New Computer - buying advice?

 
  Ads Deputy Commissioner

Location: Melbourne
Hello,
I am looking at purchasing a new laptop, however my computer knowledge is rather basic.

Out of the following 3 options, can I ask which computer in theory, should operate the best in terms of minimal lag when multiple , large-memory-usage programs are running at the same time. (ie. Internet browser, Photoshop, Itunes)

Comptuer 1
Processor Type - Intel Core i3
Processor Model Number - 4030U
Processor Memory Cache - 3MB
RAM - 4GB  


Computer 2

Processor Model AMD Quad-Core A6-6310 APU
Processor Speed (2.4GHz)
RAM 4GB RAM


Computer 3
Processor Brand Intel
Processor Type Pentium Quad Core
Processor Model N3540
Processor Speed (GHz) 2.16
Processor Max Speed (GHz) 2.66
Installed RAM 4GB
RAM Type DDR3


The answer may not be straight-forward, but would like to ask for your unbiased opinions before I got to the shops and speak with an in-store sales person.

Thankyou.

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  railblogger Chief Commissioner

Location: At the back of the train, quitely doing exactly what you'd expect.
@Ads I would rule out Computer 1 as an i3 processor may be too slow.
  Ads Deputy Commissioner

Location: Melbourne
@Ads I would rule out Computer 1 as an i3 processor may be too slow.
railblogger
Thankyou for the confirmation, from the research I have done i3 processors seem to have had negative reviews.
  X'Trapolis-904M Deputy Commissioner

Location: Melbourne
I3 Pc are bad i have a i5 And it's okay

Maybe PC 2?
  Bogong Chief Commissioner

Location: Essendon Aerodrome circa 1980
Computer 2

Processor Model AMD Quad-Core A6-6310 APU
Processor Speed (2.4GHz)
RAM 4GB RAM


I got a laptop with specifications very close to this through insurance (the roof leaked in a storm and my house was flooded). It is an ACER Aspire E 15 and the only difference was that it has 8 GB DDR3 L memory rather than your 4 GB. It replaced an old Toshiba Satelite C850 with an Intel Core i3 processor. In theory it should have been marginally faster (I think).

But it has been nothing but trouble. It came with a lot of dodgy third party software installed that hogged a lot of memory and processor capacity. Even after I removed it, the computer is still very slow and prone to crashes, even when I use Opera, the least memory hungry browser and the one least likely to crash. The only non standard thing about my computer use is that I tend to have 2 or 3 dozen browser windows open at a time, although that didn't create any problems for my old Toshiba with it's Intel core i3.

So I either ended up with a dud computer that doesn't perform to the standard it should, or there is something very wrong with either the processor or the way ACER makes their machines. In any case, perhaps it would be wise for you to avoid "Computer 2".

Personally, I'm just waiting for Windows 10 to be released, and then I will ditch this computer to reserve status and get something with high specs, that will work properly.
  Poath Junction Chief Commissioner

Location: In front of a computer most of the time.
Of the 4 options give the i3-4030U based machine (opt1) will outperform the N3540 (opt3+opt4) in all aspects except power consumption. It'll also equal or outperform the AMD A6-6310 (opt2) in everything except 3D graphics performance and that difference is only a few percent at best. So given the other specs you mention are the same (eg 4gb RAM) the best performer will the  i3 system (opt1), however bear in mind all 4 processors are labelled as "netbook CPU's", they're designed for the lower end of todays market.

Some comparisons are available at:
http://cpuboss.com/cpus/Intel-Core-i3-4030U-vs-AMD-A6-6310
http://cpuboss.com/cpus/Intel-Pentium-N3540-vs-Intel-Core-i3-4030U


Regarding the in-store sales people, for the type of system you're looking at they'll tell you to buy the one that gives them the best profit/commission.
  Bethungra Train Controller

Have you considered a Mac Book
  Ads Deputy Commissioner

Location: Melbourne
Computer 2

Processor Model AMD Quad-Core A6-6310 APU
Processor Speed (2.4GHz)
RAM 4GB RAM


I got a laptop with specifications very close to this through insurance (the roof leaked in a storm and my house was flooded). It is an ACER Aspire E 15 and the only difference was that it has 8 GB DDR3 L memory rather than your 4 GB. It replaced an old Toshiba Satelite C850 with an Intel Core i3 processor. In theory it should have been marginally faster (I think).

