Monday, August 9, 2010

Are you buying the right PC?

I would like to thank my SM teacher for giving me this opportunity to write this blog and also those of you dumb enough to read beyond this point. You guys really made my effort worth it. Also, the following sites have really been helpful.

This blog is more or less a rough guide for those of you looking to buy a laptop or PC suitable to your gaming needs, if any. I'm a fan of PC games and the biggest problem that I've encountered while buying my laptop is the variety that is available in the market. Lets face it, there are just too many options to choose from and they've certainly had me thinking way more than I normally would. There are way too many numbers and facts thrown at you when you go in the market to buy a laptop and half of these are just petty marketing schemes, determined to sell their product. The question is, what are the things that really matter and what are the things that one should ignore while buying a laptop or a PC suited to his or her needs.

Like I said, I'm a fan of PC games so this blog will mainly tell you what you should look for, if you're thinking of buying a laptop for similar needs. The following is a general list of the things that are of importance in a gaming PC and that affect its performance :-

A fast CPU, or processor is very important. Some systems include powerful quad-core processors also(only in PCs, not in laptops though).

Large amounts of memory allows the computer to quickly access frequently used information or programs which is a critical component for gaming. A good gaming PC/laptop should have at least 1 GB of RAM and sufficient hard drive space to have multiple games installed at a time.

A game is only as good as the graphics card supporting it. Many games have life–like, real–time images that require a powerful graphics card. ATI and nVidia graphics cards are the most common amongst gamers, and at least 256MB of proprietary video RAM is needed for most current games.

This is more or less, a general overview of what matters in a gaming machine. I would also like to tell you what really matters to you, as a buyer. As far as the processor is concerned, the latest versions available in the market are Celeron Dual Core i3 and Intel Core 2 Duo i5 and Xeon i7. Xeon i7 is used mainly as a server and is of not of much use. The main choice is between Dual Core i3 and Core 2 Duo i5. I talked to my uncle who is in a related field and other people with relatively more knowledge of this subject than me and most of them advised me to buy i5. Some even said that its better to buy just Core2Duo instead of dual core i3 but these are just personal opinions that may vary from 1 person to another. I'm sure you must be having views of your own which would probably differ from what I'm writing here. Apart from processors, even the graphics card or the video card plays a vital role. There are two main brands in this field, ATI and nVIDIA. In case of laptops, I've been suggested the following video cards :-
          ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5470 1 GB GDDR3
          NVIDIA GT230M 1 GB/512 MB GDDR3
Also make sure that you buy a hard disk with sufficient space. High end games do take up space around 10 GB. I would suggest a 320GB hard disk which rotates at around 5400 rpm. This is the specification that I'm  going to buy. I would also suggest, if possible, that you get your laptops from US. There is a price difference of around 15-20 thousand rupees and you get a larger variety and customization options there.I've been looking at Dell laptops mainly. They have their Alienware series of laptops which are exclusively for gaming but this series is a bit expensive. It'll cost you 40K and more even if you buy it from US and much much costlier here. You can check out the laptops of other brands and let me know if there is something I should know on this issue. Thank you for your time.

Sushant Mehta
roll no. 2010088


  1. I think a couple of things that people often ignore but are critical to consider when purchasing a laptop are:
    1. Battery Capacity
    2. Weight
    Remember you are buying a laptop which by default means you will be carrying it places so these two things ultimately become quite crucial.
    Further, as IIITD student, you can get a genuine copy of Windows for free (under our alliance with Microsoft). So if it saves you some money, purchase a laptop without Windows and you can take the Windows OS from the institute.

  2. i didnt know that we get windows for free from our colg....thats great !!

    and even i wanted to buy a laptop...n since this topic has been posted... could anyone please suggest me a laptop to buy ?? which is good for gamin...and has a decent battery back-up as well...within 50k range..

  3. If you buy a laptop from USA and you need to get it serviced or repaired, would you need to send it to USA again or is it possible to buy from one country and get it serviced at another?

  4. I think you can have service from other country......but u can't have it under warranty card.....because in USA,warranty card is valid in US or Canada.I also bought my laptop from US I know a bit about this....

  5. Since gaming is a something which plays a very important role in my life, I'd like to point out some wrong statements in this blog.

    A fast CPU, or processor is very important. Some systems include powerful quad-core processors also(only in PCs, not in laptops though)."
    --- Laptops DO come with Quad-core processors. If you are unfamiliar with this, I'd like to update you. Basically, most companies are now offering the new Intel Core i7 Quad-core processors on laptops.

    " A good gaming PC/laptop should have at least 1 GB of RAM and sufficient hard drive space to have multiple games installed at a time."
    --- A good gaming computer should have at least 4 GB of DDR3 RAM, since the operating system provided is a 64-bit one. Recommended RAM is around 6 GB triple channel memory.

    A "Gaming" laptop/desktop should have no less than a 512 MB graphics card!!! Recommended size => 1536 MB Graphics (Why? To be able to play the game at a higher resolution without getting less frames. Also keep in mind, that the graphics card model is THE MOST IMPORTANT thing while choosing a graphics card.
    For example,
    ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4350 512 MB < ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4570 512 MB

    " I would suggest a 320GB hard disk which rotates at around 5400 rpm."
    --- In today's scenario, data size is exploding at an enormous rate. 320 GB would be insufficient plus a hard drive spinning at 5400 RPM does not provide good performance for gaming. Recommended Hard Disk -> Western Digital Caviar Black 500GB/1TB @ 7200 RPM

    If the primary use of a laptop is going to be gaming, then opting for a 9-cell battery will NOT be a good option, since you'll be using the laptop with the charger for maximum performance.

