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evoweiss
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 13, 2013 11:41 pm    Post subject: Laptop recommendations? Reply with quote

Hi all,

I'm in the market for my first laptop (I generally prefer desktops, but need to make a bit of space in my place). Naturally, my primary concern is that I get something that works well with Gentoo, though for my purposes, I'd like it to be on the high end side, have decent battery life, have a NVIDIA card, and would prefer something with a smaller form factor (11" screen). I would seek to run it mostly in 'clamshell' mode, i.e. plug it into an external monitor, keyboard and mouse.

Any recommendations?

Best,

Alex
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turtles
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 14, 2013 5:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

What is your main purpose or use?
Are you a gamer, or developer or ??
Whats your budget?

I see Toshiba, Asus and dells going for a long time in that order.
If you are into Video card performance look for one with an up-gradable video card.
I upgraded a video card in a older dell for a game developer friend.

I just got a dell Latitude E5430 configured for my very mobile work. I am installing Gentoo on it right now.
I have had problems with aftermarket car chargers and laptops and I run around in a service truck.
I like that they included a OEM car charger and a at&t 3G wireless card.
I dislike USB 3G modems just for ease of use and poor antenna so I really wanted it built in.

If you don't need the stock OS dell has been known give a refund if you don't activate it.

I would consider the ssd drives but I am not convinced they are worth it.
I just now maxed out a 100G drive on my old toshiba.

So I did not get much of a drive at 320G
However people say RPM's are hard on battery life
Which I don't really care about since I am plugged in most of the time.
So I got the 7200RPM drive and the smaller battery.

Watch out for ones that still have 10/100 NIC's. Gigibit lan should be standard now.
wireless is still a ongoing evolution 802.11ad and 4G cards will be replacing 802.11n and 3G soon so just make sure the cards you get work on Linux. I don't need extreme data rates so I did not look for a 4G card.

I almost did not get a dvd drive dvd's fail all the time and they add weight.

New E5430 lspci:

Code:
00:00.0 Host bridge: Intel Corporation Ivy Bridge DRAM Controller (rev 09)
00:02.0 VGA compatible controller: Intel Corporation Ivy Bridge Graphics Controller (rev 09)
00:14.0 USB controller: Intel Corporation Panther Point USB xHCI Host Controller (rev 04)
00:16.0 Communication controller: Intel Corporation Panther Point MEI Controller #1 (rev 04)
00:16.3 Serial controller: Intel Corporation Panther Point KT Controller (rev 04)
00:19.0 Ethernet controller: Intel Corporation 82579LM Gigabit Network Connection (rev 04)
00:1a.0 USB controller: Intel Corporation Panther Point USB Enhanced Host Controller #2 (rev 04)
00:1b.0 Audio device: Intel Corporation Panther Point High Definition Audio Controller (rev 04)
00:1c.0 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation Panther Point PCI Express Root Port 1 (rev c4)
00:1c.1 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation Panther Point PCI Express Root Port 2 (rev c4)
00:1c.2 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation Panther Point PCI Express Root Port 3 (rev c4)
00:1c.3 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation Panther Point PCI Express Root Port 4 (rev c4)
00:1c.5 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation Panther Point PCI Express Root Port 6 (rev c4)
00:1d.0 USB controller: Intel Corporation Panther Point USB Enhanced Host Controller #1 (rev 04)
00:1f.0 ISA bridge: Intel Corporation Panther Point LPC Controller (rev 04)
00:1f.2 RAID bus controller: Intel Corporation 82801 Mobile SATA Controller [RAID mode] (rev 04)
00:1f.3 SMBus: Intel Corporation Panther Point SMBus Controller (rev 04)
02:00.0 Network controller: Intel Corporation Centrino Ultimate-N 6300 (rev 35)
0b:00.0 SD Host controller: O2 Micro, Inc. Device 8221 (rev 05)


