Which new notebook? Opinions pleaze!

AMDnut

AMDnut

Small Form Factor Advisor
#1
Going to get a new notebook for use while traveling. Only need to run MS Office appz and the occasional viewing of CAD files (using eViewer). Will also be surfing net and e-mailing but not much else.

I am an avid AMD user and have narrowed my hoices to 2 low cost budget Acer units:

Acer Aspire AS3003WLCi NoteBook
Mobile Sempron AMD3000+
15.4" Wide XGA
256MB 40GB 4200rpm HDD, DVD/CD-RW Combo
SiS Mirage 2
$630

or

Acer Aspire AS5002LMi-XPPro NoteBook
Turion 64 AMD ML-30(1.6GHz)
15.0" XGA
512MB DDR333 80GB 4200rpm HDD, DVD±R/RW
SiS Mirage 2
$830

I have been thinking of getting the lower cost Sempron unit and changing the HDD to an 80GB 5400rpm 8mb cache unit and upgrading the RAM to 1GB. It has Win XP home on it so i would change to XP Pro as well. By the time I finish the upgrades, I will be over the cost of the Turion rig, but I think the performance would be better.

Is it worth the extra cash to get the Turion? I won't have any budget left to upgrade it if I pop for the Turion.

What would you do? Opinions please!

Thanks!
 
DanceMan

DanceMan

Procrastinating Member
#2
If you intend to use it on the battery, beware the supplied battery in the cheapest Acers. It's only a 4-cell, as opposed to the 6 or 8-cells found in most budget models.
I'd get the Celeron M myself, and I'm not an Intel fanboy. Recent tests have shown they have an edge in battery life against the Semprons, even though the Cels have no speedstepping and the Semprons have PowerNow. None of those tests had the SiS chipset that Acer uses in both the Cel and Sempron budget models. With both on the SiS, perhaps the Sempron gains back the advantage.
Check out Anandtech's test on four $600 notebooks. The HP NX6110 looked good in that one. Even though I've been a bit of an Acer fan, I'd get the HP if the prices were close.
 
T

Toolbox

Quantum Physics
#3
If I were in your shoes, I would also opt for another laptop. I have to give all my employees laptops and I have never been let down by IBM. They have a relatively new Z60 Series which looks very interesting and is fairly cheap.

Check the link: http://www-131.ibm.com/webapp/wcs/s...18425011252&dualCurrId=1000073&catalogId=-840

Also, another brand I like very much is Sony but not too many people here will agree with me so look around some more.

I would really stay away from an AMD based laptop becuase the Centrino has really proven itself in portable platform.

I hope this helps and sorry to be one of the bringers of bad news.
 
ThreeOnTheTree

ThreeOnTheTree

New Member
#4
Also consider HP/Compaq's line of 14" widescreen notebooks. They are selling for less than $1000, and that's after you upgrade to 512mb RAM, a 5400RPM hard drive, DVDrw drive, and 12cell battery.
 
jankerson

jankerson

Super Moderator
#6
I agree with the other posts here that you really should look around more before buying.

When you are talking in that price range you REALLY need to be careful what you buy. ;)

If you think about the range you are looking in, there are Video cards on the market that are in the same price range ($600).. ;)

Something to think about, you really get what you pay for when it comes to Laptops.

Also Laptops are very picky in general on upgrades and when things go wrong they can be a real nightmare to deal with, the cheaper ones are the worst.
 
jankerson

jankerson

Super Moderator
#7
I would also like to add:

What ever laptop you finally buy get the extended warranty!!!!, at least 2 years, better 3 years, more than likely you will need it.

If the warranty isn't avaiable for that model don't buy it, get something else. ;)

Laptops are VERY expensive to buy parts for with motherboards costing around $500 and more, replacing an LCD can be very costly too.
 
jimbo1763

jimbo1763

Moderator
#8
jankerson said:
I would also like to add:

What ever laptop you finally buy get the extended warranty!!!!, at least 2 years, better 3 years, more than likely you will need it.

If the warranty isn't avaiable for that model don't buy it, get something else. ;)

Laptops are VERY expensive to buy parts for with motherboards costing around $500 and more, replacing an LCD can be very costly too.
And just to add to what Jankerson said-Check on who provides the extended warranty. Lots of them are not through the manufacturer but may be with the XYZ Laptop Servicing Company or something. Get one with the manufacturer if you can or at least with a company that you have confidence in as to solvency. Companies go out of business, and the warranty is then nothing more than a nice looking piece of paper.
 
jankerson

jankerson

Super Moderator
#9
jimbo1763 said:
And just to add to what Jankerson said-Check on who provides the extended warranty. Lots of them are not through the manufacturer but may be with the XYZ Laptop Servicing Company or something. Get one with the manufacturer if you can or at least with a company that you have confidence in as to solvency. Companies go out of business, and the warranty is then nothing more than a nice looking piece of paper.

Yes I agree, be careful. ;)

You really have to watch and do your research these days before buying. Don't shop price first when buying laptops, that will put into that range of throw away machines. Believe me on the Dell forums (Using them because I am a member there) there are thousands of posts from people who bought the lowest end machines and are having big problems. (No suprise there) Also they don't have the warranty on those machines either. ;)

Now the way I try and explain buying a laptop to people is to try to compare it to a Desktop computer price wise.

A $500~$600 laptop will be equal to buying a $150~$200 Desktop machine with Monitor, Keyboard, mouse, all software etc. (Think about that for a minute)

Personally I have talked people out of buying laptops and waiting and or upping their budget to get something closer to a mid-range machine ($1,000~$1,300 Range) That is before discounts etc.

Those who took my advice thanked me after their purchase and some who didn't kicked themselves after because they had problems and or it wouldn't do what they wanted it to do.

In the end it is your money though, I really hate to see someone burn their money. You have been around here as long as I have and you are a smart person so I am sure you will make the right choice. :)
 
DanceMan

DanceMan

Procrastinating Member
#10
To add something I forgot earlier, the two reviews I've read recently on budget notebooks were consistent in mentioning poor quality displays, with poor colour quality and insufficient brightness (difficult to read in bright/outdoor lighting) being the most common comments. The HP in the Anandtech test had a better display than the others.
I've just acquired a 2 1/2 year old budget Toshiba that was sold because of a dead hard drive. The cdrw/dvd installed W2k from a burned slipstreamed disk, but is now having trouble reading files on its own XP recovery disks and one from a Compaq. These are just examples of what can die.

Consider also whether you get a proper XP install disk and a second driver disk (HP and Compaq) or recovery disks full of extra crap with no options to remove them while installing (Toshiba and apparently Gateway).
You're a computer guy. Do you want a laptop that assumes you're an idiot who has no business in the bios? (Toshiba)

There are quite a few other factors you may not consider at first.
 
Hoyle

Hoyle

New Member
#11
I agree with SOME of what's been said here.

First, the Acers aren't bad machines, but the batteries they use are simply pathetic. The displays also tend to be "brightview" which means glossy and you'll see your own reflection. They tout "brightview" because the unbuffed finish allows them to achieve a higher contrast ratio with the same LCD. Of course, when they test contrast ratio they don't do it with background lighting or glare, which will wash out the image on a brightview display.

I'd also look towards the HPs. Their nx6125 is a very good machine, but even their little ze2000 model looked pretty nice when I checked it out at CC. The DV5000z is more similar to those Acers, though, but with better graphics, dispays, and batteries.

As far as the Celeron-M options, I'd look into them too, but for the small battery life advantage you'd get it's usually hard to justify the price. Personally, all things being equal, I'd take a Pentium-M over a Turion, but usually things are unequal by 10-30% of the price of the laptop, which I wouldn't choose to pay except in very specific instances/applications.

As far as Sempron vs. Turion. I think the Turion is not very much more expensive in the lower ranges, and I'd rather have a 1.8 GHz 512k L2 cache chip than a 2 GHz 128k L2 chip for the $20 price difference.
 
AMDnut

AMDnut

Small Form Factor Advisor
#12
Thanks for the info guys!
I have did more shopping and am now considring the Pentium M but still leaning toward the Turion.

I really like the HP NX6125 Jimbo1763, thanks for the heads up. More money, but seems to be better all around choice.

Thanks guyus, this is the info I was looking for, I think I will shop a bit more and set my budget a bit higher... :D
 
DanceMan

DanceMan

Procrastinating Member
#14
AMDnut said:
The more I look at it, the more I am leaning toward the HP NX6125..:D
Where did you find it? The best local prices are on Acers from the local smaller shops, as opposed to Future Shop or Best Buy. HP only show up occasionally at the latter two.
If you're buying by mail or online, out of province could save you the PST.
 
AMDnut

AMDnut

Small Form Factor Advisor
#15
Found it on NewEgg, but looking elsewhere too!

Also researching the dv500 and ze2000 series HP notebooks, they look very nice as well.
 
AMDnut

AMDnut

Small Form Factor Advisor
#17
Found the HP NX6110 locally for $749 plus a $200 rebate, makes it $549!

That sounds like a good deal! What do you guys think? I am not really Intel oriented, but the Celeron M should be easy on the battery life...
 
DanceMan

DanceMan

Procrastinating Member
#18
That is a screaming good deal. Local small shop?

As far as the Cel M, it's probably the equivalent of my Banias Pentium M -- same 1Mb L2 cache. In fact it could be better if the core is Dothan, with the Dothan improvements.
 
AMDnut

AMDnut

Small Form Factor Advisor
#19
Danceman -

Actually at Meijers down the road! It ended up being $578 after rebate and they had 1 which I grabbed. Ad said no rainchecks so I got lucky!

Battery is good for over 3 hours with normal office appz I'm running. WiFi range is great so far. Nice little machine, I'm happy with it so far ( even though it's an Intel ;-) ). Actually, this little Cel M is a snappy little rig, already ordered 512mb stick of Corsair from the 'Egg for it though! :)

What's best way to check which core it is? Will Central Brain ID work for it?

Thanks again for the replies!