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ARE ALL NOTEBOOKS CRAP?

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September 23, 2006 9:23:00 PM

My girlfriend and I are in the market for a new notebook. We have purchased 4 of them (yes, 4) over the past month and had to return each and every one of them due to product deficiencies, both hardware and software related - ie. flaky / unstable OS, DVD burner burns duds, hard drive up & crapped out, etc etc. Three out of four got surprisingly hot to the touch, hotter than I expected anyway. The notebooks were manufactured by HP, Toshiba and Acer.

My biggest complaint (though not something I would return a notebook over) was the MEDIOCRE lacklustre performance of each and every notebook. Sure, they performed "ok", but I CANNOT fathom how a dual-core Centrino or Turion notebook at say 1.6 - 1.8 GHz with a dedicated 256 MB graphics chip and 2GB of RAM can perform more sluggishly than my venerable 5+ year old 1.2 GHz AMD desktop computer. I have mid-range tech skills and am able to "unload" much of the bloated crapware that inevitably comes shipped with these laptops, as well as safely disable some of the more offensive and unneeded resource-hogging system services, yet they still chug along and feel strangely lethargic, far from the snappy performance I would expect from a system which should be able to easily blow away my ancient desktop.

If I were going to buy a desktop PC, I would select each component piece by piece and have it custom-built to guarantee a quality, stable, balanced system. I would never buy a pre-configured HP or Compaq or whatever desktop PC because I simply don't trust the cheap-o components they ship with. Unfortunately, this is not the case with laptops - you buy it like you buy a VCR, and hope it's well-built. Given the relatively high-performance specs of the laptops we bought, my only conclusion is that they are loaded with cheap-o components, and so overloaded with "value-added" crapware that they render the OS unstable.

CAN ANYBODY SHED LIGHT ON THIS? Am I right or wrong on this laptop hardware/software issue? What actually DOES go into these laptops?

My second question is, CAN ANYBODY RECOMMEND A SPECIFIC NOTEBOOK BRAND / MODEL WHICH IS REASONABLY PEPPY AND COMPLETELY STABLE? (ie. minimum of add-on crapware). If this model is carried by a major distributor (ie. Future Shop or Best Buy) then so much the better. If not, I'll consider just about anything at this point, but would prefer not to have to buy sight-unseen (ie. over the internet) unless absolutely necessary. I live in Canada / BC if that has any relevance.

Thanks in advance for your help!

More about : notebooks crap

September 23, 2006 10:17:41 PM

Check out killernotebook.com. I am debating between a few different models that he makes. From what I have seen and heard he has
very solid well designed systems. I am not sure what your price range is but PM him or send him an e-mail and see what he says.

Good luck.
September 23, 2006 10:49:39 PM

I have heard a lot of good things about killer notebooks. From personal experience though, I have a laptop from hypersonic-pc.com and it freaking rocks. I have the CX7 model, 2.0ghz Core Duo, 7900GTX 512mb, 100gig 7200rpm hard drive and 2 gigs Mushkin DDR2-667. A couple other places that have higher quality notbooks than you might find at places such as Best Buy are sagernotebooks.com and alienware.com.
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September 24, 2006 4:11:11 AM

Thanks for your replies guys,

Re: 7200 RPM hard drive: will this add a lot of extra heat to the notebook? I have had heating issues before.

Also, does anybody have anything to say about sagernotebooks, or can you point me to a resource where I can find out more about them? Their prices look pretty good. I would have to have to lot of confidence to buy from them online, however.
September 24, 2006 5:20:51 AM

www.notebookforums.com has seperate areas for a variety of notebook vendors, check them out for more info.

Edit: forgot to mention, the 7200rpm hd doesnt really generate any noticeable amount more of heat then a slower one would, my hd is at 39C right now after a few hours of gaming with no cooler on it, just the back propped up(helps with airflow).
September 24, 2006 3:48:49 PM

The notebook I got from Killer Notebooks (Wakizachi) did not come with any crap software, but did include some that is very useful, i.e., a disk defragmenter (Executive Software Diskeeper), and a backup program (Acronis True Image), I use them both & like them. There is also 3DMark05 & PCMark05, but I don't think these are the full versions, correct me if I'm wrong, someone.
It starts up faster than either of my 2 custom built desktops (Athlon 64 3000, 1GB PC3200 DDRAM, ATI 9600XT 128MB). I keep the desktops running lean, with minimal programs loading at startup. The notebook lives up to the promise of multi-tasking, I can run anti-virus while performing other tasks, burn CDs while simultaneously making labels for them, plus having email & web browser windows open, without a hitch. I hosted a multi-player game (Rome Total War) with 2 other machines on my LAN while Zone Alarm was running a virus scan in the background (it was a scheduled scan, and I didn't notice it had started), it didn't slow down the game or make it glitchy. It sure seems to me that the Core Duo is able to stretch out and fly like it should on this machine.
September 25, 2006 3:45:46 AM

