And my laptop of choice is…

From two laptops to choose from, now its down to one. After much thinking and research I finally came to a conclusion as to which laptop I’ll be using for the next 2-3 years. I considered the following criteria which led me to my decision:

  • Upgrade Options
  • Purpose/Usage
  • Track Record/Reliability
  • Weight

Let me share with you my thoughts on each laptop for every criteria. ๐Ÿ™‚

Upgrade Options

I went to the online stores of each brand and customized each laptop with a maxed-out configuration for non-user upgradeable parts. Which meant that I took the fastest processor on offer, the best LCD screen, fastest wireless cards w/o WiMAX (for the simple reason that WiMAX is not available here), the best internal optical drive available and some creature comforts like bluetooth modules, finger print readers and built-in cameras.

I made sure that the user upgradeable components are the same on both laptops like the operating system (Windows 7 Professional 64), system memory (4GB), lithium ion battery (9-cell) or that the component is the base offer like the hard disk (320GB 7200RPM for Lenovo and 500GB 7200RPM for Dell). I can upgrade the system memory to 8GB and the hard disk to 500GB or larger or to a solid-state drive (SSD) when the price per capacity for these components are at a more practical level. ;))

Component Lenovo Thinkpad T410 Dell Studio XPS 16
Processor Intel Core i7-620M (dual-core) Intel Core i5-540M (dual-core)
Display 14.1 WXGA+ TFT, w/ LED Backlight* 16.0 FullHD RGBLED LCD (1920×1080)
Graphics Card NVIDIA NVS 3100m Graphics 256MB DDR3 with AMT* ATI Mobility RADEON® HD 4670 – 1GB*
Hard Disk (7200RPM) 320GB 500GB*
Optical Drive DVD Recordable 8x Max Dual Layer, Ultrabay Slim* Slot Load Blu-ray Disc (DVD/CD read/write + BD read)
WiFi Adapter Intel Centrino Ultimate-N 6300 Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6200
  $1,504.00 $1,909.00

* – base/only offer

At the moment, I do not need to max everything out but it is nice to know that whatever laptop I’ll be buying still has some room to grow in the next year or two. ๐Ÿ˜€ I’d like to call this as my conservative configuration ๐Ÿ˜€  as I’ll be minimizing upfront cost for the acquisition of the new laptop. As we all know, in as short as 4-6 months, the prices of these user upgradeable components will drastically go down. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Dell Studio XPS 16 – 0

Lenovo Thinkpad T410 – 1

Purpose/Usage

My new laptop will be used primarily for software development. The Dell Studio XPS 16 has a configuration offering of an Intel i7 quad-core processor but based on feedback from users, it suffers from throttling issues and an over heating power supply/brick (more on this later) – take note that these reports are coming from the US where ambient room temperatures are much, much lower. That being the case, the probability of having warranty claims is much higher but since the laptop is bought from the US, I might need to shell out some extra cash for it to be serviced. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

The quad-core processors costs more and generate much more heat than their dual-core brothers. In performance tests, dual-core beats the quad-core especially for applications that are not written specifically for quad-core, multi-threaded processors. ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

The discrete graphics on both laptops are a welcome addition for digital image post-processing. I am not much of a gamer so a really big memory for the graphics card is a bit of an overkill with significant cost implications.

The ATI Mobility RADEON® HD 4670 – 1GB, Edge-to-Edge FullHD Widescreen 16.0 inch RGBLED LCD (1920×1080) and Slot Load Blu -ray Disc (DVD/CD read/write + BD read) options for the Dell Studio XPS 16 looks very enticing especially if I plan to use my laptop for watching High-Def movies. And that is a very big IF. In my opinion, if I’d want to watch a movie outside the house and in a big screen, much so in 3D, I’d go to the movie houses around the metro. If I’d want to watch a high-def movie at home, I’d do it properly and at least on a 42-inch LCD TV, a Blue-ray player (or PS3) and surround sound – not on a 16″ LCD and a pair of headphones. ๐Ÿ˜›

Dell Studio XPS 16 – 0

Lenovo Thinkpad T410 – 2

Track Record/Reliability

As I mentioned before, my personal experience on both brands are palatable. ๐Ÿ™‚ Components that are considered as consumable like the battery degraded after the first 12-18 months of use. Other issues like the WiFi adapter not being able to connect to access points are easily fixed by driver updates.

