Was Considering a New Laptop

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Roger Wilco Jr
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Was Considering a New Laptop

Postby Roger Wilco Jr » Fri Feb 02, 2018 1:56 pm

My laptop is failing at the hinge, and I've always hated the 17.3" TN screen, that even looking straight on was darker on the bottom and brighter on the top. And it was always a pain balancing it on my knees trying to get a good viewing angle and for typing. For browsing, I preferred it sitting off to the side on a TV tray and using a mouse. But literally, all I use it for is web browsing and youtube sitting on the couch while watching TV, and I'm watching youtube on TV now more often than not.

So then I thought about those mini computers last night. Wow, those things are cheap. I already have a keyboard, mouse, SSD, and display. This seems like the perfect solution, maybe just getting fancy with a swing away monitor mount so I don't knock it onto the floor. And just having a keyboard on my lap, rather they a big heavy laptop, will be great. There are so many options though, and it's a little overwhelming just looking into them this morning.

So my question is - can you go too low in performance for web browsing and youtube? I mean, will the cheapest mini-ITX motherboard with Atom processor and 4GB ram be good enough? Or should I really go for some i3/i5 and more memory, or maybe AMD? My only other requirement would be wifi and a few USB ports - and I want to use my 2.5" SSD rather than getting an M.2 drive. I also want to use Linux.

Thanks for any tips and suggestions. :)
It's time to give this another go.

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Re: Was Considering a New Laptop

Postby Loriath » Fri Feb 02, 2018 6:47 pm

Roger, if you have a local Big Box Electronic store nearby, drop in and try one of those cheapy peazy Windows Tablets with a cheapy Atom CPU and low memory and see how it performs for you. If all you want is a little thing for browsing the web and Youtube as you say, you can judge just how well theses low end devices do for you. I looked at one the other day that was a 10 inch and had an Atom with 2GB ram and it would do fine for casual web browsing for me, but may not for you.

For some, it may be fine, for others, they may drive them up the wall. But it will give you a baseline on how things will perform and then you can make your shopping list.

I can tell you the Celeron processors of today are NOT like those of even a few years ago. WAY more performance than you think. Atom processors as well. And if you don't choke the ram (get 4, preferably 8 or more), with an SSD it will hum for a Browser Youtube machine.
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Re: Was Considering a New Laptop

Postby Roger Wilco Jr » Sat Feb 03, 2018 2:09 pm

Thanks Lori.

10 hours of reading and watching youtube videos and I'm starting to get my head wrapped around this. I was even looking up possibilities of using my notebook internals with a used itx mb on ebay, but I'd probably just get myself into trouble. I surprised how expensive i3 cpus still are. I'll probably go with a socketed Celeron and a vesa mounted case. With my existing 1080p monitor and other hardware, I should be able to get a nice "all-in-one" web browser for about $250-$300 that will be so much better than a new $800 laptop (for my needs, of course).

:)


Update: if anyone's interested. ;)

My total came to around $290, and includes a pretty nice case with front USB3.0 ports and includes a PSU for only $75. Not for a gaming rig, but a comparable case with Pico PSU and brick is about $125. I also got a Pentium for about $6 more than a slightly less powerful Celeron. The 8GB of dual channel DDR4 was a lot more expensive than I was expecting (wtf). I already had the monitor, keyboard, mouse, SSD - and I'll snag the HD out of my laptop.

Here's the link for the case.
http://www.antec.com/product.php?id=705289&fid=5022033
It's time to give this another go.

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Re: Was Considering a New Laptop

Postby thebs » Wed Feb 07, 2018 4:48 am

Roger Wilco Jr wrote:So then I thought about those mini computers last night. Wow, those things are cheap.

You get what you pay for in some cases. Intel overprices the NUC. Zotac was early with the ZBox series (lots of various options and form-factors, a half-dozen more than NUC), and Gigabyte has many options in the BRIX (most look like a NUC). Most are Nano-ITX or even Pico-ITX inside.

Although there are now the new, Intel i-series + AMD GPU + 4GiB VRAM on-package (separate die, same BGA package) that are supposed to give near nVidia GTX 1060 performance. Of course they cost a lot, more than an i-series + GTX 1060, but if you want tiny, that's the way to go.

Roger Wilco Jr wrote:I already have a keyboard, mouse, SSD, and display. This seems like the perfect solution, maybe just getting fancy with a swing away monitor mount so I don't knock it onto the floor. And just having a keyboard on my lap, rather they a big heavy laptop, will be great. There are so many options though, and it's a little overwhelming just looking into them this morning.

