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 Post subject: Laptop replacement questions
PostPosted: Thu Jan 01, 2009 5:07 pm 
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Greetings fellow computer enthusiasts!

Boy, it's been a while since browsed these forums. I've been deployed and haven't had much chance.

I am in serious need of a new laptop. My current laptop is a Dell XPS that I bought in 2004. It is a good system and still works well, but is showing it's age. It has a P4 3.4GHz, 1Gb RAM, ATI Radeon 9800 Mobility, and Windows XP Home.

For use, all I do is browse e-mail, forums and general internet surfing. And I play WoW. Am using 1900x1200 resolution and my FPS seems to suffer. Also, most times my internet is just a Verizon Wireless Broadband modem. I'm in the US Navy and always travelling, so the net was pretty important so I can WoW in my off time. At home I don't worry because I have a great cable connection.

My questions are:

1. When will the new hardware be available for laptops? (ie. i7 and the tri-channel DDR) I'm looking to buy around April '09 when I get back home.

2. Who makes the better gaming laptop? Meaning value, service and performance?

3. Single video card or SLI/Crossfire for 1900x1200 on the laptop? Current size is a 15" but I'm willing to try a 17".

4. HDD or SSHD? Looking for overall performance and disk health/life expectancy.

I've looked at Alienware/Dell and Sager so far. My instincts are telling me just to wait a bit longer. I want a laptop that will last a good 5 years or so.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Jan 02, 2009 8:07 am 
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>>>HDD or SSHD? Looking for overall performance and disk health/life expectancy.<<<

No contest.

SSDs offer not only blistering speed but have a much longer lifespan and MTBF.

Be sure to get a modern SSD though. The technology is evolving so fast that it seems capacities and speeds are doubling every couple of months.

Even last summer you had to buy expensive SLC SSDs to get triple-digit sequential writes (in MB/sec) but by autunm cheap MLC SSDs were offering writes nearing 100MB/sec and with winter here several makers are boasting 200MB/sec writes with reads approaching the bandwidth capacity of SATA2.

As controller architecture evolves with increased parallelism and capacities grow, life expectancies grow too. More NAND cells translates into more places for wear-levelling to spread the data around, thereby extending longevity.

Even my tiny old-school 1.8" 32GB Mtron SLC SSD has a rated write endurance of 140 years at 50GB writes per day. I imagine the newer 512GB laptop SSDs should be good for a couple of centuries even though they use MLC NAND.

Not only are SSDs faster than HDDs and last longer, they are less fragile, never require defragging and use less power, meaning longer laptop battery life.

The only trouble is the price, but prices are falling fast. A year ago a 128GB 2.5" SATA SSD capable of 100MB/sec reads and writes cost $3600. Last month I paid less than $300 for an OCZ Core 128GB 2.5" SATA SSD that boasts reads of 140MB/sec and writes of 97MB/sec (although in reality Atto gives it scores of 80GB/sec writes and 120GB/sec reads). This is still much faster than any 2.5" SATA HDD and with incredibly short seek times results in visibly faster performance.

Edit: spelling


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Jan 02, 2009 10:28 am 
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One question down. Now for the others.

:twisted: :twisted: :twisted:


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 Post subject: Re: Laptop replacement questions
PostPosted: Fri Jan 02, 2009 1:22 pm 
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Azgaryth wrote:
1. When will the new hardware be available for laptops? (ie. i7 and the tri-channel DDR) I'm looking to buy around April '09 when I get back home.


Mobile i7 is going to come out in late 2009, along with a new Centrino.

Azgaryth wrote:
2. Who makes the better gaming laptop? Meaning value, service and performance?


Asus, Sager, Clevo, and OCZ are my top picks. I'd stay away from Alienware, because of their customer service. Do a search in the dog pound for "alienware sucks" and you'll see what I'm talking about.

Azgaryth wrote:
3. Single video card or SLI/Crossfire for 1900x1200 on the laptop? Current size is a 15" but I'm willing to try a 17".


It depends. If you're going to get a 1680x1050 resolution, or less, just get the single card. 1920x1200? dual, definitely.

