I have no idea what to get...

undertheradar

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
Oct 26, 2004
Messages
1,792
Im a desktop guy. Recent circumstances (others who all have laptops) are dictating that It would be a good idea to buy a laptop. Where to start? I have never been into laptops, and never bothered paying attention, so the processors and their terminology is totally foreign to me.

I like small. 17"? No way. 15", Maybe... I realize its a 'hot' size and I might actually pay more for something smaller... so its possible. 14"? Now were talking. I really dont want large... I have a desktop that hauls ass, so this is really a secondary. For a moment, I was even considering a Netbook, but it seems that the cheap ones may not run what I need very well, and the better ones are about $500 (Asus with the 1215n D525 Atom/ion)... in which case, for a couple hundred more I can get alot more in an actual laptop. When I saw the performance stats on the netbooks, I started thinking it might not be the best idea... so then what? Is i3 too gimped? I think i7 is overboard, but is i5 worth it over the i3?

What I need to run:
Spice
ALTERA Quartus ii 9.1
MATLAB
Office/Word/Excel (duh)
(Yes, Electrical Engineering stuff)

Im thinking 4GB ram would be a good thing, and it seems like 250gb HDD is common and thats plenty. I dont need dedicated graphics, but if its one of those new CPU/GPU on one die chips (are those out yet for laptops other than the ions?) I wouldnt complain if I could play some plants vs. zombies or Company of Heroes to pass time it would be cool (okay, that one might be pushing it, I know, I just thought that IF I HAD A LAPTOP, IT MIGHT BE NICE, but Im not going to fire up Call of Duty 6 on it or anything). If it had an optical drive to watch movies when on a plane, that would be cool, but I could use the digital copy version as well if I didn't have it, or put it on a thumb drive, etc... Battery life isnt super important, but I would expect to have at least 2-3 hours on a charge... but for the most part, most places I would use it would have a plug so its not super important. I would really prefer portability and lightness to a brick with a heatgun blowing in my lap. A webcam would be cool so that if I or the next person who gets it (my mother most likely) wants to, we can skype... but its no deal breaker.

Brands? I have no clue... Samsung? Asus? What is good, what is crap?

Processors? Atom/Ion, i5, i3... or I have nothing against AMD here... is the Turion 2 a good bet?

Are there any deals I should look at at newegg? Best Buy? Amazon? Suggesting exact models would be nice.

What are good laptop sites for reviews? I have looked around, but I dont know who to trust.

Thanks in advance... I know, total noob question, but hey, Im a desktop watercooling rig kinda guy... laptops haven't even crossed my radar until recently.

*edit: oh, yeah... price: I would like to keep it in the $600-700ish range, but its not set in stone. If someone sells me on something that is really alot more for just $100 more, I'm not going to be eating Ramen noodles because of it.

What Ive seen that I might like? I dont know if they are good buys though or if they will perform well, just ones that caught my eye...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16834220805&cm_re=1215n-_-34-220-805-_-Product

http://www.laptopmag.com/review/laptops/top-ten-notebooks.aspx?pid=7#axzz13EnKvEXr

http://www.bestbuy.com/site/Samsung...inum/9973019.p?id=1218202949239&skuId=9973019

http://www.bestbuy.com/site/Toshiba...Gray/1269043.p?id=1218248182225&skuId=1269043

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16834115821

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16834214072

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16834101232

http://www.amazon.com/Toshiba-Satel...TF8&coliid=I3H9MR4SMC06BK&colid=32DQWBZRL2KY9
 
Last edited:

Haven

Supreme [H]ardness
Joined
Oct 11, 2002
Messages
6,388
I would suggest not going with the Atom processor, since you will be doing engineering. However the i5 would be fine, I don't think you really need to go up to the i7, but if you can find one at a good price go for it.

If you go with a machine with 4GB of ram, make sure it has a 64bit OS on it.

Asus does pretty decently on laptops for the most part. Toshiba tends to be hit and miss on quality. Lenovo gets decent reviews, HPs can be ok. I am not a fan of the Acer laptops at all.

I always recommend a 3 year warranty with a laptop only because it is not like your desktop where you can just change out a part. I also recommend an accidental damage warranty because it will help if you drop it, spill water on it etc.
 

undertheradar

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
Oct 26, 2004
Messages
1,792
How about Gateway, MSI, and Sony to round out the makers?

FWIW, even though they are engineering aps, I know others using pre-core pentiums and they work fine with these apps. Im thinking an i3 might even cut it... but I'll most likely go i5. Although I do know one guy who uses a netbook and it seems to work fine... just takes a bit longer when compiling Quartus, but the new D525 netbook procs would be alot better still....hmm.... perhaps a netbook would work...
 

Sly

Supreme [H]ardness
Joined
Aug 17, 2004
Messages
5,747
When getting multiple computers you have to decide on which one you'll actually put your money on (Unless you're rich).

