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HELP CHOOSING NOTEBOOK

Last response: in Mobile Computing
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March 8, 2005 6:12:02 PM

Hi,

I was wondering if someone could give me some tips as to how I should approach laptop hunting/buying.

Needs:
-mobility for school
-ability to run AutoCAD and photoshop -type applications
-occasional gaming use, watching dvd's, listening to music


Looking at:
-dell, hp/compaq, toshiba (suggestions welcome)
-pentium-m centrino or p4 w/ HT (what's the difference?)
--does a p4 2.0 ghz run the same as a pentium -m 2 ghz?
--i have read that the PM runs faster although it has a lower clock speed, so does this mean that a 3.0 ghz p4 runs slower than a 2.0 ghz PM??
-looking at about 60 gb hd w/ 7200 rpm
i see some deals with dell that offer a "free" 100 gb hardrive upgrade, but i doubt it runs at even 5400 rpm

-also hoping to get at least a 15.4" screen, or a 17"
(the laptop will be used more as a desktop replacement, with the occasional use in classes or bus rides)

also, is the radeon x300 or the x600 faster than the 9200?

any help would be greatly appreciated!

thanks

More about : choosing notebook

March 9, 2005 2:22:24 PM

Inspiron 6000 with a Pentium M 1.6 (minimum)

- 15.4 Inch WSXGA+ Screen (If you can afford it, get the WUXGA)

- Radeon 9700 with 128 MB

- 512 Megs Ram (More if you can afford it)

- DVD/CD-RW Combo drive.

- 40GB 5400 RPM Hard Drive (Do NOT get the ones that don't list the RPMs. The loss in battery life (like 10-15 minutes per charge) is GROSSLY outweighed by the boost in general loading time, and reading/writing you get.

- One of the Intel Pro Wireless Wireless Cards (If you plan on using the laptop > 1 year, get the A/B/G model)

- Again, this is personal preference, but I'd suggest the bluetooth module. I have a bluetooth printer personally so it works out for me ;) 


All in all that machine listed above will run you about $1,400 with the current discounts being offered by dell and you'll land yourself a MAJOR kickass laptop with the horsepower to do what you're asking while not sacrificing battery life, your back (Laptop is about 7lbs equiped the way I have it listed.), or performance.

Hope that helps.
March 9, 2005 2:40:15 PM

Thanks for the input.

However,
It seems that dell doesn't list the rpm's of their harddrives for the inspiron 6000 though, even the ones listened in the custize section. Being a skeptic, I would think that they would give you a free 4200 rpm one as an upgrade since they don't even give you a choice as to what speed you want. Does anyone know what the speed of their harddrives is?
This is what I see if I customize an inspiron 6000:
-40GB Hard Drive [add $50 or $2/month1]
-60GB Hard Drive [add $150 or $4/month1]
-80GB Hard Drive [add $300 or $8/month1]
-Free Upgrade to 80GB Hard Drive-$300 Value Special Offer

I feel that if I'm gonna be stuck with a slow one (and I have no choice as to what speed it goes at) I might as well get the biggest one.

I'm kind of hesitant to go with dell because I always hear horrible things about their customer service (which most customers actually need because their computers always break down; from what people I know have told me).
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March 9, 2005 11:55:18 PM

The 40gb one there is probably 4200rpm, the others are most likely 5400rpm.
Dell desktop machines have been complete garbage since the 4100 series (the 4100 was the last good dell desktop). Their notebooks are still fairly decent.

<A HREF="http://www.folken.net/myrig.htm" target="_new">My precious...</A>
March 10, 2005 12:42:12 PM

Mr_Coke, I have been through 3 of thier laptops in the last 5 years (I like toys ;P) and I've never had any of the problems other people have talked about.

As far as I'm concerned, Dell is still the best provider of -laptops-.

As for the speed of the drives, I -BELIEVE- that the last poster was right - The 40's and up unless marked faster are 5400 RPM models produced by Hitachi, specifically the 5K80 or 5K100 product line.

<A HREF="http://www.hitachigst.com/portal/site/hgst/?epi_menuIte..." target="_new"> Click here </A> to see Hitachi's info on the drive.

One more time, I'd like to offer my support for Dell. I think that you'll be suitably impressed with what you receive by going with them.
March 10, 2005 5:53:53 PM

Thanks for the suggestions so far guys!
I will seriously consider those options.

now to throw a curve ball out there...
does anyone have experience with apple powerbooks when comparing them to the aforementioned dell models?

aside from compatibility (because it seems like the programs that i will be using can all be used on an apple - other than autocad, which i don't use that often anyway)

i've been looking at the 15" powerbook g4 as well
i know it's more expensive, but all the people i know that own macs say they would never switch back to a pc...kinda piques my interest in a way...

any comments?
March 10, 2005 7:00:10 PM

Don't do it. I've had a G4 powerbook, they blow :( 
It is more the os than the hardware though. Mac os's navigation and general operation is just extra slow. I put linux on it and it was fairly snappy.
The extra cost isn't worth it. The g4 might be good if you want a small sleek thing to mess around with linux on.
If you want a laptop that works fast and well all the time get that dell.
(btw, the hd in the g4 died in 1 month)

<A HREF="http://www.folken.net/myrig.htm" target="_new">My precious...</A>
March 12, 2005 11:33:58 AM

I am also looking for a notebook with surfing, writing, music and photo editing and a little bit of gaming in mind. It would act as a desktop replacement. Right now I have three options: Powerbook 1,67GHz G4 (lousy graphics card, almost no games), HP NX8220 (also called NC8230, a new Centrino notebook with Ati Mobility Radeon X600 which may or may not play Half-Life somewhat decently) or Alienware Area-51m 5500 notebook (with Pentium 4 and a kick-ass Ati Mobility Radeon X800, but it's pricey, bulky and the batterypower is extraweak).