1920x1200 is very rare on a 15" laptop, and I don't think it would be very comfortable to use. My friend's laptop is a 15" with 1680x1050, and I literally have to squint my eyes to read it.

Azgaryth wrote:
4. HDD or SSHD? Looking for overall performance and disk health/life expectancy.


Both. Most 17" and many enthusiast 15" laptops have 2 hard drive bays. I say get a small 64 or 128 GB SSD for games and OS and a larger 500GB HDD for storage.


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 Post subject: Re: Laptop replacement questions
PostPosted: Fri Jan 02, 2009 2:37 pm 
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Azgaryth wrote:
Also, most times my internet is just a Verizon Wireless Broadband modem. I'm in the US Navy and always travelling, so the net was pretty important so I can WoW in my off time. At home I don't worry because I have a great cable connection.


Is the cellular modem CardBus, ExpressCard, or internal?

If it's CardBus or built in, you'll need to get an ExpressCard version from Verizon as 90% of laptops no longer ship with CardBus.

Azgaryth wrote:
1. When will the new hardware be available for laptops? (ie. i7 and the tri-channel DDR) I'm looking to buy around April '09 when I get back home.


Tri-Channel DDR? I've yet to even see 3 memory slots in a notebook.

Info has been leaked Pre-CeBIT 2009 about some of Clevo's new models. Personally, I'm interested in the D901C replacement which is going to be the D90xF model. No one is certain yet if its going to be i7, but I can't see why not. I'm also assuming they're going to add eSATA and HDMI ports as well. There was also an option for a built in NTSC on the D901C that was removed by the resellers as we get closer to Feb 2009. I get the feeling they may replace that miniPCI socket with an ATSC/QAM tuner, or use the space for something else.
Firewire 800 would be nice too.

Azgaryth wrote:
2. Who makes the better gaming laptop? Meaning value, service and performance?


I'm extremely biased towards Clevo, only because they seem to be the biggest innovator in the laptop industry.

and the Clevo 8500V I bought in 2001 is still running.

Azgaryth wrote:
3. Single video card or SLI/Crossfire for 1900x1200 on the laptop? Current size is a 15" but I'm willing to try a 17".


I'd get SLI only because I hate the idea of wasted space. If there's an empty socket in my laptop, I get the itch to fill it with something :P
Which is probably why everytime I spec out a new laptop they usually hit the $5k mark.

Azgaryth wrote:
4. HDD or SSHD? Looking for overall performance and disk health/life expectancy.


I haven't personally used any of the Flash based SSD's yet, so No Comment for this one.

Azgaryth wrote:
I've looked at Alienware/Dell and Sager so far. My instincts are telling me just to wait a bit longer. I want a laptop that will last a good 5 years or so.


Forget Alienware and Dell.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Jan 02, 2009 4:35 pm 
Klamath
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>>>get a small 64 or 128 GB SSD for games and OS and a larger 500GB HDD for storage<<<

Good advice for now, but hopefully before long SSDs will not only have a higher capacity, but will be cheaper per petabyte.

By the time 2.5" HDDs reach a terabyte 2.5" SSDs should be multiple terabytes and gigabytes should cost well under a dime.

Obviously soldering a few ICs on a PCB costs a lot less than manufacturing a precision mechanical contraption to microscopic tolerances. Early adopters are still paying for R&D but as SSDs evolve prices will drop dramatically.

HDDs are close to obsolete.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Jan 02, 2009 6:41 pm 
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JimboToronto wrote:
>>>get a small 64 or 128 GB SSD for games and OS and a larger 500GB HDD for storage<<<

Good advice for now, but hopefully before long SSDs will not only have a higher capacity, but will be cheaper per petabyte.

By the time 2.5" HDDs reach a terabyte 2.5" SSDs should be multiple terabytes and gigabytes should cost well under a dime.

Obviously soldering a few ICs on a PCB costs a lot less than manufacturing a precision mechanical contraption to microscopic tolerances. Early adopters are still paying for R&D but as SSDs evolve prices will drop dramatically.

HDDs are close to obsolete.


