Saturday, December 17, 2011

Computer buying advice

Recently, my MacBook Pro, which I purchased in February of 2008, sort of died. The computer works, but the Nvidia video card has died. Apple has extended the warranty for this, but I'm stuck in Central Asia until March, so won't be able to get it to an Apple authorized repair facility. So I have to look for a new computer.

I'm wondering whether to forgo getting another Mac go back to using a PC. I'm not a fan of Windows, and a colleague of mine has recommended using Ubuntu Linux. He's a computer wiz, so can handle a non-standard operating system. I'm not so sure that I can. Anyways, that will be another post.

I asked said colleague for advice on buying a computer, and I'm pasting below what he wrote. Now, computer buying advice is far from timeless. And the advice you should get will depend on what you need the computer for. I will be using STATA (heavily computationally intensive), watching movies (need a good graphics card). My partner will want to do lots of document editing, and will want a big screen. It will stay in the home, so portability and battery life are not priorities.

I would indeed get a Sony Vaio. I currently use a rugged IBM lenovo that was lent to me, I appreciate its 5 hours of battery in Africa. But it's not that powerful (despite its 8 gb of memory); I would need to change it within a year or two.

    My suggestion is to obtain a core i5 with nvidia GPU (From Sony). My personal choice would be for a 16 inch high definition, but I tend to like big screens more than most.

    Make sure you upgrade right away to the maximum memory possible. Not doing so is not worth it: max it out! This means using a 64 bits Os: you need 64 bits addressing to go over 4 gb of memory.

      You will want a good graphics card inside your laptop. I recommend Nvidia based with at least 512 independent memory, preferably 1 Gb with a recent GPU. I prefer nvidia to the others, especially with Ubuntu. That is what in my opinion makes the biggest difference between the lower end and the higher end laptops. Macs always have high end graphics cards.

    Ubuntu is a big jump! Congrats. The most recent version is 11.10. I use 11.04. Make sure you have the 64 bits version, and you probably want to log in the desktop edition (Gnome), not the netbook edition (Unity). It's a combo box at login.

    I suggest you shop a little, perhaps on sony vaio's web site. Compare with other companies also if you want. I'm not sure what are the models these days...

 I stumbled upon this; it might help to compare laptops and get quite good reviews on them. I wish I could find all models on this :),289826,266527,264126

This is a selection I made of very different laptop types. Hopefully comparing them will help you orient your search.

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