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A few purchase parameters


markg2

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13
#1
My current Thinkpad T61 is 6 years old & without going into details, it's telegraphing it's time to replace.

Having gone through this drill many times I've fairly well learned what to look for and pay for in a new machine (I will be staying with the Thinkpad--since the machine largely stays home weight is not an issue). However, there are several particulars that I would like to run by the experts.

1. I will order an SSD primary drive (and the optional drive for the DVD bay). Do you need to be particular about manufacturer and spec with an SSD as you might with a traditional drive?

2. Is there a significant performance increase with a 4 core vs. 2 core processor and if so, can laptops generally handle a 4 core?

3. Since I keep my computers for 5+ years and I've yet to buy one where I haven't had to upgrade memory later on (for example, this machine had 2GB at purchase and now has 4) and given the low current cost of memory and that I'd 'normally' now order a machine with 8GB...I'm thinking that 16GB makes sense (assuming the laptops can normally hold that amount with a 64 bit OS)?

4. Lastly and probably most important--I do not need to buy a machine right this minute. 'If' Intel will be introducing a significantly better (performance + battery duration) laptop chipset within the next 6 months or so, I'd hold off?

Comments appreciated--

Mark
 

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my2cents

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#2
Just my opinion on question #3. The average individual is usually fine with 4GBs; however, 8GBs would be great but I think 16GBs is really overkill but if money is no object and/or you perceive the need, then go for it. Good luck.
 

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markg2

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#3
Norton frequently reports 'high memory use' (which I've verified) while only running 3 apps--1 of which being Firefox (not known for excellent memory usage). So given that history on a Win7 64 bit machine with 4GB of memory, going to 8 for me is a given. Going to 16 may be an unnecessary precaution but I'd be interested in hearing a few other points of view.
 

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my2cents

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#4
Norton frequently reports 'high memory use' (which I've verified) while only running 3 apps--1 of which being Firefox (not known for excellent memory usage). So given that history on a Win7 64 bit machine with 4GB of memory, going to 8 for me is a given. Going to 16 may be an unnecessary precaution but I'd be interested in hearing a few other points of view.
Absolutely the correct way to approach this new build. So, let me give you a firm opinion that 16GBs is too much! That should stir the wolf pack a bit... Cheers!
 

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CountMike

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#5
Memory is meant to be used, not to stand idle, only if all of it is used so interferes with work you can say you need more. I'd say that 2 gigs per core is enough for anything, with 1GB / core being minimum.
 

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markg2

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#6
Coincidentally, I came across this article yesterday that answer my processor question:

"Lenovo has used the Intel Developer Forum to announce a refresh to its lineup of ThinkPad business notebooks including products in the ThinkPad T, W, E and L Series of laptops. The Chinese device maker has upgraded these notebooks with new fourth-generation Intel Core (Haswell) processors, as well as improved graphics, among other features.

In the ThinkPad T-series, Lenovo has introduced the T440p and T540p notebooks that are powered by up to Intel quad-core i7 processors. The T440p and T540p claim to offer a battery life of up to 13.7 hours and up to 12.6 hours, respectively."

Mark
 

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Qriztofer

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#7
Lenovo recently (VERY recently; yesterday) updated their ThinkPad line with Intel's 4th generation Haswell processors. These processors introduce a modest performance increase and a much more significant increase in battery life. If you're mostly using your laptop at home, maybe battery life isn't an issue at all. If not, you could get a really good price on a (barely) older machine 3rd generation Ivy Bridge and bump up other specs.

1) SSDs come as an option on all ThinkPad laptops. I'm not sure what you're asking, but you don't have to worry about compatibility or manufacturer. The only spec you'll really need to think about is storage capacity.

2) People talk about # of cores vs clock speed vs chipset vs whatever ALL DAY and it usually just results in a headache. I prefer to be more qualitative. If you're just doing regular, day-to-day stuff with your machine, you probably don't need to upgrade to a quad core, core i7 processor. There's a continuum with current Intel laptop processors starting with a dual coal Ivy Bridge (3rd gen) core i3 on cheaper machines to quad core Haswell core i7 processors on, for example, the brand-spankin' new, beastly Thinkpad W540. That machine is the upper limit...you can order up to 32GB of RAM on that one. Which brings me to...

3) 8GB of RAM is likely fine. I just bought a new ultrabook with 8GB (like you, my first in 5ish years). Again, it really depends on what you want to do with this laptop.

4) This is a perfectly good time to buy a new laptop- prices for perfectly good Ivy Bridge machines are at rock bottom and you can also go cutting edge on literally brand new Haswell machines.

