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New laptop: i7 Sandy vs A8-3510MX

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July 29, 2011 7:00:41 PM

My laptop just died today and I need to buy one RIGHT AWAY as I use this for work.

Unfortunately, I can't spend more that $900 FIRM including taxes and shipping.

The most important specs I'm looking for are:

* 1080P screen
* 4GB on 1 stick (or 6GB on 2 sticks)
* 7200 RPM drive at least 500GB
* Multiple Core CPU

Ideally I'd like an i7 Sandy bridge quad core, but I can't get that configured down under $1000 with a high res screen...

I found an HP dv6z that has the quad core A8-3510MX and EVERYTHING maxed out for UNDER 900 bucks after 30% off, and that sounds GREAT. here's the full specs:

Quote:
dark umber
Genuine Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
AMD Quad-Core A8-3510MX Accelerated Processor (2.5GHz/1.8GHz, 4MB L2 Cache)
1GB GDDR5 Radeon(TM) HD Dual Graphics [HDMI, VGA]
FREE Upgrade to 6GB DDR3 System Memory (2 Dimm)
750GB 7200RPM Hard Drive with HP ProtectSmart Hard Drive Protection
No Additional Office Software
No additional security software
High Capacity 6 Cell Lithium Ion Battery
15.6" diagonal Full HD HP Anti-glare LED Display (1920 x 1080)
FREE Upgrade to Blu-ray player & SuperMulti DVD burner
HP TrueVision HD Webcam with Integrated Digital Microphone and HP SimplePass Fingerprint Reader
802.11b/g/n WLAN and Bluetooth(R)
Standard Keyboard
HP Home & Home Office Store in-box envelope


the reviews on AMD say it's a good machine for gaming and multitasking, but I am going to use this pc mainly for producing music. I use FL Studio and Traktor Pro 2 for djing.

I'm not interested at all in gaming on this machine, am I still better off waiting for a sandy bridge? I'm looking at specifically for music production, and I'm asking about a NOTEABLE difference (not like a 5-10% difference in PC Mark scores) in REAL LIFE situations where I'm using one program with a few dozen VST plugins...

Is the difference SIGNIFICANT enough for me to wait or should I just jump on this AMD machine?

I guess what I'm asking is how much of a compromise am I making? for producing music, am I better off making a sandy dual core build? or am I better off with quad core on AMD?

And remember, I'm looking for an answer specifically having to do with producing music, not gaming or office work or web browsing...

MANY THANKS!

More about : laptop sandy 3510mx

July 29, 2011 8:48:36 PM

okay, it's come down to this at a grand total of $813.81 (- 5% CB):

Quote:

HP Pavilion dv6z Quad Edition customizable Notebook PC
Genuine Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
AMD Quad-Core A8-3500M Accelerated Processor (2.4GHz/1.5GHz, 4MB L2 Cache)
512MB GDDR5 Radeon(TM) HD Dual Graphics [HDMI,VGA]
FREE Upgrade to 6GB DDR3 System Memory (2 Dimm)
750GB 7200RPM Hard Drive with HP ProtectSmart Hard Drive Protection
No Additional Office Software
No additional security software
High Capacity 6 Cell Lithium Ion Battery
15.6" diagonal Full HD HP Anti-glare LED Display (1920 x 1080)
FREE Upgrade to Blu-ray player & SuperMulti DVD burner
HP TrueVision HD Webcam with Integrated Digital Microphone and HP SimplePass Fingerprint Reader
802.11b/g/n WLAN and Bluetooth(R)
Standard Keyboard
HP Home & Home Office Store in-box envelope


vs this from Dell Outlet at a grand total of $707.58 (-2% Dell financing):

Quote:

Latitude E5520 - Certified Refurbished
Intel Core i7-2620M processor (2.70 GHz with Turbo Boost 2.0 up to 3.40 GHz)
Genuine Windows 7 Professional
Latitude E5520 Laptop
320 GB SATA II Hard Drive (7200 RPM)
4 GB DDR3 SDRAM 1333MHz (1 DIMMs)
8X DVD +/- RW Drive
PC Card
15.6 inch FHD (1920x1080) Wide View Anti-Glare LED with Premium Panel
Dell 1501 Wireless-N
Dell Wireless 375 Bluetooth Module
DVD Bezel
Cable for Internal Keyboard
Bluetooth Cable
125V Power Cord
LCD screen cover
65W AC Adapter
Dell Touchpad with Anti-microbial protection
Genuine Windows 7 Professional 32-Bit Operating System DVD
Integrated webcam with single digital microphone
Trend Micro 16.6 PC-cillin 30 Day
6 Cell Primary Battery


With the dell, I'll need to buy another 4gb stick and probably upgrade the HD eventually...

Which is the better buy? I love the battery life of the HP, especially if I'm taking it with me when I travel for watching movies and stuff on the road...

sigh decisions... any input is appreciated!
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July 29, 2011 8:52:05 PM

In term of processing power, the i7 definitely comes out on top. However, the A8 is an APU so what it lacks in processing power.. it makes it up in graphics. If you don't need the fastest performance cpu and want to play games at a budget.. then go for the A8!
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July 29, 2011 9:04:33 PM

thanks for the reply! I probably spend less than 1% of my time playing games... although if I had a machine that made it easy and painless I'd probably do it more...

what I'm most concerned with is definitely processing power, as I want to use this for producing music. I run a lot of virtual instruments + FX and samples so I need of course a lot of memory and hard drive space, things I'd have to upgrade on the dell machine anyway...

but is the cpu that much stronger on the i7 that I should buy this older system instead to get it?
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Best solution

July 31, 2011 12:28:51 AM

sonofabit said:
thanks for the reply! I probably spend less than 1% of my time playing games... although if I had a machine that made it easy and painless I'd probably do it more...

what I'm most concerned with is definitely processing power, as I want to use this for producing music. I run a lot of virtual instruments + FX and samples so I need of course a lot of memory and hard drive space, things I'd have to upgrade on the dell machine anyway...

but is the cpu that much stronger on the i7 that I should buy this older system instead to get it?


