Laptop buying advice forum: Need help choosing/configuring a laptop. ~$1500 budget

by: David_LaPierre December 12, 2011 3:25 PM PST

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Need help choosing/configuring a laptop. ~$1500 budget

by David_LaPierre - 12/12/11 3:25 PM

So I'd like this laptop to be a good all-around solution. I'd like it to be portable, long battery, durable, and performing well for a wide range of high demand applications. I have a budget of $1500, but lower is better of course. Impossible goal, I know, but it is the standard to aim for.
Here is the setup I have right now. Please give any input as far as different configurations or different laptops entirely.


Dell XPS 15 - $1370

17.3" FHD (1080p) with 2.0MP HD Webcam
15" is the smallest I am likely to go. Smaller screen means longer battery life, increased portability, and likely easier resale. Larger screen means... larger screen, full keyboard. In the case of Dell, getting a 15" screen means a B+RG backlight which gives increased color gamut, but slightly lower max brightness. Also, the 17" version of the XPS has 2 hard drive bays. This has been one of the hardest things to decide on. Any input?
I don't care about the webcam.

i7-2640M 2.80 GHz with Turbo Boost 2.0 up to 3.50 GHz
I chose this CPU specifically because it is dual core and has a high operating frequency. From what I understand, there is little to be gained at this point from a quad core over a dual core, and in some cases a quad core processor is less able to run older software than a dual core with a higher frequency rating. Also, the TDP rating for this processor was 35W compared to the 45W of all other i7s. Is this a good choice?

6GB Shared Dual Channel DDR3 Memory
I will upgrade this to 8 GB myself. Cheaper than buying it from Dell.

NVIDIA® GeForce® GT 550M 1GB graphics with Optimus
Optimus should save my battery life. The only option on this laptop is an upgrade to a GT 555M. The 555M has 3GB of memory, but as can be seen here:
http://www.notebookcheck.net/NVIDIA-GeForce-GT-555M.41933.0.html
the specific configuration of the GT 555M used by Dell is "144 cores 590MHz (GF106), 192Bit DDR3". Not bad, but not the best possible, and I wonder how much of an advantage this has over the $150 less expensive 550M. I know this won't be a high end gaming machine either way, but I'd like it to be reasonable capable of playing the latest for a couple years to come. Also to consider is how much easier it will be to resell this laptop while being able to market 3GB over 1GB.

8X Tray Load CD/DVD Burner (Dual Layer DVD+/-R Drive)
I don't expect to use Bluray

JBL 2.1 Speakers with Waves Maxx Audio 3
I love the speakers on the XPS line. Has a little sub at the bottom which helps make it one of the best sounding laptops I've ever seen. I use a pair of Logitech UE Triple.fi 10's most of the time, but they isolate so well that it can be inconvenient to use them sometimes, and I don't want to carry around external speakers.

Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6230 and Bluetooth 3.0
WiFi capabilities are important, the 6230 seems to be much better than the standard adapters used. I don't use Bluetooth now, but I may in the future.

1.0TB 500GB 7.2k HDD x 2
2 Hard Drive bays. Doesn't support RAID, but still could be very useful. Eventually I will upgrade to a nice SSD (or 2), but I will not pay Dell's prices for them.




I think that is about everything. Thank you for the help everyone!

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