I was asked a questions about buying a laptop.. I wrote such a long answer, I figured I’d share it:
What do you think?
1.Â Â Â Sony VAIO VGN-Z790 $1899 â€“ 3.4lbs- Core2Duo P8800(2.66Ghz), 4GB RAM(2×2-DDR3-1066), 320GB 7200RPM HDD, DVD Burn
2.Â Â Â Lenovo ThinkPad x301â€“ 3.3 lbs – $1650 â€“ Core2Duo SU9600(1.6Ghz), 2GB RAM(1×2-DDR3-1066), 250GB 5400RPM HDD, DVD Burn, 13.3TFT
*For $2099, same price as Toshiba, this laptop can be outfitted with a 128GB solid state drive
3.Â Â Â Lenovo IdeaPad U110 $1200 â€“ 2.9 lbs – Core2Duo L7500(1.6 Ghz), 3GB RAM(DDR2), 120GB HDD, DVD Burn
4.Â Â Â Toshiba Portege R600-ST520WÂ $2099 â€“ 2.4lbs – Core2Duo SU9400 (1.4Ghz), 3GB RAM(DDR2 800mhz, 2+1), 160GB 5400RPM HDD, DVD Burn
5.Â Â Â Samsung X360-34G â€“ 2.8 lbs – $1800 – Core2Duo SU9300 (1.2Ghz), 3GB RAM(DDR3), 120GB 5400RPM HDD, DVD Burn
To which I replied:
Computers suffer speed bottlenecks at certain locations.. The CPU, the RAM, and the Hard Drive.
The CPU has it’s base speed, the on-board cache, and the SPEED of the cache… the FSB.
The base speed is a moot point.. but the other two, the on-board cache and FSB are the most important parts.
Every open application, file, etc., is going to reside in the cache 1st, then overflow into RAM, then finally overflow into the Page file.. in the HD.
1: The Sony has the P8800, running 2.66G, fastest.. but also has 3MB of cache and 1066Mhz FSB.
2: The x301 has the SU9600, running 1.6G, 3MB cache @ 800MHz.
3: The u110 has the L7500, running 1.6G, 4MB cache @ 800MHz.
4: The Toshiba has the SU9400, running 1.4G, 3MB cache @ 800MHz.
5: The Samsung has the SU9300, running 1.2G, 3MB cache @ 800MHz.
The Sony wins this round, easy.. fastest processor with the fastest FSB.
After the CPU, RAM is the next place to improve a machine’s performance. Once again, the AMOUNT of RAM is moot.
The biggestÂ factors are the FSB (the speed) and, oddly enough, how many sticks there are.
More sticks = more bottlenecks, so less sticks with higher capacities is best, but 2 sticks is better than 1.
1: Sony: 2 sticks with 2GB each, running at 1066MHz for 4GB RAM
2: x301: 1 stick with 2GB running at 1066MHz
3: u110: 2 sticks, a 2GB and a 1GB, running at 667MHz
4: Toshiba: 2 sticks, a 2GB and a 1GB, running at 800MHz
5: Samsung: 2 sticks, a 2GB and a 1GB, running at 1066MHz
The Sony again wins this round.. with the Samsung taking #2.
The downside is that 32-bit operating systems have a 3GB max, so Sony’s advantage is only noticeable with a 64-bit OS.
The u110 is horrible here.
The last piece of the puzzle, the Hard Drive. Here, size IS important, but HD’s also have their own cache and speed.
Most vendors don’t include the HD’s cache size, but some do include the speed.. the RPMs.
Obviously, the faster the better! What makes Solid State Drives so desirable is their speed.. a high-end laptop drive will
typically spin at 7200RPMS, an SSD has been estimated to be the equivalent of spinning at 40,000RPMs!
This decision is simple.. if you can live with the reduced capacity of an SSD, go for it!
1: Sony: 320GB @7200
2: x301: 250GB @ 5400 (or 128GB SSD)
3: u110: 120GB @5400
4: Toshiba: 160GB @ 5400
5: Samsung: 120GB @ 5400
It’s hard to determine the winner here. If space is king.. then Sony. If speed and prolonged battery life, then the x301 with an SSD.
Personally, I’d pick the Sony here as well.. and if that could be equipped with an SSD, then there’s no question.
In general, I’d pick the Sony out of the 5 presented.