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lefteris

Looking for new Laptop

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Gents-I am on the market for a new laptop, and was looking at this model:FUJITSU-SIEMENS AMILO M 3438G M770 2048MB 200GBThe spec's really impressive:- 17" 1440x900 pixel wide screen- Pentium M770 2.13GHz Centrino CPU- 2 GigaBytes RAM- GeForce Go 6800 256MB VGA- 2x100GB SATA hard disks (for RAID 0+1)- Dual Layer DVD recorder- 4 USB 2.0 ports, modem, LAN, WLAN, 4-in-1 card reader- Azalea 7.1 on-board soundObviously, this laptop can run Microsoft Flight Simulator very well, but I was looking for opinions on its specifics, as follows:a) Is it better to get a Centrino CPU, rather than the older 3.2GHz regular Pentium4's? (Performance-wise and battery-consumption-wise):( Is the GeForce Go 6800 considered top-notch in the laptop market? If not, what is?c) Should I skip the 17-inch screen and go for something lighter, if I want to lug this around on the 4-5 trips I take per year?I am looking for as much ooomph as possible from the laptop, as if I am on the road, I want to be able to do compilations and code writing as well as demonstrations of our addon products.If anyone has something else to suggest, please come forward now. Keep in mind that I am located in Athens, Greece, so the purchase of Dell PCs is somewhat less encouraged here, due to support issues. Greek market is mostly HP / Fujitsu Siemens / ASUS / Acer and IBM (whose products I don't like, mainly because of the track point).Thanks for your suggestions,


Lefteris Kalamaras - Founder

www.flightsimlabs.com

 

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I'm looking too. 5 fps with everything at low and 2 minute load times is about to turn my tote-around Sony into a UFO. I have a "normal" box at home and that laptop is not long for this world. But I'm going to wait just a bit more. I saw the first dual core laptop CPUs down at local Circuit City this week, so they are coming. I'm concerned about Intel's 700 series laptop CPUs . . .. that's the CPU that is used with the so-called 'Centrino' units. My impression is that Intel just turned down the clock to extend battery life. I'm afraid that a 1.7 or a 2.2, 700 series CPU is really just an Intel 1.7 or 2.2 CPU. That is not enough to run the sim the way I want. I have a P4 3.2 mhz on my main box and that's OK. If it was an AMD at 2.2 mhz, that'd be an entirely different story. An AMD 2.2mhz CPU will run right with an Intel 3.6mhz CPU. Intel is releasing the dual cores for laptops now. I know MSFS doesn't support this function now, but I'll bet FX10 and Vista will. That's only 6-8 months away. But they are going to have to bump up the speed. So far, they are still slow.Right now the 3.2mhz P4 (600 series hyperthreaded CPU) will run rings around that centrino unit's CPU (700 series CPUs at 1.X to 2.2mhz). So what were they thinking? Here

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Hi Lefteris,My laptop has similar specs to the one you are looking at and I am pleased with the performance.My CPU is only 1.8G though but I do have the 6800 and 2G RAM.It is also a 17" and it's a beast.At first I thought I should have went with 15" but now that I'm used to it I'm glad I have the 17.a)As far as battery consumption I get about 1.5 hours if I'm just cruising the web but obviously less when gaming or watching movies.Mine is a Dell and it doesn't like gaming unless it is plugged in.Even with plenty of battery left my frames drop off drastically if unplugged.Don't know if they are all this way or it may just be a power save feature that I can turn off if I can figure out how.:-)b)As stated above there is a 7800 out now.I use Ultimate Traffic,Ultimate GA Traffic,ASV and probably a couple more addons I'm forgetting and with traffic around 85% and setting of medium-high my frame rate stays in the mid 20's with the lovely Queen.Obviously around JKF or similar large airport it sometimes drops into the high teens.But has never gotten slow enough that it really bothered me.c)I would go with the 17".I jumped from a 12 to a 17 so it was quite the large step up for me and in the end I'm glad I went with the 17 over the 15.Nice job on the blog BTW.Michael

