Need help in choosing a gaming laptop

divadoll

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Please copy and paste these questions into the thread you post, and we can help you find the laptop that suits you. Thanks for the form. Makes life easier.

1. What is your budget? Up to $1700 for a laptop – less is better (I am in CT, USA). I was going to work with a tech to build a desktop – more bang for the buck and upgradable, but decided I needed it portable as sometimes I cannot sit for long periods of time at my desk.

2. What is the size of the notebook that you are considering? I like a bigger screen as I do artwork as well so I am looking at the 17.3” screens.

3. What screen resolution do you want? I don’t know. I am looking at laptops with a 144htz refresh rate and full HD. That may be enough. I also have an older Dell Ultrasharp 24” screen that I can plug in with an HDMI cable.

4. Do you need a portable or desktop replacement laptop? I would like a desktop replacement that is portable in my home (not to be lugged around to coffeeshops, etc. I have a Samsung tablet for that). I have an older dead Alienware desktop that was maxed out. They were a nightmare to me and never fixed or replaced it even though it failed after one year and I had a 4 year premium warranty. They told me to drop dead and canceled my warranty because THEY couldn’t fix my computer. I would have sued them but I got cancer so you have to make your priorities. I guess the overpriced Alienware is now on my poop list. Besides, the Alienware laptop I looked at in Best Buy had terrible sound.

5. How much battery life do you need? I would like some battery life but that seems to be a pipedream with a gaming laptop. I will be near a plug if necessary.

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)? I used to play the big games but I cannot sit long anymore. Besides I do not like the new army games or role playing. My old favorites were the Heritic series, Grim Fandango, etc. Medival shooters, adventure games and lower games like hidden object or word games are more my style now. I would probably play them on whatever the laptop is set for.

7. What other tasks do you want to do with your laptop? (Photo/Video editing, Etc.). I am an artist so photo editing with Adobe Photoshop, Professional Office, Painting and drawing programs, maybe a Wacom, and regular stuff. I do stream youtube, TV like HBO go, cbs access etc. and sometimes movies as well. I end up even on my tablet with lots of windows open. I have Windows 7 Professional now but the new laptop will come with windows 10.

8. How much storage (Hard Drive capacity) do you need? On my husband’s little laptop with all my stuff on it too we have used about 500GB of ram of a regular HD. I have a lot of pictures so I will need more than he has.

9. If you are considering specific sites to buy from, please post their links.
www.costco.com/laptops (they have limited choices but they give 90 days return policy and give a free second year warranty. A third year is only $99.)
www.bestbuy.com (They have the geeksquad to fix things but are almost $400 for a 3 year warranty. They price match. They have a 14 day return policy.)
www.microcenter.com (good selection of instore laptops to look at)
www.bhphotovideo.com (decent prices)
Amazon just to check them out for prices. They have 30 day returns but I don’t know about their warranty.

10. How long do you want to keep your laptop? I keep my electronics for a long time, just like my cars. I was told if I don’t max out the settings and play the top games the computer should stay fairly cool. Heat will definitely be a factor as I know that will kill the computer. I usually like to future proof the computer somewhat since I am looking to keep it for a while. Unfortunately laptops are not upgradeable much besides storage and memory. I wish they came with the Super cards but I guess I can’t have everything.

11. What kind of Optical drive do you need? DVD ROM/Writer,Bluray ROM/Writer,Etc ? My desktop had both DVD and Bluray but I don’t know if I have a need for Blueray. None of the laptops come with an optical drive. I must have an optical drive as all my software is on disks. I also have DVD art learning videos.

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 have been looking at ASUS, MSI, ACER Predator, Lenova Legion, Razorblade (expensive but nice), and Dell (barf). The Alienwares look nice and I loved the blue eyed Alien but why would I give them my money again after being a 35 year loyal Dell customer?

13. What country do you live in? I am in New England, USA

14. Please tell us any additional information if needed. Although my desktop had the top graphics card and chip, I don’t think I have a need to go that way. Plus I need to save money. I have always been an Intel/NVidia gal even though I see AMD is now competition. I am looking at the 1660ti, RTC 2060 and the RTC 2070. The 8th gen and 9th gen are similar with apparently only a 15% bump. I see a lot of 8th gen laptops with the 1060 and 1070 in them. I would like something new if I can get it.

I have looked at some of these laptops and would appreciate opinions on which brands run cooler, have better parts and are more reliable, which parts I should choose for what I will be using it for and also any other laptops to consider. None of these I think have a thunderbolt port. Some have no Gsync.

