Is a Used Gaming Laptop Worth It?

– Hey guys, this is Austin.
We take a look at a lot
of budget gaming laptops on the channel.
But today I have something a
little bit different in mind.
So this is a 2014 Alienware 13.
And back when it came out,
it cost well over $1000.00.
Today though, I was able to pick it up
on eBay for only five hundred.
And ignoring a little
bit of cosmetic damage,
what you’re getting here
is a surprisingly decent gaming laptop.
On the other hand, we have this.
The Acer Aspire 5.
Now I am a huge fan of this laptop.
I’ve already done a whole video on it,
and the gist of it is, for $600.00,
you’re getting a quad-core processor,
Nvidia graphics, 8 gigs of RAM
as well as a full SSD.
But, does it make sense
to save your $100.00
and get a used option?
One look at the Alienware
and you’ll be able to tell
that this used to be a
thousand dollar plus laptop.
Now it does have some minor
scuffs and scraps on the outside,
but importantly on the inside
it’s going to be clean.
And it’s got all the good
stuff, including a 13.3 inch
1080p panel that looks
surprisingly decent.
And impressively this actually even has
a Windows precision touchpad.
Something that a lot of
even modern computers
are barely starting to adopt.
Now for the most part, it’s solid.
I don’t think it’s all
that thick, or heavy.
However, you are going to making a couple
of compromises when you buy a used system.
Something like the Acer,
well you’re just not going
to have to deal with it.
The idea of having a brand new laptop
is definitely a big advantage.
But there also are some disadvantages
to having something that’s a
little bit on the cheaper end.
So even though Acer was able to cram a ton
of high end specs into this guy,
it’s sort of at the cost
of some build quality
and some design things.
So for example, it’s very plastic-y,
there’s some like screen flex.
And on the right side, instead
of having a USB 3.0 ports,
you have a pair of USB 2.0 ports.
Now sure, there’s still going to be a USB-C
and USB 3 on the other side,
but there’s just little kind
of cost cutting measures here and there,
that do start to add up.
But, the important thing to keep in mind
is that this is a brand new laptop,
that comes with a full warranty.
If it comes broken you can return it.
Where as with something
like the Alienware,
you’re going to be kind of on your own
if something goes wrong.
On the Acer we’re also
getting a 1080p panel,
this time at 15.6 inches.
However it is a lower end TN display.
And honestly it’s actually my
biggest issue with the laptop.
I can live with pretty much
all the rest of the stuff,
like slightly flimsy build quality,
but the screen is barely acceptable.
It would be really nice
if they had an upgrade.
And it actually makes
the Alienware display
look pretty nice in comparison.
Now the keyboard’s going to be fine.
You get a full number row,
as well as a number pad,
as well as you’re gonna
be getting back lighting.
And it technically does have
a Windows precision trackpad.
But the touchpad itself isn’t so great.
What you’re really buying this laptop for,
are the really impressive
specs of a $600.00 price point.
With the Alienware, not only
are you going to be getting
three USB 3.0 ports as well as Ethernet,
there’s also going to be
HDMI, mini DisplayPort,
as well as the Alienware
graphics amplifier port.
Now this is something
that’s actually even found
on current Alienware laptops.
And you can think of it as an
old school version of Thunderbolt 3.
So back before it was
easy to be able to put
an external GPU, and
connect it to a laptop.
Instead Alienware made their
own graphics amplifier.
Which you actually can still
find on eBay for around
a hundred bucks or so.
Now I don’t know if I would
necessarily wanna do it
with this particular Alienware 13,
but if you ever wanna upgrade
with some graphics options,
even an older laptop like this does have
the ability to do so.
Now anytime you buy something used,
the price is going to be a huge factor.
So, for five hundred dollars
we were able to pick up
not only the Alienware 13,
but it also came with some key upgrades,
including 16 gigs of RAM,
as well as a 500 gigabyte
Samsung 850 Evo SSD.
Inside you’ll find a dual-core i5-4210U.
So this is a Haswell chip from
a couple of generations ago.
You can essentially think
of it as an Ultrabook CPU.
Not exactly what you wanna
find in your gaming laptop.
However, thankfully it
is going to be backed up
by some pretty decent graphics.
The Nvidia GeForce GTX 860M.
While it won’t make a big
difference for gaming,
that 16 gigs of RAM and SSD
does make a big difference
for normal day to day use.
But when it comes to actual
gameplay on this guy,
well the CPU is going to be
a little bit of a bottleneck.
The GPU should be capable
of some pretty decent modern games.
Put the two side by side in Geekbench,
and you’ll see the new
eighth generation Core i5
in the Acer Aspire 5,
absolutely runs rings
around the Alienware.
However, jump over to
the GPU side of things,
and it’s actually surprisingly even.
So not only in the Time Spy benchmark,
but as well as in Fire Strike,
you’re going to be getting
very, very similar performance.
