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desktop replacement

I think I have decided to go with a desktop replacement instead of buying a new desktop because I am tired of dealing with multiple computers. But I am a "power-user" and I am concerned that I will not have the power I need, or that the notebook will overheat with the demands I place on it. I am looking into a notebook that has at least 1gb ram, 128mb graphics, and at least a 60gb hard drive.

I often run at least 10 apps at a time, for example, PainShopPro, Word, Excel, Access, Windows Explorer, Outlook, multiple instances of FrontPage, and multiple browser windows all at the same time. I do a lot of graphics work (so within PSP I have multiple files open at once), I manage several Access databases, and I manage several websites on a daily basis.

I currently have a Dell Dimension 8100 P4 1.4 with 256mb ram and a 32mb graphics card (which of course at the time was the best you could buy!) But now I often run out of system memory and my video graphics capacity seems quite insufficient.

I am confused though, about my need for video graphics... everything I read states it is only for "gaming" - well I am not a gamer, but I sure do a lot of graphics work. In addition to the graphics work I do for the websites I support, I also create 3D game characters for some popular commercial games. I am assuming that I need at least 128mb of dedicated video memory, but maybe its just more system memory that I need???

For example, If I got a laptop with 2gb of system ram and integrated video graphics, would the video take 128mb or more from the system memory if needed?

Regarding the hard drive, I see some have options of 60gb@7200rpm - does this faster drive create more heat? Am I better off getting a slower drive in an effort to keep the system cool? Is there a huge difference in the performance of 5400rpm vs 7200rpm drive? What else do I need to be worried about regarding overheating?

I don't think I am as concerned about processor speed - in the past my experience has been that processor speed had the least impact on performance and that system memory and video memory were more important. I was thinking about getting a 7XXm processor and wondered if the 715M would be fast enough for the work I do. My understanding is that the slower processors produce less heat, as well. How would the 715M compare the the P4 1.4 I am currently running on my desktop?

Finally, does notebook display cause heat problems? I am also contemplating a notebook with a 17" screen OR a smaller notebook display with a freestanding 17" flat panel on my desk. Would this impact the notebook performance?

Sorry for the length here - just so many questions!!!

Jill

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Re: desktop replacement

In reply to: desktop replacement

I predict you will be unhappy with notebooks given your writings. There is a model noted in this forum with 128M video ram, but even that will not play games well.

Your post didn't really dive into "games", but the 128M note is a giveaway. Gamers tend to get very irate over games on laptops. If its not the video, then it's LCD smearing. If not that, then the hard disk is slower.

If you were to run just what you listed on a new laptop near topend laptop, it may equal what you have now. But again, the outlook is grim.

Bob

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Re: desktop replacement

In reply to: Re: desktop replacement

As I mentioned, I am not a gamer. I am a graphic artist, webmaster, marketing manager, etc... I do a lot of multi-tasking all day, every day.

I just assumed that a laptop with more powerful specs than my current desktop would support my multi-tasking. Are saying it will not? For example, will I not have any performance improvement on a laptop with a 715m processor, 1 gb ram, 128mb video (compared to my current desktop with P4 1.4, 256mb ram, and 32mb video)??? In other words, does a laptop run slower regardless of improved specs?

How does a 7XXm processor compare in performance to a P4 with HT technology? My understanding is that the 7XXm processors are lower voltage, producing less heat, but do they sacrifice performance that much?

I need help understanding this!

Thx, Jill

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Re: desktop replacement

In reply to: Re: desktop replacement

No. Here's why. It's still just one CPU. To get the multitasking going, you may want the HT capable CPU. And gobs of RAM doesn't seem to speed up XP much. In a video rendering job, identical machines with 512M and 1GB ran 6 hours to complete the task. The 1GB machine took 5 minutes less.

Since gaming is NOT THE ISSUE, then 128M of ram and it's 3D acceleration is unlikely to pay off. My bet is you need to call up the potential supplier and have a chat about what to do if the new machine doesn't perform for you.

Bob

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Re: desktop replacement

In reply to: Re: desktop replacement

So then perhaps a Dell Inspiron 9100 would be a good choice? Here are the primary specs:

P4 3.20GHz with HT Tech
15.4-in WUXGA display
1GB DDR 400MHz (2 DIMMs)
128MB DDR ATI's MOBILITY? RADEON? 9700 AGP 8X Graphics
60GB Hard Drive at 7200RPM

It seems that this is somewhat equivalent to what I might purchase in a desktop unit - what might the disadvantages be here?

