laptop buying advice

Discussion in 'all things UNIX' started by Ocky, Apr 23, 2014.

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  1. Ocky

    Ocky Registered Member

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    Was thinking of Lenovo but my wife is averse to the touch pointer business, so I thought of Dell.
    This is more or less what I want - naturally for Linux.
    The sales person I have been emailing, says that model is old generation and quoted a pretty steep price for this:-
    He maintains it will be more responsive than the first one, but how is that possible as the first one has a much higher core frequency ? ( I do a fair amount of video transcoding and ripping Dvd's etc.).
    Also I am not familiar with Hybrid SSD drives and whether they are fine to use with Linux.
    Furthermore I have not heard of SAF Qualcomm Gobi stuff, is that just for 3G ?
    Looks like I am getting too old for all this newfangled stuff.
     
  2. Mrkvonic

    Mrkvonic Linux Systems Expert

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    What's the price difference. I like the first better.
    It's an older model (so what) but higher freq. The disk is also faster in the first one.
    The hybrid thingie is just a fancy word for a large disk cache to compensate for its slow speed.
    The differences in the graphics card are not that large.
    Try to decline the win license and get money back.

    If you ask me, the first seems a better fit for you.
    You can always buy and install a new disk of your own.
    Especially if you go Linux and don't care about the original.

    Mrk
     
  3. Ocky

    Ocky Registered Member

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    Unfortunately, at the moment, I have no direct price comparison from the same source.
    However the one we are both less keen on is about 35% more from another source (buy direct site
    as opposed to retail store).
    That is a huge difference, why I have no idea, perhaps the hybrid SSD or that it is the newer
    4g generation model, or that there is no 'middle man'.
    These sales guys want me to believe that my choice is no longer obtainable. I reckon that
    is nonsense and am trying another supplier.
    Anyway, thank you for your advice and the tip re. declining the licence.

    (PS. Test Porsche Macan - will cannibalise Cayenne sales).
     
  4. Ocky

    Ocky Registered Member

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    I suppose there is drawback to declining the licence, that is if one wants to one day sell the laptop.
    Almost everyone insists on Windows.
    My wife's current Dell laptop, the one I want to replace, originally came with Vista installed.
    I installed this in Vbox just for kicks and see there is a 30 day trial. I wonder whether entering
    the product key on the sticker underneath her laptop will be accepted ?

    http://www.imagebam.com/image/3b6085321000378
     
  5. Baserk

    Baserk Registered Member

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    It could be 'more responsive' as in 'longer responsive'.
    The Intel Core i5-3230M 2.6Ghz has a max TDP of 35W link while the Intel Core i5-4300U has a max TDP of only 15W link.
    One might argue that the U-version CPU will be more responsive, as in for a longer time.
    Go for a CPU as in laptop 1 if you want more processing power or a laptop 2 CPU for longer battery time.
    Also, keep in mind the 'max Turbo' of a CPU.
    The i5-3230M can go from normal 2.6GHz to max 3.2GHz, the i54300U can go from 1.9GHz to 2.9GHz.
    So if you would max out one of the CPU cores (both CPUs are dual-cores), there is a lesser difference between 3.2GHz and 2.9GHz. The i5-3230M still wins though.
    Check ark.intel.com pages to compare CPU specs yourself, if only to check vendor claims.
    Also, I'd try to convince the better half of the value of little red knob usefulness. Older generations of Lenovo Thinkpad (T-)versions are really worth looking at imo.
    Such a machine will last you both for years and years to come. If you'd select Intel-only inside (CPU, integrated GPU, Intel wireless), you'll also have least hardware-related grievances when trying out distros.
     
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2014
  6. Balthazar

    Balthazar Registered Member

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    I have a Hybrid SSD and there's no problem with Linux. I don't know how a 5400rpm SSHD compares to a 7200rpm HDD.
    But I can tell you that I changed my 7200rpm Samsung Momentus (HDD) for a 7200rpm Momentux XT SSHD some time ago and overall it has been a huge improvement.
    There is a nice little video showing what to expect:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4gnm8bGFYvo
    The price difference between the HDD and SSHD was small then. SSD is expensive for just a fraction of the capacity.
     