But it has been nothing but trouble. It came with a lot of dodgy third party software installed that hogged a lot of memory and processor capacity. Even after I removed it, the computer is still very slow and prone to crashes, even when I use Opera, the least memory hungry browser and the one least likely to crash. The only non standard thing about my computer use is that I tend to have 2 or 3 dozen browser windows open at a time, although that didn't create any problems for my old Toshiba with it's Intel core i3.

So I either ended up with a dud computer that doesn't perform to the standard it should, or there is something very wrong with either the processor or the way ACER makes their machines. In any case, perhaps it would be wise for you to avoid "Computer 2".

Personally, I'm just waiting for Windows 10 to be released, and then I will ditch this computer to reserve status and get something with high specs, that will work properly.
Bogong
Interesting comments Bogong, thankyou for your reply.
For what it is worth, Computer 2 is an HP Pavilion 15-P011, whereas computer 3 is an Acer Aspire E5-511.

I currently have an Acer, with only a 1.66GHz processor, 1GB of memory and 512kb cache - which is very slow as expected.
Is there a noticeable improvement in performance when you have less the 10 windows open in your internet browser?
  Ads Deputy Commissioner

Location: Melbourne
I3 Pc are bad i have a i5 And it's okay

Maybe PC 2?
X'Trapolis-904M
Thankyou for your reply.
  Ads Deputy Commissioner

Location: Melbourne
Have you considered a Mac Book
Bethungra
Thanks for your reply. Yes I have heard good things about Mac Book's, especially the suggested lack of need to have anti-virus software installed.

Unfortunately my budget for a new computer does not exceed $550.
  Ads Deputy Commissioner

Location: Melbourne
Of the 4 options give the i3-4030U based machine (opt1) will outperform the N3540 (opt3+opt4) in all aspects except power consumption. It'll also equal or outperform the AMD A6-6310 (opt2) in everything except 3D graphics performance and that difference is only a few percent at best. So given the other specs you mention are the same (eg 4gb RAM) the best performer will the  i3 system (opt1), however bear in mind all 4 processors are labelled as "netbook CPU's", they're designed for the lower end of todays market.

Some comparisons are available at:
http://cpuboss.com/cpus/Intel-Core-i3-4030U-vs-AMD-A6-6310
http://cpuboss.com/cpus/Intel-Pentium-N3540-vs-Intel-Core-i3-4030U


Regarding the in-store sales people, for the type of system you're looking at they'll tell you to buy the one that gives them the best profit/commission.
Poath Junction
Thankyou for your reply Poath Junction.
Thanks for those comparison websites.

The graphics side of things adds to the confusion.
I won't be using the computer for any 'gaming', however I will be streaming a lot of video now that 'NetFlix' is available in Australia.
My current computer only plays these videos/movies in low def quality, when it tries to stream in HD there is significant lag and then automatically switches back to the low def picture.
  Bogong Chief Commissioner

Location: Essendon Aerodrome circa 1980
Interesting comments Bogong, thankyou for your reply.
For what it is worth, Computer 2 is an HP Pavilion 15-P011, whereas computer 3 is an Acer Aspire E5-511.

I currently have an Acer, with only a 1.66GHz processor, 1GB of memory and 512kb cache - which is very slow as expected.
Is there a noticeable improvement in performance when you have less the 10 windows open in your internet browser?
Ads
Well I'm not an I.T. person, so it's all a bit beyond me... But I don't think so. Obviously there is a slight improvement, but it doesn't appear to be much. My machine has 8 GB RAM, (twice as much as your proposed 4 GB), so I reckon that would compensate for memory requirements for the extra windows I tend to leave open. (They are mostly just web sites, I rarely leave videos open.)

Another problem with the machine is that when playing back YouTube clips, it often (but not always) only refreshes the image a couple of times a second, leaving a very jerky video. The same happens on most TV station catch up sites except for the ABC where it will only play the audio and won't show the video at all. That never happened on my old Toshiba with an Intel Core i3.

