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Thread: Laptop Dilema

  1. #1
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    Laptop Dilema

    I have a deilema on what kind of laptop to choose. Basically, because I am in school and got a scholarship this year I'm able to get a laptop and deduct it from my taxes. It's important to note that I'm going to school for computer programming. (I'm actually 38 and have prior programming experience but I'm going for the official degree now).

    Because I'm going for programming, higher resolutions are important to me. I use a 2600 resolution monitor for every day work and I've found it invaluable when writing code. Trying to transition to 1300 or even 1080p is not pleasant. However it's also for school, so portability can be important as well. Although I don't know how often I'll take it to school since most classrooms have computers already and I take most of my non programming classes online at home.

    For many reasons I wont go into I've narrowed down my choices to two options, both Lenovos.

    http://shop.lenovo.com/us/en/laptops...eries/y50-uhd/ (the 1399.99 model)
    The first one is basically a gaming laptop that fails as a gaming laptop but excels at everything else. This one is great for obvious reasons. Fast processor, lots of ram, good video card. It will handle programming, multitasking, video editing ect. The downside is that it's bigger to carry around and 2lbs heavier than the other one. but it's still only 5.29lbs and 0.9 inches thick. not unreasonably heavy or thick. (Yes, i know it's not a true 4k screen as well, but I'm ok with that.)

    http://shop.lenovo.com/us/en/laptops...ies/x1-carbon/
    This one is basically a large ultraportable. Regardless of resolution I think a 12 or 13" ultraportable would be annoying to write code on or do lots of reading. So this is a balance between the two at 14". The problem is that the last one in the series got terrible reviews (that they claim this one fixed). And even if those items are fixed it's roughly 1/3 to 1/4 the processing power of the first one.

    Basically my dilemma comes down to the fact I want an ultraportable, or at least something light weight and smaller but expect I'll regret the limited processing power as I do use it for much more than just programming.

    I did also look at the Yoga 3 pro. and while it looks awesome it seems to be getting mixed reviews. You're basically overpaying for average hardware.

    It's also important to note that I've already purchased the first one, it arrives today. But there's just that nagging feeling I'm making the wrong decision.

    Anyone have an opinion?

  2. #2
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    Re: Laptop Dilema

    Quote Originally Posted by Solesk View Post
    Anyone have an opinion?
    Not familiar with their gaming line but their W series laptops are rock solid. I have a W530 and aside from the puny screen is rather capable and with a backpack I have no problems carrying it.

    I myself would stay away from the ultraportable for the reasons you stated, might as well go with a tablet if you are going the small route. The loss of processing power and storage space will come back to haunt you if you find you need it at a later date.

    I would suggest a docking station so you can have one or more external displays to provide proper screen real estate when not mobile.
    Virtually all U.S. senators, and most of the representatives in the House, are members of the top 1 percent when they arrive, are kept in office by money from the top 1 percent, and know that if they serve the top 1 percent well they will be rewarded by the top 1 percent when they leave office

  3. #3
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    Re: Laptop Dilema

    http://www.pcworld.com/article/28873...ish-snafu.html

    I think I personally would tend to avoid Lenovo right now.
    I've got beer to drink and You guys are wasting my time.

  4. #4
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    Re: Laptop Dilema

    In my belligerent opinion:

    i) Fuck gaming laptops. Regardless of how much money spent upon them, they are impossible to execute well. They are a waste of money and engineering talent.

    What I would do, assuming we are maximizing for utility, minimizing for initial monetary cost and monetary cost over time, and we actually care about mobility rather than pretend to then choke and die on that front:

    i) The best mobility option if we are concerned with mobility first and cost second is one of the Acer Chromebooks: http://us.acer.com/ac/en/US/content/...cer-chromebook
    It appears that is the longest battery life available amongst the chromebooks. I would check more reviews though.

    I know you care a lot about resolution but the more high res your laptop is the more power it will consume which means we either increase cost dramatically or turn our "mobility" use case into a non-mobility reality.

    And assuming your area of interest is not web programming:

    ii) So, we have an inexpensive low resource mobility option in our wheel house; this will act as our communications medium and remote computing use case to compensate for the reality of battery life. With the money we saved by not wasting money on a gaming laptop, we are going to dump the remaining resources into...
    An x64 server motherboard so that we can put as much ECC memory in it as we can afford. And we want to optimize for maximum memory possible to put into it and at least 2 Xeon processors. IMO cases are pointless caveat that you do not live in a dust bowl. So, just mount it on some wood and make use of ambient cooling now possible. The reason I like this setup for workstations is that it allows you to expand the system over time as your needs change, ECC memory is tremendously useful and by going with Xeon we are able to take advantage of that and be able to slot much more ram and have access to more potential GPU slots if you go into GPU programming. This setup will never not be useful. There are a lot of very excellent experiments that you can run at a professional level going with this build vs. a consumer desktop or gaming laptop option. You will always have more than enough memory available to run VMs without swapping, utilize memory hungry code analysis tools, and keep entire programs in memory always; all of which are awesome for security research. Additionally it is excellent for CAD and modelling that has a fetish for memory consumption.

