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Budget FFXIV Laptop?Follow

#1 Sep 14 2010 at 9:52 AM Rating: Decent
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Dear all-knowing computer designing gods,

I am currently "playing" the beta with this laptop: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16834115806

My benchmark score is like a 750. Naturally, things are pretty laggy, however it's still "fairly" playable. The one big annoyance is that npcs and players have to "load" in, which will most certainly be a no-no once mobs start aggroing (actually I explored towards the Cactus Hills area in Ul'dah, was running around for 5 minutes wondering where all the mobs were, and just fell down dead once I approached the atherite node; right after that a bunch of dragons loaded in. :P

Anyway, this is obviously not going to work long-term. I just talked to Newegg and they are offering for me to return the laptop for a 15% restocking fee and store credit. I checked the video card benchmark list and noted that upgrading to a Mobility Radeon 5870 more than quadruples my power, and should allow me to get away with me being able to enjoy this game at low settings.

I found the following laptop on Newegg with this video card and an i5 Intel: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16834152196

Perhaps there are better combos using this card, or even a better card. I would like to keep the cost at around $1,200.

Please let me know your thoughts. I have until the end of today to decide whether or not I want to do the return.

To circumvent any talks of "just get a desktop," that is not an option for me.

Thanks for your help!
#2 Sep 14 2010 at 12:28 PM Rating: Good
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While it looks good on paper, still have to remember it's a laptop and not a desktop.

Note the 3dmark score--in the 12k's. Most likely due to the castration of both the 5870 design on the mobile version and the 2.26 GHz mobile version of the CPU. A desktop will probably hit the 15k's or higher with the same spec's.

The 4800 line of cards are powerful enough to run 14 well in a destkop with a 3GHz or higher dual core. So I would use that as your comparison for a laptop. At least a 4800 ATI or 200 series Nvidia and LOTS of CPU/RAM power. Have to remember, these cards have a lot of horsepower for just the graphics, but there's a lot of other stuff going on besides rendering. So you need more horsepower for the system or that GPU is waiting for data.

Also, try to go for high spec memory when you can--At least high speed DDR2 for system and no less then DDR3 for the graphics. Ideally you want a video card with it's own memory, and not the shared pool designs. If you have to go that route with shared system memory, then you want the fastest RAM you can get.

Personally, I never even entertained the thought of 14 on a lappy, since it's such a resource hog--probly better off doing it on a PS3. But if it's your only option....

Raist

Edit: might want to go through this thread that was kicking around about a month ago--has some laptop models and specs with scores so you can see what you are getting into:
http://ffxiv.zam.com/forum.html?game=268&mid=128124174084096776&howmany=50

Edited, Sep 14th 2010 2:42pm by BDHERTZER
#3 Sep 14 2010 at 10:16 PM Rating: Excellent
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The biggest problem with that laptop you already have is the hard drive. A 5400 RPM hard drive is just too slow for gaming. It actually has a decent video card and a decent amount of ram.

If I were you, what I would do is buy an 80GB Solid state hard drive for $200 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820167023
160Gb variant is $360

You need to stay with a laptop either way, and that would give you an enourmous speed boost for loading "in" specifically. If that doesn't fully solve the issue, keep the drive and get a better system a little down the road.

If you decide to replace the computer entirely, I would go with a Dell Precision M4500 as they are currently on sale for around $1300 with a high end Nvidia card. http://www.dell.com/us/en/business/notebooks/precision-m4500/pd.aspx?refid=precision-m4500&s=bsd&cs=04

Edit: several reasons for that reccommendation. 1, it has a docking port so if you are on the road alot, less cable wear and tear plugging things in. 2. Nice screen and nice video card, 3 great parts availability, will be able to keep it repaired for years if needed even out of warranty, and 4, very solid case and screen hinges.

