My company is asking what kind of notebook I'd like including different peripherals. This is just a survey of some powerful notebook for a software developer.

What are the key ingredients? What hardware is good (drivers, etc.) and what hardware to stay away from? My first though is to stay away from wireless and go with an Intel LAN.

What notebook do you have or want?


Posted on 2004-05-13 11:50:11 by kuphryn
Get an intel Pentium-M (not pentium 4 mobile), it's rather powerful but still low power consumption, and intel chipsets are generally pretty stable. Good laptops should come with both wireless and wired LAN, so you don't have to choose only one of them. Be sure to get 512meg ram even though it's a laptop, anything less sucks for developing - rather cut down on harddrive size than RAM.

You'll probably want a laptop from one of the larger brands - smaller brands might be cheaper, but it sucks if they don't have good driver support.

If you want to do graphics programming, you'll probably want a mobile ATI chipset. If you're not going to play games or do 3d programming, more or less anything should go.

I'm not an expert on these matters though, and other people might have better suggestions ^_^
Posted on 2004-05-13 12:35:17 by f0dder
the centrino chipset only works under windows if I'm not mistaking, don't know if that matters to you?
Posted on 2004-05-13 13:14:02 by Hiroshimator
I use a laptop with a Celeron (Packard Bell iGo 6000), works quite nicely. The CPU doesn't eat as much juice as a P4M, and it's not as expensive as a Centrino laptop.
I would recommend either Intel or ATi chipsets (mine has ATi, works fine for me).
All others are either too slow, or are not very efficient with the batteries.

It works fine for VS.NET 2003. The main problem is that I only have 256 mb in it, and 32 mb of that is sacrificed to the integrated GPU, leaving only 224 mb to Windows.
So I would recommend 512 mb if you want to do serious developing on it.
Posted on 2004-05-13 13:38:35 by Scali
Okay. Thanks.

I think NVIDIA video driver is superior to ATI, well at least on a workstation running XP.

Posted on 2004-05-14 01:40:05 by kuphryn
NVIDIA is rubbish for laptops. Their chips are much slower AND much less power-efficient than ATi chips.
And the ATi drivers work quite well these days. I don't have problems developing D3D9 on my laptop anyway. And the games I've tried, worked aswell (NFS Porsche 2000/HP2, Project IGI for example).
I think it's about time that NVIDIA people shut up about ATi drivers. NVIDIA drivers are not exactly perfect either (IGI does NOT work on my GF2 for example, it doesn't draw the HUD/crosshair etc), and their hardware is worse to boot.
Posted on 2004-05-14 02:11:23 by Scali
...nvidia doesn't corrupt your filesystem in the case of "lots of ram" and the LargeSystemCache=1 setting. Apart from that minor detail :rolleyes:, ATi is just fine, though. And the hardware is certainly nicer (except perhaps for the very most recent NV card - but that one has a russian-style industrial cooler and has two molex connections for extra power :grin: )
Posted on 2004-05-14 02:23:33 by f0dder
*yawn* did you test it on real chipsets yet, instead of SiS rubbish?
Posted on 2004-05-14 05:25:30 by Scali
I have had bad experience and seen bad things from ATI both chipset and especially XP drivers on workstations. NVIDIA driver is really suprior on the workstation.

Posted on 2004-05-14 07:16:49 by kuphryn
Scali, you don't understand the ATI driver problem, so please don't post useless rubbish. It happens because the system runs out of pagetable entries - totally chipset unrelated. This happens in system with a lot of memory and the LargeSystemCache - a lot of memory is used (because of the large system cache), and obviously this requires a lot of PTEs. The nvidia drivers handle this gracefully, while ATI obviously has some problems.

But enough about that issue, it's almost irrelevant to this thread. With the LargeSystemCache option disabled, the detonator drivers seem perfectly stable. I just hope they fix the issue, LargeSystemCache is nice.
Posted on 2004-05-14 07:25:37 by f0dder
Yea, I'm stupid, I don't know anything about drivers or 3d cards.

