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Advice needed on choosing new laptop
Old 04-21-2007, 09:15 AM   #1
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Advice needed on choosing new laptop

It's gotten to the point where I can no longer tolerate the speed of my current Fujitsu 2.2ghz laptop. Unfortunately I no longer understand how the speed ratings of chips work. Can someone point me to a primer or comparison documents or even recommendations, to help educate me on choosing a new laptop.

I typically use the laptop set up with an external monitor, mouse, and keyboard, but still like the ability to use it as a laptop too. I often run "batch" programs that are disk intensive and dominate the computer. I'm thinking that a dual processor might be able to allow me to run the batch programs and still utilize the computer interactively - which my current computer won't. I also want it to either have a quiet fan or at least one that only fires up under heavy load. Fan noise is one of the reasons I prefer laptops over desktops, although my current laptop fan cycles on and off continually even without activity, so really doesn't help much with the noise. I think it uses a desktop chip and as such needs to cool itself all the time.
Any suggestions?
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Re: Advice needed on choosing new laptop
Old 04-22-2007, 09:40 AM   #2
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Re: Advice needed on choosing new laptop

Well, I think you'd be happy with a set up like mine or similar. I use mine for graphic intensive purposes and hardcore gaming with external keypad and mouse. It also has an HDMI port which I have learned isn't that common on laptops and allows you to plug it up to an LCD TV to watch movies and TV shows you download.

I have an HP dv9000t.

My custom build includes:

Operating System: Windows(R) XP Professional

Processor: Intel(R) Core(TM) 2 Duo processor T7200 (2.0 GHz)

Display: 17.0" WXGA+ BrightView Widescreen (1440x900)

Graphics Card: 256MB NVIDIA(R) GeForce(R) Go 7600

HP Imprint Finish/Microphone/Webcam

Memory: 1024MB DDR2 System Memory

Hard Drive: 100GB 5400RPM SATA Hard Drive

CD/DVD Drive: LightScribe Super Multi 8X DVD+/-RW w/Double Layer

Networking: Intel(R) PRO/Wireless 3945ABG Network Connection

Total price last year was $1398

Bargain I think. Good luck.
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Re: Advice needed on choosing new laptop
Old 04-22-2007, 09:58 AM   #3
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Re: Advice needed on choosing new laptop

I could not be happier with my MacBook. Fast, reliable, sturdy, runs windows and mac OS, tons of software, intuitive, etc.
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Re: Advice needed on choosing new laptop
Old 04-22-2007, 06:37 PM   #4
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Re: Advice needed on choosing new laptop

Realize that if you're doing a lot of disk access, the problem may be your drive (laptops usually have substantially slower hard drives for power savings) instead of your CPU. If it is a hard drive problem then putting you data and applications on an external USB drive could improve things a lot with your existing machine.

Similarly, if the disk I/O is the problem then a newer laptop might not help much if your new disk is still slow.
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Re: Advice needed on choosing new laptop
Old 04-22-2007, 07:39 PM   #5
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Re: Advice needed on choosing new laptop

Perhaps I can help a small bit...

Point on disk IO is well taken; laptops really are a lot slower when it comes to disk IO.

Aside from disk, a big problem going back forever with single processor systems is blocking threads or processes. A lot of applications will basically thread out the processor and then stop and wait for something to happen. In the meanwhile, not a lot of other stuff happens. So you might see a slow machine without a high disk IO or cpu utilization situation.

Dual cpu's helps that problem a lot, until you run TWO apps that both behave poorly. Microsoft Office has historically been one of the worst offenders but I havent seen if they've made any threading changes to the newer versions.

The core2duo's are a better architecture and give more performance per clock, but unless the price delta is negligible, the older core duo is still pretty speedy. For most pure, clean CPU bound jobs presume the core duo is equivalent to a pair of pentium-m class processors and you'll get about 80-85% of the net of the pair, best case. The core 2 duo is equivalent to a pair of core solo architecture processors (maybe 5-8% faster at the same clock rate as the core duo/pentium-m class) with the same 80-85% benefit.

In your current fujitsu, whats the processor type?

What I've been suggesting lately is that for most consumers who arent sitting there tapping their feet waiting for something to happen, a plain old core duo of practically any speed will do the trick. One app can hog one cpu while you do your interactive stuff using the other.
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Re: Advice needed on choosing new laptop
Old 04-23-2007, 08:20 AM   #6
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Re: Advice needed on choosing new laptop

Thanks for the replies on laptops. Getting opinions helps me define my problems and hopefully choose a computer I will be happy with for the next 3 or 4 years.

