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Any SL I.T. Laptop Experts? - What would you buy?


Aarla
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Im a total techical baffoon, and it's time to buy a new computer, that I need to run SL happily.  Here's the deal though - I'm away and on the road a lot so it needs to be a laptop.  I have read so much stuff on best gaming laptops but its all confliciting and my head is a mess.  I probably need a ready made one cos I know nothing about building stuff.

So any computer peeps out there that know anything about the new updates, and the effect, and heat, and graphics and memory - if so - what would you buy??? .....  oh yeah, and it's gotta be in the United Kingdom cos I can't add much extra for shipping, and if possible Id love to go see the thing first so have to find it out there too.

My usage is intensive internet work, I have mental health issues and  the computer is my brain.  I take a lot of photos and store them on my computer a long while, so memory capacity on the thing has to be good, I do video editing, and youtube work, and would like something that can handle decent graphics, so I can do machinema too - so that needs space and a good graphics card too.  I listen to music a lot on my current one that is dying - so I'd like a decent speaker volume. Not fussed about a webcam as I have a separate one.  I currently run sl on low - medium, and it gets pretty hot and jerky now, so Im guessing I need a gaming laptop? 

The current laptop is generally in use all the time - literally, and the games I play are things that are generally high end graphics games, and of course I mainly spend a massive amount of time in SL.  Not fussed about looks of laptop, as I can pretty it up with stickers and nail varnish (joke on the stickers and nail varnish, even if I am a girlie girl!) - Alienware is disappointing for the price according to soooo many reviews.    And talking of price - looking at around the £800 mark if poss - hopefully lower cos Im strapped for cash!  Lol

Oh yea - and most important - I also want it to handle any future nonsense Linden Labs vomit out as "improvements", without consideration for the technology most residents are using, for a few years at least.

Someone suggested this:  http://www.simplyacer.com/Acer_Aspire_5755G_1201803.html

but I am clueless if its any good, and shops just try the hard sell on whatever they need to shift - so I thought I'd ask you lot, as you're into SL too.

If you also have opinions on what desktop computer's too you'd recommend - chuck it here in case anyone else is thinking of upgrading. You never know what helps.

Cheers!

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I'd'd never, ever buy a laptop for SL.

 

  • There isn't enough space inside to dissipate the heat from extended use (>30minutes of use may damage components).
  • They don't have room for a decent GPU.
  • RAM can't always be replaced.
  • Heavy draws on the battery caused by SL will shorten battery life, lack of internal regulation of voltage will shorten component lifespan.
  • They rarely have good ethernet/wired LAN controllers, and Wifi is not suitable for the amount of traffic required.
  • The components are never designed for long life, or heavy use. (You will want both)
  • You can't improve the specifications if Second Life changes the minimum hardware requirements tomorrow.
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There are SO many reasons for preferring (or needing) a laptop. However, acknowledging your comments, I'd say it's good to be aware of the drawbacks. As a laptop user, exclusively, I'll respond to your comments, individually .. 

Conditionally, I'll say: First of all, be sure the laptop expressly states that it's designed for gaming. If you can afford it, get one with nVidia graphics and get at much ram as you can afford.

 

  • There isn't enough space inside to dissipate the heat from extended use (>30minutes of use may damage components).
  • True and easily overcome by using cooling trays and a small external fan
  • They don't have room for a decent GPU.
  • "Decent" is a matter of opinion. Just be sure the graphics card allows for individual 3D graphics settings (most current cards/drivers like ATI or nVidia do)
  • RAM can't always be replaced.
  • True .. get as much as you can afford, now
  • Heavy draws on the battery caused by SL will shorten battery life, lack of internal regulation of voltage will shorten component lifespan.
  • The price we pay for heavy graphics use. Desktops don't have a battery. Sort of a moot point, really.
  • They rarely have good ethernet/wired LAN controllers, and Wifi is not suitable for the amount of traffic require
  • Huh? Practically the whole point of a laptop is to work wireless. Here again, though, you CAN hardwire/cable to your internet source. A more suitable issue here is: SL will require very high ping rates, so if you're going wireless, you need a very good, reliable signal. If you travel a lot and use unknown wireless sources, pintest.net is your friend.
  • The components are never designed for long life, or heavy use. (You will want both)
  • OK. Really? I have mine turned on 24/7. And all of mine last anywhere from 3 to 5 years, nearly as long as technology practically demands an upgrade. I'd call this a wash.
  • You can't improve the specifications if Second Life changes the minimum hardware requirements tomorrow.
  • Hard to argue this one ... keep a good tech in your pocket.
  • A comment that's not here .. many laptops come with a far more restrictive firewall, precisely because we travel and use untested wireless sources. Make sure you know how to access the firewall (even the antivirus program) to allow traffic from SL.

