Any recommendations for a lightweight Laptop?

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Project5
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Any recommendations for a lightweight Laptop?

Post by Project5 »

I was looking to lightweight laptop as I walk to work every day as the Thinkpad I have now is getting old (as well as weighing 6 pounds). I'm after something first that is a bit lighter, and second has a video card that can handle all of Ogre's features, but not necessarily at high frame rates... I do more programming than testing on it.

So far I've noticed that any laptop with a dedicated graphics chip (ati or nvidia) weighed about 1.5 -> 2 pounds more than those with integrated chips. If weight weren't a factor, I'd probably look seriously at this chassis (not necessarily from this company, they were just the first I found) because I'm a sucker for nvidia:
http://www.gamepc.com/shop/systemfamily ... ily=noteb7
But that guy weighs 6.5 pounds.
Any higher nvidia cards are right out at near 12 pounds:
http://www.gamepc.com/shop/systemfamily ... ily=noteb5
At 12 pounds I'd kill myself walking to work. I can't seem to find any lesser lighter nvidia cards, so 6.5 seems to be what they can handle.

ATI cards seem to come in more lightweight packages, but still can't seem to break 5 pounds:
http://usa.asus.com/products/notebook/v ... erview.htm

So I started looking into embedded graphics cards, and stumbled upon Intel's Graphics Media Accelerator 900:
http://www.intel.com/products/chipsets/gma900/index.htm
It apparently supports DirectX9 and OpenGL 1.4, although I have zero knowledge if its any good. The laptops that sport it are certainly light though:
http://www1.us.dell.com/content/product ... l=en&s=bsd
http://www1.us.dell.com/content/product ... l=en&s=bsd

Does anyone know anything about the Intel integrated graphics chips, or can anyone recommend a lighter ati or nvidia laptop?

Thanks a lot for the help,

--Ben

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Post by tuan kuranes »

developping 3D search for shader model supported. dx9 and opengl1.4 means nothing otherwise.

SM0.0 means old game only (pre-2002)
SM1.0 is a bare minimum today. (most of just today games won't runs. BF2 don't)
SM2.0 is a minimum today.
SM3.0 is the next generation, that will begins to be common in a year (in gamers people, at least)

According to http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/chipse ... i915g.html that's not the case. (No vertex shader ! )

I own a geforce 5700 on a very heavy laptop... and the weight is not the bigger problem. solution to that exists. Heat and Noise are the problem here, by far.

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Post by Project5 »

The 900 supports SM2.0 and vertex shaders (albiet not in hardware), so the compliance is there if the performance isn't.

So if you would advise against Intel chips, what laptop would you recommend?

--Ben

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Post by tuan kuranes »

here's a detailed bench that gives info :

http://actus.rueducommerce.fr/index.php ... echnologie

( in french, but those numbers doesn't need translation)

See the intel CG scores at 3dmark that are 5 times smaller than Ati or nvidia and DoomIII at 3fps...
that's no modern 3D here. Vertex shaders in software is what we can call a 'marketing joke' and a bad one as it's a non sense.... vertex shader had been created to lower CPU charge.

So, the good one (quality vs price) seems to be the Asus A6BG16-RWDL, or if you can affford it the Asus V6VA20-RW Pro is the best.

And send me one too ;)

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Post by sinbad »

In my experience good graphics performance is generally diametrically opposed to having a small or light laptop. I had an Acer which tried to break that rule, by having (for that time) a pretty darn good GPU whilst still being small and light. But, I burned out 2 motherboards in a year (under warranty, luckily) because the heat distribution was shite - it just couldn't cope with repeated compiles of OGRE (heating up the CPU) and testing on the GPU. It just toasted itself. And after the first burnout I went easy on the second one. Rubbish.

I've since switched to Sony's chunkier laptops - they're certainly NOT lightweight but the graphics performance is tops, and the machine is actually properly designed to cope with the power that it has inside. Be very careful about high spec laptops on the cheap or with surprisingly small / light formfactors unless they're from a good manufacturer - otherwise they're often just playing the spec game and don't actually expect you to properly use it.

So - expect pretty mediocre graphics performance on ultraportables; expect to get chunkier for good GPUs on realistic machines. I'm extremely unimpressed by all the Intel chipsets I've used; I've always had ATI in mine.

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Post by Ralen »

If weight is an issue try using a backpack to carry your laptop in. Its a lot easier to carry around a laptop around in one of those over the normal laptop bag.

