Ultrabooks that dont suck?

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Ultrabooks that dont suck?

Postby Advocate » 07 Dec 2012, 20:38

Who says I don't post here any more?



As my XPS 1340 seems to be failing a bit more every day I have started considering what to do for my computing needs again... I have a very powerful desktop for gaming however that has been banished by the Mrs to the "office" (it is a shed at the bottom of the garden) and as a result I dont really use it as much as I would like. Perhaps I should sell it but I feel sure I would miss it and no one would want to pay me for my build job so I would just be left with selling components. At a loss. Besides my steam account is vast (maybe I should sell that too.... :lol: )

Work computers suck the big one and cant really handle my spreadsheets let alone my databases so I am considering using a personal machine to cover that failing as well, if IT allow it...

All the above leaves me wondering on a new laptop. What I want is:
- i7
- dedicated graphics (not hardcore gaming level but good enough for arkham city or civ)
- ips display, at least 1080p
- 8+ gig of ram
- 256 + ssd (would happily take a dual solution of a hdd and ssd to maximise space and speed)
- battery life of 6 + hours on tasks like word processing, browsing, spreadsheets etc (would be awesome if it could do video playback for that time as well though)
- less than £1600... in fact if it could come in under £1k that would be perfect as I will have to make sacrifices with the Mrs to get this

So far I am coming up with the Asus u500vz but I would love to hear some of your guys opinions on this as I haven't spent as much time tech lusting as I would like lately so I may well be missing a trick here.
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Re: Ultrabooks that dont suck?

Postby Johnmcl7 » 08 Dec 2012, 02:00

As you're no doubt aware, it's a difficult combination of specification you're looking for. To begin with, few Ultrabooks offer discrete graphics and strangely there's quite a few that don't offer i7 and 8GB ram but yet offer an i5 and 8GB ram. Because the ram is usually soldered onto the motherboard with no free sockets you can't upgrade yourself either. It's worth checking to see if the Intel HD 4000 offers the gaming performance you want as they're not nearly as bad as they used to be and it's also checking on the actual difference between the ULV i5 and i7's. I wanted the i7 for the Vaio but when I checked the figures there's actually very little in it, Intel's abysmal naming scheme makes the difference looks larger than it is. Both processors are dual core with hyperthreading, both support turboboost and they support all the same features (virtualisation, quicksync etc.) - the i7 does have a slightly higher base clock speed, higher turbo mode and more cache. The i3 though is quite different though as it doesn't support hyperthreading or turboboost. I mention this if you're trying to trim the budget at all, I ended up going with an i5 and 128GB SSD as upgrading to an i7 and 256GB was going to cost around 40% more on top of the already fairly high price and particularly with the i7 I didn't think it was worth the £200 upgrade cost.

The u500vz isn't really what I'd call an Ultrabook as it's a 15in machine, once you go out of Ultrabook territory your options are much better. I don't know much you've seen that Asus for but with the quad core processor it should be nippy although batterylife might suffer.

The only machine I can think of which comes close to your requirements is the Asus X32VD, this is part of the Zenbook Prime Ultrabook family (the X21A and X31A are the other two which are 11in and 13in respectively) which is a 13in model but slightly beefed up over the 13in model to add a discrete graphics card. It has an msata SSD cache and a 1080p IPS display although I'm not sure if it's now available with more than 4GB ram and then i7.

I'm not sure where the best place to look for laptops is as I could easily find models I was interested in on sale in Germany but few in the UK.

John
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Re: Ultrabooks that dont suck?

Postby Advocate » 08 Dec 2012, 13:15

Thanks John, I'll have to have more detailed look for that asus as couldn't find much info on it in english.

I know I'm asking for a lot really but I hate having to compromise so much with laptops. To be honest the size doesn't bother me that much, it's all about the screen real estate for me. I would happily take a 17" machine if it was of the above spec and light enough to carry in a backpack between meetings and to work on a motorbike...

I have had a quick look at the apple site as they have some amazing screens on the retina display macbooks - the 15" retina display is looking quite affordable, especially as they are doing 10 months interest free finance... similar spec to the asus I mentioned in the OP but with better battery life... boot camp would allow for games that don't run in OSX and for me to use my current software...

So I guess my challenge is a bit different to what I said, but not much.

pros/cons with native windows vs bootcamp and the machines in general?
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Re: Ultrabooks that dont suck?

Postby Johnmcl7 » 08 Dec 2012, 18:49

If you remove the Ultrabook/13in limitation then I think what you're wanting is a lot more doable as you've got a lot more options including quad core processors.

