Getting a new computer. Need help.

Off topic Discussion
User avatar
MaestraFénix
Team Member
Team Member
Posts: 2460
Joined: Mon May 10, 2010 11:50 am
Location: Spain
Contact:

Getting a new computer. Need help.

Post by MaestraFénix » Sun Dec 29, 2013 1:42 pm

Yesterday the graphic card of my laptop completely failed, showing to me that the lifespan of my computer is reaching his end. Although I managed to get it stable, and I'm running tests yet like playing videos or 3D tools, I have no choice but start searching for a computer to buy.

Is true that I expected to do this on the following months before the summer, because I'm still saving money, but my parents told me that they can pay up to the half of the price, in the case I couldn't have enough money.

Since it has been a long time from 2007-2008, I need a complete review about the new hardware stuff that exists nowdays. I have several questions that needs to be answered, so please help me:

  • Normal hard drive, or SSD? Benefits and problems?
  • Windows 8.1 improved the backwards compatibility with old programs?
  • I'm using Windows 7 right now. I could install 7 on the new laptop, and using the same key (the old laptop would be completely formated and left unused, probably waiting to be sold or whatever)?
  • How good are the Intel I7 CPUs? There are better versions/alternatives?
  • 8GB RAM or more?
  • What exact features should look? (not only on the CPUs, but also on the rest of the stuff).

For the moment, the laptop that attracts me is the TOSHIBA SATELLITE P70-A-120. It has a good price, and looks decent:

http://www.toshiba.com/us/computers/lap ... 70-AST3GX1

(I'm seeing on some shops that their HDD has 2TB instead of only 1TB, I would have to confirm it).

What do you think about it?.
Last edited by MaestraFénix on Wed Jan 08, 2014 10:15 am, edited 1 time in total.
Click on my photo to add me into your friends in Steam
Image
Steam photos | Steam videos


Image

User avatar
TESLA-X4
Level 10 Bug Hunter
Level 10 Bug Hunter
Posts: 572
Joined: Wed Jul 01, 2009 3:26 pm
Location: $Recycle.Bin

Re: Getting a new laptop. Need help.

Post by TESLA-X4 » Sun Dec 29, 2013 6:14 pm

That's a performance powerhouse, but 6.6 lbs amounts to... *checks converter* 2.994 Kg, holy crap that's heavy. And I seriously wonder about the battery life, 6 cells doesn't exactly pack a lot of power. :/

Edit:
Oh, and for what it's worth, here's a link with the ranking of laptop GPUs.

Edit 2:
A 64 or 128 bit memory bus for that GT 740M? Ewwww, all that video memory's just going to waste because there's not enough bandwidth to take advantage of it anyway. :/

