Originally Posted by funkywaggnelz
I won't be playing very many games on it. A few minor ones like first CoD and empire earth, nothing major. It will mainly be for school work while I am abroad. I need something durable and reliable (the only aspect putting me off from dell).
It is the Dell Vostro 14.1" that I am looking at. As far as customization goes:
Proc: C2D T7250 (will the 2 MB to 4 MB cache make a huge difference?)
Screen: 14.1 inch Wide Screen XGA+ LCD Display with TrueLife™
RAM: 2 Gb DDR2 667MHz (If I need more, I will just upgrade it.)
Vid Card: Should I get the video card offered with as little gaming as I am doing?
Hard Drive: Definitely the 160 Gb, but is there a big difference between the 5400 rpm and the 7200 rpm? I KNOW it is faster but will I SEE it while opening things?
OS: It has Vista Basic (what all is included in that??)
So if anyone knows, lemme in on the scoop on this one. Is it worth it for the money? As far as it being a Dell, is it reliable?
Vostros are excellent values. The one major drawback is they often ship with grainy screens. I'm pretty sure Dell has a friendly return policy, so if you get one with a lousy screen, you can probably return it.
Processor: T7250 should be plenty for school use and casual gaming. When it comes to dual/triple/quad core processors, every model is 'fast' compared to the single core days. It will do well for you. Yes, there is a significant difference in performance (mostly in Intels, not so much in AMDs) when it comes to cache size. You might want to consider a T7300, but it all depends on your budget and needs.
RAM: I would recommend opting for the minimum (1GB) RAM. 2GB is not worth $150. You can find a much better deal elsewhere. It's also the easiest part on a laptop to replace (in my opinion, more convenient and easy that upgrading desktop RAM). I would go with 1GB, and then buy some after-market for cheap. Take your savings, and invest it elsewhere in the laptop. You should probably only use a maximum of 2GB while using a 32-bit OS (since your limit is 3.5GB and since 2GB is plenty enough).
Video Card: Laptops with X3100 integrated graphics will do fine for games like EE, and they also help with battery life and cooling. For $99 more, 8400M GS is worth considering, but neither will play high end games at maximum settings. Having dedicated graphics, however, will increase the resale value of the laptop (and also increase the heat and noise).
Hard Drive: In modern laptops, 5400RPM hard drives are definitely the bottleneck. You will notice a substantial performance boost going to 7200RPM. But again, the price Dell is asking for this upgrade is more than what you would spend after-market. Consider sticking with the cheapest hard drive, and upgrading later. You will save a few bucks, and have an extra drive (turn it into a external USB drive with a $10 enclosure).
Wireless: If you go with a Dell card, you will get a better deal. If you go with an Intel card, you will pay more and get a pretty Centrino sticker on your laptop. Both cards perform similarly. I would probably get the Dell 1505 upgrade since I can see myself getting a N-based network in the future. If you don't, stick with the cheapest (Dell 1390). You can upgrade these cards at a reasonable price, and the cards themselves are easily accessible just like the RAM and hard drive, but you will have to manually feed and fish the antenna through the laptop chassis, and that's a PITA. Whatever you get here, you won't want to upgrade later. So choose what you want now rather than later.
OS: Vista Basic is fine. All the upgrades basically add eye-candy and additional features that consumers like you and I rarely make use of. If you are like me and end up reverting all your themes to "Windows Classic" and don't care for all the busyness of Aero, stick with Vista Basic. However, Home Premium is worth considering on a laptop or media center PC since it has the previous features of Windows XP Media Center Edition built in and works well with a remote. But since that's not an option on Vostros, Vista Basic is your best choice. Yes, it does include Windows Media Player (but not Media Center).
Reliability/Value: Vostros are excellent values, especially for gaming laptops (15" and 17" models have GT graphics options), even though they are targeting the void of the small-business market. Their build quality is a little better than consumer models (Inspiron), but slightly worse than their large-business models (Latitudes and Precisions). As I mentioned before, the big drawback with Vostros is they sometimes ship with grainy screens. This can be a big let down when you pull out a shiny new notebook and turn it on to see yuckiness all over the screen (people describe it as a "grainy" or "sparkly" display). But since Dell uses parts from various manufacturers (whichever is cheaper and can fill their demand), you may or may not get the bad screen. Something to consider before going into this deal.