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Need help with decision -- T510 or Toshiba A665

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Last response: in Laptops & Notebooks
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December 26, 2010 1:52:34 PM

I currently have a Compaq M2000 so anything will be better. :)  It's really my main computer as my desktop at home is out of commission for the time being. I will be using it for web development, mostly working with Drupal, but also could be using CS4. I edit personal digital photographs. I hook it up to my tv at home via s-video to watch streaming netflix. No gaming to speak of. (Not the modern games at least). I like the ThinkPads because of the quality and ruggedness-- I'm a klutz, and although it's been several years since I dropped my laptop (backpack unzipped and laptop fell out onto sidewalk-- then once again, falling out of pickup onto driveway), I like the idea of getting a year's warranty of accidental damage. (I'll be getting an actual laptop backpack this time. :p )

I was hoping on getting a lighter, slimmer laptop this time, but the ThinkPad will be just about the same size as my Compaq. This isn't as important, but would be nice.

My brother said I can replace the hard drive with a 500gb 7200rpm for about $80, so that's not as important, either.

I can get the employee discount for Lenovo through a friend. The specs for the T510 are customized. I really prefer the anti-glare screen, but was looking at screen filters to add that if necessary (but don't know the effectiveness of them). The other choices for display on T510 are HD+ 1600x900 (add $50.00) and FHD 1920x1080 (add $250). I'd like to get the best I can afford. I've been looking on the Lenovo outlet site, wouldn't mind a refurbished, and missed out on a couple of really good deals for under $1000 with either the HD+ or FHD, but the past couple of weeks, haven't seen anything under $1200 on there. Ideally, would like to keep it under $1000, but willing to spend up to $1200 (although this is difficult for me) to get somethng that will last maybe 4-5 years. My brother suggested I stay away from i3, and my IBM friend suggested I wouldn't see much difference between i5 & i7 for what I want, so I was going for i5 to keep the cost down, and upgrade in other areas.

I want to get the best graphics I can, but since I don't game, but do watch videos occasionally on it, I'd like to have good graphics, and from the reviews and user comments and forums, it sounds like the GT 330M would be better than the 3100m optimus graphics, which I read is entry-level business graphics. And, that discrete is better than integrated.

I'm stuck (I feel like) between a slicker, prettier, better graphics, better speakers with the Toshiba (which is on sale for about $200 less than when I looked at it in the store), versus the higher quality, sturdier ThinkPad.

I agonize over decisions, so if there's anything clear cut that anyone can offer to make my decision easier.., :) 

I was also looking at the wireless card--I chose the Centrino Ultimate-N 6300 on the T510, because I read something about getting better streaming video with it. I can connect with both wired & wireless for netflix, so it's not as important, (but have been considering getting rid of cable modem for Clear at home). My brother suggested I avoid WiMAX for now, as anything would be proprietary & I'd likely be locked in to one provider.

I'm specifically looking for advice as to whether I will really notice a difference on some of the specs I'm looking at upgrading for what I'll be using it-- the wireless card, the graphics card, the display. I should have posted this several weeks ago. THANKS for any advice or suggestions!!


Toshiba A655-S6098 for $850

Processor: Intel® Core i7-740QM Processor, 1.73 GHz (2.93 GHz with Turbo Boost Technology), 6MB Cache
Operating system: Genuine Microsoft® Windows® 7 Home Premium 64-bit
Display: 16.0 diagonal widescreen TruBrite® TFT LCD display at 1366x768 native resolution (HD), Native support for 720p content, 16:9 aspect ratio, LED backlit
Graphics: NVIDIA® GeForce® GT 330M with 1GB GDDR3 discrete graphics memory, Total Available Graphics memory 2782MB
Memory: 4GB DDR3, 8GB maximum
Hard drive: 500GB (5400 RPM); Serial ATA hard disk drive, TOSHIBA Hard Drive Impact Sensor (3D sensor)
Optical Drive: DVD SuperMulti drive with Labelflash®
Audio: Built-in harman/kardon® stereo speakers, DOLBY® Advanced Audio
Webcam: Webcam and microphone
Communications: 10/100 Ethernet, Intel® 802.11a/g/n wireless LAN, Intel® 4G WiMAX
Card reader: ExpressCard slot, Memory Card Reader (Secure Digital, Secure Digital High Capacity, Memory Stick, Memory Stick PRO, xD Picture Card, Mini SD Card, SDXC, Multi Media Card [shared slot may require adapter for use])
Ports: VGA, HDMI, Microphone input port with Toshiba Sleep and Music, Headphone output port, 4 USB v2.0 ports (3 USB + 1 eSATA/USB combo with USB Sleep and Charge), RJ-45 LAN port
Battery: 6 cell/48Wh Lithium Ion battery pack
----------------
ThinkPad T510 - $1041

