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Old 11-21-2010, 09:00 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Laptop vs. Desktop, and how much should I pay given my needs?

Edit: Not sure which forum this should be in (Gereral or High End) as I do not really know which one I need. I'm probably somewhere in the middle, but I'm pretty new to computers. Feel free to move this thread if you think I would get a better response elsewhere.

I'm sure you guys get questions like this all the time; "should I get a laptop or a desktop?" That's a decision I have to make in the near future, and I think I'm pretty well-equipped to make it. One is portable, one is customizable, one is accessible, the other is proficient, one is up, one is down, one is red, one is blue, etc. etc.. These differences are significant, but have more to do with personal preference than the superiority of either one. I do, however, require some expert help on one aspect of this difference: the price/power comparison.

A generally accepted fact: when a person buys a laptop instead of a desktop, they're getting a little bit less for a slightly higher price. It would make sense that you sacrifice some power, and pay a little bit more in exchange for portability. Where this becomes a little less simple is where you try to stick numbers on the difference. An article on laptop-computers-whiz.com suggests that the price/power benefits of a desktop increase exponentially as you spend more. While a $430 desktop may be similar in speed and power to a $590 laptop, a $2500 laptop may not even match a $1000 desktop. Would you guys agree with this to any degree?

Here's what I use a computer for:
Online school, while not as computer-intensive as one might think, recommends a computer that is free from many frustrations. As someone who spends the majority of his school time and his free time on his computer, I definitely want a system that is competent at the very least.
I also browse the internet a lot. While this alone might not mean I need a powerful system, I felt that it would be a useful thing for me to note. I spend time on Youtube, DeviantArt, random forums, IRC, anime, and more. It would be great if I could continue to do these things without too many headaches.
I also have a huge interest in digital art and animation, which involve some programs that aren't too friendly to my teeny notebook. I would love to learn Maya (and I have acquired an educational license for this), but it's not actually possible on the system I'm currently running. I want a system that can run the major Adobe and Autodesk software without much issue.
Because it's something my friends like to do, I am interested in programming. As a group, our efforts so far have been limited to replicating simple 2D games, but we hope to tackle some larger projects in the future. I know BASIC, and a variation, but I hope to expand my knowledge of code when I get a computer that is a little bit less frustrating to work with. As it is, I'm more into designing games than playing them.
I am only mildly into computer games. I don't need to keep up with the Jones' when it comes to my 3DMark Vantage score, or how hard I can push my machine. It might be nice to finally play that Age of Empires 3 game I bought a while back (will not run on my current computer), or maybe figure out a round of Unreal Tournament with my friend, but it's not entirely necessary. I will be no more than mildly disappointed if I have to sacrifice this in order to keep the price down.

My current system:
An HP dv2000 notebook.
2GB RAM, upgraded from 1
Intel Core Duo CPU 2.0 GHz Processor
Mobile Intel 945GM Express Chipset Family Display
A battery that no longer functions
A power cord with frayed wires

Here's what I'm considering:
A second screen is something I think I would really enjoy. For programming, art, and schoolwork especially, more virtual desk space is great. I am told this is possible with either a laptop or a desktop. Other than buying another screen, what are the expenses involved in this endeavor, for either a laptop or a desktop? Is this only an option for high-end systems?
I'm also told I would appreciate lots of good RAM Graphics programs are "RAM hogs", apparently. I have noticed that my current computer has trouble with these. Judging by the things I use my computer for, do you think it would be worth it for me to spend a little extra on RAM? In addition, I've heard that getting a 64 bit system would be preferable if I were to go with more RAM. Is this correct?
I'm resistant to giving a budget, because I don't want to influence your recommendation. But I'll list one anyway: $800~$1000. This is quite negotiable, depending on what your conclusion is on what I "need". This, however, is the range in which I am thinking. Here's the website from which I will likely be buying, but I'm interested in your recommendations there, as well. Thanks.

Here's my question:
Judging by the information I've given, how much do you think I should spend on a computer, and based on this, should I get a laptop or a desktop? Please give as much information as you possibly will. Ask for more information if that would help you help me. Specific recommendations for parts will not go unnoticed. So, how much do I need to spend, and what should I get?

Thanks in advance.
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Old 11-21-2010, 10:03 PM   #2 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Laptop vs. Desktop, and how much should I pay given my needs?

