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Desktop Replacement (UK)

Last response: in Laptops & Notebooks
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November 2, 2006 12:44:57 PM

A friend is in the process of choosing a desktop replacement notebook. The use that they plan for it is for the majority of the time it will be used as a desktop; however, he is planning on taking it on holidays, etc- which is why he is looking into the notebook market.

In addition, he will not be modding / overclocking it at all, so I think the budget is fairly ceilingless with regard to futureproofing. It will be used as an office deskop, entertainment pc and gaming pc in that order of importance (ie, its more likely to be spent cruching numbers in excel than Oblivion.. although I know its going to be used for a golf game a fair bit).

Currently, he seems fairly keen on the Sony Vaio AR21 range (brand/looks, C2D, and blu-ray being the big sellers for him- although why he wants the next betamax I dont know ;) ) He is unlikely to go for a build from someone he hasnt heard of- so it looks like one of the big manufacturers rather than a niche builder.

So, I wanted to get some other options / opnions for him. So far, Ive looked at the Dell XLS range and the HP C2D notebooks; both have had some pretty good press coverage. However, mobile computing is not my specialist subject- so any help you guys can give me would be excellent.

In particular, are there any brands / models that come highly recommended? Any what is the general concensus on the Sony Vaio's at this end of the market? (ie Overpriced / a good-buy?). And any general buying advice / links theat may help would be brilliant.

Thanks, in advance..

More about : desktop replacement

November 3, 2006 9:14:17 AM

Take this for what it is worth, I am no Mobile master ,I can only speak on what i have seen.


I would not buy another Laptop with a Desktop Processor. too much heat in a small space.


You can get a ton of processing power out of the Mobile Chips now. So for me , As a general rule , Laptops should have Mobile chips.



I have had two sonys, Both of them had Screen issues( developed clusters of dead pixels), then later the sound board in one stoped working. When i went online to Look the problem up , I was the only person at that Time that was haveing the problem, So i dont think it was a major problem with sony( I dont know if it ever became a problem i never looked again)


If it was me and I had to have a Major brand i have heard about ,and money was not an issue I would look Dell XPS line.
November 3, 2006 3:22:21 PM

Many thanks for the advice; although I'm surprised given Core 2 Duo's big reduction in power consumption / heat production I would think it is an ideal mobile processor (relatively speaking).

I have had a Dell laptop (about 4 years ago), and it has served me very well. These are some of the options that I have found so far;

Sony Vaio Ar21s Cd/t2700-2.33g - 200gb 2gb 17in (£1839)

InspironTM XPS M1710 (starting at £1300)

FUJITSU SIEMENS AMILO Xi 1546 Intel Core 2 Duo T7200 (£1105)
This one seems excellent: really good reviews; and a £700 saving on the Sony. A no-brainer?

HP Pavilion Media Center dv9088 Core 2 Duo T5600 2048MB 240GB (£1300)
Again, £540 cheaper than the Sony, and some cracking customer reviews.

Any advice / views would still be great!
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November 7, 2006 8:43:06 AM

Anyone got any of these; decision day is approaching and I would really appreciate any feedback..
November 8, 2006 3:34:11 PM

Well, if you have to go with a big manufacturer your choice is pretty limited in the quality desktop replacement arena.

November 8, 2006 4:25:01 PM

I would try to get your friend to hold off on the blue ray drive, from my knowledge most optical drives pop in and out pretty easy and your friend can buy one (blue ray) and pop it into his laptop maybe 6 months down the line when bluy ray disks become more mainstream. Im sure the blue ray drive adds a lot of cost to the laptop.

Sony seems like they are always over priced and im not so sure its quality that you are paying extra for.

I would say the HP and Fujitsu look alright, with the fijitsu having the ATI 1800 card making it look a little better. Toshiba also has a line of 17inch laptops that use the nvidia 7600 and 7900gs cards, they might be worth looking into.
November 8, 2006 5:12:10 PM

miro, you have packages of goodies on the way. Sorry for the delay.
November 11, 2006 3:55:07 PM

sweeeet, thanx mark! looking forward to getting the new drive, and i understand the delay so no worries man.

KN EXECUTIONER ::

CPU - Core 2 duo T7200 2.0GHZ
GPU - Geforce Go 7900GTX 512mb
SATA Modular Hard Drive - 100gb 7200rpm
RAM - 2.0gb
17" screen - 1440 * 900 resolution
Optical Drive - dual layer cd/dvd burner

Surferosa - the KN executioner is my desktop replacment, ive had it for about 6 weeks and it rocks man. upgradable GPU,OPtical drive and hardrive.

