Ordering a Gaming Laptop, would like advice

I’m planning on ordering a laptop soon that I hope will actually be somewhat decent at games and I would like advice or suggestions. I also asked on another board, but I find it’s good to get a second opinion.
My budget for this is about $1500.

Currently my game with the highest requirements is Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, though I also play a lot of modded Minecraft.

Originally I was going to get this:

Then someone pointed me towards this:

After that someone else told me to just max out the SSD as much as possible (even though sacrificing the HDD would only get me about 200 more GB), while another person told me to look into getting a Dell XPS 15 to take advantage of Thunderbolt 3 (even though with that I’d be losing out on hard drive space and GPU)

So I’m just wondering if anyone has any suggestions to help me figure this out, though I am leaning somewhat towards the Sager.

Also as a comparison, this is what I currently have:

The Dell XPS 15 only comes with the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M with 2GB GDDR5, so I wouldn’t go with that.

For a gaming laptop, I prefer a 17" screen, but that’s probably going to put it out of budget for the other specs you want, and probably will make less difference. (Also, it makes for a bulky beast of a laptop, I’ll admit.)

I’m not a Dell fan, and you don’t want to compromise on video for a game box. I’d stay away from this option.

The Sager is actually a branded Clevo P650, and I’ve generally had good luck with my Clevo gaming laptop. Also, I see good reviews on its cooling capability, which is a big deal with gaming machines. (Mine cools fine, but is very noisy under load; the reviews suggest the 650 is much quieter.) It only offers the 3GB version of the 970M, while the VenomX P35WV4 comes with the 6GB version, but I don’t know that it actually makes that much difference. For an otherwise equivalent build, the Sager looks like it would be the cheaper option. Of the two, I’d lean toward the Sager.

The recommendation you got on SSD is a good one. It makes a big difference to have your games loaded on an SSD drive–I recently upgraded, and the change to load times was amazing. The choices here get a bit complicated, and may depend on what else you do with the laptop.

  1. Expand the mSATA drive, where your OS lives, to also hold your games. Keep the regular HDD for mass storage (movies, music, documents, whatever doesn’t need fast access). This would increase the price of the Sager build to $1,574. Downside: The mSATA is SATA2, so the connection to this drive is only half as fast as to your SATA3 bay, where the big drive is connected. Sharing space among OS, apps, and games may also require you to do more active space management (i.e., you may not be able to keep as many games installed at once).

  2. Leave the mSATA alone and swap the HDD for an SSD. This will put your games and stuff on a SATA3 SSD, which will get your best performance, but it will cost you in total storage space. Swapping the HDD to a 500GB SDD will make the price $1,539. A 1TB SSD would raise it to $1,749–outside your stated budget.
    Downside: You lose a lot of storage space.

  3. Leave the build as-is. Your cheapest option at $1,399, keeps the storage, and you can probably put at least some of your games on the OS-drive. Downside: Less performance boost than having a separate SSD, and you may have to uninstall stuff more often to make room. (A lot of games are space-hungry, but Minecraft and Metal Gear should fit easily.)

I basically went with option 2 when I upgraded recently, and I’m pretty happy with it. I have a 500GB SSD, and I mostly keep movies, music, and so forth on an external drive.

Random tip: Learn the hotkey to disable the touchpad. It’s big and placed where you’ll accidentally brush it a lot, which can be frustrating whether you’re gaming or typing. Turning it off when you don’t want it will save you a lot of annoyance. (On mine, Fn+F1 toggles it.)

ETA: On the Sager builds I priced, I bumped the RAM up to 16G, partly to match the VenomX and partly because I really like lots of RAM.

What’s a 970M going to do with 6GB of VRAM?

Is it common for someone to benefit from having more than 8GB of RAM?
The second option seems better because of the 3GB of VRAM and the SSD primary drive.

Getting the IC thermal compound might be worth it because the CPU and GPU may get throttled down by the heat.

A hybrid drive instead of the HDD will likely be worth it. Explanation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qEIp1jgKnv8

Like I said, I don’t think it makes much difference.

Probably not. I tend to abuse my machines on that front, so I sometimes get some use out of it, but if you’re just gaming, it’s rare that you’ll actually use more than ~5GB at any given time. I see that I misread the selected VenomX build–it has 8GB, so knocking the Sager back down to 8GB would make for a better comparison. It saves $40 on the build price.

I’ve read bad things about this particular compound causing pitting, but I don’t know if they’re true or not. The weird, ranty response I saw from the company owner didn’t instill a lot of confidence. It does seem to help with cooling, though.

Hybrids definitely offer a good performance boost for the price, but they don’t match the performance of an SSD. If you’re only going to have a single drive, I’d definitely go with a hybrid, for the OS performance improvement if nothing else, but these builds already have an mSATA SSD for that. It looks like the available hybrid option would pretty much split the difference–half the storage decrease, half the performance increase of switching to SSD. (It would be slightly cheaper than the selected 2TB standard HDD, though, so it’s a budget-friendly option.)