Edit 3:
Well, now that I have more time, I'll try to expand on this.
Maestro Fénix wrote:
  • Normal hard drive, or SSD? Benefits and problems?
If you're expecting to be moving very frequently and using your laptop on unstable platforms (e.g. in a bus or train), then you should consider an SSD since there's no chance of a head crash from mechanical shock - there's no moving parts at all in the first place! Power consumption is also typically lower than a HDD since there's no need to keep a motor running all the time, either. The obvious downsides are capacity and price. However, the laptop you linked has a hybrid drive, which is a curious mix of both worlds. On the upside, you get speed, power efficiency, stability (for the most part) AND capacity. But keep in mind that heads also have a finite number of load/unload cycles before failure is imminent, though they are usually rated in the 300,000 - 600,000 range for laptop drives. Hybrid drives usually power down the spindle motor (the one that spins the disks) when a fetch request for data is satisfied by the SSD portion of the drive, only spinning up again when there is a need to. This means you are far less likely to encounter a head crash on a nasty bump. The downsides are that 1) spinning up a disk from 0 rpm is a very, very slow process, which means you are sure to notice it, 2) the motor requires a much stronger current to start the disk spinnning (as opposed to keeping the disk spinning), which means a momentary surge in power consumption, 3) every time this happens, all the mechanical parts undergo wear, 4) the last I read, there is no real standard behind hybrid drives - some manufacturers make the drive 'smart' by having it automatically cache a copy of the appropriate data (e.g. OS files) in the SSD for improved access times, while others require management software to be installed in the OS. The latter case may be an issue for Linux installs. Iirc, the embedded SSD is typically used for keeping a copy of the data stored on disk, it does not actually expand the drive capacity.
Maestro Fénix wrote:
  • Windows 8.1 improved the backwards compatibility with old programs?
While I can't really comment on 8.1 since I haven't used it personally, I have at least tried out the Release Preview for 8 and found it to be a nice (performance-wise) boost over 7, though I disagree with the UI changes. Boot times were very fast when I installed it on my ancient laptop (on a 320 GB WD Scorpio Black) - they were actually comparable to my desktop, which is running Windows 7 on a 500 GB WD Caviar Black, even when I disabled Hybrid Boot (which is a compromise between hibernation and shutting the computer down fully). Everything that was working on 7 worked fine on 8 too. And since 8.1 is essentially a service pack to 8 as SP1 is to 7, I don't expect much to change.
Maestro Fénix wrote:
  • I'm using Windows 7 right now. I could install 7 on the new laptop, and using the same key (the old laptop would be completely formated and left unused, probably waiting to be sold or whatever)?
No, the Windows 7 license on your old laptop is most likely an OEM one, which essentially means that it is tied to the hardware. If the hardware dies, the license dies along with it. You can thank Microsoft for that. Press Windows Key + Pause and scroll down to check your Product ID, if you see an -OEM- in there then you do have an OEM license.
Maestro Fénix wrote:
  • How good are the Intel i7 CPUs? There are better versions/alternatives?
IMHO, these days even i5 processors are really fast, thanks to Turbo Boost and various architectural improvements over processor generations. From what I've seen, i7s are essentially i5s with a little bit more speed and Hyper-Threading, which may or may not help, depending on your workload. Unfortunately, I'm not quite sure if VBSP, VVIS and VRAD benefit from HT, though a quick check with Uncle Google should prove fruitful.
Maestro Fénix wrote:
  • 8GB RAM or more?
Keep in mind that 4 GB borders on inadequate these days. One very common misconception about memory space differences between 32 and 64 bit is that 4 GB on 32 bit (let's assume a perfect world, where the 32 bit OS can actually see and use all 4 GB) = 4 GB on 64 bit. This is not the case, because your memory consumption has essentially just doubled since you have to accomodate addresses which are also twice as long now! So a more accurate assumption would actually be 4 GB (x86) <-> 6 - 8 GB (x64, varies by OS design). Of course, it's far more complex than this, so this is really just a crude guide.
Maestro Fénix wrote:
  • What exact features should look? (not only on the CPUs, but also on the rest of the stuff).
It's hard to provide a hard and fast rule for this since everyone's needs are different. What will be the most common use case for your laptop (i.e. what will you be using it for most of the time)?
Last edited by TESLA-X4 on Mon Dec 30, 2013 7:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Asdf how exactly did that x84 even slip through, fixed.
Apparently, Valve can't make games beyond the number 2.
I think the only time we'll get a Source SDK code update is when it starts having purchasable hats integrated, i.e. hatconomy.

Please do not make assumptions you are not knowledgeable enough to make - that just backfires on yourself.
Tick me off, and I'll be sure to give you the golden treatment. Haven't you heard? Silence is golden.

Mateos
Pixel
Posts: 1
Joined: Sat Jun 22, 2013 7:28 pm
Location: France

Re: Getting a new laptop. Need help.

Post by Mateos » Sun Dec 29, 2013 6:32 pm

Maestro Fénix wrote:
  • Normal hard drive, or SSD? Benefits and problems?
  • Windows 8.1 improved the backwards compatibility with old programs?
  • I'm using Windows 7 right now. I could install 7 on the new laptop, and using the same key (the old laptop would be completely formated and left unused, probably waiting to be sold or whatever)?
  • How good are the Intel I7 CPUs? There are better versions/alternatives?
  • 8GB RAM or more?
  • What exact features should look? (not only on the CPUs, but also on the rest of the stuff).

