Fairly ignorant person seeks notebook assistance


I've got to acquire a new notebook computer and would really appreciate some help from more knowledgeable people. I'd like to be able to use the machine to play some games as well as do my work. Money isn't a big issue, so long as it's buying significant performance or features.

Following are some of my questions:

1. Some of the manufacturers are bundling standard Pentiums in their notebooks (Alienware, Winbook, etc). Is there a consensus as to whether one should acquire a Pentium 4-M or a standard Pentium 4?

2. It looks like memory sold in the big notebook brands is really expensive. Do notebooks use a different kind of memory? At Dell, they charge $850 to upgrade from 256MB to 1GB. Looking at Newegg, it looks like 2 512MB SDRAM Kingston modules can be bought for under $300. No problem if Dell's price is reasonable, I just don't want to get ripped off. Is it possible to buy memory from a different dealer and install it?

3. I've never tried to play a game on an LCD screen. I understand that they have a native resolution and that setting the screen to any other resolution generates bad results. Is there a consensus as to what native resolution to look for? It looks like a lot of the high-end laptops' native resolution is 1600x1200. Does that mean that games can only be played at 1600x1200 or 800x600? I've heard that the "norm" for a lot of games is 1024x768. Is this true and if so should I look for a laptop with a native resolution of 1024x768?

4. Are 5400 RPM hard drives the best available for laptops? Looks like most laptops use 4200, with a few using 5400. Is 5400 a big improvement?

5. Is there anything else that I should look out for?

Thanks for your help
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More about fairly ignorant person seeks notebook assistance
  1. typical laptop support resolution up to 1024x768 with refresh rate of 75 hertz. sony have some big looking screen with high resolution 1600x1200. typical user play games at 1024x768.
    yup,5400 will make a huge different in speed.
    save youself some money by update memory from crucial.com, they have 20% right now. or search for better price at pricewatch.com. 512 mb of ram is enought for win xp and most app.
    check how long the battery will last. higher cpu will suck a lot of power.
  2. I have been looking around to get myself a notebook too. But I'm planning to get it in a couple of months. Hence, I have been reading up on notebooks and their features.

    1.Yes. There are significant difference between a P4-M and a standard P4 processor. P4 is simply not designed for notebooks, so it lacks the power saving features a mobile processor requires. It's also much hotter than P4-M.

    2.Yes. You can upgrade the memory by yourself. Notebooks use SODIMM memory modules and these are different from desktop memory modules. Just buy them cheap online and add. Thing to note here is notebooks usualy come only with one or a max of two memory expansion slots. So keep that in mind. Memory sold by the notebook company is always extra expensive.

    3.This, I'm not really sure as I have not had a notebook myself. But from what I know, I think LCD screens have no refresh rate constraint like CRT displays. Dell and Toshiba notebooks are known for their quality LCD screens. From what I've read from various sites, Toshiba and Dell have the lowest LCD failures(e.g. spots on the LCD screen, etc.).

    4. Again, the choice of the hardisk spin rate is based on the power consumption. 5400rpm drives require more power than 4200rpm ones . But 5400rpm drives are also slightly faster than 4200rpm ones. 5400 drives also are noisy and hotter the the 4200.

    When you get a notebook, they main things people look for is the battery life(how long a notebook will run after a single charge). The average ones can run for more than 2 hours and the good ones can even get to 4 hours plus. Then go for the display card and screen, what size and model(XGA, UXGA, etc) you need. Find out if the notebook gets hot quickly, this is very important. Currently, almost all notebooks come with DVD/CDRW combo drives, so got for that. Get a 3 year warranty!

    I don't know if this helps much but these are what I've found after some research online.
  3. Thanks all for the help. You're really helping me to narrow down my selection. I've got a couple of follow-up questions.

    5. How hard is it to add memory to a notebook? I've added memory, video cards, sound cards and motherboards to desktop machines, but I've never opened a notebook and am reluctant to do so unless it's relatively straight forward.

    6. Has anyone looked at or read a review of the Compaq 2800T? It looks like a pretty good system, and fairly similar to the Dell 8200. I can't seem to find any reviews for this system though.

    7. Do any manufacturers offer a wide-angle screen besides Dell and IBM? Has anyone actually used one of the screens? Any comments on whether they are worth it?

    8. How useful is a titanium shell? From what I've read, titanium shells are about 3x more strong and damage-resistant than plastic. I guess I'd prefer to buy the more durable shell, but it seems like most high-performance systems use plastic shells.

    Thanks again for all your help.
  4. Quote:
    How hard is it to add memory to a notebook

    In the old days it was tough. Nowadays it's VERY easy.

    <i>It's always the one thing you never suspected.</i>
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