What to look for in an affordable gaming laptop?
- Written by Kathrine Copeland
Gaming laptops are easily the most powerful laptops alongside those for video editing. Affordability in a gaming laptop is much sought-after quality but is fraught with a few compromises. As a benchmark, the best gaming laptops are those that can play the latest and most demanding RPG and FPS games at their highest game settings and at default resolutions, usually at full HD (1920 x 1080) resolution. When we say “it can play” that means no stuttering or temporary frame freezing caused by reduced frame rates that can cause a gamer to miss a hit or lose a point when aiming for the score to get to the next level. The best gaming laptops are often above the $2,000 price point. But with some compromises, you can have a rewarding gaming experience on laptops less that this price point. Here are some things to consider:
Just about all laptops today have dual-core CPU from either Intel or AMD but a quad core can provide future –proofing that will allow you to play the newest games well into the next 2 years as newer games are increasingly making use of multiple hyper-threading. The Intel Core i7 3960X lords it over in the performance benchmarks among quad core engines but any laptop that uses it is also at the highest price points. The lower i7 engines like the 3630QM down to the 3210M can do just as well for gaming but at lower prices. Even Intel i5 quad cores can do the job and cost significantly less. Quad core AMD engines such as the A10 series may not be as powerful as their Intel counterparts but they also provide the muscle for serious gaming. In addition, the L2 and L3 cache in these CPUs, is usually 6MB to 8MB, aid in boosting gaming performance.
Without a doubt, the graphics card determines what you can play on your laptop and is, for all intents and purposes, the main hardware component that defines if your laptop is for gaming or not. There are broadly three classes of GPUs based on performance and while we recommend Class 1 cards if you want to play the most demanding games released over the last two years at their high settings, very few of them can be had at affordable prices.. The MSI GT70 0NE-609US for instance uses an i7-3630QM GPU and is paired to one of the top ten most powerful single-card GPUs, the NVidia GeForce GTX 680M, which costs $2,800. On the other hand, the Lenovo Y500 can be considered the most affordable gaming laptop at slightly less than $1,000. It is powered by the same i7-3630QM CPU and is paired to two Class 2 GeForce GT 650M configured in SLI which puts the GPU tandem among the lower end Class 1 graphics engine.
A mid-range GPU in the Class 2 category is often found in affordable gaming laptops, starting with the NVidia GT 750M and the AMD Radeon HD 8850M. These cards provide smooth graphics for the most demanding games but only at reduced medium game settings at low to medium HD resolution. Some of the better ones, even in the Class 1 category get a boost in performance by using GDDR5 video RAM instead of the usual DDR3 VRAM.
The largest laptops can only offer 17-18 inch displays and they are the most expensive with all other things equal. Laptop displays are now mostly using LED backlit TFT screens that come in three HD resolution levels – 1366 x 768, 1600 x 900, and full HD at 1920 x 1080. Given the fact that class 2 graphics cards in the affordable range of gaming laptops can’t play many of the most sophisticated games at full HD resolution, it often doesn’t make sense to choose a laptop with full HD. A 15-inch display with 1366 x 768 resolution is often found in affordable gaming laptops, though a few great buys like the Lenovo Y500 has full HD 1920 x 1080 resolution on its 15 inch screen.
Don’t bother with IPS (In Plane Switching) LCD displays found in expensive laptops. They benefit two or more people watching movies on a laptop, thanks to its ability to maintain consistent color accuracy at a wider viewing angle. On the other hand, gamers are always smack centered on the display when playing games, so the ordinary and cheaper TFT TN (Twisted Nematic) screens are just fine.
RAM prices are relatively low these days, and most decent gaming laptops have at least 8 GB RAM. And if you are using a 64-bit OS, having a 16 GB RAM is advantageous. While system RAM matters a lot for CPU intensive apps, the video RAM mentioned above matters more in a gaming laptop.
This is a major component in the affordability of a gaming laptop. Most laptops today have 1TB SATA drives running at 5400 rpm as standard. Unless you want to store all your games in your laptop, hard drives don’t matter much to a serious gamer unlike having a solid state drive (SSD) as this improves the speed in loading game data. But these are expensive. A 512GB SSD, the highest capacity SSD to date, costs around $400. If you play games online, SSD is not necessary. But if you play games where you notice that going from one scene to the next pauses the game and you can hear the hard disk whirling to fetch texture maps or data, then an SSD is a secondary drive bay that can be advantageous.
