Please help. Gaming laptop recommendations.

Discussion in 'Gaming' started by Gingerbread Demon, Mar 25, 2021.

  1. Gingerbread Demon

    Gingerbread Demon Admiral Premium Member

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    OK so I was asked to recommend a gaming laptop for someone but there's a billion different models out there even here in Australia. They want to play things like Red Dead Redemption, Shadow Of The Tomb Raider, and games of a similar nature.

    I have been given a budget of $1600 but not sure what to recommend. I'm the one stuck with buying it so if it goes pear shaped I get blamed. Not sure what to look at.
     
  2. FPAlpha

    FPAlpha Vice Admiral Premium Member

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    Does it have to be a laptop, i.e. is one of the prerequisites that they want to carry a PC around? I'm asking because for any budget a desktop/tower PC will be more powerful to run such games.
     
  3. Gingerbread Demon

    Gingerbread Demon Admiral Premium Member

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    Yes for whatever reason they want it to be portable as possible so are insisting on a laptop. I have two contenders in two different HP models with 1080 screens and amd 1650 graphics. Only one of them has a green backlit keyboard which looks kind terrible.

    Desktops will always win but even I am scaling back and now run an Intel Nuc with Iris 655 graphics and 32gig ram.. I am most surprised it runs games. I was able to play saints row 3 and 4 on this tiny little thing, and it only draws under 90 watts at load.
     
  4. SPCTRE

    SPCTRE Badass Admiral

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    I will never understand people who insist on playing PC games on a portable device
     
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  5. Gingerbread Demon

    Gingerbread Demon Admiral Premium Member

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    I get that. Bug gaming laptops are a thing. They just squished a semi desktop into a laptop chassis. The trade is heat and terrible battery life.

    I still have my desktop but it's sitting in a corner and I only now game once a month on it but I have fallen in love with my NUC, I put one together for a friend, liked it so much I ended up getting the same brand and model for myself and there's nothing I can't do on this that I could do on my big desktop machine apart from AAA games, and the desire to game isn't there as much anymore anyway. Somewhere along the way I just seemed to stop.
     
  6. FPAlpha

    FPAlpha Vice Admiral Premium Member

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    https://www.tomshardware.com/

    This is a very good tech site for everything PC related including reviews, which i have used in recent years to check up on the state of PC hardware, maybe you can find a recent gaming laptop recommendation or review on there.
     
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  7. Gingerbread Demon

    Gingerbread Demon Admiral Premium Member

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    I'll check that out but currently I am leaning towards the HP I looked at the other day as it's in budget and they will be reasonably happy with it.
     
  8. BK613

    BK613 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    AnandTech,com is another good site for reviews and guides. Here is a link to their holiday laptop guide which, though a few months old, might help:
    https://www.anandtech.com/show/9798/best-laptops
    I tend to look toward "last year's best" when buying PCs and PC components because that is the sweet spot for me between cost and longevity.
     
  9. Gingerbread Demon

    Gingerbread Demon Admiral Premium Member

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    I look at what I can afford, and what hardware will do what I need. For my desktop needs so far my FX 6300 and RX 580 are more then adequate. For every day use I adopted the same model NUC that I had set up for someone so I feel quite happy now, plus it's a huge saving on power costs.
     
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  10. Deks

    Deks Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I have an Acer Predator Helios 500 PH517-61 (Ryzen 2700 65W, and Vega 56 limited to 120W).
    Its a desktop replacement with desktop grade hw. GPU is only 5% less powerful than the TDP unlocked version, and it still handles everything I throw at it (plus its cooler and quieter than most laptops and desktops on the market).

    But then again I don't use it just for gaming. I mainly use it for content creation and some gaming on the go.

    It has a 17" screen, but to me, that's actually enough.
    I kinda grew up with 17" monitors in the first place... and I tried playing on bigger ones, but its a hassle to mess about with HDMI and looking at the TV with some signaling delays (which is really uncomfortable).
    I actually PREFER playing on my laptop screen. Much less hassle.

    Sure I could connect it to a monitor, but then I couldn't use it in my usual position, and the space I have is limited... so I couldn't have a laptop with an open screen and a monitor right behind it because the laptop display would obscure the monitors.
    And a monitor just takes up extra space.

    Plus, if I need to go somewhere, its pretty easy for me to pick up my laptop, put it in a backpack and go to work elsewhere - you can't do that with a PC.
     
  11. Amos

    Amos Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    I have a Dell G5 SE and have been happy with it. It has an AMD Ryzen 7 and a Radeon RX5600 GPU. Mine originally came with 16GB of memory but I upgraded to 32. The display is a 144Hz panel. I’ve owned it for almost a year and it has been problem free. It’s received mostly positive reviews, though it does run a bit hotter than other gaming laptops under load.

    I paid a little over $1000 USD when I bought mine and I believe they’ve dropped some in price since it’s launch last year.
     
  12. Deks

    Deks Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Dell G5 SE runs hotter because Dell didn't put much effort into the cooling design for the unit (this is unfortunately a pattern with DELL when they're using all AMD hw, albeit, this isn't an isolated incident because DELL's cooling is among the worst in the industry).