Wow quite the first post! Are you picking it up? As NCIX out a BC is usualy a better place to buy from.... but anyway.

i'd do 2 things.. look into cheap, possibly ebay, for a laptop battery and cord, AND get an AMD based desktop system, due to them being more inexpensive than intel.

Now dual monitors are the bomb, and require only the monitor.

I haven't used Maya so I don't know its ram issues, but 4 to 8 Gigs of ram are really the most anyone needs, which than requires the x64 Win7, as 32bit doesnt see more than 3.5Gigs realistically.

As You don't have windows and a monitor, you're gonna have to put out more money for them too, leaving you bout 300 less than you budget. so 700 isn't too bad of a setup, and as you aren't gaming and more cpu usage, you can get a good system at that price for your intended needs.


Edit...

Actually, Memory express isn't too bad. And I did build up an AMD Quad core for $800 with win7 and an okay gpu.
Welcome to TF... more of us Crazy Canucks are needed!
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Old 11-21-2010, 10:15 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Laptop vs. Desktop, and how much should I pay given my needs?

Since you already have a laptop I would definitely go for a desktop as your next system. in addition to the performance penalty you get with a laptop you also generally end up with less screen real estate and somewhat compromised ergonomics.

I agree that more than one monitor is a good idea. A second monitor is basically plug and play for any modern graphics cards and most ATI video cards can even run a third monitor if you want.

Here is system to get started with and we can tweak it to suit your exact needs from there. This system is $1,000.92 before mail in rebates and should be able to handle everything you mentioned in your post.

Newegg.com - SAMSUNG Black 22X DVD+R 8X DVD+RW 16X DVD+R DL 22X DVD-R 6X DVD-RW 12X DVD-RAM 16X DVD-ROM 48X CD-R 32X CD-RW 48X CD-ROM 2MB Cache SATA CD/DVD Burner - CD / DVD Burners

Newegg.com - COOLER MASTER HAF 912 RC-912-KKN1 Black SECC/ ABS Plastic ATX Mid Tower Computer Case

Newegg.com - SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD502HJ 500GB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive

2xNewegg.com - ASUS VH235T-P Black 23" 5ms Widescreen Full HD 1080p LCD Monitor 250 cd/m2 50000 :1 (ASCR) Built-in Speakers

Newegg.com - G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL7D-4GBRM

Newegg.com - AMD Phenom II x6 1055T + Gigabyte GA-870A combo deal

Newegg.com - XFX Radeon HD 5770 1gb + XFX 650w psu

Edit: I missed the the fact you are in Canda so these links to Neweggs US site won't be especially helpful as far as price is concerned
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Old 11-21-2010, 10:23 PM   #4 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Laptop vs. Desktop, and how much should I pay given my needs?

Yha... but its close........ Saddly we don't get bundle deals really.

A nd don't worry puddle, he never said he was in Canada... It was his store that did it.
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Old 11-21-2010, 11:04 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Laptop vs. Desktop, and how much should I pay given my needs?

Thanks for the welcome. I'm pretty impressed with this forum so far.

So: both of you conclude that it's not really viable to buy a laptop that meets my requirements? If I can't comfortably use the programs I listed above on a laptop, I'll definitely go desktop. I'm not too enamored with putting money into my old laptop, but that might be a decision I'll have to make later.

I'm quite concerned with cost efficiency. I'm willing to try overclocking (to a reasonable degree) and such things. I really don't want to buy more than I'll use. A friend of mine dropped $3k on a supercomputer, and really doesn't need it. That's why I didn't want to give a budget. I'd rather get your honest opinion on how much I need to spend, rather than someone just spending X amount of dollars. But it sounds like $1000 is about right?

I'll make a more specific topic on what exactly I will buy later. Right now I'm going through the parts recommended above. Thanks for the help so far.
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Old 11-22-2010, 01:27 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Laptop vs. Desktop, and how much should I pay given my needs?

If your looking to run anything by autodesk, 4gb ram should be fine that's what I use on my workstation lappy for Maya, Mudbox etc. and it runs well but I would suggest more and you want to get a GPU with atleast 1GB dedicated vram.
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Old 11-22-2010, 12:03 PM   #7 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Laptop vs. Desktop, and how much should I pay given my needs?

Spending about $1000 is a great price range... And this forum is really good at pricing just what you need.... And giving the best bang for intended use for the price you're looking to spend.

Spend a bit of cash on your old laptop is only so you can keep portability and have the power needed for your work.
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