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I'm looking to buy my very first laptop...ever. I need help!


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There are going to be some really dumb questions here for the Mr. Computers in here but I seriously haven't owned anything but a work desktop at home in many years. Like the title says, I've never owned a laptop either and I'm looking to rectify that.

 

Some things I'd like to do/questions:

 

1. What's a reasonably affordable price range without going full cheap-fuck level?

2. Is it common to have an HDMI output or any other way to be able to 'broadcast' it to my living room TV?

3. I'd love to be able to run some emulators on it...at most Dolphin maybe for some Metroid Prime for example?

4. I know nothing about current processor speeds etc., what are some standards specs at this point? 

5. It'd be great if you guys could link me to some good deals or give me some tips on where to start looking.

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Well I haven't really looked at laptops in a few years, but..

 

1.  Anything below $500 is cheap-fuck level.  Performance-wise, while cheap ass laptops can handle everything you're asking to do, there are other considerations that will make the overall experience better but add to the price tag.  $500-$1000 is the range you should be looking at.

 

2.  Pretty much all of them have HDMI output.

 

3.  Will easily be doable as long as the laptop has any kind of dedicated video card.  I think even integrated GPUs can handle Dolphin, though a dedicated one will allow you to upscale the resolution.  

 

4.  Most laptops will be Intel based, so you should be looking at an i7 or i5.  But it's good to make sure the advertised boost frequency is over 3 GHz whether it's an Intel or AMD processor.

 

5.  Look for laptops with a 1TB SSD, or 500GB at bare minimum.  Avoid regular mechanical HDDs because they are painfully slow - although some laptops can come with both.  If it comes with both, make sure the SSD size is at least 250 GB.  Screen type is also an overlooked consideration, and sometimes hard to find or not listed in the specs on store pages.  But avoid LCD screens with a TN panel, because the viewing angle of TN screens are really bad.  Google the specific model of a considered laptop and make sure it has an IPS panel.  If the specs don't specifically list IPS as a feature, then it probably has a TN screen.

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10 minutes ago, cusideabelincoln said:

Well I haven't really looked at laptops in a few years, but..

 

1.  Anything below $500 is cheap-fuck level.  You should easily be able to find something to do everything you require for less than $1000.

 

2.  Pretty much all of them have HDMI output.

 

3.  Will easily be doable as long as the laptop has any kind of dedicated video card.  I think even integrated GPUs can handle Dolphin, though a dedicated one will allow you to upscale the resolution.  

 

4.  Most laptops will be Intel based, so you should be looking at an i7.  But it's good to make sure the advertised boost frequency is over 3 GHz whether it's an Intel or AMD processor, or a Core i5 version.

 

5.  Look for laptops with a 1TB SSD, or 500GB at bare minimum.  Avoid regular mechanical HDDs because they are painfully slow - although some laptops can come with both.  If it comes with both, make sure the SSD size is at least 250 GB.  Screen type is also an overlooked consideration, and sometimes hard to find or not listed in the specs on store pages.  But avoid LCD screens with a TN panel, because the viewing angle of TN screens are really bad.  Google the specific model of a considered laptop and make sure it has an IPS or VA panel.  

Thank you! I definitely don't want to go above $1k but yeah, figured anything near $500 or below is cheaping out. 

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2 hours ago, mikechorney said:

Thanks. How much did that run you about? I don't have an account but can get a card through work.

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  • 4 weeks later...

https://dolphin-emu.org/docs/guides/performance-guide/

It doesn't seem like Dolphin is really that taxing. I think you should be able to run anything you want on it.

 

I currently have a Surface like Mike (though a 5-gen not 6), but I wouldn't recommend it for gaming. I ran WoW on it last year and it ran fine enough, but you won't be able to play any modern AAA titles. Not well at least. 

 

I can try to look up some deals later when I'm not at work, but found this site at reddit. https://noteb.com/?content/home.php?ref=starchaser

You can input things you want, a price point you want, and it will find the closest thing to you specs you input. 