Code:
cat /proc/cpuinfo
processor       : 0
vendor_id       : GenuineIntel
cpu family      : 6
model           : 58
model name      : Intel(R) Core(TM) i7-3520M CPU @ 2.90GHz
stepping        : 9
microcode       : 0x12
cpu MHz         : 2890.551
cache size      : 4096 KB
physical id     : 0
siblings        : 4
core id         : 0
cpu cores       : 2
apicid          : 0
initial apicid  : 0
fpu             : yes
fpu_exception   : yes
cpuid level     : 13
wp              : yes
flags           : fpu vme de pse tsc msr pae mce cx8 apic sep mtrr pge mca cmov pat pse36 clflush dts acpi mmx fxsr sse sse2 ss ht tm pbe syscall nx rdtscp lm constant_tsc arch_perfmon pebs bts rep_good nopl xtopology nonstop_tsc aperfmperf pni pclmulqdq dtes64 monitor ds_cpl vmx smx est tm2 ssse3 cx16 xtpr pdcm pcid sse4_1 sse4_2 x2apic popcnt tsc_deadline_timer aes xsave avx f16c rdrand lahf_lm ida arat epb xsaveopt pln pts dts tpr_shadow vnmi flexpriority ept vpid fsgsbase smep erms
bogomips        : 5781.10
clflush size    : 64
cache_alignment : 64
address sizes   : 36 bits physical, 48 bits virtual
power management:

processor       : 1
vendor_id       : GenuineIntel
cpu family      : 6
model           : 58
model name      : Intel(R) Core(TM) i7-3520M CPU @ 2.90GHz
stepping        : 9
microcode       : 0x12
cpu MHz         : 2890.551
cache size      : 4096 KB
physical id     : 0
siblings        : 4
core id         : 1
cpu cores       : 2
apicid          : 2
initial apicid  : 2
fpu             : yes
fpu_exception   : yes
cpuid level     : 13
wp              : yes
flags           : fpu vme de pse tsc msr pae mce cx8 apic sep mtrr pge mca cmov pat pse36 clflush dts acpi mmx fxsr sse sse2 ss ht tm pbe syscall nx rdtscp lm constant_tsc arch_perfmon pebs bts rep_good nopl xtopology nonstop_tsc aperfmperf pni pclmulqdq dtes64 monitor ds_cpl vmx smx est tm2 ssse3 cx16 xtpr pdcm pcid sse4_1 sse4_2 x2apic popcnt tsc_deadline_timer aes xsave avx f16c rdrand lahf_lm ida arat epb xsaveopt pln pts dts tpr_shadow vnmi flexpriority ept vpid fsgsbase smep erms
bogomips        : 5781.19
clflush size    : 64
cache_alignment : 64
address sizes   : 36 bits physical, 48 bits virtual
power management:
....


Oh and I think a backlit spill resistant keyboard is offered by a few (apple?).

Cheers
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The Doctor
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 14, 2013 6:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Personally, I like Dell and Lenovo laptops. One advantage to both of these companies is that they support Linux and open source software. You can get either an os-less laptop from Lenovo or an Ubuntu Dell so you don't need to let Microsoft sell you Windows. I don't know much about the current hardware in these computers as my laptop is about 5 years old (Dell). I have several friends with new Lenovo computers that run Linux, for what ever that is worth.

Another personal preference, +1 on no SSD. I don't like the idea of a hard drive that must die after a certain amount of use. All my boxes (and drives) get used for long after their corporate end-of-life date. Speed is nice, it just should not come at the possible expense of reliability.

Second point: if your laptop is going to play the part of a desktop, get an external cooler. It will dramatically increase the lifetime of the computer, especially if you are doing anything strenuous with it (ie, emerge).
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 14, 2013 7:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Doctor wrote:
Personally, I like Dell and Lenovo laptops.

I forgot Lenovo the old IBM's I have one around here that is a tank ! Defiantly check them out So old it had no ethernet port but had a usb port. runs fine.
I installed linux over plip

The Doctor wrote:

Second point: if your laptop is going to play the part of a desktop, get an external cooler.