In your case, you are a desktop guy. So i suggest continuing to focus on that and just consider mobile PC's as an extension (or accessory) of your desktop.

Do you really need a $1,000.00 laptop when you're going to do most of the heavy lifting on your desktop anyway?

I suggest getting a netbook instead. It's underpowered sure, but it's cheap, portable, and does everything you need it to do (web browsing, documentation, file server, etc.). 1.6Ghz Atom too slow to do heavy multimedia or gaming? That's what your primary rig is for!!!

Whether it's cheap or expensive, laptops are still cramped, keyboards are a pain on the wrists, small screens, cumbersome to carry, and hard to navigate on. I'm not paying more than i need to for that experience.
 
Last edited:

Dangman

Ninja Editor SuperMod
Joined
Dec 15, 2005
Messages
46,062
CPU wise, don't gimp yourself with an Atom CPU. Go for a Core i3 at the minimum.Yes the Core i5 is worth it over the Core i3 if within budget. Avoid AMD if battery life is even remotely important to you.

For notebook reviews, check out this apt-named site:
http://www.notebookreview.com/reviews/

I concur with ianshot about the three-year warranty extension if within budget.

As for laptop reliability, that's even more dependent on user experience than with desktop parts. So therefore the following is based on my own experiences and aren't necessarily the whole truth:
- Toshiba is ok but I've had two Toshiba laptops develop issues or die on me. However Toshibas tends to have the better bang for the buck value, quality notwithstanding.

- Gateway is ok but the at my local Fry's, 90% of the laptops I see coming in for repair are Gateway laptops. Hence my hesistation at recommneding them.

- Lenovo is one of the top quality laptop manufacturers out there. Not as bang for the buck as other laptops unfortunately.

- I have no experience with Acer, MSI, Samsung, or Asus laptops but I've heard good things about them. Asus tends to have the better bang for the buck gaming laptops IIRC.

- I personally avoid Sony laptops like the plague. Too many bad experiences with them

- HP and Dell are decent enough.

Hope the above helps.

Now out of the laptops you chose: Drop all the Atom netbooks. Drop all the AMD laptops. Now out of the remaining laptops, the best deal out of all those would be the Samsung from Best Buy. Use that as the base for your laptop comparisons.
 

undertheradar

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
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Messages
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Im looking for something that really breaks down the differences between the i3 and i5... on paper they are pretty much identical, so some performance numbers would be nice.

Yeah, for the price of a GOOD Atom (525), Im close enough to just getting a regular laptop, so I might as well. I have asked a couple other guys trying to run compilers on netbooks, and their response is a bit like "yeah, it works, I click on it, go get a coffee, and maybe by the time I'm back its done..."

Yeah... okay, maybe not.
 

undertheradar

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
Oct 26, 2004
Messages
1,792
Well, I settled on this:
i3 > i5 because they are really the same, only the i5 has 'turbo mode', which does push the core up (often not as much as you might expect though unless you buy the higher end ($$$) chips. They also tend to burn up the battery alot faster though... so I could see myself turning it off anyways. i3 runs cooler anyways, smaller, etc.

intel integrated graphics seems enough for me... not for gaming as I mentioned, but running VHDL in Quartus and EE simulations like MATLAB and Spice.

320GB HDD is plenty, why pay for more that I will likely never fill? 5400rpm might be a slight gimp, but I can see myself slapping a SSD in there anyways as soon as the warranty is up... 120GB would be plenty.

4gb ram... right on.

So after looking around, I found this...
http://www.amazon.com/Acer-TimelineX-AS4820T-7633-14-Inch-Aluminum/dp/B003ZUXX0Q/ref=pd_cp_pc_1

$684-$699

But, on a whim, I ended up getting this:
http://www.amazon.com/Acer-TimelineX-AS4820TG-7805-14-Inch-Aluminum/dp/B003ZUXX10/ref=pd_cp_pc_1

Yeah, its $799... and its a low-level i5, as well as ATI HD5650 graphics. The thing is, I can turn off turbo-mode on the i5, as well as the graphics, and then its pretty much the same thing as the 7633, but if I need the extra headroom, its there, all $100 of it. I have heard some nightmares about intel's integrated graphics drivers/support, so the ATI is a nice backup. I dont plan on gaming, but it wouldn't hurt!

Yeah... its an Acer though... recent reviews seem to favor this model line though... so Im willing to try it. What do you guys think? Am I going to toss it out the window right away? Should I cancel it and get something different?
 

cc2096

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
Jan 1, 2003
Messages
1,671
I think you'll be happy with the Timeline series. They are really light, have great battery life and like you said the one you picked has the juice you need when you want it. If you didn't get a good warranty from Acer (not sure if they have an accidental damage warranty) then I would definitely consider getting a warranty from Sqaure Trade to go with it. GL with your new laptop.
 
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