That may be true, but take into consideration that he wants to buy in april. That's 4 months. How far did SSD's get since last August? Not very far. I don't think that even in April a huge SSD will be worth it.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Jan 02, 2009 7:38 pm 
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>>>How far did SSD's get since last August? <<<

A long way.

Last August you still needed SLC NAND to achieve writes over 100MB/sec and capacities topped out at an eighth of a terabyte.

Now SSDs have exceeded the capacity of HDDs in 2.5" and 1.8" formfactors (manufacturers haven't gotten around to 3.5" drives yet) and MLC-based SSDs are writing at 200MB/sec.

>>>I don't think that even in April a huge SSD will be worth it.<<<

If you value performance, it's already worth it. HDDs are a performance bottleneck.

People are spending a couple of hundred dollars on Velociraptors that are easily outperformed by cheaper SSDs.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Jan 03, 2009 9:40 am 
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JimboToronto wrote:
>>>How far did SSD's get since last August? <<<

A long way.

Last August you still needed SLC NAND to achieve writes over 100MB/sec and capacities topped out at an eighth of a terabyte.

Now SSDs have exceeded the capacity of HDDs in 2.5" and 1.8" formfactors (manufacturers haven't gotten around to 3.5" drives yet) and MLC-based SSDs are writing at 200MB/sec.

>>>I don't think that even in April a huge SSD will be worth it.<<<

If you value performance, it's already worth it. HDDs are a performance bottleneck.

People are spending a couple of hundred dollars on Velociraptors that are easily outperformed by cheaper SSDs.


They take the Velociraptor because they value money and capacity. The velociraptor is 300GB and around 200 bucks. The closest capacity of an SSD is 256GB, so you lose 50 gigs from that, and it's 700 bucks. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6820227363

The closest SSD cost-wise is 60GB. I wouldn't go from 300GB to 60GB, all for a few more MB/s.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6820227360


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Jan 03, 2009 7:17 pm 
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Thanks for all the replies. Your input is greatly appreciated!

For one, my Verizon modem is the UM150. USB cell modem. I didn't know anything about mobile internet so went with Verizon since one of my coworkers got one to play WoW as well.

Thing is, come April I have a nice inheritance coming and I want a Laptop that will stomp the shit out of WoW at 1900x1200 using the Verizon modem. That's about all.

My 2004 Dell is a 15" with an ATI 9800 Mobility. It runs 1900x1200 great for web and stuff. And does OK with WoW. In Dalaran I only get FPS in the teens though. And I want the ability to play other games as well.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Jan 06, 2009 7:49 am 
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Any other experience with "good" gaming laptops?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Jan 06, 2009 8:24 am 
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My Dell Inspiron 1520 has served me quite well as my E1705 has. Both have handled games well, and put up with many lan parties. In fact sometimes they have been some of the more powerful PCs there (more of us have bought/built new desktops, so the laptops are middle of the road for our group now).

Dell has a fantastic service department (IMO / my experience) and it still amazes me that Alienware sucks so hard at it.

Here is the thing, you could wait. Then you'd end up waiting for the next big tech to hit the shelves. Just wait till you are ready to buy (within the month) THEN start shopping. Spend 5-10% more than you "think" you can (if you actually can fit it in your budget).

Also, the SLI questions is more difficult than a yes / no. If you can get a beefier single card, or two lesser ones in SLI, I'd have to look long and hard at it. The single card might actually perform better and be cheeper to boot.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Jan 06, 2009 11:47 am 
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CrashTECH wrote:
My Dell Inspiron 1520 has served me quite well as my E1705 has. Both have handled games well, and put up with many lan parties. In fact sometimes they have been some of the more powerful PCs there (more of us have bought/built new desktops, so the laptops are middle of the road for our group now).

Dell has a fantastic service department (IMO / my experience) and it still amazes me that Alienware sucks so hard at it.

Here is the thing, you could wait. Then you'd end up waiting for the next big tech to hit the shelves. Just wait till you are ready to buy (within the month) THEN start shopping. Spend 5-10% more than you "think" you can (if you actually can fit it in your budget).

Also, the SLI questions is more difficult than a yes / no. If you can get a beefier single card, or two lesser ones in SLI, I'd have to look long and hard at it. The single card might actually perform better and be cheeper to boot.