There are a few places where you can get this chasis, but i recommend a custom builder like KILLER NOTEBOOKS, I have been very happy with this machine and the service.

BTW. the laptops are only upgradable to a certain point. I know that i can change my 7900GTX to a 7950GTX but im not so sure that it will support the newest nvidia archbitecture the 8800 once it comes out for mobile devices.
November 11, 2006 5:36:00 PM

With the ability to change the entire video card you really can increase the longevity of your system WAY beyond everyone else, that's for sure.
November 13, 2006 11:46:54 AM

Quote:
KN EXECUTIONER ::

CPU - Core 2 duo T7200 2.0GHZ
GPU - Geforce Go 7900GTX 512mb
SATA Modular Hard Drive - 100gb 7200rpm
RAM - 2.0gb
17" screen - 1440 * 900 resolution
Optical Drive - dual layer cd/dvd burner

Surferosa - the KN executioner is my desktop replacment, ive had it for about 6 weeks and it rocks man.

Sure looks like a nice rig :)  Unless your desperate for dx10, your not gonna have to upgrade that for quite a while..

Being a desktop head (I build my own- its a hobbie, not a profession :wink: ) I dont really know too much about mobile technologies. But Ive done a load of researching on behalf of the person who is looking to buy.

One of the things that concerns me the most about the Vaio (aside from potential for blue-ray obsoleteness) is the GPU solution.

The monitors natural resolution is 1920 x 1200. But this is only being powered by a NVidia GeForce Go7600 256MB.

Even though its not specifically a gaming machine (its uses will be office, media and gaming in that order), I get the impression that it is going to be under-powered running at that res. The only game thats ever likely to make it onto the hard drive is TW PGA 2007.

Out of interest, whats the impact of running at a res lower than the natural resolution? Ignoring gaming, will video perfomance be at all impacted?
November 13, 2006 3:50:39 PM

Surferosa - very good question. I personally have to run my lcd monitors at there native resolution, I find that native resolutions on lcds looks the best and if I lower the resolution then it does not look as sharp and it really bugs me.(specifically text looks worse.)

I think the 7600 card running 1900 * 1200 should be good enough for most office and web surfing tasks and quite possibly even that golf game. I think where you might run into trouble is if you want to start running the more high end games.

AS far as video playback its hard to say. dvd movies and online videos have a much lower resolution than 1900 * 1200 so they are always going to look a little pixelated and lowering the resolution of your lcd may help you match the resolution of the source material a little more but now every pixel on the screen is larger and therefor you will still see pixels.

Its a tuff one for me to anwser, i think you should do a little test at your local computer store, bring in a dvd you jknow very well and play it back at different resolutions to see for yourself. try doing it on a computer with the same video card and screen size you want.

sorry for the long answer but i find this is largely a matter of personal taste. changing from 1900 * 1200 to 1440 * 900 should be alright, but if you lower things down to like 1024 * 768 then things will start to look like mud.


sorry, looking at your post you asked about video performance not the look of the video. the video card has to scale all the pixels down but thats its job and performance should not be affected
November 13, 2006 4:21:47 PM

The 7600 is actually LESS powerful by a noticable margin than the x1600.
It is pushing a lot of resolution and multiple draws on a 1920x1200 screen. Think if it is displaying 3 windows in the background AND changing the main window content. SLOW my man.

Check the graphical spec's here, and you will see that the 7600 is really capitalizing on the 7xxx series name, but delievers like a 3rd string HS quarterback.
November 13, 2006 4:57:09 PM

Yup, id listen to mark, he knows his stuff. I mean there has got to be a reason that very few companies use the 7600 card in 17inch screens.

One thing i remember reading about in regards to Windows XP is that the way it draws the screen is using old school technology and is processing intensive and therefore many blue screens and freezes can be linked to the screen trying to be redrawn. I heard it has to do with the fact that when you move anything on the screen the entire screen has to be redrawn all over again even if certain parts of the screen never change. I think Aero is supposed to fix this because every element on the interface is actually a 3d object and can be rendered and re-rendered without affecting all the other elements on the screen.

Anyways, the 17inch 1900 * 1200 screen with a 7600 card seems like a very odd couple.
November 13, 2006 6:43:48 PM

That 3rd picture is niiiiiiice. LOL
November 15, 2006 6:46:30 AM

Cheers guys.. youve confirmed my fears on this one.

It does seem very strange that Sony have trying putting together top-end cpu, ram (well, at least in quantity), lcd resolution.. even a blue-ray. Then put in a duff gpu.

Like building your own Ferrari, then running out of cash and sticking a moped engine in. Strange.. but not as strange as picture 3 :) 
!