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Trying to find the best laptop, but as far as processors go..

Last response: in CPUs
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September 28, 2010 8:07:29 AM

I seem to always be limited between choosing either an i5 or an i7. I'm not exactly sure on details and which one is right, so hopefully you guys can help me make a decision.


My general options are:
Intel® Core™ i5-450M, 2.4-2.67GHz, (3MB L3)
Intel® Core™ i5-520M, 2.4-2.93GHz, (3MB L3 cache)
Intel® Core™ i5-540M, 2.53-3.06GHz, (3MB L3 cache)
Intel® Core™ i7-620M, 2.66-3.33GHz, (4MB L3 cache)
Intel® Core™ i7-740QM, 1.73-2.93GHz, (45nm, 6MB L3 cache)

The i7 840 and the i7 940 extreme are out of my price range.


It seems that the i7 can handle multiple programs running at once a lot better than the i5 can.

However, I will be getting the nVidia GeForce GTX 460M which is a GDDR5. And I believe the i7s handle the GDDR3 format much better. Will that be an issue at all?

I also plan on choosing the RAM option of: 6,144MB DDR3 1333MHz Dual Channel Memory (2 SODIMMS)

If I get an i5 I will be limited to "6,144MB DDR3 1066MHz Dual Channel Memory (2 SODIMMS)"

So what's the difference between the 1333 mhz and 1066 mhz?


I really hope I didn't overload you guys with info. I'm just trying to find the perfect laptop, with the best processor for me.

More about : find laptop processors

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September 28, 2010 8:53:57 AM

Checked Dell and HP website. Didn't find any laptop with i7! Although my search wasn't comprehensive!
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September 28, 2010 4:44:24 PM

Choosing the best processor for you is dependent on how you intend to use your computer. For web browsing, e-mail, word processing, etc... these processors will all preform very well.

The biggest difference between them is that the i7-740QM is a quad core processor and the rest are dual core.

The fact that your GPU's memory is GDDR5 will have no bearing on your processor. The processor uses DDR3 ram which is unrelated (well they are sorta related since they are both types of ram) to the GDDR5 memory in your GPU.

The difference between 1066MHz ram and 1333MHz ram is negligible. You might see some performance increases in benchmarks but I doubt you'd notice a performance increase in the real world.

IMO when choosing laptops, it is more important to consider things like, battery life, size, weight, screen quality, keyboard quality, connectivity, and, of course, price.
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September 29, 2010 4:49:11 AM

subasteve5800 said:
Choosing the best processor for you is dependent on how you intend to use your computer. For web browsing, e-mail, word processing, etc... these processors will all preform very well.

The biggest difference between them is that the i7-740QM is a quad core processor and the rest are dual core.

The fact that your GPU's memory is GDDR5 will have no bearing on your processor. The processor uses DDR3 ram which is unrelated (well they are sorta related since they are both types of ram) to the GDDR5 memory in your GPU.

The difference between 1066MHz ram and 1333MHz ram is negligible. You might see some performance increases in benchmarks but I doubt you'd notice a performance increase in the real world.

IMO when choosing laptops, it is more important to consider things like, battery life, size, weight, screen quality, keyboard quality, connectivity, and, of course, price.



So out of all the options, just choosing the cheapest i5 is the best choice?

I don't mind spending the extra bit of cash to get an i7, if it will be the better choice in the long run.
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September 29, 2010 7:13:29 AM

The i7 will have a significantly shorter battery life, so unless you desperately need multi-threaded performance, I'd go with one of the i5s.
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September 29, 2010 3:05:46 PM

cjl said:
The i7 will have a significantly shorter battery life, so unless you desperately need multi-threaded performance, I'd go with one of the i5s.




It would be nice to have a nice long battery life, but let's be honest: after about a year of continued use you'll have to leave a laptop plugged in almost all the time anyway. So I might as well get what's best.