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Post by B_Lizzard »

Well, the best laptop I've seen combining power, portability, battery life and nice looks is the ASUS z71v (check Here for a review).It's quite "big", but it comes with more-than-enough power.
Another alternative is Sony's VAIO S360P (If you can find it).It's small, quite powerfull, and most of all, Sony expensive (Here for a review).
If you're rich or whatever, you might want to consider the Toshiba Tecra M4 Tablet PC, offering the Nvidia GeForce Go 6600 (64MB)!!! (Check HERE! for the staggering news!)

Well, there are many good laptops out there, but I consider the Asus to be the "cream of the crop".Not that I would know anything.Well, back to my hole. :P

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Post by Project5 »

Ralen: I do carry my laptop to work in a backpack. It's the mile+ walk that gets me. I could drive, but staying in shape is fairly important to me especially since I code all day. :-)

B_Lizzard: The z71v is the laptop I mentioned in the first post (the first gamepc link). If it weren't a pound heavier than my current laptop I'd be putting serious thought into it.

Sinbad: I've had some odd experiences with Sony's over the years. My first portable mp3 player was from them, and a year after it was introduced they disavowed all knowledge of its existence and took the drivers and interface software from its site. Most likely they've improved since then, I just get a little nervous. Their S-series laptops are close to what I'm looking for, weighing ~4.2lbs and sporting an Nvidia 6200, but the price is a little high :-)

Right now I'm leaning towards the Dell D610. It also weighs ~4.2lbs, and has an ATI x300, but is far cheaper than the Sony.

Thanks for the input guys :-)

--Ben

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Post by Kentamanos »

I've got a Sony S360. I picked it mainly because of the small size and the display (the "XBRITE" displays are really beautiful). It comes with a Mobility Radeon 9700, but I haven't tried Ogre demos etc. on it. It runs World of Warcraft on it fairly decently.

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Post by Mawen »

I'm leaning towards a Dell Inspiron 9300, with the Nvidia 6800 256MB. It's 8.1lbs, but I think that's a fair tradeoff.

There are some interesting laptop retailers in the US that don't ship to Canada, but everywhere I've looked, I can't find a good laptop that's comparable in price and performance to the Inspiron 9300. I did, however just find a laptop ram / hdd place that ships to Canada and will probably be able to get 1.25GB or 1.5GB of RAM for the price of Dell's 1GB. (I also found a 7200RPM 80GB laptop HDD which is interesting too.) At 8.1 lbs, and a battery life over 3 hours, it seems pretty attractive to me. What really gets me is the 1900x1200 display. I've become highly claustraphobic in 1280x1024 and don't think I could do without 1600x1200 or higher, which eliminates most laptops.

I just priced one out on dell.ca at $2499 (1.73Ghz) which is about $1999 USD. Their XPS Gen2 is almost the same, paying more for a 2.0Ghz processor (not sure about weight et al).

Dell doesn't always have the most solid rep but I think they are easy to pick on because they seem to have one of the biggest presences. They have been making high-end laptops for many years and they have gained my confidence, but I'm curious what others think too, as I'm about to buy one in the next month.

I know there are Toshiba-heads out there, but I guess I've always been turned off by their pricing that I see in retail stores. And those HP things that perform like what I mentioned above, while pretty sweet, seem like monstrosities to me. Last time I checked, "Desktop replacement" didn't mean that it had to be so big that it could replace your actual desktop. They make me think of skateboards pimped out with ground effects.

Being a linux (l)user, I also prefer Nvidia, because their driver support seems to have always been pretty good for me.

That z71v is interesting (great battery life it seems) and at a nice price but I think the display might be a limiting thing for my claustraphobia. [Edit: Hmm, I found one with 1600x1050... and I found a few Canadian retailers. Maybe i will change my mind.]

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Post by Project5 »

The z71v is really nice, and if I weren't walking as much as I do that'd be the one I'd get :-)

Are there any other manufacturers besides Dell and Sony that make a <5lbs laptop with a dedicated graphics card that anyone can recommend?

--Ben

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Post by Lithidd »

Yahuh! You probably won't like it though:

Apple.

PowerBook G4 has a 64mb ATI graphics chipset. I use an iBook G4, and while it isn't the best (it's only 32mb graphics on thr 12") it does what I need it to do (ie. Ogre development!), is lightweight, and the O/S (in my opinion at least) is so much better.

If you're not 'opposed to apple on semi-religious grounds', give them some consideration.

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