For the moment, the laptop that attracts me is the TOSHIBA SATELLITE P70-A-120. It has a good price, and looks decent:

http://www.toshiba.com/us/computers/lap ... 70-AST3GX1

(I'm seeing on some shops that their HDD has 2TB instead of only 1TB, I would have to confirm it).

What do you think about it?.
(If I'm wrong or not totally exact anywhere, please blame me, you're welcome :D)

SSD: Fine for the speed, not for data storage (less reliable than regular HDD), even if constructors are improving.

Windows 8: 8 like hate for backward compatibility :3 Old OpenGL games in mind while saying this. But heh, better than Mac breaking retro-compatibility on each new release! :D

You can, Microsoft will just check if the key isn't used several times at once through its updating system, I guess. Just don't run 2 PCs or more with the same key!

Well, what I think about i7 is that it's powerful yes but expensive, especially for a laptop (consummation, heat, yay). Plus there's families (I heard about Haswell or something?), so all I can advice is i3 or i5 depending on your budget; Faster compilation times in sight indeed :) And higher resolution, rendering distance, and some other stuff game-wise.

For a laptop, if you want to do multitasking with mapping and modding, I would go over the regular 4 GB to 6 GB but not beyond.

Graphic Card: I was happy with NVidia because of its tools (unhappy with AMD for non-working panel...). 1 GB dedicated minimum.
Other components: Not enough experienced, sorry ^^'

I have myself a Toshiba Satellite, I'm quite happy of it, cheap'n'fast :D

I'll update this. :)

Edit:
Mine is this one (I think, same specs) -> http://www.ordinateur-pascher.fr/ordina ... 50677.html

Happy during the BSP and VIS phases, dunno with the LIGHT one, CPU-wise. Better than Core-2-Duo :D

Edit 2:
After reading the post above mine, I see I clearly lacks some knowledge; At least I learned few interesting things :)

User avatar
Ny
Phone Donator
Phone Donator
Posts: 496
Joined: Sun Oct 05, 2008 3:22 pm
Contact:

Re: Getting a new laptop. Need help.

Post by Ny » Mon Dec 30, 2013 12:58 pm

Yea Tesla pretty much summed up everything very well, I can only advise on some laptop buying tips:

Laptops with dedicated cards usually come in categories:
- Integrated graphics, low/mid/high end CPU
- Low end dedicated card, high end CPU
- Mid-range dedicated card, mid range CPU (Like the one you have chosen)
- High end dedicated card, high end CPU

Of course the type of laptop you want is based on what you use it for, the money you have available to buy and how long you intend to use it for. The last one it the most important especially in gaming use as gaming laptops tend to degrade graphics wise very fast over time.

Overall you want to be looking out for these things:
  • If dedicated graphics are used how much dedicated RAM does it have, some laptops use the system RAM to boost graphics capability which is a no no, as you lose system RAM on boot straight away.
  • Graphics card type: Nvidia tend to be cooler in laptops and better supported driver wise, ATI on the other hand are cheaper per performance price bracket.
  • Avoid at all costs: Sony, HP and any other laptop manufacturer company that does not have alternative lines of laptops for specific purposes such as gaming and graphic design. Meanwhile be on the look out for ACER, ASUS and MSI laptops as their gaming lines push their normal laptops to have decent design specifications and qualities.
  • Unless you specifically need to for laptop use reasons NEVER buy an Apple laptop.
  • Hard drive capacity is never as advertised as all laptops come with a hidden partition for all the software they spam onto the laptops
:nyoron:

User avatar
MaestraFénix
Team Member
Team Member
Posts: 2460
Joined: Mon May 10, 2010 11:50 am
Location: Spain
Contact:

Re: Getting a new laptop. Need help.

