Deciding on the right laptop

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Panther86, Jun 16, 2012.

  1. Panther86, Jun 16, 2012
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2012

    Panther86 macrumors newbie

    Jun 13, 2012
    Hi, I'm new to this forum but have been viewing macrumors for a while now. Today im faced with a dilemma that involves laptop choices. I will be very soon going into study abroad programs and college, and with a $1100-1200 budget (flexible) I'm finding myself having to choose portability or performance. I've never owned a laptop before, and would like to be able to experience the advantages of it with being able to take it and study outside, take it to the library, go on trips and keep it comfortably on the lap, and etc. Gaming has been becoming increasingly less important but once and while I fire up SC2 or Civ5. I know that people have gone off college and say that they just don't get the time to really play games at all. Also, this laptop would need to last for a good few years.

    I would REALLY love to take the dive into the OSX world, as after playing around with it on friends' I've found instant intuitiveness. It makes for a very powerfully productive yet fun environment; the gestures especially are remarkable (the natural scrolling feature on the trackpad actually make laptop usage enjoyable). The whole platform and its design philosophy is in stark contrast to the upcoming windows 8. I've tried it on a dual boot, and I'm appalled of how such an anti-productive and awkwardly-poorly designed OS could ever come into play for mouse and keyboard. I'm sure, as with all things, I could eventually "deal with it/put up with it" if thats what I'll need to do in my situation

    I've been able to dig these up for the budget range:

    :apple: Macbook Air 13 inch (11 inch too small)

    :apple: Macbook Pro 13 inch

    I don't quite understand the advatange the Pro has in performance over the Air. The Air is lighter and has an SSD, but the Pro has a faster cpu yet slower (but more storage in HD). The pro also has a lower resolution and is thicker and heavier. The intergrated graphics seem concerning in both; in this price range it seems disappointing to find (particularly in the so called "pro")

    HP Pavilion dv6-7014nr

    HP Envy 15

    The specs look killer! But not exactly everything HP touches exactly turns to gold...


    The last option, which seems to be the one my brain is leaning towards (while my heart is with the macs). I have a 5 year old alienware desktop as of current and it has never let me down. Perfection on every front. But that was when Alienware was largely still under its own operations. Going through alienware's and dell's websites it seems like its just another Dell brand like XPS and Inspirion. How does Dell's QA stack up to alienware's original?

    The specs are for the most part ideal, but when you look here it does produce quite a bit of heat ("In these conditions, the idle temperature of roughly 95 F and 108 F under load are just barely acceptable. We would not recommend using this notebook on your lap. ") and noise ("With up to 50 dB(A) in games, the first version of the M14x was extremely loud, even by gaming notebook standards. This was one of the greatest criticisms in that test."). Also based off the spec sheet and pictures, it looks quite bulky/thick, and its 6.45 lbs.

    I heard Asus was good, but they don't offer much info or pricing/ordering on their website, and the Dell XPS, while cheap, they are ugly-* laptops and are still using Sandy Bridge.

    What I'm really looking for is: Can the Macbooks be able to handle the few games I do play (I don't care much about the future because I both in budget and interest don't buy new games anymore, and I could settle for low-med settings as long as its playable)? Can the Alienware suit a lifestyle on the go? Can HP be trusted since it has the best of both worlds?

    I'll appreciate any advice/suggestions! And thanks for such a great website of MacRumors!
  2. kylera macrumors 65816


    Dec 5, 2010
    According to this person who bought the 2011 13-inch Air, Civilization V was quite playable, which means if Civ is "quite playable" for last year's model, I can imagine that it will be, at the very least, "quite playable" for this year's Air as well. I too have Civ 5, and I can't wait to try it on my new Air...whenever it comes.

    If you go on YouTube, there are a fair number of people who posted videos of them playing Starcraft II on their Airs - I think that might give you a better idea of how it plays.
  3. theluggage macrumors 68040

    Jul 29, 2011
    Swings and roundabouts depending on what you're doing. For general use, the fast SSD makes the Airs feel very responsive, but if you throw some serious number crunching (e.g. video compression) then the Pro will have an advantage - there's some more discussion here: - look at the summary at the bottom.

    If you want to play 3D first-person shooters (the most important qualification for being a "pro" :D), run 3D modelling software, or hook up more than one 1440p external monitor, then the integrated graphics will be a deal-breaker... but then you'd probably be looking at a bigger display anyhow. I'm guessing that the new Intel graphics will be able to cope with the occasional game of Civ.

    Another thing to bear in mind: do you need Firewire 800, Gigabit Ethernet, SD reader or a built-in optical drive? The lack of one or more of these would be a deal-breaker for some users (which is probably the only reason the 13" Pro still exists) but for an increasing number of people these would be irrelevant.
  4. Koodauw macrumors 68040


    Nov 17, 2003
    I don't play any games, but I have owned several Powerbooks and Macbook Pros.

    I have to say the 13'' is amazingly portable, and one of the best laptops I have owned. Even to this day when I pick it up I marvel at it. It will most likely do what you need to do.

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