Edited, Sep 14th 2010 9:19pm by Kaolian
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#4 Sep 14 2010 at 11:14 PM Rating: Decent
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7k vs 5k drives in a laptop don't impact zone loads as much as you would think. Peak burst transfers (more or less from the cache) will be about the same because they are limited only by the interface (IE SATA interface and the memory used, etc.). Sustained transfers are hard to compare too as it can vary based on the number of platers and heads involved, but typically you're talking a 10-20MB second on average file bursts, and 20-4MB/sec on larger ones. I've seen tests done where you are talking literally just a couple seconds difference in load times for games--I mean 10.4 seconds verses 11.6. Now, booting the OS, or a resource hog like an MS Office program, or the initial loading of FF14 will show a marked improvement because of all the tiny files (7200 will have 20% difference in seek times from file to file).

The bigger issue is what happens AFTER the data is pulled from the drive. That Dell has a Graphics bottleneck--it relies on System Memory. So it's fill rate is nerfed b/c it has to move data back and forth across the system bus, impacted by the motherboard's resources. A card with dedicated memory works indepently of that system bus--and sometimes is DDR5 and not DDR3.

It is important to thoroughly investgigate your video solution in a laptop. It is often the biggest gaming bottleneck, along with system RAM and GPU. Hard drive is rather tertiary for gaming if you have enough memory to avoid heavy swapping. So you can save money on the drive option if it's a deal breaker, and then clone it to a faster/bigger drive later when prices come down.

Raist
#5 Sep 14 2010 at 11:56 PM Rating: Excellent
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BDHERTZER wrote:
7k vs 5k drives in a laptop don't impact zone loads as much as you would think. Peak burst transfers (more or less from the cache) will be about the same because they are limited only by the interface (IE SATA interface and the memory used, etc.). Sustained transfers are hard to compare too as it can vary based on the number of platers and heads involved, but typically you're talking a 10-20MB second on average file bursts, and 20-4MB/sec on larger ones. I've seen tests done where you are talking literally just a couple seconds difference in load times for games--I mean 10.4 seconds verses 11.6. Now, booting the OS, or a resource hog like an MS Office program, or the initial loading of FF14 will show a marked improvement because of all the tiny files (7200 will have 20% difference in seek times from file to file).

The bigger issue is what happens AFTER the data is pulled from the drive. That Dell has a Graphics bottleneck--it relies on System Memory. So it's fill rate is nerfed b/c it has to move data back and forth across the system bus, impacted by the motherboard's resources. A card with dedicated memory works indepently of that system bus--and sometimes is DDR5 and not DDR3.

It is important to thoroughly investgigate your video solution in a laptop. It is often the biggest gaming bottleneck, along with system RAM and GPU. Hard drive is rather tertiary for gaming if you have enough memory to avoid heavy swapping. So you can save money on the drive option if it's a deal breaker, and then clone it to a faster/bigger drive later when prices come down.

Raist


On the contrary. If you read the specifications, The Dell Precision I linked has 1GB dedicated DDR3 on graphics card memory. Not shared System memory. Nearly impossible to get DDR5 in the price range that was specified too.
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#6 Sep 15 2010 at 7:42 AM Rating: Decent
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Quote:
The biggest problem with that laptop you already have is the hard drive. A 5400 RPM hard drive is just too slow for gaming. It actually has a decent video card and a decent amount of ram.

If I were you, what I would do is buy an 80GB Solid state hard drive for $200 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820167023
160Gb variant is $360

You need to stay with a laptop either way, and that would give you an enourmous speed boost for loading "in" specifically. If that doesn't fully solve the issue, keep the drive and get a better system a little down the road.

If you decide to replace the computer entirely, I would go with a Dell Precision M4500 as they are currently on sale for around $1300 with a high end Nvidia card. http://www.dell.com/us/en/business/notebooks/precision-m4500/pd.aspx?refid=precision-m4500&s=bsd&cs=04

Edit: several reasons for that reccommendation. 1, it has a docking port so if you are on the road alot, less cable wear and tear plugging things in. 2. Nice screen and nice video card, 3 great parts availability, will be able to keep it repaired for years if needed even out of warranty, and 4, very solid case and screen hinges.


Hm, so you would definitely recommend the Dell M4500 over the MSI? I'm a noob at reading this but I don't even see the Nvidia Quadro FX 800M on the benchmark chart - whereabouts would it place?

http://www.videocardbenchmark.net/high_end_gpus.html

Anyway, I customized the Dell PC to be close to the price of the Newegg. Here's what I came up with for $1,384.

