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Laptop buying dilemma


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#1
Novaprospekt

Novaprospekt

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Hi guys,

Was wondering if I could get some feedback or help with this dilemma I'm in as I consider a new laptop for my senior year of college.

Here's a bit of background to help put things in context: I want a laptop that has above average horsepower/technology, good to great battery life, doesn't weigh a ton and is thin enough to fit in my backpack comfortably and not feel like two textbooks.

I would occasionally play video games on it-- probably SC2, maybe WoW and some others. Primary use will be school work, internet browsing, and watching movies and videos besides the gaming.

I am stuck between a Dell Studio XPS 16 and a Macbook Pro 15": the specs I considered for each are as follows

Dell Studio XPS 16:
CPU: Intel Core i7-720QM Quad 1.6GHz, 6MB cache, 2.8GHz turbo mode
RAM: 6GB DDR3 shared dual channel 1333MHz
GFX: ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5730 - 1GB
STORAGE: 500GB 7200 RPM SATA
CD/DVD ROM: 8x Slot load CD/DVD burner (dual layer DVD +/-R drive)
DISPLAY: Edge-to-edge FHD widescreen 15.6" WLED LCD (1920x1080i native) with 2.0mp webcam.
SOUND: Soundblaster X-Fi hi-def audio
WI-FI: Intel Centrino Advanced-N + WiMAX 6250
BATTERY: 85 WHr 9-cell lithium ion (Dell claims 4 hours 51 min on this, but it sounds dubious)
WEIGHT: 6.3lbs++ minimum

Price: $1,424.99 before taxes and shipping, includes $263 instant rebate
------------

MacBook Pro 15"
CPU: Intel Core i5 2.53GHz 3MB L3 cache(Apple doesn't seem to reveal which variant: update found out its Core i5-540M (3.06GHz with turbo boost)
RAM: 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1066MHz
GFX: NVIDIA GeForce GT 330M - 256MB
STORAGE: 500GB 7200 RPM SATA
CD/DVD ROM: 8x Slot load CD/DVD burner (DVD+/-R DL)
DISPLAY: 15.4" Hi-res Glossy Widescreen display (1680x1050 native)
SOUND: Not specified, so probably on-board audio
WI-FI: AirPort Extreme (802.11a/b/g/n capable)
BATTERY: 77.5 WHr lithium polymer battery (Apple claims 8-9 hours, good enough even if it's less than that)
WEIGHT: 5.6 lbs

Price: $1,984.00 before taxes, free shipping, includes $150 student discount
--------------

Conclusions: Obviously the Dell is more powerful, and is much cheaper for all that superior power. However, I am "paying the price" in terms of battery life, which will probably be closer 3.5hrs on powersave, and in terms of weight/bulk. It's quite a bit heavier and dimensions wise, I've heard it isn't very portable. I don't need a desktop replacement, since I have a very powerful desktop already - I just need something capable for when I'm at school so I don't have to bring the desktop back and forth. I've also heard there are some heat issues with the Dell and they don't offer RGBLED anymore to my dismay. The ability for me to take this all around campus with me is extremely important and can perhaps trump power which leads me to the MBP-->

I really dislike Apple, but the MBP is a very well-constructed laptop despite the "apple tax" in price. I would use Windows 7 Pro 64bit with the MBP anyway and I already have a copy of it unused so that cost shouldn't factor into total cost. The cost is obviously the biggest negative here but I feel like I am paying for excellent battery life, portability, and design/heat management. I also don't know much in the way of the i5 processor since they don't reveal the variant (I plan to find out in person tomorrow at a store --edit: Core i5-540M). Since I already own an unused Windows copy, I also will effectively have two OS's with the MBP but MacOS is like computer training-wheels so I wouldn't use it much. The portability is very important to me to take around campus.

As for money? I'm pretty strapped right now. I would have to finance the MBP over 12 months but could definitely pay it off before then. The Dell I could probably pay in full right now. $2000 is my limit.

Thoughts? Thanks in advance guys, I know it's a long read.

Edited by Novaprospekt, 23 July 2010 - 03:20 PM.

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#2
Manny Avatar

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Hi Nova....

I've been a laptop user for some 13 years now... 3 years Compaq ("old faithful", or "the tank" I called her), 6 years Acer ("my oriental friend" I called her, purchased from Taiwan) and running on 2 years with my present ASUS system (yet to be named...)

If you want to do any sort of gaming... I think most people here would agree Mac is an unwise choice. Despite the recent grumblings from Steve Jobs' office...