It's true that I have an i/o problem and the laptop disks don't help that, but more important to me is having a system that allows me to either control it (not allowing one application to dominate the computer), or overcome it (the computer automatically time slices the applications, allowing interactive throughput to co-inside with batch processing). I can tolerate slower running of the batch functions if either I can control it (throttle down batch and/or disk i/o generated by batch) or the computer controls it (allowing interactive sessions to share or even get priority disk i/o). While batch processing is one problem, other similar ones exist. If I am cutting a DVD, I pretty much have to stop all other computer work to prevent exhausting the buffer. I cannot allow virus scanning software to scan automatically, as it will pop up right in the middle of other operations (games for example) and dominate the i/o. I'm currently running a Intel P4 processor rated at 2.2GHz, which I consider relatively powerful. I'd hate to buy a whole new system with faster processor's) (and disks for that matter), and have the problems and throughput be the same or just marginally better.

What I don't know currently is the capability of the newer chips to handle these types of problems. I'm not having much luck on understanding the differences between the dual cpu's. dual core; core duo; core2duo; and AMD is even more obscure. Searching on these words, get me tons of press releases and intel vs AMD comparisons (often dating back to 2000 if they include a date at all).

I'm now reconsidering my basic idea of just considering a laptop. I hate the drone of the fans on desktops, but powerful laptops seem to cycle their fans often, even under no load, and although I like having the laptop on trips, that really doesn't happen that often in my retirement.
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Re: Advice needed on choosing new laptop
Old 04-23-2007, 08:39 AM   #7
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Re: Advice needed on choosing new laptop

Check out some of the media center desktops. I have a core2duo HP model and its extremely quiet.

For what you want, almost any core duo or core2 duo should be fine. The "dual core" intel machines have half the cache of the core duo...sort of the 'celeron' of core duos. Unless you're getting a super sweet price, i'd stick with the core or core 2 duo.

You could also checkout a laptop with a 7200rpm sata drive, but those are usually pretty dang expensive.

Might be a good strategy to get a strong quiet desktop like this
http://www.circuitcity.com/ssm/HP-Pa...oductDetail.do

and then keep your current laptop for road duty.
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Re: Advice needed on choosing new laptop
Old 04-23-2007, 08:42 AM   #8
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Re: Advice needed on choosing new laptop

I do not how this will impact but VISTA does have a function where it will utilize a FLASH DRIVE for various functions. Depending on how works and the size of the FLASH Drive it MAY help the disk access function. I did use the function with one of the VISTA Betas on my Desktop and did not notice much change; but who knows it may actually speed up a laptop. Maybe someone more familiar with the ins and outs of VISTA and disk access with a Flash drive will chime in.
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Re: Advice needed on choosing new laptop
Old 04-23-2007, 09:34 AM   #9
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Re: Advice needed on choosing new laptop

I'm crazy about my Fujitsu Lifebook P1510d. It's not the fastest thing around, but it's EXCEEDINGLY portable, which makes up for it, at least in my life. I'm not sure why people buy these ginormous laptops with huge screens and then have these anchors to lug around and keep track of. My next purchase is either going to be an HTC Shift, or the new Fujitsu UMPC due out this summer. I'd love something I could fit in my pocket. I can use my desktop at home.
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Re: Advice needed on choosing new laptop
Old 04-23-2007, 11:17 AM   #10
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Re: Advice needed on choosing new laptop

Quote:
Originally Posted by riskaverse
It's gotten to the point where I can no longer tolerate the speed of my current Fujitsu 2.2ghz laptop. Unfortunately I no longer understand how the speed ratings of chips work. Can someone point me to a primer or comparison documents or even recommendations, to help educate me on choosing a new laptop.

I typically use the laptop set up with an external monitor, mouse, and keyboard, but still like the ability to use it as a laptop too. I often run "batch" programs that are disk intensive and dominate the computer. I'm thinking that a dual processor might be able to allow me to run the batch programs and still utilize the computer interactively - which my current computer won't. I also want it to either have a quiet fan or at least one that only fires up under heavy load. Fan noise is one of the reasons I prefer laptops over desktops, although my current laptop fan cycles on and off continually even without activity, so really doesn't help much with the noise. I think it uses a desktop chip and as such needs to cool itself all the time.
Any suggestions?
Sounds like you have one of the older desktop Pentiums in your laptop. Just about anything would be better, faster, and cooler running. Even the Pentium-M's from the same generation. So, don't sweat the CPU. You're probably nowhere near CPU bound. In fact, a single core solution might be best if you're really want something cool-running with low or no fan noise.

