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View Poll Results: What OS should I have on my laptop? (read topic first)
Windows 7 4 57.14%
Windows Server 2008 R2 0 0%
Windows 8 3 42.86%
Multiple Choice Poll. Voters: 7. You may not vote on this poll

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  #1    
Old February 7th, 2013, 04:52 PM
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I have a Dell Inspiron 15R that I got on Best Buy (US chain retailer for electronics) in early 2011. It's been two years, and this laptop still runs just as well as it did back then (I'm a good tweaker). However, I've managed to burn a hard drive by torrenting irresponsibly, among doing other things.

Specs (for nerdz):
Spoiler:
Intel i3 dual core @240GHz, 4 GB RAM, 320GB 5400 RPM HDD, Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit tweaked, whatever graphics card it came with, a new Chinese battery that lasts forever, etc.


I've cut down on my torrenting a lot, and it's definitely down to where I go through less than 20GB a week. To boost performance, I just ordered a 120GB Solid State Drive and plan on using that in my laptop. I also plan on buying two RAM cards for 8 GB each. Maybe after a year and a half, I'll get either i5 or i7 as my processor.

This laptop is pretty awesome for what it does, and I feel like I'm going to use it for many years to come. Plus, 64 bit machines have upper limits of capability that go way beyond their shelf life.

Don't worry, I've done all my homework and I know very well how to optimize a computer for SSD.


Anyway, I was wondering if anyone could give me advice on what else I should do to beef this thing up for another 2 years? Right now, besides the hard drive the biggest bottleneck is the graphics card (and not by a whole lot). I don't play any graphics-intensive games so I'm fine with that. Surface stuff like the keyboard have worn down, but can be easily replaced. My laptop heats up a lot, so any recommendations for heat sinks/fans?

I'm also pondering whether I should underclock my processor. The only time I need that much capability is for some video editing, which I can leave to render overnight.


POLL:What OS should I install with the new SSD?
I could stay with Windows 7, which would be safe because I've been using it for two and a half years, and it's so awesome.
I could be adventrous and go with Windows Server 2008 R2, which is essentially the same as Windows 7 but has a lot of features. It's also a far ligher and more efficient OS than 7, even when you enable normal Windows 7 things like Aero.
I've tried Windows 8 and I honestly find it terrible. I would need to install some software to hack/tweak 8 so it works a lot more like 7. I really don't see much point in installing it, but if you guys are convincing, who knows?

Regardless of what I install, I will use some kind of Virtual Machine to boot either 98SE or XP for retro games (of which I have many). I don't think I'll be using a Linux distro, but that's a completely separate subject anyway.
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Old February 7th, 2013, 05:33 PM
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I'd be wary about putting so much money into a laptop. The power supply (not the battery, the power supply) and display units are ridiculously expensive to replace if they go out, and I didn't see any mention of your contingency plans if either go out.

Unless you've got space issues, why not siphon some of the money you're pouring into this laptop into assembling a decent desktop?

As for OS, I'd avoid Windows Server 2008 if you plan on doing any gaming with something released in the last 10 years, simply because many game installers will throw fits if they see you're trying to install them on Windows Server, and most virtual machine hosting software doesn't allow for you to allocate more video ram to the guest OS. It would be far better than Windows 7 at hosting Virtual Machines, however, with Hyper-V being built into R2.

As for the high operating temps, have you tried cleaning out the laptop fans of dust recently?
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Old February 7th, 2013, 05:58 PM
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Use Windows 8 with a UI mod. No reason to use an OS that's going to be end of life in a few years. I agree with donavannj that a desktop's probably a smarter choice, though. Even smarter: never go within five miles of Worst Buy. Either assemble your own desktop or use one of CyberPower's configurators.

If you do want Linux, try System76. They have reasonable prices for decent hardware and are pretty much guaranteed to work with any distro, not just Ubuntu (which they come bundled with). And no Windows tax.
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Old February 7th, 2013, 06:09 PM
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Windows 8 is a different OS, It's not meant to look like Windows 7. Once you get over the initial learning curve, you will like it. I do. It's faster, and easier to use. And if all else fails, most of the old keyboard shortcuts still work.

