I have a Thinkpad T400 (2008) and am debating myself to whether buy a new machine or upgrade the T400.
Specs of T400
CPU: C2D t9600 2.8Ghz with switchable graphics
RAM: 4 GB(3 GB in use)
HDD: 500 GB 5400rpm (I like this better 'cause it's quiet compared to 7200rpm variant)
For upgrading, I am thinking of putting Windows 8, put 8 GB of RAM and 128 GB SSD. Am I going to see a difference in performance and by how much?
I used R and SAS stat program most of the time. With my current set-up, I ran a simulation which took about 30mins to finish while it took less a minute on a friends machine with i3 processor. Is this how much outdated the C2D processor is compared to ivy/sandy bridge?
Basically, I am thinking of replacing it with MS surface pro (if it has good reviews) for mobility + computing power. But maybe should I hold out and wait for the haswell processors? or until the surface' price drops?
I would not go out of my way to install Win 8 on laptop that already has Win 7. No real performance benefits in such an upgrade.
8GB of RAM can improve performance, but it depends if when using R and STAT those programs are using a large chuck of your current RAM. For financial and scientific modelling (statistical analysis) and database usage, more RAM is generally better especially when working with large models and databases.
The SSD does not improve the CPU's performance. It improves read / write operations so you get faster load / save times. It's great if you are always reading or writing from/to the mass storage device, but overall it only improves your "experience" a little bit by making your laptop operate a little more smoothly.
Generally speaking, the performance increase from a C2D generation CPU to an Ivy Bridge CPU is approximately 30% in raw performance assuming the same clockspeed. Ivy Bridge CPUs also has the AVX (advanced vector extension) instruction set which increases performance further, but only for programs that can make use of AVX. Financial and scientific modelling are the two most common types of programs that makes use of AVX if they are designed to do so.
Not sure if the mobile Core i3 CPUs have Hyper Threading (HT), but modelling software generally can make use of HT. I think most are designed to take advantage of it. I would look at getting a laptop with an ivy Bridge Core i5-3310m CPU. It is a dual core CPU with Hyper Threading. Of course you can always opt for a faster CPU, or go quad core with Intel's i7 "QM" model CPUs like the i7-3630QM or i7-3820QM CPUs.