PROCESSOR Intel® Core™ i5-520M Dual Core 2.40GHz 3MB edit
OPERATING SYSTEM Genuine Windows® 7 Professional, 32-bit, no media edit
OFFICE SOFTWARE Microsoft® Office Starter 2010 edit
WARRANTY & SERVICE 3 Year Basic Limited Warranty and 3 Year Next Business Day On-Site Service edit
VIDEO CARD NVIDIA® Quadro FX 880M Graphics with 1GB dedicated memory edit
MEMORY 4.0GB, DDR3-1333MHz SDRAM, 2 DIMMS edit
LCD 15.6" HD (1366 x 768) Anti-Glare LED Display edit
SECURITY SOFTWARE Trend Micro Worry-Free Business Security Services, 30-days edit
HARD DRIVE 250GB 7200rpm Hard Drive edit
OPTICAL DRIVE 8X DVD with Cyberlink Power DVD™, no media edit
BATTERY OPTIONS 9-cell (90Wh) Lithium Ion Battery edit
WIRELESS CARD Dell Wireless™ 1501 802.11b/g/n Half Mini Card edit
MODEM No Modem edit
CAMERA/MICROPHONE Integrated webcam with microphone edit
INTERNAL KEYBOARD Internal English Keyboard edit
FINGERPRINT READER OPTION No Fingerprint Reader and No Contactless Smartcard Reader edit
PRECISION ON No Precison ON edit
My Accessories
My Services & Warranties
ALSO INCLUDED WITH YOUR SYSTEM
DELL PRECISION M4500 BASE Precision Mobile M4500
A/C ADAPTER 130W 3P, A/C Adapter
Bundle Solutions Mobile Edge Ultra V-Load Briefcase - Laptop carrying case
Systems Management No Intel vPro™ Technology’s advanced management features
Processor Branding Intel Core i5 Label
SYSTEM DOCUMENTATION No Resource DVD or Quick Reference Guide

Is this really gonna serve me better than the 17" i5 with the ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5870, which I can get for $250 cheaper?

#7 Sep 15 2010 at 11:26 AM Rating: Good
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Actually, that Dell is using the DEDICATED option for memory, and not the INTEGRATED. The 880M and 1800M can work both ways. Dedicated mode is the Optimus path which uses system memory (very common in i5 systems), Integrated is the standalone which has it's own bank of integrated memory (and the 1800M can come with integrated DDR5).
http://www.notebookcheck.net/NVIDIA-Quadro-FX-880M.24735.0.html
http://www.notebookcheck.net/NVIDIA-Quadro-FX-1800M.26544.0.html

Note the sections in each of those reviews regarding dedicated memory, particularly this on the 880m review:

Quote:
The chip supports Optimus for automatic switching between dedicated and integrated graphics card (e.g. in the new Core i5 CPUs). Still Optimus was for example not integrated in the Lenovo Thinkpad W510.


If you click the little footnote marker on the specs sheet for that laptop it even tells you that it may use system RAM for graphics memory. Even if you go to the customize page, all the options for that laptop's GPU specifically say dedicated memory options only.

Basically, if you see that the graphics are different from system memory (ie DDR5), you are looking at integrated memory. If both the System and Graphics memory are the same type, then you need to double check that it isn't going to use system memory. A 2GB budgetlaptop that reserves half it's entry level memory for the GPU is not a good idea for a gaming rig.

Raist

#8 Sep 15 2010 at 11:59 AM Rating: Good
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I find it interesting that the Nvidia mobile solutions on that chart are falling below the 1000 mark, versus how many of the ATI mobile solutions are above 1000. This may be largely in part to the memory options chosen to save money on the Nvidia systems. Many of the better ATI setups have their own graphics memory on board.

The 880m option is built off the 330M core, and the 1800M is built off the 335M cores (still more or less 200 series solutions). So I would expect them to still fall around the 1000 mark or below when sharing system meory. Hard to say for certain with that passmark sample, although I did see some 3Dmark scores putting an 880m about on par with an ATI Mobility 3850, which scored around 800 on the passmark list you had:

http://www.notebookcheck.net/Mobile-Graphics-Cards-Benchmark-List.844.0.html

Note that on that passmark you have the same ATI solutions showing both above and below the 1000 mark. This could be due to other system design options taken, most likely CPU (different families like AMD/Intel, or C2D/i5/i7) and memory options (DDR2/DDR3/DDR5, graphics integrated or system shared).

