The day job laptop

… died.

Display randomly quits. Just weeks after the warranty expired.

Ugh.

Spec’s for new one: 8+ GB RAM, quad core Intel, Nvidia graphics. So far, Dell has a 4500 workstation that looks good, and HP has a multimedia laptop that looks good. Anyone else I should look at?

Need to run Linux, Windows 7. Mostly Linux. 64 bit.

Long battery life (3+ hours) would be nice, this is what I have today. 1920×1200 display (what I have now) is also nice.

Are Acer/Asus/Alienware good units? Brand name doesn’t matter. Performance, memory do matter.

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8 thoughts on “The day job laptop

  1. Note in my opinion stay away from workstation replacement laptops but if you do look at them then look at the Lenovo versions.

    Lenovo ThinkPad T510 with the Intel core i7
    Lenovo ThinkPad W Series with the Intel core i7

    The W series can be super heavy. (in the 20Lbs range, but you can get dual hard drives in them for raid 1 if that is interesting.

    I still think Dell hardware (Including alienware) is crappy but I am most likely biased from my extremely horrible experiences with some Dell server hardware recently.

    I think Acer and Asus are generally good companies to purchase hardware like workstations / desktops / laptop from.

  2. @Adam

    The old unit was a Dell 4300 workstation. Nice, but a little heavy. I don’t mind 6-8 lbs. More than that I do mind. 20lbs … er …no.

    As for Dell server hardware, I can’t speak to that, though I know a place you can get very good storage hardware from :), including storage clusters out to the 10s of PB (and beyond) size …

    My wife has an Acer I bought her last year around Xmas time. I need to look at that again, as this was a nice laptop (only lacking nVidia graphics … I want/need to do Cuda programming bits on the road).

    I am not a huge Asus fan. Actually been put off by crappy Asus HW over the years. Don’t know if they are getting any better … they had a well defined proclivity for self immolation at one point … every Asus MB we’ve ever used in any form over the last decade has either died within a year, or started smoking before that. I fear using them again (though it appears others like Cray etc are using Asus MB’s in a few of their designs … I guess we should get with the times).

  3. Strongly agree with Adam Hough on the Thinkpad recommendation. These things are the world’s most robust laptops – besides maybe the Panasonic Toughbooks. Check out the T410S with switchable graphics, i5-540M processor and 128GB (1.8″) SSD. Can be upgraded to 8GB ram. Ultrabay DVD slot can alternatively be used for an additional 3-cell battery for some very nice battery life. Usually best to go with the Intel wireless options.

  4. Hi, Joe

    I have not had the chance to write the blog post, but it will get written.

    My Dell laptop died, and I sent it to the following folks for refurb, based on some strong recommendations in a TX LUG mailing list

    It came back fine, but then died.

    http://twitpic.com/20p796

    I was a slacker and did not ship it back right away. Even after the warranty interval expired, however they took it thru their intake, ID’d a bad video card they had added during the refurb, and swapped it out. gratis

    And then shipped it back to me FedEx …. again gratis

    One guess who I’ll be using from now on, for out of warranty repairs of Dell kit

    http://www.parts-people.com/
    512-339-1990

    Tell them I sent you 😉 Please say “thanks again’ for me

    — Russ herrold

  5. @David:

    Lenovo’s are somewhat pricy. About $500 more for roughly the same configuration that I can get with Dell. Looking at reviews to see if its worth it, and many people point this pricing issue out. Not interested in a brand name, very interested in a good quality system that won’t die on me.

    Dell Precision M4500 looks pretty good, though there is concern over the thinness of the top cover on the display. Reading more.

    HP’s units are out there on pricing. I really do need/use a workstation class machine on the road.

    Specifically looking for Quadro graphics, and trying to compare them to the GeForce to see what I lose in choosing the latter. Comparing core i5 vs core i7. Latter looks very good, and former looks like a step up from where I am now. Quad core could be overkill, though if its cheap enough, I could see doing it. 8GB ram is a requirement. Crucial seems to have good kits for Dell.

    @Russ

    Wow. I was thinking of getting a refurb estimate on this (its 3 years old, and I’ve been thinking new machine for a few months anyway). I’ll contact them tomorrow, and see if they can do anything. Thanks for the pointer!

    Worst case, units are going on ebay for ~$500. Lets see what happens there … could use the old unit to drive our display in the office for presentation etc.

  6. I also like Lenovo, the extra price might be worth it for some people, not for others. For good pricing look also at:

    http://www.sagernotebook.com

    I have one from late 2004, I have been reasonably satisfied.

    I would not buy a high-end Acer, I have had bad luck with their desktops. Their website / support are not great. My mother and several of my friends have ASUS, they sing accolades. ASUS also offer USB 3.0. Also ESATA / Powered_ESATA would be an important considaretions for me. ASUS offers $1100 I7 machines with USB 3.0.

    Radim

  7. @Russ:

    Looks like its $160 (with s/h) to get my unit fixed. No brainer. But it is 3 years old, and it is getting long in the tooth. So maybe its time to use this as the office laptop, and get a new one for me anyway.

    Have the other office laptop I loaded Win 7 and Ubuntu 10.04 on. I am still pissed at Ubuntu for a number of things, though their user space/UI bits are pretty good.

    Replacement is going to have Win 7 (for iTunes) and Linux(es). Likely Ubuntu base if it works, and Centos VMs. Doing a lot with VMs these days, mostly VirtualBox, but others are fine. 8 GB ram + quad core should let me VM nicely.

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