New machine…. time to upgrade?

This post is really more me thinking out loud than it will be informative.

Again and again I am seeing the names in Gaming laptops are Sager, Gigabyte, MSI, Asus, Acer, and Dell’s Alienware. On most forums you’ll see these names over and over again. Which one, though, is the best option for a traveling gamer like me? I will use my rig for MUCH more than games. I’ll be doing some 3d animation from time to time. I might edit an HD video or two. I will hook up a digital pad and paint some. Over all of this, it’s my conduit for communication with the wife. It’s a life line.

The first part of the search is answering the question “what will I use it for?” but that isn’t the end all question. I’ve been rocking along with a 6 year old Dell XPS L701X with a first gen i7 740QM at 1.73 GHz, 8 gigs of DDR3 ram on two chips of 4 each, and an Nvidia GeForce GT 445 3 gig graphics card. Let me tell you, it’s a pain to see specs like these…. I know, not the best but still pretty dang good… fall victim to heat failure. Both of the hard drives (yep, it has two 500 gig hard drives) are cooked to the point of producing errors and the graphics ship is starting to glitch out. It’s always been a warm machine, but over the years it has just gone up and up and up.

The thing has been a tank and traveled from one end of the country to the other. Sure, it’s been a pain lugging around an almost 9 pound laptop and it’s not like I can bust it out in an airport…. o.k…. I have… but it wasn’t easy. The form factor was just what I need in a laptop. The thing of it is, I will be getting way more machine than I have no matter what I get but I want to make sure it’s future proof…. at least as much as this one was; Which leads me back to brands.

Dell as an option again? Well, on one hand, Dell has been a good brand to me and the XPS line still exists but the hardware is stunted. Alienware is their gaming line and while I might not need a gaming computer, much of the gaming hardware lends it’s self to performance. On the other hand, for the hardware, Alienware is just too expensive and I feel like you’re paying for a name. On the other other hand, Inspiron (which was my first Dell laptop) Does have the specs I’m looking for mostly, but the Ram is not as upgradeable as I would like and the graphics card is GTX 940 with 2 gigs of ram…. kind of a downgrade almost; better processor but less ram.

So if not dell, what are my other options. During the course of my research, I’ve notices MSI, Asus ROG line, and Sager pop up again and again. I didn’t know much about Sager and, while I’d heard of MSI before, I didn’t really know anything about them either. Asus I’ve heard of and I have heard good things so I looked there first.

Asus ROG line is paring down at Xotic PC. The one I had configured is no longer available in the configuration I chose. The MSI seems to be more rugged, but the ram configures in odd ways and the max ram I would like to be supported, 64 gigs (for upgrade), is not available on their models in my price range. That kind of leaves me at Sager and Gigabyte as options.

The Sager NP8176 seems, by all accounts, to be a descent machine (linked one not configured). I have not found many reviews but Sager seems to be a respected brand amongst gamers on Toms Hardware. The Gigabyte P57WV7 has some rave reviews at New Egg (linked version not configured yet) and Amazon, but the max supported Ram is 32 gigs and, my wife will not like this, the keyboard does not have the rainbow lights of the Sager. To her, I’m sure that will be enough to decide. I’m leaning more towards the Sager, but the lack of reviews of this specific model (others review well) makes me a little nervous.

In a nut shell, I am one of those people who plans not to have to replace something in two years, but takes care of what they have and will probably upgrade memory, hard drive, and generally baby my machine until it completely falls apart. Which ever one I go with, has to be able to last at least as long as my last one. 6 years isn’t too much to ask, is it?

Social interest in a concept…. You bet.

“Why is there a social interest in the concept of doing this?” – Hankerin Feranale

The first post of the year…. Welcome to 2017 everyone. I don’t usually do the who “New year new me” thing and this year is not all that different. I decided to start Tai Chi which I’ve done a little bit of before….. on VHS no less. A parting gift from 2016, a twisted knee that might need an MRI, is keeping me from it. While I’ve been recuperating, I’ve been watching some videos on modeling dioramas. Technically, the guy I’ve been watching, Luke Towan at Boulder Creek Railroad, is modeling HO gauge train layouts, but to me… it’s about the diorama.

From there I looked at the different scales. There are several used in model train collecting from the tiny N gauge to to O that’s bigger than, say match box cars and up. I’m developing interest in HO (half O) to S which is more along the lines of table top RPG and table top war games. While looking into that vein of the interest, I found Mel, the Terrain Tutor, who does professional layouts for war games that are spectacular and, perhaps, attainable for me to attempt.

Because of the scale comparisons and the mention of table top RPG (S being close to most of your standard table top minis), my nerd nerve…. Nerdve? … was starting to tingle. I remember the days of table top RPG and a long while back, I started developing my own RPG system. I stumbled across Hankerin Feranale over at Drunkens & Dragons, and Jeremy Pillipow at Black Magic Craft and both of whom use modular foam crafted dungeon systems that are just incredible to look at. If nothing else, I’m going to make some of these tiles just to have them. At any rate, they’ve made me consider finding a random group of people to game with.

Thinking about that, I am reminded that my wife wouldn’t play and she says most of our current friends wouldn’t play, so that leaves me squarely no where…. or in a room full of creepy or perhaps socially awkward strangers. I know, stereotypes. Most RPGs these days are not for beginners anyway. Hell, I’ve been looking up the manuals and most of the games some friends I know who still do play are playing seem like they’re written in a foreign language. My buddy Joe said his current group probably wouldn’t even know what a THACO was much less how to calculate it so maybe the new games aren’t harder, just different.

In the mean time, I have an idea of doing a diorama of a drive in movie theater in S scale with a working movie screen run by a raspberry pi. I’ll let you know if I get any of these things accomplished.