Gentoo Forums
Gentoo Forums
Gentoo Forums
Quick Search: in
Looking for a new laptop
View unanswered posts
View posts from last 24 hours

 
Reply to topic    Gentoo Forums Forum Index Other Things Gentoo
View previous topic :: View next topic  
Author Message
i92guboj
Moderator
Moderator


Joined: 30 Nov 2004
Posts: 10219
Location: Córdoba (Spain)

PostPosted: Sat May 09, 2015 11:42 am    Post subject: Looking for a new laptop Reply with quote

Hi everyone. :D

I am looking for a new laptop. Refurbished/second hand is an option, since I don't need to stay in the bleeding edge.

I am fed up with all the annoyances of the one I currently own, which is an Aspire 9420 I bought cheaply enough from a well known e-commerce site, and the number one annoyance is nVidia. I bought it only because the previous one burned out and I needed something cheap at the moment to finish a project I was working on, otherwise I wouldn't have bought it.

So, I am looking for recommendations about laptops that will work with linux without any proprietary blob (so please, no nVidia chips).

I need something that can work unplugged for a few hours at least, so having a GPU that can do energy saving is important. In this regard, can anyone suggest a radeon chip that works ok with linux and has low energy consumption? I don't need fancy stuff and I don't do gaming. I care about power consumption and proper compositing support would be nice just for the sake of saving cpu cycles but nothing else.

Are intel cards better in this regard?

I am also fed up with the 3945ABG intel wifi chip. It usually works ok, but like 75% of the times I wake up from suspend it just will stop working, which automatically means that it's far less time consuming (on average) to just shutdown the computer completely and then turn it on. Otherwise, 75% of the times I have to wake, and reboot.

I have also been longing for years to have a machine that has proper support for virtualization. In the past, this was just the geek in me screaming, but now it's more a need than anything else, since I have to deal with several different OSes at work and I need to use virtualization for many purposes. For this very reason, 8gb is the RAM I am considering.

Other than gcc, I rarely use cpu or ram intensive applications. I don't need superb graphics, just an vga output if possible. Having a serial port would also be interesting.

Recently, one of those Thinkpad T410 fell into my hands and I had the chance to test if for a few hours. I really liked the felt of it. I loved the keyboard (though I'd like a full blown keyboard with a proper numeric pad). All in all I liked it, but I have no idea if I can expect some linux specific issue with those, and the screen was a bit small (14" or so).

I also loved the vintage touch and the "tough" construction :)

So, what I need:


  • proper energy saving support
  • at least 15.6", 17 would be better, with good contrast for use in heavily lighted office room and sometimes in the outside
  • at least moderate battery life
  • wifi chip that doesn't stop working when I hibernate or suspend
  • vmx, ept, whatever else is needed for proper virtualization support



Of course, having more cpu power, more ram, ssd, hdmi or whatever else you can imagine won't do any harm. But that's not necessary. I also don't want the latest and greatest thing, I certainly don't plan on investing 1000 bucks on a laptop and as said I will consider second hand. I just need a tool that will get the job done. Using linux, that is.

I will be glad to hear any suggestion. :)
_________________
Gentoo Handbook | My website
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
cboldt
n00b
n00b


Joined: 24 Aug 2005
Posts: 72

PostPosted: Sat May 09, 2015 2:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thinkpad T420 is working for me. Pretty common machine, no significant setup issues from my point of view.

Edit to add: bought on eBay for around $200. Dual boots Win 7 pro and Gentoo (triple boots, if you count the Sysrescuecd used to debug significant issues); 8 Gb RAM, 320 Gb HD. This model appears with fairly high frequency on eBay, 10-20 or so a day, so easy enough to get a replacement if this one craps out. Battery life is better than 4 hours.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Jaglover
Watchman
Watchman


Joined: 29 May 2005
Posts: 5087
Location: Saint Amant, Acadiana

PostPosted: Sat May 09, 2015 7:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes I got one of those from eBay, too. Was nice and clean, for $200. Except for that horrible Windows Vista sticker. But I peeled it off and put it back on eBay, somebody took it for $50 ...
_________________
Please learn how to denote units correctly!
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
miket
Apprentice
Apprentice


Joined: 28 Apr 2007
Posts: 248
Location: Gainesville, FL, USA

PostPosted: Sat May 09, 2015 8:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The best thing about the T420 is that the keyboard still hasn't gone over to the chicklets. It does have the stupidly enlarged escape and delete keys (WHY did Lenovo feel the urge to do that kind of thing?), but otherwise it has the nice Thinkpad keyboard.