I am still concerned about heat - but I never see much discussion on it... I should point out that I am not a road warrior by any means... primary use would be docked - frequent use in alternate locations within the home or office - and only occassional travel (4-6x per year). Is heat only a concern with battery use? Or would a notebook like this run hot all the time? I do have a tendancy to run my computers contantly - and only reboot occassionally.

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Re: desktop replacement

In reply to: Re: desktop replacement

Jill:

If you really are looking for a true notebook desktop replacement -- you will be leaving it plugged in and in one location most of the time (or at a minimum taking it home and setting it up) then a Pentium 4M notebook will give you the best bang for the buck. Yes, it will have terrible battery life (2 hours or less with a large 17" LCD).

I have a Pentium M notebook Compaq X1360US -- Compaq X1000 series (same as HPZT3000 series) -- this is a 15.4" widescreen that weighs 6.5 pounds. You can get 3.5-4 hours using wi-fi on batteries or longer if not using wi-fi (up to 5 hours or more if you turn down the LCD brightness and don't use wi-fi).

You definitely want dedicated video RAM not matter what you choose as shared video drains your RAM and also will not perform in more demanding programs and/or games at all. These notebooks top out at 64mb dedicated video which is fine for your use. Most people paying for 128mb dedicated video on a notebook need that for games.Dedicated video has its own memory on the ATI or Nvidia separate graphics card (can't be easily upgraded or changed later like a desktop) so it is critical to get the video that meets you needs now.

Pentium M cpu's don't have hyperthreading like the Pentium 4M but they will perform very well otherwise. They perform between 1.5 times to 2 times faster than their mhz speed (but use 1.5 to be conservative).

See X1000forums.com for tons of information regarding specifications, ordering discounts, etc. if you are interested in any Pentium M notebook specification (even if another brand).

The Compaq X1000 series/ HPZT3000 series weighs 6.5 pounds (your Pentium 4M 17" LCD notebook would weigh over 9 pounds and and the A/c adaptor would be much heavier also) and can easily fit in a Targus or similar notebook backpack that holds a 15.4" LCD (you are stuck with a one strap satchel (over one arm only) for a 17" LCD notebook.

Many people at X1000forums.com get the 725 Pentium M 1.6 for the best value, then get 256mb RAM and add their own 512mb later for under $100 more (or order 512mb RAM 1 stick and add 512mb later for 1GB)...

a 7200rpm hard drive is about 20% faster than a 5400.
A 5400rpm hard drive is about 50% faster than a 4200

You can custom order the 5400rpm at HPshopping but people who want the 7200 Hitachi order the cheapest 4200 and then order the 7200 themselves and reimage the notebook (Dell 8600 has the 7200rpm option but that notebook is somewhat thicker and heavier -- this also has the 128mb dedicated video option if you want 7200 and the 128mb video in a Pentium M notebook).

Note: HPshopping has a $100 custom order rebate available as well as a 12% employer discount (EPP) if your employer has that agreement with HP.

The Toshiba M35 series is similar and also excellent (new Trubrite LCD) -- Pentium M and weighs 6.2 pounds -- you can save 10% off custom orders at the Toshiba website.

Note:

The Pentium 4M will run much hotter but the case is thicker and heavier to accomodate that (larger heat sinks). The HPZT3000/Compaq X1000 run with the fan off much of the time in normal use as they are much cooler but if you are running a lot of stuff the fan runs of course.

A 7200 rpm hard drive will be somewhat noisier but you should not have a problem with heat so choose the performance you want to achieve.

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Re: desktop replacement

In reply to: Re: desktop replacement

"Pentium M cpu's don't have hyperthreading like the Pentium 4M but they will perform very well otherwise. They perform between 1.5 times to 2 times faster than their mhz speed (but use 1.5 to be conservative)."

So are you saying that a PM 725 (1.6 mhz) performs equivalent to a P4 2.4 mhz? Also, I don't know if I have seen any P4M processors - they are all either P4 (with HT) or PM (without HT). Are you saying there is a P4M with HT that runs more efficiently (lower voltage) than a P4 with HT?

----------------------------------

"The Pentium 4M will run much hotter but the case is thicker and heavier to accomodate that (larger heat sinks)."

