Jump to content
LCVG

Laptop questions


ChoiceStriker
 Share

Recommended Posts

I'm looking to replace my 5-year-old Dell Inspiron 5000e with a laptop that's a little more up-to-date. I intend to do some traveling with the computer, so the smaller the better. I like the Inspiron 700m, a 12.1", 4-pound ultraportable (especially nice compared to my current 9-pound behemoth), and I've found some good coupons online where I can get it configured to my liking for about $1200 shipped.

 

My main question if I decide to go this route is whether it's a smarter choice to upgrade the processor or the RAM?

 

I guess I will primarily be using it for the internet and managing my digital music collection - I doubt I will want or be able to do much gaming on the machine with only "Integrated Intel Extreme Graphics (Dell provides no specs on this)." <see note at bottom>

 

Here are the prices for each upgrade - do you think upgrading the processor will make a noticeable difference in performance?

 

Intel? Pentium? M Processor 755(2GHz/400MHz FSB) 12.1-in WXGA [add $300.00]

Intel? Pentium? M Processor 745 (1.80GHz/400MHz FSB) 12.1-in WXGA [add $100.00]

Intel? Pentium? M Processor 725 (1.60GHz/400MHz FSB) 12.1-in WXGA

 

And here are the prices to upgrade RAM. I'd planned on at least 512 MB (my current PC only has 128), but I don't know whether a 1- or 2-Dimm configuration will be important, or if I should make the jump to 1 GB.

 

256MB DDR SDRAM 1 Dimm [subtract $50.00]

512MB DDR SDRAM 2 Dimms

512MB DDR SDRAM 1 Dimm [add $150.00 ]

1 GB DDR SDRAM 1 Dimm [add $450.00 ]

2 GB DDR SDRAM 2 Dimms [add $950.00 ]

 

Any input is much appreciated.

 

P.S. This is probably a ridiculous question, but the one PC game I've been itching to play for a while now is Half-Life 2 (I'm not a PC gamer, this is just an exceptional game). Is there any chance of this laptop being able to run that game at anywhere near a remotely playable rate? I'm guessing the answer is no, but I thought I'd consult the experts. Sadly, the graphics card is not upgradeable.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We have the intel Xtreme suck integrated graphics at work.

 

They run Command and Conquer generals and even the Battle for middle-earth, but at about half speed...very slow. We briefly tinkered with Star Wars Battlefront on it, and it ran, but looked like crap. You're not going to have any luck with any modern FPS...Half-life 1 would work OK though. Sorry. :D

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ah, I figured as much on the graphics. There is another thin-and-light model that's a little larger, the 600m, with the following:

 

32MB DDR ATI's MOBILITY RADEON 9000 4x AGP

 

upgradeable to:

 

64MB DDR ATI's MOBILITY RADEON 9000 4x AGP

 

I suppose that would fare better than integrated graphics but still not be cutting edge by any stretch of the imagination.

 

Anyway, as I mentioned, gaming isn't my primary concern for this machine - it would have been just a nice bonus.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

http://www.mwave.com/mwave/viewspec.hmx?scriteria=NB-BA20408

 

You could get this for a similar price, which has the MR9700 and would probably run HL2 with no problems. It might be slightly bigger than you want but it still seems pretty small to me. The RAM prices you're quoting look totally out of whack, as in more than double what they should be.

 

I almost went with it, but I decided to buy The Beast instead. If you think your 9 pounder is a behemoth, try a 13 pounder with a 17 inch widescreen monitor. However, I can't really complain about size when my notebook is running Doom 3 smoothly on ultra in 1680X1050 resolution.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for the link, Big Daddy. That is a good price, but probably heavier than I'd like. I'm really looking for a dramatic difference than what I'm using now.

 

And yes, Dell's RAM prices have always been way out of line with the real world. Does anyone know if their RAM is some kind of weird proprietary thing? I seem to remember trying to upgrade a Dimension years ago and finding out I couldn't just use store-bought stuff.

 

Unfortunately, because getting a low price is my top priority, realities of economies of scale are almost always going to make Dell the most affordable option.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Actually, Intel produces several different integrated graphics chipsets. The 700m uses the 855GME, which I have no idea about its performance. However, I have a desktop which uses the 915G chipset, and it runs Half-Life 2 fine at pretty high settings (Doom 3 is unplayable at pretty much any setting though). I'd say the mobile versions of the 915G would be about the same, and due to architectural improvements in the Pentium M core, a 1.6GHz and up processor is really quite fast. I have a 1.6GHz Pentium M in my laptop, and I think it got around the same score on SuperPI as my 3.2GHz P4 desktop.

 

Edited to add: No matter what you wind up getting, it'd be worth a shot to grab the HL2 demo and see how it runs. I think you might be surprised.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The one thing I would mention is that you can upgrade the memory later on. You however can't do the same with the CPU. I would also check out Crucial for memory prices. With my powerbook I ended up getting it stock memory and then buying the memory for a much lower price from crucial.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

All right, I woke up, came to my senses and decided not to buy another Dell under any circumstances. No, I will not heed the siren song of Dell's coupon codes again. After a string of terrible experiences with my Inspiron 5000e (it shipped with a DOA hard drive, has had two failed DVD-ROM drives, dead pixels, a second dead hard drive, a cracked frame, unbelievable fan noise and heat buildup, etc.), I just decided no discount could be worth that headache again.

 

Anyway, now I'm considering a Sony VAIO VGN-S360. I realize that Sony computers are typically more expensive than other comparably equipped computers, but I think this one is the perfect blend of portability and power I've been looking for. Plus this is the first new computer I've bought in 5 years, so I'm willing to splurge a little. One of the nice features is an ATI Radeon Mobility 9700 with 64 MB VRAM, something I haven't seen anywhere else in a laptop this size (13.3", 4.2 lbs). I figure it should be passable for the occasional game, though I'm under no illusions about running anything at high specs.

 

Well, just wanted to share. I'll let you know if I decide to go ahead and pick one of these up tonight.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yeah, Jay, I did see the Averatecs at Circuit City and CompUSA - they looked like they had good features for the price, but I just don't know how comfortable I would feel buying something as expensive as a computer from a company I know nothing about.

 

And I'm writing this post from my new Vaio! I went ahead and got the model I mentioned above. I love it so far - fast, quiet, and the display is gorgeous. It will be fun to set it up to my liking.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The Sony's are nice but they are a little costly. I'll put in my vote for thinkpads though. If I hadn't bought a powerbook this time around I would have bought another thinkpad as my last one was as described before, a tank. I ended up giving it to my sister and she's still using it. Great little laptop. Vaio's do have really nice screens. I wonder if it partially has something to do with the high gloss they have on them. Most of the other laptops you see have a bit of a flat look.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That's true, I think you do pay a premium for "Sony style." I wouldn't have even considered the computer at its regular price, but $400 in rebates was incentive enough to make me take the plunge. I'm happy with it.

 

I know what you mean about the Vaio screens... the reflective coating and the dual-lamp "XBrite" LCD give it a really vivid appearance. Some of the laptops I looked at had that really flat, washed-out look to them - most notably the less expensive ones like Averatec and Winbook.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Edited to add: No matter what you wind up getting, it'd be worth a shot to grab the HL2 demo and see how it runs. I think you might be surprised.
Well, after downloading all 750 MB (!!!) of the HL2 demo, I am happy to report that the game looks fantastic and runs smoothly at a glorious 1280 x 800 widescreen resolution on my Vaio. The Radeon 9700 seems to be very capable, and although the system takes a long time to load the game, once it gets it going it's smooth sailing. The frame rate is great. I'm very impressed, and even happier with my purchase now.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...