Best ultra book style computer that can play some games

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Best ultra book style computer that can play some games

Postposted on Thu Aug 09, 2012 8:28 am

Im coming from an Alienware m11x (1st gen) that my girlfriend stole, I get to visit it now and then, but the time has come for me to replace that baby. The upside is that shenplays SWTOR with me. I know the intel 4000 series is a big improvement when it comes to games, but I'm looking for a system with a bit more oomph. That 11" clevo 1.5 inch thick system isn't doing it for me.

Somy has a couple of interesting (but pricey!) systems.

Their S series is 13 inch, 3.5 lbs, a 1600x900 screen, and sports a 640M LE. That would be great if not for that LE...
The Z series is very sexy, 13 inch, 2.5 lbs, 1920x1080, and has a 7670 as an external addition through a media dock. That sounded promising until I found out the 7670 is a direct rebrand of the 6650, which is NOT a powerful card. On top of that the price of the Z strays into retina MacBook territory, which packs a badass 650M.

My preference would be to have a PC, well under 2k and in the 13 inch, 3lbs screen territory.

The other machines I've seen rocked GPUs like a 620m which, frankly I don't see the point of.

I know there's a trade off going to thin and light I'm not expecting a 680m in the thing, I'm just looking for the best one out there.

Any ideas?
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Re: Best ultra book style computer that can play some games

Postposted on Thu Aug 09, 2012 8:46 am

I would recommend the UX32VD, but it falls into the 620M category. It "can play some games" but it's hardly potent.

Have you thought about a 14" machine? I bet you could get some real mileage out of that relatively small increase in size. Vizio, Dell, Acer and HP would be good places to look for 14" ultrabooks to name a few, and you could also check out thin+lights that aren't ultrabook certified from Asus, Acer, and HP.
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Re: Best ultra book style computer that can play some games

Postposted on Thu Aug 09, 2012 8:54 am

Dell's new XPS 14" is to big for you?

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Re: Best ultra book style computer that can play some games

Postposted on Thu Aug 09, 2012 9:02 am

leor wrote:That 11" clevo 1.5 inch thick system isn't doing it for me.


I love mine. The battery life kinda sucks but the screen/keyboard aren't that bad (make no mistake I would replace them with something better if I could). Curious as to what you don't like about it? The 13" equivalent to it seems to be something a lot of people are looking for but I'm sorry to say no one has made it yet. BTW, unless you get to at least a 640M I don't think the boost from a discrete GPU is worth it.
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Re: Best ultra book style computer that can play some games

Postposted on Thu Aug 09, 2012 9:21 am

You should take a look and make sure the 640M LE performance is indeed below your needs. That really seems to be the top of the pile for the requirements you're asking for. Also, keep in mind, there's a reason why "gaming" laptops are NOT ultrabook thickness. With more performance comes the need for more cooling and more weight. Its very difficult to stuff sufficient cooling for a processor and a mid-high range GPU inside a <21mm chassis. I would agree that 14" laptops would open up more potential for better discrete GPUs.

Jon1984 wrote:Dell's new XPS 14" is to big for you

Well thats certainly a good solution, though I would go for the hdd+ssd model at $1,500 base config.
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Re: Best ultra book style computer that can play some games

Postposted on Thu Aug 09, 2012 9:39 am

DPete27 wrote:You should take a look and make sure the 640M LE performance is indeed below your needs. That really seems to be the top of the pile for the requirements you're asking for. Also, keep in mind, there's a reason why "gaming" laptops are NOT ultrabook thickness. With more performance comes the need for more cooling and more weight. Its very difficult to stuff sufficient cooling for a processor and a mid-high range GPU inside a <21mm chassis. I would agree that 14" laptops would open up more potential for better discrete GPUs.

Jon1984 wrote:Dell's new XPS 14" is to big for you

Well thats certainly a good solution, though I would go for the hdd+ssd model at $1,500 base config.

I'm very well aware of the tradeoff, I'm just looking for the best option out there. According to the charts you linked, the 630m on the 14 inch XPS is about the same or slightly slower than the 640m LE.


drfish wrote:
leor wrote:That 11" clevo 1.5 inch thick system isn't doing it for me.


