Author Topic: Home / work use computer - what specs to look for?  (Read 2163 times)

Re: Home / work use computer - what specs to look for?
« Reply #50 on: January 24, 2019, 09:18:55 pm »
People buying computers don't understand the difference between memory and storage, so as long as you've got your 250GB (pronounced "gee-bees") on the box, you're sorted.  It's like fitting bikes with cheapo bottom brackets.
I'm not sure I follow your 250 GB reference. I'm asking about the RAM not the storage. The element that aiui the active / current data is stored as is being used, dynamic memory of you get my meaning (I don't know the correct terms so making my own up). The dynamic RAM is one factor in the computer performance. If it's too low the processor can't use its full processing power. My understanding is 4gb for basic use such as Internet surfing, basic word processing, streaming films, 8gb for more performance such as larger spreadsheets, multiple apps, etc. Then for more demanding applications even more might be needing (video editing and cad I guess).

So I assume the 250gb reference is the memory used to store the os, files, photos, music, etc. What I want to know is related to factors affecting performance such as processor and RAM.

Unless I'm mistaken 4gb RAM isn't well matched with a core i5 processor. There's an i5 chip with 4gb RAM and 256gb ssd or 1tb hdd instead. Then there's an i5 chip with 8gb and 256gb ssd and another with i3 chip, 8gb and 256gb ssd. The performance of the second should be the best but out of the other two I don't know. Would higher RAM on a lower speed chip be as good as a low RAM with a better chip?

Of course ultimately the real question is whether a laptop with core i5, 4GB RAM, 256GB SSD going to be good enough? Is the RAM a bit low? The reason being I've seen that there seem to be more 4GB RAM around at places like Currys and other main retailers. The one described above is within what I really wanted to spend and basically the same laptop except with twice the RAM is a lot more money to buy.

ian

  • fatuously disingenuous
    • The Suburban Survival Guide
Re: Home / work use computer - what specs to look for?
« Reply #51 on: January 24, 2019, 09:39:45 pm »
4GB is entry level. I'm not familiar with Win10, but any modern OS and hardware will manage memory aggressively. It's probably fine unless you're messing with big spreadsheets or like to have forty browser tabs open. It'll probably write to the swap file every now and then which is a good deal slower, but to be honest, it won't be life changing.

That said, it's probably worth moving a few notches down the processor tree in exchange for a bump to 8GB. Unless you're faffing with video, large databases or spreadsheets, or gaming, most processors aren't going to break a sweat.

Also check if you can add more RAM later – most small-form laptops will solder RAM to the board, but many basic laptops will let you pop open a cover and add more later as you need it.

Honestly, I'd worry more about the screen, keyboard and quality of the machine than a jumble of numbers.
!nataS pihsroW

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: Home / work use computer - what specs to look for?
« Reply #52 on: January 24, 2019, 10:07:07 pm »
People buying computers don't understand the difference between memory and storage, so as long as you've got your 250GB (pronounced "gee-bees") on the box, you're sorted.  It's like fitting bikes with cheapo bottom brackets.
I'm not sure I follow your 250 GB reference. I'm asking about the RAM not the storage.

I know you are, but the average muggle doesn't even understand there's such a thing as RAM.  All they know is computers have a 'memory', which is obviously where it 'remembers' all your data, programs, etc.

Marketroids have presumably cottoned onto this and realised that bigger storage sells computers more effectively than bigger RAM, hence nonsense specs that make for impressive numbers on the box.  It's not like they actually have to use the computer themselves.
To ride the Windcheetah, first, you must embrace the cantilever...

Re: Home / work use computer - what specs to look for?
« Reply #53 on: January 24, 2019, 10:46:21 pm »
Thanks. My partner chose her last personal laptop (iirc a 11 or 12" for portability) because it felt better typing than others equivalent spec. She also rated her employer provided Toshiba laptop keyboard. Personally I don't find it much of an issue.

My work laptop has a touch pad that I can't use while typing. Easily turned off and use a wireless mouse instead. My home hp envy laptop is different. I can type and use the touch pad nicely.  Both laptops get used efficiently. However it's better to get something that suits you though.

So i3 with 8gb RAM is preferable to i5 with 4gb RAM?

I use a load of excel spreadsheets open at once and often have to flick between them all. Other programs open too. At work I have an ancient pentium (it might be an E something) with 8gb RAM. It now struggles badly. My envy with A8 and 8GB RAM doesn't but it's got too many other issues so I want to replace or supplement with something smaller 14" most likely that's more practical to use for me.

Just seen a 14" with i5, 8 GB RAM and 256GB SSD for £499. Looks good so might take a look this weekend.

https://www.pcworld.co.uk/gbuk/computing/laptops/laptops/hp-pavilion-14-ce0501sa-14-intel-core-i5-laptop-256-gb-ssd-silver-10184651-pdt.html

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: Home / work use computer - what specs to look for?
« Reply #54 on: January 24, 2019, 11:31:27 pm »
I think my advice would be not to buy a machine with 4GB of RAM unless you're sure it can be easily upgraded, it sounds like you'll benefit from more.

