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I-3 or i-5? and 4GB or 6GB?

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January 22, 2011 10:11:31 PM

Hello, I would be grateful for some help.
I have been researching laptops to replace my desktop and think I have settled on Dell Inspiron 15R, but am not sure whether to go with i-3 or i-5 and if it is more important to get a better processor or more memory (i.e., 4GB or 6GB). I've been advised both ways by different techs.
I mostly use my computer for lots of document work, some photo editing, lots of email and internet research, some video watching. No gaming.
One tech advised that I go with i-5 just to stay a little ahead of the technology curve for the future, since I would like to have this computer for 5-6 years. Another tech I talked with at Dell said no, I really only needed i-3 but he would recommend 6GB of Ram. Could you help clarify?

The choices seem to be:
i-3, 4GB (I think this is with a 500 GB hard drive)
i-3, 6GB
i-5 4GB
i-5 6GB

I would like to stay value conscious, although I am willing to spend a little bit more if advisable for longevity, performance, etc. Don't want to if unnecessary, though!
I am currently using a Dimension 4700 desktop, pentium 4 processor, with 512 RAM. (6 years old)

Thank you so much for any help / advice you can offer!

More about : 4gb 6gb

January 23, 2011 2:23:18 PM

SR-71 Blackbird said:
i5 and 6 gigs!

Thank you for replying....I'm wondering if the choice financially would be between i-3, 6 gb and i-5, 4gb, which would be best?
Thanks...
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January 24, 2011 6:35:13 PM

I'd like a well-reasoned answer as well. I recently purchased an i3 machine, upgrading from a p4. I noticed little performance difference in the tasks I use the machines for (email, word processing, web surfing, spreadsheets, presentations). The main reason I upgraded was because of the software--I needed Office 2010 & I got a package deal that made the hardware seem really cheap. Still, I compared processor speed scores and found my i3 beat many i5's. I've long ago learned you can't keep up with technology by buying a faster processor or more memory. You buy into generations of technology. For example, a p4 chip is far less capable than a hyperthreaded p4 chip, which is in turn less capable than a multi-core chip of the next generation. These aren's just processor speed differences, but differencs in archetecture that programmers specifically use. Mainstream programs are optimized for a certain generation of technology. Just try to do a simple video card upgrade to your p4 machine and you'll see what I mean. So all i3, i5, and i7 machines will become obsolete when programs are written that take advantage of the unique features of the next generation of processor technology. In the mean time, you'll have to make you own judgement about the speed/cost tradeoff. Just don't think for a minute that in 5-6 years there will be a consequential distinction between an i3 and an i5.

Brett
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January 24, 2011 8:44:18 PM

Wow, Brett...Thank you...That is really helpful. I was just told by a Dell tech, though, that getting an i-5 would definitely increase the longevity. He seemed to think that for what I use the computer for, i-3 would be fine but I might want to consider i-5 for longevity. Or if I go with i-3, he said upgrading to 6GB memory would be helpful in the long run....I think he said it would help with speed, by allowing more space.
I may be overthinking all this!

I am also wondering re Dell inspiron 15R vs. Sony Vaio EB.
The same specs in Sony are more expensive but would the quality be better (and customer service and warranties?) in the long run?
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January 25, 2011 3:18:00 PM

Please don't think my opinions are worth more than what you paid for them. I'm not in the technology industry. Take a look here for someone who actually knows:
http://www.brighthub.com/computing/hardware/articles/66...
or just google mobile core i3 vs i5.
You might see some immediate benefit from a low voltage i5 in terms of battery life. Otherwise, the distinctions sound pretty meaningless to me for the type of applications you're running. Remember, when you call Dell you're talking to a salesman whose job it is to upsell you.

As for Dell vs Sony, I've had both. With laptops, I get the 2 year protection plan. I've always had at least one claim, no matter the brand.

Good luck!

Brett
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January 25, 2011 8:20:28 PM

^1 Brett! Especially the "free advice ..." line!

pinstripes, after you do your research, go with the i5 and the maximum RAM that you can afford to buy - 6GB - Brett is right!

Regarding Sony Vs Dell support - are Sony's Indians better than Dell's Indians?
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January 26, 2011 3:05:27 AM

ltbrett said:
Please don't think my opinions are worth more than what you paid for them. I'm not in the technology industry. Take a look here for someone who actually knows:
http://www.brighthub.com/computing/hardware/articles/66...
or just google mobile core i3 vs i5.
You might see some immediate benefit from a low voltage i5 in terms of battery life. Otherwise, the distinctions sound pretty meaningless to me for the type of applications you're running. Remember, when you call Dell you're talking to a salesman whose job it is to upsell you.

As for Dell vs Sony, I've had both. With laptops, I get the 2 year protection plan. I've always had at least one claim, no matter the brand.