With my first laptop, It wouldn't last 5 minutes without a charger, so I'm used to having to plug it in everywhere I went.


I just feel like the i7 will be better off in the long run.
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September 29, 2010 3:43:18 PM

Yes it would. Since you say you are used to plugging it in, then its not a problem. But do you have a budget? The i7 quad core laptops do run into a lot of money.

If you are fine on that as well., then why wait!! :) 
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September 29, 2010 4:08:45 PM

You raise a good point about those damn lithium ion batteries.

There is no doubt about the quad core i7 being the highest performing processor in that list.

It's all going to come down to pricing and how you intend to use your computer. If you are a pretty heavy user and do a lot of CPU intensive tasks then go for the more expensive and higher performing i7. If you are like the majority of laptop users and use it for watching movies, surfing the web, word processing, and light gaming then go for one of the less powerful and cheaper processors.
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September 29, 2010 11:40:37 PM

subasteve5800 said:
You raise a good point about those damn lithium ion batteries.

There is no doubt about the quad core i7 being the highest performing processor in that list.

It's all going to come down to pricing and how you intend to use your computer. If you are a pretty heavy user and do a lot of CPU intensive tasks then go for the more expensive and higher performing i7. If you are like the majority of laptop users and use it for watching movies, surfing the web, word processing, and light gaming then go for one of the less powerful and cheaper processors.



Ok Steve, I think you understand what I'm getting at the best.


This would be a typical laptop day for me:

-Surf the web (forum, read the WSJ, probably watch some videos.) I use google chrome, and I typically have several tabs opened, sometimes 2-3 windows.

-Microsoft office for Word, Powerpoint, and Excel. Most of the time I will have several instances of Word, with a powerpoint and sometimes an excel spreadsheet.

-I'd like to play some music, while doing all this. In the past, My PCs could only handle just music, and sometimes that was a problem.

-I'd wrap the day up by winding down with StarCraft II (hopefully on Ultra settings, since I'm getting the nVidia GTX 460m)

That's a typical load I want my laptop to be able to handle with as least effort possible at any given point.
What would you suggest?


I could go with the i5 520M and save about 80 bucks, but with the i7-740QM, I don't mind spending the extra cash, if it's going to be well spent.
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September 30, 2010 12:28:02 AM

Well right now I'm using an HP tm2t with an i5-430UM (its one of the low voltage i5 processors so its only clocked at 1.2Ghz with a turbo up to 1.73Ghz) so it's actually quite a bit slower than the processors you have listed. It works great for web browsing (I have 6 tabs of Firefox open right now), Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, Powerpoint), listening to music, and HD video playback.

Starcraft II is really the hitch here. In those big battles it can get pretty CPU intensive. Tom's had a good article on Starcraft II performance where they showed it's performance scales very well up to three cores. Here's the link:



They end up recommending at least an i5-750 but that's a desktop processor. Similarly numbered laptop models will be less powerful. So based on that, you will probably see a good performance increase (at least for Starcraft) by going with the i7-740QM.

Plus look at it this way, I'd rather spend 80 bucks for a processor that's overkill than spend $800+ on a laptop that's underkill.

Just out of curiosity, what is the price difference between the i7-620M and the i7-740QM?
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September 30, 2010 12:52:29 AM

subasteve5800 said:
Well right now I'm using an HP tm2t with an i5-430UM (its one of the low voltage i5 processors so its only clocked at 1.2Ghz with a turbo up to 1.73Ghz) so it's actually quite a bit slower than the processors you have listed. It works great for web browsing (I have 6 tabs of Firefox open right now), Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, Powerpoint), listening to music, and HD video playback.

Starcraft II is really the hitch here. In those big battles it can get pretty CPU intensive. Tom's had a good article on Starcraft II performance where they showed it's performance scales very well up to three cores. Here's the link:



They end up recommending at least an i5-750 but that's a desktop processor. Similarly numbered laptop models will be less powerful. So based on that, you will probably see a good performance increase (at least for Starcraft) by going with the i7-740QM.