I love mine. The battery life kinda sucks but the screen/keyboard aren't that bad (make no mistake I would replace them with something better if I could). Curious as to what you don't like about it? The 13" equivalent to it seems to be something a lot of people are looking for but I'm sorry to say no one has made it yet. BTW, unless you get to at least a 640M I don't think the boost from a discrete GPU is worth it.

Yeah that's it exactly if a system with a 640m without the "LE" was to come out I think that would be a winner. I'd take the extra heft it would take to keep it cool, can't imagine it would be much more. I was very tempted by the Clevo, but the reviews about the screen, trackpad and and build quality killed it for me.

I'm a picky bastage.
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Re: Best ultra book style computer that can play some games

Postposted on Thu Aug 09, 2012 9:42 am

Gigabyte has a new "ultrabook" coming out soon. 14" and fairly thin. Comes with an i5 and a standard non-LE Geforce 640m with GDDR3. 1600x900 resolution. In terms of ultrabooks, it is on the bigger side, but offers quite a bit more performance. I also like how it can support an mSATA SSD plus a traditional 2.5" harddrive.

http://www.gigabyte.com/products/produc ... id=4209#kf

http://www.engadget.com/2012/03/06/giga ... -hands-on/

Here is a preliminary review of an international version (the reviewer claims it is a U.S. version but that is false, just check out the keyboard with international/Asian characters on it):

http://forum.notebookreview.com/other-m ... eview.html

If the U.S. version gets a good review, I will buy one. Price starts at around $1100. My only concern is build quality. I do not completely trust Gigabyte. The prototype unit on display at a recent consumer electronics show had the crappiest keyboard flex I have ever seen. It looked like people were typing on a melted stick of butter. However, I heard that Gigabyte replaced the keyboard with something better.
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Re: Best ultra book style computer that can play some games

Postposted on Thu Aug 09, 2012 9:48 am

Checked Vizio out?

They are new, and I've heard complaints about the trackpad. However, they are thin, light, and depending on the oomph you need, might work out fairly well.

Also, check out Wal Mart if you can. They're supposedly in stock if you want to check one out in the wild.
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Re: Best ultra book style computer that can play some games

Postposted on Thu Aug 09, 2012 9:52 am

Jon1984 wrote:Dell's new XPS 14" is to big for you?


I was going to suggest this, but I have two problems:

First, the 630m is pretty weak in terms of GPU performance. It is the bottom discrete GPU you would ever want to consider in tandem with the integrated Intel HD 4000 graphics.

Second, there appears to be a significant Wifi bug affecting the XPS 14 and 15 models. Terrible speeds with Wifi. It *appears* to be a hardware problem, similar to what happened with the iPhone. Dell has not figured out a fix yet. Check out the Notebook Review forums for more information.
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Re: Best ultra book style computer that can play some games

Postposted on Thu Aug 09, 2012 10:06 am

The Gigabyte could be interesting...

This is bios mod is even more interesting but seems risky. http://forum.notebookreview.com/sony/67 ... 0m-le.html

That puts the performance in GT650m territory http://www.3dmark.com/3dm11/3603143
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Re: Best ultra book style computer that can play some games

Postposted on Thu Aug 09, 2012 10:36 am

leor wrote:The Gigabyte could be interesting...


On paper it sounds fantastic. I have to reserve judgment until the build quality is evaluated. The dual-fan design should really help prevent throttling of the GPU and CPU, which I understand is a real problem with other thin-and-light laptops that pack in serious hardware.
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Re: Best ultra book style computer that can play some games

Postposted on Thu Aug 09, 2012 11:08 am

leor wrote:Yeah that's it exactly if a system with a 640m without the "LE" was to come out I think that would be a winner. I'd take the extra heft it would take to keep it cool, can't imagine it would be much more. I was very tempted by the Clevo, but the reviews about the screen, trackpad and and build quality killed it for me.

I'm a picky bastage.