Good luck!

Brett



Brett...Again, thank you. Helpful link and article! I really didn't realize there was a difference in intel core for desktops and laptops. For the most part I will be using the laptop at my desk, plugged in, so the battery life may not be as important for me as other considerations...at least in the near future. But you never know, if I have the capability of being mobile...I might enjoy using it elsewhere, wirelessly, too.

I was going to go for the 2-year protection plan too...I hope that is enough!
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January 26, 2011 3:15:44 AM

377555,7,524018 said:
^1 Brett! Especially the "free advice ..." line!

pinstripes, after you do your research, go with the i5 and the maximum RAM that you can afford to buy - 6GB - Brett is right!




(Ubrales...I thought Brett was saying i-3 would be fine?)
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January 26, 2011 6:25:05 PM

pinstripes said:
377555,7,524018 said:
^1 Brett! Especially the "free advice ..." line!

pinstripes, after you do your research, go with the i5 and the maximum RAM that you can afford to buy - 6GB - Brett is right!




(Ubrales...I thought Brett was saying i-3 would be fine?)
said:

i3 would work fine, but the i5 would be better!
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January 26, 2011 7:19:09 PM

Ubrales said:
i3 would work fine, but the i5 would be better!



Ubrales, I don't want to keep dragging this out...BUT...I am wondering...Yes, it does seem the general consensus is exactly what you say--that i-5 would be best--but I would like to understand why exactly it would be better....What exactly would I notice as the difference? That would really help me....Thanks!! (It probably seems obvious to you but it isn't to me...and I would really like to understand!)
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January 27, 2011 2:51:18 PM

pinstripes said:
Ubrales, I don't want to keep dragging this out...BUT...I am wondering...Yes, it does seem the general consensus is exactly what you say--that i-5 would be best--but I would like to understand why exactly it would be better....What exactly would I notice as the difference? That would really help me....Thanks!! (It probably seems obvious to you but it isn't to me...and I would really like to understand!)

In a nutshell - Performance! Higher performance does come at a higher price.

More information supporting my statement here: http://www.brighthub.com/computing/hardware/articles/61...

and here: http://www.brighthub.com/computing/hardware/articles/65...

HTH
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January 27, 2011 11:51:57 PM

Ubrales said:
In a nutshell - Performance! Higher performance does come at a higher price.

More information supporting my statement here: http://www.brighthub.com/computing/hardware/articles/61...

and here: http://www.brighthub.com/computing/hardware/articles/65...

HTH




Thanks....The second link added some more clarity, but I think it confirmed that for what I use a computer for, I might not notice much difference between i-3 and i-5. If I find a good offer on an i-5, I'll probably go for it, though! :??: 
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January 28, 2011 11:24:03 AM

Good idea!
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January 28, 2011 5:37:03 PM

If you want it for 5-6 years you need to wait. Next generation of Intel mobile CPU's will start appearing in quantity soon. See today's Tom's article for why they will be better.
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/core-i7-2820qm-sand...

Prices being equal I would pick a faster CPU and less RAM. You can add RAM later. It's a lot more difficult to change a laptop CPU. Also 6GB is an odd number. 4GB or 8GB is better for dual channel ram if the laptop supports it. There isn't a compelling case for more than 4GB of ram currently either with the tasks you want to perform except possibly extremely large documents and advanced photoshop. See here. http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/ram-memory-upgrade,...
I don't disagree with the conclusion. More memory is better. However, it only helps massively in 2 cases. 32-bit ramdrives and massive memory users like rendering and only when you get up to 12GB.
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January 29, 2011 12:36:23 AM

UniqueName said:
If you want it for 5-6 years you need to wait. Next generation of Intel mobile CPU's will start appearing in quantity soon. See today's Tom's article for why they will be better.
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/core-i7-2820qm-sand...

Prices being equal I would pick a faster CPU and less RAM. You can add RAM later. It's a lot more difficult to change a laptop CPU. Also 6GB is an odd number. 4GB or 8GB is better for dual channel ram if the laptop supports it. There isn't a compelling case for more than 4GB of ram currently either with the tasks you want to perform except possibly extremely large documents and advanced photoshop. See here. http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/ram-memory-upgrade,...
I don't disagree with the conclusion. More memory is better. However, it only helps massively in 2 cases. 32-bit ramdrives and massive memory users like rendering and only when you get up to 12GB.



Thanks so much for sharing this.....I'm wondering how soon they will appear and if the pricing will increase? I definitely want it to last 5-6 years.
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January 29, 2011 8:53:51 AM

pinstripes said:
Thanks so much for sharing this.....I'm wondering how soon they will appear and if the pricing will increase? I definitely want it to last 5-6 years.