    I am in strong agreement on the as much resolution as feasible front on the primary work environment, however, I am not super hot on multiple monitor setups anymore, they add a level of unnecessary bureaucracy in your life not abstractable away with better window management fully, and while they are better than one low res monitor, I really, really, really prefer the curved monitor designs. They are designed exactly for human beings. Ideally curved monitors with 5k+ res existed but the only ones I see available are 4k. Still, it is worth the trade off. Additionally they stack very well. I think 2x curved monitors of the same model is the way to go in the end and it is more pixels overall for a comparable price to current 5k+ offerings that are well designed. I would like to know why none of the 5k monitors are curved as the design fucking kicks ass!

    So, IMO while the workstation design is atypical this will be the cheapest over time and last forever and ever. Also get whatever size SSD is affordable after getting the best motherboard you can for this use case as it will be the keystone for longevity.

  5. #5

    Re: Laptop Dilema

    I am a .NET application developer and having been in your shoes within the past 5 years, I highly recommend going for processing power and as much memory as possible. A bigger screen is always helpful, but honestly I would get an external monitor for at home rather than worry about screen size or video quality on the laptop itself.

    At work my computer is a Dell E6640 I5 2.7ghz Latitude laptop, 15", with 8 gig RAM and 500gb SSD drive. I routinely have 2 or 3 visual studios up at the same time (I support 4 applications), along with my email and instant message program, OneNote, Word, Excel, Chrome and Exploder browsers, and SQL database query tool open at the same time. And yes with that many programs open it will get sluggish at some point until I close down all but one visual studio....

    I have two large monitors and a docking station at work and when I work from home I have one large monitor in addition to the laptop monitor. The larger monitors make a huge difference in being able to see the code easier on the screen. Also, enlarging the text also helps when my eyes feel strained. 4k screen to read text doesn't make a lot of sense

    The programming you will be doing for school is no where even remotely close to what you do for real that you need to worry about how good your video quality is. A few dozen lines of code in a handful of files in you classroom solutions just doesn't compare to thousands of lines of code in a single file in solutions with hundreds or thousands of files but I can guarantee that a slow performing computer will make your efforts extremely frustrating.

    I worked on a Lenevo laptop once and needed to be able to dual boot between a server OS setup and standard desktop OS setup and found that Lenevos lack enough partitions to support dual boot and that particular laptop only supported a single hard drive so I could not even put a second one in to dual boot from.

    So put a lot of thought into what you may need. Programmers need to know a lot about servers for deployment of web applications, IIS particularly, and you may want to be able to expose yourself to that environment as well as having a database.

    A year ago, before I finished school, I bought a Sager gaming laptop, I7 4880 quad processor with 16 gb RAM full specs -->. http://www.overclock.net/lists/display/view/id/5641506

    This beast is twice the laptop of my work one but it is also like twice the weight. I could have gone smaller size and kept the same specs and in hindsight I should have.
    CeeNedra

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  6. #6
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    Re: Laptop Dilema

    Quote Originally Posted by Cee View Post
    I have two large monitors and a docking station at work and when I work from home I have one large monitor in addition to the laptop monitor. The larger monitors make a huge difference in being able to see the code easier on the screen. Also, enlarging the text also helps when my eyes feel strained. 4k screen to read text doesn't make a lot of sense
    IDK why you (and a lot of other people) believe this. Text benefits enormously from higher resolutions even at the same physical screen size because you can render the text at a higher resolution, thereby making it more precise and not have to waste resources on anti-aliasing. Linux with the infinality patches looks amazing, comparable to OS X in font rendering. I am hoping Windows 10 catches up in this respect as I end up having to use Windows a lot. I am pumped about .net making its way elsewhere as a first class citizen. I wish MS Office would acquire .net support natively so that I could utilize C# or F# instead of VBA or paying for an external plugin to utilize Python. As excel is used heavily for numerical analysis this makes tremendous sense and would enable dropping a lot of external apps for quants et al.