Cooling is a huge issue. I am most impressed with the video card cooling in Toshiba and least with Apple. Each model varies. The Asus eee pc we had was underclocked to improve cooling.
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 14, 2013 7:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Another personal preference, +1 on no SSD. I don't like the idea of a hard drive that must die after a certain amount of use. All my boxes (and drives) get used for long after their corporate end-of-life date. Speed is nice, it just should not come at the possible expense of reliability.


In my experience, commodity laptop mechanical hard drives (often subject to quite harsher temperature environment) are much less reliable than SSDs.
And nothing beats the feel of dead silent laptop. It is of course less so a point if one is after high performance gaming laptop.
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 14, 2013 11:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I suggest to get some HP laptop. So far I had no problems with it. For me HP laptops is KISS because I'm not that sure in other ones but I can be sure in my suggestions based on own experience.
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 14, 2013 1:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

wait for the new ones with touchscreen and amd 14 nanometer dye.
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 14, 2013 4:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi all,

Thanks for the many responses. I'll provide more details here.

turtles wrote:
What is your main purpose or use?
Are you a gamer, or developer or ??
Whats your budget?


I'd like to be able to do some data analyses at home using R and also for more general purposes, e.g. web browsing, video streaming, working with gentoo, etc. As per a budget, ideally I would want something under £1000; the less the better. However, not if it sacrifices good computing power. Basically, I like having more power as it means obsolescence is delayed and I can find new things to do with it that I hadn't thought of doing before. I went this route with my desktop and have been happy for 10+ years with it. I would use it as my main computer and probably would be loathe to take it anywhere save on occasion.

I'd also want to run windows via virtualbox, namely as I need to do so for work. However, this doesn't mean I need the windows they would ship the computer with as my work provides that.

Quote:

I see Toshiba, Asus and dells going for a long time in that order.
If you are into Video card performance look for one with an up-gradable video card.
I upgraded a video card in a older dell for a game developer friend.


Okay... how do I find out if said card is upgradable?

Quote:

I just got a dell Latitude E5430 configured for my very mobile work. I am installing Gentoo on it right now.
I have had problems with aftermarket car chargers and laptops and I run around in a service truck.
I like that they included a OEM car charger and a at&t 3G wireless card.
I dislike USB 3G modems just for ease of use and poor antenna so I really wanted it built in.


I have no need for 3G or 4G modems.

Quote:

If you don't need the stock OS dell has been known give a refund if you don't activate it.


That's nice to know and a definite plus in my book.

Quote:

I would consider the ssd drives but I am not convinced they are worth it.
I just now maxed out a 100G drive on my old toshiba.


The price mark up on those is a bit too steep in my estimation. I do have an external 1TB drive, so maybe the limited space wouldn't be problematic.

Quote:

So I did not get much of a drive at 320G
However people say RPM's are hard on battery life
Which I don't really care about since I am plugged in most of the time.
So I got the 7200RPM drive and the smaller battery.


Worth keeping in mind.

Quote:

Watch out for ones that still have 10/100 NIC's. Gigibit lan should be standard now.
wireless is still a ongoing evolution 802.11ad and 4G cards will be replacing 802.11n and 3G soon so just make sure the cards you get work on Linux. I don't need extreme data rates so I did not look for a 4G card.


Got it.

Quote:
I almost did not get a dvd drive dvd's fail all the time and they add weight.


It would be a necessity for my purposes.

Quote:
Oh and I think a backlit spill resistant keyboard is offered by a few (apple?).


I will look to see what's available.

Best,

Alex
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turtles
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 15, 2013 10:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

For R and SPSS under linux I would have a minimum of 8G ram. A 16G ram upgrade can be done for around $90 USD

This one looks interesting:
http://us.toshiba.com/computers/laptops/qosmio/X870/X875-Q7380


I found this Nvidia blob interesting:
http://www.techspot.com/news/49064-nvidia-responds-to-linus-torvalds-bashing-over-linux-support.html
I am a "whatever it takes to get the job done on linux" type person and happy Nvidia supports linux in a closed source way as opposed to not at all. Others could (autodesk, silverlight, inuit etc) take similar approaches and gain a few (only like a million or so) more customers as long as they are not benefiting from opensource without giving back.

