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A8 3500m or core i5 2410QM for general use

Last response: in Laptops & Notebooks
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February 1, 2012 1:53:55 PM

My son is headed to college soon and we re in need of a new notebook. I am deciding between Dell Vostro 3300 series and ASUS u53 series. AMD quad core in the Dell and I5 processor in the ASUS. OPinions on Processer and Dell v ASUS would be helpful. Thanks
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February 1, 2012 2:02:46 PM

Hello rmjaj0413;

The CPU/APU comparison would be 'close enough' in performance that either one will be a good choice.
The Vostro is a business class notebook and should have a very slight edge in overall ruggedness and longevity. It also has a matte / anti-glare LCD screen which will be handy in difficult lighting situations (like large lecture halls and shady outdoors coffee bars).

Did you mean the Asus A53?
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February 1, 2012 2:03:00 PM

Dell is a cheap plastic. Asus has much better finish. For general use A8 is more than enough plus has better graphic core.
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February 1, 2012 3:23:37 PM

Hi, I'm a computer technician.

Here's an example of a great laptop and I'll then explain:
http://www.ncix.ca/products/index.php?sku=64776&vpn=120...

1) Lenovo makes quality laptops (unlike Acer)
2) The CPU and GPU are combined as a single chip. Many of the APU's for laptops are in my opinion not powerful enough for the CPU portion but this one is. I highly recommend the E2-3000 APU which has sufficient processing power while still being cool.

This APU is not only adequate but produces less heat than the Intel CPU. The laptop is noticeably cooler and quieter than the Intel CPU laptops.

3) excellent value

This laptop is a well made product. It is quiet, cool, and has all the needed inputs and outputs, including HDMI.

Other:
I recommend getting a Logitech mouse with the NANO usb receiver so you can just leave the receiver installed in the USB slot all the time.
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February 7, 2012 8:50:58 PM

Both i3 and A8-3500 are good choices--and you can get
laptop with those for as little as 400-500 range on sale.

Choosing which one depends on your need. i3 is a slightly
faster cpu processor but will not matter much except for highly
intensive tasks (such as video processing, etc.)

However, if your interest is games (Caveat : maybe your
son should not have the temptation of a half-way decent
gaming laptop) the A8-3500 is about twice the fps
as i3 (with the onboard 3000 graphics processor)
(see all the comparisons). While it will not do very well
on the latest games, it is halfway decent

(my $499/on-sale Gateway NV55S05u A8-3500 6GB/640GB HD
laptop plays Skyrim at 20 fps at the laptop's native res (1366x768)
with medium effects (8 samples in AA/Anis, High jn Texture, Shadow,
Decal, Distance, Medium in Radial and FXAA off.
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February 7, 2012 11:46:15 PM

If you want your son to be able to play games from time to time, then get him a laptop with the A8-3500.

If you just want him to study and do homework, then get him a laptop with the Intel i5. You can even drop that down to an Intel i3. :) 
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February 8, 2012 10:29:26 PM

You can find laptops with higher-end APU's (quad-core) that perform better in games as mentioned for the same price ($500 to $600 if you shop around).

The Intel CPU for the same price would be faster, but not for games because of the inferior graphics.

Since the APU is quieter, cooler AND performs better why would you bother with the Intel CPU?

Basically you wouldn't. It would be faster at Anti-Virus and backups but these can be run in the background and only run a small portion of the time anyway.

I strongly recommend a high-end APU system like the Lenovo which I mentioned.
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February 8, 2012 10:46:50 PM

Games?
I should add there are several games which would run just fine, and not just Angry Birds or Pacman.