The ThinkPad line has a number of series (E, T, S, W, X, etc) so what machine you go with really depends on what you want to do with the machine. Any special programs you'll be running? Are you interested in a touchscreen? What about convertible capabilities, like flipping the screen all the way around making a "tablet"?
 

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    Intel Core i7-4200
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    128 GB SSD

my2cents

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#8
Lenovo recently (VERY recently; yesterday) updated their ThinkPad line with Intel's 4th generation Haswell processors. These processors introduce a modest performance increase and a much more significant increase in battery life. If you're mostly using your laptop at home, maybe battery life isn't an issue at all. If not, you could get a really good price on a (barely) older machine 3rd generation Ivy Bridge and bump up other specs.

1) SSDs come as an option on all ThinkPad laptops. I'm not sure what you're asking, but you don't have to worry about compatibility or manufacturer. The only spec you'll really need to think about is storage capacity.

2) People talk about # of cores vs clock speed vs chipset vs whatever ALL DAY and it usually just results in a headache. I prefer to be more qualitative. If you're just doing regular, day-to-day stuff with your machine, you probably don't need to upgrade to a quad core, core i7 processor. There's a continuum with current Intel laptop processors starting with a dual coal Ivy Bridge (3rd gen) core i3 on cheaper machines to quad core Haswell core i7 processors on, for example, the brand-spankin' new, beastly Thinkpad W540. That machine is the upper limit...you can order up to 32GB of RAM on that one. Which brings me to...

3) 8GB of RAM is likely fine. I just bought a new ultrabook with 8GB (like you, my first in 5ish years). Again, it really depends on what you want to do with this laptop.

4) This is a perfectly good time to buy a new laptop- prices for perfectly good Ivy Bridge machines are at rock bottom and you can also go cutting edge on literally brand new Haswell machines.

The ThinkPad line has a number of series (E, T, S, W, X, etc) so what machine you go with really depends on what you want to do with the machine. Any special programs you'll be running? Are you interested in a touchscreen? What about convertible capabilities, like flipping the screen all the way around making a "tablet"?
Very impressive response IMHO.
 

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markg2

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#9
I had just posted an excerpt of the article I read at the gym yesterday regarding the new Thinkpads and processor lines. Norton is now not infrequently issuing High Usage messages for drive access and processor in addition to the memory. Since I'm not doing anything significantly different with the machine than a year or 3 ago, I'm thinking the warnings may have as much to do with overall age of the components and not just individual component use overloading--but this cannot be confirmed.

The spec on my current processor is:
2.20 gigahertz Intel Core2 Duo
64 kilobyte primary memory cache
4096 kilobyte secondary memory cache
64-bit ready
Multi-core (2 total)
Not hyper-threaded

Common sense tells me if I'm getting a high CPU use message on a 2 core, quite possibly a 4 core would go a long way towards helping to resolve the problem--in addition to newer chips having more cache on the chip + > clock speed + handling multi-threading (for those apps that can address the function).

Regarding the SSD--I had read an article a few months ago describing cloud server centers on the technical periphery. The article made a point that not all SSD's are created equal--differing tech names for differing advanced capabilities. Plus, with standard drives there's the consideration of rpm, various flavors of disk access speed, etc. All of which may be a non issue when dealing with the current generation of 'consumer' SSD's which may just come in 1 flavor unless you're a gamer seeking the utmost at any $?

The problem with laptop vs workstation RAM is slot space. You can't go back later and add to, you have to toss and start all over (past experiences). That + the length of time I keep the machine vs. current market price + who the heck knows what software machinations are coming within that time frame leads to the evaluation of 8 vs 16.

My last 2 Thinkpads were T's and giving my spec requirements the current will likely too.

Though I do not often take the machine with me, when I do nothing is more aggravating than having it crap out sooner than expected due to battery life--so yes, the Haswell processor article's emphasis on life was important.

Mark
 

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CountMike

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#10
If they just would not insist on making everything so thin there would be much more space for batteries, I'd rather sacrifice small thickness in favor of much longer work time, after all, those portable devices are supposed to be PORTABLE and not connected to power supply, I have a desktop computer for that.
In my first cell phones batteries lasted more than a week, next ones 3 to 4 days and newest smarty pants one only couple of hours if I use WiFi and GPS, heck, I could get lost in that time. Let it be twice as thick and havy, just don't make me stop and charge them before I get to where i was going to.
Portable devices used for work should be able to be used full time at least full work day without having to worry about the quitting before the work is finished. To heck with quad and octa cores, I'm not going to use them for Autocad.
 