  7. #7

    Re: Laptop Dilema

    the problem with 4k and up is that it lacks the refresh rate still, Once monitors and video cards have DP 1.3 or greater as a common interface then 4k becomes viable on the computer 30hz is just is not enough for a computer screen.
    "When you name your baby Jeeves...you've pretty much set up his career for life. You don't see many Hit Men, for example, named Jeeves. "Pardon me sir, but I must wack you now."
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  8. #8

    Re: Laptop Dilema

    Quote Originally Posted by MI Redeux View Post
    I wish MS Office would acquire .net support natively so that I could utilize C# or F# instead of VBA or paying for an external plugin to utilize Python.
    All you need is Visual Studio and as a .Net programmer that is what you will use. The native environment was never meant to have the full flavor of developing for Office programs because real full featured development requires the full development environment so you can take advantage of the libraries and structure.


    visualstudio2013.JPG
    CeeNedra

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  9. #9
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    Re: Laptop Dilema

    I've decided to keep the gaming laptop. I've been using it for a week and so far I'm mostly happy with it. 4k on a 15" is obviously unusable, but windows scaling has made it mostly great (and windows 10 is supposed to increase support for scaling). There are still some problems with super small windows but it's a minor inconvenience. Once I got Hulu to stop acting like a little bitch the machine runs great now and boots in about 6 seconds.

    Coding so far has been much more enjoyable than if I had gotten the standard 1080p resolution. It's important to note that there are no reasonable laptops with a resolution between 1080p and 4k that I was able to find. 4k is mostly a buzz word, but a 15" with a 2500 or something resolution would be the most ideal (or more windows scaling options).

    Quote Originally Posted by Melcar View Post
    http://www.pcworld.com/article/28873...ish-snafu.html

    I think I personally would tend to avoid Lenovo right now.
    I'm aware of superfish, and lenovo was foolish to think that would ever not bite them in the ass. But if I avoided every PC company with shady practices I didn't like, I'd never buy a computer. Knowing that this machine does not have superfish will have to be enough for now. I also know that because of this PR debacle they are bending over for customers right now. I got spare parts for my lenovo work laptop without any hoops to jump through at all a month ago. I also like that when I've called them for work reasons I've gotten someone in the US from Texas, not India like DELL. Dell's tech support is still infuriating, I'm currently trying to get a hardware fix for my wifes laptop and it's taken over a month, and half a dozen phone calls. Fixing my lenovo took 1, 10 minute call.

    Quote Originally Posted by MI Redeux View Post
    The best mobility option if we are concerned with mobility first and cost second is one of the Acer Chromebooks: http://us.acer.com/ac/en/US/content/...cer-chromebook
    It appears that is the longest battery life available amongst the chromebooks. I would check more reviews though.
    1) cost is irrelevant as tax credits pay for it. 2) So far it has not proven to be very heavy. It is significantly lighter than my last laptop. 3) Chromebooks do not have the software I need or want. And remote desktop to a machine that does will not always be available.

    I do need a server setup at some point. I've been using my aging gaming desktop and while it's still fairly competent with a new SSD in it, there are obvious things it can't do right now. However tax write offs will not pay for a server, they will pay for a laptop.

    Quote Originally Posted by FilanFyretracker View Post
    the problem with 4k and up is that it lacks the refresh rate still, Once monitors and video cards have DP 1.3 or greater as a common interface then 4k becomes viable on the computer 30hz is just is not enough for a computer screen.
    The laptop has a 48hz refresh rate. And while that is not an ideal 60 or 120hz I've noticed zero problems with it. I've not tried any gaming on it outside of hearthstone yet, but I've not noticed any lag or ghosting yet. My only dissatisfaction is that it does not have a mini display port. I believe the HDMI port supports higher resolutions, but I've not tried to connect it to my 2800 res monitor yet.

    Quote Originally Posted by MI Redeux View Post
    Text benefits enormously from higher resolutions even at the same physical screen size because you can render the text at a higher resolution, thereby making it more precise and not have to waste resources on anti-aliasing.
    This I do agree with. I've used several multi monitor setups and they pale to my single 30" monitor at higher resolution. As soon as there's a 40-50" 4k monitor with 60hz and a reasonable price range, that's my next purchase. The flood of 28" 4k monitors this last year has been disappointing to say the least.

    I appreciate everyone's opinion. The more I've used this laptop and thought about it, I'm happy with my choice. I don't think I would have been happy with the portable option. the smaller screen and lower processing / memory would have annoyed me over time and I would have regretted it I think.

  10. #10

    Re: Laptop Dilema

    I have never had an issue with gaming laptops, I think unless you are never near a power source be it AC or an inverter than yes an ultrabook with that 5hrs of battery is a good idea but if you have reasonable access to power than you are better off with a gaming notebook if you need reasonable performance. I find the big primary advantage is they have pretty good processing power, They still keep the ability to upgrade RAM and Storage which Apple has abandoned and others are abandoning in their normal units.

    For me I like knowing I can game and use things like Adobe Premiere, AE or Audition or game.
    "When you name your baby Jeeves...you've pretty much set up his career for life. You don't see many Hit Men, for example, named Jeeves. "Pardon me sir, but I must wack you now."
    — Jerry Seinfeld

  11. #11
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    Re: Laptop Dilema

    Quote Originally Posted by Solesk View Post
    I
    This I do agree with. I've used several multi monitor setups and they pale to my single 30" monitor at higher resolution. As soon as there's a 40-50" 4k monitor with 60hz and a reasonable price range, that's my next purchase. The flood of 28" 4k monitors this last year has been disappointing to say the least.