What about the ASUS GL551?
-15.6", 1900x1080 res.

  • i7-4720HQ 2.6 GHz Processor
    -16 GB DDR3
    -NVIDIA GTX960M 2G GDDR5
    -1TB HDD+128GB SSD Storage

I’d also recommend considering thunderbolt 3 support. Laptops are expensive, and non-upgrdeable, and new GPU enclosures like Razer’s Core http://www.razerzone.com/gaming-systems/razer-blade-stealth#ultrabook-desktop will be hitting the market soon. So you can have a desktop like gaming experience when at home, and keep the portability of a laptop when away.

I have a 128gb ssd for my OS, Microsoft Office and a couple steam games. My Skyrim install is 50gb, all by itself, because I’m a lunatic. Having Skyrim and my online game du jour, Path of Exile, on the SSD has made a notable difference in game stability and smoothness. All my other games are installed on an aging 1TB hard drive that I really should replace soon. The difference is palpable.

If it was me, I’d rather have 8gb RAM now and a 500gb SSD. In fact, if I was looking to squeeze my pennies somewhere, I’d rather have 8gb of ram, an i5, and a 500gb SSD. I’d use the SSD for all my games and move file storage to a home server and the cloud.

Ditching a platter hard drive and sticking with an SSD is just so much nicer on a laptop, The games will still run fine, given the way games are stuck in this console-mandated plateau. You can always update to 16gb ram on your next paycheck, if you’re trying to save a little cash.

Drachillix may be able to give a better idea, but I wouldn’t go for less than 16GB RAM which is on my laptop (now 2 years old). A good video card is essential.

I don’t know the game you are talking of, but more power can’t hurt.

Well, my point was that, if you’re looking to save money now, it would be less hassle to upgrade the ram at a later time than it would be swap out the TB platter hard drive for a 500gb ssd drive. Obviously, ideally, you want a large SSD drive and 16gb of ram.

But I wouldn’t buy a laptop with an old-fashioned hard drive, even if it came with a little SSD for the OS. You want the games on the SSD, in addition to the OS. You also want your swap file there, plus about 10% free space for Windows creep and other detritus.

The only reason to want a 1tb HD is for file storage, and there’s better options for that, now.

Probably would go with the Sagar. Number one issue with gaming laptops is cooling ability, and Sagar tends to get high marks for laptop cooling. If you have poor cooling, your GPU will intentionally throttle down to prevent overheating, and you lose performance. Which defeats the purposes of getting solid gaming hardware in the first place.

Swapping hard drives is a straightforward upgrade, but only if you’re comfortable with hardware tinkering (swapping the components, using disk imaging software, etc…) RAM may or may not be upgradeable, depending on the laptop. In my view, 8GB RAM is plenty for a typical mid-range gaming rig like a laptop.

Following in interest…many ‘gaming’ laptops I’m seeing are still HDD only, or are using bulkier HDD cases with optional SSD. I assume just because game storage space is so high, but I think SSD performance makes SSD a given and I’d like a laptop profile designed around that.

Perfect world would be the Dell XPS 15, but with a more capable graphics card.

I’d like to thank all of you for the suggestions you’ve given me.
I’ve decided to go with the

[ul]
[li]Sager NP8657-S[/li][/ul]
[ul]
[li]Nvidia GeForce GTX 970M GPU with 3GB GDDR5 Video Memory[/li][/ul]
[ul]
[li]Intel® Core™ i7-6700HQ Processor ( 6MB Smart Cache, 2.60GHz)[/li][/ul]
[ul]
[li]Windows® 10 Home 64-Bit Edition[/li][/ul]
[ul]
[li]16GB Dual Channel DDR4 SDRAM at 2133MHz - 2 X 8GB[/li][/ul]
[ul]
[li]250GB Samsung 850 EVO M.2 SSD - as an OS Drive (Primary Drive C)[/li][/ul]
[ul]
[li]2TB 5400rpm SATA2 Hard Drive[/li][/ul]
[ul]
[li]Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8260 M.2 AC Wireless LAN + Bluetooth Module[/li][/ul]

I considered Thunderbolt 3 for a bit, but after looking it up decided I didn’t really need it. The thing that helps with graphics would not be all that portable and as far as transfer speed goes, USB3 is already a massive improvement over the USB2 I currently have.

On the subject of the SSD, I don’t really play that many that have a lot of major loading times and those that do should be able to fit on the SSD that was selected.

As a little bonus, because I’ve had to wait for my money until today (though I have a few hours until it’s in the bank), Sager has a new sale the saves me an extra $40.

Hey, can I have your old laptop? :smiley: