View Full Version : Computer recommendations

06-16-2008, 11:17 PM
Well its time for me to get a new computer but im having alot of issues on what to get. Right now im thinking a laptop since i need mobility for school, but power for about everything else.

Im on a budget of around $2000 but i can cap at $2500 if the performance makes it worth the extra money.

I would like to have something that looks nice, is not to big (~1-1&1/2in), not to heavy, and most of all- is reliable.

Can do lite video editing, do microsoft office, and all robot/game development applications and can play Age of Conan/Wow (specs below)

30GB hard drive space
Decent processor (dual core)
256MB Graphics (at least)

A few things i was considering was a macbook[air/pro], the Voodoo Envy133, and maybe a dell Xps, alienware, hp, something....

If anybody has any suggestions please do tell!:D:D:D

06-17-2008, 12:35 AM
My Dell in that price range has a 7800 Duo w/256MB of video and 4GB of RAM... It's no gamer, but it's an awesome development box.

06-17-2008, 05:31 PM
I would personally go with the MB Pro, but I love Mac, so I am biased. I don't like their current Air offering. Of course, they have student pricing, or you buy a student developer connection membership ($99), which gets you a purchase at the developer hardware store, where you could save hundreds off a MB Pro! (Limit one purchase per student per lifetime... but hey, its how I got my Powerbook back in 2002 in college... which is still ticking btw)

06-17-2008, 05:40 PM
Meh... i love mac but i don't want to go with a macbook for gaming and developing. 2 reasons... most development applications are usually windows based (including game development), and games usually play bad on macs... idk why they just do for me.

06-17-2008, 05:48 PM
Just my two cents ... I have an older Dell laptop that is heavy but great. No problems, takes the punishment and a very good all around puter. Sucks to carry in the airport though! The company just got me a new "stink pad" that is great for travel ... it is light and that is about all I have good to say about it. It doesn't seem faster, even though it is two years newer and maxed out on all the bells and whistles. The screen isn't as crisp and I just don't like it. Both run XP Pro. I would never buy one (stink pad) myself.
I did get one of the kids a Toshiba laptop for Christmas last year, and it is fast, sturdy and so far has survived all a ten year old can though at it. Definitely would consider another one.

06-17-2008, 06:02 PM
thanks ooops and adrenalynn, im taking alook at the toshiba Qosmio at the moment and it doesnt look that bad. Im also considering the dell xps.

06-17-2008, 09:57 PM
I have the Latitude D630, loaded. 9500 Core2 Duo, 4GB of RAM, 160/7200 drive, nVidia Quadro video. It's light, and screamingly blindingly fast. One of the fastest computers I own. It feels as fast as my quadcores, which should be a lot faster. It's only 5lbs, but you'll want to sink whatever money you have left into the budget into batteries. It won't make it across the US on one charge. I generally only carry one battery on coast-to-coast flights, because I have a layover somewhere in the midwest, and just plug-in there. Whenever I have a non-stop, I carry two extended batteries and leave the standard at home, which bumps the weight up but gives me 9-10hrs of battery life (with the screen brightness down and running on one core)

06-17-2008, 10:04 PM
Is it made by dell? i only see inspiron and Xps laptops... But that is one fast computer... i especially like the 9500 core 2 duo.

06-17-2008, 10:08 PM
Yup. Go to "medium business" laptops.

06-17-2008, 10:26 PM
Woah... thats some power for a 14.1in laptop. But i think im gonna sit down and wait for Intel to release the montevina platform in July (i think correct me if im wrong) and see what there going to bring out as far as notebook processors go.

06-17-2008, 10:43 PM
Yeah, if you go Dell, for the love of Pete do not get a consumer edition of anything. Only go small business or better (Lattitude, not Vostro)

The support levels are vastly different.

06-17-2008, 11:06 PM
Thanks sienna, ill also have to tell that to my dad since he is going to buy a inspiron soon. There business product also seem ALOT more reasonably priced...

06-18-2008, 02:04 PM
I'll have to second Adrenalynn's comments. I had a D600 for 4 years, over the course of which it had the crap kicked out of it.. The only maintenance I ever had to do was replace the screen hinges (they broke at about 3 years old). I finally retired the D600 because the batteries were about shot, and bought a D630 in January.

The screen hinges on the 630 are a lot better than the 600, so I doubt that I will have the same problems. The keyboard was my other big complaint on the 600, and I feel they got it much better on the 630. I have a standard battery (did not like the idea of the battery projecting out the front as an arm rest....) and a D-bay battery (pull out the CD drive, install a battery). Out of the box new I was getting about 5.5-6 hours battery time with both batts and the monitor at brightest setting. 6 months old I am still getting about 5 hours with the brightest setting. If I turn the screen down a little here and there I can get through the whole day on campus without an AC adapter...

Edit to add: an another big plus: it still has a serial port! Big thing for us hardware people, and something a lot of others have dropped...
And a last edit: The 630 also has a good selection of wireless hardware that is Linux/BSD compatible.


06-18-2008, 03:21 PM
Yeah! Excellent point on that serial port - rare as hen's teeth these days.

That said - no excuse not to have one of these laying around: http://www.usbgear.com/computer_cable_details.cfm?sku=SS-232-4P9&cats=468&catid=585%2C538%2C464%2C468 (http://www.usbgear.com/computer_cable_details.cfm?sku=SS-232-4P9&cats=468&catid=585%2C538%2C464%2C468)

Real honest-to-goodness 16550 compatible (newer 16C950) serial ports. Times four. For your laptop. Ummm, Serial!

06-18-2008, 03:34 PM
Thanks Adrenalynn! this will help alot!

06-18-2008, 03:38 PM
Cool - they also make less expensive one and two port cards, too, btw.

06-18-2008, 09:55 PM
Just wanted to add my feelings:

I have a thinkpad w/ubuntu that is used exclusively for robodev. Its got rs232 and all the dev libraries I need.

I use a MBpro for all my day to day work; with VMWARE/Parallels you've got XP just an application away. I also run debian on the macbook pro.

In reality I could probably do without the thinkpad, but its nice having two laptops and dividing the tasks.

Good luck - also, I'm pretty sure you can get a usb/rs232 off ebay or the internet for pretty cheap (I could be wrong - mines PCMCIA->rs232).

- sk

Also just want to say, you'd be surprised that most dev stuff runs on OSX (it is POSIX)

06-18-2008, 10:41 PM
USB->RS232 = frequently evil... [shiver]

06-19-2008, 12:45 AM
Well, you could get an intel based Mac and could run a Mac OS, something windows (XP and/or Vista) and linux. But those are slow and expensive.

I have a Dell latitude D820 and D810 and an M60. Running Vista and Linux.
the D820 is dual core and souped up, (2Gb the faster drives etc), pretty fast for pretty much every thing but was over 3,000 educational pricing.
(the only faster thing I have are dual cpu 64 bit 4Gb develop machines at work)

64 bit machines are not A LOT faster then the 32-bit ones if you're looking at most bang for your buck.

I like the D8xx 's (similar, to the D6xx dells) but a nice one with the 10k drives, 4Gb and better graphics are guite a bit more than 2,000.

Make sure, with the latitudes, to get the better graphics and network cards there are/were some issues with those. take the fastest cpu speed options, drives and toss in as much ram as you can afford.

I like Dells service btw, no questions asked or much (if any) trouble shooting they just fix it. (but the stuff I use is covered under a contract with the school where I work.

06-19-2008, 12:54 AM
Meh i don't want to run vista/xp under a virtual machine, and macs don't like games that much. Im thinkin dell though.

06-20-2008, 08:09 AM
Well, you could get an intel based Mac and could run a Mac OS, something windows (XP and/or Vista) and linux. But those are slow and expensive

I'll give you expensive, but its not slow.

I dont feel like getting into a debate about XP VS OSX VS Linux - they are all good OS dependent on your needs.

Good luck!

USB->RS232 = frequently evil... [shiver]

I had some fears setting up my PCMCIA/rs232 card to my Khepera last night..but after about 30m I got it working!
Major win!! heh

06-20-2008, 08:47 AM
Well, the new macs run windows 'natively' it's expensive and still sucks.

The Dells I like, however with games.. there are/were some nvidia issues and there is a broadcomm wireless card that had some issues too (it would timeout/disconnect after so much time or something like that. it was the bcm2200 I believe. The nvidia issue was something with some graphics acceleration being incompatible and shut down.
I got the better video card (that do not use main memory) and the better wireless option and that took care of it.

Meh i don't want to run vista/xp under a virtual machine, and macs don't like games that much. Im thinkin dell though.

06-20-2008, 01:37 PM
Whatever you decide, just make sure it has a decent graphics card, and not some crappy embedded card. My laptop, Acer 5570z, is a sweet laptop & was pretty low cost (around $700) but it has a crap ass Intel 945GM graphics chip. It can't run even some of the more basic games:(

06-30-2008, 08:17 AM
Well after a ton of debating in my head... i've come to the decision of a macbook air. Its just too hard to resist. I went to my local Bestbuy a few days ago to buy a few video games, out of curiosity i saw that they now are stocking apple computers. After playing with it for a bit, i discovered it has everything i need and more, plus its under $2000 with my student discount + a special there having in store. I've decided to make a desktop as my powerhouse ultra gaming behemoth/screaming fast computer.

Thank you to everybody for all your suggestions and all.

Btw: Adrenalynn, my Dad says thanks for the suggestion of the latitude laptop, he returned the inspiron he got and likes the speed and reliability of the latitude better.

07-01-2008, 08:01 AM
" I've decided to make a desktop as my powerhouse ultra gaming behemoth/screaming fast computer. "

Smart move. That's what I do! = ]

Enjoy the Air! Also, I recently found this:http://www.usbgear.com/U232-P9.html and is said to work very well with Mac's.

Just an FYI.

- sk