Plus look at it this way, I'd rather spend 80 bucks for a processor that's overkill than spend $800+ on a laptop that's underkill.

Just out of curiosity, what is the price difference between the i7-620M and the i7-740QM?



The 620m will run an extra $190 and the 740QM runs at an extra $210.

Right now I'm looking at around 1732 total, if I got this same laptop with the base components, I'd only be spending 1250 or so. I'm choosing a larger HDD ($20 more for a 500gb as opposed to a 320gb), and a better processor. The base here is the i5-450M.

I'm getting 6gb of ram for an additional $80 and I could get the IC Diamond thermal compound for an extra $40, which I have elected to do at this time.

Along with the Intel® Ultimate-N 6300 - 802.11A/B/G/N Wireless LAN Module for an extra 35. I'm ordering from xoticpc.com and it seems to be in my best interest to get the 0 dead pixel warranty for an extra $100.

That's the real kicker, for me. a 30 day warranty for an extra benjamin. It pushes my total close to my 1800 limit.
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a c 105 à CPUs
September 30, 2010 1:03:44 AM

you don't need 6GB to run MS office and multi-firefox browsers. 4GB is more then enough. Save your $80 or upgrade your CPU. the rule of thumb with laptops is to get the best CPU you can afford since upgrading them is often difficult at best.

upgrading RAM is much easier and often cheaper.

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September 30, 2010 2:39:48 AM

I agree with ct1615 about the RAM. Its fairly simple to add RAM to a laptop and manufacturers always seem to price gouge on RAM upgrades.

The i7-740QM over the i7-620M for only $20 is a no brainer. The more interesting question is whether the i7-740QM is worth $210 more than the i5-450M. You'd basically be paying $210 for a slight performance increase and the ability to play Starcraft II at maxed out settings... I'm not sure if that is worth it but that is a personal decision. You should also think about how often you get a new laptop. Ct1615 was correct when he said that laptop processors are difficult to upgrade, whatever processor you pick is what you're stuck with for as long as you have the laptop.

The IC Diamond compound is a tough call too. On the one hand, it's pricey at $40 bucks but on the other hand it's one of the best compounds available and again, it would be pretty hard if not impossible to put it on yourself.

The hard drive up grade is a smart upgrade. Hopefully the 500Gb is 7200RPM?

Any N-Wireless card will be fine.

I'm not sure about the warranty. I've never had a screen with dead pixels on a new computer or TV but that's a small sample size. I defer to anyone out there with more experience.
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September 30, 2010 4:48:54 AM

subasteve5800 said:
I agree with ct1615 about the RAM. Its fairly simple to add RAM to a laptop and manufacturers always seem to price gouge on RAM upgrades.

The i7-740QM over the i7-620M for only $20 is a no brainer. The more interesting question is whether the i7-740QM is worth $210 more than the i5-450M. You'd basically be paying $210 for a slight performance increase and the ability to play Starcraft II at maxed out settings... I'm not sure if that is worth it but that is a personal decision. You should also think about how often you get a new laptop. Ct1615 was correct when he said that laptop processors are difficult to upgrade, whatever processor you pick is what you're stuck with for as long as you have the laptop.

The IC Diamond compound is a tough call too. On the one hand, it's pricey at $40 bucks but on the other hand it's one of the best compounds available and again, it would be pretty hard if not impossible to put it on yourself.

The hard drive up grade is a smart upgrade. Hopefully the 500Gb is 7200RPM?

Any N-Wireless card will be fine.

I'm not sure about the warranty. I've never had a screen with dead pixels on a new computer or TV but that's a small sample size. I defer to anyone out there with more experience.


As far as laptops go, my last Acer lasted me 4.5 years. I'll stretch it if I can, but this one needs to last me 3 years minimum.


