That one you linked doesn't even say what graphics card it has?
I understand that it's difficult shopping for a computer... much less a gaming computer.. but: The laptop mentioned has a NVIDIA 540M.
I don't really understand something "not being a gaming laptop". The specs put against "gaming laptops" are nearly identical, with the "gaming laptop" often having less RAM and a weaker processor. What's up with that?
If you want to use a laptop to play video games, you need to a DEDICATED graphics card. Bottom line. You're not going to get the same type of performance from anything else and really you're not going to be able to play anything other than some cheap casual-bin video games on an integrated graphics card. But since you said: "I really want something that will play games well at the highest settings at the right FPS," I'm guessing that's not the case.
But then swap the graphics card out for one that will work fine with games? Because that's a really good price in comparison to the other systems on Newegg that are being linked, except for the fact that it has a cruddy graphics card. Wouldn't it be more cost effective to buy the best and cheapest and swap the graphics card?
Nope. It's really as difficult as possible to upgrade any piece of hardware inside of a manufacturers laptop. Other than increasing ram, you're not going to be given too many options.
I've heard really good things about Vaios and their reliability, not to mention a friend of mine just bought one and is really happy with it. That's why I'm kind of steering in that direction. Still, I'm not set on one, but when I see links to these other laptops they really just don't seem worth the price.
I'm guessing your friend has very different intentions for their laptop. If you're going to browse the internet, play casual card games or web games or bejeweled or whatever, then I'm sure a cheap $400 walmart computer would work fine, but you just simply can't expect it to perform the same as any dedicated gaming computer.
And when it comes to this laptop (which is the only other one I've seen that seems more reasonable), even though it has a better card, it's got a weaker processor and less RAM.
You're comparing an i7 to an i5. i7 > i5 in most cases. And while I'll agree that 4GB of ram might be a tad bit low for serious computing use, ram is one of the easiest and cheapest components to change in any laptop so you shouldn't fuss over that.