    I appreciate everyone's opinion. The more I've used this laptop and thought about it, I'm happy with my choice. I don't think I would have been happy with the portable option. the smaller screen and lower processing / memory would have annoyed me over time and I would have regretted it I think.
    Try any of the curved monitors and see how much of a difference it makes; the newer monitors that have came out do not have the 30Hz restriction anymore as they have USB 1.3 (USB 1.3c is the reversible implementation of USB 1.3) in them. I have tried all of the variations of this setup over time and what I described is the least expensive route. Both a server (which we can add onto later) and a chromebook are obtainable for < 1k. The gaming laptop is not replaceable on a per component basis and has a higher initial cost, it costs more initially and over time and cannot adequately provide a mobile solution because battery life is so poor; resources will always be restricted due to cooling being a constraint. Since you have decided to go this route anyways, get a laptop cooler; they work surprisingly well, especially if the case is made out of metal. Also, makes sure that you clean it routinely; unless it is a sealed system debris will ruin the internal components and make cooling worse as well as being gross.

    The difference in weight does make a difference in practice as well. I would have gone for the Pixel with Linux installed or a MBP Retina with 16GB of Ram and 512 GB SSD* if you wanted to have high res and long battery life. Even if you have unlimited budget that would have still been the best move available. BTW, you can build your own compute cluster (for the purposes of teaching yourself practical skills that you can later demonstrate a proof of work for if you are interested in this area) using any of the Rasberry Pi, Beaglebone, or if you must stick to x86 Intel's Galileo is available (at a higher unit cost).

    * There is a hundred or so dollar reduction for student's (similar programs for PC manufacturers though) or Apple employees get 15% off once a year (or some similar restriction).
    Last edited by MI Redeux; April 13th, 2015 at 10:44 PM.

  12. #12

    Re: Laptop Dilema

    Actually the newest gaming laptops do very well in staying cool without having the throttling issues they once did. My Asus G571 runs blender in CUDA mode without issue and does not even get that toasty when I have Premiere Pro building a 1080p video.

    I think the issue really comes more to how portable do you need. Without power yes it might be worth dealing with the software compatibility limitations of OSX and getting the MBP. If you need horsepower to go but cannot bring a mini-ITX and a monitor along the modern gaming notebook is not a bad choice.

    I would say computer choice should also be based on home ecosystem, If you are already on windows desktops you should get a windows laptop since Macs and Windows are a chore to get them to play together.
    "When you name your baby Jeeves...you've pretty much set up his career for life. You don't see many Hit Men, for example, named Jeeves. "Pardon me sir, but I must wack you now."
    — Jerry Seinfeld

  13. #13
    Elder Arcanist
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    Re: Laptop Dilema

    I've tried macs in the past, I'm not a fan. They have their purpose and you can do some interesting things with them, but they are not for me. Same with Linux, I like some of what it does, but ultimately my life only has time for windows and it's vast array of compatible programs. Although I will occasionally setup a Linux virtual machine.

    So far this lenovo is running very cool. Granted, I've not tried gaming, but so far it barely even gets warm under normal use.

  14. #14

    Re: Laptop Dilema

    that is the main reason I prefer windows, Mac is just a pain in the ass because you think you can solve a problem and the program is not there. in windows I cite Irfanview as an example, Its the VLC of image viewing software and it has no equal under OSX preview cannot even hold a candle to it. And it is very compact while also being self contained meaning you can bring it to any machine on a thumb drive and no DLL Hell.
    "When you name your baby Jeeves...you've pretty much set up his career for life. You don't see many Hit Men, for example, named Jeeves. "Pardon me sir, but I must wack you now."
    — Jerry Seinfeld

  15. #15
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    Re: Laptop Dilema

    What image format are you using that Preview on OS X won't open?
    Meddle not in the affairs of Wizards, for they are subtle and quick to anger. - Gildor Inglorion

  16. #16

    Re: Laptop Dilema

    I never found one that was common that it did not open but the operational use is much better on irfan view. for example the arrow keys go forward and back in a directory allowing one to slideshow through. its overall user experience is superior.
    "When you name your baby Jeeves...you've pretty much set up his career for life. You don't see many Hit Men, for example, named Jeeves. "Pardon me sir, but I must wack you now."
    — Jerry Seinfeld

  17. #17
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    Re: Laptop Dilema

    The finder itself does that in OS X. The cover flow view. Arrow/swipe your way to success.
    Meddle not in the affairs of Wizards, for they are subtle and quick to anger. - Gildor Inglorion

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