Advice to choose between 2 gaming laptops to play Total War games

jorge_medion

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Total War is a series of strategy games developed by The Creative Assembly for personal computers. They combine turn-based strategy and resource management with real-time tactical control of battles: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Total_War_(series)

Total War games requires powerful computers with good, both, CPU and GPU. I know a laptop computer is not the best option here, however, I need the portability of a laptop and since I still have a gaming laptop (Alienware 17 R3) where I play Total War games with pretty decent results, I am strongly convinced that there are good gaming laptops able to run these games. By the way, I play older titles and I am interested specifically in the following: Empire, Napoleon, Shogun 2, Rome 2, Attila, Thrones of Britannia (maybe). I would also like to use it for other strategy games, but far less demanding than Total War games (for example, Scourge of War).

I have been researching among a lot of gaming laptops and these two represent my dilemma: best CPU or best GPU?

Acer Predator Helios 500 PH517-51-960K (2500 €)
  • CPU Intel® Core™ i9-8950HK (6 cores, 2.9GHz - 4.8GHz, 12MB)
  • RAM 8 GB DDR4 + 8 GB DDR4
  • HDD 1000 GB HDD + 256GB SSD
  • GPU NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 1070 8 GB DDR5
  • OS Windows 10 Home
  • Display 17.3''
MSI GT75 Titan 8RG-278ES (2500€)
  • CPU Intel® Core i7-8750H (6 cores, 2.2 GHz - 4.1GHz, 9 MB)
  • RAM 16GB DDR4 2666Mhz
  • HDD 256GB NVMe PCIe Gen3x4 SSD +1TB (SATA) 7200rpm
  • GPU Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 8GB GDDR5X
  • OS Windows 10 Home 64 Bits
  • Display 17.3''
Price of both gaming laptops are the same, however, Acer Predator has a better CPU and worse GPU while MSI Titan has a worse CPU but better GPU. Which one would you prefer and why?
 

Seaweed Monster

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Even though the i9-8950HK on paper is the better CPU due to its higher standard clock speeds, higher boost clock speeds, 12MB Level 3 cache (9MB on the i7-8750h) and overclocking ability, in reality, many laptop cooling solutions prevent the i9 from hitting that full potential boost clock, essentially meaning it is a waste of performance or performance that you cannot essentially use or achieve due to thermal limits.

Similarly, according to notebookcheck the top boost clock of 4.8Ghz and 4.3Ghz (on all cores) can only be achieved if the temperature is below 50C, which with an i9 is pretty difficult in a laptop. Nevertheless, there are a lot of articles and reviews that suggest in reality, the i9 does not run any or much faster than the i7-8750h and higher I7's i.e. i7-8850H.

Personally I feel and suggested elsewhere too, the 'i9' range of processors in laptops is essentially just seen as a marketing opportunity for Intel and laptop manufacturers to say they have the best and most powerful CPU's in their laptops, but in the real world, people cannot achieve the speeds promised by Intel due to limitations in laptop cooling solutions.

Sorry this is a bit long, but I would say effectively you're better off with the i7-8750h + GTX 1080 due to the i9 thermal and clock speed problems (GTX 1080 is also better) and from looking at the MSI, its cooling is pretty well equipped to deal with the hardware, so reaching boost clock should be more achievable and has great upgradability for RAM and SSD's, but it is hella thick :sneaky:compared to the Acer which is slightly slimmer.

Hope that helps.
 
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jorge_medion

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Hi Sweaweed Monster, thank you for your very useful information. Laptops with i9 CPUs are very expensive and not so easy to find. I was thinking if the extra investment worth the money but seems that the advantages don't compensate.

Now that you mention the laptop cooling, I have a question regarding the size: which is better to have 17.3'' or 15.6''? I ask that because I find lots of gaming laptops with pretty good specs in 15.6'' size but I wonder how good is cooling in smaller chassis. Which size would you recommend for gaming?
 

jorge_medion

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Anyone knows anything about Clevo laptops? They are fully customizable. I've found a good setup for almost the same price (2537€):

Clevo Octane VI 17.3''
  • CPU Intel® Core™ i7-8700K (6 cores, 3.7GHz , 12MB)
  • RAM 16 Gb Corsair 2666 MHz SODIMM DDR4 (2x8 Gb)
  • HDD 1TB 2.5'' SSD, SATA 6Gb/s (up to 550 Mb/sR)
  • GPU NVIDIA® GeForce® RTX 2070 8 GB DDR6
  • OS Windows 10 Home 64 bits
  • Display 17.3''
https://www.pcspecialist.co.uk/notebooks/octaneVI-17/
 

Seaweed Monster

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Hi Sweaweed Monster, thank you for your very useful information. Laptops with i9 CPUs are very expensive and not so easy to find. I was thinking if the extra investment worth the money but seems that the advantages don't compensate.

Now that you mention the laptop cooling, I have a question regarding the size: which is better to have 17.3'' or 15.6''? I ask that because I find lots of gaming laptops with pretty good specs in 15.6'' size but I wonder how good is cooling in smaller chassis. Which size would you recommend for gaming?
The i9's are great if the laptops had desktop grade cooling, unfortunately, that is not the case I am afraid.

17.3" chassis are usually recommended due to the extra room to implement better cooling but it all depends on what the manufacturers choose to do, but the downsides are usually bulk and size. 15.6" gaming laptop tend to suffer more with cooling due to the limited room but allows for a smaller and more 'manageable/portable' package, but heat management and cooling wholeheartedly depends on the cooling setup and thickness.

For example, the MSI you linked has a good cooling solution, I mean look at those heat pipes:


Anyone knows anything about Clevo laptops?
To be honest, I do not know anything about Clevo laptops, maybe someone on here might know a bit more about them, but the specifications look good. I'd do some research on that model/similar spec models and see what the performances are like and most importantly the heat and cooling management, as that CPU is desktop grade like the RTX. Spend a few hours researching the forums, review sites and YouTube videos, that would be my advice.
 

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