    One should opt for a good Full HD display too, since what's more appealing than the crispiest of graphics!!!

    Though these requirements might increase the cost substantially, it's a good thing to invest since you ARE going to game.

  6. thank you for enlightening me....although the specifications that I posted were the ones the ones that were fitting in my budget which is between 40 and 45k($900-$950)....the upgrades that you have mentions would push the laptop's cost above 60k($1300).

    As far as the warranty issue is concerned, you can get your warranty transferred to another country but that will cost you a little extra. Roughly it should be within $100 but I'm not too sure.

  7. Regarding the warranty issue - mostly laptops purchased in US come with 1 year US only warranty. You can extend the warranty to 3 years applicable worldwide but it costs extra few hundred dollars. In my humble opinion, since laptops may have some issues (especially Dell ones), i would recommend purchasing in India only and taking the benefit of warranty without paying anything extra. However, if you want to buy a MAC and know someone who is a student in US, he can buy you a MAC for much cheaper than in India - by getting student discount which is typically $200 in which case it is a good deal than purchasing in India.

  8. @Exotic - The more performance you demand from your laptop the more you suffer on your battery life. If you're going to use your laptop plugged in always then its better to buy much more powerful desktop.

    When you move from a 5400RPM drive to a 7200RPM drive, power requirements for the HDD increase greatly, as does the heat generated.

    When it comes to the Dual / Quad core thing, if your primary use is gaming and not something CPU intensive like rendering or photo editing, a quad is not much beneficial over a dual. There are very few games these days which are CPU bottle-necked, and even lesser of those which can effectively utilize 4 cores of a quad core CPU. You'll just be wasting battery life with the extra two cores, not to mention generating more heat.

    A Full HD display will be of no use while playing games unless you can push the games to the HD resolution (1920x1080), for which you'd need a very powerful graphics card to run the modern games at that res and decent settings. The HD display will be brilliant in watching movies though.

    Though I agree with you completely that the graphics card chip is the most important factor, not the memory. My two year old 512MB 9600GT still outperforms most of the 512MB or even 1GB cards that are coming with laptops these days. If the graphics chip is not powerful enough, throwing more video memory just won't help, because it doesn't have the power to effectively utilize the full memory.

  9. @Kshitiz:

    Thanks for your response. I'd like to clarify something here.

    The main reason for this blog-post was intended to be configuring a "Gaming" laptop. When you talk about gaming, it is taken for granted that you are willing to put in more cash.
    When it comes to the HDD, for "gaming" (i will repeat this again and again), a 5400RPM HDD is out of question.

    About the Dual core/Quad core debate, I took that up to contradict Sushant's statement that Quad core processors are not available in laptops. Please refer to the Quotes in my previous comment. I am aware that games these days are not CPU bottle-necked. If heat if such a big problem, then go get a laptop cooler. Because this post was aimed at choosing a "gaming" laptop.

    When it comes to the HD display, I am fully aware that the beefiest of configurations have problems running at 1920x1080. I recommend a Full HD display since running games at 1280x720 (this resolution is mainly available in only Full HD displays) is not a demanding task for the graphics card unlike 1366x768. Plus the Full HD displays boast wide angle viewing, something of utmost priority for me (I would not want the games to look black and white or negative for that matter if I look at them from the side). AND, watching High-Definition videos is a pleasure on a Full HD screen.

    I hope you get what I am trying to say. You mis-understood some of my statements previously.

  10. @Exotic:

    Cheers. My portion about the Dual / Quad thing wasn't aimed at you, I guess I just got carried away and added a few extra bits. :p

    I guess its just my knowledge getting a little rusty at the moment, I wasn't aware of them not supporting 1280x720, cheers for that!

    I also think I was a bit biased in writing that, because for me battery life is and has always been a sole concern when buying a laptop, I've always just kept a desktop for gaming. Never looked at laptops as solely gaming machines, I guess times are changing...

  11. Forgot to add something, wish we could edit comments, but whatever...

    About the 5400/7200 RPM thing, I know game loading times will greatly suffer with the 5400RPM drives, but then again as I said I've always been a bit biased towards more battery life if I have to sacrifice a bit of performance for it. :p For one who's buying it solely for gaming though (and has the cash for it! :p), 7200RPM is the choice to make, though he'll lose out a lot on the portability factor.

  12. @ Kshitiz:

    I didn't get what you were trying to say when you said in your comment "I wasn't aware of them not supporting 1280x720"!!!
    And yeah I agree with you that the guy buying the gaming laptop will lose out a lot on portability. But you don't move around with your laptop when you game. :P
    Anyways, everything's clear now. Let's end the discussion here....

  13. One more thing... the ATI HD 5470 runs on GDDR__5__ and not on GDDR3...

  14. @ Harshit:

    Please post the source from where you got this information.
    To counter you, there is this link i've attached. Go through it.

    Please note the ATI Mobility Radeon is available in both GDDR5/DDR3 versions.

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