Hotter than which - The PM or the P4 with HT? Or both?

----------------------------------

As you can see, I am still quite confused about the performance differences between P4 with HT, P4M, and PM. Any recommendations on where I can read up on this?

Also, what can you tell me about HP/Compaq service and support. I personally have had mixed experiences with Dell, but I read awful things about HP's support.

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HT vs. M. M loses.

In reply to: Re: desktop replacement

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That's a nce model.

In reply to: Re: desktop replacement

It's a real desktop replacement and you get the HT benefit. It will run hotter than most laptops, but it is a desktop replacement, not a laptop for lap use.

If it can't run 24x7, then its not a desktop replacement and you can take Dell up on the warranty to get it fixed or a full refund.

Bob

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Re: That's a nce model.

In reply to: That's a nce model.

A Pentium 4 cpu is used in desktops where you have maximum space to add large cooling fans and will never use it unplugged (desktops don't have a battery.

A Pentium 4M is the notebook equivalent of the desktop processor. It is somewhat more efficient to allow it to be placed into a notebook but it still runs hot and has relatively low battery life.

A few companies have put a desktop Pentium 4 in a notebook but this is suicide and it is done to lower costs as a Pentium 4M is designed for a notebook at least.

Both of these cpus have hyperthreading if the cpu states that (HT) and that will benefit you when you are running multiple programs.
********

Yes, a conservative estimate for a Pentium M (Dothan --Centrino notebooks) is to run at 1.5 times its mhz speed in comparison to a desktop. So, yes a 1.6 Pentium M would run at least as fast as a 2.4 Pentium 4M... but again that is conservative so it is likely between a 2 * 1.6 = 3.2 Pentium 4M and a 1.5 * 1.6 = 2.4 Pentium 4M -- so lets say it runs about the speed of a 2.7 or 2.8 Pentium 4M as a compromise.

At any rate, if you really run that many programs then the hyperthreading may give you some additional benefit (as the Pentium M cpu does not have that).

Otherwise, if you do want to use it unplugged at times (especially if you will use wi-fi allowing you to move it around untethered or even take it outside the house, etc (example, on your balcony or porch within range of wi-fi (up to 150 feet for the 54G standard out now) then you definitely want a Pentium M Centrino.

If you just want the raw power and will use batteries very little (and won't use it on a plane or untethered at home (not plugged into A/C) much at all get a Pentium 4M.

However, if you get a Dothan 725 Pentium M or higher, a nice 15.4" widescreen LCD (and if ordering custom you can even choose the LCD resolution (SXGA or UXGA puts even more information on the LCD with smaller pixels than the standard XGA), 1GB RAM (order 512 from company, add 512 yourself to save $), 5400 rpm hard drive or faster, 64mb dedicated video, etc you will have a very nice notebook for office and home use.

But it is your call whether the need for the hyperthreading mandates you to keep the Pentium 4M and to mostly keep in on your desk.

For example, Realtors use a 17" Toshiba or HP Pentium 4M notebook as they just take it into the sale house and plug it in to display images. It is light enough to carry from the car to the house but not to take around campus all the time or to move around frequently (or is using batteries it would last under 2 hours with the 17" LCD). It would also weigh over 9 pounds before the A/C Adaptor.

An Apple 17" powerbook, however, only weighs 6.9 pounds - barely more than the X1000 series I have (Compaq) with the 15.4" LCD (6.5 pounds).

See X1000forums.com for information on that model (over 10,000 users) -- it will give you good information on Pentium M (Centrino) notebooks even if you buy a different manufacturer (like the Toshiba M35 or Dell 8600 or Acer 2025)for a Pentium M notebook.

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Re: desktop replacement - more questions!

In reply to: desktop replacement

All your help/advice is much appreciated!!!

I have started to do further research and have found that Intel has discontinued the Pentium 4M w/HT line of processors. They state it will be unavailable after November. It is extremely difficult to find a notebook that uses this processor - So far only 1 Dell and 1 Toshiba, but neither have other specs that are important to me.

Does anyone here know if there are any new processors on the horizon that will improve mobile performance or add HT technology? Will they ever add HT technology to the new M processors?

How does an AMD Athlon 64 stack up to a P4 HT processor? Any links or info on this would be very helpful.