Any computer that you buy/build today, will be "technologically obsolete" in 3 years; maybe in less.

The hardware will last for over 6 years, and it is possible to maintain it through some upgrading. In fact, I have an old Dell Dimension 4600 that is 10 years old, with CD drives (not DVD drives) still running. Two years ago, I upgraded the RAM to 2 GBs, and upgraded the C: drive from 40 GB to 250 GB. I also added a 500 GB HDD to this computer.

The Dimension 4600 runs; slow, but runs.

Now I use an i7-920 CPU computer that I built a year ago, and overclocked the CPU from the stock 2.66 GHz to 3.82 GHz. This computer is running flawlessly now and I expect it to last maybe another 3 years. Sometime in 2012, I will start building a technologically newer computer.

In conclusion, buy whatever makes sense to you now. Whatever you buy will be technologically obsolete in 3 years anyway.
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January 29, 2011 6:01:05 PM

Ubrales said:
Any computer that you buy/build today, will be "technologically obsolete" in 3 years; maybe in less.

The hardware will last for over 6 years, and it is possible to maintain it through some upgrading. In fact, I have an old Dell Dimension 4600 that is 10 years old, with CD drives (not DVD drives) still running. Two years ago, I upgraded the RAM to 2 GBs, and upgraded the C: drive from 40 GB to 250 GB. I also added a 500 GB HDD to this computer.

The Dimension 4600 runs; slow, but runs.

Now I use an i7-920 CPU computer that I built a year ago, and overclocked the CPU from the stock 2.66 GHz to 3.82 GHz. This computer is running flawlessly now and I expect it to last maybe another 3 years. Sometime in 2012, I will start building a technologically newer computer.

In conclusion, buy whatever makes sense to you now. Whatever you buy will be technologically obsolete in 3 years anyway.



Ubrales, I guess that sort of sums it all up and puts everything in perspective. In one of the articles I read, the author advised to "buy what makes sense now and let the future take care of itself," which seems to echo what you are saying too. You can't really race with the future?
You are fortunate that you know how to build and upgrade your own computers!
I'm really grateful for all who have contributed to this thread....I've learned a lot and it has really helped!

One last question....Do you know if i-3 or i-5 would run cooler? I don't usually do too much multitasking. Have noticed in stores that the AMD models usually feel "hot"...which is one reason I don't like AMD.

Actually another question too....I sometimes see ads for i-3 or i-5 (4GB RAM) with a 640GB hard drive.....It seems the 500 GB hard drive would be fine?? Just saw a Sony Vaio EB (15") i-5, 4gb, 640 hard drive for $749 at TigerDirect.....Was just about to order (for about the same price) an i-3, 4GB preconfigured model through Sony. The Tiger Direct rep really confused me re warranty options...and I ended up feeling it might be simplest and best to just go through Sony and their warranties. Has anyone had experience with TigrDirect and their warranties.....I saw a review of someone who bought a Sony vaio there but when she had problems, Sony didn't honor the first year standard warranty??
Sometimes, simplest seems best...
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January 30, 2011 12:34:22 PM

pinstripes, the heat generated and dissipated depends primarily on the CPU/heatsink installation and to a lesser extent on the application(s). Ambient temp also plays a part. All things being equal, the CPUs with higher processing capabilities will run hotter, but normally not hot enough to destroy itself. For example, my i7-920 CPU (overclocked to 3.82 GHz) normally runs at 27 degrees C (per RealTemp 3.40) while running MS Office, Project Mgmt. program, AutoCad, email, and PhotoShop. So the temps should not be an issue in your case.

Regarding the 'extended warranties' offered by retailers - this is pure gravy for them! Easy money for the retailer. And how do they sell the customer this extended warranty? By instilling fear in the customer. And by promises of 'home repair', loaner car in the case of automobiles, fast 'priority' service, etc. - we have all seen these tactics in cars, computers, appliances, etc. - I personally would never buy extended warranty for any of these items. There are some exceptions to this rule based on extenuating individual circumstances, but as a general rule, you do not need it.

Regarding Sony not honoring the warranty in the first year, I would take this with a grain of salt! All major companies, especially one as large as Sony would definitely honor their warranty. If not, there are consumer protection agencies to go to. Also, the ICC would frown on gross violations like this. I don't see this as a major area of concern. In a lighter vein: Believe half of what you see, and none of what you hear!

Go ahead and buy the computer of your choice! Or, if you can, build your own desktop.
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January 30, 2011 2:53:46 PM

i3 with 6GB is a lot better for your needs. None of the apps you have referred to are particularly CPU intensive. On the other hand more RAM is always good in the long run.
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January 30, 2011 9:54:34 PM

Thanks....You all are great!! :) 
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February 7, 2011 2:39:16 AM

Best answer selected by pinstripes.
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