[kwlug-disc] could be the laptop deal of the year

Chris Irwin chris at chrisirwin.ca
Fri Jun 25 10:40:11 EDT 2010

On Fri, Jun 25, 2010 at 10:19, Insurance Squared Inc.
<gcooke at insurancesquared.com> wrote:
> I'm once again surprised how linux users are buying stuff like 4gigs of ram
> with high end processors.  Your junk is probably better than the stuff I
> run, and I don't think in most cases the monster machines noticeably
> outperform an old junk laptop.  It matters if you're running Vista, it
> doesn't matter with a current linux distro.

I just made the switch to an i5 with 4 gigs of ram, so I'll take a
shot at answering this.

First, RAM. More RAM is better. Sure I only "use" about 1.5 gigs, but
that leaves 2.5 gigs free for disk cache. Enabling laptop-mode and
sleeping my data disk for longer. I also use tmpfs for /tmp and ~/tmp,
and I get a bit more headroom there. I would have gone for more memory
if DDR3 so-dimms didn't get crazy expensive past 2 gig units.

Second, processor. My previous core 2 duo was more or less sufficient
for my needs. I think there is definitely a massive benefit going with
dual core from single core. Other than that, the only things the new
processor offers me is hypterthreading (meh?) and hardware encryption
support (neat, but I was probably already faster than my disk anyway).

> I've got four laptops (no idea why) and none of them are near the specs in
> that link.  If you've got 1 gig of ram and a p4 3gzh processor, so say a 5
> year old machine (and I do :) )  and I'm running linux, why would I go out
> and buy a new laptop with current specs?  When I was running windows the
> answer was 'because it runs faster'.  Under linux, I don't see the drive.
> Why not spend your money on a nice dual wide-screen monitor setup?
> Maybe I'm just getting old and regressing to 'why back in my day sonny boy
> we had PIII 750's and it was good enough for us.  Also, all we had to eat
> was potatoes'.

A modern machine will give you more power, longer battery life, and
less heat, especially compared to the p4. My laptop has a nine cell
battery, and I actually do get ~six hours of normal use. I've never
had a laptop pass four hours before, so I'm pretty thrilled about

It depends what your needs are. If all you need is mutt and tty0,
you'll probably be fine with an 800MHz longsoon processor. Again,
you'll get better battery life.

Chris Irwin
<chris at chrisirwin.ca>

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