I have also done some reading about the manufacturers of various brands of notebooks. From what I can tell, it seems that Clevo has one of the better reps - manufacturing Sager, Voodoo, Alienware, Falcon, and Hypersonic Aviator. All of these notebooks are powerhouses and can be configured to my specs, but my concern is that none of these are mainstream OEMs - will I have problems with service and phone support? Which of these companies is more reputable?

Sager seems to have some very powerful notebooks and they offer both Athlon 64 and P4 HT processors.

Any further advice would be greatly appreciated!

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Re: desktop replacement - more questions!

In reply to: Re: desktop replacement - more questions!

The Athlon 64 is my next choice. Since I've used that and on XP64, it's on my next laptop of choice when I need to replace the one I have. The unit I'm looking at, has all that I could imagine needing in a desktop but I'll use an external DVD recorder since the best they offer is 2X record speed. The unit has dedicated video and boots XP to the desktop in about 40 seconds if that gives any clue as to the performance.

Bob

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Re: desktop replacement - more questions!

In reply to: Re: desktop replacement - more questions!

The Sager NP4750 is looking like a really nice notebook. Here are the specs:

AMD Athlon? 64 3400+ Processor with AMD PowerNow!Technology
VIA K8T800 / VIA VT8235CE Chipset
Display: 17.0" WIDE VIEWING ANGLES WSXGA+ clear glossy surface
Memory: 1024MB PC3200 (2 DIMMs) SDRAM
Hard Drive 60.0GB (7200rpm) Ultra DMA Hard Drive
ATI MOBILITY RADEON 9700 128MB DDR
Toshiba SD-R6372 (4X DVD

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Sager - more questions!

In reply to: Re: desktop replacement - more questions!

Sager's history of broken dreams make it a non-contender. If you haven't watched the problems from them for over a decade then you'll stand up for them. Otherwise you never speak their name.

Bob

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Re: Sager - more questions!

In reply to: Sager - more questions!

It seems like the 2 mainstream companies now offering a AMD Athlon 64 notebook are HP/Compaq (1 notebook each -- very similar except for appearance of case) and Emachines.

If you custom order by 9/1/04 (HP or Compaq) form Hpshopping.com you can get a $100 custom order rebate, there is a $100 instant rebate on some models (see X1000forums.com for details in general section), you can get a 12% employer EPP discount if qualified and there is a 6% student APP discount. Also you can get 5% cash back via Fatcash.

You can't get above 64mb Dedicated video with the HP/Compaq but that should be fine for business use. You should easily be able to configure a loaded Athlon 64 (HP or Compaq) for under $1500 after all the rebates and discounts.

Order either 256mb or 512mb (1 stick) and get a Kingston, Crucial, PNY, etc 512mb PC2700 RAM module later for at or under $100 after rebates when on sale (Crucial cost online no sale is around $110).

Get the 5400rpm hard drive unless you are comfortable adding a 7200rpm hard drive later yourself (in which case order the cheapest 4200 hard drive).

E-machines doesn't make a lot of notebooks yet but you can consider that also (Gateway and Emachines have merged).

Note also you can double your 1 year limited warranty by ordering on an American Express or qualified Visa or Mastercard Gold/Platinum card for free.

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Re: desktop replacement

In reply to: desktop replacement

I sure wish I could order a notebook EXACTLY the way I want it. It just does not seem possible. So now I need to decide where to compromise.

I don't think I am willing to compromise on the 128mb graphics, the 7200 rpm hard drive, or the memory capacity. I am still trying to figure out if there is that much of an advantage to get the Athlon 64 processor over a P4 3.2 or 3.4 with HT.

I have looked most closely at the Dell Inspiron 9100 and the HP ZD7000 series. The Dell has some advantages - a higher quality graphics card (ATI with 8X AGP), more accessible memory slots, an integrated subwoofer, a faster DVD burner with double layer technology, and of course, their own service.

But the HP ZD7000 has a 17" screen (so I may not need to get an external display), and I have become somewhat intrigued with the Windows XP Media Center Edition that is available on this unit. I love the idea of being able to record TV and movies direcly from the tuner in the notebook and play them back anywhere or burn them onto DVDs. There is also an Extender unit releasing in 2 weeks that allows you to broadcast media from the notebook to any TV or entertainment system in your home. But perhaps I am getting sidetracked by something "cool" but not "practical." Does this technology need to develop further?

