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Ashlyn Voir

What laptop would you recommend for Second Life?

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I currently don’t have enough room in my house to put in a desktop computer and I often enjoy the benefits to having a laptop computer as you can travel with it and it’s compact. 

At the moment I’m not financially able to get a new laptop or desktop PC for that matter, but eventually I hope to someday upgrade from the purgatory that is my current—four going on five year old—laptop. My current FPS at any given time is always 0.5-5.0 at any sim that isn’t blank. Even at low settings. So, yeah I think it’s time for an upgrade, but I just wanted to ask what laptop would you guys recommend that would be able to run SL at ultra settings and smoothly? I’m not tech savvy, so I have no idea about computers that much. 

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Have a look at a gaming laptop like the Dell Alienware 13. It has a powerful graphics card and fast processor. It is not as compact as a business laptop, and quite heavy, because all this power that you need for Ultra settings requires goo component and a lot of cooling.

One of the many reviews: http://ie.ign.com/articles/2017/06/06/alienware-13-gaming-laptop-review 

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I have a desktop computer but would like a laptop for general use that can also run SL pretty well. Has anybody experience with the Microsoft Surface Book 2 (13 or 15 inch) or the Dell XPS 15 inch? If you have can you tell what it is like to use SL on them?

Edited by Vicky Steins

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Shop by how much ram it has, 16GB min. That will filter out a whole-mess of machines that  aren't worth considering, straight line CPU speed is important so is cooling. If you have ram and solid cooling, then the GPU will be practically a given.

Alienware/Dell trade on that name quite heavily and you will be paying for the brand almost as much as the hardware. I have some Alienware machines here, they are far from perfect and certainly don't represent the best bang for your buck. But the support from dell is solid if you have a problem - Make sure you pay for the extra cover.

Don't be afraid to look at specs. Do look at thickness (more is better). Do look for reviews on youtube (Linus Tech Tips are good)

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Just now, Vicky Steins said:

I have a desktop computer but would like a laptop for general use that can also run SL pretty well. Has anybody experience with the Microsoft Surface Book 2 (13 or 15 inch) or the Dell XPS 15 inch? If you have can you tell what it is like to use SL on them?

Surfaces are a compromise. They do not have a lot of cooling capacity and will throttle rather heavily if you run CPU/GPU intensive applications like SL. I've run SL on several surface devices and while it will run happily, they do get very hot. If the idea of using a pen to draw on the screen appeals then get one for that reason.

We have a Alienware/Dell gaming desktop here, I would say avoid. It's "ok", but peek inside and you will feel like you got robbed. A self build would have been cheaper and faster.

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Honestly you are better off with a desktop PC, and having it connected directly to your router. I have seen more issues, with me running SL on my old laptop, and even older PC, with both trying to run it wirelessly and on the hardware that it came with. I now run a pretty beefy desktop PC, and would not go back to a laptop or a factory built PC.

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I concur 100% .. I know you said you don't have space, but.. it's worth making the space. I was on laptops for years for the same reason, in the end I sacrificed the kitchen table. Worth it.

You will be able to get a bigger screen. Buy the parts you want. Assembly is straight forward (and simpler than many lego sets), no shortage of people here who can assist if you need help. You can upgrade as you go & it will last you many years. There are MANY tutorials on YT that show how to build one step by step. It's really easy, you will never go back to buying a box. Like a wedding, it's only as expensive as you make it, set a budget before you start, plan on updating it, so don't fret too much about your first builds actual spec.

You will need.

  • Screen. Go a little mad here, this is the thing you will spend all your time looking at. (and maybe a HDMI cable, some include)
  • Keyboard. Cheap and cheerful, or fancy mechanical clicky goodness.
  • Mouse.
  • CPU, suitable motherboard and 16Gb memory. Look for bundles, plenty of places will package these up together so you have no worries about compatibility. MB will come with all the cables you need to connect drives etc.
  • SSD .. 200GB ish.
  • A Windows licence or Linux
  • Graphics card. Nvidia. the second numbers are the important ones .. so a 970 has more grunt than a 1030 ... I would suggest something ending in 50 as the minimum.
  • Power supply. These are more efficient when larger then needed. Buy a brand name. There are calculators online, or just get something 800W and don't worry about it. Modular cables are a plus.
  • Case to put it all in, pick something pretty with a window ... or a cardboard box from the supermarket if you don't have cats. (done both!!)
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58 minutes ago, CoffeeDujour said:

I concur 100% .. I know you said you don't have space, but.. it's worth making the space. I was on laptops for years for the same reason, in the end I sacrificed the kitchen table. Worth it.

