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Laptop newbie :-( Daughter needs a laptop

Discussion in 'Laptops' started by Dave, Sep 11, 2004.

  1. Dave

    Dave Guest

    My daughter needs a laptop for her uni work. She only has a budget of
    around £800. She will be using a CAD program called ArchiCAD version 8 most
    of the time and the min requirements to run this software are:

    Operating System: Microsoft Windows 2000 or Windows XP pro (ArchiCAD will
    not start with Windows NT 4.0, Windows 98 or Windows ME)

    CPU: Intel® Pentium III, Pentium 4 or compatible CPU recommended.

    RAM: 512MB minimum - Recommended: 1GB

    Hard Drive Space: 500MB minimum free hard drive space required for full
    installation for ArchiCAD 8.1. Free hard disk space is required according to
    model complexity (over 1 GB recommended for complex models and 3D

    Video Card: Standard Open GL cards with onboard video memory of 64 MB, not
    shared memory, are recommended. The required minimum resolution is 1024 by
    768 pixels with 24 bit colour depth.

    Display: 17" as minimum

    I would assume that the software will run on Windows XP Home addition just
    as well as the pro version, and she is sure that a display of less than 17"
    is ok, as she is using a laptop of 12" at the moment for version 7 of
    ArchiCAD without any problems.

    I have been to the website of the developers of ArchiCAD
    (http://www.graphisoft.com) and although they recommend Intel CPU's for
    their software, users are managing quite well with high end AMD processors.

    So, as I am a complete newbie to laptops, I need your help in finding a
    laptop that will do the business for her and a very reasonable price. I
    have looked at an Acer Aspire 1622LM, which appears to meet all the
    requirements, but are their any others I should consider and where is the
    best place to get it from?

    Dave, Sep 11, 2004
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  2. Dave

    Al Dykes Guest

    Check with the school's book store to see if the school has any sort
    of a deal with any of the laptop manufacturers. Also ask what kind of
    tech support is available on campus and consider going with whatever
    they recommend. Ask if the campus has any shared high-quality
    printing service. If it does then she can get away with the cheapest
    small inkjet in her room. Big laser printers are _always_ cheaper on
    a cost per page basis if the campus charges reasonable prices for

    IMO, get the manufacturer's extended warranty (and NOT from
    the store you buy from, or a third party.)

    She's going to be working to tight hard deadlines, so backup and
    contingency needs some thought. A CD burner in the laptop is a good
    idea, and thede days you can get a combinded DVD reader-CD burner so
    she can still watch the movies on the laptop. She can burn a copy
    of whatever she's working on and use a campus computer if her's is
    being serviced.

    Get her two Kensington laptop security cables. One in the dorm room
    attached to the furnature and one in the laptop bag. Laptops have
    feet and I like to know I can turn my back on the my laptop and it
    will stay where I left it.
    Al Dykes, Sep 11, 2004
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  3. Dave

    Dave Guest

    Thanks for the advice. She had mentioned wanting a laptop with a CD writer
    built in, but I forgot to mention that in my original post.

    Dave, Sep 12, 2004
  4. 1 gig is a lot of memory. maybe you could pull the memory from the one she
    has now, and
    use it in the new one. Thing is, memory changes all the time so that's a
    long shot. Almost nobody
    needs a gig of memory, so you can reconfigure the 12" one by pulling half
    the memory, and then sell some of the memory
    separte from the laptop. You may be able to trade the excess memory in on
    new memory for the new computer
    too, depending on the dealer. You'll do better at a local screwdriver shop
    with that.

    Any new laptop will run her program. Best Buy, Staples, Office Max, Circuit
    City, etc, all
    have loss leaders almost weekly that sell for about $850 USD after rebates.
    That's with
    wifi built in, and a burner.

    I don't think there's any real difference between them anymore. Anybody
    still in
    business is selling adaquate stuff. the things that go bad are usually the
    things that move:
    keyboards, hard drives, optical drives, fans, etc. You can usally get a 3
    year warranty
    for about $200. It's worth it because in 3 years odds are the optical will
    go south.

    !Allen Lasting, Sep 12, 2004
  5. Dave

    Dave Guest

    Thanks for all the advice. Pulling the memory from the old laptop is not an
    option, as it only has 64mb in total. Which more or less worthless. I will
    have to keep my eyes open for a special offer.

    Dave, Sep 14, 2004
  6. Dave

    Ron Reaugh Guest

    Make sure that you get a large format laptop like a Gateway M505 or Sony
    K27. Smaller format laptops are designed such that the CPU will never run
    at full speed except in brief bursts. CAD needs full sustained CPU
    capacity. Look at the fine print on the spec sheet for a Sony X505 and
    you'll see what I mean. This is an industry wide dirty little secret being
    kept in the closet and many mfg don't even hide a disclaimer in their spec
    sheets. One can also find similar disclaimers in the spec sheets for
    Toshiba Tablet PC M200 & 3500.

    The Sony A170 looks good and is 17".
    Ron Reaugh, Sep 14, 2004
  7. Dave

    Ron Reaugh Guest

    On a laptop, that's VERY unlikely to work. Buy 1GB with the laptop as new.
    Ron Reaugh, Sep 14, 2004
  8. Dave

    Ed.Austin Guest

    Your problem will not be processor or even RAM, it is obtaining a laptop
    with a 17" screen. I assume also you'll need the requisite resolution
    (something like UXGA 1600x1200) as well.

    The AMD64 chips (I use one in my Acer Ferrari 3400) are superb, and
    generally will match the Intel chips computationally by a factor of 1.5
    (i.e. 2GHZ AMD64 = 3GHZ P4M). They are very fine perfomers. I use one
    running Linux (with 1.25GB RAM).

    Sony laptops tend to be consumerish and not really for Professional (or
    dare I say semiprofessional) use. Acer I like (having one) but the build
    isn't anywhere near an IBM for example.

    Saying this nearly all laptops with a 17" screen will most likely be
    suitable for generally undemanding work. I'd buy any reputable brands
    machine but focus on the warranty.

    If IBM (or the company that recently purchased the ThinkPad brand) do a
    relevent model you may get an (excellent) 3 year warranty. I have used an
    IBM warranty for work machines and they are quite frankly superb. Nothing
    touches an IBM on build.

    Have you considered a 15" UXGA model? The 17" will be larger but unlikely
    to offer much more in resolution (UXGA+/wide etc). More to the point the
    laptop will be CONSIDERABLY smaller (and perhaps cheaper). Larger than a
    17" display will likely make the machine a "luggable" almost, and
    certainly not an easy portable to move around. EVen 17"'s are big machines.

    Hope this helps.
    Ed.Austin, Jan 9, 2006
  9. Dave

    Roy Guest

    If heating and battery life is not problem you can get the 17 inch HP
    zd8000 series, they are powerful and reasonably priced..
    Select the ones with a gig of RAM and 100 GB of HDD capacity.
    Roy, Jan 10, 2006
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