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Price/Performance imparity between laptops and desktops


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#1
Luminareo

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I'm sure you guys get questions like this all the time; "should I get a laptop or a desktop?" That's a decision I have to make in the near future, and I think I'm pretty well-equipped to make it. One is portable, one is customizable, one is accessible, the other is proficient, one is up, one is down, one is red, one is blue, etc. etc.. These differences are significant, but have more to do with personal preference than the superiority of either one. I do, however, require some expert help on one aspect of this difference: the price/power comparison.

A generally accepted fact: when a person buys a laptop instead of a desktop, they're getting a little bit less for a slightly higher price. It would make sense that you sacrifice some power, and pay a little bit more in exchange for portability. Where this becomes a little less simple is where you try to stick numbers on the difference. An article on laptop-computers-whiz.com suggests that the price/power benefits of a desktop increase exponentially as you spend more. While a $430 desktop may be similar in speed and power to a $590 laptop, a $2500 laptop may not even match a $1000 desktop. Would you guys agree with this to any degree?

Here's what I use a computer for:
Online school, while not as computer-intensive as one might think, recommends a computer that is free from many frustrations. As someone who spends the majority of his school time and his free time on his computer, I definitely want a system that is competent at the very least.
I also browse the internet a lot. While this alone might not mean I need a powerful system, I felt that it would be a useful thing for me to note. I spend time on Youtube, DeviantArt, random forums, IRC, anime, and more. It would be great if I could continue to do these things without too many headaches.
I also have a huge interest in digital art and animation, which involve some programs that aren't too friendly to my teeny notebook. I would love to learn Maya (and I have acquired an educational license for this), but it's not actually possible on the system I'm currently running. I want a system that can run the major Adobe and Autodesk software without much issue.
Because it's something my friends like to do, I am interested in programming. As a group, our efforts so far have been limited to replicating simple 2D games, but we hope to tackle some larger projects in the future. I know BASIC, and a variation, but I hope to expand my knowledge of code when I get a computer that is a little bit less frustrating to work with. As it is, I'm more into designing games than playing them.
I am only mildly into computer games. I don't need to keep up with the Jones' when it comes to my 3DMark Vantage score, or how hard I can push my machine. It might be nice to finally play that Age of Empires 3 game I bought a while back (will not run on my current computer), or maybe figure out a round of Unreal Tournament with my friend, but it's not entirely necessary. I will be no more than mildly disappointed if I have to sacrifice this in order to keep the price down.

My current system:
An HP dv2000 notebook.
2GB RAM, upgraded from 1
Intel Core Duo CPU 2.0 GHz Processor
Mobile Intel 945GM Express Chipset Family Display
A battery that no longer functions
A power cord with frayed wires

Here's what I'm considering:
A second screen is something I think I would really enjoy. For programming, art, and schoolwork especially, more virtual desk space is great. I am told this is possible with either a laptop or a desktop. Other than buying another screen, what are the expenses involved in this endeavor, for either a laptop or a desktop? Is this only an option for high-end systems?
I'm also told I would appreciate lots of good RAM Graphics programs are "RAM hogs", apparently. I have noticed that my current computer has trouble with these. Judging by the things I use my computer for, do you think it would be worth it for me to spend a little extra on RAM? In addition, I've heard that getting a 64 bit system would be preferable if I were to go with more RAM. Is this correct?
A price range of $800~$1000. This is quite negotiable, depending on what your conclusion is on what I "need". This, however, is the range in which I am thinking. Here's the website from which I will likely be buying.

Here's my question:
Judging by the information I've given, how much do you think I should spend on a computer, and based on this, should I get a laptop or a desktop? Please give as much information as you possibly will. Ask for more information if that would help you help me. Specific recommendations for parts will not go unnoticed. So, how much do I need to spend, and what should I get?

Thanks in advance.

Edited by Luminareo, 21 November 2010 - 07:38 PM.

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#2
D-Berd

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If it were me I would find a battery for the laptop and tape up the bad cord ( as long as there is no copper wire showing ) I would buy a new desktop, and wouldn't spend less than 500 or 6oo on in it. This way you have two computers, one mobile and one stationary. I would uninstall programs and clean up the system or even reformat the laptop and Use it for school and travel. Then use the desktop for more cpu intensive applications. I have three computers I use on a regular basis. One laptop for travel, a desktop for internet, and a desktop just for gaming.
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#3
Luminareo

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My computer is pretty beat up in general; the backlight on the screen only works at a certain angle, and my trackpad has a pretty big dead spot on it. Sadly enough, there is plenty of copper wire showing. I spent about an hour this afternoon playing electrician with a hobby knife and some rubber tape. That's what prompted me to post this thread; I'd better figure out what kind of computer I want to buy before my ability to research is severely hampered by lack of computer. A new battery and cord would cost around $250. That doesn't seem like such a good deal, considering that I can get a considerably better laptop with Windows 7 for $500.
Of course, my plans for a new computer might be dashed simply because of lack of funds, and in that case, I'll need to go your route. However, for the time being, I'd like to explore my options.

Edited by Luminareo, 21 November 2010 - 08:41 PM.

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#4
D-Berd

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I wasn't aware of the severity of the condition of the laptop.......Your laptop sounds like it's in rough shape. You'd probably be better off getting a new laptop. Look into the gaming laptops, they're supposedly designed for higher performance and are said to have better cooling solutions, better than the average laptop. I guess it really depends on where you spend most of your time, home? Or on the move.
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