Post by MaestraFénix » Mon Dec 30, 2013 5:14 pm

TESLA-X4 wrote:If you're expecting to be moving very frequently and using your laptop on unstable platforms (e.g. in a bus or train), then you should consider an SSD since there's no chance of a head crash from mechanical shock - there's no moving parts at all in the first place! Power consumption is also typically lower than a HDD since there's no need to keep a motor running all the time, either. The obvious downsides are capacity and price. However, the laptop you linked has a hybrid drive, which is a curious mix of both worlds. On the upside, you get speed, power efficiency, stability (for the most part) AND capacity. But keep in mind that heads also have a finite number of load/unload cycles before failure is imminent, though they are usually rated in the 300,000 - 600,000 range for laptop drives. Hybrid drives usually power down the spindle motor (the one that spins the disks) when a fetch request for data is satisfied by the SSD portion of the drive, only spinning up again when there is a need to. This means you are far less likely to encounter a head crash on a nasty bump. The downsides are that 1) spinning up a disk from 0 rpm is a very, very slow process, which means you are sure to notice it, 2) the motor requires a much stronger current to start the disk spinnning (as opposed to keeping the disk spinning), which means a momentary surge in power consumption, 3) every time this happens, all the mechanical parts undergo wear, 4) the last I read, there is no real standard behind hybrid drives - some manufacturers make the drive 'smart' by having it automatically cache a copy of the appropriate data (e.g. OS files) in the SSD for improved access times, while others require management software to be installed in the OS. The latter case may be an issue for Linux installs. Iirc, the embedded SSD is typically used for keeping a copy of the data stored on disk, it does not actually expand the drive capacity.
That would be a clear disadvantage.
TESLA-X4 wrote:No, the Windows 7 license on your old laptop is most likely an OEM one, which essentially means that it is tied to the hardware. If the hardware dies, the license dies along with it. You can thank Microsoft for that. Press Windows Key + Pause and scroll down to check your Product ID, if you see an -OEM- in there then you do have an OEM license.
The original OS that had this laptop was Vista, I "won" Win 7 on my degree during a "competition". I'm glad hearing that, since during a lot of time I heard both arguments.

Ny wrote:Avoid at all costs: Sony, HP and any other laptop manufacturer company that does not have alternative lines of laptops for specific purposes such as gaming and graphic design. Meanwhile be on the look out for ACER, ASUS and MSI laptops as their gaming lines push their normal laptops to have decent design specifications and qualities.
Everybody knows that the laptops that makes HP are literally stoves.

Also I heard that Lenovo does decent laptops.

Ny wrote:Hard drive capacity is never as advertised as all laptops come with a hidden partition for all the software they spam onto the laptops
Nowdays this is well known, especially on tablets.


Thanks to everybody. Now I have a plan: Since this laptop is stable right now as long as I don't overheat it, I thought about keeping it with doing a mayor check up (probably it will need thermal paste again), so I could have it as a secondary computer, and buy a powerful normal PC.

I will have to look into every piece of the PC that I want, so I don't fall with problems like the one Tesla found out with that laptop. When I have a list of all the components, I will post them here.
Click on my photo to add me into your friends in Steam
Image
Steam photos | Steam videos


Image

User avatar
Lucky9Two
Beta Tester
Beta Tester
Posts: 244
Joined: Sat Apr 10, 2010 8:46 am
Location: 127.0.0.1
Contact:

Re: Getting a new laptop. Need help.

Post by Lucky9Two » Mon Jan 06, 2014 11:44 pm

Don't use an SSD for your main drive; use it for your Windows install as a boot-only drive because the limited write/read number will diminish quickly with a normal use of a drive on an SSD.

You would want a dual-drive optimally; one with a small SSD for the OS and a good HDD for everything else.

I'm recommend the brand I rely on of computers but without the 50-75% military discount my family gets they're probably out of your price ranges.

Top of the line would be companies like Falcon-Northwest, and any other gaming-oriented company, but again, price is probably a factor.

I'd suggest making sure the CPU is at least 2-2.5 GHz because my laptop has 1.7 GHz and the only games it can run are Source, and even those run like shite.