Now as for the computer its self: Honestly, I wouldn't go with an SSD in a laptop if it's your only computer. There simply isn't enough storage for them at the moment. I have an SSD in my desktop, with all of my user folders directed onto an HDD. Yes its way faster than my laptop, but I don't use my desktop enough, and I have been tempted to put it in my laptop, but I want to be able to keep a copy of most /all of my files with me when I am not at home. I did upgrade the HDD in my laptop to a WD Black 750 GB 7200 RPM HDD from Microcenter (Like NewEgg.com but an actual store) for $90. It was cheap, faster than my 5200RPM stock hard drive, and a lot more space than I would have gotten out of an SSD.

Now I'm not saying to not use an SSD in your laptop, if you are dead set on using it, use one. But you will probably have to carry around a pocket full of large flash drives, or an external HDD, which kills the whole point of being able to travel lite with a laptop. (That was my reasoning anyways).

Make sure your computer supports 16 GB of RAM before you buy it. How much are you planning on spending on upgrades? I picked up my new laptop Last December for $350. Samsung Series 3 15" i3 (@2.4) 4GB RAM (+4 more from Microcenter $20) stock 320GB 5200 RPM (New HDD mentioned above +$90). I've got less than $500 in this computer, and it is more than I will need for the next year or two at least (and I was completely blown away by how good the speakers sound on this cheap computer).

It might be cheaper / easier to get a new mid-range laptop than spending money on upgrades. Only mentioning this so you will weigh all of your options.

Good luck and let me know if you have any questions. I made my last laptop last 4 years by doing what you are doing to your current one.
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Old February 7th, 2013, 06:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by quilzel View Post
Windows 8 is a different OS, It's not meant to look like Windows 7. Once you get over the initial learning curve, you will like it. I do. It's faster, and easier to use. And if all else fails, most of the old keyboard shortcuts still work.

Now as for the computer its self: Honestly, I wouldn't go with an SSD in a laptop if it's your only computer. There simply isn't enough storage for them at the moment. I have an SSD in my desktop, with all of my user folders directed onto an HDD. Yes its way faster than my laptop, but I don't use my desktop enough, and I have been tempted to put it in my laptop, but I want to be able to keep a copy of most /all of my files with me when I am not at home. I did upgrade the HDD in my laptop to a WD Black 750 GB 7200 RPM HDD from Microcenter (Like NewEgg.com but an actual store) for $90. It was cheap, faster than my 5200RPM stock hard drive, and a lot more space than I would have gotten out of an SSD.

Now I'm not saying to not use an SSD in your laptop, if you are dead set on using it, use one. But you will probably have to carry around a pocket full of large flash drives, or an external HDD, which kills the whole point of being able to travel lite with a laptop. (That was my reasoning anyways).

Make sure your computer supports 16 GB of RAM before you buy it. How much are you planning on spending on upgrades? I picked up my new laptop Last December for $350. Samsung Series 3 15" i3 (@2.4) 4GB RAM (+4 more from Microcenter $20) stock 320GB 5200 RPM (New HDD mentioned above +$90). I've got less than $500 in this computer, and it is more than I will need for the next year or two at least (and I was completely blown away by how good the speakers sound on this cheap computer).

It might be cheaper / easier to get a new mid-range laptop than spending money on upgrades. Only mentioning this so you will weigh all of your options.

Good luck and let me know if you have any questions. I made my last laptop last 4 years by doing what you are doing to your current one.
I still think Win8 with a UI mod to make it look decent is the way to go. Change for change's sake is dumb.