Ahh That's a good point. I've seen a few laptops with SLI 8600m's, and they were around 1800 bucks. You could get a modern 9800m for around 1300 and it would beat the pants off the sli 8600's.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Jan 06, 2009 12:01 pm 
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avanish11 wrote:
Ahh That's a good point. I've seen a few laptops with SLI 8600m's, and they were around 1800 bucks. You could get a modern 9800m for around 1300 and it would beat the pants off the sli 8600's.
Truth!

It would use less power as well. So if you did want to use it for something other than gaming and required some battery life, you would be set there too. Not to mention it would require less cooling and would run cooler over all.

Honestly, you can game very well on just about any laptop so long as you pay attention to what you are buying. I have had very good experience with my HP (zx5000) and both of my Dell notebooks (Both Inspirons; E1705 and 1520) for gaming.

My advice is to buy the biggest graphics card you can afford in a laptop. They typically are not upgradable. While it might cost a lot more, it will last a little longer too. Next I would pick the middle road CPU. Not the cheapest offered in that model nor the most expensive. Next, get the LEAST amount of Ram available for that laptop (unless you are moving to DDR3, and then this advice might not be as valid) and pick up a 4 GB kit from newegg (Do they sell 3 GB kits?).

My Inspiron 1520 handles CoD WaW pretty well. I haven't played with settings or tweaks too much, I primarily use my desktop now.

T7500 (Pretty sure, it is a 2.2Ghz)
4 GB DDR2
8600m GT (9XXX) series was not out yet when I bought mine).

After a quick look, it appears that the Insprion 1525 (closest to mine) doesn't ship with nVidia anymore.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Jan 08, 2009 2:08 am 
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It looks like laptops haven't progressed at all in the last 8 months. At least compared to when I was looking last June. This thread.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Jan 09, 2009 4:48 am 
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http://www.xoticpc.com/sager-np9262-ult ... -2273.html

http://www.xoticpc.com/sager-np5797-cus ... -2540.html

these Sagers are the one's i've been saving some bucks to soon purchase...either one will do....Upgradable video cards is a big plus on this machines..MXM..


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Jan 09, 2009 1:23 pm 
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Azgaryth wrote:
It looks like laptops haven't progressed at all in the last 8 months. At least compared to when I was looking last June. This thread.

Well, they've progressed in cost, Before, you could get the 9800m for around 1500 bucks, now you can get them for as little as 999, or 750 if you want to buy used/refurb. Tech wise, Centrino 2 was released in July/August. That was a HUGE step up from the old Centrino. DDR3, MUCH better GPU's, 802.11N, etc.


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 10, 2009 12:28 pm 
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Azgaryth wrote:
It looks like laptops haven't progressed at all in the last 8 months.



I've been eyeballing Clevo's D901C since it debuted, and in the past 8 months they've gotten 3Ghz Quad Core chips running in it, 9800's in SLI, replaced the old Intel 3xxx series (a/b/g) wireless cards with an Intel 4xxx (a/b/g/n) wireless cards. Blu-Ray burners also became a $495 option as well.

In the next four months, we should see e-SATA ports and HDMI outputs show up on more models.


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 10, 2009 5:40 pm 
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Flytrap7 wrote:
Azgaryth wrote:
It looks like laptops haven't progressed at all in the last 8 months.



I've been eyeballing Clevo's D901C since it debuted, and in the past 8 months they've gotten 3Ghz Quad Core chips running in it, 9800's in SLI, replaced the old Intel 3xxx series (a/b/g) wireless cards with an Intel 4xxx (a/b/g/n) wireless cards. Blu-Ray burners also became a $495 option as well.

In the next four months, we should see e-SATA ports and HDMI outputs show up on more models.


I have eSATA and HDMI on my cheapish Asus N50. It was $965 :)

And btw, The Intel 5xxx wireless cards have been released.


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:52 pm 
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avanish11 wrote:
And btw, The Intel 5xxx wireless cards have been released.


The 4xxxx series already had 802.11n, what could they have possibly added?


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