I strongly recommend using STEAM if you get any games. Some STEAM games that would run good on lower-end systems:

1) Torchlight 1 and 2
2) Deus Ex #1 (still a good game)
3) Sam and Max series
4) Bastion
5) Command and Conquer 3 (on Medium. FYI, runs at 30FPS)
6) Defense Grid the Awakening
7) King's Bounty (and similar games; if you like this type of game)
8) Left 4 Dead 2 (maybe)
9) Half Life 2 (maybe)
10) Magicka (stuttering issue is now fixed)
11) Portal 1 and 2 (maybe)
12) Supreme Commander 2 (maybe)
13) Trine 1 and 2
14) Dawn of War - Soulstorm (earlier DOW Gold and Winter Assault are 4x3 res only)

15) Diablo 3 (possibly, if they did a good job of scaling, especially want to offer 30FPS, but they didn't for Starcraft 2 so you get screen tearing below 60FPS)

*RadeonPro is an awesome tool which I have 20 games using. I either turn on Anti-Aliasing, VSYNC or both where not supported. You can even support 30FPS (DOUBLE VSYNC). I forced The Sims 3 to 30FPS, and it runs much smoother.

**Always try a DEMO where possible and tweak while using FRAPS to display frame rates (or show in RadeonPro). For example, if the game is to run at 30FPS VSYNC then I tweak until it gets 30FPS at least 90% of the time. I leave VSYNC off so I can view where my frame rate is at. Once I'm done tweaking, VSYNC should be ON to avoid screen tearing.

For 60FPS games I do the same thing. Sometimes you still get too much stuttering so should adjust AA, Shadows etc.

***It's much better to lower quality than to have a lot of stuttering. Having said that, it's a bit of a learning curve to adjust the best combination. For example, don't turn off AA and have jagged edges but be able to run Textures and Shadows on HIGH. It's better to have 2x or 4xAA and Medium textures etc.
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February 17, 2012 12:31:04 PM

photonboy said:
Hi, I'm a computer technician.

Here's an example of a great laptop and I'll then explain:
http://www.ncix.ca/products/index.php?sku=64776&vpn=120...

1) Lenovo makes quality laptops (unlike Acer)


I have to disagree there. Most laptop "manufacturers" don't even make their own laptops. Laptops are like people, under the skin, they're all pretty much the same, just as we are. No matter what brand the laptop is, whether it's Acer, HP, Dell, Gateway, Lenovo, Compaq, ASUS, eMachines, Alienware, MSI, Toshiba or Packard-Bell, they're all made with the same internals from Intel, AMD, VIA, ARM, nVidia, ATi, Seagate, Hitachi, Western Digital, Foxconn, etc. They're also ALL MADE IN CHINA which means that most likely that they didn't even design the thing to begin with, they just bought the rights to a Chinese design, threw their name on it and marketed the hell out of it in North America. As an example of what I'm talking about, here's a "little" (read: MASSIVE) company that few people have heard of called Quanta Computer:
http://www.quantatw.com/Quanta/english/product/qci_nb.a...
They are the largest manufacturer of laptops in the world. How is this possible when we never see Quanta-brand laptops? Obviously, they sell in bulk to the "OEMs" who have them cosmetically customised to have their brand and colours. Ever wonder why laptops tend to look more or less the same except for colour and name? Now you know. It's the same with most industries these days. HannStar is a gigantic maker of LCD panels, monitors and TVs but few people have heard of them. I only know this because I used to work for TigerDirect and therefore I've learned a lot about the marketing BS in the industry. This person says that Acer makes low-quality laptops. I actually prefer Acers because they tend to have the least number of proprietary crap built into their hardware compared to most other "makes". This is probably because they try to keep as many common parts between Acer, Gateway, eMachines and Packard-Bell (The four "brands" that Acer owns) as possible.