So my question is - can you go too low in performance for web browsing and youtube? I mean, will the cheapest mini-ITX motherboard with Atom processor

Repeat after me ...

Never, ever buy Atom (which includes Celeron/Pentium "J" or "N" models). Don't get me started. Even Intel is giving up on Atom, going back to ARM (long story, they sold off their ARM division to Marvell in 2006). Atom is dying.

I.e., ARM is always faster and lower power in the same generation (Atom is always behind), and for x86-64 compatibility, an i-series in low-power states, even the low-cost Pentium G (crippled i3), is much better than Atom, Watt for Watt.

Roger Wilco Jr wrote:and 4GB ram be good enough?

4GiB is pushing it for Long Mode (x86-64). You really want at least 8GiB, and there's really no reason not to have at least 8GiB. Even 2011-era AMD Socket-FT1 (BGA-423) offers support for a single, single channel, 8GiB DDR3 SO-DIMM.

Roger Wilco Jr wrote:Or should I really go for some i3/i5

There are new 4-core Pentium G options coming out with the 8th gen i-series. They are basically a partially crippled i3, but still capable.

Roger Wilco Jr wrote:and more memory, or maybe AMD? My only other requirement would be wifi and a few USB ports - and I want to use my 2.5" SSD rather than getting an M.2 drive.

There's little reason to go M.2 unless you get native nVME (not just PCIe).

Roger Wilco Jr wrote:I also want to use Linux.

Linux installs and boots on everything these days. Out-of-the-box, either Fedora or Ubuntu will often install easier than Windows 10 (without tracking down all the OEM driver disks). There are exceptions, of course, but it's way easier to install, especially when you don't track down all of the drivers (which can be a PITA, and you have to crack open the case and get the exact mainboard make/model/submodel/revision) and hit that OEM's site for drivers for Windows.

About the only thing that gives people fits is when you start farting with Intel RST/NAND caching. Just skip that crap (don't get me started). Multi-boot is cake with native uEFI/GRUB booting as well. All of my x86-64 systems have been native uEFI since 2011, yes, even Windows 7 x64 (yes, it installs in native uEFI mode).
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Re: Was Considering a New Laptop

Postby Roger Wilco Jr » Thu Feb 08, 2018 2:34 pm

Here's the beast :roll:

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So much better than my laptop in so many ways.
Just a bit of cable bundling and I'm done.

And with those speakers, I can finally hear Ed.
It's time to give this another go.

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Re: Was Considering a New Laptop

Postby Loriath » Thu Feb 08, 2018 4:36 pm

Nice. If I could find something that small that could take an I3-7100, and had one slot for my GTX 1050 TI then I would love it. I remember how I loved Shuttle PC's back when they were affordable. I have RAM, Drives, and Video, just need a REAL small case that I can use that will take 1 short card.
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Re: Was Considering a New Laptop

Postby Roger Wilco Jr » Thu Feb 08, 2018 6:53 pm

Can't comment on affordability, or even availability, but I think this is as small as you will find.

A few links for the same thing:
https://theawesomer.com/a4-sfx-mini-itx ... se/369935/
https://www.overclockers.co.uk/dan-case ... 00-da.html
https://mygaming.co.za/news/hardware/95 ... world.html

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It's time to give this another go.

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Mini-ITX, MXM and never buy Atom (incl. Pentium J/N)

Postby thebs » Thu Mar 29, 2018 9:28 pm

I stopped buying gaming notebooks and just started assembling portable Mini-ITX gaming systems after 2011, especially with most hotels having HDMI inputs on their TVs.

It would be nice if consumer GPUs were available in the notebook Mobile PCIe Express Module (MXM) form-factor. ASRock has showcased several designs, which would make everything much smaller. But so far, no vendor wants to sell a GPU in the MXM form-factor outside of an enclosed notebook, so don't expect any warranty of you find an OEM. ASRock keeps flirting with making their own GPUs, so that would change the market.

BTW, never buy an Atom or Pentium J/N (still Atom), they are a PoS. As even Intel found, running an i-series in a low power state (select C-states) will use no more power, and can often best the Atom, performance per Watt. Always buy a quad-core i5 or at least a dual-core Pentium (non-J/N) that is directly based on an i3. The good news is that the new Pentium line is now quad-core like the new i3.

► Show Spoiler


AMD also has a lot of new, competitive options, and unlike the Intel designs, AMD doesn't suffer from the paging bugs that Intel has. Long story, it's inherent to the Hammer v. Nehalem lineage.

► Show Spoiler
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