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Hi,I also have a dell widescreen. I can't run FS in fullscreen or else the panel graphics are warped. I have to settle for window mode, which i find quite annoying. How do u deal with this problem?Paul

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I'm doing the same thing right now as far as getting a laptop and I've been through a bunch of this researching stuff already (including sending a Dell back for a refund 2 weeks ago after not liking the screen.) Here's my rather long thoughts on the topic:a. Absolutely get the newer Intel CPU - the Centrino/Pentium-M is actually old technology as well at this point though - the "Core Solo" and "Core Duo" are their new mobile CPUs and they're even better than the Pentium-M was. (The new Macs are using it for example, as well as all the new Dell, Sony, Acer etc laptops) The actual P4 doesn't have any of the power saving or heat reduction features that the Pentium-M and the Core do. P4 was also a completely different (and now obsolete) architecture that Intel has abandoned in favor of the Pentium-M approach - the desktop versions of the Core Solo and Core Duo are due out soon and they're reportedly very similar to the AMD chips in how they work. (they're outperforming Athlon 64's, which never happened with P4's) Dual core is gonna be better for Windows Vista at the end of the year anyway if you plan to use it as well.b. The 6800 is still a very good card, though there are GeForce 7 and Radeon X1000 series laptop chipsets now. The best systems graphics wise currently have the GeForce 7800 Go or 7800GTX Go (like the Dell XPS M170) or the ATI Radeon Mobility X1800. The benefits with these over the last generation cards are support for the pixel shader 3.0 standards and better image quality features like the ability to antialias alpha textures. (trees, power poles, aircraft textures etc in MSFS) The lower cards like the GF7400 or the Radeon X1400 are significantly worse than those high end cards, but consume much less power and produce less heat.c. This is the big question. Laptops get put into 4 size categories - Desktop Replacements (DTRs), standard Notebooks, Thin and Light, and Ultra Portables:DTR's are basically any of the 17" models - they weigh a ton, (usually over 8lbs) have a big footprint, and have awful battery life. (usually only like 1.5hrs or less even with a large battery) They are however the most powerful systems and always have the best graphics cards.Standard Notebooks usually have 15.4" screens and weigh around 6lbs. You can still get pretty decent video cards in em (Radeon X1400's, GeForce 7400's) An example of this type of system is the new Dell Inspiron E1505, one of the ones on my personal short list right now. Battery life gets much better on these - upwards of 5 hours with a large cell battery.Thin and Lights have 13.3" or 14.1" screens and weigh between 3.5 and 5lbs. The graphics capabilities really start to go down here due to the small size and inability to manage heat from a good graphics chip. The system I had and sent back was the Dell XPS M140, which had nothing but the video card integrated into the chipset. People usually buy these types of machines for travel or carrying around a lot. (I was getting it for taking to classes every day) Recently though, one thin and light did come out with decent video - the 13.3" Sony SZ160 has both the integrated video and a GF7400. It uses the integrated for 2D stuff in Windows, and switches to the 7400 when you run a game. I think it's a pretty novel approach and I'm kinda leaning toward getting one because it seems to be both extremely portable and powerful. Battery life is really good, something like 6 hours on the standard cell one.Ultra portables usually have really tiny screens like 11.1" or 12" and are designed solely for people who travel all the time and need something they can stick in a briefcase. They weigh as little as 1lb and have amazing battery life. Example would be the Sony TX series or the Dell Latitude X1. These never have anything other than slow integrated graphics.As people were mentioning on the forum, the widescreen can cause problems in FS because the 2D panel will get stretched into a non-standard resolution. It's not an issue in the VC though. Also be sure you look at some of these ones with the glossy screen in a store before you order one that has it - I absolutely HATED it on the Dell I bought and ended up sending it back because of the insane glare and eyestrain it caused.So basically it comes down to a trade-off between portability and graphics power. If you absolutely need to be running FS or other games at desktop-like performance levels, then you're gonna have to get one of the 17" ones like the Dell E1705 that has the GF7800 in it. Just don't expect to run on battery for very long. If you can afford to sacrifice a bit of that graphics performance for portability and long battery life, there's a bunch of standard 15.4" Notebooks that have midrange graphics cards that can still run FS decently. Pay attention to screen resolution too - 1440X900 is pretty low for a 17" screen - they go up as high as 1920X1200 with some models, which I've been told looks a lot sharper. You'll see the differences notated as WXGA WSXGA+ and WUXGA in order of increasing resolution.Personally I'm basically trying to decide between the Sony SZ and the Dell E1505 now. The E1505 is significantly larger but is FAR less expensive. The SZ is quite expensive but has the great portability at only around 4 lbs. Leaning toward the SZ if I can scrounge up the extra cash, but otherwise I'll probably get the E1505. If I was gonna get a powerful DTR I'd look at the Dell E1705. I know you said Dell was hard for support in Greece, but the price difference is just insane between them and anyone else - you'll get away with a loaded system for like $1500-$1800 as opposed to $2500 or $3000 with anyone else.