Build quality? What review knocked it for that? Its a tiny little tank IMO and I'm a huge fan of the design aesthetic (the people who complain it has "none" may be right but that's exactly what I want). Also, as far as I'm concerned trackpads are for emergency use only, especially on a gaming laptop I couldn't care less as long as it functions at all. The screen is the biggest let down - there are a couple options our there but I'm still hoping someone figures out a better/higher res drop in replacement down the road.
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Re: Best ultra book style computer that can play some games

Postposted on Thu Aug 09, 2012 11:50 am

Now that I think about it, you're right it wasn't the build quality, it was the track pad, the screen and lack of a backlit keyboard. I like to rock some late night SWTOR action in bed, and both my laptops (m11x and macbook pro) are backlit, and I can't go back now...
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Re: Best ultra book style computer that can play some games

Postposted on Thu Aug 09, 2012 12:12 pm

Budget busting sexiness...

Here's my problem with these 2 laptops, once you crack 2k, the retina mac starts looking really good...

Vaio Z - $2349.99

3rd gen Intel® Core™ i7-3612QM quad-core processor (2.10GHz / 3.10GHz with Turbo Boost) [$150.00]
Windows® 7 Professional 64-bit [$50.00]
Fresh Start
Microsoft® Office 2010 Starter
13.1" LED backlit Full HD display (1920 x 1080)
Intel® HD Graphics 4000 with Intel® Wireless Display technology
Power Media Dock™ with AMD Radeon™ HD 7670M (1GB) graphics and Blu-ray Disc™ player [$350.00]
256GB (128GB x2) solid state drive with RAID 0 [$200.00]
8GB (4GB x2 fixed onboard) DDR3-1600Mhz
Internal lithium polymer battery (4000mAh)

Absolute quad core powerhouse at 2.6 lbs

Vaio S - 2049.99

3rd gen Intel® Core™ i7-3520M processor (2.90GHz / 3.60GHz with Turbo Boost) [$250.00]
Windows® 7 Professional 64-bit [$50.00]
Fresh Start
Microsoft® Office 2010 Starter
13.3" LED backlit display (1600 x 900)
NVIDIA® GeForce® GT 640M LE (2GB) hybrid graphics with Intel® Wireless Display technology [$50.00]
256GB (128GB x2) solid state drive with RAID 0 [$480.00]
4GB (4GB fixed onboard + 1 open slot) DDR3-1333Mhz
Blu-ray Disc™ player [$100.00]
Internal lithium polymer battery (4400mAh)

Possibly hackable bios to give GT 650m levels, not as powerful as the Z but similar price 3.7 lbs

2,999.00 gets me the Retina mac with a 2.6ghz quad core, 16gb or RAM a 512mb SSD, and that sick retina display at 4.5 lbs. The only 2 downsides are the much larger footprint, and the fact I will get aggravated switching back and forth to play games in boot camp.

Oh yeah and the money, I wish talking myself into spending more didn't happen so easily...
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Re: Best ultra book style computer that can play some games

Postposted on Thu Aug 09, 2012 12:13 pm

:(

You had to remind me about the keyboard... *sigh*

I'm still hoping someone will make a replacement for that too but I've actually got a decent lighting solution for where I typically use it.

Edit: BTW, why aren't you meeting Captain Ned somewhere in NY and catching a ride to the BBQ??? :)
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Re: Best ultra book style computer that can play some games

Postposted on Thu Aug 09, 2012 12:26 pm

Well I know personally I have a friend who recently upgraded from his M11x r1 to this:

http://www.amazon.com/Acer-TimelineU-M5 ... +timelineu

Acer TimelineU
2.6 GHz Core i5-3317U
4gb ram
NVIDIA GeForce GT 640M LE
500gb harddrive
20gb ssd
8 hours of battery life.

I love the battery life of my m11x r3 so for him this was the perfect CHEAP alternative/upgrade.
Yeah the screen isn't the best and it has the 640m LE but it is only $779
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Re: Best ultra book style computer that can play some games

Postposted on Thu Aug 09, 2012 12:31 pm

drfish wrote:Edit: BTW, why aren't you meeting Captain Ned somewhere in NY and catching a ride to the BBQ??? :)

Ned's driving from NY? That's crazy. If I knew about that sooner (and he was willing) I might have been able to tag along. I was actually just telling my girlfriend we have to go to the next one since it will be number 10.