ASUS ROG GL703GS or ASUS ROG Scar II GL704GW: 8th gen chips, some have the 1060, 1070 and RTX 2060 or 2070, and a 512GB SSD Sound decent, screen nice. Some techs say ASUS gets hot but has decent parts.

Lenovo LEGION Y740 Costco $1799: 9th gen chip, GeForce® RTX 2070 Graphics, 144Hz G-Sync FHD Display, Backlit RGB Keyboard with Numeric Keypad’ 802.11 Wireless-AC 2x2 + Bluetooth® 4.2 Screen is dull matte, and sound is fair. Battery is fair. Fairly good bang for the buck but do I need a 2070 card?

Acer Predator Helios 300 and 500 8GB NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 1070 Graphics; Backlit four-zoned RBG Keyboard with anti-ghosting; 144Hz NVIDIA G-SYNC (1920 x 1080) Display; Killer DoubleShot Pro Wireless-AC 1550 featuring 2x2 MU-MIMO technology + Bluetooth 5.0 1TB HD and 250 GB SSD. Some techs say this gets hot and is not as reliable as the other brands.

MSI GE75 Raider Gaming Laptop: Costco $1399 - 9th Gen Intel® Core™ i7-9750H Processor 2.6GHz; 6GB NVIDIA GeForce® RTX 2060 Graphics; 17.3" FHD 144Hz 3ms Display; Steel Series Anti-Ghosting Keyboard with Per-Key RGB Color Customization with numeric pad; 1TB Hard drive (slower 5400rpm) + 512 GB SSD; 16 GB dual channel ram, No Gsync or thunderbolt. I tried the keyboard and it types well, the screen is vibrant and the sound is louder than most. Battery is fair. Seems like decent price but has a 2060 in it and a slow harddrive. However there is open slot for another SSD drive.

I was told to stay away from HP Omen.

I’m hoping for folks to weigh in on a good 17.3” laptop. Please tell me why you choose one over another and which parts I should focus on.

Thanks so much on advance.
 
So, I guess my first question is, why a gaming laptop? If you aren't going to be gaming much and are primarily going to be gaming on older titles then a super powerful gaming laptop seems unnecessary, considering you can easily get laptops with good CPUs that rely in the Intel 620 and 630 graphics, which are more than enough to play older games. Dropping the requirement for a dedicated GPU will drop the price a bit and increase battery life A LOT.

In any case, I own an Acer Predator Helios 300, although a few generations old at this point, and I can tell you that I am completely satisfied with everything but the battery life. And, while browsing the shops you listed I found this one : https://www.microcenter.com/product/608519/predator-helios-300-ph317-53-75rt-173-gaming-laptop-computer---black

Actually I quite like that model. It has an RTX 2060, which will be slightly better than the GTX 1070 that you listed, and a sizable SSD. Plus it is a high refresh rate IPS pannel, which is great for colors and viewing angles.

I have to admit that going into buying my Helios 300 I was pretty sure I was going to get a cheapo city scrap heap with reasonable specs... but it was actually well built and aside from the screen (which isn't the case anymore on newer models) everything about it was on a spectrum from reasonable to very nice, which is a huge departure from the Walmart special Acer laptops that you can get for $400.

The MSI GE75 is similarly specced and probably has the exact same display panel, but also has the 1 TB HDD in addition to the SSD, which is nice to have. That makes it a better deal than the Helios 300. Now, I can't speak to build quality on MSI's lower end laptops as the last MSI laptop I had ran an AMD Turion 64, but as long as they have improved at all it should be fine.

Some other laptops that caught my eye were the Dell G7 and the Gigabyte AERO 17.
https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1497812-REG/dell_g7790_7940gry_pus_i7_9750h_16gb_256gb_ssd_1tb.html
https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1500765-REG/gigabyte_aero_17_sa_7us1020so_aero_i7_9750h_8gb_256gb_ssd.html
Both the Dell and the Gigabyte are gamer laptops without all the gamer bling on the outside. They look downright respectable, if you are into that, and both will have great build quality.

If I were to pick one that I drool over, it's be the Gigabyte based on sexyness and build quality alone, but for everyday use I love my Helios 300. Honestly, you can't really go wrong with any of these.
 

divadoll

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I understand your point of getting a non gaming laptop. Although I mentioned old favorites, those games rarely work on newer machines. Aside from wanting some future proofing, I would like the ability to play some of the newer titles. Any suggestions on medieval shooters would be great. I don't think I have ever had a computer without a graphics card. My Dell Dimensions desktop from decades ago had the first Geforce Ultra card.