The only way for laptops to deliver adequate sound is through a good headphone or powered external speakers. You can’t expect those tiny speakers even if advertised as coming from Bang & Olufsen or other HiFi speaker companies to deliver full-bodied sound which can only add to the price tag.
Data Connectivity Features
Wireless (WiFi, WLAN, Bluetooth v2 and 3) and wired data connectivity (USB, Ethernet, monitor ports like VGA, DVI, HDMI and Display Port) are pretty much standard in most laptops and will often vary in terms of how many ports are offered as you go up the price ladder. If you are going to connect to a large 42-inch HDTV or monitor, be sure it has an HDMI 1.3 port. The most important is WiFi and USB, allowing you to go online in WiFi Hotspots for online gaming, and transferring data wirelessly to other USB-equipped devices.
The serious gamer looking for an affordable laptop should first know what game or games he wants to play and what compromises he is willing to accept when playing them on a laptop. If he wants to play Metro: Last night at the highest possible game setting and screen resolution, only best laptop under 500 laptops with the top 10 Class 1 GPUs will do, and that means top dollars. But can he be happy paying it at low to medium game setting and resolution? If so, he can be successful in finding an affordable gaming laptop using Class 2 GPUs.
Kathrine Copeland is a real gamer. She is passionate about laptop and gaming gadget. You can read one of her cool article that is called: . She made a nice chart comparing the top gaming laptop under 500.
Ways to Recover Files From a Dying or Dead Computer
- Written by Robert R.
Are you worried about the booting issue and on top of that, your important files are trapped inside? We have made an attempt to help you out in recovering those files. However it cannot be assured, as the cause of booting could be a hard disk failure and in this case, it would be hard to get the files recovered. Probably, you can seek the help of some professional data recovery service.
Option: Use a Linux Live CD or a Windows Installation disc
Before you get started with this process, bear a fact in mind that this process will not work for a hardware failed computer. Good to go? Alright! Booting issue may occur due to a damaged Windows Installation and this doesn’t mean a dead computer, so you can make use of an installation disc to make an attempt to recover the files.
Insert the disc and it will start its work. If it boots from the disc, then it shows that your hardware is not still dead. To continue with the recovery process, you have to make use of the Linux or Windows environment. Connect any external USB device and get your files copied.
Do not worry about issues while copying the files, as you will have a Linux desktop to carry out the process. This method is awfully helpful, the moment you realize that your hard disk is on the verge of failure. Computer may not boot, but you will be able to pull all important files of your dying hard disk.
Option: Pull the hard drive out and transfer it to another computer
There are chances that the Linux disc doesn’t boot. Don’t be disappointed, there is yet another way that you can try. Chance of most of the hardware components failure is a possible cause that Linux disc is not booting, but your hard disk might not be affected. In that case, you can transfer the hard disk from the existing system to a properly working system, so that you can pull out the files. If it is a laptop, then be careful because you may void the warranty, but it is not risky to open up an old computer. Of course, opening desktops is not a problem.
It is not a daunting task to remove the hard disk from the inside of a computer. Unplug the cable from the power outlet, before opening the case. Locate the hard drive, remove the cables and unscrew it completely and pull it out of its slot.
Once the hard disk has been pulled out, you can place it in another system in the reverse process, as you did while removing it. If it is the hard drive of a laptop and you have a desktop to put it into, then you need to get drive bays, so that you can connect it to another computer. Turn on this computer, let it boot from its hard disk and copy the files from the old hard drive.
This process is simple for desktops, but you may have a tough time with the laptops, even tougher with the closed laptops. If it is a closed laptop, it is better to call over a technician.
The best thing that you can do to avoid this headache is to take frequent backups. It might be disappointing upon a computer or a hard disk failure, but it will scare you of any loss with a fear of losing the files.
About the Author
Robert R. is an avid guest blogger who writes on behalf of My Tech Gurus. He enjoys sharing his knowledge with the everyday computer user, by helping them with common errors, especially Windows installer errors and slow computer problems. Check out his articles at the Mytechgurus blog.