Yes, the 500gb is 7200 rpm. I badly want an SSD, but I can't go spending money willy-nilly.

I like to idea of the Intel N6000 wireless card. It's got great reviews and seems to be $35 well invested.

And, looking at the dead pixel warranty, I doubt it's going to be a problem. Even if it did come with 1-2 "dead" or "lit" pixels, it probably wouldn't be noticeable.


As far as price goes, My budget was $1800 with the pixel warranty, I'm looking at roughly $1652.03. Without it, $1555.08 and the ability to get the Intel i7-840QM and be at $1802.30.

I want to save money where I can, but I can go a little higher if need be.
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September 30, 2010 4:55:47 PM

Well as long as you don't drop it or something this thing should last you 3 years.

An SSD would be a sweet upgrade. I really want to get one for my laptop but the prices are so high. If your laptop model lets you get at the hard drive, you should be able to upgrade to an SSD at a later date. Like maybe February when Intel drops their Gen 3 SSDs.

If you like that wireless card then go for it. $35 is like 2% of your budget so its a minor expense.

The i7-840QM is very similar to the i7-740QM. It looks like the main differences are a slightly higher clock speed and an extra 2Mb of L3 cache. What is the price difference between those 2?

It might be helpful if you posted a link to the build you were looking at. That way we could see all the availible options and pricing.
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September 30, 2010 11:33:02 PM

subasteve5800 said:
Well as long as you don't drop it or something this thing should last you 3 years.

An SSD would be a sweet upgrade. I really want to get one for my laptop but the prices are so high. If your laptop model lets you get at the hard drive, you should be able to upgrade to an SSD at a later date. Like maybe February when Intel drops their Gen 3 SSDs.

If you like that wireless card then go for it. $35 is like 2% of your budget so its a minor expense.

The i7-840QM is very similar to the i7-740QM. It looks like the main differences are a slightly higher clock speed and an extra 2Mb of L3 cache. What is the price difference between those 2?

It might be helpful if you posted a link to the build you were looking at. That way we could see all the availible options and pricing.



Sure, here's the link:

http://www.xoticpc.com/payment-information-ip-14.html
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September 30, 2010 11:53:16 PM

Err... I think that's the wrong link lol. Care to try again?
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October 1, 2010 2:24:51 AM

subasteve5800 said:
Err... I think that's the wrong link lol. Care to try again?




Sure was. I'm sorry.

Here, lol try this.

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October 3, 2010 3:45:45 PM

Hey David. Sorry for the hiatus. I ended up going away this weekend and didn't have my computer with me for most of the time.

Anywho, I've looked at that website you linked. I've never ordered from Xotic PC before but I know Sager is a quality name in the laptop business.

I don't think that the i7-840QM is worth it for $255 more than the i7-740QM. The 840 will perform better but the bang-for-buck just isn't there.

They are gouging you with the IC thermal compound but they really have you in a bind there. Opening up a laptop can be a pain (well opening it up isn't that hard, it's putting it back together so everything fits right).

Just make sure if you go with the i7-740QM to get 1333Mhz ram. Its a small increase but its free.

And don't forget to order a 64-bit operating system.

Other than that you should be good.

Good luck!

Steve
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October 3, 2010 9:41:27 PM

Hey Steve, thanks for the response.


I ended up browsing some more and found this:

Asus G53JW-A1



It has the same card I'm looking for, and it's a lot better I think.


I won't get the IC Diamond thermal compound, because it looks way more expensive than usual.

The Asus G73JW-A1 is a 17.3" screen with some more stuff, and it's closer to my $1800.00 budget.

The important thing is they all have the i7 and the nVidia GTX 460M graphics card.

Everything else is just a bonus.

The big difference in the Sager and the Asus, is the Asus has two HDD's and the ability to upgrade to 16gb of RAM; whereas the Sager only goes to 8GB of RAM and I don't think it has dual HDD's.
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