Ryan Maziarz
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I've been using a laptop as my only computer for about 5 years and am on my third one - HP zd 8000 (p4-3.2, ati x600 256 meg video card, 1 gig ddr2 ram, 5400 rpm hd, hi-res 1680x1050 display). My msfs fps is capped at 35 and is up there running pmdg,pss, PIC aircraft. My msfs is now 15+ gigs. This machine works good, the display is excellent and I do like having a keyboard with the numeric keyboard. Downsides - It does run warm, battery life is definately not something to write home about (1 - 1.3 hrs) but I generally have access to ac power. I travel up to half the year for work so size/weight was a consideration but when I settle down in the hotel at night the larger screen is nice to have. The 17" screen makes simming on a laptop a pleasure. You get used to lugging a couple of extra pounds.I had been doing a lot of research for my next laptop when my previous one died and had I had the time to wait for Dell to build me one I would have gone that route but I needed one right at that moment and wanted one I could run msfs. This was the only one I found that I liked on such short notice and I have not regretted purchasing this machine. I may up the ram to 2 gigs in the short term and eventually get a 7200 rpm hd in the never ending quest for more power but I can honestly say it runs msfs great. Dave

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Ryan-things in the USA are radically different, compared to the market in Greece. You mention that Dell is clearly cheaper ("insane price difference") but in fact, it's quite the opposite here.While I can build a very powerful desktop PC with choose-to-build components and a setup of my liking, the laptop market is very severely restricted by the major importers.With the above disclaimers, I went out and bought what I considered the best "bang-for-the-Eurobuck" as I saw it in Athens today. (Keep in mind, importers here will not bring the newer X1400 graphics cards or the GF7400 for another couple months, so those options are quite outside our current realm):After very careful consideration, I got myself the Fujitsu-Siemens Amilo M1437G, a middle-spec machine, but one with:a top-of-the-line Centrino CPU (2.13GHz)a good-to-better VGA card (ATI X700)a solid hard disk (100GB SATA)a nice screen (15.4")all the other goodies (WLAN, Bluetooth, etc. etc.)and all for 1500Euro + VAT (which is written off at the end of the year for professionals anyway).I could have gone for the 17" screen and dual 100GB harddisk, but chose not too, as I couldn't justify the 800 Euro difference.There wasn't much to choose from in terms of VGAs (the X800 is only now making its appearance).Also- there was another important factor: I WANTED IT NOW! :-) That means, no ordering to "be delivered in a couple days", no "we'll keep you posted", no "we have it in stock, but our warehouse needs to be alerted three days in advance". NOW means NOW ;-).Anyway - I'll probably blog about this (gives me an excuse, doesn't it?) with the performance I notice with MSFS - first, I will copy the entire MSFS tree from my desktop to observe what happens, and then I'll wipe it off to start on a new installation, just to see if that makes a difference, as with WindowsXP ;-).


Lefteris Kalamaras - Founder

www.flightsimlabs.com

 

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