My own rule of thumb has been that more RAM generally trumps a faster CPU in terms of what actually matters in the real world, but you've got to balance that with RAM being easier (or at least more sensible) to upgrade later.  I also don't do a lot of CPU-bound stuff; compiling things and playing video are about as intensive as it gets.


Data point that may or may not be useful:  The standard barkata follows in her professional capacity of specifying laptops for disabled students requires a CPU that scores a minimum Passmark of 3000 and either 4 or 8GB of RAM, depending on whether graphics-intensive software[1] is required.  This is with a view to the laptop lasting for the duration of a 3-4 year degree course, doing standard studenty things with something like Dragon or Jaws on top.


Absolutely agree about the importance of keyboard/screen/trackpad ergonomics.  Many perfectly good machines can be rendered unusable by a stupid keyboard layout or horrible screen.


[1] In this context, I think this mostly means assistive technology that manipulates the display for visually-impaired users, though any sane person (so not Student Finance England) would apply it to graphics-related academic software as well.
To ride the Windcheetah, first, you must embrace the cantilever...

bludger

  • Randonneur and bargain hunter
Re: Home / work use computer - what specs to look for?
« Reply #55 on: January 24, 2019, 11:44:05 pm »
I'm done with 'proper computers', even after having built my own. It's Chromebooks for the foreseeable future for me. Office 365 in browser takes care of the paperwork elements and they all run smartphone apps these days for Garmin and Fitbit. The battery lasts for days. Best technology decision I've made in years.
Bikepacking bargain basement: reviews of high value kit great for the tourer, bikepacker and randonneur on a budget

https://yacf.co.uk/forum/index.php?topic=109048.msg2312359#msg2312359

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: Home / work use computer - what specs to look for?
« Reply #56 on: January 25, 2019, 12:01:59 am »
I'm done with 'proper computers', even after having built my own. It's Chromebooks for the foreseeable future for me. Office 365 in browser takes care of the paperwork elements and they all run smartphone apps these days for Garmin and Fitbit. The battery lasts for days. Best technology decision I've made in years.

There's a lot to be said for this iff it will do everything you want.  It would drive me bonkers, but then so would a 'proper' laptop:  They're the computing equivalent of drinking a McDonald's milkshake - fine for general browsing and email and or a single ssh session or whatever, but I can't *think* properly (eg. to develop code or do non-trivial research) without a real mouse and a generous expanse of external monitors.  I expect this makes me horribly old-fashioned.

On the basis that I have a proper desktop computer for proper computer things, I'm happy with an Android tablet as a portable - not as functional as a Chromebook (especially one running a full Linux environment), and the keyboard's more compromised, but a win for portability and electron-consumption (eg. when cycle touring).  Pretty much anything will run a browser and an ssh client these days.
To ride the Windcheetah, first, you must embrace the cantilever...

Re: Home / work use computer - what specs to look for?
« Reply #57 on: January 25, 2019, 12:30:29 am »
I've got no desk to put a desktop. Must admit I'd rather have a desktop but it's not possible.

Chromebooks, don't they need Internet connection? I've got all the home broadband, mobile phone with up to 30GB of tethering allowed but I personally could not get away with needing a good Internet connection to work. Unless I'm missing something you need Internet access to do anything on Chromebooks.

At home the broadband often becomes patchy. No problem mobile phone and tether. However over the last 3 years we've had long periods with no mobile phone coverage at home. One period coincided with no broadband. The issue is the local mast is in a field the company maintaining the mast needs permission for access. The field owner is almost impossible to get hold of. No problem the company has a contractual right if access right? Well apparently that only kicks in after a certain period of time. I've had over a month with no mobile service at home a few times now. It also affects my work place too.

I do think it's a good option for others but my particular situation puts me off.

My office 365 licence has run out. It's a good option though. I'll have to get another licence paid up.

Re: Home / work use computer - what specs to look for?
« Reply #58 on: January 25, 2019, 07:35:42 am »
CPU performance isn't all about the first number, it's a combination of many things including speed and cores. Only way through the morass is to check the benchmark https://www.cpubenchmark.net/compare/

An i5 with 4Gb is probably sufficient for most people, increasing to 8Gb (or 16Gb) is likely not a lot of money, depending on the unit capacity. Most laptops have an access panel for RAM, but it might need a more extensive teardown, worth checking.

bludger

  • Randonneur and bargain hunter
Re: Home / work use computer - what specs to look for?
« Reply #59 on: January 26, 2019, 12:22:42 am »
I've got no desk to put a desktop. Must admit I'd rather have a desktop but it's not possible.

Chromebooks, don't they need Internet connection? I've got all the home broadband, mobile phone with up to 30GB of tethering allowed but I personally could not get away with needing a good Internet connection to work. Unless I'm missing something you need Internet access to do anything on Chromebooks.

Not exactly. Basically you can use them offline and they 'sync up' when you reconnect to WiFi.

In the first world I'm basically never without it. The cost and power savings are so huge (you can get an ok brand new one for £125) that I'm happy to never own another windows device ever again.
Bikepacking bargain basement: reviews of high value kit great for the tourer, bikepacker and randonneur on a budget

https://yacf.co.uk/forum/index.php?topic=109048.msg2312359#msg2312359