However for video I like to go with someone whom is supporting opensource all the way

And "Video" is not a "big one" for me I am not a gamer.
I have been impressed with Chris Wilson at intel devoting lots of time to kernel development and the move to KMS in the intel driver.
I got attention for a bug I reported for my historical 855GM and that influenced my decision to go with intel ivy bridge graphics. I will keep this thing till its wayyy out of date and the graphics will be supported.
(and I am in no way affiliated with or plugging intel)
Another link:
http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=news_item&px=MTEzMzg
Let us know what you get
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 15, 2013 12:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Late in the game, but another recommendation for Lenovo. Their Thinkpads continue the tradition of no nonsense, well-designed and well-engineered notebooks started by IBM -- ruggedness, great ergonomics, and part selection for corporate deployment. The last is important because it means that a particular notebook model will use the same parts for its entire cycle, which is helpful for getting working Linux drivers. Finally, Thinkpads have a preponderance of Intel parts (WiFi, Ethernet, many GPUs) so you can get functional open source drivers for those.

Oh, and Lenovo has a quality OEM car/airplane charger if you need that.

Regarding SSDs, I think you should absolutely get one unless you know you will be writing gigabytes of small files every day that would wear out the disk. The performance increase with an SSD is immense -- reads almost as fast as RAM, and writes 2 to 10 times faster than standard hard disks. If you deal with large data files at all, an SSD is a must. Also, an SSD draws less power, generates no heat, and makes no noise, which are all pluses for portability.

I've enjoying using my Thinkpad X301 for 14 hours a day since May 2010, and am looking at an X1 Carbon.
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 15, 2013 1:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

AFAIK IBM never made laptops, they re-branded Quanta laptops. Probably Lenovo is doing the same. They are great laptops, I'd buy a new one myself if I could find one without paying MS tax.

Here are some "manufacturers" who do not manufacture laptops: Lenovo, Alienware, Dell, HP, Toshiba, Compaq, Sony.

Here are the ones that do: Clevo, Compal, Asus, MSI, Quanta, Wistron, Mitac, Arima, Inventec.
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 16, 2013 4:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jaglover wrote:
AFAIK IBM never made laptops, they re-branded Quanta laptops. Probably Lenovo is doing the same. They are great laptops, I'd buy a new one myself if I could find one without paying MS tax.

Here are some "manufacturers" who do not manufacture laptops: Lenovo, Alienware, Dell, HP, Toshiba, Compaq, Sony.

Here are the ones that do: Clevo, Compal, Asus, MSI, Quanta, Wistron, Mitac, Arima, Inventec.



Wikipedia says that as of 2012 Lenovo is moving Thinkpad production to Japan and they will be produced by NEC
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 16, 2013 3:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I got a samsung series 9 NP900X4C and the only things that aren't perfect are keyboard brightness backlight hotkeys and usb3.0 occasionally drops out.

http://www.samsung.com/us/computer/laptops/NP900X4C-A01US
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 16, 2013 6:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi all,

Thanks for the continued thoughts on this. I noticed a colleague of mine at work had linux running on his laptop, which he bought from PCSpecialist who outfit a lot of people I work around. They're happy with it and the company enables one to avoid the MS tax, too, which is a nice bonus. The other possibility is some model of Lenovo, though the price differential between the two is pretty steep. Anything I should watch out for on the hardware front? He is using one of the 11" models, but I noticed they sell a 14" ultrabook, too, which looks rather nice. The main difference between the two is that the model he has includes a nvidia card with optimus for graphics. The ultrabook is using an IBM integrated driver. I've been using nvidia on my home PC and have heard things about the IBM integrated graphics, but it's an area I'm not too familiar with, frankly.