With that said, I do appreciate your suggestions. The Helios I saw at Microcenter was warm just from sitting there. They told me the 15.6 screen was more popular but all had 8th gen chip with a 1060 card for about what the upgraded MSI has. The 2 you gave links for both look great. I don't have to have an outer space laptop. The Gigabyte was presale and unrated at this point for $1800 with less storage. The Dell G7 I saw in Best Buy had a screen not very vibrant. It did have a decent writeup on several sites. Not stellar but decent. I think it had a 9th gen chip with a 1660ti for $1500. I do have an issue with Dell as mentioned too. They often use garbage parts that are proprietary. I know this since they rebuilt my Alienware in my house more than a dozen times before they declared it dead and told me to do the same.

I have to ask, doesn't a video card help if I will be doing graphics heavy work? The vibrancy and color integrity is important as well. Is a graphics card only good for frame rates? It is also my understanding that more memory would be a good upgrade down the line. I guess i still am not understanding what the integral parts bring to the table. I don't understand hyperthreading either lol. This is the ultimate place to learn stuff.

If you think a non gamer would be better, please let me know what to look for in the specs. Thanks.
 
I have to ask, doesn't a video card help if I will be doing graphics heavy work? The vibrancy and color integrity is important as well. Is a graphics card only good for frame rates? It is also my understanding that more memory would be a good upgrade down the line. I guess i still am not understanding what the integral parts bring to the table. I don't understand hyperthreading either lol. This is the ultimate place to learn stuff.
A graphics card is going to be a big boost for video editing as there are several hardware acceleration features. For images though, I don't think so. Not unless you are rendering. Then there is the possibility of CUDA acceleration. For straight up digital art using Painter or Photoshop, or things like them, the screen is the most important feature. You want a screen with great color accuracy. The graphics card plays almost no part in this. You could use a GeForce Ultra, or Intel integrated, or an RTX 2080Ti and the color reproduction will be just fine.

Now, in order to pick the best screen it is important to look at reviews. Generally a thorough review will have a look at the screen, more than "it is bright and colorful". They will test brightness and color accuracy based on the sRGB and Adobe color standards. Also keep in mind that it is possible to change the display panel on laptops. There are actually standards. For instance, I replaced the screen on my Helios 300 for one that was brighter, had a higher refresh rate, and more accurate colors... but consider that as a last resort if you need to keep costs down.

If you think a non gamer would be better, please let me know what to look for in the specs. Thanks.
Well, I had a look at this. Unfortunately I didn't have great success. B&H had mobile workstations with good specs, but they were expensive. Then there are the Macs... which have great screens and ok-ish hardware for absurd prices. Then there are the premium Ultrabooks which are 15" screens and lower. Finding something that isn't a gaming laptop at the level you need is harder than I thought, so gaming laptop was the right idea.

However, I did find one that caught my interest. The LG Gram 17" https://www.costco.com/LG-Gram-17-Laptop---Intel-Core-i7---WQXGA-(2560-x-1600)---Ultra-Thin-and-Light-at-2.95lbs.product.100485159.html
A thin and light, with a 17" screen is pretty darn rare. It is light, has great battery life, great color accuracy, and is pretty well equipped. Where it falls short is in space on its small SSD and Intel graphics. However, there is an interesting caveat to that. This laptop has a Thunderbolt 3 port, which means you can hook up an external graphics card enclosure with whatever GPU you want to put into it for as much graphics power as you need. Also, B&H has a model with a 512GB SSD, which might be preferable.

And then I remembered that WACOM themselves make tablet computers with their own hardware built in, great screens... and was sorely disappointed that they are sooooooo expensive... except for the 13" with the i5 and 128GB SSD... but you aren't doing a whole lot else than digital art with it.

Speaking of smaller devices capable as mobile digital art studios, have you considered a Microsoft Surface Pro? They have great screens, great battery life, a good pen input, reasonable processors, and many options within your price range. They do suffer when it comes to graphics hardware though, using exclusively Intel integrated, and the screen sizes are on the small side.

The Helios I saw at Microcenter was warm just from sitting there.
Yes, Acer does that. They seem to let the PC idle at between 35C and 50C, but once past that the fan kicks up and keeps it, well there is no other way to put this, from overheating. Yes it runs warm... but so do a LOT of laptops these days, but the hardware is designed to take it.

Well, I just did a lot of research (I've been writing this reply for like an hour) and can confidently say that of the gaming laptops here that have been covered the MSI GE75 Raider that you referenced in your first post has the best display, in terms of color accuracy and most likely brightness. On top of that Costco has it at a great price as in other places the thing is $1700 or so. Unless the WACOM Pen Computer or the Surface interest you I think the GE75 is the way to go. The Helios simply can't match its screen, and that would be my #3 choice. My #2 choice is the LG Gram.
 