You hear that Ian? Get ready to be inconvenienced next year...
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Re: Best ultra book style computer that can play some games

Postposted on Thu Aug 09, 2012 1:04 pm

Ned's driving from New Hampshire. And yes, that's crazy.
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Re: Best ultra book style computer that can play some games

Postposted on Thu Aug 09, 2012 1:12 pm

1366x768 on a screen larger than 11 inches will always be a deal breaker for me. I love me some pixels!
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Re: Best ultra book style computer that can play some games

Postposted on Thu Aug 09, 2012 2:17 pm

I am getting a Sony S in a couple of days. I am going to try the 735MHz MOD to be a little bit conservative. I decided that the price for the SSD's is too much directly from Sony, so I am getting the cheapest hard drive and replacing it with a 512gb M4. I lose RAID, but the performance of the m4 is good enough for me already.
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Re: Best ultra book style computer that can play some games

Postposted on Thu Aug 09, 2012 3:29 pm

rxc6 wrote:I am getting a Sony S in a couple of days. I am going to try the 735MHz MOD to be a little bit conservative. I decided that the price for the SSD's is too much directly from Sony, so I am getting the cheapest hard drive and replacing it with a 512gb M4. I lose RAID, but the performance of the m4 is good enough for me already.


I will be VERY interested in how you like it and how well the mod works. Please keep me posted!
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Re: Best ultra book style computer that can play some games

Postposted on Thu Aug 09, 2012 3:33 pm

Why not try another 11inch monster like the Origin EON11-S? I like the 11inch form factor personally. It is small enough I can carry it anywhere as in my own m11x r3.

http://www.originpc.com/Laptops/Gaming/ ... SYSTEMID=5

It is only 3.9lbs has an 11.6 inch screen 1366x768 just like the m11x.
The best thing is it has the Geforce 650m which you could plug in to an external monitor and play games on a larger screen yet have all the mobility you need at the same time. Battery is rated to last 6.5-7 hours. It is probably what I personally would upgrade to from my m11x at some point. It is highly configurable and more reasonable on some of its pricing than alienware. It is just a thought unless you are destined for a larger screen on an Ultrabook.
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Re: Best ultra book style computer that can play some games

Postposted on Thu Aug 09, 2012 3:38 pm

The Monster and many others are all rebranded Clevo W110ERs.
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Re: Best ultra book style computer that can play some games

Postposted on Thu Aug 09, 2012 3:48 pm

rxc6 wrote:I am getting a Sony S in a couple of days. I am going to try the 735MHz MOD to be a little bit conservative. I decided that the price for the SSD's is too much directly from Sony, so I am getting the cheapest hard drive and replacing it with a 512gb M4. I lose RAID, but the performance of the m4 is good enough for me already.


I was in the exact same position and ordered 2 Sony S13's. One older model for my wife with the AMD 6630M (1GB) and one 2012 model with the 2GB 640M LE. From what I've read, this is the newer Kepler core, where the 1GB 640MLE is Fermi.

I plan on light gaming as well. I had almost the same criteria:
small and light (we're coming from 12.1" Acer Timelines)
NOT be 1366x768
non-glossy screen
discrete graphics (preferably not last generation)

The Sony S was one of the few that met my criteria. I wish that the graphics card was a little faster and the cost was a little lower, but I think we'll be happy. The fact that there are some SATA II/III discrepancies bothers me a little. I was following the 11.6" sager pretty closely because it was similar in size to our current machines, but the battery life wasn't thrilling me. I liked that there was a matte screen option.

The only other consideration was a Lenovo Y480 if they had good cards. For a while, I think they had the Fermi, but were moving to Kepler.

A thread that I've been following for reference is http://forum.notebookreview.com/what-notebook-should-i-buy/662161-thin-light-11-14-notebooks-gaming-worth-compendium.html.

The older S just shipped. I plan on installing SSDs and 8GB more of memory into both.

jb
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Re: Best ultra book style computer that can play some games

Postposted on Tue Sep 18, 2012 2:23 pm

Ok so after much consternation I finally settled on the Sony S13.