Also, the more high-end it is now, the longer it will probably last depending on the way you use it. Like the better the graphics/CPU is now, the longer you can play modern games with it in the future.
Image

"For though I fly through the shadow of the Valley of Death, I will fear no evil, for I am at 70,000 feet and climbing"

User avatar
MaestraFénix
Team Member
Team Member
Posts: 2460
Joined: Mon May 10, 2010 11:50 am
Location: Spain
Contact:

Re: Getting a new laptop. Need help.

Post by MaestraFénix » Tue Jan 07, 2014 12:58 pm

I'm not sure if I would end having a dual set of drives like you mentioned, L92.


I got now the information about the components that it will have the new computer:

Monitor: http://www.asus.com/Monitors_Projectors ... /#overview

CPU fan: http://www.thermaltake.com/products-mod ... C_00001807

*Graphic card: http://www.gigabyte.com/products/produc ... id=4663#sp

**x2 HDDs: http://www.wdc.com/en/products/products.aspx?id=780

x2 4GB RAM: http://www.kingston.com/datasheets/KHX1600C9D3_4G.pdf

Case: http://www.nox-xtreme.com/en/product/coolbay-vx/5/

Powerbox: http://www.nox-xtreme.com/en/product/urano-tx-850w/56/

Motherboard: http://www.gigabyte.eu/products/product ... id=4519#ov

CPU: http://www.cpubenchmark.net/cpu.php?cpu ... Hz&id=1919


I continue searching a new keyboard and mouse.

The OS will be Win7 (in the case the mine wouldn't be valid, I will buy it, since I would recieve an important discount, they still having it at stock).


*I would have a problem with their power needings, since 500W, with the rest of components, would affect the use of other stuff at my house (such as heaters, grill, etc). Probably I will have to replace it with a lower one.

**Not at 100% confirmed, it could be set as a RAID the two. I'm not sure neither if it would be x2 1TB, or x2 500GB.

What do you think?
Click on my photo to add me into your friends in Steam
Image
Steam photos | Steam videos


Image

User avatar
Lucky9Two
Beta Tester
Beta Tester
Posts: 244
Joined: Sat Apr 10, 2010 8:46 am
Location: 127.0.0.1
Contact:

Re: Getting a new laptop. Need help.

Post by Lucky9Two » Wed Jan 08, 2014 12:49 am

I was under the impression you were getting a new laptop.
Image
Image

"For though I fly through the shadow of the Valley of Death, I will fear no evil, for I am at 70,000 feet and climbing"

User avatar
MaestraFénix
Team Member
Team Member
Posts: 2460
Joined: Mon May 10, 2010 11:50 am
Location: Spain
Contact:

Re: Getting a new laptop. Need help.

Post by MaestraFénix » Wed Jan 08, 2014 10:20 am

Lucky9Two wrote:
Maestro Fénix wrote:I was under the impression you were getting a new laptop.
Image
It was the original idea, until I got stable the laptop, so I don't have now the need of getting a new one. That's why I want a normal PC.
Click on my photo to add me into your friends in Steam
Image
Steam photos | Steam videos


Image

User avatar
Shana
Lead Developer
Lead Developer
Posts: 3000
Joined: Tue Aug 29, 2006 8:12 pm
Location: Germany
Contact:

Re: Getting a new computer. Need help.

Post by Shana » Wed Jan 08, 2014 10:53 am

I really recommend getting an SSD as your system drive and a normal HDD as mass storage, the difference in loading speed and system responsiveness is amazing.
You don't really have to worry about wearing out today's SSDs anymore unless you're constantly writing and deleting massive amounts of data on it 24/7.
Just make sure to avoid OCZ. If you have the money, go with an Intel SSD.
Maestro Fénix wrote:*I would have a problem with their power needings, since 500W, with the rest of components, would affect the use of other stuff at my house (such as heaters, grill, etc). Probably I will have to replace it with a lower one.
Does everything in your house run off a single fuse?
Image

User avatar
MaestraFénix
Team Member
Team Member
Posts: 2460
Joined: Mon May 10, 2010 11:50 am
Location: Spain
Contact:

Re: Getting a new computer. Need help.