To close, I'd say that even two or three years ago, it was very hard to find a laptop that was well designed for use with 3D gaming environment. It's more than possible, these days. Mine is a $500US Walmart-sold Acer. While I do have some limits, they're ones I'll sacrifice to play, wirelessly, and in my travels. 

 

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Hi

Mine works abolutely great for SL, despite it has been almost damaged with soda.The only issue is that I need recharging battery in a shorter time than for other stuff ,but still not so short. It works great for machinima or youtube.As I'm not an expert in this topic, I've just asked ,at the store,a laptop that would run heavy graphics,dedicated memory(is it the word?) and all the other needings for a great performance.It's a Samsung, windows 7,I5.,Nvidida optimus...I'm totally satisfied,no need for my desktop pc.

Hope you find yours 'cause it is so practical.

Good day

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Pudenta Magic wrote:

 
  • True and easily overcome by using cooling trays and a small external fan

A good option, but reduces mobility. Fans only push air around the case (and maybe into any lower vents), this is not at all the same as having an ATX case with all-round air-flow around the components, and will never be as good. Some components will heat up regardless of a cooling tray (because the forced air is poorly distributed), making this blind risk (it will feel like you're protected, but you're not).

 
  • "Decent" is a matter of opinion. Just be sure the graphics card allows for individual 3D graphics settings (most current cards/drivers like ATI or nVidia do)

Sure, but why buy a new laptop to get stuck with graphics from 2010? A laptop will, at best, provide an 'average' visual experience, not an excellent one. Desktops are far cheaper on this point.

 
  • The price we pay for heavy graphics use. Desktops don't have a battery. Sort of a moot point, really.

Think you missed my point here. Lithium-Ion batteries have a limited number of charge cycles, and heavy current draws damage the charging curve. This damage is sometimes reversible, but it will always lead to a degradation of the performance of your hardware over time.

 
  • Huh? Practically the whole point of a laptop is to work wireless. Here again, though, you CAN hardwire/cable to your internet source. A more suitable issue here is: SL will require very high ping rates, so if you're going wireless, you need a very good, reliable signal. If you travel a lot and use unknown wireless sources, pintest.net is your friend.

I'll just assume you don't know much about networking. I was referring to the connectivity hardware, specifically the Network Interface Card. Laptops have lousy controllers because they're focussed on Wireless as you state, but Wireless will not provide anywhere near the performance available via wired interfaces, and SL needs everything it can get. Wireless controllers are slow and inefficient, but this doesn't matter because Wireless is always slower than the controller.

 
  • OK. Really? I have mine turned on 24/7. And all of mine last anywhere from 3 to 5 years, nearly as long as technology practically demands an upgrade. I'd call this a wash.

Technology doesn't demand upgrades, that's something sold to people who buy laptops.
;)
You can check the statistics, laptops are expendable entertainment devices, they aren't suited towards heavy use, the components damage far too quickly. I have a six year-old netbook and a laptop of unknown age (although the manufacturer folded in 2004) both working brilliantly and with modern operating systems, because I use text-only viewers on them.

 
  • A comment that's not here .. many laptops come with a far more restrictive firewall, precisely because we travel and use untested wireless sources. Make sure you know how to access the firewall (even the antivirus program) to allow traffic from SL.

Lol what. This comment wasn't here because it's a lie and, again, shows no understanding of networking.

