Reviews that show gaming benchmarks on any laptop won't tell you anything about how SL will run on it. SL's graphics rendering and hardware compatability code are about ten years old and probably won't be updated any time soon because Linden Labs spends all their coding money on whoring up the GUI and finding new ways to sell prim hair.
SL's rendering code is old and it's crap.
SL's graphics code is infuriating. I have seen engineers look at how SL works and literally scream in frustration, blurting obscenities and such choice phrases as "what the hell is this, have we gone back in time to 2005?"
Anything developed in the last ten or fifteen years to make games run better on newer hardware (DirectX 11, SLI,Crossfire, nVidia Optimus) won't work at all.
Here's a short list of problems:
1. DirectX 11
SL doesn't even support DirectX. Most gamer-oriented GPU's focus primarily on DirectX and only have OpenGL support (which Second Life uses instead of DirectX) as a secondary feature.
SL doesn't support it at all and tends to be crashy when you have it enabled.
3. SL can't address more than 512MB of video RAM,
Getting a GPU paired with more video memory in hopes that it will make SL faster is an exercise in futility.
4. Any laptop that has a discreet GPU will have problems.
nVidia uses a technology called Optimus that switches between the slow, built in GPU and the nVidia discreet graphics depending on how you're using the laptop. When a game starts up it's supposed to signal the graphics driver that it's time to boogy so it can hand over the work to the nVidia GPU. Most game companies quickly released patches to support this shortly after the technology was introduced, but not LInden Labs, that would have taken time and money away from developing that new purcha$e delivery platform they've been working on.
> I just want something SL actually runs adequately on, which my $3,500 Macbook Pro currently fails to do.
Yes, you paid over three thousand dollars for a $400 PC laptop in a pretty aluminum case.
If you want to actually use your computer for things instead of having a pretty slab of aesthetic joy, just get a PC laptop and sell your Macbook. That is, unless you enjoy spending even more money every time you want to do something productive to fill in the gaps in Apple hardware and software support. If you want a really pretty laptop that is also very functional get one from one of these manufacturers:
Dell AlienwareIf you want a laptop that is really pretty this is the way to go. You'll pay through the nose for mediocre hardware, but at least you'll have a nice shiny logo. If you enjoy paying $900 for a $250 SDD, go with Alienware.
OriginOrigin is well known for making intense gaming laptops. They are VERY expensive but they are also very high quality and their support is superb.
MalibalMalibal uses the same hardware components as Origin but they don't charge as much. The cost difference shows in their lack of support.
Asus, while not recognized as a gaming laptop builder per se, has some challenging offerings that do not use nVidia's Optimus technology, which is clearly not compatible with SecondLife.
To make it easy for you, in terms of compatability and performance, the best laptop for your SL experience is probably going to be the Asus Asus G74SX.