As detailed previously, after canceling my two year Pandora pre-order, I decided to put the money towards a Sager gaming laptop. As mentioned, this was going to be my first true gaming PC since an old Windows XP Dell desktop from I-don't-remember-when (that system is in my basement office and used as-needed). Well, the laptop arrived earlier today, so I decided to do a Windows 7 Experience score comparison between that and our other current systems, most of which, unlike the Sager, do not feature discrete graphics cards. The results were startling. I'll start with the oldest system first:
This is our Gateway CX210X Tablet, and, as stated, by far the oldest of the bunch. This was my primary system until getting the HP TouchSmart desktop. It originally came with Vista, but I upgraded it to Windows 7, albeit in 32-bit mode (under the foolish assumption that since my TouchSmart was running 64-bit Windows 7, I could get additional compatibility if needed by keeping the Tablet in 32-bit mode). I also expanded the memory to 4GB (obviously, 3GB is only accessible under Windows 7 32-bit) and replaced the original tiny hard drive with a 7200 RPM 500GB model. I also replaced the digitizer pen. Twice. Anyway, now that I have the Sager, this is now my oldest daughter's laptop (she'll be six next month; she has a regular user account, while I still maintain a password protected admin account on there). Oh, and this has an 4GB Ready Boost drive via the SD card slot.
As you can see in the scores above, not bad for an older system, but even with a discrete video card (albeit a very old one with little memory), its graphics let it down.
Next oldest, is our very own Christina's laptop, an HP Pavilion dv9000. This received two upgrades, one to the 64-bit version of Windows 7 from a 32-bit version of Vista, and a larger 320GB 7200RPM hard drive. I left the 3GB of memory that it came with alone. This does not have discrete graphics, so naturally the memory is shared, and there is no Ready Boost drive.
As you can tell from the scores above, not good. Not good at all.
Next up is the aforementioned HP TouchSmart IQ524. If you remember, I got this in a pinch, and then had to go through a series of upgrades and repairs. In any case, it initially came with Windows Vista 64-bit, I then upgraded it on day one to Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit. I eventually put in a new 500GB 7200 RPM hard drive to replace the defective one and upgraded the memory to 8GB. It also has a 16GB Ready Boost drive via a USB stick. It has onboard video which uses some of the memory, with no way to replace it with a discrete option (there's a special slot on the motherboard, but no way to change the BIOS).
Not bad, but obviously not useful for gaming or ideal for anything that requires high graphics performance. Still, this remains my primary PC, as the Sager will be used as a specialty laptop.
So, here's the new Sager NP8760-S1. You can read the full stats here. As you can see, other than my decision to have the two 500GB 7200RPM hard drives set to RAID 1, there should be no performance hits or bottlenecks whatsoever (I also have no plans to create a 16GB Ready Boost drive at this point). The only downside to a laptop like this is that you don't get much battery life (maybe between 1 and 2 hours) and it's quite large. Of course I intend to use it as a portable desktop replacement type of system primarily for gaming, so that's just fine with me.
As is clear, huge, huge difference in performance, with the one gotcha (unlike the other systems) being my decision to go with RAID 1 and taking the hit with the hard drives. However, I think the peace of mind will be worth it, and if it's a noticeable performance factor, I can always set it as a RAID 0 system and go for pure performance over data integrity. The lesson for me? Pay a little more and get something optimized for gaming whenever possible. The difference in performance will typically be worth it.
It can make a big difference to which games will run, or if any newer games will run at all.
I have 2 machines running Windows 7, one is my netbook (Eee PC - Atom CPU, integrated graphics and 2Gb RAM) and the other is a self-built PC (Amd Athlon X2 7850, 4Gb RAM, nVidia 9600GT w/ 512Mb) The self-built PC was just a budget build, intended to handle Digital TV, DVDs, the occasional newer game, emulation and some older games.
Anyway, the scores are dramatically different, as you'd expect for such very different systems, but it still shows what a difference not using on-board graphics makes...
Hard disk (WD Caviar Green 1 TB [32 MB Cache, SATA 3 Gb/s]): 5.9
Hard disk (Seagate Momentus 160Gb [8MB Cache, SATA 3 Gb/s]): 5.4
Interesting. Here are my scores on my desktop:
Base score: 5.9
Gaming Graphics: 7.2
Primary Hard Disk: 5.9
Holy cow, 5.9 on the hard drive?? That could explain why some things take so damn long. I wonder how much trouble it would be to migrate everything to a faster drive... Any thoughts?