Best,

Alex
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 16, 2013 7:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I personally prefer open source drivers, and the drivers for Intel GPUs (which are the integrated GPUs used by Lenovo) work well.

However, if you need strong 3D performance, you may prefer the nVidia GPU with the closed-source drivers.
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 18, 2013 11:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hypnos wrote:
I personally prefer open source drivers, and the drivers for Intel GPUs (which are the integrated GPUs used by Lenovo) work well.

However, if you need strong 3D performance, you may prefer the nVidia GPU with the closed-source drivers.


I can appreciate that.

I found a company that builds custom laptops and they have exceptional deals. I know somebody at my work who is very happy with a laptop he purchased from them (he runs Debian) and a lot of other folks seem satisfied. The only thing about the laptop is that it has no option for a nVidia GPU, but it sounds like that's a minor matter as I'm not a gamer. So long as the integrated intel 4000 (I think) is fine for playing DVDs, videos, and running a desktop, I'll be okay.

Best,

Alex
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 19, 2013 1:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jaglover wrote:
AFAIK IBM never made laptops, they re-branded Quanta laptops. Probably Lenovo is doing the same. They are great laptops, I'd buy a new one myself if I could find one without paying MS tax.

Here are some "manufacturers" who do not manufacture laptops: Lenovo, Alienware, Dell, HP, Toshiba, Compaq, Sony.

Here are the ones that do: Clevo, Compal, Asus, MSI, Quanta, Wistron, Mitac, Arima, Inventec.
At ETH Zurich one can buy lenovo's for about 1000.- less then in normal stores and without Windows one can save another 150.- ... but one has to be a student to be able to use the offer:
http://www.projektneptun.ch/
what I am, but I don't know if it's legal to buy one for another person and how it should work with payment, because you don't know me :)

for the SSD's it's not a problem anymore even with gentoo:
http://forums-web2.gentoo.org/viewtopic-t-942742-start-0.html?sid=262f051a76483ff46f0c5cd0d005075d

and moreover SSD's are more stable then conventional HDs which is important for laptops...
I would also recommend thinkpads (although I've heard that the old IBMs were better). my T420s works since more than one year without problems and much usage..

and if you look for a puristic-minimalistic solution look at:
http://www.lemote.com/en/products/Notebook/2010/0310/112.html although it's maybe a to high leak of performance (I know it's the third time I post this link, but I think every linux user should know this company, because maybe there will coming more powerful computers in the future... if this is considered as advertising, I'm sorry and won't post the link again :) )
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 19, 2013 5:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi,

LoTeK wrote:
for the SSD's it's not a problem anymore even with gentoo


Beyond setting up tmpfs, is there anything else I should do if I opt for an SSD drive, which I think would appeal given the reduced noise, increased speed, etc.? I just like to be cautious and do things right the first time.

Best,

Alex
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 19, 2013 3:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think if you do all the things that the others suggested in the http://forums-web2.gentoo.org/viewtopic-t-942742-start-0.html?sid=262f051a76483ff46f0c5cd0d005075d thread you will be more then fine. Until now I haven't set up a tmpfs :)

And maybe considering http://en.gentoo-wiki.com/wiki/Solid_State_Disk (enabling TRIM etc)

Although researching and collecting informations before you buy a laptop is very important I wouldn't think to long about what you should buy because on one hand there is no perfect computer in this imperfect world and there is always something that can go wrong and on the other hand even the low quality acer laptop from my girlfriend runs fine since 3 years.
But I definitely know what you mean with "I just like to be cautious and do things right the first time" :)

anyway I definitely recommend an SSD. Maybe one problem is if you have many movies/mp3 etc then you'll need an external HD because if you don't want to spend very much money, the SSD is relatively small (mine is 160GB with a 1TB external HD)
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 19, 2013 4:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi there,

That's very helpful information, thanks. I will look at those in detail.

At this point, I'm pretty certain as to what I will get in terms of a laptop. Moreover, I already have an external 1TB HDD, so I'm fine on that front, but thanks for the pointer!

