Wednesday, August 13, 2008


Purchasing a notebook computer can be a tricky process. With so many possible options and specs how can you be sure you are making the best purchase. Here we will take a look at some of the most commonly asked questions on notebook PCs in an effort to make your buying decision a little easier.

Dual core or single core? Which offers better/faster performance given the same application?

Unfortunately there is no simple answer. In most cases, the level of performance is directly related to the type of application and the manner in which it was programmed. For a dual-core processor to fully maximize it's performance, the application has to be programmed to allow multi-thread processing.

However, even when dealing with single-thread processing, the faster speed of the Core Duo chip set very well might give it a significant edge if the the application is frequently transferring data. Conversely, a quicker single-core chip will usually out-perform a slower dual-core processor when it comes to single-thread number crunching assignments.

AMD vs Intel. Which processor is better for both school assignments and high level gaming?

While numerous reports have the Intel Core 2 Duo out-performing equivalent AMD processors, an equally important consideration will rest with the choice of graphics card. Laptops with AMD processors have the advantage in regards to being affordable. The final decision may come down to whether or not your financial situation will play a large role in choosing a processor type. If it will, then it might possibly make more sense to select a AMD based machine with a respectable graphics card.

Processing speed or RAM? Which is more important?

This is another question that depends greatly on the type of applications you will be using most frequently. For applications that require large amounts of computations, such as scientific calculations, a faster processor will often be more valuable. On the other hand, applications that are constantly transferring large amounts of data to and from the hard drive will perform better with more RAM.

There are also scenarios in which both increased processing speed and RAM will be ideal, such as gaming and other processing and memory intensive activities.

In general, remember that it is much easier to upgrade the RAM via third party options and that due to warranties, you will often be stuck with the processor you have chosen.

HyperMemory and TurboCache memory?

HyperMemory and TurboMemory are characteristics that increase video RAM by using memory from system RAM in discrete graphics cards. Still, discrete graphics memory is exceptionally quicker, therefore, the more discrete memory a graphics card has, the higher the performance.

Battery duration?

One simple way to increase your laptop's battery life is to reduce the screen brightness. Also consider disabling wireless applications when they are not in use. Optical drives also sap the power from your battery, consider copying files to your hard drive in lieu of frequently accessing them from a CD.

Certain companies, such as Fujitsu, offer a secondary battery that can be switched with the optical drive. This will give for longer battery life away from outlets.

Leaving the battery always plugged in?

The majority of modern batteries switch into a "trickle" state when a battery reaches or is near 100 percent charged, however, the lithium cells will continue to heat and the result is a shorter battery life. It is suggested that the battery should be removed when the laptop is connected to power outlets for long periods of time. Also, when storing a battery for extended periods, remember to reduce the battery charge to 40 percent in order to prevent cell deterioration.

HD-DVD or Blu-ray? Are they the same?

These are two separate and competing formats of HD media. They are completely incompatible and require specialized optical drives to read their respective discs. HP has recently announced a hybrid optical drive capable of reading both formats for desktop PCs. It is assumed that in time this technology will become available for notebooks.

Vista or XP? Should I switch?

Quite honestly, it is currently better to have Windows XP installed unless you are using advanced features only supported by Vista or if you have recently bought Microsoft Office 07. Although Vista is capable of handling nearly all XP programs, many bugs reported still remain un-addressed. In addition, many offices have software applications that are specifically programmed for the XP operating system.

Running Windows Vista on a MacBook?

Running Windows Vista with an Apple MacBook requires the latest installation of Boot Camp 1.2, which is available for download on Apple's web site. Make sure that your machine meets the minimum operating requirements before installing Vista, and also note that Apple programs only allow the 32-bit version of the operating system.

Windows vs. Mac OS

This comes down to a question of personal preference. Both systems offer a variety of similar applications, and both operating systems have there positives and their drawbacks. One thing to consider is that certain business applications may only be available for one operating system or the other. Also consider the functionality of both operating systems in regards to your everyday life when making your final decision.

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