[kwlug-disc] Looking for a new laptop with some oomph, thoughts?

Chris Irwin chris at chrisirwin.ca
Thu Apr 29 13:37:34 EDT 2010

On Thu, Apr 29, 2010 at 12:59, Robert P. J. Day <rpjday at crashcourse.ca> wrote:
> It's spring, when a young man's thoughts turn to ... a new laptop, given
> that my current one is starting to show its age.  And not wanting to break
> the bank but still wanting something at least a moderate step up, I poked
> around my favourite online store, tigerdirect, and came up with:
> http://www.tigerdirect.ca/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=6017035&CatId=3985
> The immediately appealing features:
> * not stupidly expensive
> * relatively high-res -- 1366x768 has always felt a bit cramped, so the
> 1600x900 will be nice
> * faster DDR3 memory

* large as a house
* Can hold your desk down in strong winds :)

Having recently looked at laptops myself, it has become almost
impossible to find a good highres screen, decent hardware, and a
reasonably sized unit (15" max). i know you mentioned frustratingly
common lack of specific details provided on Twitter as well (screen
resolution, etc)..

> My only puzzlement is the Intel Core i3-330M processor, and I remember a
> thread on that topic not that long ago so I might pop back to the archives
> and check it out, but other than that, I'm interested in the thoughts of
> folks more knowledgeable about these things than me.
> Naturally, it will run Linux so is there anything about it that would be
> considered Linux-unfriendly?  Thanks.

The new Intel on-package GPU support is very new. I know Ubuntu's
Karmic didn't support it. Lucid does, apparently, though I'm not sure
at what level. I'm not sure where Fedora fits in here.

I suppose the only way to know first-hand is to take a
Lucid/Fedora/$DISTRO CD to Futureshop, find a machine with an i3/i5
with Intel graphics, and try to boot.

Also, it doesn't mention what wifi chip it uses. If Broadcom, it will
be binary-blob only since it indicates 802.11n. No N broadcom device
is yet working with b43).

Also doesn't say what touchpad is in it, though nobody *ever* does.
This actually matters now as there are a few different in-kernel
drivers with varying levels of functionality. They all appear as a
synaptics device to Xorg.

> P.S.  Specs on that processor:
> http://ark.intel.com/Product.aspx?id=47663
> Not surprisingly, H/W virt support is mandatory.

Looks like Intel might be making this a bit easier if all their i*
processors have VT-x. If you do a lot of AES encryption, it might be
worthwhile to look into the i5-520 and higher. They have a new
instruction to accellerate AES functions. I get notes in dmesg about
not having it, but I'm not sure the level of support currently.

Chris Irwin
<chris at chrisirwin.ca>

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