I got my wife an Acer M5 about 18 months ago. I really like the form factor and the discrete video card. I just wanted a version with 1080p and update versions of processor and graphics card.
I was looking at a couple of Acer and Asus models(UX302lg) but both of those have been delayed or not released in the US for what reason I don't know. Yesterday I found the refresh of MAINGEAR Pulse 14. I like the price(1200 USD) and the fact that it comes with a Nvdia GTX 850M.
Are their any other laptops that would fit in the category?
I recently purchased an MSI GS70, which has an I7-4700HQ, 16gb of RAM, and a GTX 765m with 2gb of VRAM. I would wait for the updated version MSI just unveiled, which is basically the same, but has a GTX 870m.
I just went through this and took a good hard look at the Maingear, the Razor Blade, etc etc etc. I avoided the Maingear, Razor, and several other high performance 14" notebooks as the displays were universally panned. My heart was initially set on the ASUS UX302LG; however it's still largely unavailable and eye-wateringly expensive.
The answer I came up with? Acer V7-482PG-9884. I've avoided acer as previous experience has shown their laptops to be built with the equivalent of duct tape and baling wire. This is totally different. The thing feels solid and quite well built, performs extremely well and the graphics are two steps above the Asus and lightyears beyond the UX32VD-DH71 I had previously.
Downsides... the keyboard travel IS shallow. Feel is ok and the keys have good snap but it's not a typists keyboard. It's good enough though. Power button is in a very annoying place, you quickly learn to avoid it. Loading Win 7 on it was a BITCH as Acer only provides Win 8 drivers. You can find all the software you need, just search for the model number of the component you need drivers for. I think I ended up loading Dolby Home Theater from Lenovo but it still worked. May be easier to stick to Win 8.
Upsides... GREAT screen... truly beautiful. Great sound! I was amazed... definitely well beyond your typical notebook; reasonably full and truly listenable. Has a 2.5" standard drive bay AND the 24gb SSD slot used for cache can be replaced with a much larger drive. So I threw in a 512gb 2.5" ssd and a 256gb mSATA drive and now dual boot Linux and Windows on totally separate drives. I suppose I could've done two 512s and gone for RAID-0 but this is fast enough. Price/performance is spot on... it's not too expensive and having played with an ASUS UX301 is built far better.
TL;DR- The Acer V7 is the best Ultrabook-esque option out there with discrete graphics. Go forth and get one.
i personally have the UX302lg (got it in Hong Kong) and i think it works great for me. you can play crysis 3 on lowish medium at around 40 fps, league highest settings at 60fps, metro 2033 and last light on low at 40 fps, and its still plenty portable and has decent battery life. Not the most powerful but very thin, light, pretty with decent specs and and a really good screen. I do have a desktop though that allows me to play cry3, league and bf4 on the big screen at higher frame rates. I'd recommend running games on 1600x900 since its still plenty high res but gives you a decent fps boost of around 5~10 fps.
As someone said here, the MSI GS70 Stealth Pro is a beast, but it's 17 inches... If you want a 15 inch one, MSI also makes one called the GS60 Ghost Pro, which has an 860m and can have RAID 0 SSDs... Those are the lightest and most portable gaming laptops you'll find, hope this helps!
Dell XPS 15 Touch (Nvidia GeForce GT 750M). This one has bad reviews in the cooling system after a few minutes of gaming and that affects the gaming part. But if you are willing to spend ~$2000 to ~$2400 for a laptop, you probably also may want to spend a few more for an external cooling device. This is has a retina like display option.
If you like this one, you may also think about the Macbook Pro with Retina Display. And the New Razor Blade.
I just found out something probably more appropriate to the price you mentioned: another Dell, the Inspiron 15 7000 (non-touch) with the same Nvidia card, but a hybrid HDD instead of an SSD. It's height is almost the same, but the battery and the screen do change. This one is about half the price the XPS, close to the ASUS (~$1150). And the Inspiron 17 7000 with similar specs (same 1TB HHDD, -->Battery<--, Display Resolution, and height size). Hope this helps.
I don't want to sound like an apple fanboy(I have plenty of macs and pc's so I'm equal opportunity), but I was in your situation a few weeks ago and wanted a top of the line PC with discreet graphics. I liked the screen on the Lenovo Yoga 2 pro and it's size is incredible for an i7 with huge resolution, but no integrated graphics. So I went "up" to the 15" top of the line macbook pro Retina, and am simply amazed at its performance. I can run some pretty amazing PC games in Parallels without even dual booting (though dual boot is a good option for really high end games and apps). The screen is excellent, 16 gigs ram is plenty, 512 gig SSD is great, and all in such a thin package. I'm plenty happy with it. The only down sides is price and no touchscreen (which doesn't bother me). One big upside though is great battery life. Sure, when using the discreet graphics, it goes way down, but when using the integrated one, it lasts quite long. Most "gaming" PC's have terrible battery life. So the Macbook is a great tradeoff machine. Powerful when wanted, but a power sipper also when needed.