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Need advice on buying a lightweight, powerful laptop

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Last response: in Laptops & Notebooks
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December 21, 2009 4:30:06 PM

Hi all,

RE: Need advice on buying a lightweight, powerful laptop

I will soon be looking for a powerful laptop that is also fairly lightweight. This will be the first time that I will ever have had a modern cutting-edge laptop. I have always just bought 2nd hand, 2-generation old laptops just as "something to have". (Until 6 months ago I had a ThinkPad T30.)

I am a freelance technical writer/graphicist and programmer and need a laptop that can cope with anything I will bump into for the next couple of years. (For example, when the T30 finally broke down 6 months ago, a brother-in-law gave me his old HP Pavillion dv4000 (seems to weigh a tonne...). I took it with me to a new client and made a multi-media recording of a new GUI their company was building for their product. It was clear that the laptop was laboring under the strain of running at once the GUI and MS Windows Media Encoder. After a couple of hours the laptop overheated and turned itself off. Right in front of my customer... I was lucky that it saved the video file, but did not cap it properly. Also, the playback was very jumpy. Later on, I asked some wise friends and they said that I need a very fast system: a strong CPU and a fast graphics coprocessor.)

So I am looking for a 13" to 14" laptop - up to about 2.1Kg. What has caught my eyes so far are the ThinkPad T400 and the Dell Studio XPS 13 and Studio 14z. I need to be able to carry it with me wherever I shlep (usually commute by public transport) but since sometimes I could go for days without needing to actually use it (use my clients PC instead) I don’t want to carry a tonne on my back for nothing. Budget: in U.S. prices, I suppose that would be about up to about $1500. (I am not in the U.S.)

Specifically, I have heard I need a computer with a *discreet* graphics coprocessor. Also, I remember reading somewhere that that's not enough: there must also be dedicated video RAM, i.e., *not* shared RAM with the CPU (or something else).

I would very much appreciate it if somebody can throw some more light on this.

TIA

avi
a b D Laptop
December 22, 2009 6:46:09 AM

I wouldn't recommend such small machines for a graphics worker...

Anyway, my recommendation is the Lenovo W700. It's got a professional GPU in it, unlike every notebook you've mentioned thus far, and should fair far better than any consumer GPU in a professional app.

http://shop.lenovo.com/us/notebooks/thinkpad/w-series/w...

As an alternative (which is smaller) you can get the W500, which is also equipped with professional GPUs:
http://shop.lenovo.com/SEUILibrary/controller/e/web/Len...
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December 22, 2009 7:18:11 AM

Thanks frozenlead.

I should probably qualify what I say: *sometimes* I do graphics, but it is not a priority - and not critical.

But being able to do multimedia recordings *is critical*. When I need it, boy I really need it. That makes the whole project.

A manager at a client of mine very successfully did a multimedia recording (GUI operation + audio thru a mike) using a ThinkPad T61 with NVidea Quad GPU. But that's the previous generation of ThinkPads. I would be interested in a T400 with such a config.

Great thanks,

- avi
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December 22, 2009 7:26:21 PM

get something with ATI radeon HD3200 and a fast dual core AMD or Intel, 2.0 GHz and at least 3GB RAM. That will do the job.
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January 10, 2010 8:01:05 PM

Asus W3J for $1799?

Since price isn't an issue we'll just say $2600. You can buy me one too
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