 

 

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1 hour ago, Nokt said:

https://dolphin-emu.org/docs/guides/performance-guide/

It doesn't seem like Dolphin is really that taxing. I think you should be able to run anything you want on it.

 

I currently have a Surface like Mike (though a 5-gen not 6), but I wouldn't recommend it for gaming. I ran WoW on it last year and it ran fine enough, but you won't be able to play any modern AAA titles. Not well at least. 

 

I can try to look up some deals later when I'm not at work, but found this site at reddit. https://noteb.com/?content/home.php?ref=starchaser

You can input things you want, a price point you want, and it will find the closest thing to you specs you input. 

 

 

I agree, that I wouldn't AAA game on a surface -- but AAA gaming wasn't on his list of requirements.

 

TBH, I have never gamed on our surface (and likely never will).  However, if my kids found out they could play Minecraft on it....

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12 minutes ago, mikechorney said:

I agree, that I wouldn't AAA game on a surface -- but AAA gaming wasn't on his list of requirements.

 

TBH, I have never gamed on our surface (and likely never will).  However, if my kids found out they could play Minecraft on it....

Oh I know, I just wanted to make that known. 

You also don't have HDMI out without a dongle or dock for the surface. Which isn't terribly inconvenient, but most laptops come standard with it or at least the ones I've bought in the past have. 

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9 minutes ago, Nokt said:

Oh I know, I just wanted to make that known. 

You also don't have HDMI out without a dongle or dock for the surface. Which isn't terribly inconvenient, but most laptops come standard with it or at least the ones I've bought in the past have. 

 

You're right --  lot of the newer/thinner laptops (or convertibles/detachables or whatever marketing term they're using for them) don't seem to have HDMI ports anymore (I assume because they use too much vertical space).

But, as you said you can get a dongle (I think for under $20?) that will handle that.

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Something to keep in mind about devices for connecting monitors to laptops that don't have HDMI or DP is that the cheap USB C hubs tend to get quite hot and can be unreliable. If the laptop supports thunderbolt you can get a thunderbolt hub but those tend to be expensive. If you don't mind the price and the laptop supports thunderbolt and charging over thunderbolt it can be convenient since you just plug one cable in to get power, network, monitor and more USB ports. Another option is a monitor that supports video over USB C and a cheap dongle for when you need to use another monitor/TV/projector that doesn't support USB C.

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Hey everyone. No I have not bought anything yet, a bunch of other expenses came up and had to put this on the backburner unfortunately.

 

And yes, to reiterate, modern AAA games and so on are definitely not something I want to get into on PC. Consoles have always done the job for me and I prefer not having to fuck around with hardware and updating etc. 

 

Dolphin and 'below' (PS1 etc.) emulators are all I'd like to be able to get going. Really want to get into Metroid Prime 1 and 2 with upscaled visuals. 

 

Will read through these last few recommendations soon!

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22 hours ago, dualhunter said:

Something to keep in mind about devices for connecting monitors to laptops that don't have HDMI or DP is that the cheap USB C hubs tend to get quite hot and can be unreliable. If the laptop supports thunderbolt you can get a thunderbolt hub but those tend to be expensive. If you don't mind the price and the laptop supports thunderbolt and charging over thunderbolt it can be convenient since you just plug one cable in to get power, network, monitor and more USB ports. Another option is a monitor that supports video over USB C and a cheap dongle for when you need to use another monitor/TV/projector that doesn't support USB C.

A Surface Pro has a mini-DisplayPort.  I don't think you would use a USB-C hub, but rather a mini-DisplayPort to HDMI dongle. 

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Yeah, if it has mini-DP, use that. A USB-C hub is useful for connecting a single cable and getting Ethernet, HDMI or DP, and other stuff like more USB ports and card readers. With newer Macbooks you're stuck with either USB-C or Thunderbolt 3 dongles, hubs or docks but if the Surface Pro has mini-DP I'd recommend using that even if you're also using a USB hub (meaning that you could have one less cable to connect if you only used the hub) unless it's just for occasional use (though you'd have to confirm that the laptop support the alt mode necessary to do DP over USB-C) such that the convenience might be greater than reliability concerns.

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