Post by MaestraFénix » Wed Jan 08, 2014 4:40 pm

Shana wrote:I really recommend getting an SSD as your system drive and a normal HDD as mass storage, the difference in loading speed and system responsiveness is amazing.
You don't really have to worry about wearing out today's SSDs anymore unless you're constantly writing and deleting massive amounts of data on it 24/7.
Just make sure to avoid OCZ. If you have the money, go with an Intel SSD.
Alright. I'll talk again with my friend about this to change again this component.
Shana wrote:Does everything in your house run off a single fuse?
No, is not for that reason.

If we consume more power than we have on the contract of the provider, the electrical instalation of the house will close, shutting down the power.

*A lot of stuff that I'm sure you will already know at 100%. Shitty example*
Image

The left one is the main switch (along with another switch that is also separated), and at left, the circuits that has the house (lights, A/C, Grill/kitchen, etc). If we have connected to the eletrical grid too many/powerful objects such as heaters or the A/C at the same time, it will surpass the limit that our electric provider has with us at the contract, making the general switch close automatically.

In case there is something that has faults and affects the grid, it will only close automatically their common switch, and if it fails, the main one.

*Where is lance when you need to talk about this kind of thing in English?*
Click on my photo to add me into your friends in Steam
Image
Steam photos | Steam videos


Image

User avatar
TESLA-X4
Level 10 Bug Hunter
Level 10 Bug Hunter
Posts: 572
Joined: Wed Jul 01, 2009 3:26 pm
Location: $Recycle.Bin

Re: Getting a new computer. Need help.

Post by TESLA-X4 » Wed Jan 08, 2014 4:52 pm

*pats Fenix* I feel your pain. :<
Apparently, Valve can't make games beyond the number 2.
I think the only time we'll get a Source SDK code update is when it starts having purchasable hats integrated, i.e. hatconomy.

Please do not make assumptions you are not knowledgeable enough to make - that just backfires on yourself.
Tick me off, and I'll be sure to give you the golden treatment. Haven't you heard? Silence is golden.

User avatar
Shana
Lead Developer
Lead Developer
Posts: 3000
Joined: Tue Aug 29, 2006 8:12 pm
Location: Germany
Contact:

Re: Getting a new computer. Need help.

Post by Shana » Wed Jan 08, 2014 5:26 pm

Woah that's nasty, it's like silly artificial traffic limits some internet providers enforce.

Do you have a per-month limit on how much KWh you can use or a limit on how much Watt you can draw at once, like you draw more than 2000 Watt and it'll turn off?
Image

User avatar
MaestraFénix
Team Member
Team Member
Posts: 2460
Joined: Mon May 10, 2010 11:50 am
Location: Spain
Contact:

Re: Getting a new computer. Need help.

Post by MaestraFénix » Wed Jan 08, 2014 6:11 pm

Shana wrote:Woah that's nasty, it's like silly artificial traffic limits some internet providers enforce.

Do you have a per-month limit on how much KWh you can use or a limit on how much Watt you can draw at once, like you draw more than 2000 Watt and it'll turn off?
The third. We can consume whatever we want (of course making the bill more expensive), but if we are using many stuff that draws more power than the limit we have, it turns off.


Please don't tell me that we are the only country in the EU that we have it. We are already the country with the most expensive power in the world (you can thank the massive corruption for that).
Click on my photo to add me into your friends in Steam
Image
Steam photos | Steam videos


Image

User avatar
Lucky9Two
Beta Tester
Beta Tester
Posts: 244
Joined: Sat Apr 10, 2010 8:46 am
Location: 127.0.0.1
Contact:

Re: Getting a new computer. Need help.

Post by Lucky9Two » Thu Jan 09, 2014 1:25 am

As much as I hate living in America, I will admit that's a quite terrible system you have.
Image

"For though I fly through the shadow of the Valley of Death, I will fear no evil, for I am at 70,000 feet and climbing"

Post Reply