Focus more on the disk. Definitely go with one of the 7200 RPM drives. And if you really want disk speed, there are lappies that support two RAID striped SATA disks for desktop-level performance.
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Re: Advice needed on choosing new laptop
Old 04-23-2007, 03:50 PM   #11
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Re: Advice needed on choosing new laptop

It may be helpful to reduce the priority of your batch application. You can test this by launching the 'Windows Task Manager' while your batch is running. To do this hit 'control-alt-del'. Then select the 'applications' tab, and right-click on your batch app. Then select 'go to process'. Now you'll be on the 'processes' tab with your process selected. right-click again and select 'set-priority' and set the priority to 'below-normal'.

If this works you can launch your batch applictaion at lower priority every time. See this how-to .

Reducing the priority should make your computer more responsive when the batch app is running. Burning a DVD or running Nortion may not be reasonable.

Clicking on the 'performance' tab in task manager may give you some insight into where your bottleneck is (cpu, memory, hd, or network).

Reinstalling Windows may also help with your performance issues.
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Re: Advice needed on choosing new laptop
Old 04-23-2007, 09:41 PM   #12
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Re: Advice needed on choosing new laptop

riskaverse,
From your choice of "riskaverse", I suspect my best sane advice would be go to this great site and post your question. The people are great and it's "the" place for computer nerds.
http://www.sharkyforums.com/

My normal OAP advice (insane) would be this:

First a basic (very basic) comment on CPUs. A CPU called a 2.2GHz is what that chip was tested at Intel and considered 6Sigma reliable at. The CPU speed is actually controlled by the Front Side Bus speed FSB (a line between the CPU and the Northbridge I/O contolller chip) and that can be changed in the BIOS.

In other words, when you boot your computer, keep hitting F2 or F8 key (whatever Fujitsu chose) to enter the BIOS and then look for Front Side Bus, and for your's it will either say 400MHz or 533MHz. And if you change that number by 25% (say make 400MHz to 500MHz) your CPU will run at 2.75GHz but it will also run hotter and keep your fan on all the time.

All this will do is cause the Fujitsu CPU chip to fail sooner, maybe in a year or maybe in a week. Only fate determines it. Also be sure to feel the air coming out, if it feels too hot. Keep backing off the 500MHz setting till it feels normal. But I always boost the buses on any computer that allows it, ASUS for instance is great for letting you tweak everything.

But the real issue probably is that laptops are notoriously mismatched in terms of FSB speed and RAM speed. Here is "proof" of what I speak and I own the computer in the article, and I bought PC3200 DDR RAM and the think was 50% faster in benchmark tests.
http://compreviews.about.com/od/desk...VAIOPCGK23.htm
I suggest getting yourself a copy FREE of SiSoft Sandra
http://www.sisoftware.co.uk/
And it will find the bottleneck for you.

I'm going to gaurantee that your CPU is not the bottleneck, it's going to be mismatches of either FSB (Northbridge) or BSB (Southbridge) and tweaking the BIOS is very tricky. May need to change some voltages and some RAM dividers but all manufacturers sell their computers for reliability, and so they lower it's performance capability to ensure the performance.

A CPU fire will smell similar to an electrical short, so keep sniffing the computer.

Hope this helps
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Re: Advice needed on choosing new laptop
Old 04-23-2007, 09:56 PM   #13
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Re: Advice needed on choosing new laptop

OAP, when did you become a l33t OC'er, d00d?
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Re: Advice needed on choosing new laptop
Old 04-24-2007, 02:20 AM   #14
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Re: Advice needed on choosing new laptop

Wab,
I've OC'd every Intel CPU (mainly late stepings from the Maylay and Rican versions beginning in 1999)

Best performance to date were Costa Rican steps (D-1), great 2.4C which I bumped to 3.4Ghz with a few Ram dividers, a few voltage tweaks and the standard bus variations. Simple to do, simple to learn, else OAP is lost,

I suspect you know this but why complain about computer performance when the answer is "learn how they work"/

I have built 8 which are still in England and perform at 3-3.6 GHz and being used to look to the Universe for signals.

Also, I truly understand why users want to just buy and use, so no criticism intended. A standard Dell, Sony or HP should meet 80% of the publics expectations of performance.

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