  7. Ocky

    Ocky Registered Member

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    Very informative and useful guidelines Baserk. Thank you, I didn't know what TDP (Thermal Design Power) stood for until I googled it. It would be perfect to have something inbetween the 2 laptop specs.
    In the meantime I have obtained a quotation from another source, similar to laptop #2 but with 8GB memory and price is 3% lower.
    Awaiting another quote.
    Strange, try as I may, all the retail outlets can only offer me the very latest gen. laptops.
    I presume the Turbo Boost will kick in on-demand, i.e. when busy with cpu intensive stuff, multi-tasking etc. Would that be stepped, depending on cpu activity, or just jump from say 1.9GHz to 2.9GHz for the i54300U ?
    I suppose 8GB memory vs. 4GB memory would not make much difference.
     
  8. Baserk

    Baserk Registered Member

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    ^Turbo works dynamically, without user interaction needed, the on/off switch is in BIOS/EFI.
    It indeed works stepped and it also keeps an eye on CPU temperature, it won't go into 'Turbo-no-matter-what' like a set overclock.
    8GB can be useful if you like to process big files like a set of RAW pics, edit movies or perhaps run multiple VMs, otherwise invest in a faster CPU or low TDP CPU.
    Perhaps a 3r gen i5****U version link (up to 2.9GHz dual core, 17W TDP), more affordable, still fast enough, long battery time, HD4000 integrated graphics. Depending on availability oc.
     
  9. Ocky

    Ocky Registered Member

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    After a bit of back and forth, I have decided to go for this one:-
    Price is 18% less than the E5440 Laptop #2 in my original post.
    Thank you for everyone's guidelines.
     
  10. Ocky

    Ocky Registered Member

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    Just unpacked the aforementioned Dell E5530. Had no trouble booting a live dvd of Xubuntu 14.04 in UEFI mode with secure boot enabled.
    All I did in the UEFI settings is set fast boot to minimal and in Windows 8 disabled fast startup.

    However I have worries. In the live DVD (AND in Windows 8), the wireless connection does not work. I have added the Mac address in the wireless access point but to no avail.
    The problem seems to be the Intel Centrino Advanced N 6205 (802.11 a/b/g/n) card. Maybe it is not compatible with my WAP which only allows for g and b modes ?

    description: Wireless interface
    product: Centrino Advanced-N 6205 [Taylor Peak]
    vendor: Intel Corporation
    physical id: 0
    bus info: pci@0000:02:00.0
    logical name: wlan0
    version: 34
    serial: a4:4e:31:9d:6d:88
    width: 64 bits
    clock: 33MHz
    capabilities: bus_master cap_list ethernet physical wireless
    configuration: broadcast=yes driver=iwlwifi driverversion=3.13.0-24-generic firmware=18.168.6.1 latency=0 link=no multicast=yes wireless=IEEE 802.11abgn
    resources: irq:44 memory:f7e00000-f7e01fff

    Have tried various things ... http://askubuntu.com/questions/411698/how-do-i-tell-the-kernel-which-driver-to-use

    But no luck at all.

    Is it necessry to either get another wireless card or a compatible WAP ? I hope not. Also do you think installing to HDD would make a difference ?
     
  11. Mrkvonic

    Mrkvonic Linux Systems Expert

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    What do you mean by does not work? Faulty card?
    Did you try an internet cafe or a friend who does have wireless n?
    Mrk
     
  12. Ocky

    Ocky Registered Member

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    I have no idea. The SSID is shown with full signal strength, but both Windows 8 Pro and in the live dvd, are unable to establish a connection.
    As you can see the module is supported in the kernel. I thought that seeing my WAP only supports g and b modes, it may not be compatible ?
    Will try with neighbours wireless router tomorrow.
     
  13. Mrkvonic

    Mrkvonic Linux Systems Expert

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    Unlikely. Try another router, that will help you see what what gives.
    If nothing goes, I'd assume hardware and ask for replacement right away.
    Mrk
     
  14. Ocky

    Ocky Registered Member

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    It was the WAP, 10 years old and the new wireless card had issues. Forked out for a new access point (was not expensive at all).
    Now I can finally wipe Windows 8 and get back to getting productive on the new laptop.;)
     
  15. keithpeter

    keithpeter Registered Member

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    Excellent.

    Respectfully suggest clonezilla image of the hard drive before zapping. Resale value if you decide to sell the laptop in a couple of years...
     