    They did release a BIOS update which drops some frequencies on the GPU and prevents TDP overshoot from the CPU.
    The solution is less than ideal (because you lose some GPU performance), but otherwise, its the only thing Dell could do to compensate for lousy cooling.

    I'd suggest you try using Thermal TFX on the CPU and GPU dies (as an X application) and see if that helps temperatures further (obviously, don't expect miracels).

    Its the best non conductive thermal compound on the market atm, and I've used it recently on a flatmate's old laptop and a friend's desktop (both of which had issues with temperatures).
    It works pretty great, and its the next best thing (short of using liquid metal).
     
  13. Gingerbread Demon

    Gingerbread Demon Admiral Premium Member

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    What about drilling out the back casing for more air?
     
  14. Deks

    Deks Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    On the Dell G5 SE 15?
    Honestly, not sure.
    Since the cooling design is not exactly what I would call 'adequate', I don't think drilling holes into the back casing would necessarily improve temperatures because the problem (before the BIOS update) was down to poor power management by DELL and poor cooling assembly implementation (or not taking into account the fact that 7nm has a higher transistor density, which by default will generate higher temperatures).

    At any rate, with the BIOS update, the problem has been 'fixed' for the most part so the temperatures are staying in an expected range.

    If you were asking in general about drilling holes in the back casing of a laptop... for some laptops, that might work, for others, it could be a double edged sword (because while it may improve overall temperatures on the CPU and GPU, the temperatures on some other components in the laptop [such as the VRM's] could be affected for the worse which could result in problems down the line).

    With the bios update, the DELL G5 SE 15 is not a bad machine. A bit slower compared to where it should be if Dell bothered to adapt the cooling to the hw, but otherwise an affordable gaming laptop which can be used for productivity.
     
  15. Gingerbread Demon

    Gingerbread Demon Admiral Premium Member

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    I tried one of those laptop coolers that you sit the laptop on when I used to own a Compaq CQ61 and honestly it didn't really help that much. I have an Acer that I bought in 2018 and that doesn't seem to run too bad but it's not a very fast laptop either, 35 seconds to boot and that is with an SSD.
     
  16. Deks

    Deks Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Laptop coolers aren't that much of a help.
    Just make sure you've placed the laptop on a flat surface (so it has enough space for air intake).
    Also, your best bet is to re-apply the thermal paste on the CPU and GPU using say Thermaltake TFX (with a line method if the die is elongated, and an X method for a more even rectangular die and make sure you cleaned out all the dust from the system (including the area between the air vents and fans).

    Boot times of 35 seconds aren't bad at all.
    Different systems will boot differently after all, and 35 seconds still beats a HDD.
    But you might consider doing a clean install. :-)
     
  17. Gingerbread Demon

    Gingerbread Demon Admiral Premium Member

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    That was after a clean install it took slightly longer before. Once it's running it's not too bad but it's just the boot time that annoys me. I bought my friend their gaming laptop they wanted the HP I showed them so that is what I collected and they seem happy.
     
  18. Deks

    Deks Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Cool.
    A clean install and 35 seconds boot time is still not bad.
    The boot time will also depend on the speed of the SSD and the interface it connects to. M.2 SSD for example can be 500Mb transfer speed (or lower - depending on how fast it is) much like the SATA SSD... however, you can upgrade the M.2 SSD to one that's rated for say 3500MB/s - that would be about 7x faster and technically drop the boot time from 35 seconds, to 5 seconds.

    But it might be worth checking out if another startup service is hogging the startup time.
    If you have a third party antivirus for example... I wouldn't use it. I'd just stick to Windows Defender (its more than enough).

    Also, it might be worthwhile to check if your laptop manufacturer has a new BIOS update for your laptop (this could easily improve boot speeds if they worked on the machine to further optimize it).
    Just remember that upgrading the BIOS on a laptop can carry higher risks than on a desktop.
    There ARE ways to restore it (by say getting a BIOS chip reader with which you can extract your own BIOS and keep it as a copy in case something goes wrong... at which point you'd just connect from another machine directly and just re-upload the BIOS for your laptop - obviously, nothing is ever so cut and dry, so it would be worth to check out these things).
     
  19. Gingerbread Demon

    Gingerbread Demon Admiral Premium Member

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    I checked with the Acer website I have the most recent bios already. I flashed it only last year.
    The laptop has two SATA ports one for a traditional 2.5 inch drive and a hidden m.2 slot that was never mentioned in any documentation. You have to remove the whole back cover to get to that one. Anyway both slots are only listed as SATA. I thought the hidden slot would be NVME but sadly not. But that's the one I am using and leaving the other main hard drive slot for a backup drive.

    Picture of my laptop naked

    My Laptop Board.jpg
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2021
  20. Deks

    Deks Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Yup, from what I can tell, you do have an M.2 slot (which you said you are currently using).
    It may depend in that case on the speed of the M.2 ssd you are using. Do you happen to know your M2 ssd model number or transfer speed?
    And as I said, check Windows to make sure you aren't having any extra unnecessary services starting up.