The Dell notebook you are looking at has a good spec and I presume a worldwide warranty? Check for after sales support as well... as who knows where u will be after your final year.

If you want above average CPU, you will have to sacrifice battery life... this is non-negotiable, even in this day and age. The technology is just not there yet.... on mine I can switch off chips I am not using which helps a lot, but you will still have to lug those extra chips and batteries around with you... all things considered I think it is a small price to pay for a machine that should last 5 years if you make the right choice.

My question for you would be "why would you even want a Mac unless you are using some specialized proprietary applications?" Even the days where Mac was the specialist machine for designers and musicians has long passed. I think you can find the software for whatever you want to do on your new Dell.
If you want to impress someone... well... choose wisely my friend...

If I had to choose between those two today, it would be XPS16. No question about it.

I would welcome any Mac users here to "put me right on a few things.... "



NB. I am not even going to discuss CPU spec as you can learn all that from Google and it is there in B&W. Both seem more than enough for whatever jobs you are talking about at the moment. I am trying to give benefit of experience.
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#3
DaffyKantReed

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@Novaprospekt:

Take a look at the Lenovo T410 or heavier T510 models. The build quality is far superior to any Dell.

http://shop.lenovo.c...9F5FC222AA15BDE


Replace the HDD with an Intel X25-M or Corsair F series SSD, as the HDD is the bottleneck.
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#4
Novaprospekt

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Hi Nova....

I've been a laptop user for some 13 years now... 3 years Compaq ("old faithful", or "the tank" I called her), 6 years Acer ("my oriental friend" I called her, purchased from Taiwan) and running on 2 years with my present ASUS system (yet to be named...)

If you want to do any sort of gaming... I think most people here would agree Mac is an unwise choice. Despite the recent grumblings from Steve Jobs' office...

The Dell notebook you are looking at has a good spec and I presume a worldwide warranty? Check for after sales support as well... as who knows where u will be after your final year.

If you want above average CPU, you will have to sacrifice battery life... this is non-negotiable, even in this day and age. The technology is just not there yet.... on mine I can switch off chips I am not using which helps a lot, but you will still have to lug those extra chips and batteries around with you... all things considered I think it is a small price to pay for a machine that should last 5 years if you make the right choice.

My question for you would be "why would you even want a Mac unless you are using some specialized proprietary applications?" Even the days where Mac was the specialist machine for designers and musicians has long passed. I think you can find the software for whatever you want to do on your new Dell.
If you want to impress someone... well... choose wisely my friend...

If I had to choose between those two today, it would be XPS16. No question about it.

I would welcome any Mac users here to "put me right on a few things.... "



NB. I am not even going to discuss CPU spec as you can learn all that from Google and it is there in B&W. Both seem more than enough for whatever jobs you are talking about at the moment. I am trying to give benefit of experience.


Hi Manny, thanks for your advice. I definitely agree with you the Dell is superior in specifications in all categories and that I have to weigh battery life with powerful performance. And up until recently, I would be dead set against any Mac computers because of their ineptitude with gaming (not as bad as they used to be, admittedly). But, if I was to get the MacBook, OS would be a moot point as I would be installing Windows 7 on there and doing most of my gaming through the Windows partition. I have little need for MacOSX anyway. My major concerns are to have a laptop that is very portable but also very capable of performing similar to a desktop. The Dell meets the latter of those two categories but not so much the former. The reason I was considering the macbook was because I felt it could do both.

The battery on that dell is like I said, not amazing (but granted it's a core i7 quad). But to have 8-9 hours of battery life with a core i5 (dual) is pretty impressive no matter which way you look at it. I can sacrifice a quadcore to get almost 3 times as much battery if it means that much more portability/usability. My desktop at home has a quadcore anyway so I just need my laptop to be capable, not outperform my current desktop. I want to leave the desktop home and just use the laptop at school.

@Novaprospekt:

Take a look at the Lenovo T410 or heavier T510 models. The build quality is far superior to any Dell.

http://shop.lenovo.c...9F5FC222AA15BDE


Replace the HDD with an Intel X25-M or Corsair F series SSD, as the HDD is the bottleneck.


Hey Daffy, thanks for your advice as well. I will check out the Lenovo models you suggested. I didn't really even consider them because I wasn't under the impression they were a good brand (unfortunately I based that on how often I hear about them and not on the merits).

Hopefully I can find something good there

Thanks guys!
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