Cloud: The Forward-Thinking Backup
- Written by Allen Chambers
Just three years ago, "the cloud" was a buzzword few used and even fewer understood. But don't use its recent immaturity as more reason to ignore it. Although only a third of respondents to an Information Week survey claimed they used it in 2011, nearly half use the cloud today, and another 13 percent plan on it by next year.
What does this all mean? I'll tell you what it means. It means the rate of cloud adoption is doubling. Perhaps it's time to give the soon-to-be only form of data storage and backup a once over – whether you're well informed or not.
What's a Cloud?
Cloud computing is the newest form of digital storage, meant to reflect the lifestyle of the typical web-based individual by unifying the information of his/her multiple devices at one common rally point, often managed directly by the user, through the Internet.
The concept eliminates things like wire connections to share and transfer information, so that data is accessible from any device tethered to the cloud once it's created. Common examples include a song or a photo, downloaded or taken from one device and inherently available on another.
Also known as the new era of "virtualization," the practice effectively reinvents file security, which affords firms like Mozy online backup services in an industry even professionals struggle to master. Depending on the user, clouds can be public, private or hybrid…
- Public – Cloud provided/managed by external service provider
- Private – Cloud devoid of external assistance, managed by user in-house
- Hybrid – Some cloud data managed personally, other items managed by provider
Anyone who understands basic store inventory knows companies factor in risk when designing their quotas. In other words, whatever they have, they expect to sell x percent, and they reluctantly expect to lose y percent – via theft, breakage, aliens, and so forth. The higher their inventory, the higher the latter percent. The same goes for data in a computer, which is why users are asked to intermittently "back up" their data to accommodate similar losses.
NPD Group holds that the average U.S. home now contains over five Internet-connected devices, or half a billion total nationally, according to ZDNet. Convert that to terabytes, and even computers stop counting. The point is more devices bring more data, and more data demands a more efficient method of backup, especially when trafficking through a still rising number of personal products.
How to Ride the Cloud
For those who "get it" so far, don't get comfortable. In spite (or perhaps because) of the cloud's inclusiveness, many users polled by Information Week employ the facilities of more than one cloud – 79 percent, and six or more, to be exact. Though probably due to the demands of a diverse workload, that is nonetheless excessive, and one more reason to know if a cloud service is helpful or impractical.
Mozy was able to stifle this problem with a portfolio of services that back up computers and mobile devices to a cloud whose structure reflects the specific needs of the user or organization. Their flagships:
MozyHome – Perfect for the non-commercial security of personal files, from music to tax records.
MozyPro – For businesses whose data consists in a shared server or group of systems, including 24/7 phone support.
MozyEnterprise – MozyPro on steroids? Maybe. Made for larger companies requiring more personal security settings and a number of sub-configurations.
About the Author
What's The Difference Between Micro And Mini USB?
- Written by Michael Alvarez
Lately, many people have noticed an increasing trend to use Micro USB cables where, previously, companies would have used a Mini USB connector. There are a few different reasons as to why this makes more sense from a business perspective - smaller parts means less expense, for instance - but is it a good thing or a bad thing for the consumer? Well, rather than a simple yes or no answer, it's best to give a full explanation of the differences between the two standards.
First of all, let's get the obvious difference out of the way. Micro USB is smaller than Mini USB. The Micro connector is roughly half the size of its Mini counterpart. It is a similar width when viewed straight on from the top but much slimmer when viewed from the side. This has a benefit of decreasing the size change from cable to connector which helps prevent a somewhat serious problem. Cheaper Mini cables would, if used frequently enough, actually experience wire breakage inside the cable at the point where the cable and connector meet. The reason is a bit involved but the short version is that the size difference led to a stress point on the wire at the meeting point. The smaller size of the Micro's connector decreases this stress which leads to less wire breakages.
Micro USB connectors also have another significant advantage over Mini connectors. If you have a Micro connector nearby, take a careful look at it and you'll notice two small, thin strips, almost like hooks, on one of the flat sides. Mini connectors didn't have these which is a shame. You see, these small pieces of metal are actually there to help keep the cable securely in place inside whatever device they're plugged into. Due to their small size and particular shape, however, they manage to keep the cable secure without causing any problems with removal or insertion of the connector. If you've ever tried to plug in a power supply or data cable that uses a piece of plastic that must be pushed down to remove it, you'll instantly understand how nice a feature it is to keep the ease of insertion and removal without sacrificing connection security. Another design advantage that Micro has over Mini is simply the different shapes of the connectors. Mini, much like the original USB connectors, can sometimes refuse to go inside for whatever reason, regardless of whether it's right side up or not. With Micro, however, as long as the connector is right side up it will almost always slide in easily the first time, assuming no obstructions or debris are on the connector or in the slot.
