Stuck between which laptop to use as primary that I already have... - Techist - Tech Forum

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Old 03-06-2014, 09:41 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Stuck between which laptop to use as primary that I already have...

FYI - Updated edit at bottom of page.

Hello friends. I'm beating myself up over these two options here. There's a laundry list of comparisons though, which really complicate things.

Note: This is for work. Not gaming. The most intensive things I will be doing is using virtual machines with Virtualbox.
Note 2: Either option will run Ubuntu Linux as my primary OS.
Note 3: Both options will have the same DDR3 RAM and same HDD configuration, so I left it unlisted.

Option 1:
2009 Macbook Pro
2.53 GHz Core 2 Duo P8700. Dual core, does not have HT
Dedicated Nvidia 9400m 256MB graphics card
15" screen @ 1440x900

Option 2:
2012 Lenovo E430
2.50 GHz i5 2450m. Dual core, but has HT
Integrated Intel 3000 graphics
14.1" screen @ 1366x768

Option 1 Pros:
Ubuntu 13.10 runs nicely on it. I only ran it from a LiveDVD so I didn't test suspend/resume but those things weren't an issue in the past if I recall. Trackpad works remarkably well to the point it easily rivals OSX performance.
Larger screen (vs 14.1" of option 2) but it has a slightly higher resolution, which I certainly wouldn't sneeze at.
While the processor has no HT, the dedicated graphics I would think may help out with VM performance, but maybe I'm wrong.
At work I have to support a huge number of Ubuntu machines, a small number of Win 8 machines, and a handful of OSX machines. I understand I can virtualize OSX through Virtualbox on a Mac, so this would help for my handful of OSX needs. If not, I can dual boot.

Option 1 Cons:
USB ports are USB 2.0 only. This really doesn't matter since I only have one USB 3.0 device and it's a multi-boot flash drive... not something I'd store files on.
Processor lacks HT. Maybe this matters? Maybe not.

Option 2 Pros:
Processor has HT.
Direct HDMI/VGA out, no need for dongles. That said, I do have dongles for the Mac, so I'm splitting hairs here a bit.
USB 3, but as mentioned above, not a deal breaker.
Has a trackpoint, which I don't really care for but in comparison to the trash touchpad (notated below), it's something at least.

Option 2 Cons:
Touchpad absolutely sucks. In fact, the #1 listed feature on the E431 (successor to this E430) was "Improved Touchpad!"
Wireless card is whitelisted, meaning if I swap the wireless card, it hardlocks with a boot error and won't fire up unless I put the other wireless card back in.
The wireless card in the laptop happens to be a trash Broadcom 43228. Thanks, Lenovo. Thanks a lot.

Option 1 thoughts/concerns: It's a 5 year old Mac, but with what I feel may be decent specs for what I need at work. I'm not overly "bet my life" confident about the C2D, which is why I'm here babbling. My thinking is that the dedicated GPU might help take some load off the CPU and still aide with running VMs for package building, etc.

Option 2 thoughts/concerns: The wireless is a frustration given the fact it sometimes cuts out without warning. Earlier I had a cluster-ssh session going with 40 systems and it tanked. Wasn't a huge deal, but it's a decent nuisance that I really don't care for in the slightest. Touchpad sucks (like, it sucks really badly), but I live with it thanks to the trackpoint. Processor holds up with whatever I throw at it. There are some hacked BIOS's out there thanks to the huge community of ****ed off Lenovo users who are unhappy with the fact they can *never* upgrade their wireless card since Lenovo whitelisted this unit (even from an N card to AC card, how stupid is that). I don't exactly feel thrilled about a hacked BIOS route, but it's something worth mentioning if nothing else.

For what it's worth, here's a comparison chart highlighting the C2D P8700 vs i5 2450m.
Intel Core 2 Duo P8700 (BGA) vs Core i5-2450M (BGA)

Am I over-complicating my concerns with the hardware at hand? Is there a no-brainer option between the two I'm just not seeing? Curious on your thoughts. Hit me with 'em.

EDIT - Cancel that. Turns out the Macbook has a Broadcom chip in it that is simply rebranded to the one in the Lenovo. Worse yet, the wireless card in the Macbook looks like a super strange ultra proprietary (or at least, far from standard) form factor. I talked to some Mac users in an IRC channel and they indicated, at best, I might be able to swap the wireless card for another *identical model* card. I can't say I'm entirely surprised.

In other news, it turns out there's a huge BIOS hacking community thanks to Lenovo's ultra foolish decisions. And uh, it works great! I had to fire up Windows on the unit as the BIOS hack was in an .exe format (meh), but I'd rather dust off my Windows drive to provide my Lenovo with a liberated future if that's all that was in the way. So I did, it gave me a slight scare as it hardlocked, but I let it go and it eventually came back. No errors, warnings, or messages. I had no idea what else to do so I powered it off, put in an Intel wireless card, booted up, and no more foolish Lenovo whitelist! WOOO!

03:00.0 Network controller: Intel Corporation Centrino Advanced-N 6230 [Rainbow Peak] (rev 34)

So it's settled. I'll keep using the Mac for the few times I do Mac related things and the Lenovo for the multitudes of other things.

And *most* importantly, thank you bios-mods for providing users with logical level of choice in the matter when companies like this fall severely short.
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