I recently had an increasing need to buy a laptop for programming needs, but I'm not sure which way to go... I figure battery life is the most important in these things, and graphics card the least important, but still don't have a clear idea... Anyone know something that would fit my needs in this order?

Battery life - Screen size - processing power - ram - graphics card - hard drive

I'm lost in this market...
Posted on 2004-06-14 15:29:00 by FearHQ
Get one with a Pentium-M (iirc the same as Centrino) - and do note that this is *NOT* the same as "Pentium4 Mobile"! The trick with P-M is that they're based on the PPro core (like p2, p3), has some P4 stuff added, but has pretty low power consumption (less heat, more battery life). I'd go for some integrated ATi radeon mobility graphics, 512 megs of ram, and say, 20+ gigs of harddisk.

PS: see http://www.asmcommunity.net/board/index.php?topic=18237&highlight=notebook
Posted on 2004-06-14 15:32:30 by f0dder
Pentium M is in the 2000$ at the cheapest, not exactly the best for an undergraduate student :) I'm looking more at laptops below 2000$. If I'm looking at that range (which includes celerons, P4's and Athlon XP's), which chipset would offer me best battery life?
Posted on 2004-06-14 15:49:40 by FearHQ
When i lived in Montreal people were tying to sell me Laptops on the street "real good price". Im sure you can find a modest Laptop for 600->800 ish. The screen size tends to really dictate the balance of its features i find...

As for battery life.. forget it. They all perform about the same at best, with only variance towards how fast they will loose their ability to reach full charge. I like to think of the battery as a UPS more than a battery.. Its only to help handle to bump between power sources. To that end, i suggest you buy extra supplies for where you like to work most often. I have an inverter in the car, and two spare power adapters. One at the desk at home, and one in my carrying case for where ever i go.

Posted on 2004-06-14 16:01:18 by NaN
Hmm, thanks for the advice NaN. The reason I don't want a "street" laptop is because most of them are stolen and have 0 warranty/support. I know people who sell these things but I in no way wish to support their actions. I'm actually looking at something in the ranges of 1500$+-
Posted on 2004-06-14 16:04:21 by FearHQ
I see how that can be misleading... I wasnt suggesting you buy a stollen one... only to the point they seem to be everywhere. Here in Ottawa, there is a "Laptop Express" shop down the road that will sell an 800Mhz or so in the 600->800 $$ range... of course these are all once used.

Posted on 2004-06-14 16:08:56 by NaN
Battery life between different CPUs and chipsets actually matters a lot.
The thing is that powerhungry laptops tend to get larger batteries so they last long anyway... Problem there is that they get very hot (not nice on your lap), and they are very heavy (not nice if you have to carry them around all the time).

I have a Celeron Mobile 1.6 with ATi IGP340M chipset and I am very happy with it. Not too large, not too heavy, battery lasts up to 4 hours, and it's very silent. And performance is fine for me too (Mobile Celerons are actually faster than regular Celerons, because they have 256k cache, not 128k).
For battery life, definitely choose ATi graphics, not NVIDIA.
Posted on 2004-06-14 16:53:55 by Scali
Scali: nice to get some personal opinion! Thanks :)

I was leaning more towards Althon XP's cause I got one at home in my desktop and am satisfied with it... although I could cook a hamburger on it.... Weight is also something I forgot to take into account.
Posted on 2004-06-14 16:59:06 by FearHQ
Pentium M definitely, fast CPU, 512MB of RAM should be what you aim for, you do not want to go less for a buying a notebook at this time trust me and a good sized HDD(>= 40GB), and a good GPU
Posted on 2004-06-14 18:54:13 by x86asm
I'm pretty settled for the Pentium M laptops and Radeon GPU. There's even a model at 2000$ by Compaq that's really neat. My question is, is it worth buying extended warranty? Futureshop sells it for 350$ and it's 3 years for PARTS and LABOR, doesn't cover physical damage by missuse... Is it worth it? Sort of pushes the cost after taxes to close to 3000$...
Posted on 2004-06-19 00:35:02 by FearHQ
Let me ask you this: when was the last time you had any (brand) parts break down on you, within 3 years?
I have 386 and 486 boxes here that still run fine. Computers don't wear out, I guess :)
HDDs or cdrom drives or such may wear out within 3 years if you're unlucky... but does it cost more than $350 to replace them?
Personally I wouldn't go for it, in my own experience the chance that a computer breaks down within 3 years is too small.
Posted on 2004-06-19 03:06:36 by Scali
I can vouch for the Pentium 4 - M. I recently upgraded this laptop from a Celeron 2GHz to a Mobile Pentium 4-M 2.4GHz. The M series uses drops the processor speed in half and reduces the power consumption (Intel SpeedStep Technology). On mine it ranges from 30 watts (2.4GHz/1.3V) to 20 watts (1.2GHz/1.2V) and I have it setup to determine processor speed based on CPU load. If you really want an AMD, their equivalent of SpeedStep is "PowerNow".

My laptop has an integrated Radeon Mobility IGP 340 (IGP 340M), it is useful as long as you don't try to play any graphics-intense games.
Posted on 2004-06-19 03:23:02 by SpooK
Scali: that's exactly what I though, owning a desktop computer at home... Within the first year, any defective components would surface, and after that it is unlikely anything would break. Problem with laptops is, components are expensive...

SpooK: I'm already fixated on the M series, not the P4 one... The difference is rather large in power consumption. Centrino is the way to go right now ;)
Posted on 2004-06-19 15:36:25 by FearHQ
Well, as long as you're careful with your laptop in transit (don't let it fall, don't bang the bag against any walls/chairs/etc while you walk), a laptop should last as long as a desktop :)
Posted on 2004-06-19 16:27:44 by Scali