The OP is free to take any advice they wish, however I would caution against listening to people pedalling stuff like this, and pretending they know anything computer hardware. You can buy a laptop and suffer - while spending more (and getting less) and also replacing your machine sooner - if you want.

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You are absolutely right . Even on tablets it is obvious 3D applications, eventhough using OpenGLES, a variant of OpenGL optimized for reduced power-consumption, drain the battery far quicker than just average use of internetbrowsing and e-mailing or doing social-media.

It is unrealistic to expect a laptop to achieve  the same 3D abilities as desktops without sacrificing the battery life drastically.
If laptops could do what desktops do, it's  battery drainage would be increased to the level they couldn't keep up with it and simply shut down in the least amount of time.

 

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Thanks. I know stuff.

There are of course many reasons that laptops will never be suited for Second Life, but the core reasoning is this: Second Life pushes computer hardware to its limit.

Teleporting in SL is equivilent to loading 30+ web browser instances (not tabs) at once, and all of the processing is done AFTER the information arrives, your ability to network quickly is crucial to operating SL at any reasonable speed.

Your SL-induced maximum of 512Mb texture-cache space will be swapped quickly (it can only store 200-300 1024x1024px textures at a time), and your GPU is doing most of the heavy work. A fast bus and plenty of room to vent the heat from all these quick operations is the only way to guarantee a healthy environment for electronic components.

Using a battery to power a heavy computing experience is nonsensical because of how variable the discharge rate is, as well as their poor efficiency. Lithium-Ion (fortunately) loves being operated directly via the mains, but relying on mass-produced, low-quality rectification stages and transformers (the only type installed into laptop AC cables) will take their toll on even the hardiest charging circuits. The high drain activity of being constantly at high-load is awful on a battery during the secondary charging cycle (the one a Li-Ion battery is most commonly in while plugged in/charging), and they're far, FAR more suited to small pulsed 'bursts' of activity such as when web-surfing or auto-saving documents. Even if you keep the battery in top condition, the best case scenario for long-term high load, is that your battery will just refuse to hold a charge for any length of time. I've seen laptops that peak with 8+ hours of battery life, going to 15-30 minutes with only a couple of months of poor battery discipline.

Laptops are great, they can transform how you access information and they're incredibly useful for many things. Second Life is not one of them.

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I run on an ASUS G74S.  17.3 in, 12 GB machine that cost me about $1400 1.5 years ago.  I wanted a moderately high end machine for my motorhome, and had intended to update my desktop at home.  But this box works so well, it ended up replacing my desktop.  

The size of the machine is a significant tradeoff, and would make it unsuitable for a lot of people.  It is fat,  >5 cm thick, and heavy.  The battery only lasts for about 2 hours doing light web browsing, less than an hour with SL running.  Much of the thickness is used for the beefy cooling system:  The computer does not overheat, but the box is a fairly effective space heater.  

It runs SL very well.  Using LL viewer 3.5.3, I get 25+ fps in ultra graphics mode when in well populated sims. It is significantly slower when I use Firestorm 4.4.0, with ultra graphics I only get around 10 fps the same sims.  (I usually turn off shadows and lighting anyway. Too many garish facelights out there, and turning it off gives a big boost to fps).

If this box was struck by lightning today, I would likely buy another ASUS tomorrow.

----------------------------------------

help>about SL details:

---------------------------------------

Second Life 3.5.3 (276452) May 24 2013 02:06:23 (Second Life Release)
Release Notes

CPU: Intel® Core i7-2670QM CPU @ 2.20GHz (2195.07 MHz)
Memory: 16362 MB
OS Version: Microsoft Windows 7 64-bit Service Pack 1 (Build 7601)
Graphics Card Vendor: NVIDIA Corporation
Graphics Card: GeForce GTX 560M/PCIe/SSE2

Windows Graphics Driver Version: 8.17.0012.9616
OpenGL Version: 4.2.0

libcurl Version: libcurl/7.21.1 OpenSSL/0.9.8q zlib/1.2.5 c-ares/1.7.1
J2C Decoder Version: KDU v7.0
Audio Driver Version: FMOD Ex 4.44.12
Qt Webkit Version: 4.7.1 (version number hard-coded)
Voice Server Version: Not Connected
Built with MSVC version 1600

 

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I run on an ASUS G74S.  17.3 in, 12 GB machine that cost me about $1400 1.5 years ago.  I wanted a moderately high end machine for my motorhome, and had intended to update my desktop at home.  But this box works so well, it ended up replacing my desktop.