I suspect I just got a lemon. Other people speak well enough of the processor and the computer brand. But just like new cars, 1 in 100 is a dud and I was unlucky enough to get one.
  X'Trapolis-904M Deputy Commissioner

Location: Melbourne
I have a hp pavilion  DV6 laptop with the i5 in it and it works a treat in fact I am using that one now to stream Vline and a ipad to do this post.
  Lad_Porter Chief Commissioner

Location: Yarra Glen
If you are interested in having several browser windows open at the same time (do you mean "tabs" rather than "windows"?) then your best option would be to have lots of memory, and to configure the browser so that it does its caching in memory rather than on disk, so it's not doing disk I/O all the time.  I recently purchased a laptop which came with 4GB of memory "off the shelf", and when I said I would like more memory, the man in the shop just opened a small plate underneath the machine, took out a small module from a drawer, slotted it in, and hey presto I now had 8GB, for an extra cost of about $120.  Money well spent, if you can afford it.

The other advantage of having lots of memory is that the page file will be hit less often, and that will also contribute to better performance.  So get 8GB if you can.
  Poath Junction Chief Commissioner

Location: In front of a computer most of the time.
Thanks for your reply. Yes I have heard good things about Mac Book's, especially the suggested lack of need to have anti-virus software installed.

Unfortunately my budget for a new computer does not exceed $550.
Ads
Anyone who tells you a Mac doesn't need anti-virus is an idiot. There are many many many Mac viruses out there, just as nasty as PC viruses.

Your budget is naturally the ultimate deciding factor, but in that ~$500 pricerange you are looking at the lowest spec machines. I personally use a simple rule, if it won't meet my needs for at least 3yrs then I don't buy it. Hence my 2009 workstation is still going strong and easily outruns most systems people buy even today Smile
  TheBlacksmith Chief Commissioner

Location: Ankh Morpork
One should really ask you what sort of work you want to do with this laptop, as that affects the choice substantially. But if you are limited in expenditure, I would look at 'Shopbot' and try to find a manufacturer's refurbished machine. These often have high performance for a lesser cost.

With regard to Macbooks, generally speaking you pay more, so you will get a lesser system for a given amount of money.

And ditto on the increased memory mentioned above. You mention having large memory usage programs operating at the same time, that in itself means you need a lot more memory than 4GB, and another thing to keep in mind, is don't have a number of memory hog programs open at the same time.
  X'Trapolis-904M Deputy Commissioner

Location: Melbourne
Poath can you explain what virus is harmful to a MacMac
  Ads Deputy Commissioner

Location: Melbourne
Anyone who tells you a Mac doesn't need anti-virus is an idiot. There are many many many Mac viruses out there, just as nasty as PC viruses.

Your budget is naturally the ultimate deciding factor, but in that ~$500 pricerange you are looking at the lowest spec machines. I personally use a simple rule, if it won't meet my needs for at least 3yrs then I don't buy it. Hence my 2009 workstation is still going strong and easily outruns most systems people buy even today Smile
Poath Junction
Thankyou for this. I will certainly take the first point on advisement Smile.

Well said on the second point.
  Ads Deputy Commissioner

Location: Melbourne
One should really ask you what sort of work you want to do with this laptop, as that affects the choice substantially. But if you are limited in expenditure, I would look at 'Shopbot' and try to find a manufacturer's refurbished machine. These often have high performance for a lesser cost.

With regard to Macbooks, generally speaking you pay more, so you will get a lesser system for a given amount of money.

And ditto on the increased memory mentioned above. You mention having large memory usage programs operating at the same time, that in itself means you need a lot more memory than 4GB, and another thing to keep in mind, is don't have a number of memory hog programs open at the same time.
TheBlacksmith
Thankyou for your reply.

Yes it is coming clear that 4GB may not be enough memory; however it is something I think I can adapt to.
Anything will be an improvement on my current computer's 1GB memory setup!

I do/will try and keep the large memory programs open to only one or two at a time; namely an internet browser and Itunes, or an internet browser and photoshop. I won't need all 3 open at the same time.

