Have you come to a decision? I know I'm a bit late to the thread, but I've got a couple comments.
1) You'll have time to futz around with it when you get to school. Considering how amazing some back to school deals are, I'd say it behooves you to wait on it. You'll get more computer for your money.
2) You can get nice graphics in a cheaper laptop. Mine was $825 after all the options I chose, and it has decent gaming silicon (Radeon HD 4570) with a nice screen and HDD...
As far as naming:
CPUs: Core i3/i5/i7 are not
drastically different silicon. For what each one actually is, check these lists: i3
. To get an idea of relative performance, check out a benchmark list like this one
GPUs: Again with the Wikipedia lists: One for Geforces
, one for Radeons
. Note that in the mobile world rebranding is done egregiously by both sides. My HD 4570 is a rebranded chip and is the exact same as the successor HD 5470 except for a die shrunk, for example. For relative performance,my google-fu is failing to find a comparo chart though I recall one existing
, This is about the best you'll find
. Perhaps just google "GTX 260M vs Mobility Radeon HD 4870" or something of the sort with any two you have in mind, and dig up one of the millions of forum posts that answer for any competing pair of cards.
If you do want Optimus, (send in the trolls
), you're stuck with nVidia. Take a look at the idle power of a non-optimus solution with either ATi or nVidia and see if it's satisfactory (my laptop is good for almost six hours if the proc is underclocked, and it has discrete graphics).
Best of luck! Sorry for the whole not noticing the post for a whole week bit there...