Friday, September 29, 2006

Buying a new laptop

A year and a half ago, I bought my first laptop, a Dell Inspiron 6000. At the time I wasn't really sure whether I needed a laptop, and mainly bought it to be still able to access the internet when traveling. 18 months on I'm ready to declare that experiment to be a success: I *do* need a laptop. But with technology moving ever forward, and me knowing better now what exactly I'm using the machine for, I decided to buy a new one.

The Inspiron 6000 isn't a bad laptop, but it doesn't exactly qualify as ultra-portable. With its 15.4" wide screen the display is bigger than I really need, and thicker and heavier too. And at the time I skimped needlessly on the options, and took not enough RAM and a too small hard disk. I upgraded the RAM meanwhile, which made World of Warcraft at least playable on the machine, but the 40 GB hard disk is still far too small, WoW alone takes over 6 GB of that. The Radeon X300 graphics card and Intel Pentium M730 1.67 GHz are more than enough for surfing and watching DVDs, but playing games is a different matter. Even the not very demanding WoW only runs fluently when I lower the graphics settings.

So I was looking for a machine that was smaller, lighter, but more powerful. After reading some very enthusiastic reviews here and here I decided to buy the Dell XPS M1210. It has a Intel Core 2 Duo processor T7200 at 2.0 GHz. Doesn't sound much more than the 1.67 GHz I had, but of course the Core 2 Duo processor is a *lot* faster than the old single core Pentium Mobility. The times where you could see the speed of a CPU by its frequency are unfortunately over. As graphics card I took the Nvidia Geforce Go 7400 (256 MB), which according to this benchmark is about twice as fast as the Radeon X300 I had, with a 3DMark05 score given in the reviews of just over 2,000. Still much slower than the 6,500 I measured on my desktop computer with the Geforce 7800 GTX, but comparable to the 2,500 score I get with the ATI Radeon 9800 Pro on my wife's computer, which runs WoW perfectly. As I had noticed that WoW got a lot faster when upgrading the old laptop from 512 MB RAM to 1 GB, I ordered the new laptop with 2 GB RAM (667 MHz DDR2), so I'm pretty certain the new laptop will run World of Warcraft without any problems. I took a 160 GB hard drive, which should solve my storage space problems. And having learned from previous experience I ordered a second battery and a second charger with the laptop. The second battery is for doubling the time I can use the laptop when I'm in a plane or train. The second charger is because I use the laptop every day on my desk at home, for Teamspeak and surfing Thottbot next to the desktop running WoW, and hate to crawl under the desk every time I need the charger for traveling. The last thing I ordered with the laptop is a Kensington mini mouse with retractable cable. I already have one on the old laptop, and like it very much, much better than a touchpad for cursor control.

All this obviously isn't coming cheap, but sometimes you just have to spoil yourself. :) As here in Belgium on the Dell website only laptops with the strange French AZERTY keyboard were offered, I ordered the laptop by phone, where the sales guy was able to give me a QWERTY keyboard instead. After discussing that I didn't want to pay for a 3 year warranty and service, he ended up giving me the 3 year option for free. Always better to talk to a sales person, they usually have some leeway to give you free stuff if you place a big order. So now I'll just have to wait around 10 business days until the new laptop is delivered. Then I'll test it and post a review or something.

No comments:

Post a Comment