The Sony S series is meant to be in the same class as the Asus you mentioned although the I don't think the Sony is as thin or light and I think it's too expensive particularly the SSD upgrades which seem completely out of date.

I think mostly there aren't any issues with running Bootcamp as you are running Windows natively on the hardware which is mostly the same as a Windows machine. I don't know how well Windows will deal with the ultra high resolution panel as there's nothing with such a dense resolution elsewhere, Apple offer various options to deal with the resolution and software is now supporting the resolution. I would think at worst though if you were having scaling issues you could always run it at quarter resolution (1440x900) which would still be pixel sharp as a single pixel output matches four pixels exactly on the display.

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Re: Ultrabooks that dont suck?

Postby Advocate » 10 Dec 2012, 00:12

Having spent aaaages looking at the options I am strangely thinking the mac is the way to go :/

Will hold off till after chrimble to see if there are any sales on and try to ease the idea into the Mrs subconscious without being made to sleep in the shed (at least then I would be near my gaming rig though! ;) )
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Re: Ultrabooks that dont suck?

Postby matt » 10 Dec 2012, 11:44

do you work for government? might be a ~10% discount on macbook through your work email?
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Re: Ultrabooks that dont suck?

Postby Tappy » 10 Dec 2012, 12:11

Hanselman recently did a blog post on how his next laptop would be an Ultrabook: http://www.hanselman.com/blog/MyNextPCW ... abook.aspx

And although his suggestions on laptops won't help you, in the comments, there are some finds. The HP Spectre XT Touchsmart Ultrabook x15t-4000 seems good, or its little brother the 14t. Both have 256GB SSD, i7 and 8GB of RAM as options. It's only an Intel 4000 jobby with graphics, but compared to the old Intel graphics, it's no slouch, so it might be enough (approx GT 230M performance).
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Re: Ultrabooks that dont suck?

Postby Advocate » 09 Mar 2013, 21:16

Well following the Mrs' ultimatum I am selling the desktop and will be replacing the laptop with one that has gaming ability.

New requirements:

minimum 1080p screen, dedicated gpu (must be able to play games reasonably), SSD of at least 250gb, battery life of 5 hours plus, 8+ gig ram, i5 or i7 would like quad core rather than dual. The build quality should be good and it must be able to handle the heat (I was looking at the Dell XPS 15 as it meets all my requirements much cheaper than the macbook pro but apparently it throttles games within 2 mins of playing due to heat issues).

Suggestions welcome! (oh and max budget will be £2k to allow for the macbook)

Thanks!
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Re: Ultrabooks that dont suck?

Postby Advocate » 12 Mar 2013, 11:02

anyone got any views on the new Samsung Series 7 Chronos?

http://www.pcworld.co.uk/gbuk/samsung-s ... 6-pdt.html

Just over £1k with better than macbook graphics but no SSD...
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Re: Ultrabooks that dont suck?

Postby Tappy » 13 Mar 2013, 14:12

Could you just replace the HDD with an SSD? For that price you'll have plenty of money leftover, and still pay less than a MacBook. The Samsungs look good too.

Otherwise, all I could find was the new Razer Blade, which isn't available in Europe yet it seems, and costs $2500 in the US http://www.razerzone.com/gb-en/gaming-s ... azer-blade it does have "teh sexxorz" though.

Or you can make your own from somewhere like PCSpecialist, which will cost less, come with more, but be ugly.

I'm liking that Samsung. It does come with 8GB of ExpressCache, which apparently makes it as fast as a SSD... apparently. And assuming it's SATA2 only, an SSD upgrade might not be that big a jump.
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Re: Ultrabooks that dont suck?

Postby Tappy » 13 Mar 2013, 14:25

Oh, just saw that you bought the Samsung in the other thread! Or the 17" one at least. Well, good job I didn't say I hated it (not that it would make any difference, but it would just be embarrassing for me!)
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Re: Ultrabooks that dont suck?

Postby Advocate » 13 Mar 2013, 15:25

I just got the slightly underpowered version for £900 http://www.pcworld.co.uk/gbuk/samsung-s ... 8-pdt.html

Am awaiting an email confirming delivery, kinda hoping it will be before the weekend but I doubt it...

I did some digging around and found some people in America who have got a version of this laptop and have successfully changed out the HDD for a SSD so it is possible. I'm going to see what the performance is like with the 5400rpm drive they have in it as default first though as I may still want to return this one.

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