Suitable Processor Speeds

The little sister is off to college next year, and is looking to buy a new laptop.  The two that are being offered by her college have 1.60 or 1.73 GHz Intel Pentium M processors.

Here are more details:

I know that desktop Intel processors have reached speeds of 3Ghz+ these days, and we of course want to buy a laptop that will last me sister through all four years of college.  So, will a 1.60 or 1.73 GHz laptop processor still be considered adequately fast four years from now?

My sister doesn't necessarily have to buy from the school if you think we should go with a better machine.  We were just leaning towards one of these two laptops because they would come campus network-friendly right out of the box.  But, we're open to suggestions.
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Pentium-M cpus are not the same as P4 cpus: they accomplish more work with fewer cycles (like AMD Athlons).  Figure another 500MHz to get the P4 equivalent; however, Pentium-M's are great on battery use, extending them for hours.  I would say they are more than sufficient, as long as she doesn't try to play the latest 3D games on it.

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Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
Intel has essentially killed the processor GHz as a measure of performance.  Chips based on different designs running at the same GHz can perform VERY differently.  This can be seen when reviewing the following link:

This doesn't mean GHz is unimportant, just that you really can't say chips of of one GHz rating are faster or slower than chips of another rating when the ratings are relatively close.

I have a Pentium 4 1.9GHz Dell notebook I purchased almost exactly 3 years ago.  The system works as good today as it did when I bought it.

Generally the 1.6/1.73 Ghz notebooks today will probably perform closer to the 2-2.2 Ghz model desktops.  And for school work, should be just fine for several years (assuming her school work does not involve editing video and playing high end games - which it can do, just that a desktop would be better suited for such tasks).
Pentium M processors are not as concerned with sheer speed as Pentium 4 Desktop processors.  The reason for this is that the more power the processor takes, the less battery time you will have.  Pentuim M processors can even step down their power when you are unplugged from the charger.  A Pentium M will definitely be adequate to run MS Office and similar tasks for the next few years.

I'm sure though that you will be able to find a cheaper equivalent laptop elsewhere as opposed to buying from the school.

Hope this helps
JohnK813Author Commented:
I was aware of the whole "Megahertz Myth" (or is it the "Gigahertz Myth" now?) thing.  I haven't been keeping up on my tech reading lately, so I wasn't aware that Pentium-M's performed differently.

My sister may have to do some video editing as part of her major.  But, since it is for her major, there may be a computer lab set up for that somewhere.  We'll have to ask someone at the school about that before we buy her a computer.

Matt - I agree that there are cheaper equivalents elsewhere.  We'll have to look at on-campus IT's policies when we make our decision.

Thanks to all, I should have all the information I need now.
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