The Open-Source Game Development Pipeline

Providing the means and education to create games using free/libre open-source tools.

The Algorithm of “Choice”: Buying a New PC

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So, I know I’ve written a lot of these “posts” regarding laptops and such, but I feel I’ve covered more of the budget end of the spectrum. Out of respect for those of us who want a little more “oomph”, I’ve got an equation I’d like you to follow.

First off, take a look at this laptop here.

It’s a MSI laptop with a Haswell Quad-Core (four cores, eight threads) 2.6 GHz CPU and a NVIDIA GTX 965M 2 GB GDDR5 GPU. It’s got 8 GB of RAM, 1 TB of storage, and a 1080p Matte display.

Next, take a look at this GPU benchmarking site, here.

You’ll notice that the GTX 965M is over halfway up on the list of Tier. 1 GPUs. So, about $1100.00 USD nets you an extremely powerful laptop. I’m going to call this the “entry-level” gaming rig you should buy.

So, now that we have our entry-level computer, where do we go from here?

Take a look at this machine. I call this a machine, because… well… it IS a machine. This MSI gaming Frankenstein is the opus of laptop gaming power! It has a Broadwell Quad-Core (four cores, eight threads) 2.9 GHz CPU, NVIDIA GTX 980M 8 GB GDDR5 GPUs in SLI configuration (16 GB total), 24 GB of RAM (I don’t like that it isn’t a power of two, but w/e… buy another 8 GB memory module), 1TB physical storage, and 256 GB of solid-state storage.

It is also $3700.00 USD. Quite a bit expensive, if you ask me… >_>

Return to that GPU benchmarking site, and you’ll see that the GTX 980M GPU in SLI configuration is ranked at the tippy-top of the list. Now you have your maximum.

So our model is currently $1100.00 for entry-level and $3700.00 for top-shelf gaming.

Now that we know this, what do I do if I’m somebody who doesn’t want entry-level performance, but also doesn’t need the excess of the Dom Perignon of laptops? Where’s the middle ground?

Take a look at this specimen here.

It’s a laptop made by a company called “Aorus” (which is owned by Gigabyte; makers of motherboards, and other electronic/computer-related goodies). At $1700.00 USD you get a pretty decent setup: Quad-Core 2.4 GHz CPU (four cores, eight threads), 16 GB RAM, 1 TB physical storage, 256 GB solid-state storage, and two GTX 860M 4 GB GDDR5 GPUs in SLI configuration (8 GB total). This unit also has a 17″ screen. Not bad.

Jump back to that benchmarking website again. You’ll see that an additional six-hundred dollars bumped you up fifteen places on the list. Again… not bad.

However, the 860M is the first NVIDIA Maxwell GPU ever made, and a single GTX 965M GPU has only 256 less Shader Arithmetic Logic Units than it (1024 vs 1280). So… is spending that extra six-hundred dollars really worth it? You’d get more memory for textures, sure, but the architecture (bare computing power) isn’t that much of a stretch.

Oy! Now what?

So… how about this one? Yet another Aorus machine.

For roughly one-thousand dollars more than our entry-level gaming laptop, we get: a Broadwell Quad-Core (four cores, eight threads) 2.7 GHz CPU, 16 GB RAM, 1 TB physical storage, 512 GB solid-state storage (two 256 GB M.2 SSDs), and two NVIDIA GTX 965M 4 GB GDDR5 GPUs in SLI configuration (8 GB total). All of this comes at a total price of $2300.00 USD.

Let’s (once again) return to our benchmarking website. You’ll see that a GTX 965M SLI configuration is 8 steps down from our previously-mentioned, top-of-the-line gaming rig. That means, for $2300.00, you’ll have a laptop that’s in the top 10th percentile of performance! Not too shabby. 🙂

Also, I forgot to mention this, but this Aorus also comes with a 3K display in a 15″ form factor. Yet a little more “oomph” for those who need a smoking gun. 😛

So, the moral here is: if you’re only looking to spend one-thousand dollars, there’s something out there for you. Two-thousand, same. Three-thousand… of course! 😀

But, more importantly… regardless of our research, the true answer to this post’s title is: “whatever makes you happy”. (I still recommend the $2300.00 Aorus, though… >_>)



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