Gaming notebooks

My nephew wants a gaming notebook for an upcoming present and has asked my mother/father-in-law (his grandparents) for an Alienware. They know nothing about computers and asked me about it. He wants to be able to play games and use it for school (he’s in 8th grade)

I don’t know much about the notebook gaming scene, but always regarded Alienwares as overpriced and gaming notebooks as something to be wary of. I don’t know my in-laws budget, but imagine they can pay a fair amount but not an unlimited amount.

What’s the word on gaming notebooks in general and Alienware in particular? Is there a decent alternative that’s maybe not quite top of the line, but still reasonable for games and other purposes?


Emachines made a pretty decent one a while back but I dont think they are making notebooks anymore.

A Dell with the 7800 Go is a good choice. You can get these for 1/3 off if you’re patient and wait for a sale (sign up for EPP discount emails especially).

The Dell XPS m170 is nine pounds of bliss. Avoid the XPS m140, though – it’s a “media” notebook, not a gaming notebook, and as such the Intel integrated graphics can’t render squat.

As someone who has had a maxed out Dell Inspiron 9300, I will tell you, get a real notebook instead. Not only does the battery life horribly suck, it’s overly heavy, and you when you do get to play games on the go, it’s really hard to play anything serious with just the touchpad. The novelty wears off really quick if you have a desktop.

With that being said, Dell is probably your best deal, they run coupons all the time for hundreds of $s off.

As someone with a nearly maxed out XPS m170 (with the 7800 gtx go, etc), if you can afford it, it rocks. Yeah, the battery life ain’t great, but you can close it and take your machine anywhere at a moment’s notice. For gaming, plug in a USB mouse.

I almost never touch my desktop now, except to look stuff up on thottbot while I’m playing WoW on my laptop :)

Thirded re: Dell coupons, got mine for 30% off with one of the deals that shows up periodically at

I would recommend a Sager brand from someplace like PC Torque.

I have a HP ZD8000 and its great but heavy.

I have to agree with those that said go with Dell. I have a version 1 XPS Dell laptop and I am very pleased with it even though it is mammoth. The generation 2 ones went with a Mobility chip set but the better heat handling let them shave serious pounds off Gen 1.

An 8th grader has absolutely no need or justification to have a “gaming notebook.” Hell, I’m 32 years old, I bought an XPS Gen 2 with my own money, and I -still- have no need or justification for it.

Weight and battery life is a major concern. For the money that an Alienware superrig would cost, one could buy a decent, lightweight laptop (for schooling, which is what this little brat actually needs–besides a pear switch) and a reasonably heavy duty shuttle desktop.

I’ll bet you dollars to doughnuts the kid just wants an Alienware because it has the glowy alien eyes on the lid.

Why does he want a notebook? Most of the stuff being suggested here is untenably heavy for a portable computer. (The big dells are 8-9 lbs, which may not sound like much, but really blows to be toting around on your back or shoulder for an hour or two, much less all day at school.)

I’d suggest a lighter, cheaper notebook for school and a decent if not stellar desktop for home. Figure that the $800 for a notebook plus another $800 for a home machine is probably similar to the price range of what’s being talked about here, and gives you the best of both worlds. Unless there’s a reason he needs to play games on the go (and since “on the go” implies school, I’m guessing there’s not), I’d suggest going that direction instead.

Get the extended warranty for the 8th grader.


They still sell that accident coverage dont they? Get that.

I don’t think they sell any coverage for when this kid inevitably takes his eyes off of it for a second and it gets stolen. Or, more likely, when he gets clubbed from behind and wakes to finds his backpack gone.

Wow, give a 3000$ notebook to an 8th grader, who’s going to bring it to school… GOOD IDEA. :)

No but your insurance company does. I do think they stopped offering the accident coverage though which he should get because you know he would drop that shit.

Also taking a laptop to school in the 8th grade… shit even 10th or 11th grade is kinda retarded and asking for trouble.

I couldn’t be happier with my Dell m170; can play anything.

Yeah, when I was in 8th grade I didn’t even need a laptop. Even when I was in high school, there was no real point in having a laptop. If that guy just wants to play games during class, he’s in for a real treat…

Oh, I missed the 8th-grader part. Those Dells are out of the question (ditto the large Alienware and Sagers). They’re 17" screen machines, not suitable for school carrying.

I’d suggest something like this:

And add the graphics upgrade option to the X700. Reasonably nice, fast, small, and affordable.

Um… is it for certain that he’s actually taking the laptop to school? I’ve got an emachine M6811 (a desktop replacement) in Dec 2004 and it’s worked great. It’s got shit for battery life and I wouldn’t want to carry it around every day but the being able to take it with me on trips or anywhere I need to be at a moment’s notice makes it a great purchase. It won’t play Fear at high quality/rez but I can get acceptable performance out of BF2, EQ2, and most other stuff.

It’s important to really know what this kid will do with his laptop in order to make a reccomendation. If he’s gotta take it to school every day then a desktop replacement would not be a good idea. However if this is for taking it to uncle phil’s house for a lan game or sleep overs to sneak in porn viewing then sure get the XPS or whatever.