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Help with Light Gaming Laptop

Illustration for article titled Help with Light Gaming Laptop

TL;DR: If I wanted to play games such as HoTS. Diablo 3, Starcraft 2, DoTA and such at 1920x1080 on a laptop, can I get away with a 950m, or do I need to step it up to a 960m? Is a 970m overkill?


Long Version: I’m deciding on picking up a new laptop. I have a desktop rig that I am fine with, but I travel every so often for work, and it would also be nice to have something to game on during downtime when I visit family and whatnot for the holidays. I currently have a 4 year old Sager, but it has some issues with the battery, is super loud making it hard to use in a professional setting, and is pretty bulky for travel.

So in general I am looking for a 14 or 15 inch laptop with dedicated graphics and untrabook like proportions (0.8 inch ish thickness). I started off this whole thing with about a $1200 budget in mind, but I am realizing I may need to step it up to $1500 ish. While there are a lot of benchmarks for various models, many use benchmarking software that is a bit harder for me to translate into real world performance. And stepping up GPU levels seems to add quite a bit to the price, and sometimes comes with features I don’t want. Here are so me of the ones I am looking at:


MSI GS60 - Ticks the right specs, seeming good construction, thin and lightweight, nice keyboard, skylake models just came out. However, it apparently has sub-par battery life (even for a gaming laptop) and I think the red “Gaming” logo looks tacky as hell and makes it really ugly for office use. Confusing model naming scheme, and most tend to be equipped with 970’s or 980’s, which may be a bit overkill. (There are others who basically sell this same laptop like Origin and Maingear, but they come at a super price premium.)

MSI PX60 - Essentially the same as above, except in a classier looking case, and only available with a 950m, which I am not sure if it is powerful enough.


Gigabyte P35/P34 - Nice feature set, and can start at a decent price. Apparently better battery life than the MSI and had a very utilitarian design. But the newer versions Seem to only be available with 970/980, which kicks the price up quite a bit. Reviews say the keyboard and trackpad are a bit Meh, Hit or miss build quality. Harder to find for sale, way to many models available.

HP Omen - Nice build quality, not overstated, 960m (which I think is what I need but not sure). Pricey and very difficult to upgrade even the SSD. Arm+Leg to get larger SSD from factory. Glossy (Glare) screen. (Actually ‘used’ one of these in person at bestbuy)


Asus UX501/G501 - Great SSD specs, 16GB RAM and a 960m. But they have the more pain than it is worth 4k display. The G501 has another boring red “gaming” logo on it (Not as bad as MSI though), the UX501 has a super glossy screen.

Others I have looked at and just decided against:

Alienware 15 - Chunky, a but ugly.

Acer V15 Nitro - Some subpar components apparently, by the time you upgrade, you lose the price advantage. (Revision with Skylake is on the way, and way change this)


Lenovo Y50 - Used one in person, seemed flimsy and a bit ugly.

Anyone have any experience with the models above and can weigh in if I overlooked something? What level of GFX card to I need to do light (Blizzard-esque) gaming at 1080p? (If a 950m would work, then that opens up a whole lot of options in the “business” laptop range, and would be open for suggestions.) How well does Nivida Optimus work (Would I get the same non gaming battery life from a 970m vs a 950m)? What options have I missed?

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