Laptop opinion

Someone I know is thinking of getting a new system. He uses them mostly for crunching good sized databases, plus the usual email, web surfing, and other odds and ends. Wants to start transferring old video to dvds at some point in the near future.

He is thinking of replacing the desktop with a laptop, and asked me to "run this idea past your online compatriots and let me know if you or they think i am *****?"

This is the one he is looking at:
Toshiba® (P505-S8950) Satellite 18.4"
Intel® Core 2" Duo P8700 2.53GHz
320GB  5400 second drive    
multi format dvd

His current rig is a:
Core2 Duo E8400 on an Asus P5K-E (P35) mobo
8gig DDR2 1066MHz (but currently using only 4gig)
150 (74?)gig Raptor
2 x 500gig sata, raid 1
ATI 2600 PCI-E

So what do you think? Over all, is this:
a step back,
about the same,
a step forward.
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Desktop could be easy to upgrade in the future in case he wants to

But if he wants to stay with a laptop or even if he will consider a notebook tell him to check

www, they post daily special on laptops and desktops
_Author Commented:
Thanks for the link, but it doesn't answer the question.
b0lsc0ttIT ManagerCommented:

In my opinion the laptop is good.  However is far as "step forward or back" I would have to say a step back. At least in some places that will be key if he is transfering or working with video.  The video card and HD seem to be better in the current desktop.  I didn't look at the details specs for performance on the drives but I am afraid the 7400 Raptor drive will be better than the Toshiba drives, even the SSD.  There are no details about the video and that usually means it is just "stock."

One other negative for the laptop, but this is more personal, is the maker.  I am not a Toshiba fan.  Although I haven't had many I haven't been very impressed with the quality of those I have used and they, compared to makers like Lenovo or Dell, seem to have quality issues more.

I hope this helps.  Hardware isn't my strongest expertise and I didn't look into all of the parts to get details on specs so keep that in mind as you consider this.  However the fact this will be used for video work makes me lean to a desktop computer with great HD, video and memory.  Let me know if you have any questions or need more information.

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_Author Commented:
Thanks. That's what I'm looking for.
I didn't need a detailed breakdown, just a general sense of how the laptop matches up, if there are any gotchas, etc.
I don't deal much with laptops, so I don't have any feel for how the new generation of them stack up.
I do know there are some beefy ones out now (with beefy price tags, too).
Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
Definitely a step back !!

Consider ...

(a)  CPU performance.     An E8400 scores 2147 on PassMark's CPUMark;   the P8700 scores 1848.

(b)  Memory.    8GB in the desktop vs. 6GB in the laptop.    The "currently only using 4GB" comment is irrelevant ==> that's simply a matter of installing a 64-bit OS, which is a very simple upgrade.    He could even do it for free for ten months by installing the release candidate of Windows 7 (which works VERY well).

(c)  Primary hard drive.   150GB vs. 64GB  ==> the desktop has a clear advantage in size;  the laptop's SSD would generally be faster than the Raptor ... although there are certain access scenarios where SSDs can quickly slow to a crawl (notably Outlook 2007).     If your friend wants a much-faster primary drive, he should buy one of Intel's X-25 units -- not inexpensive (especially the X-25E SLC units, which are VERY good), but undoubtedly much better units than Toshiba's shipping in that laptop.

(d)  Secondary hard drive.   500GB with RAID-1 mirroring vs. 320GB ==> here the desktop has not only an advantage in capacity, but also a clear advantage in speed (7200rpm vs. 5400rpm).    Further, to compare "apples to apples" in capacity, he's already got 1TB of storage if the drives were used without the RAID mirror vs. 320GB on the laptop.

(e)  Video.    You didn't note the video adapter on the laptop, but I looked up the model # and it uses an ATI Mobility Radeon" HD 4650.   That's a fairly low-end adapter ... I can't find any direct performance comparisons with a 2600 -- but I doubt there's a major difference between the two.    I did find some 3DMark06 benchmarks ... and the 2600 actually outperformed the desktop version of a 4650 by a small amount -- but it wasn't clear the two sites had used the exact same settings when running 3DMark, so take that with a grain of salt.     And of course the desktop adapter can easily be updated to whatever is desired, whereas the laptop adapter is fixed.    I'd give a clear advantage to the desktop.

(f)   Expandability.    Clearly the desktop wins this hands down !!    And your friend already has at least one notable addition he's planning ==> a video capture card.

(g)   Reliability.   Another clear advantage to the desktop.   Desktops have dramatically better airflow and, assuming proper cooling, run much cooler than a laptop ==> this translates directly into better reliability (although modern laptops are indeed very reliable).

Bottom line:   I NEVER recommend a laptop unless the portability is needed.    Desktops are far more expandable and easier to maintain.    I'd suggest your friend simply (a) upgrade the OS to 64 bits;  (b)  possibly buy a faster hard drive (Velociraptor or SSD);  and (c) keep the desktop :-)

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_Author Commented:
: )
_Author Commented:
Thanks guys.  He stopped thinking about a laptop.    : )
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