The thing they don't show you in the reviews is that the a8 is drastically underutilized in the dv6. Unlike the SB cpu's, the A8 can be both overclocked and undervolted at the same time. It has substantial headroom, most are running it at 2.2 to 2.6mghz on all 4 cores. It's very easy to customize the performance for what you need as ALL of the apu Pstates are capable of manipulation. The chip is also set up for OpenCL which puts all that graphics power to computational use on apps that are coded for it. Since you appear to be a professional, I would check and see if your software can utilize OCL either now or in the near future. If so, the LLano might suit you very well. All in all the dv6z seems an impossible value, but the guys over in the HP Pavillion forum at notebookreview.com are investigating every aspect of this machine and while there are some driver issues with gaming side of things, that are being worked on, the overall quality and specs of the machine are serious bang for buck. There is also the Dv6T version incorporating the Sandy Bridge cpu's for similar money. You might investigate that model.

Lastly, HP heavily discounts its laptops with coupons. Do NOT buy one without one :)  The current coupon is for 30 percent off if you put together a retail specc'd one that reaches 999.00. Real world prices not including taxes (there is no shipping charge) run from around 650 to 750 depending on the 1900x1080p screen (xcellent btw), and a 7200 drive, either 640 or 750. Other considerations are the option to get both a std 6cell bat AND a 9 cell for a modest increase in price. Throw in the blueray, the 6gigs of ram, the fingerprint reader which actually works (once you use it you'll be hooked, its just so much faster)AND, you even get the Beats audio sound configuration system which will b right up your audio alley.

Reports are that it runs cool, quiet, and without localized hotspots. The keyboard is very nice, an island style, the trackpad is receiving favorable comments, and its remarkably light feeling for a 15.6. The USB 3.0 ports may very well interest you for external drive speed etc. All in all quite an amazing package for the money.

After doing much the same research you have, and being a musician myself, I ordered one :)  I couldn't find anything that comes close.

Seer

Couple of more things. Yes the I7SB's are faster at coding, but they cost more, and run hotter. The A8 is easily configured to b very competitive. It multitasks VERY well, and I guess the question comes down to, is it *good enough*. For me the answer was yes. It has no problem running studio software, and its quiet. It's video decoder is very good and vid quaility is excellent. The screen is simply one of the best I've seen. It's just a nice all around package, but again, you can easily get pretty much the same box with your choice of Sandy Bridge, but it will cost a bit more.
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August 1, 2011 4:43:12 AM

here's what I went with:

Quote:
HP Pavilion dv6z Quad Edition customizable Notebook PC
• dark umber
• Genuine Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
• AMD Quad-Core A8-3500M Accelerated Processor (2.4GHz/1.5GHz, 4MB L2 Cache)
• 512MB GDDR5 Radeon(TM) HD Dual Graphics [HDMI,VGA]
• FREE Upgrade to 6GB DDR3 System Memory (2 Dimm)
• 640GB 7200RPM Hard Drive with HP ProtectSmart Hard Drive Protection
• No Additional Office Software
• No additional security software
• High Capacity 6 Cell Lithium Ion Battery
• 15.6" diagonal Full HD HP Anti-glare LED Display (1920 x 1080)
• FREE Upgrade to Blu-ray player & SuperMulti DVD burner
• HP TrueVision HD Webcam with Integrated Digital Microphone and HP SimplePass Fingerprint Reader
• 802.11b/g/n WLAN and Bluetooth(R)
• Standard Keyboard
• HP Home & Home Office Store in-box envelope


total with tax and shipping: $775 (minus $25 cash back net total $750)

not too shabby! I decided, however to use this as my main PC, to replace the one that broke. The original plan was to buy a new laptop for producing music, then migrate my current music laptop for work...

but after reflecting on it, I use my work pc ALL the time, and I need the extra battery life and multitasking power of this new machine more than I will for music.

besides the one I'm using for music is working great and should last me at least another year or two

PLUS I get to write this new one of on my taxes now :) 

so I'm happy I think it worked out as best as it could've possibly gone given the circumstances.

thanks everyone for the input, I am very happy with it and can't wait to try it out!
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August 1, 2011 5:02:13 PM

Gratz, i'm sure you're going to love it. Once you're up and running if you have any questions, drop over to the notebookreview.com discussions forum for "hp" then "Pavillion" and you'll find a bunch of guys who are fast becoming experts on your exact machine. We've been exploring all the performance and usability tweaks that really pay off on the dv6z llano and you will be pleasantly surprised how you can increase performance, increase battery life, and lower temps all at the same time.

It's a fun to tweak box that offers surprising dividends. We've got quite a few i5 and i7 dv6t owners that have sold or traded their puters away and purchased one of these. I'm not aware of anyone that has gone the the other way :) 

Seer
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August 11, 2011 12:52:06 AM

Best answer selected by sonofabit.
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