For these basic reasons, it's easy to see why Micro is replacing Mini as the USB cable of choice for such frequent use devices as cell phones, bluetooth headsets, and the like. That's not to say, however, that Mini is going away any time soon. Mini is a perfect choice for devices that use thicker cables and aren't being frequently moved, such as external CD, DVD, and hard drives. That being said, the choice to switch from Mini to Micro isn't just good for the companies making that switch. In the end, it's also a good move for anyone who uses their products.
About the Author
Michael Alvarez has been working in the electronics and technology field for over 20 years. He enjoys sharing his knowledge and expertise of micro and mini usb cables with others; while continuing to grow his knowledge.
Open Daylight Project: A Striking Collaboration
- Written by Tina Reeves
The OpenDaylight project that was launched a couple of weeks ago has been throwing up a lot of questions from the SDN consortium and many others. A joint initiative from the Linux Foundation, the project has been endorsed by majors like IBM and Cisco Systems. People are wondering what the end customers stand to gain from this project and what value they will gain. However, it all depends on how you view the concept, though several people believe that Cisco’s involvement is to hinder start-ups rather than help them.
In case the fears of the people are not unfounded, and the result is that they do get blocked because of the OpenDaylight project, though the founding companies never wanted that to be their real intent, there could be a real problem. The main worry of the start-ups is the distribution for other than OpenDaylight base controllers and applications. The OpenDaylight project just put a stone in the works of distribution channels for controllers.
Of course, one cannot deny the fact that the OpenDaylight project will be a fitting answer to the sway VMware has over others. It is more like a preparation for a final showdown between VMware ecosystems and the others who will be backed by the OpenDaylight project and the founders Linux Foundation and the endorsement from IBM and Cisco Systems.
Today, after the launch, several other founders like Dell, Citrix, Brocade, Arista Networks, Microsoft and many more joining hands with Linux Corporation and willing to spend great sums of money to make the project a success. When the final picture emerges, there could be many more players like Nuage, Fujitsu, PLUMgrid, who will be offering virtual network interfaces and OpenStack integration to support the cause.
The code, which is to be made available sooner than expected, is to be governed by a Board that will have a specially constituted Technical Steering Committee and several Project heads. This is like most of the other open source projects one has seen earlier, with the primary founders and contributors being reserved seats on the board, and others empowered with a vote each. With so many decision making heavyweights constituting the board, the networking industry cannot simply wish this project away, or ignore it as a least likely threat.
There are several practical issues that will be faced by the large number of vendors, who will have to somehow fall in place within one broad framework. There are bound to be several twists and turns before a final picture emerges. While vendors of hardware would like to have a firm control over hardware, VMware seems to be intent on controlling networks and virtual machines. Cloud vendors are interested in having SDN move into their cloud, instead to that of any competitor’s. Cisco is perhaps keen on hybrid cloud as their sole interest is to sell their hardware to the cloud vendors, and using Cisco hardware may offer the added incentive of being able to mix private and public cloud. However, all this can happen only over a period of time, and experts believe the actual effects can be felt not less than a year from today.
Author’s Bio: Tina Reeves currently works at Cable Companies, a site that enables everyone to learn about how to save on broadband and internet cable.
OS X Keyboard Shortcuts
|C||Start from CD|
|D||Start from 1st Partition|
|N||Start from Net Server|
|R||Resets laptop screen|
|⌘V||Unix console msgs|
|Ctrl||Shutdown, sleep, restart|
FTC 16 CFR Part 255 Disclosure
Since 2006, iTechGuide.com has provided independent reviews. Our reviews, ratings and awards are not based on any incentives or commissions. Notwithstanding, to keep our service online we accept compensation from some of the companies whose products we review within and outside of the IT industry, including, but not limited to, paid advertising placements, referral fees, and in-content advertising links.