Having said all that, it really boils down to what you want to do and the budget involved. See, I bought my Acer Aspire 5565 for $500CAD with the A8-3500M and could have purchased a similar machine with the i5-2410QM for about the same price but any Intel-based machine at that price point will have the proverbial "Albatross around your neck", a.k.a. Intel Graphics. I have Intel graphics at work in my Lenovo workstation and even when only using XP Pro and Internet Exploder, the screen stutters just from scrolling. I find that Intel graphics (especially because their drivers work about as well as a wooden nickel) can ruin the experience by making the computer appear to run slower than it really is. For a good all-around laptop at the $500 price mark, you really can't miss with the A8-3500M. This is simply because the A8 has good CPU performance with stellar GPU performance while the i5 has stellar CPU performance with god-awful GPU performance. This makes the A8 far more versatile, especially for gaming. It's like this, some CPU-intensive software might run slower with the A8, but it WILL run. On the other hand, despite the stellar CPU performance of the i5, a lot of GPU-intensive software (games, for instance) will NOT run. This reminds me of a girl I knew who couldn't even get TheSimsOnline to run on her Intel-based laptop simply because it had Intel Graphics. She had a C2D T4400 with (I think) the Intel GMA 3500HD and it wouldn't run. Meanwhile, my old laptop with an AMD Athlon 64 2650e and ANCIENT Radeon X1200 graphics ran TSO just fine. In this day and age, the quality of the GPU is proving to be almost as important as the CPU. The fact that the Radeon HD 6620G is built onto the A8 die also means it literally sips wattage so the battery is approximately tripled compared to the older AMD mobile offerings.
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February 17, 2012 1:24:55 PM

Avro Arrow
Are Sony in the mix too?
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February 17, 2012 4:03:04 PM

imusorka said:
Avro Arrow
Are Sony in the mix too?

Absolutely. If a corporation can make more money by outsourcing without anyone knowing the difference, it would be stupid of them not to. Taken directly from Quanta's own website:
"Established in 1988, QUANTA is well known for its quality and design in manufacturing laptop computer. As the world's largest laptop ODM manufacturer, one out of every three laptop PC in the world is manufactured by QUANTA. That's why all the top ten PC companies in the world have chosen Quanta as their ODM partner."

Think about that statement; "ONE out of every THREE laptops in the world is made by Quanta."

From wikipedia:

"Quanta Computer Incorporated is a Taiwan-based manufacturer of notebook computers and other electronic hardware. It is the largest manufacturer of notebook computers in the world. Its customers include Apple Inc., Compaq, Dell, Gateway, Hewlett-Packard,[2] Alienware, Amazon.com, Casper, Cisco, Fujitsu, Gericom, Lenovo, LG, Maxdata, MPC, Research In Motion, Sharp Corporation, Siemens AG, Sony, Sun Microsystems, and Toshiba."

Reference:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quanta_Computer
With this info in mind, it is difficult for me to understand how someone who claims to be a computer technician could seriously state that there is a difference between Acer and Lenovo. Unless they're retired or just aren't very good at their job, they would have noticed the architectural similarities as I have (and I was a TigerDirect SALES REP, not a tech!). And for all the macbook freaks, note that Apple is also on the list. I hope that this opens your eyes a bit because too many people fall for the marketing BS.
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February 17, 2012 6:31:50 PM

Build quality and screen panels do differ a lot though and I can't blame Apple fans for loving those.
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February 22, 2012 1:11:02 AM

I'm a big fan of the quad-core AMD APU's for laptops. They run very cool and quiet but with sufficient CPU and GPU processing power for the price.

The CPU doesn't need to be insanely powerful for most people but for Antivirus, photo-editing etc I find that the low-end APU's are a little underpowered (It took a low-end APU 40x the time to process a picture as a good Intel CPU).

I'll say it again, I'm not a fan of laptops for gaming because they tend to run really hot for normal usage (this is changing with a second chip that turns off but that odds a LOT to the price if it's any good).

If you shop around you can find a nice $450 to $600 laptop with a quad-core APU that even does some basic gaming (I counted 15 really great games that would run on a quad-core APU such as Sam & Max, Deus Ex #1 (still good) etc).

Which laptop brand (again)?
No. They aren't all equal.
1) Can you easily find driver updates from the website?
2) How long do they update the drivers in general? (look at a few laptops from two years ago)
3) Can you get backup discs for free? For $10? At all? (In case of hard drive failure. though I recommend you make a backup IMAGE using a tool like Acronis True Image to a USB hard drive immediately after buying the laptop)
4) Quality?
No. All brands aren't the same despite other opinions. I read a big article a while ago on this. Asus and HP scored at the top. Acer scored at the bottom. Lenovo appears to be a pretty good brand too and I found a few excellently priced laptops with APU's (one for $450 which also had HDMI output).
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