You will be able to get a bigger screen. Buy the parts you want. Assembly is straight forward (and simpler than many lego sets), no shortage of people here who can assist if you need help. You can upgrade as you go & it will last you many years. There are MANY tutorials on YT that show how to build one step by step. It's really easy, you will never go back to buying a box. Like a wedding, it's only as expensive as you make it, set a budget before you start, plan on updating it, so don't fret too much about your first builds actual spec.

You will need.

  • Screen. Go a little mad here, this is the thing you will spend all your time looking at. (and maybe a HDMI cable, some include)
  • Keyboard. Cheap and cheerful, or fancy mechanical clicky goodness.
  • Mouse.
  • CPU, suitable motherboard and 16Gb memory. Look for bundles, plenty of places will package these up together so you have no worries about compatibility. MB will come with all the cables you need to connect drives etc.
  • SSD .. 200GB ish.
  • A Windows licence or Linux
  • Graphics card. Nvidia. the second numbers are the important ones .. so a 970 has more grunt than a 1030 ... I would suggest something ending in 50 as the minimum.
  • Power supply. These are more efficient when larger then needed. Buy a brand name. There are calculators online, or just get something 800W and don't worry about it. Modular cables are a plus.
  • Case to put it all in, pick something pretty with a window ... or a cardboard box from the supermarket if you don't have cats. (done both!!)

The thing is, if I were able to put together my own PC I wouldn’t be asking this question. I am not tech savvy—I mean seriously not at all—and much of that sounds extremely confusing. I’d get frustrated very quickly. 

I’d be da*ned to save up for a bunch parts only to completely ruin it or break anything.

I have absolutely no room for a desktop in the first place. I’m interested in a good laptop.

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I get that, but it's really not hard and you don't need to be tech savvy. Squarepeg square hole kinda easy.

Buy the thickest laptop you can afford. The more black, red and aggressive logos the better. Backlit RGB everything and heavy enough to club someone to death with. If they boast about battery life, move right along. Likewise if it looks like an apple product.

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Thank you for all the tips and advice. I understand that a special game laptop is best for SL, in particular if it is your main device. I have my desktop as my main device, so I just want a laptop for occasional SL, but also for normal business use.  That's why I was wondering if a Dell XPS with a good graphics card (Nvidia 1050 or 1060) is an okay choice, or the Surface Book 2. I am not very technical, but what CoffeeDujour says it that these laptops are not very well cooled so they may slow down because of that. 

Anyway, I'd love to hear from anyone with experience with any of these business laptops.

Vicky

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14 hours ago, CoffeeDujour said:

Shop by how much ram it has, 16GB min. That will filter out a whole-mess of machines that  aren't worth considering, straight line CPU speed is important so is cooling. If you have ram and solid cooling, then the GPU will be practically a given.

Alienware/Dell trade on that name quite heavily and you will be paying for the brand almost as much as the hardware. I have some Alienware machines here, they are far from perfect and certainly don't represent the best bang for your buck. But the support from dell is solid if you have a problem - Make sure you pay for the extra cover.

Don't be afraid to look at specs. Do look at thickness (more is better). Do look for reviews on youtube (Linus Tech Tips are good)

1) that is a terrible way to shop for a computer, thats how companies are getting people to buy systems with 5400rpm hard drives still, big number != better performance

2)Very good point, if you want decent gaming performance at non-inflated prices, dont bother with Alienware or MSI or whatever, Clevo and its partners are the best for this kind of thing

As for OP, depends on the budget. At the low end of the budget look for anything with a 7th gen or higher intel mobile processor, i3 7100u, i5 7200u, i7 7500u. Those systems will have intel HD 620 integrated graphics which are enough for most places in SL at 1080p around medium/high settings. I have a cheap little Acer Aspire 15 with an i5 7200u that gets me "meh" performance but far from bad performance.