Check out this also which is much larger than notebookforums. It's Notebook Review They are more than just a forum, but also provide helpfull links to editor reviews, user reviews, laptop deals and seperate discussions about individual brands and models. The debate over 5400 vs 7200 is debated constantly. Increased heat and battery drain with a 7200 is basically a wives tale. You may notice a few minutes difference but it highly depends on what you do with your computer. Programs that need faster access to large files i.e. video/audio endcoding will see "some" difference as reviews have indicated, but in most cases 5400 is still more than adequate. Why are laptops slower than desktops.. well on battery.. if this was your reference, 1. - intel chips have speed step technology that bumps the chip back to roughly half it's full clock speed unless you internally tell it not to do this. The reason is for saving battery when CPU utilization is not needed and will take away some "snappy-ness" desktops take for granted. 2. - Notebook graphics are not equal model to model.. like nvidia 7600 desktop DOES NOT EQUAL a nvidia Go7600. It's acually more like Go7600 = Fast 7300
3. further beyond that, not all notebooks are equal just because they "list the same parts". Components and performance varies with each build.

I also recommend checking out these places Power Notebooks Gentech PC AND for uber highend
VooDoo PC All Highly recommended with high reseller marks.. stay away from ibuypower and cyberpower, and always check ratings first!

GOOD Luck to you as I have also been searching
September 26, 2006 12:27:17 AM

of course to play devil's advocate, you can always buy a macbook and run either parallels or bootcamp to have both OS's on 1 laptop. I'm not gonna bug you about why you should switch to mac, etc. I just think it's a slick option to consider...I don't even have any mac's myself...too poor.
September 26, 2006 4:11:53 AM

ah, macs are sweet machines though. I really love the way the macbook look and feel. if it weren't for some QC issues and waiting for Adobe CS3.. i'd probably get one
September 26, 2006 4:26:40 AM

I am attempting to put the MAxxus OSX on the Kodachi and Wakizachi as a MAC alternative since the court ruled that, "if you buy the OS you can install it on anything you want."
If I had more MAC/Liunux skills it is probably very easy, but I do not have those skills :( 
September 26, 2006 4:59:08 AM

Now that's interesting. I've been wondering if that would be possible. It works the other way around, with Boot Camp enbling a MAC to run Windows, why not MAC OSX on a PC? Some genius somewhere has got to be working on it.
The Macs are very elegant, but to configure a MacBook Pro to the specs of my KN Wakizachi, it would cost another grand, plus a copy of Windows XP to be able to play games, etc. Ouch!
September 26, 2006 1:41:31 PM

Woodman,

I'm also trying to find a decent laptop. I'm looking for a lightweight, ultra-portable machine (12-14" display) that has something under the hood. (I do number crunching. I'd like decent performance when I can't be by my AMD 4000+ barn burner desktop).

Processor:
I'm going to throw my lot in with the Core 2 Duo (Merom) chips. Whether they'll give you much of a performance boost over the Core Duo chips is questionable and probably depends on the apps you'll run. I think, however, they'll put one in better position to run 64-bit apps in the future. (Gurus chime in here if I'm in error.) I'm looking at either the T7200 or T7400 CPUs (2GHz or 2.16Ghz, both w/ 4MB shared L2 cache) . Both are running at a pretty sweet spot pricewise considering price/performance... especially the T7200. Also, I understand that the Core 2 Duo chips are very close to the Core Duo chips in price, so why not go with the newer technology?

Graphics Card:
If you have any thoughts of running Windows Vista on the machine in the future, you'll need to purchase a machine that can accept an independent (not integrated) graphics card. Vista has some significant graphics needs. The Dell e1405, for example, can't take a plug-in graphics card according to my understanding.... Also, better graphics cards are needed if you want to game.

Hard Drive:
As others have said here, a 7200RPM is currently the highest performance level for notebook HDs. I'm looking to go 7200RPM, but Dell, for instance, isn't always offering them. (There has been talk of supply problems. I've also read that the 5400RPMs aren't too bad. You could probably do OK if you had to go 5400RPM.) I just ordered a Hitachi Travelstar E7K100 2.5" drive to upgrade my clunky HP laptop's 4300RPM HD. I ordered it from Newegg.com for $116 w/shipping. If I can't get a new laptop with 7200RPM, I'll buy a 5400 and if not satisfied, upgrade to a 7200.

RAM: I will put 2GB in my laptop. Right now, RAM prices are spiking horribly. They've almost doubled in the last month or so. I usually buy aftermarket, but now, believe it or not, you might get your best deal from the PC manufacturer. The notebook version of the Core 2 Duos have a 667Mhz FSB. Because of this, 667Mhz RAM is appropriate for such a machine. I think that you could run 533Mhz with not too much performance impact and you might want to if the 667Mhz is too expensive or too hard to find.

Crapware: Unload it all. That's not a big deal. A pain, but not a big deal. Also, check out the other programs/services that are running that don't need to be. Use MSCONFIG command from the Run window. I use http://www.bleepingcomputer.com to see what the different processes are that are running. Also, remember that it's not just the crapware that will bog your machine down. The additional software that you put on can have bad effects/side-effects. Also, your anti-virus software must be chosen carefully. Norton, as I was using, really slowed my machine down. Since I've gone with another AV package, the machine is running much peppier.

