Which notebook?

A

Aragorn992

New Member
#1
Im going back to university next year and want to replace my old tower with a notebook.

Requirements:
- 512MB RAM (preferably a single piece)
- Wireless 802.11g

Would like (but not a deal breaker):
- Bluetooth
- Widescreen
- Good brand

What would you suggest? Ill basically be doing word processing and some programming on it so I don't really care about the graphics card (but I don't want noticable slowness).

My computer specs are:
- Athlon XP 2700+
- 512MB DDR 400
- Radeon 8500 64MB

Id like it to be reasonably close to performance as what I already have, and hopefully a little quicker.

Any advice appreciated.

Oh and I live in New Zealand if that makes a difference...
 
CenturionStrategy

CenturionStrategy

Super Moderator
#2
If you don't intend to do any gaming on it, you could get away with some of the cheaper laptops on the market. It may be worth aiming for 2GHz+ for future-proofing, as laptops can be a pain to upgrade by any sensible amount.

Toshiba do some great ones over here starting at just £400, although they may be a little too slow. I use an IBM Thinkpad T41 at work which is rock solid, and has a fair few features, but they are a little over-priced in my opinion. If you have about £800 to spend, Dell seem to do some nice laptops - they tend to be big on Widescreen which is a bonus, and for this money you'll get a Pentium-M 2GHz+.

Bluetooth would be nice but it tends to be rare on most laptops, I would buy a USB Bluetooth dongle instead (~£15). Most laptops should come with WiFi, but if not a PCMCIA WiFi card will set you back only around (~£15).
 
DanceMan

DanceMan

Procrastinating Member
#3
I'd like to throw in a good word for Acer, in the value end of the spectrum. I have two very old ones and find the quality pretty good. Neither was high end at the time. I've read of good reliability from a local uni that had fleet of Acers handed out to profs, etc. after a year of use.
I would definitely look for a Pentium M or a Turion. Everything that has 512Mb comes as 2x256 and occupies both slots.
 
A

Aragorn992

New Member
#4
Which tends to be better, the Pentium M's or the Turions? Also what about Celeron M's? Price is important so im looking at Acer laptops. Ive heard good and bad things about them in general.
 
A

Aragorn992

New Member
#5
How about something like the Acer 5002WLMi? I can get it for $1398 NZD ($984 USD). Specs:

* Processor: AMD Mobile Turion ML-30 (1.6GHz, 1MB L2 cache, 1.6GHz FSB)
* Memory: 512MB (2x256MB) expandable to 2GB with discard
* Hard Drive: Internal 60GB Ultra ATA⁄100 removable hard disk drive
* Optical Drive: Internal Dual Layer, Dual Format DVD writer (8X DVD-R, 4X DVD-RW, 8X DVD+R, 4X DVD+RW, 24X CD-R, 10X CD-RW, 2.4X DL DVD+ R)
* Display: 15.4" WXGA Wide LCD screen with up to 1280 x 800 resolution.
* Video: Integrated SiSM760GX 3D graphics accelerator supporting up to 64MB shared video RAM. Direct X 8.0 support
* Audio: SoundBlaster Pro and Microsoft DirectSound compatible, built-in speakers
* Security: Lock slot, BIOS ⁄ user ⁄ supervisor passwords
* Input Devices: Ergonomic keyboard with launch keys (1 programmable + eManager + email & browser). Built-in touch-pad with ergonomic buttons
* LAN: Integrated 10⁄100Mbps Ethernet network port.
* WAN: Integrated 56K modem
* WiFi: Integrated 802.11b⁄g WiFi
* Bluetooth: none - optional XH6881 USB Bluetooth
* Card Reader ⁄ Writer: none
* I⁄O: 3x USB 2.0 ports, 1x External display (VGA) port, 1x Type II PC Card slot, 1x Microphone-in⁄Line-in port, 1x Line-out port (for headphones⁄external speakers)
* Battery: Lithium Ion 65Wh, 8-cell providing up to 3.0 hours
* AC Adapter: International 100-240V auto sensing adaptor with NZ⁄AU mains lead.
* Weight & Dimensions (mm):2.80kg 364 x 279 x 33.9~38.9 (w x d x h)
* Chipset: SiSM760GX
* Operating System: Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition
* Software: Acer eManager, Acer eRecovery, Acer Launch Manager, Norton AntiVirus 2004 OEM 90 day trial version, Adobe Acrobat Reader 6.0, Acer Aspire Arcade powered by CyberLink, NTI CD & DVD Maker
* Warranty: 12 months return to DSE & 1 year International Travelers warranty
 
jimbo1763

jimbo1763

Moderator
#6
HP makes a NX6125, which is Turion based and has a 3 year warranty. It is under $1000, US, and getting a three year warranty for a machine under $1000 is pretty good. That is what I am looking at to replace my now dead (but long-lived) Toshiba.
 
DanceMan

DanceMan

Procrastinating Member
#7
The Celeron M should be essentially the same as the first Pentium M core, the Banias, with the same 1Mb L2 cache, maybe even better if it has the enhancements added in the Dothan core, BUT the Celeron M's have no Speedstepping, so they run at full speed, full voltage and thus higher battery draw and heat production. I'd spend the extra for a Pentium M or Turion. The P-M's ought to have a little better battery life, Turion a little lower cost; performance should be close. Turion has 64-bit, which may matter in a few years.
Be careful about the screen. The "Brightview" models have no matte coating and reflections could be very annoying. F_A_L_C_O_N would recommend the business class HP's, if he were still here.
 