I am a student but fortunately I have some money so I don't have settle for a budget system. The reason why I want a notebook is that I have a small work space so a desktop might take too much space.

The PC vs. Apple -thing is tricky. While Apple's Macs look way cooler, have no viruses, are stable and innovative they
have older technology in them, they are not build with games in mind and obviously you have to buy MAC programs. One of my buddies recommended me a Mac because according to him Mac is really good with photos and music. While I wouldn't be playing games much I still think I do need a computer that I can play games, even for 1 hour a week. Unfortunately, I like firs-person-shooters which demand power. Also, owning Half-Life 2 would be a dream for me, and as we all know, Apple users can't play Half-Life 2 with their Macs, ever.

Other brands? Well IBM is out of the question because I need a widescreen. Dell's notebooks are good but their keyboards suck.
March 12, 2005 4:09:50 PM

HL2's source engine is so well done it will run on anything. My friend has a athlon xp 1800+, 768mb pc133 and a ti4200 and it runs perfectly smooth at fairly high graphics. I run it perfectly smooth at the highest settings on my thinkpad t42 (1.8ghz PM w/ 9600pro).

Of the ones you listed there I'd definatly go with the HP. The G4 is a mac, mac = overpriced poop. The area51 has a SIS chipset, sis for gaming = poop. HP has been making some very nice notebooks, that one should be no exception.

<A HREF="http://www.folken.net/myrig.htm" target="_new">My precious...</A>
March 12, 2005 5:30:51 PM

Well I also think that with all the notebooks available, HP's model looks the best (from inside anyway). Still, when ATI has X700 and X800, I think that X600 could be a problem for me since I am not planning to buy a computer for the next 4-6 years. X600 is middle-end in my opinion, and some have said that the performance difference between 9700 is almost non-existant. I think X600 will go under 30fps when I turn the AA on just a little bit. I have to think about this further!

Also, I do agree that Alienware notebook is poop, but come on... it is a gaming notebook: it can't suck in games.
March 13, 2005 12:50:26 AM

If you need a laptop that will have decent performance for quite some time you will probably want to take a good look at that Dell XPS 2.

<A HREF="http://www.folken.net/myrig.htm" target="_new">My precious...</A>
March 13, 2005 7:57:05 AM

If I remember correctly, Dell XPS has a 17" widescreen. 17" is too big for me, I want a 15,4" screen. I think 17" makes notebooks so big that buying a desktop would be a better idea. Anyway, Dell's keyboard has received many bad opinions, so Dell might be out of the question. Moreover, Dell has a nVIDIA graphics card, and while nVIDIA might be faster than ATI, it is not better in my opinion. I'm an ATI man all the way.

I would really appreciate if someone would have some knowledge if the performance of these new Centrinos with X600 inside them. So if you have played HL2 with them or have benchmarks, I'd really appreciate if you would share it with me.
March 15, 2005 10:59:27 AM

Well, you can't base your decision on 'bad opinions' - i know many people who very much like the Dell keyboards - their layout is in many cases makes much more sense than say Toshiba notebooks, or even HP for that matter.
If it is really that important to you to have an ATI card, then you'll have to make a couple of sacrifices. Don't get me wrong, I'd sooner by an ATI than an nVidia graphics card, but when it comes to notebooks, beggars can't be choosers. The XPS2 is a very nice, very powerful system, and it isn't as big as it seems.

An X600 Pentium-M solution would not give you half as much performance, but it would fit your needs nicely.

Everything on a notebook is subjective, you have to try it out and see if it suits you before you jump to a conclusion.

Regards,
RaPTuRe

Who's General Failure and why's he reading my disk?
March 15, 2005 1:16:54 PM

I do agree with you. However, I think XPS 2 has more flaws than an avarage keyboard. It is so big and heavy that it kinda takes all the fun away from the laptop experience. By the way, I have heard only one complaint about HP's keyboard and it concerns the tightness of the keyboard positioning (there were more room on the sides). Many people are now considerin HP's keyboards better that IBM's keyboards which use to be considered in a class of their own. Actually I have heard several complaints about Dell's keyboards on several models.

Anyway, I posted a question concerning HP's performance (Pentium-M 760 2GHz (or I may go with Pentium-M 750 1,86GHz), 1GB of RAM and Ati X600) in the www.halflife2.net forums, and guys there said that the HP should run HL2 smooth (although I do not expect to have 4xAA on).
March 15, 2005 5:36:09 PM

I think IBMs keyboards are still in a class of their own. My Thinkpad's keyboard is far superior to anything I have seen. Thinkpads are a buisness notebook though, not gaming machines. They (for a little while longer at least) are the leaders in just about everything laptop wise. They just have lacking gaming power but that is not what they are designed for.

<A HREF="http://www.folken.net/myrig.htm" target="_new">My precious...</A>
March 16, 2005 11:43:56 PM

I double that, IBM IS DA KEYBOARD KING ;e>

PS: tried all of them in stores and houses, HP is a little closer than the others, but still lucks that soft tightness and tight softness of a Thinkpad.

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