Battery: I don't care much. I am plugged in 99.9% of the time.

That all said, I've looked at a number of different machines that fit my needs and budget:

1. Dell Latitude D620 - This one had a Core Duo T2500 (the C2Ds weren't available when I looked at this notebook). It's performance was fine. It was a great size with a 14" display. I loved the machine except for one fatal point which is plaguing this line: The display is really bad.. grainy, unclear, poorly lit, bad viewing angles. Grrr. Had to go back. DO NOT BUY A Latitude D620 until Dell corrects the display. If they do, it's a nice box. (Status: Returned)

2. Dell Latitude D820 - Replacement for the D620. Returned for sluggish performance and similar display problems as listed above. (Status: Returned)

3. Dell XPS M1210 - This is the machine that I'm currently considering. It is an ultra-compact with a 12" display (perfect size for me). It has a shiny display. It used to offer a 7200RPM hd, but now only 5400RPM. I'm hoping for the return of the 7200RPM. You can put a C2D chip in. It's a bit pricey though coming in at $1750 as configured. (Status: under consideration).

Hope this helps a bit.
September 26, 2006 3:06:20 PM

Woodman, I don't understand, you have gone through 2 DELLS, and are now looking at another one?

Why not look at the Kodachi?
Tell me what I am missing here.
September 26, 2006 3:25:27 PM

Mark,
Woodman didn't say that *he* went through two dells. I went through 2 Dells and was relaying my experiences to him. Comprende?
September 26, 2006 3:29:58 PM

Ah, ok, I see my experience isn't needed here.
September 26, 2006 7:45:03 PM

Thanks for your replies guys! Sounds like a lot of people have experienced the same problems I have. I have checked out the various recommended websites and the next time I buy myself a new notebook I will definitely consider them.

However, the laptop I'm currently considering is really for my girlfriend, and she insists on buying something from a local retailer so she can see / feel / try it before buying. Makes sense to me, except (as we know) most of the laptops out there seem to be crap. Can anybody recommend a brand of laptop which tends to be better than others? Ie. some people recommended Lenovo as a superior brand. Other suggestions are welcome. Thanks again!
October 5, 2006 11:52:37 AM

Dude this is pretty simple.

Hands down Thinkpad for Business users. Meaning - Moving around very very often.
Freaking thing is that IBM sold the darn unit to Lenovo (Chinese).....

For homeusers , if you've got the money go for Sony.
If you don't have the money go for HP/Compaq.
If you really don't have money go for Toshiba (but watch out, their service is so crap that you might not want to buy another one after the first.)
October 6, 2006 2:19:23 AM

You could always go the route I did. I am never going back either ;-)

And if needed use parallels, or boot camp.
October 9, 2006 5:15:31 PM

The problem with most companys now adays , ( even alienware and voodoo ) is they just dont understand their customers. There customers want a pc that will come to them with the basic necessity of software and drivers , and not all the crap that comes with it. I do have to say the fact that killernotebooks.com , mark only installs the necessitys and not all this junk that most of the other laptop companys install.
If you looking for a good pc , that wont slow down , take a look at th Wakizachi.
October 15, 2006 4:23:00 AM

wood:

Have you consider Asus Ferrari notebooks? They are killer system. you can get the fastest hardware. Asus doesn't have all the bloat software come with it.
July 1, 2010 8:05:57 AM

No all are not crap notebooks. It depends on what you buy? and how you use?. I have 1 Dell and ! Asus, Both are excellent in performance. If you want to know about laptop's visit http://www.onlinenotebook.com
July 1, 2010 6:54:55 PM

Woodman,

About the preconfigured computers, I can understand where you are coming from and have to say that I have had a preconfigured HP a320N desktop for 5+ years (2.01 ghz single core with 2 gigis of ram). It is getting to the point I hate to part with it but I ahve burned out more after market parts (2 video cards, 1 power supply, and 2 burners) than anything else. I think a lot of the parts that come with the more reputable systems may ahve their issues, but often you can get things fixed without having to scrap the whole system. That is the nice thing about parts, they are replaceable. The other thing I think people seem to forget is that laptops are still really pretty new. If you look at computing in general processors tend to double in speed every 2-5 years and I think a lot of the peripherals are not caught up yet, so there are issues that you are going to notice. As to laptops getting so hot, when you have solid mostly closed case you really limit the space for air to pass around the processor or gpu on your laptop and the heat from the system running has to go somehwere. On your big old desktop you probably ahve afan directly on top of the processor, GPU and a case fan plus air circulating in the case all the time. I think a lot of how long stuff lasts depends on how you use it and what you use it for.
a b D Laptop
July 2, 2010 5:04:24 AM

This thread is 4 years old...
August 18, 2011 8:40:36 PM

Now it's 5 years old. Happy Birthday!
a c 433 D Laptop
August 19, 2011 2:22:21 AM

Great.

A stupid idiot registered a user ID just to dig up an old post.

Someone please lock this thread.
!