Also, 16GB of RAM is overkill. Even 8GB is overkill, really, unless you're the kind of person who forgets to close tabs and then wants to run two games at once. As for support, I can't think of any modern motherboard that can't support 16GB of RAM.
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Old February 7th, 2013, 07:42 PM
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Okay, here's some responses, in no particular order:

-I actually NEED Windows. I'm a Biostatistics major/Geography minor at Penn State. There's a lot of software I need for classes that's Windows-only, which I know can't be WINE'd. (If there are Linux versions, torrents are hard to find for that). It's also a pain to use the campus wi-fi with Linux because it requires special software and weird security settings (tried it before). And I'm not going to sit for hours in the computer lab just to get homework done.

-I have another laptop (older Toshiba) that I can use for redundant tasks while at my apartment. It sucks performance wise but it's useful for managing stuff and downloading torrents, because I can leave it on while I work on the main one.

-I have no shortage of storage space. I have a 2 TB and a 3 TB external hard drives, with their own power supplies. For portability, I have a 500 GB hard drive that I ripped from a dead laptop and reformatted and cased. It fits in my pocket and I have it in my laptop bag for short term file storage. I also have flash drives. For long term, things get well-organized into the two big ones.

-I'm not a hardcore gamer so I don't need things like top of the line graphics, although the graphics and audio (my music collection is FLAC and plays on WinAMP) are rather nice. I watch HD videos, and both 720p and 1080p seem to run just fine on VLC Media Player if I'm not multitasking.

-Quilzel, my laptop has slightly better specs than yours. It doesn't make sense to buy a new one when you consider I paid around $600 for this two years ago.

-The only things filling up beyond 100GB right now in my laptop's internal are torrents and video editing things I've done. And my FLAC collection, half of which I never listen to and don't mind archiving. There's no reason why they can't be external. Windows is 20ish, games and other stuff I use day to day are maybe 50 GB more, if that. I uninstall something right away if I know I won't use something for a long time. Those archives go into external.

-I multitask like a maniac during weekdays. I have stuff open from all my classes, along with endless Firefox and Chrome tabs. I do get a lot of issues with lag as a result. Then I try to open Finale for my music composing class and.... X_X I'm going to get around it by putting stuff like Pagefile on my RAM drive, which I will be able to with more RAM. Maybe I shouldn't try to render Camtasia in the background at the same time, but I gotta do what I gotta do. My laptop somehow always survives, and overheating is really rare. This is where the hard drive bottlenecks before anything else.

-My laptop doesn't have a touchscreen, which Windows 8 appears to be built for. I actually like the old Windows interface, which 7 perfected. I've tried using Macs and iTampons before and I got extremely frustrated with the interface. It's sad for me to see Windows 8 going in that direction. And Windows 7 will be supported for many more years, so it's not some ancient OS that's out of its prime. And a 64 bit machine means I can upgrade into the stratosphere.

-I will clean the fan when I have to take it apart for the hard drive (mine doesn't have an opening underneath). But anybody know anything about heat sinks?

-I'll be happy if my SSD lasts more than a year, but by then I'll buy a bigger, sturdier one for a reasonable price. Maybe then I'll put this one on my old Toshiba? And the shelf life for the newer SSD's coming out in the market now (like the one I got) are a lot sturdier than their predecessors.

-I don't play any games that won't run on XP SP3, which I might need to VMWare anyway. So compatibility won't be an issue. I'm also eager to try using a server OS because I've never used one before.

-Upgrade cost? Around $32 per RAM card (2 total for 16GB, costing $64). $86 for 120 GB SSD (lucky auction). $70 on a new battery when this one is close to its death, which will be a year from now. CPU and other hardware can wait. $15 to replace worn out keyboard with an identical new one. Maybe $150 for a 256 GB SSD next year

-My Toshiba laptop is running a 1.8GHz Centrino and 3GB DDR2 RAM. I got it with 512 RAM before Vista even came out, secondhand refurbished. It was probably two years old at that point. I bought it in summer 2007. It was my only computer for four years, and I even installed 7 on it (ran better than under XP). I want to try to get a couple more years out of it. The motherboard is compatible with 64 bit Core Duo, and I'm REALLY tempted...

-I got the 3TB this past Black Friday at Best Buy for $99. I wasn't even in line; I just showed up and they had a lot in stock. I actually like that store.