The only kind of laptop I've ever wanted has been Thinkpad. I sure wish IBM still made them, though. Some of Lenovo's recent silliness has made me feel less loyal.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Jaglover
Watchman
Watchman


Joined: 29 May 2005
Posts: 5087
Location: Saint Amant, Acadiana

PostPosted: Sat May 09, 2015 9:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

IBM never made a single laptop, they were made by Quanta and re-branded. Probably Lenovo is doing the same.
_________________
Please learn how to denote units correctly!
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
John R. Graham
Administrator
Administrator


Joined: 08 Mar 2005
Posts: 8410
Location: Somewhere over Atlanta, Georgia

PostPosted: Sat May 09, 2015 9:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jaglover wrote:
IBM never made a single laptop, ...
I don't think that tells the whole story, though. My understanding is that originally the ThinkPads were IBM designs. I have had a few ThinkPads, all but the last one with IBM on the chassis. They have run Linux well for me.

- John
_________________
I can confirm that I have received between 0 and 999 National Security Letters.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
The Doctor
Veteran
Veteran


Joined: 27 Jul 2010
Posts: 1684

PostPosted: Sat May 09, 2015 9:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I got a Lenovo G780 a few years ago. Excellent computer with plenty of horse power, good battery life and the computer keeps itself fairly cool under high loads. It has a huge screen for a laptop, 17 inches if I recall correctly. I got it for a good price since they discontinued that model, but if you can find one I'd say it is worth it. I have had no problems running Linux on it, although I don't use any hibernation or suspend features so I can't vouch for those.

And mine was an intel video chip, although they did offer it with an option for nVida as well. I think it has an atheros wifi card as well.
_________________
First things first, but not necessarily in that order.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
i92guboj
Moderator
Moderator


Joined: 30 Nov 2004
Posts: 10219
Location: Córdoba (Spain)

PostPosted: Sun May 10, 2015 9:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks to everyone for the suggestions. Keep them coming, please.

What about intel vs radeon? I am mostly concerned about power consumption. I know the theory but I would like to hear about how these gpus perform in Thinkpads, regarding power consumption.
_________________
Gentoo Handbook | My website
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
i92guboj
Moderator
Moderator


Joined: 30 Nov 2004
Posts: 10219
Location: Córdoba (Spain)

PostPosted: Sun May 10, 2015 11:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Does anyone know of a similar model which has a bigger screen?
_________________
Gentoo Handbook | My website
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
EmaRsk
Tux's lil' helper
Tux's lil' helper


Joined: 07 Sep 2004
Posts: 86
Location: Italy

PostPosted: Sun May 10, 2015 12:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jaglover wrote:
[…] that horrible Windows Vista sticker. But I peeled it off and put it back on eBay, somebody took it for $50 ...

Wait, what? Are you serious? 8O

On topic (if it's of any help: it's smaller than the OP wants it): I have a Lenovo T440s and I'm happy, especially with the anti-glare monitor.
I bought it with the smallest battery and I think I get about 4 hours of autonomy (I like watching videos or listening some music during my 2-hour weekly commute and when I get home acpi says I have still about 2 hours left, but I never really tested if it's true).
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
John R. Graham
Administrator
Administrator


Joined: 08 Mar 2005
Posts: 8410
Location: Somewhere over Atlanta, Georgia

PostPosted: Sun May 10, 2015 1:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Several of the 17in Thinkpads have a full numeric keypad and separate cursor keys as well. The keyboard feel of the slightly less than new Thinkpads is so awesome that, although I haven't typed on one of the very latest ones, I'd take miket's "chicklet" comments seriously. Something from the W7xx series might be perfect for you. I've never had issue with the nVidia chipsets but this series is available with either Intel or nVidia graphics. Alas, I can't comment on how the hardware handles hibernation as I've never worked with it. Core i series processors, of course, handle completely modern virtualization.

The one requirement on your list you're going to have trouble meeting is battery life. As the screen size goes up, the battery life almost universally goes down, so you may have to trade off your desired screen size against that. Would a spare battery be a reasonable compromise?