Hoyle

Hoyle

New Member
#8
I've bought some of the HP NX6120 models (Pentium M, 15" SXGA) for our company and been very pleased. If I was buying now I'd probably go with the NX6125 (only difference is the Turion rather than the Pentium M, and the Turion has a longer low-load battery life and a bit higher overall performance (aside from being cheaper)). They are incredably powerful machines for their size, very much the counterparts of IBM's T4X series, but at half the price. Dell doesn't make much that packs as much power into such a small and light case.

We also have an Acer in service. Nothing at all wrong with it (except the model was only stocked (it was an emergency retail purchase) with 'brightview' glossy (high-glare) screens). But they DO have models with traditional matte screens, and although they tend to be a bit larger/heavier than something like the NX6125, I'd be surprised if an Acer equivelent didn't serve you well.

Really, you haven't tols us your prefered wieght and screen size, though, so we might be off on a tangent with these T&L models.....
 
A

Aragorn992

New Member
#9
I dont really know much about the screens out there, and dont care about the weight. The most important things, in order, are:

1. Price
2. 512 RAM
3. Wireless 802.11g
 
DanceMan

DanceMan

Procrastinating Member
#10
1. Price I'd still pay the extra to get a P-M or Turion.
2. 512 RAM Ebay has lots of 256Mb sodimm sticks from people getting rid of one or both of theirs to go over 512Mb. Or did when I looked 6 months ago.
3. Wireless 802.11g Even the cheapest models from any reputable brand has this. If it only has b, or none, it's either really old stock, or not a brand you'd want.
 
Hoyle

Hoyle

New Member
#11
OK, so if price is the biggest concern:

HP Compaq M200Z... 15", 6 lbs, Sempron (It's as powerful as Cel-M but HAS power saving features), Radeon Xpress, 802.11g, 512RAM = $624

You can actually get cheaper with the Cel-M version, but that's mostly because the slowest Sempron is 300 MHz faster than the slowest Cel-M (which, at 1.3 GHz, your XP desktop will run circles around).

Acer has (retail) a few nice Sempron laptops as well... 15.4" widescreens, nice features. Usually in the $700 range.

If cost is the overriding concern (to the point where you'll sacrifice EVERYTHING (except g wireless and that second SoDIMM)), Dell can put a laptop into your hands (I-B120) for about $549. Isn't going to come within 40% of your desktop's performance.
 
A

Aragorn992

New Member
#12
Alright thanks. They turning out a bit more expensive than I expected. I might try TradeMe (our local auction site - like eBay) for a near new laptop.
 
A

Aragorn992

New Member
#13
A few other questions:
- Do you recommend me ordering straight off the Compaq/Dell website, incase there are problems with my notebook, i.e. what hassles might there be returning it?
- How difficult is it to install RAM in notebooks (ive dont it many times for desktop PCs)?
 
ThreeOnTheTree

ThreeOnTheTree

New Member
#14
If you are customizing your machine online, make sure you upgrade to the 12 cell battery. It will really extend your mobility for a little more money. If I were you, I would also try my best to NOT buy the brightview screen (highly reflective/glossy screen coating). It's marketed like an upgrade, but it will likely drive you mad!

As for the notebook type, I really like the looks/specs of the Compaq/HP 14" WXGA models, and their 15.4" models aren't bad either.

As for installing RAM, notebooks take a different type of DIMM, called the SoDIMM. It's has the same kind of RAM (DDR or DDR2), but the packaging is smaller. Usually one SoDIMM slot is accessable underneath by removing a single screw, while the other slot is accessable under the keyboard. Sometimes it's easy getting under the keyboard, other times it isn't.
 
DanceMan

DanceMan

Procrastinating Member
#15
You've asked your question at the right time!

Anandtech tests six $600 laptops.

Unfortunately no Acers, and nothing with the SiS chipsets Acer uses on its bottom end machines. But the test has both Sempron and Celeron M in near identical machines from Compaq. I'm only at the beginning of the article.

Adding a second sodimm is easier than adding ram to a desktop because there's nothing in your way. Remove one small access cover and it's right there.
 
DanceMan

DanceMan

Procrastinating Member
#17
Perhaps the most surprising result was the lack of any advantage in battery life for the Sempron with PowerNow against the Celeron M which lacks Speedstepping. It could be partly lower overall cpu power consumption and partly lower power consumption from the chipset. Which is why I'd like to see an Acer tested and see how much worse the SiS chipset is than the Intel. Acer's bottom end models use SiS chipset for both Cel M and Sempron. But they all seem to include wireless, unlike the Dell and Gateway tested.
Overall it's a very thorough test. And note the comment that the manufacturers make very little on these models and were reluctant to promote them by supplying test units. Anandtech had to buy them.
 
ThreeOnTheTree

ThreeOnTheTree

New Member
#18
Hey, Danceman, you should use that link and start a new thread here in the mobile forum, as it might be just the kind of thing people are looking for at this time of year. I'd do it myself, but don't want to steal the credit. ;)
 
Hoyle

Hoyle

New Member
#20
I was pretty impressed by the Gateway model. Didn't know they were still in the running, but I agree with Anandtech, the gateway did very well. Dell, on the other hand, flubbed it pretty bad with that cheap NiMH battery! Otherwise, they might have a good notebook on their hands, too.
 

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