What Spec Makes a 'Good' Laptop? CPU/RAM/CACHE/HARDDRIVE- Opinions? - Techist - Tech Forum

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Old 10-27-2008, 08:19 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default What Spec Makes a 'Good' Laptop? CPU/RAM/CACHE/HARDDRIVE- Opinions?

Hi guys,

My dad's laptop has finished, and we are looking for a new one.

I've told him to go for:

Minimum 2gb RAM
Core 2 Duo processor, preferably 2ghz

What is a good level of Cache? And how important is it?

And minimum 160GB hard-drive.

Basically we're aiming for a laptop that runs and loads programs quickly, and can multitask well. Gaming is of no real issue at all.

If you could recommend a spec in the format like this:

CPU Speed -Ghz
Hard Drive Capacity -GB

And if you know any good price laptops, could you point me in that direction.

Reckon we could get one for sub 400?

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Old 10-27-2008, 08:31 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: What Spec Makes a 'Good' Laptop? CPU/RAM/CACHE/HARDDRIVE- Opinions?

go to bestbuy and pony up a grand, and there you go.

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Old 10-27-2008, 09:08 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: What Spec Makes a 'Good' Laptop? CPU/RAM/CACHE/HARDDRIVE- Opinions?

no bb in the uk pal.

i would suggest for around your price range you could stretch out 4gb ram, a decent centrino platform laptop with either x3100 graphics or x4500 graphics. Also 250gb is the standard but in higher performing laptops 320 can be found. 160 is reserved for budget ones.

cache really won't make a huge difference, and you won't be able to really tell off hand how much each proc will have, so i wouldn't worry about that. my toshiba has a real old turion x2 that probably ahs like 1mb cache on it if i'm lucky, runs at 2ghz and it multitasks like a champ as long as i have it setup right without too many programs running..
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Old 10-28-2008, 06:38 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: What Spec Makes a 'Good' Laptop? CPU/RAM/CACHE/HARDDRIVE- Opinions?

Anyone reckon this is a good deal? Also, is that one of the nice shiny HP screens?

HP 6735s Laptop, AMD AthlonTM X2 Dual Core QL-60 1.9GHz, 4GB memory, 250GB HDD, DVD+-RW SMDL LightScribe writer, Webcam 15.4" WXGA (1280 x 800) WLAN Bluetooth Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium - Ebuyer


AMD Athlon X2 Dual Core QL-60 1.9Ghz
Hard Drive
Hard disk drive Serial ATA hard drive 250GB (5400 rpm)
Optical DVD rewriter LightScribe


4 GB DDR II, 667 MHz

Memory slots 1 SODIMM slot supporting dual channel memory
Memory upgrade Upgradeable to 4096 MB maximum


Display features 15.4" WXGA (1280 x 800 resolution)

Are they pretty modern? And will this be a fast laptop for internet browsing and word processing tasks at once?
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Old 10-28-2008, 08:35 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: What Spec Makes a 'Good' Laptop? CPU/RAM/CACHE/HARDDRIVE- Opinions?

Cache is where the processor can store repetative tasks. So the larger the cache, the faster/more efficient the processor will run. If you tell it to complete a task that is not on the cache (which is found on the processor dye itself so there is no travel time) it has to move off of the dye and go elsewhere for that command (which obviously takes longer). If you are wanting to multitask cache is something you should pay attention to.

Can you tell a difference between a 512k cache and a 1mb? Probably not, but I wouldn't discount its importance. A slightly slower processor with more cache will run faster on average than a faster one w/o a lot of cache.

If this isn't a gaming laptop i would suggest:

CPU: 2.2 dual
RAM: 2 Gig
Cache: Depends on the processor, but try to get one within your price range w/ the largest cache
Disk Space: Depends on the tasks, if you are just running programs 100 gig would be plenty, but if you are into music, movies, or pictures i would suggest 250 gig.

Laptop looks like a decent deal, but it is a bit of overkill on 4 gig of ram.
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Old 10-28-2008, 01:38 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: What Spec Makes a 'Good' Laptop? CPU/RAM/CACHE/HARDDRIVE- Opinions?

That ram is really slow. 667mhz DDR2, I'm suprised they still use that.

If you can get one of the newer 45nm Core2s, I believe the model numbers for the mobile processors are T9xxx. Unless your dad games or benchmarks then the cache size isn't going to makes a huge deal.

For me the biggest factors in a laptop are size and weight. Performance is a secondary consideration, because every laptop owner should have a beefy desktop also. You should not rely on a laptop for your primary machine.

Having said that aim for 2.5 to 3 hours of battery life, the more the better. I would also suggest a 15.4inch laptop as the maximum, any bigger and you loose the advantages of having a laptop. And if it were me i would get smaller. My laptop is a 12inch.

I am generally not a fan of Dell, but their laptops have always treated me right.

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Depending on how much you want to spend this one may be perfect.

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Old 10-28-2008, 01:56 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: What Spec Makes a 'Good' Laptop? CPU/RAM/CACHE/HARDDRIVE- Opinions?

I'm going to have to second zmatts opinion. I went big w/ my last laptop and I wasn't happy with it. It treats me great, but has zero battery life (talking <45 minutes), gets extremely hot, and is very heavy.

Depends on what you are going to use it for, but if you need power go desktop, if you need portability go with battery life and weight with a laptop.
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Old 10-28-2008, 04:10 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: What Spec Makes a 'Good' Laptop? CPU/RAM/CACHE/HARDDRIVE- Opinions?

I just wanted to add that intel dual cores are generally better then amd's clock for clock. For that reason, I would not recommend the laptop you pointed out.
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Old 10-28-2008, 04:31 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: What Spec Makes a 'Good' Laptop? CPU/RAM/CACHE/HARDDRIVE- Opinions?

Things to have on a laptop:

MOST IMPORTANT: Graphics chip! If you don't get even a basic "dedicated" one, you'll get stuck with some horrible Intel thing that can't even do Aero and will make even basic 3d tasks ridiculously slow. For a non-gaming laptop, a high end Intel chip or an nVidia 8400M GS (preferably the nVidia 8400M GS) will be good enough to give respectable performance in 3d applications and Aero. For a decent gaming machine, an 8600M GS or higher will do, and for a gaming machine, get at least an 8800.

Second most important:
Probably RAM. Have at least 2GB if you plan on using Vista. 3GB is plenty, though if you want 4 go ahead. I have 3GB and Vista runs great on my computer even while gaming.

Third most important:
CPU probably, though it may be above RAM depending on what you're doing. I recommend at least something in the T7000-T8000 lines, though if you want great performance, the T9000 series Core 2 Duos are great (I have a T9300 2.5GHz and it performs about the same if not better than roommate's e7200 2.51 or so desktop).

I would definitely recommend an Intel CPU, that's their strong point, Intel's Centrino platform is pretty good these days, just don't get their graphics chips.

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Old 10-28-2008, 04:49 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: What Spec Makes a 'Good' Laptop? CPU/RAM/CACHE/HARDDRIVE- Opinions?

^^ You don't have to have dedicated graphics. A ATI HD 3100, HD 3200 or a geforce 8200 will give you close to the performance of a low end dedicated card without the increased cost. If you don't plan on doing any gaming even a intel x4500HD should still be enough.

From my experience small and light laptops with good battery life are the most useful.


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