•  nortix
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Hey guys,

I was wondering what you would recommend for a college student who enjoys a game every once in a while but will be using a laptop for work mostly. My budget is of 1200 dollars.

There's a lot of good laptops you can get for that. I can't recommend a specific model (there is just so many of them), but what you want is either Pentium M 1.6Ghz+ or Turion/Athlon 64 with 1gig RAM and an ATi X700/X800/9700 or Nvidia 6600/6800 video card. Good place to read about laptops or ask a question would be 

Good luck in your search.
You know, we were just discussing this on another thread about AMD laptops and found that has a really decent laptop, that if ordered sparingly with some parts can get you a decent gamer at or below $1200. The thing is, however, that the pentium m will have a much longer battery life in if you're using your laptop in class please let me know because that will affect my suggestion and I'll probably go with a pentium m instead.

Anyhow the laptop is the zv6000 series, and I configured it for$1058.99 thusly:
OS - left the same
CPU - 3200+
Screen: upgraded to brightview (it helps a lot when gaming and not using an external crt)
Video card: UPGRADED!!! Don't skip this or you'll be sorry!
Memory: to 1GB
HDD: to 60gb/5400rpm (you can go higher if storage is important. Games/mp3s, etc take up room so plan accordingly)
Battery: upgraded to a 12 cell for longer life, you might consider ordering a second battery
Case: add the cheapest darn thing out there!

You can make changes here or there, the hdd might be a good one, and the jump to the Pro version of XP gives you some extra features you may or may not use. I know some campuses have IT departments that try to lock out NT based OSes but allow only Home. Be careful what you wish for in terms of cpu speed because if you ever unplug from the wall's power the more cpu punch you have, the faster that battery will drain. If you're just going to go from place to place and plug in again, then maybe it'd be money well spent. Again, springing for an extra battery will extend life and also extend the life of the first battery.

The video card in there is roughly equivalent to a desktop 9550 or so in terms of performance so don't expect miracles, but it'll get the job done.
  •  nortix
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Thank you so much!
There are a few things i'm wondering though...
I don't know much about computers (I still know old DOS commands which are pretty useless by now); do you think the video card will be good for the next two or three years-worth of games (such as Prince of Persia 3, for example)? How does the processor compare to the current standard? Durability is important to me.
and, what do you suggest with regards to LAN?

again, thank you so much,

- Nortix
Almost all current laptops have built in 54G wireless and 10/100mbit wired. Durability depends on who makes the laptop and the model... you'll have to ask some people who have owned the type you want to get. Video card should last through the next generation of games, not with all the details maxed though. If you can wait, next generation of mobile ATi cards will be out soon (they just passed PCI Express testing), and if history repeats itself Nvidia will follow with new cards too. You can compare the Pentium M/Athlon 64 to be exactly the same speed as desktop versions. So a 2Ghz laptop chip will run as fast as a 2Ghz desktop one. Video cards are another story in laptops though... running at lower core clocks and using much slower memory due to heat issues.
The problem with pentium m to desktop is that they don't have too many boxes running them in desktops, but I'd say that a pentium m is about as fast as an athlon 64 at the same clock speed more or less depending on the apps. Certain apps might swing it wildy one way or another, but on the whole a 2ghz pentium m should be somewhat similar (not identical but somewhat similar) to a 2ghz AMD Athlon 64. They're at least gonna be in the same ball park 80% of the time or more, but due to their different designs they're just going to have their strengths/weaknesses.

Now for the bad news: I'm going to disagree with venom to a point on the graphics front. There are already games out that even with settings turned down and matching resolutions to that lcd are not going to provide a great gaming experience. I think this will likely become more pronounced as time rolls on. For example you can grab EQ2, slap it on and then run it on 'max performance' and it'll still run pretty sluggish (I just tried it on this very config about 18 hours ago). Now given that SOE doesn't have a history of things like 'tight coding' etc, I think it's fair to say that most next gen games will be more and more graphics demanding. Can you play the next gen games? a year and some change we'll move over to Windows Vista and it's WGF (DX 10) and then there will be a whole new gen of graphics cards and a year later (2 years and a few months from now) it might be reasonable to expect games to come equiped with that tech, in cards due next summer are due to support dx10/wgf before it is even available! So if you're looking for longevity, I'm going to say no. This is something that will last you 12-18 months and be sluggish on modern games. The up side is that most new games with flashy graphics skimp on the 'game' side and tend to leave out 'fun' when they're concentrating on new features

I would suggest that you find a way to losen your budget to about $1500, because for the extra $300 I know of a pentium m laptop with a 128mb x700 which is about twice in terms of fill rate, and has a healthy memory xfer advantage. Again, it's probably no going to get a hardware certification for running the next gen games that require WGF/DX10 but it'll provide a reasonably better graphics experience on today's games.

Really though with laptops there's always a compromise between speed/battery life/weight/cost/features and the more you want in any one are the more you have to be willing to suffer in at least one other area. So from that standpoint, would I spend $1200 on this laptop? Maybe...I like a few games of today, so I might be more willing to spend the extra $300 or so for a better gaming experience and slightly longer battery life. But it edges over $1500 by a small margin, so you might not want to come up with the extra dough. It's totally dependant on how hard the cash is to get and if that extra bit of gaming punch is worth it, and is it worth trading true 64 bit performance for?
  •  AKU
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If you are a college student and need decent battery life, stay away from AMD. Trust me on this one.

As for gaming, for your price range, you probably can't play and intensive games, except maybe in low res. Remember that laptop stuff is behind desktop. What you are getting first and foremost is portablity.
  •  nortix
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How bad can the battery life be?
Depends on what you're doing with it, gaming - you can expect 30 mins to an hour at the outside with the above system.

AMD is far behind intel in the mobile arena when it comes to power consumption. Even their tourion is still not really very close.

But then again the pentium m isn't as cheap, and you get a lot more bang/buck out of the AMD laptops mentioned above. And then there's always the 64 bit question.
There's a good deal on an MSI Turion notebook with X700.

"Cyberpower system is now offering the MSI MS-1029 notebook(!) for $1289 and 5% off w/ free shipping! This price includes ATI X700 128MB, Turion 64 MT-30, 1024 MB PC3200 400MHz, 60GB 5400 HD, B/G Wireless and Windows XP SP2. If you choice no OS it is $1229 and 5% of lands the price at $1167 shipped w/ Half-Life 2 Game!!!"