I have been trying to decide between a desktop and a laptop
for quite some time now. The problem with this situation is that my question is too general. Laptop vs. Desktop is extremely subjective, and impossible to answer generically. It's very difficult to tell if the extra expense and reduced performance of a laptop are worth it if you don't know exactly how much more the laptop will cost. So, my plan became to find a decent laptop first (since those are generally bought as a single item) and then figure out a desktop configuration that produces similar performance. By comparing these two computers, I will know how much the "portability" of a laptop actually costs, and will be able to make my decision a little bit more empirically.
Paraphrased from my previous thread, here's what I use a computer for:
"Cyberschool" - lots of hours in a day on the computer
Plenty of internet browsing on sites like Youtube
Maya and other Autodesk programs (educational)
(Very) Amateur Programming
Photoshop, and other digital art programs
Minor gaming on medium settings would be a nice bonus
Here's one of the laptops I found:
Acer Aspire 5742G-7220
, $830 all told.
Intel i5-460M processor
4GB DDR3 SDRAM
64-bit Windows 7 Home Premium
nVidia Geoforce GT 425M GPU, 2GB vRAM
500 GB Hard Drive at 5400 RPM
15.6" screen, 1366 x 768 pixels
Looks like value for money. The i5-460M processor clocks in pretty well on this list
of mobile processors. Do you think it will be able to handle my workload? Judging almost completely arbitrarily, I will say that I'm not sure I need something quite as nice as the i7. Quad cores are rarely necessary in mild gaming, and I'm not sure if general computer use requires a huge CPU, either. Do programs like Maya benefit greatly from a better processor?
I was a little bit concerned about the amount of RAM, but then I read this article
. It uses empirical evidence to suggest that more RAM only rarely and barely outperforms 3GB. My original intent was to try for 6GB, but I'm not quite as concerned with that now. Of course, the article never tested anything like high-resolution Photoshop, or Maya; do you think that is a big issue? More RAM also consumes more battery, and produces more noise/heat as far as I know. Do you think 4GB is enough for what I need?
I didn't like the graphics card at first, but it won me over. While not doing that well on this list of mobile graphics cards, the actual performance tests match cards far above its rank. I guess that's the problem with relying on numerical lists and rankings. Despite not being that heavily into gaming, I found this list much more helpful. The card I was comparing it to (the ATI Radeon 5650) ranked higher on the list, but lower in the tests. Let's not forget that the version of the nVidia Geoforce GT 425M they were testing had only 1GB vram. According to the Acer website (and more vendors), this model of the Aspire comes with 2 GB vRAM packed into this card. I've been told that vRam is quite important for programs like Maya
. In addition, I've been told that nVidia is a generally superior company, and that the added bonuses (PhysX, etc.) are useful. This card is found on a couple of middle-ground "gaming laptops", most notably the $1400 Asus N73JQ-A2
. Do you think this will be sufficient?
The actual, physical laptop is hard to gage. My entire courtship of this darling beauty has been over the internet. I have not been able to find any reviews on this specific model of Acer. But if I can trust what I've heard on Aspires in general, I should mention a few things. It's supposed to look good, which I'm completely indifferent to. More important to me is the screen. Dark colours apparently don't display well, which raises a red flag for someone such as me, who likes to use Photoshop. The keyboard got mixed reviews... Since I do plan to -eventually- buy a second screen, and hook up an external keyboard for occasional ergonomical use at a desk, these aspects don't spell doom for me and this laptop. The trackpad is supposed to be great, sliding well and supporting gestures. So, is this general information on Aspires relevant to this specific model? They certainly all look the same.
Most other aspects of the laptop meet my minimal standards, or I could care less about. I'm excellent at managing Hard Drive space, so 500 GB should be more than enough for me. I'm currently using only 80GB of 200GB. There's a disk drive, SD card reader, HDMI & VGA ports, enough USB ports, yada yada yada. You can check the detailed information out on the link I provided above.
Looking at other brands of laptop, nothing even comes close to matching the value for money seen in these Acers. That makes me think something's up. Is there something defective with these laptops? What do you guys think of the Acer brand? Is there something shady going on? Please mention if you have bought Acer before.
So now, the second part of the plan is to find a desktop configuration (I am willing to build my own) similar to the laptop found above. I want to create a desktop computer with the same performance as the laptop I described above. Then, I will compare the prices to see if "portability" is worth it in this particular case. The problem is... I have no idea where to start. So, could someone out there help me? I know you guys are apparently awesome at this. Could you configure a desktop version of the computer above? How much would it cost? Ultimately, I probably won't buy that exact version. I'll end up spending the extra money on something like extra monitors, more RAM, or a better graphics card. Please note that I have absolutely no exiting desktop computer. That means the Windows, the monitors, the keyboard, etc., all have to be included in the price.
I will eagerly read any and all responses; please do not be afraid to go into great detail. I'm here to learn! Thank you!
To summarize, I asked three main questions:
First, do you think the laptop above, the Acer Aspire 5742G-7220 will meet my needs?
Second, what is your experience or opinon on the Acer brand?
Thirdly, could you help me with figuring out an equivalent desktop configuration