- John
_________________
I can confirm that I have received between 0 and 999 National Security Letters.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
i92guboj
Moderator
Moderator


Joined: 30 Nov 2004
Posts: 10219
Location: Córdoba (Spain)

PostPosted: Sun May 10, 2015 9:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

John R. Graham wrote:
Several of the 17in Thinkpads have a full numeric keypad and separate cursor keys as well. The keyboard feel of the slightly less than new Thinkpads is so awesome that, although I haven't typed on one of the very latest ones, I'd take miket's "chicklet" comments seriously. Something from the W7xx series might be perfect for you.


I will check them. Thanks for the suggestion!

Quote:

I've never had issue with the nVidia chipsets but this series is available with either Intel or nVidia graphics. Alas, I can't comment on how the hardware handles hibernation as I've never worked with it. Core i series processors, of course, handle completely modern virtualization.


There's no free driver, hence when you buy one of those you are buying something whose life cycle will be limited. The very day nvidia will stop supporting that concrete chip you will be stuck with an outdated kernel, which is precisely what is happening with my aspire right now. Even if your chip is supported, you will always be lacking a couple versions behind the current kernel version.

That might not be a problem if you buy a new laptop every two years, though. But I tend to use computers for as long as they don't break in an irreparable manner.

Quote:

The one requirement on your list you're going to have trouble meeting is battery life. As the screen size goes up, the battery life almost universally goes down, so you may have to trade off your desired screen size against that. Would a spare battery be a reasonable compromise?

- John


Yes, I know that, which is why I am even considering the 14 inches T4xx series. But I think that that screen is too small and will become a problem as soon as I start using it for RDP, c++ and php coding and all that stuff. I think that I will need a replacement battery as you say.


EDITED: there's obviously the nouveau free driver, but it's unusable for anything other than testing purposes. I am not talking about performance which is obviously very bad, but about artifacts, screen not turning on on bootup, random freezes, etc.
_________________
Gentoo Handbook | My website
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
The Doctor
Veteran
Veteran


Joined: 27 Jul 2010
Posts: 1684

PostPosted: Sun May 10, 2015 9:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

i92guboj wrote:
What about intel vs radeon? I am mostly concerned about power consumption.
All Radeon cards I have seen require extra cooling, so add at least one extra fan to suck power. Intel is nice and easy out of the box and does not need an extra fan. The Radeon drivers will do about the same to you as the NVidia ones will. They age, and not always gracefully.
_________________
First things first, but not necessarily in that order.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
i92guboj
Moderator
Moderator


Joined: 30 Nov 2004
Posts: 10219
Location: Córdoba (Spain)

PostPosted: Mon May 11, 2015 5:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Doctor wrote:
i92guboj wrote:
What about intel vs radeon? I am mostly concerned about power consumption.
All Radeon cards I have seen require extra cooling, so add at least one extra fan to suck power. Intel is nice and easy out of the box and does not need an extra fan. The Radeon drivers will do about the same to you as the NVidia ones will. They age, and not always gracefully.


Well, you have the radeon open source driver, which, contrarily to nouveau, is usable and (at least in my experience with r600 cards) also performs ok. I don't know about newer cards, but I don't expect it to be as bad as nouveau.

I wouldn't use fglrx, of course.

However, info on how the radeon driver deals with power saving would be interesting since I never tested that part.
_________________
Gentoo Handbook | My website
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Jaglover
Watchman
Watchman


Joined: 29 May 2005
Posts: 5087
Location: Saint Amant, Acadiana

PostPosted: Mon May 11, 2015 6:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I just recently switched to nouveau with mine (out of curiosity) and it seems to work well, supporting even hardware decoding on some cards, haven't tried power saving features yet.
_________________
Please learn how to denote units correctly!
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
John R. Graham
Administrator
Administrator


Joined: 08 Mar 2005
Posts: 8410
Location: Somewhere over Atlanta, Georgia

PostPosted: Mon May 11, 2015 2:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

i92guboj wrote:
The very day nvidia will stop supporting that concrete chip you will be stuck with an outdated kernel, which is precisely what is happening with my aspire right now. Even if your chip is supported, you will always be lacking a couple versions behind the current kernel version.
Okay, so I have had this issue, in a way, meaning I have still been using (and happy with) an nVidia card when the latest nVidia driver no longer supported it. I've had to apply a >= mask to nvidia-drivers as a result but have not noticed any issues with supporting the legacy driver version with newer kernels. Have you? I eventually replaced the graphics card, something that is, of course, problematic for a laptop.

- John
_________________
I can confirm that I have received between 0 and 999 National Security Letters.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
i92guboj
Moderator
Moderator


Joined: 30 Nov 2004
Posts: 10219
Location: Córdoba (Spain)

PostPosted: Mon May 11, 2015 8:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

nvidia-drivers-304.125 won't compile against 4.x. I am using linux-3.19.2, and even for that, I need to apply a patch (last time I checked anyway).