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Qriztofer

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#11
I had just posted an excerpt of the article I read at the gym yesterday regarding the new Thinkpads and processor lines.
Mark
I believe you posted that hours before my post...somehow I didn't see it! I was on my phone...anyway, sorry about that.

Norton is now not infrequently issuing High Usage messages for drive access and processor in addition to the memory. Since I'm not doing anything significantly different with the machine than a year or 3 ago, I'm thinking the warnings may have as much to do with overall age of the components and not just individual component use overloading--but this cannot be confirmed[...] Common sense tells me if I'm getting a high CPU use message on a 2 core, quite possibly a 4 core would go a long way towards helping to resolve the problem--in addition to newer chips having more cache on the chip + > clock speed + handling multi-threading (for those apps that can address the function).
Your PC's slowdown is likely entirely on the software side of things. A hardware failure would result in something closer to a systemwide failure unless your optical drive broke or something. As your installation of Windows ages and you install more applications, you're going to see a decrease in performance. I'm also gonna go ahead and recommend you NOT use Norton. Frankly, it's awful, resource-hoarding software and offers no protection you can't get with Windows Defender. My last laptop had very similar specs to yours and ran admirably until its demise (brought on by obsolete hardware and a barely functioning battery).

Again, you won't need to worry about the detailed specs of your SSD. If you confine yourself to a ThinkPad T series, they will barely give you a choice. This is one of the least important things to consider for your new machine (SSD or no SSD and capacity are much, much more important). It would be a different story if you were building your own machine.

If you're going to use this laptop for 5+ years, maybe it will be best to "futureproof" it by bumping up to 16GB.

My last 2 Thinkpads were T's and giving my spec requirements the current will likely too.
There are many, many other laptop brands with models that meet or beat your spec requirements. Really, all of them do. Choose your brand based on build quality and value (price to hardware ratio). ThinkPads are a great choice.
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 8 x64
    Computer type
    Laptop
    System Manufacturer/Model Number
    S7-392-6832
    CPU
    Intel Core i7-4200
    Memory
    8GB DDR3
    Graphics Card(s)
    Intel HD Graphics 4400
    Screen Resolution
    1920 x 1080
    Hard Drives
    128 GB SSD

markg2

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13
#12
I'm a sucker for the Thinkpad keyboard touch, reliability and performance under the $ 3 year warranty :)

(since I have a plethora of data backups) you think I'd gain a very significant performance increase (and possibly avoid the cost of a new machine at this time) by reinstalling the OS from the install disk, then reinstalling all software.

If the answer is yes, then I wonder how the install disk would work since it was a Win7 upgrade disk from Vista. With Vista no longer present, possibly the Win7 install disk would refuse the install?
 

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Qriztofer

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#13
While I have never owned one, I know many people who really love their ThinkPads. Maybe I should think about them for next time...

Again, my old laptop parallels yours. It came with Windows Vista, which I soon replaced with Windows 7, resulting in a huge increase in performance (likely more from replacing Vista). After a while, I bought a bigger HDD for it and again reinstalled Windows 7; it was like having a brand new machine. Installing a clean OS will definitely give you a big performance bump, especially if you've been running the current one for so long.

Your Windows 7 Upgrade disk *might* let you do a FULL, CLEAN installation of Windows 7. Here's an excellent article on this topic:

http://winsupersite.com/article/windows-7/clean-install-windows-7-with-upgrade-media-128512

I have reinstalled Windows 7 many times so if you choose to give it a shot on your old machine and want help, let me know.
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 8 x64
    Computer type
    Laptop
    System Manufacturer/Model Number
    S7-392-6832
    CPU
    Intel Core i7-4200
    Memory
    8GB DDR3
    Graphics Card(s)
    Intel HD Graphics 4400
    Screen Resolution
    1920 x 1080
    Hard Drives
    128 GB SSD

markg2

New Member
Posts
13
#14
The article was indeed excellent and served to liquify my petrified memory.

If we'll agree ahead of time to generously consider the following an admission of age related memory failure...

I completely forgot (likely blanked out the experience due to, at the time, tech stress induced brain overload) that I had, with the able assist of this forum, performed a clean install of 64 bit Win7 over my upgraded Win7 32 bit from an online OS source using my key.

That occurred in the fall of 2010. I have an image from the fall of 2011.

So, given my supply of recent images, I could first apply the '11 image. If the performance remains not as good as advertised, I could then follow my archived instructions from '10 and again start clean.

Thanks for putting up with the lapse.

Mark
 

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