-I live in a tiny apartment and I'm extremely mobile. It makes more sense for me to have five hard drives than five computers. Desktops are big and heavy and central Pennsylvania is in the middle of nowhere, and I drive/travel a lot.
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Old February 7th, 2013, 09:17 PM
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Thing is, some of your Windows software will not work on Windows Server 2008 R2. Even though you'd think it would, since Windows Server 2008 R2 is Windows 6.1 like Windows 7 is, some Windows specific applications will not cooperate on Server 2008, from personal experience.

And I'm afraid you will have to watch out to make sure your PSU doesn't go out. That is one of the most difficult and expensive parts to replace on a laptop. Generally, these do last far longer than a battery, but it's something to think about.
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Old February 7th, 2013, 10:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by InMooseWeTrust View Post
-I'm not a hardcore gamer so I don't need things like top of the line graphics, although the graphics and audio (my music collection is FLAC and plays on WinAMP) are rather nice. I watch HD videos, and both 720p and 1080p seem to run just fine on VLC Media Player if I'm not multitasking.
MPC-HC is better.

Quote:
-I multitask like a maniac during weekdays. I have stuff open from all my classes, along with endless Firefox and Chrome tabs. I do get a lot of issues with lag as a result. Then I try to open Finale for my music composing class and.... X_X I'm going to get around it by putting stuff like Pagefile on my RAM drive, which I will be able to with more RAM. Maybe I shouldn't try to render Camtasia in the background at the same time, but I gotta do what I gotta do. My laptop somehow always survives, and overheating is really rare. This is where the hard drive bottlenecks before anything else.
Putting the pagefile on a ramdisk sounds silly to me. You said you have an SSD, if you're worried about how fast things swap out, put it there. If you're really, really worried, just disable the pagefile altogether, it should accomplish the same thing as putting it on a ramdisk but without the overhead of having a ramdisk implemented in the first place (with the pagefile disabled, it just won't swap, meaning everything stays in RAM, which is exactly what you're doing anyway by putting it on a ramdisk).

Quote:
-My laptop doesn't have a touchscreen, which Windows 8 appears to be built for. I actually like the old Windows interface, which 7 perfected. I've tried using Macs and iTampons before and I got extremely frustrated with the interface. It's sad for me to see Windows 8 going in that direction. And Windows 7 will be supported for many more years, so it's not some ancient OS that's out of its prime. And a 64 bit machine means I can upgrade into the stratosphere.
So, again, get a UI mod. There are a few popular ones out there that seem to be well received.

Quote:
-I don't play any games that won't run on XP SP3, which I might need to VMWare anyway. So compatibility won't be an issue. I'm also eager to try using a server OS because I've never used one before.
Why not just play them on your main install? Most old games play fine with one or two minor hacks even on Win7 or Win8. I don't know about VMWare, but VBox doesn't have 3D hardware acceleration for guest OSes (or it's experimental or something, I can't remember).

Quote:
-I got the 3TB this past Black Friday at Best Buy for $99. I wasn't even in line; I just showed up and they had a lot in stock. I actually like that store.
That's the only thing they're good for. I go there on Black Friday to pick up a new flash drive every year.
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"There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.'"- Isaac Asimov, Column in Newsweek (21 January 1980) [source]
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Old February 7th, 2013, 11:00 PM
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I still think Win8 with a UI mod to make it look decent is the way to go. Change for change's sake is dumb.

Also, 16GB of RAM is overkill. Even 8GB is overkill, really, unless you're the kind of person who forgets to close tabs and then wants to run two games at once. As for support, I can't think of any modern motherboard that can't support 16GB of RAM.
Neither one of my computers support more than 8GB. Also my old laptop only supports 2GB, but I figured a way to get 3GB in.