Officially, I don't think nvidia 304 legacy series will compile out of the box against anything newer than 3.18.x.

So yes, I have noticed it. And I tell you it's not the first time. I remember something similar happening to me ten years ago with a desktop machine. As you say, that turned out to be easily fixable, by substituting the card by one which was supported by the radeon driver.

As said, if it wasn't because I was in a hurry and kind of short on bucks, I wouldn't have bought this crap. :lol:
_________________
Gentoo Handbook | My website
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
genstorm
Advocate
Advocate


Joined: 05 Apr 2007
Posts: 2737
Location: Austria

PostPosted: Mon May 11, 2015 8:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

i92guboj wrote:
However, info on how the radeon driver deals with power saving would be interesting since I never tested that part.

Radeon does support dynamic power management since many kernel releases ago. Kernel upgrades are smooth, I haven't run into a regression for > 1 year.

Intel works fine as well though Displayport is buggy for me on GM45 and Haswell, and 4.0 is the first usable release since 3.4 on my GM45 notebook (I'm in corner case hell there), though not without dmesg spam.
_________________
backend.cpp:92:2: warning: #warning TODO - this error message is about as useful as a cooling unit in the arctic
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
i92guboj
Moderator
Moderator


Joined: 30 Nov 2004
Posts: 10219
Location: Córdoba (Spain)

PostPosted: Tue May 12, 2015 4:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

All in all, and given my economic mediocrity, I feel like playing the lottery :lol:

Well, in any case some other programmer came into my office carrying a Lenovo carbon and I had the oportunity to read its screen from a 10 degreen angle. Those laptops are really well thought.

Since my eyes are in good shape, I might finally pick one of those in the 14-15 range, provided they can offer an high enough resolution. The screens seem to be very good and as said I don't have problems with small font sizes.

Finding a radeon based one would give me peace of mind though. I am not so confident about Intel since I have read horror stories, and I am definitely not buying any nVidia gpu.
_________________
Gentoo Handbook | My website
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
genstorm
Advocate
Advocate


Joined: 05 Apr 2007
Posts: 2737
Location: Austria

PostPosted: Tue May 12, 2015 7:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

i92guboj wrote:
Finding a radeon based one would give me peace of mind though. I am not so confident about Intel since I have read horror stories, and I am definitely not buying any nVidia gpu.

Well, I would recommend a radeon-based laptop if you must have a dedicated GPU. Otherwise, of course consider Intel - their drivers generally work fine, and if there is a problem they are very active. AMD chips unfortunately are rarely found in well-built products. Speaking of well built, I would always recommend getting used pro-grade hardware instead of cheap sub-$800 throwaway parts.
_________________
backend.cpp:92:2: warning: #warning TODO - this error message is about as useful as a cooling unit in the arctic
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
i92guboj
Moderator
Moderator


Joined: 30 Nov 2004
Posts: 10219
Location: Córdoba (Spain)

PostPosted: Sat May 16, 2015 9:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's true.

Well, I am still looking for alternatives. I am not in a hurry so I want to make sure before buying.

Besides those Lenovo T4xx, what else can you recommend for a Linux-only laptop these days with, let's say, an i5 cpu, an intel gpu and 900 pixels screen height?

I am now considering 14" seriously, but I truly consider any resolution below 900 pixels useless for any serious editing (plus some programs simply won't display correctly with lesser heights).

I don't need a top-notch screen, but I need it to be readable when I am sitting in front of it.

One of the many annoyances of my Aspire 9420 is that simply moving like 5 degrees up, down, left or right the screen is unreadable at least in part. Complete crap.

Thanks again for all the suggestions.
_________________
Gentoo Handbook | My website
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
i92guboj
Moderator
Moderator


Joined: 30 Nov 2004
Posts: 10219
Location: Córdoba (Spain)

PostPosted: Sun May 17, 2015 11:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

How about those Dell E6xxx laptops? Has any of you had a positive experience with them on Linux? How do they compare to the Lenovo T4xx machines?

They look somewhat similar but I haven't touched one of those, they are not that frequent around here.
_________________
Gentoo Handbook | My website
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Display posts from previous:   
Reply to topic    Gentoo Forums Forum Index Other Things Gentoo All times are GMT
Page 1 of 1

 
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum