Welcome back to our 87th attempt at Reloading...

Hi all.  Bill Pirkle, for our fearless leader John Hoskin, who was lost a week ago in the Canadian wilderness with only a dull knife and a used Band-aid.  We've informed Dudley Do-Right that, given that John was Level One a week ago, and given the rocketship-like rate at which he usually levels, they should expect to find him sitting on a pile of treasure, wearing top-tier battle gear, and surrounded by three hundred people calling him "Guildmaster".

Everyone can use a feel good moment to start the day.   Let’s go with this…

Today's column is dedicated to those who, like myself, share a penchant for a perverse form of torture known as the "Gaming Laptop".

I've used a laptop as my primary computer for over a decade.  Ten Ton Hammer's own Arxkanite often reminds me that I could get twice the machine for half the cost with a desktop.  But see, I work from home.  Here's a typical day:  my workday occurs in the office (upstairs).  Then at night, we watch TV in the den (downstairs).  And "we watch TV" means my wife watches TV while I sit next to her and sneak in some gaming time.  A desktop would mean (1) working from the den - bad for my job, (2) gaming in the office while my wife watches TV alone - bad for my marriage, or (3) carry the desktop up and down the stairs every day - bad for my back.  And let's not even mention Sunday afternoons at the in-laws.

My last two laptops were top-of-the-line Dells.  Maybe I was just lucky, but my few serious issues (including a bad motherboard) were resolved with a minimum of fuss.  But with newer games coming out (*cough* SWTOR) I needed a new rig.  I didn't have the cash for another high-end Dell, so earlier this year, I switched brands and got an Asus.  Quick specs:  Core i7, 12 Gig RAM, GeForce GTX 460M, 2x 7200RPM/500 Gig hard drives.

That set me back about half the cost of an equivalent Dell.  So far, I'm thrilled with the machine.  I've run WoW, WoT, and LotRO at maximum graphics without issue.  Not the most demanding games, but because I'm a fanatical multitasker, they're usually running windowed, along with three copies of my programming IDE, three browsers, Thunderbird, two IM clients, an SQL interpreter, and a handful of console windows.  The Asus has yet to break a sweat.

I'm less thrilled with Asus support.  I had to do the Sandy-Bridge-recall swapout.  I'd purchased through a reseller (XoticPC) who custom-modified the laptop, so a third party was involved.  Let's just say that it wasn't a smooth ride.  Based on my (admittedly limited) experience, I'd rank Asus support below their Dell counterparts.  But for half the price, I kinda expected that.  Joseph at XoticPC gets big props.  He's a fantastic service guy, and an MMO gamer to boot.

Ultimately, my friend Arxkanite is completely right - a desktop is a better deal.  But he's also completely wrong - a laptop is the best choice for me.  Case in point - I'm writing this from a hotel near Sea World while the kids get ready for the day.

How many of you, like me, spend twice the money for half the computer just to be able to run around with it?  Any war stories to share for those contemplating a purchase?

Bill Pirkle

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Last Updated: Mar 13, 2016