Hey Matt -
I don't think you need to worry about the 5.9 score on the hard drive. My disk data transfer rate is also 5.9, and I have a 10,000 RPM Western Digital Velociraptor hard drive. Microsoft adjusts the scale/scores as new hardware is released. In order to get a high end score for "disk" transfer rate, you would have to move to SSD.
Choice of graphics card can make a big difference. I myself have always bought cards that are somewhere between middle of the road and high end, I always do a LOT of research before getting ready to buy my latest card. I have been lucky my last couple times as just when I was ready to buy was just the right time when a graphic card was released that according to many reviews and websites fall into that "sweet spot" category. Now I realize this is more about laptop's but I cannot compete here that is for sure as my overall Windows Experience score is a mere 3.2 on my laptop. It is a TOSHIBA Satellite I bought a couple years ago that at the time was a nice deal for $699. Then again, I am one of those people who loves his high end desktop, that is where I do my PC gaming, video editing etc. My laptop serves as a nice portable way to wireless access the internet, check Gmail and watch Youtube videos so for those tasks it is fine, the only reason I do not just switch to a netbook or mini laptop is I like a decent size screen and full-size keyboard and I do not mind putting up with the extra size and weight this brings. Also this machine came with VISTA and I must say my personal experience has greatly improved since putting Windows 7 on it. I have Windows 7 32bit on my laptop and Windows 7 64 bit on my desktop and I am very happy with both machines. I must say though Bill that the SAGER laptop you bought seems very nice indeed, I remember a few years back looking into notebooks that Sager did seem very interesting with what they offered for the price but at least at that time they seemed to be more business minded, there simply does not seem to be the same talk or hype associated with Sager that their is with other brands and I think in the back of my mind I kind of wondered why? Then again maybe they are just a company that does not need to continuously toot their own horn. There is that one side of me that still wanted one simply because Sager is not a recognizable as say a Sony Vaio or Toshiba Satellite, I like when people are puzzled by my brand of choice or are ignorant to it, reminds me of how I use to try to explain why I had an "Amiga" instead of a PC Dos Box like everyone else back in the day, their questions always halted when I displayed games/animation/graphics. So I certainly am not a follower I always based my buying decisions on what I want and what gives me the most of what I am looking for for my money and you seem to be the same. I would be interested to see future updates on your experiences and overall opinion of your new laptop it certainly is an interesting machine.
Hehe. Yeah, I'm definitely one of those guys that can't tolerate an obsolete PC. I try to stay current as cheaply as possible. I've learned that it's much more cost effective to avoid the cutting edge when buying a new PC and instead go for the 3/4 position. For instance, if the top tier graphics card is $500, I look for one in the $375 range. I apply that same across the board. I generally end up with a system that can handle 100% of games for two years, 75% of games for 3 years, and still do reasonably well at 5. After that, of course, it starts to become obvious that an upgrade is needed.
Unfortunately, with such long distances between upgrades, I suffer from having to replace a MOBO instead of just a graphics card. When the upgrade is that steep, it makes more sense just to buy a new machine. I did great last time with an HP Pavilion from Sam's. All the specs were great, but it had a sucky graphics card. No problem. Plopped in my GTX card (which was almost too big for the case) and a new power supply and viola!
I think this will be my strategy from now.
That is a good method Matt. That is a lot like my own, I built my last PC from the ground up, personally selected each and every component a proudly I can say it booted up perfectly the very first time and has been a champ ever since. When the time comes that it is just not worth upgrading I will simply pick up a complete system and just upgrade the graphics card and PSU if needed. I really felt I had to build at least one high end rig from the ground up, I knew I could and I talk a big talk when it comes to PC's but I figured if I did not properly build at least one decent machine myself I would have my PC GEEK card revoked but having done it and knowing I am perfectly capable of upgrading or troubleshooting I will leave the building to tohers in the future.
My main Desktop also scores 5.9 overall, I think when I upgraded form 2GB to 4GB it jumped from 5.6 to 5.9.