Recently, my gaming laptop (a Sager/Clevo 3.5yrs old) started acting funny the past few weeks. It would randomly shut down in the middle of a game session and the fan would cycle at odd levels. I installed a temperature monitoring tool and most of the time things were in acceptable ranges, except the GPU, which always ran hot.
Now, I don’t run crazy games at max settings. I played a bit of Dragon Age Inq near the holidays but I grew tired of it. Other taxing games…I dunno, it’s been Path of Exile, Pillars of Eternity, Diablo 3 and a bit of TSW. Not exactly crippling games. Last night, in the middle of a session my video crapped out. Safe mode is working and I can sometimes load regular mode. Any game load breaks it though. Good news is I didn’t lose any data. Actually, that’s amazing news.
All said, that means shopping time.
First things first, I truly feel bad for people who do not understand technical jargon. Buying a computer is either blind luck (ooh, a pretty color) or a massive investment in time and benchmark comparisons. I can find no analogy. I mean seriously, who the hell cares about the difference in an i7-4710MQ vs an i7-4710HQ chipset? I do, so sucks to be me!
Specs seem to align to somewhere around the following:
- i7 – 4700+ CPU
- 960M+ video card
- 16gb of RAM
- OS on an SSD. Rest doesn’t matter much.
- 17″ monitor (since I actually use it as a laptop)
That doesn’t seem terribly complex does it? This link shows you what XoticPC offers in their 17″ lineup. Holy cheez whiz! $500 to $3700 range. It gets worse when you look at identical specs but different brands. Sager is cheaper, followed by Asus, then MSI then Alienware. It’s the exact same components, just a different shell and maybe a few bells and whistles, like a backlit keyboard.
If you’re not into PC specs, I am guessing that none of this makes sense to you. In particular the difference between CPU and GPU specs. Barely makes any sense to me…
I’m glad to say that the whole “gain 10% improvement for $200 more” is still around. There are plenty of marginal upgrades for crazy price points. I will say that it’s worth it to spend more on cooling though, even though mine is having issues with just that. A better compound, copper cooling and a cooling pad are worth every penny.
The Dollar Decision
I’m Canadian. Along with a lifetime membership to the Igloo museum, I get to pay more money for American products due to the exchange rate (+duty due to NAFTA). Right now, 1 of my dollars gets me 83 cents US. On a budget of ~$1500, that’s $300 difference. So let’s say I compare to a Canadian retailer — Canada Computers (original eh?). An MSI GP70 is $900US or $1100CDN. Math says, identical price. Calculate shipping, duty and taxes… we have a different conversation going on now.
Then I start looking at Amazon and NewEgg…this is getting depressing.
I should note that the price point today is actually less than what I paid for a mid-range laptop over 3 years ago. That said, there really hasn’t been much progress on PC development since then either, everything is tablets and watches. My old box is an i7, 8gb RAM, 500Gb SATA, and a 780M card. Further oddity.
I know what config I’m looking for, so that solves a bunch of questions. Finding that config at a price point that makes sense, with the correct distributor is the real challenge. Is this what shoe shopping is like?