Processor: Intel Core i5-560M Processor (2.66GHz, 3MB L3)
Operating system: Genuine Windows 7 Professional 64
Display type: 15.6" HD WXGA (1366 X 768)Anti-Glare Display with LED Backlight
System graphics: NVIDIA NVS 3100m Optimus Graphics with 512MB DDR3 Memory
Total memory: 2 GB PC3-8500 DDR3 SDRAM 1067MHz SODIMM Memory (1 DIMM)
Hard Drive: 250 GB Hard Disk Drive, 5400rpm
Optical device: Multi Recorder Optical Drive (12.7mm)
System expansion slots: Express Card Slot & 5 in 1 Card Reader
Battery: 9 cell 2.8Ah Li-Ion Battery - Dual Mode
Integrated WiFi wireless LAN adapters: Intel Centrino Ultimate-N 6300 (3x3 AGN)
1 year warranty accidental damage

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a c 571 D Laptop
December 26, 2010 2:16:32 PM

Accidental damage warranty can be worth the cost just in 'peace of mind'. And you're right about the business class laptops being a bit more robust and rugged.
I've never seen one of those add-on-glare filters that are actually effective or worth the cost. If you're working in lighting you can't adjust (like in an office) that anti-glare option on the business class laptops is worth the cost on less eyestrain alone.
Those 1366x768 resolution screens are not my favorites for getting actual work done. 1600x900 is a reasonable budget compromise IMO. For serious work you might want to think about an extremal monitor anyway.

Does the Thinkpad have the right connections for your TV viewing needs (now, and in the future)? HDMI is nice in that regard.

Fast dual core (like the i5-560M 3.2 GHz turbo) is an excellent option to the slower clocked quad core 740QM (but the 2.93 GHz turbo isn't at all shabby). Either one would be find for you. If you're possibly going to get into heavy CS4 usage that might be an indicator to go with the quad.

Both options have 'discrete video' but the GT 330 is a more powerful option and is good for light 3D gaming. The NVS 3100m & Optimus Graphics can switch between the Intel HD Graphics built in with the i5-560M CPU or use the NVS 3100m when more GPU processing power is required. Both options should do great for HD video viewing.
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December 26, 2010 4:50:21 PM


Quote:
Does the Thinkpad have the right connections for your TV viewing needs (now, and in the future)? HDMI is nice in that regard.


Ports: 3 USB, 1 USB/eSATA combo (discrete models only), VGA, RJ45, combo microphone in/audio out

I can use the VGA port now. I don't have an HDMI connection on my tv, and I have other priorities right now, and don't see getting a new tv with HDMI connection in the near future. If I get a blu-ray player in the future, I'll make sure it has streaming Netflix, so I wouldn't need the laptop for that. So, I think can live without the HDMI on the ThinkPad.
Quote:
Fast dual core (like the i5-560M 3.2 GHz turbo) is an excellent option to the slower clocked quad core 740QM (but the 2.93 GHz turbo isn't at all shabby). Either one would be find for you. If you're possibly going to get into heavy CS4 usage that might be an indicator to go with the quad.

I asked my bf about heavy CS4 usage-- he said he uses photoshop and illustrator together, working on files with hundreds of layers. I don't do work like that, not sure I would get that heavy into it, so I think I could still live with the i5.
Quote:
Both options have 'discrete video' but the GT 330 is a more powerful option and is good for light 3D gaming. The NVS 3100m & Optimus Graphics can switch between the Intel HD Graphics built in with the i5-560M CPU or use the NVS 3100m when more GPU processing power is required. Both options should do great for HD video viewing

The one game I have needs a 64MB video card with 1.1 Pixel Shader. Would the NVS 3100m be compatible? This isn't a deal breaker, but would be nice. I did just read about a problem with OpenGL pixel shader in windows 7 64-bit.

Thank you very much for your comments. I'm def. leaning towards ThinkPad.
thanks!!
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a c 571 D Laptop
December 26, 2010 5:11:37 PM

Here are the details on the NV 3100M. DirectX 10.1, Shader 4.1
http://www.notebookcheck.net/NVIDIA-Quadro-NVS-3100M.24...
Basically it's the business version of the Geforce 310m, a close cousin on the GT 330m.
The link above covers some graphics and gaming benchmarks.

You can compare that with the GT 330m details
http://www.notebookcheck.net/NVIDIA-GeForce-GT-330M.224...

ThinkPad T510 review (might not be an exact model match)
http://www.notebookcheck.net/Review-Lenovo-ThinkPad-T51...

Toshiba Satellite A665-S6058 review (might not be an exact model match)
http://www.laptopmag.com/review/laptops/toshiba-satelli...

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January 5, 2011 12:21:26 PM

Best answer selected by lemurtx.
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