Quote:
Originally Posted by InMooseWeTrust View Post
-I have no shortage of storage space. I have a 2 TB and a 3 TB external hard drives, with their own power supplies. For portability, I have a 500 GB hard drive that I ripped from a dead laptop and reformatted and cased. It fits in my pocket and I have it in my laptop bag for short term file storage. I also have flash drives. For long term, things get well-organized into the two big ones.
If you already carry a HDD around, then you might enjoy the SSD performance. The only time I really noticed a speed boost with my SSD was when booting Windows. Don't get me wrong everything loaded faster, but booting the OS is where I really noticed the speed boost.
Quote:

-The only things filling up beyond 100GB right now in my laptop's internal are torrents and video editing things I've done. And my FLAC collection, half of which I never listen to and don't mind archiving. There's no reason why they can't be external. Windows is 20ish, games and other stuff I use day to day are maybe 50 GB more, if that. I uninstall something right away if I know I won't use something for a long time. Those archives go into external.

-I multitask like a maniac during weekdays. I have stuff open from all my classes, along with endless Firefox and Chrome tabs. I do get a lot of issues with lag as a result. Then I try to open Finale for my music composing class and.... X_X I'm going to get around it by putting stuff like Pagefile on my RAM drive, which I will be able to with more RAM. Maybe I shouldn't try to render Camtasia in the background at the same time, but I gotta do what I gotta do. My laptop somehow always survives, and overheating is really rare. This is where the hard drive bottlenecks before anything else.
If you do a lot of rendering, then you will benefit from an SSD.
Quote:

-My laptop doesn't have a touchscreen, which Windows 8 appears to be built for. I actually like the old Windows interface, which 7 perfected. I've tried using Macs and iTampons before and I got extremely frustrated with the interface. It's sad for me to see Windows 8 going in that direction. And Windows 7 will be supported for many more years, so it's not some ancient OS that's out of its prime. And a 64 bit machine means I can upgrade into the stratosphere.
My laptop does not have a touch screen either, but Windows 8 includes shortcuts for mouse users.

Quote:

-I got the 3TB this past Black Friday at Best Buy for $99. I wasn't even in line; I just showed up and they had a lot in stock. I actually like that store.
Best Buy isn't the best store, but it's not bad, but there are stores I would rather spend my money at.


I like Windows 7 too, I have a VM on my laptop that I use for testing. I use it all the time for other things as well.

I don't understand why so many people hate on Windows 8 with out even giving more than 2 minutes of use. I work in tech support call center with a bunch of people who where not huge on the change (hell I wasn't either). But several of us, decided to give it a shot, and not a single person in the call center who has been using it, as come back in saying that they still don't like it.

I implore you to give it a try (use it with an open mind), for more than a few minutes. Sit down and actually use it for a day or two, learn some of short cuts. It's an awesome OS, if you give it a chance.
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Old February 8th, 2013, 01:27 AM
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Use Windows 7 and get rid of the bloat you don't need. Windows 8 continues Microsoft's philosophy of "if it ain't broke, break it, and make something awesome with the broken pieces." continues. 8 isn't bad, I used it for two months but I found it to be frustrating even after using it open-minded. If you ever think it's not user-friendly though, I'd invite you to try GNOME 3.
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Old February 9th, 2013, 12:18 AM
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Neither one of my computers support more than 8GB. Also my old laptop only supports 2GB, but I figured a way to get 3GB in.
I did say any modern motherboard. How new are your computers that don't support 16GB?
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Old February 9th, 2013, 04:32 PM
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I did say any modern motherboard. How new are your computers that don't support 16GB?
Old Laptop 4 years.
Desktop 11 months.
Laptop 2 months.
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Old February 9th, 2013, 09:55 PM
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Stick to 7.

I dualboot 7 and 8 but mostly use 8 for school due to how fast and smooth the system runs .
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Old February 9th, 2013, 11:18 PM
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Old Laptop 4 years.
Desktop 11 months.
Laptop 2 months.
I'm surprised that your 11 month old desktop doesn't support it. I'm not surprised by the other two.
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"There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.'"- Isaac Asimov, Column in Newsweek (21 January 1980) [source]
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