Moving up the scale, anything with a decent mobile i7 specifically (SL is very single thread reliant, the better single threaded performance of an i7 over an i5/i3 will be preferable). But its not too big a performance gap between the comparative i5 or i3 to be honest. 8th gen intel mobile processors would also be a good choice but a little more expensive as the systems are more recent. Many of the higher end ones are using mobile RX Vega graphics intel of anything intel graphically, and theyre incredibly well performing chips for the price. Essentially a mobile APU but with intel CPU cores and AMD GPU cores.

For dedicated GPU options, start at the MX150, essentially a mobile GT 1030, and move up to a mobile 1050 or 1060 at the maximum. With mobile hardware the 1070/1080 mobile graphics options wont be utilized too much and would be a waste of money.

 

So on a list of least to most expensive, new, from newegg:

8th gen Acer Aspire 15 with an i5 8250u, 8gb of ddr4, 256gb SSD and HD620 graphics, for a mere 480$ its a pretty good deal

https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=1TS-000X-00SY9&cm_re=acer_aspire_15-_-1TS-000X-00SY9-_-Product

ASUS FX503, with an i5 7300HQ (quadcore mobile), 8gb of ddr4 and a GTX 1050, under 800$ for this kinda machine is probably the best option

https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16834234807

The high end option is a little different, its an Eluktronics DIY laptop, you need to provide a CPU, ram and storage as well as install an operating system. It isnt hard to do these things and might be a good option for a 1060 system with a significantly more powerful processor than any mobile chip.

https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=9SIA8S177Y7886

With this i would highly recommend buying an i7 7700 (max 65w TDP, no 7700k), 8 or 16gb of ram and definitely start with an SSD. Install whatever operating system you prefer. With an i7 7700, 8gb of ram and lets say a 256gb SSD, that takes the price to a bit over 1300$ including an operating system key.

1 hour ago, Vicky Steins said:

Anyway, I'd love to hear from anyone with experience with any of these business laptops.

Business laptops are simply designed for business, Lenovo Thinkpads, HP Elitebooks, Dell Latitudes. High quality machines meant to kinda be tossed around and abused a lot (theres a reason IBM thinkpads from pre 2005 are still kicking today unlike most consumer laptops from the time). Basically as long as the hardware is there, it'll do SL just like any consumer laptop, but the added cost comes from a large variety of things mainly related to build quality and special features and expanded internal i/o or user serviceability.

A thinkpad T470 with a 7th gen i5, 8gb of ddr4 and all that costs nearly double what my Acer Aspire did, and has pretty much the same specs. However my acer is built like a piece of tissue paper and has no expansion options, and the Thinkpad is resilient to most small arms fire and has enough internal expansion options to add more SSD's than anyone will ever use.

 

BUT TO FINISH IT ALL OFF

the best laptop for secondlife is a thinkpad G40, as long as youre OK with only using a text viewer

 

Edited by cykarushb
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Simply filtering by RAM is a great way to thin the pack into something more manageable.

I used a boutique branded Clevo as my daily driver for years, was as solid laptop. However .. don't expect long term warranty support or Clevo packaged drivers etc. Shouldn't be any problem as they don't muck about with the hardware like bigger brands do. 

The only reason to shop with someone like Dell is the extended coverage plans. It breaks, they fix it.

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2 hours ago, Vicky Steins said:

I am not very technical, but what CoffeeDujour says it that these laptops are not very well cooled so they may slow down because of that. 

Hence buying the thickest you can afford. Thickness tends to directly relate to how much cooling they have included.

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14 hours ago, Vicky Steins said:

Thank you for all the tips and advice. I understand that a special game laptop is best for SL, in particular if it is your main device. I have my desktop as my main device, so I just want a laptop for occasional SL, but also for normal business use.  That's why I was wondering if a Dell XPS with a good graphics card (Nvidia 1050 or 1060) is an okay choice, or the Surface Book 2. I am not very technical, but what CoffeeDujour says it that these laptops are not very well cooled so they may slow down because of that. 

Anyway, I'd love to hear from anyone with experience with any of these business laptops.

Vicky

Hope it works for you then.

Edited by Ashlyn Voir
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