Asus N53JF-A1 w/ Core i5-460M, 4GB, 500GB, DVD+/-RW, 15.6in HD, GeForce GT 425M, Win 7 Home Premium 64-bit at Memory Express Computers

I thought this Lenovo looked decent but she was unsure:
Lenovo Ideapad Y560 0646-5LU w/ Core i5-480M, 4GB, 500GB, DVD+/-RW, 15.6in LED HD, Radeon HD 5730, Win 7 Home Premium 64-bit at Memory Express Computers

Well there's a few we were looking at, but feel free to suggest some more or comment on those above.

Thanks for all the help!!!
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Old April 11, 2011, 08:49 PM
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This is a little over your budget, but it will run circles around any of those in games...

NCIX.com - Buy MSI GX660-260US Intel Core i5 460M 4GB 500GB 15.6IN WSXGA+ Radeon HD5870 1GB Win 7 Premium Notebook - MSI/MicroStar - 9S7-16F121-260 - in Canada
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Old April 13, 2011, 12:40 PM
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hi,
check this one
NCIX.com - Buy MSI FX603-019US 15.6IN Intel Core I5-480M 4GB 500GB GT425M DVDRW Webcam Win 7 Home Premium Notebook - MSI/MicroStar - FX603-019US-IB54804G50S7P - in Canada
$78.40 Mail In Rebate!
After Mail In Rebate: $719.00 CAD
best vfm choice.
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Old April 13, 2011, 04:59 PM
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Do you guys know much about NCIX's ESP?
We had wanted to stick to Memory Express if possible for the IPR and local service
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Old April 13, 2011, 06:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scart View Post
Do you guys know much about NCIX's ESP?
We had wanted to stick to Memory Express if possible for the IPR and local service
Memory Express will probably pricematch NCIX and vice versa. But tbh extended warranties are a total ripoff, if you want a longer warranty get an Asus.
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Old April 13, 2011, 08:47 PM
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I have the Lenovo Y560 you are looking at. (well with the 460m, not 480m processor, but the difference is marginal) I made two key upgrades though before I even turned the thing on. I bumped the RAM up to 8Gb, and swapped the hard drive for a Momentus XT Hybrid drive, and then installed a bloat ware free copy of win7. (The stock install is full of shit!) I was too cheap to shell out on an SSD, so the hybrid drive was a great alternative (so far it has been perfect, and made a huge difference).

This was my first laptop in at least 10 years, and so far I'm satisfied with it. I don't plan on keeping it much longer, as I'd like a bit more gaming power next time around. I originally picked it up as I have spent the last year working in Asia, and travelling back and forth from Toronto.

Processor wise it is very capable. the i5 has handled everything I've thrown at it without issue. Runs photo shop extensively, all day every day, and doesn't skip a bit with the usual garb of other stuff running in the background.

Video Card. Hmm ... what to say. The switchable graphics are annoying. Mostly due to the fact that the drivers for it are ancient. You can't use standard ATI card drivers for whatever reason, so you are stuck with the archaic upgrade schedule that Lenovo has ... and it's non existent. These days I haven't had much time to game, and the lack of a dedicated desktop really takes away from the fun, but I still fire up TF2 and BFBC2 on occasion. It handles both games fine. TF2 at full settings and BFBC2 dialled down a bit, especially in larger multi player maps. Also note there is a huge heat difference with the card on ... you could cook things out the side. :)

Speakers. By far this thing has the best sounding laptop speakers I have ever heard. Definitely didn't expect it from this unit. The only downside is that they interfere with the microphone at the top of the screen. So if you are going to be calling folks on Skype or whatever, you will need an external mic.

Now to the really BAD stuff. :)

This things biggest let down is the screen. It can be blurry around the edges of windows with the graphics card on (Lenovo claimed they would fix it with a bios update, but it has yet to be addressed). The viewing angles aren't great, and it can be a little too dark at times. For the price it's acceptable ... just not great.

The only other thing that really stands out is the flimsiness. You could bend it with one hand. It does not feel sturdy at all. The screen flexes like crazy, even with just a small amount of pressure. Be prepared to treat it like royalty, or potential death may occur. :) Ok ... maybe not, I haven't broken it yet, and it has survived being shoved in my backpack every day for my bike ride to work. But it still worries me everyday. The worry is probably worse than any actual quality issues.


Other than that ... the only other things I ought to mention, is the fingerprint issue, which is a problem with most laptops. This thing will get greasy, especially where your wrists sit from typing. Also the touch pad is a little too sensitive at times, and I had to readjust the way I type on it to avoid hitting the pad and moving the cursor with the side of my thumb. I also broke the F12 key off while cleaning it with a microfibre, but I may have been a little too rough ... I can't fault the keyboard. I did however pick up a replacement board for it for $12 on ebay. I'm sure it's a fake from China but it feels the same and works fine.


I would only recommend it if it was much cheaper than anything else you are looking at. Before I left Canada I worked at a computer store and sold a lot of laptops. The Asus K52 series had a much better feel and quality was definitely better. I'm not up to date on their models these days but if they have bumped the specs of the video card then I would look in that direction.

As mentioned above by neojjjk if you can bump the budget and look at the MSI GX, definitely do so. If I could have afforded it at the time I would have gone that direction. One last thing to consider. Backlit keys!!! Something every laptop should have regardless of price. Consider it. I hate not having it.

Hope that helps. :)
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Old April 14, 2011, 06:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy View Post
One last thing to consider. Backlit keys!!! Something every laptop should have regardless of price. Consider it. I hate not having it.

Hope that helps. :)
Why? I only ask because I have never had them, and you sound like you know. I am also looking at about the same range of laptop $800-ish, i5-ish.
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Old April 14, 2011, 08:08 AM
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I must need more sleep - I read the thread title as Game Capable Lap Girlfriend . . . .
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Old April 14, 2011, 04:02 PM
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Thanks for the help guys. She's interested in the $800 MSI FX603 but she thought it seemed a little too good of a deal. I don't know much about MSI's quality in laptops so I can't really say.

She's actually contemplating just building a desktop computer and buying a cheap laptop when her acer dies, but she's not sure
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Old April 14, 2011, 08:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Herne View Post
Why? I only ask because I have never had them, and you sound like you know. I am also looking at about the same range of laptop $800-ish, i5-ish.
I tend to do most gaming in low or no light conditions. Being able to see the keys is always nice. Same goes for everyday tasks as well. Maybe I just got so used to it with my G15 keyboard when I had my desktop, but I hate not having it now.
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