Raist
#9 Sep 15 2010 at 8:24 PM Rating: Excellent
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Maxyim wrote:
Quote:
The biggest problem with that laptop you already have is the hard drive. A 5400 RPM hard drive is just too slow for gaming. It actually has a decent video card and a decent amount of ram.

If I were you, what I would do is buy an 80GB Solid state hard drive for $200 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820167023
160Gb variant is $360

You need to stay with a laptop either way, and that would give you an enourmous speed boost for loading "in" specifically. If that doesn't fully solve the issue, keep the drive and get a better system a little down the road.

If you decide to replace the computer entirely, I would go with a Dell Precision M4500 as they are currently on sale for around $1300 with a high end Nvidia card. http://www.dell.com/us/en/business/notebooks/precision-m4500/pd.aspx?refid=precision-m4500&s=bsd&cs=04

Edit: several reasons for that reccommendation. 1, it has a docking port so if you are on the road alot, less cable wear and tear plugging things in. 2. Nice screen and nice video card, 3 great parts availability, will be able to keep it repaired for years if needed even out of warranty, and 4, very solid case and screen hinges.


Hm, so you would definitely recommend the Dell M4500 over the MSI? I'm a noob at reading this but I don't even see the Nvidia Quadro FX 800M on the benchmark chart - whereabouts would it place?

http://www.videocardbenchmark.net/high_end_gpus.html

Anyway, I customized the Dell PC to be close to the price of the Newegg. Here's what I came up with for $1,384.

PROCESSOR Intel® Core™ i5-520M Dual Core 2.40GHz 3MB edit
OPERATING SYSTEM Genuine Windows® 7 Professional, 32-bit, no media edit
OFFICE SOFTWARE Microsoft® Office Starter 2010 edit
WARRANTY & SERVICE 3 Year Basic Limited Warranty and 3 Year Next Business Day On-Site Service edit
VIDEO CARD NVIDIA® Quadro FX 880M Graphics with 1GB dedicated memory edit
MEMORY 4.0GB, DDR3-1333MHz SDRAM, 2 DIMMS edit
LCD 15.6" HD (1366 x 768) Anti-Glare LED Display edit
SECURITY SOFTWARE Trend Micro Worry-Free Business Security Services, 30-days edit
HARD DRIVE 250GB 7200rpm Hard Drive edit
OPTICAL DRIVE 8X DVD with Cyberlink Power DVD™, no media edit
BATTERY OPTIONS 9-cell (90Wh) Lithium Ion Battery edit
WIRELESS CARD Dell Wireless™ 1501 802.11b/g/n Half Mini Card edit
MODEM No Modem edit
CAMERA/MICROPHONE Integrated webcam with microphone edit
INTERNAL KEYBOARD Internal English Keyboard edit
FINGERPRINT READER OPTION No Fingerprint Reader and No Contactless Smartcard Reader edit
PRECISION ON No Precison ON edit
My Accessories
My Services & Warranties
ALSO INCLUDED WITH YOUR SYSTEM
DELL PRECISION M4500 BASE Precision Mobile M4500
A/C ADAPTER 130W 3P, A/C Adapter
Bundle Solutions Mobile Edge Ultra V-Load Briefcase - Laptop carrying case
Systems Management No Intel vPro™ Technology’s advanced management features
Processor Branding Intel Core i5 Label
SYSTEM DOCUMENTATION No Resource DVD or Quick Reference Guide

Is this really gonna serve me better than the 17" i5 with the ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5870, which I can get for $250 cheaper?



I'd say it would, then again I dislile ATI graphics cards quite a bit as well. The mobility Radeon may be slightly faster depending on the game you play. The screen is a bit smaller, but the 17" dell variant isn't in your budget.
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#10 Sep 16 2010 at 9:42 PM Rating: Decent
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Thanks for replies. I have decided to just get a netbook for work and go ahead and build a desktop.
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