  16. Ocky

    Ocky Registered Member

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    Thanks for the advice keithpeter, however I don't think it will be necessary as the laptop came with two discs. One for reinstalling the OS, and the other for drivers and media. (OEM Dell stuff).
    Live DVD - all is good and I will attempt the install tomorrow. Will make a GPT partition table, create an ESP boot partition and choose the something else option as it's always wise to have a separate home partition. It is a lovely laptop and I hope the wife will be pleased. :rolleyes:

    (Only doing it tomorrow because I would like to put on a small demonstration of Windows 8 for my neighbour whom I advised to get Windows 7 rather than 8 a few months ago)
     
  17. Baserk

    Baserk Registered Member

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    The specs of the laptop read 'Wireless: South African Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6205 (802.11 a/b/g/n) Half Mini Card, Built in 3G,...'.
    If I look at this Dell E5530 review screenshot of the back-side, it shows an empty 1/2 mini-card slot on the left and an empty full mini-card slot for a WWAN/3G module; link
    Is your laptop actually equipped with a 3G module?
    if not, you might want to consider placing a small SSD there over time/whenever you see one offered at a nice discount.
     
  18. Ocky

    Ocky Registered Member

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    Hello Baserk, yes it has a SIM card slot, which I suppose is for a 3G card, i.e. one could take it out of the cell/smart phone and insert it there.
    After wiping Windows 8 and installing Xubuntu in UEFI mode with Secure Boot enabled, I am pleased to see the resource usage dropping drastically. Can you educate me as to why I am seeing 4 cpus in system manager ? The processor is 2 core - does it have something to do with turbo boost. ?
    My only niggle is the high display resolution of 1920x1080, which means I have to zoom web pages in order to comfortably read the text.
    The suspend bug when closing the lid is a known bug, but works from the menu.

    xubuntu 4 cpus.png
     
  19. Baserk

    Baserk Registered Member

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    ^The 4 CPU graphs are actually the 4 'threads', offered by the dual-core CPU.
    Intel explains 'Hyper Threading' much better than I can here: link.

    When you set the resolution lower to 1600*900, does that help?
     
  20. Ocky

    Ocky Registered Member

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    Ah, thank you Baserk for the link.
    Have made do with the high resolution, as setting it to a lower one in Display, shrinks the usable area with black borders. In Xubuntu the easiest is to just use the keyboard shortcuts Ctrl>++ to zoom web pages.
     
  21. Ocky

    Ocky Registered Member

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    The touchpad (Alps) was too sensitive, and being a desktop and mouse user, I had no idea how to correct this until I googled.
    All that needs to be done is run synclient in terminal and change the value of PressureMotionMinZ=15 (default) to something higher.
    I changed it to 25 to test and that sorted out the sensitivity.
    To make the change permanent, create an xorg.conf file in /etc/X11 and enter the following:-
    Section "InputClass"
    Identifier "Touchpad"
    Driver "synaptics"
    MatchIsTouchpad "on"
    Option "PressureMotionMinZ" "25"
    EndSection

    Now next job is to capture a webcam image á la Mrk. ;)

    sensitivity.png

    I think that the changes should really be added to /etc/X11/xorg.conf.d/50-synaptics.conf
    but there is a warning to not edit the file as the changes will be overwritten.
     
    Last edited: May 16, 2014
  22. keithpeter

    keithpeter Registered Member

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    Try altering the dpi setting.

    In XFCE4 (which I gather you are using) go to Settings Manager | Appearence | Fonts and look for the DPI section of the tab. The default is 96 dpi. Increasing that will magnify all the font sizes in the *interface*. Experiment.

    Using Firefox, you may need to go to Preferences | Content tab | Click on Advanced button and then set a minimum font size from the drop down box. I use 16pt on my humble 1280/800 Thinkpad.
     
  23. Ocky

    Ocky Registered Member

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    Hello keithpeter,
    In Chrome and Opera browsers it's easily 'fixed' by changing the default zoom for web pages from 100% to 125% in the settings. No need for Ctrl + ...
    In Firefox it's not ideal as one can only change the minimum font size, increasing which results in some pages not rendering as they should. So short of using an add on to enable site specific zooming etc. I will just use Ctrl +
    Have increased the DPI slightly to 98.
    Am pleased now.

    Edit: Opera is a highly configurable browser, meaning you can change all fonts. See screenshot.

    Opera Fonts.png
     
    Last edited: May 17, 2014
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