Ideally, I would love to get a Dell 9100 with an Athlon 64 processor, a 17" screen and the Windows XP Media Edition, but it simply does not exist!

Anyone here have knowlege about this Windows XP Media Center technology? How about the extended service contracts offered by HP?

Ken, you mentioned that a certain credit cards will double the manufacturers warranty... does this really apply to computers? I thought computers and cars were exempt from this.

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Re: desktop replacement

In reply to: Re: desktop replacement

Jill: the credit card electronic product extension programs apply for any electronic device that has a manufacturer limited warranty of 1 year or less. The Credit card program doubles whatever length that is. So, for most notebooks with a 1 year limited warranty standard you double it for free by using the program.

I have a word of caution for you: the San Jose Mercury News posted today in their business section that AMD has announced a working prototype of its 2 cpu 64bit chip. Intel is also in on this of course (to prepare for Longhorn 64bit in 2006 or later.

Therefore, you should not spend much more than $1500 now or $2000 at most as whatever you buy you will be looking for something else by late 2006 or 2007 (2 1/2 years-3 years max).

At this point, the Intel Pentium M Centrino is ideal for all around notebook computing but most of us that have bought the X1000 or ZT3000 have spent under $1500 (I paid $1299 after rebates and added 512mb RAM to go to 1GB for $70 more after rebate (Kingston from Fry's) so that leaves me under $1300.

HP/Compaq will allow you to customize everything you want (including LCD resolution) except you can only go as high as 64mb video. If you are not a gamer or using Autocad all the time 128mb video may not give you what you think you are getting moving up that high. Also, the 15.4" widescreen is a great LCD in itself (also sold on Toshiba M35 series and Acer 2025 which has the ATI 9700 128mb video option --and this is built in China by the same contractor that makes the HPZT3000/Compaq X1000.

If you are really willing to stick with a 17" Pentium 4M HP or Toshiba they will give you a great LCD and all the desktop performance you want but they weigh over 9 pounds and the A/C adaptor is 2-3 pounds so you are looking at 13 pounds or more total.

But realtors are using the 17" notebooks (I saw one in San Ramon displaying satelite photos of the overall development in an open house) as they aren't too large to move between the house and car, etc if you will leave it plugged in nearly all of the time (a true desktop replacement).

You can add USB TV card tuners to any notebook without paying the $ necessary to get the media additions (which will definitely be pushing you over $2000 and maybe even closer to $3000 in the case of the 17" Sony Pentium M model with these features-- and the Xbrite LCD).


At any rate, the Athlon 64 will have more benefit than the Pentium 4M after Microsoft Longhorn is released (as that will be 64bit) but again if you don't overspend and expect this notebook to last beyond 2-3 years tops as your primary notebook then the Pentium M and Pentium 4M notebooks are just as effective in today's market.

If you are interested in any of the HP's you had better hurry:

1) there is a 100 instant discount right now (due to the end of back to school) on either the HPzd7000 (the 17" LCD with the Pentium 4M you mentioned -- with HT and extreme edition) or the HPZT3000 (which is the equivalant of what I have).

This instant rebate just appeared and they usually only last a couple of days a most and this is the end of back to school (2nd highest selling period of year).

Also, you can get a $100 custom order rebate instead of the $50 rebate posted.

Thus, you can save $200 off either a zd7000 (Pentium 4M 17" or a ZT3000 (Pentium M - 15.4" widescreen) This $100 rebate expires 9/1/04 (tomorrow) so if you order after that date you lose $50 and you may lose the instant rebate at any time (another 100).

Also, check out the HPzv5000Z which is the Athlon 64 model (also with 15.4" widescreen).

You really should go to X1000forums.com and read all about the specifications people are ordering even if you don't choose that model or HP.

Note also that you can add internal bluetooth (for mice, PDA's, wireless headphones, etc) for only $19 extra on the HPZT3000/Compaq X1000.

The Athlon 64 model does not have the 100 instant rebate but you can still get the 100 custom order rebate (instead of the $50 one posted) through 9/1/04.

To view the $100 rebate offer yourself (or free Wordperfect Professional suite or $300 Marriott hotel stay bucks) go to hpshopping.com, go to the lower left corner, click mail in rebates, and select HP notebooks and find the $100 rebate good from 2/15/04-9/1/04 (good for all custom order HP notebooks).

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