But reports from online communities tell a different story. ๐Ÿ˜

Searching in the Dell online community forums shows interesting threads that are 50-pages long. This thread discusses the throttling issue I mentioned above for Dell Studio XPS 16 (1645 variant), this thread states the solution for the 1645 and 1647 variants but some users are still reporting that their throttling and overheating issues are still not fixed by the 130W power supply replacement and the A07 BIOS update. ๐Ÿ˜ Although someone whom I consider as a good friend who works at Dell told me that these problems are present only on systems bought before April. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I hope she’ll understand my choice as I can’t afford (figuratively and financially) to have these problems especially when the warranty is not honored here. ๐Ÿ˜

Doing a similar search on the Lenovo online community shows no significant threads that describes or discusses common problems for Lenovo. The worst that I could find was this thread which reports that there are compatibility issues with Windows 7’s Aero theme and the T410’s discrete graphics when used with a 4GB module, which is fixable by a driver for the video card. One common problem that is present on a T510 and on some T410 is a creaky palm rest, which is not a deal-breaker for me. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Dell Studio XPS 16 – 0

Lenovo Thinkpad T410 – 3

Weight

Well, laptops are supposed to be carried around (unless they are desktop replacements) and have enough processing power to do more advanced tasks (unless I’m looking for a netbook). I estimate that a 15.1 or a 16.0-inch laptop will be close to, if not over 3.0kg. Lugging around that much weight – either via back pack or messenger bag ain’t funny. :(( The lighter 14.1 inch screen is definitely a weight saver as it also affects the over all size of the chassis of the laptop. Besides, logic would dictate that if everything else is equal, the unplugged use of a 9-cell battery will last longer on a 14.1 than a 15.1 or 16.0-inch screen. ๐Ÿ˜€

FYI: According to a study made in the University of Illinois, the laptop display consumes an average of 1/5th of the whole battery power even at its most conservative setting and having a black background consumes more power than a white one. The bit-depth (8-, 16- and 32-bit) has no bearing on the power consumption.

Dell Studio XPS 16 – 0

Lenovo Thinkpad T410 – 4

So, the winner is the Lenovo Thinkpad T410. Also known as “The Ultimate Business Tool”. Oooooh! Catchy! ๐Ÿ˜€

Component Specifications
Processor Intel Core i7-620M Processor (2.66GHz, 4MB L3, 1066MHz FSB)
Operating system Genuine Windows 7 Professional 64
Operating system language Genuine Windows 7 Professional 64 US English
Display type 14.1 WXGA+ TFT, w/ LED Backlight (WWAN antenna)
System graphics NVIDIA NVS 3100m Graphics 256MB DDR3 with AMT
Modem 56K v.92 Designed Modem
Total memory 4 GB PC3-8500 DDR3 SDRAM 1067MHz SODIMM Memory (2 DIMM)
Keyboards Keyboard US English
Pointing device UltraNav (TrackPoint and TouchPad) with Fingerprint Reader
Camera Camera, 2.0 MP
Hard drive 320 GB Hard Disk Drive, 7200rpm
Optical device DVD Recordable 8x Max Dual Layer, Ultrabay Slim (Serial ATA)
Battery 9 cell 2.8Ah Li-Ion Battery – Dual Mode
Power cord Country Pack North America with Line cord & 90W AC adapter
Bluetooth Bluetooth w/ antenna
Integrated WiFi Intel Centrino Ultimate-N 6300 (3×3 AGN)
Wireless WAN Integrated Mobile Broadband – Upgradable
Language pack Language Pack US English
Total (bank) Damage $1,504.00* or around PhP 67,680.00 with a $1=PhP45 exchange rate

* – exclusive of ecoupon discounts ๐Ÿ˜›

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