As per imperfection, you're very right about that. However, taking a bit of time helps, and I can't think of a time that I've been disappointed or unhappy about a major purchase like this.

Best,

Alex

LoTeK wrote:
I think if you do all the things that the others suggested in the http://forums-web2.gentoo.org/viewtopic-t-942742-start-0.html?sid=262f051a76483ff46f0c5cd0d005075d thread you will be more then fine. Until now I haven't set up a tmpfs :)

And maybe considering http://en.gentoo-wiki.com/wiki/Solid_State_Disk (enabling TRIM etc)

Although researching and collecting informations before you buy a laptop is very important I wouldn't think to long about what you should buy because on one hand there is no perfect computer in this imperfect world and there is always something that can go wrong and on the other hand even the low quality acer laptop from my girlfriend runs fine since 3 years.
But I definitely know what you mean with "I just like to be cautious and do things right the first time" :)

anyway I definitely recommend an SSD. Maybe one problem is if you have many movies/mp3 etc then you'll need an external HD because if you don't want to spend very much money, the SSD is relatively small (mine is 160GB with a 1TB external HD)
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 19, 2013 5:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi again,

I checked over the pages. The gentoo page for SSD seems more for desktops in that they assume you'll have an SSD and HDD, which I won't save for the external that will hold media stuff. If I can just get a list of things I should do in my circumstances, I can probably find out how to do them. I really don't want to rely on my instincts here.

Best,

Alex
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 20, 2013 6:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would always opt for a Lenovo / IBM Thinkpad. If money is an issue - like most of the time - get a refurbished one from a authorized reseller.

For your specs I would recommend somethink like an used Thinkpad X220 *with-out* nVidia Optimus and fill it up with RAM to the max. You can get those in Germany for about 600 EUR. They will run up to 15 hours on a 9-cell battery.

Also I would always opt for an SSD because especially in Notebook environmets they tend to be more reliant and also the speed increase in unbelievable. I'm running my trusty T41 - which I bought use plenty of years ago - with an IDE (sniff) SSD and it's a complete new feeling.

Using nVidia graphics and get decent battery runtime is a contradiction - at least if you don't want to hook up a car battery. The Core i graphics should be able to support all your need in a notebook and will give you more battery hours.
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evoweiss
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 20, 2013 2:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi there,

I've never been crazy about buying refurbished and the equivalent model in the UK, loaded up with memory, costs well over £1000, which is much more than I'm willing to spend.

I did find a place that builds laptops and several colleagues, including some who run linux, have had success with them, so I will go that route. If it doesn't work out in the end, I'll live and learn.

Also, the comments regarding nVidia and the SSD drives were very helpful. I will definitely be going the non-nVidia and SSD way for this purchase. I am expecting something pretty fast.

Best,

Alex

s_bernstein wrote:
I would always opt for a Lenovo / IBM Thinkpad. If money is an issue - like most of the time - get a refurbished one from a authorized reseller.

For your specs I would recommend somethink like an used Thinkpad X220 *with-out* nVidia Optimus and fill it up with RAM to the max. You can get those in Germany for about 600 EUR. They will run up to 15 hours on a 9-cell battery.

Also I would always opt for an SSD because especially in Notebook environmets they tend to be more reliant and also the speed increase in unbelievable. I'm running my trusty T41 - which I bought use plenty of years ago - with an IDE (sniff) SSD and it's a complete new feeling.

Using nVidia graphics and get decent battery runtime is a contradiction - at least if you don't want to hook up a car battery. The Core i graphics should be able to support all your need in a notebook and will give you more battery hours.
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slackline
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 21, 2013 9:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What about an Sus UX21e?

I got one and its up and running with Linux, some notes I've made as I do things (still a work in progress and page loads slowly) are here.
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666threesixes666
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 21, 2013 10:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

im running gentoo on a HP dv9000.... its an old laptop, the new hp dv4 should work well for gentoo.... try to get it with out windows or any os installed, it will be cheaper
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