When streaming online TV shows, I only have the one program, an internet browser, open with only the 1 window and tab in use.

For this kind of usage I am hoping 4GB will suffice.
  Ads Deputy Commissioner

Location: Melbourne
If you are interested in having several browser windows open at the same time (do you mean "tabs" rather than "windows"?) then your best option would be to have lots of memory, and to configure the browser so that it does its caching in memory rather than on disk, so it's not doing disk I/O all the time.  I recently purchased a laptop which came with 4GB of memory "off the shelf", and when I said I would like more memory, the man in the shop just opened a small plate underneath the machine, took out a small module from a drawer, slotted it in, and hey presto I now had 8GB, for an extra cost of about $120.  Money well spent, if you can afford it.

The other advantage of having lots of memory is that the page file will be hit less often, and that will also contribute to better performance.  So get 8GB if you can.
Lad_Porter
Thankyou for the advice. Good to hear you are please with your decision to add the extra memory.

8GB upgrade would be nice and I will enquire at the store; although at this stage I am leaning towards computer#3 as it is the only one out of the 4 which has a VGA display port.
I don't believe this computer's N3540 processor is capable of having additional memory added - something I am looking into.
  TheBlacksmith Chief Commissioner

Location: Ankh Morpork
Thankyou for the advice. Good to hear you are please with your decision to add the extra memory.

8GB upgrade would be nice and I will enquire at the store; although at this stage I am leaning towards computer#3 as it is the only one out of the 4 which has a VGA display port.
I don't believe this computer's N3540 processor is capable of having additional memory added - something I am looking into.
Ads
Don't ignore the manufacturer's refurbished laptops, these are usually ex-government machines (often schools) and you get good bang for your buck with them. Memory wise, 8GB should be your minimum.
  TheBlacksmith Chief Commissioner

Location: Ankh Morpork
Poath can you explain what virus is harmful to a MacMac
X'Trapolis-904M
Try Googling 'Norton for Mac' or 'Trend antivirus for mac'. If Macs did not get viruses, why do these companies sell cures for them?
  michaelgreenhill Administrator That's Numberwang!

Location: Melbourne
@Ads I would rule out Computer 1 as an i3 processor may be too slow.
railblogger
A fourth generation i3 will beat a third generation Pentium N hands down.
  Poath Junction Chief Commissioner

Location: In front of a computer most of the time.
Poath can you explain what virus is harmful to a MacMac
X'Trapolis-904M

'Flashback' should be in ever Mac users mind. There are variants able to fully infect without any user intervention, ie a true virus as opposed to Trojans/malware that require user intervention to infect.

There's a reason Apple is releasing security updates just as often as Microsoft. Read the OS vulnerabilities at https://support.apple.com/en-au/HT201222 which cover Mac computers along with other devices like phones and TV's. Then there's all the 3rd party delivery methods used by exploiting Java, flash, etc.

Conversations with the stereotypical Mac user are along the lines:
Mac user - Macs can't get Viruses
Me - Have you ever performed a scan for viruses (and malware/Trojans)
Mac user - don't need to, Macs are invulnerable. Hey, can you tell me how someone was able to strip my bank account of all money?
Me - run this scan from
Mac user - Oh my, how did I get all those? Everyone tells me Macs can't get viruses...

Virus scan software protects from far more than just viruses, in particular it protects Macs from the large range of exploits Apple can't address as they're introduced intentionally or accidently by 3rd party  products (eg Java, flash...). They day Macs become as popular as Microsoft based PC's or Unix variants you will see a massive rate of virus infections. The only thing saving naïve Mac users at this time is the fact it's not worth putting effort into maliciously exploiting such a small user base.
  Poath Junction Chief Commissioner

Location: In front of a computer most of the time.
If you're willing to accept the risks of seller refurbished then there are often bargains to be had at http://www.graysonline.com/computers-and-electronics , however you need to be fully aware of what you're buying. Refurbished units are often previous generation machines, and you should avoid any marked as 'seconds' or 'warranty not available'. Postage costs can also negate the small amount saved on low end purchases.

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