 

Eggzackerly!

You can't compare the beefy gaming lappies with run-of-the-mill entertainment/multimedia craptops. The Asus G series is a good example of how these things are built. They are realIy just minimized desktops, very sturdy, well ventilized and quite powerful. I'm often astonished by the wonderful photos and machinima people produce with good gaming laptops. So basically all you're trading off in regards of SL is less portability and battery life.

Regarding your Asus machine: MSI GT series will blow them right out of the water. :smileyvery-happy:

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Yea but see - Im here asking as I don't know whats best anymore.

I get that laptops will not beat a desktop, and will likely implode/melt/explode/give me electric shocks/die a terribe death in the near future, - but seriously - I am out on the road a lot, so this thing has to be portable, as I want to keep my hand in and keep my sl job rolling, and can't take with me or hook up a complete desktop set up in a grubby, work supplied B&B. Shame but true.  Sorry - didn't wanna start a forum slanging match - but thats what I'm dealing with.

For the technically infantile, like myself - what I really need is a list like - 'I have a brand XYZ machine - and its fab, or not, and is expected to survive the new updates - here's what it's called.'.   Because the technical stuff is like dumping me naked in the middle of North Korea instantly, when I have no knowledge of the language or their cultural differences.  I'm up for learning etc, and I'm reading all this - but I gotta be upfront with you guys.... I am just not understanding what I'm reading. LOL.   I hope others are though - so pleeeeeaaase keep posting!  LOL

I said to post about Desktops too as if people are looking for new computers and see this thread, but I kinda thought it would happen in the same 'I have XYZ machine - and its fab,or not ,and is expected to survive the new updates - here's what it's called.' kinda way.  Lol

 

Thank for the replies though - glad and happy to read them.

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Oh yea - and it looks like I won't get anything for my budget of £500-£800  either  :(   Well that sucks.   Ok - so does anyone wanna buy a rl empty pack of crunchy cheetos - or...,.errr..... a rl mouldy banana.. ooorr....errrrr.......  or a rl old cup that contained apple juice until about 2mins ago...... or a kidney - I got one of those for sale too.  LOL


Thanks guy! :D

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Hey Aarla, don't let them naysayers derive you from your chosen course. Just listen to the good guys like Rhys and auntie Orca ... and the girl (sorry, forgot the name now) with the Samsung. I have no clue what your sterling is valued right now and you might not get a Asus G or a Samsung 7 series inside your budget but I know for sure you get a MSI GE series (MSI's second best for gaming) for 800 €. You might lose some niceties (illuminated keyboard, indestructability) but still have a reasonable gaming lappy with a non-shiny screen, lotsa raw POWER and GRUNT that is better than most other lappies. Even better than most cheapo desktops ... if treated right.

That means:

- don't actually operate it on your lap, in bed, on cushy blankets, duvets or any smooshy surface

- care for ample airflow around the box

- get one of those nifty cooling stands with built-in fans for around 20-30 €

- see that you have a wallplug nearby since SL just eats your short battery supply before breakfast

- clean it regularly! It's easy: get a can of compressed air and a set of micro screwdrivers, open up the lower case panels and just swoosh out all the dust. 3 minutes labour every 3 months and you're done

- MOST IMPORTANT: once you got your machine do not ever look at threads like this again! There will always be ppl telling you how crappy your lappy is compared to their much much (muchmuchmuchmuch) superior super machines

 

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Duely noted, I wasn't planning to start a forum slanging match either. If you're set on a laptop there's not much point me talking about desktops.

Perspective is important however, and if you're limited on funds then there's even more reason to really look at the difference between what you want, and what you need. When you're short of funds you should be looking to maximise your value for money, and relying on an expensive, temperamental toy to maintain your access to Second Life is not financially smart.