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divadoll

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Justin wrote: "Well, I just did a lot of research (I've been writing this reply for like an hour) and can confidently say that of the gaming laptops here that have been covered the MSI GE75 Raider that you referenced in your first post has the best display, in terms of color accuracy and most likely brightness. On top of that Costco has it at a great price as in other places the thing is $1700 or so. Unless the WACOM Pen Computer or the Surface interest you I think the GE75 is the way to go. The Helios simply can't match its screen, and that would be my #3 choice. My #2 choice is the LG Gram."

WOW Justin! I so appreciate your feedback and all the research you have done on my behalf. My research got me pointed in a direction but your knowledge really helps put things in perspective.

Just FYI, I am an oil painter so the work I do on the computer helps me design some of my work. I saw a Wacom demo at an art school and was curious about it. However they are quite expensive and I think Photoshop can work over my set up photos with different backgrounds, colors, value scales and merging photographs into one composition. A painting program will just be fun to work with. I do like to game however albeit not something like Far Cry or Call of Duty but I know there are other titles I can find maybe not quite as intensive to play so a graphics card can help. Thanks so much for answering that question I had about the usefulness of graphics cards. Always had one and never knew why lol.

There is an advantage to finding something at Costco as I have a full 90 days to try the computer out. Elsewhere I would have 15 days and a restocking fee if I return it. I had looked at the LG - really thin and light - but it had no video card and small storage. Not able to upgrade much either. Beautiful screen though.

I went to Microcenter three times to actually try out laptops and test the keyboard and sound and see the panels. At that point I was interested in the Lenovo Legion as it seemed like a good bang for the buck. However, its screen looked dead and the sound was bad. The battery life was typical crappy in a gaming laptop. The ASUS and MSI climbed on my list but the ASUS was warm like the ACER. The Dell was nice but my bad experience with them turned me off. The MSI had a vibrant screen, nice sound and a good keyboard. The manager got me a chair and I spent a half hour trying to type on it. Hubby's little laptop is hooked up to a 24" Samsung TV and a full Dell Keyboard so I really have never had a laptop experience. The pad is fine but I will indeed require a wireless mouse - I have a few new Logitechs I bought on sale so I am good on that.

In the past week Costco posted around 6 different models of the MSI. The one with the RTX 2070 was $2000 and onIy came in a 15.6" screen. I thought it was overkill for my needs as you pointed out and wanted the bigger screen. But I did have my eye on the $1399 one with the larger screen and the RTX 2060 card. The others had gen 8 chips and the older GTX 1060 and were around the same price. The interesting thing about this one is that it has the 512GB SSD and a 1TB HD (albeit a slower 5400 rpm). But it had slots for more storage and I can always increase the 16 GB ram next year. I am not sure if it tops out at 32 or 64 GB but I think it will be enough.
https://www.costco.com/MSI-GE75-Raider-Gaming-Laptop---9th-Gen-Intel-Core-i7-9750H---GeForce-RTX-2060---144Hz-1080p-Display.product.100510882.html

It's about 6:30 am and I still haven't gone to bed. Thought it was time to pass out so I stopped to get a bottle of water and head off to bed. I got a surprise just before I saw your post. There it was on the kitchen table - a big box with a bow plastered on top. Today is my birthday - I'm too old to say how old - we'll just say I'm old enough - but I am a 9-11 baby. Not the happiest of days anymore. I thought I lost my husband that day but he got to the towers for a meeting just as the first plane hit. We lost 4 floors of his colleagues that day and he was lucky he got their late. I didn't know he was alive until 9:30 that night since all the phones were down.

Well hubby realized there was a perfect gift this year - and also a way to get his hands back on his little laptop which I have virtually hijacked lol. Over labor day weekend he ordered me a shiny new laptop from Costco figuring if I didn't like it I could return it. He chose the MSI GE75 Raider I kept talking about and drooling over. It was delivered yesterday and put in the kitchen before he went to bed.

So now I will have 90 days to figure this machine out, get an external DVD drive to put all my software on and play with my flashy new computer. Your help and research eased my mind that this was a great choice and also explained some things to me as well.

Justin, I thank you so much for your kindness in helping me find my new toy. It's actually more essential for my needs and work as well so I think I will enjoy it. After a while, I hope to report back with a review. I don't know how to test it but I think there are some videos on YouTube. Wish me luck. I'm a little intimidated by all the lights on the keyboard lol. As an artist all the colors are indeed a thing of beauty. But first thing is figuring out to make it stop shimmering and make the keyboard all one color!
 

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