Anyway, one of the PCs here uses an R8500, and it has been working nicely for years... The laptop has a Radeon IGP340M, and it's about one year old now, I think... I use it to develop D3D9 stuff on without problems.
So I can say from personal experience that ATi cards work fine.
And yes, I also use GeForces.
I'm just getting really tired of people nagging about some obscure bugs from years ago. We all know that the Rage-era was crap. But this is the Radeon/Catalyst era. And I can recommend it to everyone. At breakpoint, most people seemed to be using ATi laptops aswell, btw.
Posted on 2004-05-14 07:30:04 by Scali
I know someone who has a Radeon card on the workstation. The Catalyst driver is bloated. His system is a 1000ghz. He has to reboot XP after playing UT2004.

I have a Geforce1 DDR on a 750mhz. I do not see any performance hit after playing UT2004.

NVIDIA driver is really suprior!

Posted on 2004-05-14 08:20:24 by kuphryn
kuphryn, the ATI driver doesn't seem more bloated than the NV driver. I don't have to reboot XP after playing ut2004, far cry, painkiller, or anything else... and at least the ATI drivers don't cheat like the NV drivers do. Apart from the LargeSystemCache (serious) bug, the ATI drivers seem just fine.
Posted on 2004-05-14 08:38:13 by f0dder
NVIDIA driver is really suprior!

Really, the odd game that doesn't work on the odd system is no way to conclude that the driver is inferior. As I say, I cannot play IGI on my GF2, does that mean the ATi driver is superior after all?
Stop talking like a fanboy, and start informing yourself.
Posted on 2004-05-14 11:41:43 by Scali
Has anyone heard of problems with Thinkpad T4x's?
I'm thinking about getting one, or another without a pad.
Posted on 2004-05-14 13:37:37 by bitRAKE
I have a Radeon 9100 (8500LE), before I had an nVidia GeForce2MX. LEt me tell you that nVidia's drivers were very good before, but they slipped and ATI caught up. ATI has really improved and the 8500LE performs well for me, UT2K4 runs pretty good for a prev gen card. The problems that I see people on the net complaining about ATI confuse me because I have not encountered a single one. These guys are good, makes me proud to say they are Canadian :D

My supervisor has a Intel PentiumM 1.4Ghz Centrino based laptop, with 512MB DDR memory and both wired and wireless connections. I would suggest this kind of laptop, like f0dder said, before I only had 256MB DDR in my desktop PC, I added 512MB and I noticed a HUGE difference, definitely try and get 512MB at all costs.
Posted on 2004-05-14 15:06:26 by x86asm
I have a comppany laptop HP Compaq nc6000. I really like it, it's fast enought and has enought drive space to install all that is needed for developing. Only minus is that the display is only 1024x768. Display problem is 'corrected' at the big brother model nc8000.

My laptop has Pentium M 1.6GHz, 40gb hard disk and ATI Mobility Radeon 9600 display card.

I suggest that you buy 1024mb ram, so you have enough mem to run VMware with different Windowses installed to test your progs.
Posted on 2004-05-14 16:47:56 by SamiP

Posted on 2004-05-15 21:14:34 by kuphryn
SamiP, how long does the battery in your lappie last? Sounds like a really neat machine.
Posted on 2004-05-15 21:22:40 by f0dder

Battery lasts about 3 hours for normal office work. OK, it says at HPs web page that the 6-cell battery (like mine) lasts 5 hours and 8-cell battery lasts 6.5 hours... but that must be some sort of laboratory conditions where every power saving option is turned on and to it's minimum timeout value... which is not very practical in normal use. Also allmost all times when I use my laptop with battery I'm connected to wireless lan so it propably also degrades time that the batteries work.

And I forget to mention at my last post, that it has the Intel Centrino chipset which has 1GB lan and 11MB Wireless.
Posted on 2004-05-16 13:10:22 by SamiP