As for being non-technical, there is only one way to learn this stuff. Being cash-strapped is even more reason to learn a little bit about what you're about to spend your spare pennies on, and the only way to make sure you're not going to end up trying to rez on a lemon.

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Aarla wrote:

Oh yea - and it looks like I won't get anything for my budget of £500-£800  either

Plenty of choice at Morgan Computersfor that budget. For example, a Quad Core, 4GB RAM HP Envy 17 with a 1GB Radeon HD 5850 is currently in stock, and it's not even the most expensive laptop they sell. There are other high spec laptops from Asus, Samsung etc, but the more interesting ones are out of stock (surprise, surprise!) although since Morgan specialise in bankrupt, refurbished and discontinued different models apper and disappear frequently - and if you see something you fancy call them immediately or you might get disappointed.

Awe . . . has sourced all his and his family's kit from Morgan for a decade - and never been disappointed.

ETA: This thread has provoked me into buying the HP laptop I mentioned, for my son, who is whinging about his current laptop not being good enough for university next year - and if he doesn't get the grades necessary I will have it!

ETAA: You can also get an Envy bundle (with kewl headphones thrown in) direct from HP for £699, although the graphics card is the nVidia GT630M, which perhaps doesn't have as much poke as the ATI 5850 - unless someone knows better?

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Orca Flotta wrote:

- MOST IMPORTANT: once you got your machine do not ever look at threads like this again! There will always be ppl telling you how crappy your lappy is compared to their much much (muchmuchmuchmuch) superior super machines

 

While most of your comment isn't too relevant to me, I will say this.

I'm not saying she needs to buy a superior super machine at all, you can get a small desktop/media center type thing, or a mass-produced medium range PC that will easily out-perform most laptops in terms of value for money. Having the space for proper airflow and cooling of components, as well as a fixed AC line, will lead to a much healthier environment for Second Life. Reliability will be higher, servicing requirements will be lower, and it will last far longer without needing replacing. You won't get top FPS on either machine, but you'll save about £400 ;)

This'll be my last post here. Good luck OP.

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Freya - your input has been, and is, invaluable here.  I did say in the OP that if anyone had desktop advice then to share that too. It's just for me, I found the information a little too advanced to understand when I don't understand the basics and have about 2 weeks to get this sorted, so indepth research is a little hard to do atm.... but that don't mean someone else won't read it and go "thank F. I read that!" and stop them buying something ultimately more expensive that won't last as long or do what they want. 

In another time and circumstance, yea - Id rather have a gaming Desktop, but when you're on the road, and often in B&Bs that are more like run down youth hostels, you lose that option.   However, I accept what you are saying and its all here on my list on what to look out for.


If I caused you offence in any way - sorry.  That's not my deal.  And once again - cheers for your input.

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Cheers for that!  Im in London - I might go and see them as Im about 40 mins away on the train.  I didn't even know they existed! and they might let  me have a play on them too!  Awesome!!!  Thank you!

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Aarla wrote:

 

If I caused you offence in any way - sorry.  That's not my deal.  And once again - cheers for your input.

Not at all. =] You're quite welcome, and I'm glad you've found some of it helpful. No offence was taken, but I can see I'm not going to be an especially helpful resource for you.

Take care of yourself.

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Maryanne Solo wrote:

I finish my IT diploma next week and I wouldnt buy a laptop at all.

I hope that helps.
aconfsd.gif

I think that's probably conclusive evidence in favour of buying a laptop.

Awe . . . finished his Computer Science postgraduate work several decades ago and would definitely buy a laptop.

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 I have to disagree with some of the comments. While I admit that using a laptop is not going to give you the same

graphics quality as a desktop, it is very possible to run SL on even a moderately priced laptop. I have a HP laptop, 17.3 inch

with a i3 chip, running Intel 3000 graphics on the motherboard, and I run SL fine. Its on mid level graphics, but certainly

good enough to casual use and being on the road. I've actually used two browsers (firestorm and the Linden one) and run them both at the same time and done ok (performance does suffer most definitely.)

Ideal situation? no. I would use a desktop given the choice. But if you need a laptop, it is something that can be done and still run acceptibly.

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