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bang for buck


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I'm looking for a new laptop for my wife, but since it will be our primary computer for the next year while we're working abroad, I also want it to be able to handle X-Plane reasonably well.  It's a tight budget, she says $600 (all she does is surf the net and watch movies) but I'm willing to go up to $900 to have something I can run some games on.

Unfortunately it seems I can't have it all.  At that price point it seems I have to decide between two factors: i3 with a better graphics card (ati mobility radeon 5650) or an i5 with a lower rated graphics card (ati mobility radeon 5470).  i5 with the 5650 seems to either not be available or just out of range.  I figure waiting a bit would bring them down into the right price range, but unfortunately our time is up, we're headed overseas in the next month so need to purchase soon.

In short: for performance should I put out for the better processor or the better graphics card?

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Personally I find myself always wanting a better graphics card.... CPU's have got cores to burn for almost every task.

Better GPU + a bit of additional ram, and solid state storage has some interesting performance trade offs as well.

(You could swap some ram budget for SSD budget, the virtual memory performance is that good.)

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Thanks for the advice, Indi.

I went with the Lenovo Ideapad Y460.  It has the i5-520m (2.4 ghz); ATI mobility Radeon HD 5650 1 GB; and 4 gig DDR3 sdram at 1066 mhz.  14" screen, but I was going for portability.

Not a hardcore gaming machine, but all in all pretty good specs for an entertainment laptop methinks that still has some juice for games!  And X-Plane is all about scalability right?  With the Father's Day sales, came to $850 which was right in the price range.

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