After receiving the machine I was immediately shocked at the poor quality of the screen. Everything else was absolutely great, good performance, GREAT gaming performance for the size very nice keyboard and touch pad, so I spent the weekend trying to use the machine and get over maybe the worst TN panel I've ever seen. It actually reminded me of the dualscan screens that used to come with 90s laptops.

Alas, in the end the screen rendered the thing unusable. I spanned some pictures next to my 3 year old macbook pro for comparison. I kept the light low and didn't use a flash.

Ideal viewing angle - bear in mind this angle represents about 5 degrees of viewing. any slightest shift in my position cause me to have to adjust the screen to be able to see anything.

Image

From above

Image

Higher angle

Image

Low angle

Image

From the left

Image

From the right

Image

It really is a shame because if they'd bothered to use a decent screen in a machine that set me back $1,600, I'd be a happy guy...

Thanks for drfish for providing much needed support and commiseration through this process!
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Re: Best ultra book style computer that can play some games

Postposted on Tue Sep 18, 2012 3:26 pm

I couldn't avoid the specs on the Gigabyte U2442 (I got the ULV U2442V version) and it's impressive. A 640M in a < 4lbs ultrabook. The 14" is just right for travelling and its really impressive with the SSD. $1200.

It was in stock last week, but it must have run out quickly - most of the US distributors have it backordered again.

Minor quirks: I will say, the sound isn't that impressive. The screen is 1600x900 but its a cheap TN panel which isn't all that impressive. The touchpad is textured, which takes some getting used to. Also there is no dedicated Pageup/down buttons, they are FN mapped to the Up/Down buttons.

No thunderbolt nor the 650M - we're assuming that Gigabyte intends to release an updated model later this year with these features.
I would say the only thing that would be upgrade right now is the Asus Zenbook U500 - 15" with the 650M, full 1080 IPS screen and about 4.5 lbs. Looks to be a powerhouse if you're still waiting, but no idea about release date or price yet.
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Re: Best ultra book style computer that can play some games

Postposted on Tue Sep 18, 2012 4:12 pm

Leor, viewing angles like that represent everything that is wrong with the laptop market.

I don't understand how more people don't complain, because unless you're viewing super-bright, primary colours, they basically unusable.

My Dell Studio17 had one of the better TN screens on the market, and even then, coming from a 15", IPS, 1920x1200 panel, it was like having cataracts and staring at the sun.

What I don't understand is how they get away with using TN panels that are SO BAD. TN itself has weak viewing angles, but I honestly never see such godawful panels in desktops. Laptops have brought about an all-new low, where you can get (brace yourself):

  • Low brightness
  • Bright black levels
  • Screen-door effect
  • High-gloss coating
  • poor colour gamut
  • horrific colour accuracy (deltaE of 15+)
  • Input lag
  • Ghosting and smearing
  • Uneven brightness
  • backlight bleeding
...all rolled into one.

Truly, utterly, /facepalm.
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Re: Best ultra book style computer that can play some games

Postposted on Tue Sep 18, 2012 8:15 pm

My Zenbook UX32VD has a gorgeous IPS screen, but with only a GeForce GT620 I have to turn down a lot of graphics options to play games at 1920x1080.
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Re: Best ultra book style computer that can play some games

Postposted on Tue Feb 05, 2013 10:37 pm

I installed the brand-new 3DMark demo this evening:
http://store.steampowered.com/app/223850/

Here's the result for the Zenbook UX32VD-DB71:
http://www.3dmark.com/3dm/79978
Ice Storm: 36974 (194.7, 168.1 and 84.9 fps)
Cloud Gate: 3995 (20.3, 21.2 and 8.08 fps)
Fire Strike: 633 (2.78, 11.9 and 1.13 fps) :lol:
Last edited by JustAnEngineer on Fri Feb 08, 2013 10:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Best ultra book style computer that can play some games

Postposted on Tue Feb 05, 2013 11:20 pm

Nearly one and one-sixth fps? Smokin' fast!

But can it play... 3DMark?
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