First up, we have CS:GO.
And here we’re running it high at 1080p.
Now we’re getting a pretty decent
60 to 80 frames per second here,
and this is one of the
easy ways to be able,
to tell that you’re not supposed
to walk around a corner.
CS:GO’s actually a pretty
good game to test though,
because while we do have that solid GPU,
we’re going to be missing a
little bit on the CPU side.
Now CS:GO, even though it’s easy to run
at fairly low frames,
especially when you get up
in the like the 80’s, 100’s,
150 whatever the case is.
It actually is really helpful
to have that solid CPU.
But so far it’s actually not too bad.
Move over to the Aspire 5,
and on those same settings
at 1080p medium, we are
getting a noticeable
bump in frame rate.
So, right now actually
averaging about a hundred,
which is pretty impressive.
And I think something
else that’s kinda nice,
is that the Wi-Fi chip in this laptop
actually seems to be a
little bit more robust.
So especially because we’re
kinda little bit farther
from the normal point,
it actually does smooth out
some of the latency as well.
Next up, because it is 2018 after all,
we have Fortnite Battle Royale.
So, again here at 1080p,
this time at medium settings,
we’re getting decent frame rates
in the 40’s to upper 30’s
That’s not going to be
the most smooth playable
experience in the world,
but if you do want a
little bit more frame rate,
it’s easy to knock down
the graphics a little bit.
Or even bump the resolution back down
to something like 720p.
I’m surprised that I
haven’t really noticed
a lot of CPU limitation yet.
Now I’m sure this did
have a quad-core CPU,
or even a faster dual-core chip,
we’d probably be getting
slightly higher frame rates.
But it’s actually not a
crazy pairing with this 860M.
It does seem to be reasonably balanced.
Although I’d like a little more power.
Of course if you guys wanna
know more about Fortnite,
I actually did do an entire video on it.
And how it can run on
pretty much everything
from a super high end gaming PC,
all the way down to a $200.00 laptop.
Well, if you really try hard at least.
One of the nice things about Fortnite
is that it does actually look nice,
almost regardless of what
setting you’re running on.
I mean, come on, you
can run it on your phone
and it doesn’t look that bad.
But here at 1080p, medium
settings, on the PC,
we’re getting a pretty
nice looking experience.
Move over to the Acer and
with those same settings
and Fortnite yet again,
we are seeing a slight
performance improvement.
So as opposed to being in
the high 30’s and low 40’s,
we’re mostly in the upper 40’s here.
Not a massive change, but it is something
you’re going to be able to notice.
If I don’t fall off this cliff.
Next up, we have PUBG, a
game that is not particularly
nice to lower end hardware.
I think this is actually a
spot where we’re going to see
the dual-core CPU struggle here.
Well that’s not encouraging.
It’s able to play the game,
I mean we’re seeing
somewhere in the neighborhood
of 25 frames per second now,
but the stuttering is really bad.
It’s weird, I feel like this
game should be playable,
but right now, I mean
this is a stuttery mess.
Technically it’s running, and I mean,
again my frame rate is not too bad.
It’s showing like 35, 36 right now.
But there’s something
very, very wrong here.
Yeah, even reloading the
game on very low settings,
restarting everything, we’re still
getting that same stuttering issue.
Technically this actually
is slightly below
the minimum specs for PUBG, so
I guess I can’t be too upset,
but come over to the Acer
and we have no such problems.
So I did turn the graphics
down to 720p on low,
but we’re getting a pretty consistent
45 to 50 frames per second.
And thankfully none of those
weird stuttering issues.
This is much, much more like it.
It’s kind of disappointing, really.
So I like the Alienware,
it’s a good laptop,
but at the end of the day
you’re probably gonna wanna
play games like PUBG.
And while, sure, the GPU’s not too bad,
I do feel like that CPU does let it down.
Don’t get me wrong.
I really did wanna like the Alienware 13.
But with options like
the Aspire 5 at $600.00,
it makes it very, very
difficult to recommend
most gaming laptops that
are going to be used.
Now this guy isn’t too far off.
But the lack of a higher
end CPU really does hurt it.
Going new is always
going to be a safer bet.
So not only do you get
that brand new chassis,
but you get the warranty,
you don’t have to worry about
any kind of weird blemishes
on your used laptop.
It’s going to be a safer bet.
But if you do go used,
my main piece of advice
would be, be very careful what you pick.
So the idea of going something
that’s going to be slightly
newer versus slightly older,
especially in laptop terms,
can mean a huge performance difference.
Pick your choice wisely.
At minimum I would go with
a quad-core processor,
and don’t skimp on the graphics either.
Something like the 860M
inside the Alienware
isn’t going to be too bad,
but a lot of times with gaming laptops,
you can spend a little bit more money
to get a lot more performance.
So I’m curious, would
you actually ever want to
pick up a used gaming laptop?
Let me know in the comments below
and I will catch you on the next one.

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