Saturday, February 23, 2008

Why it pays to know your PC hardware. A lesson in the greatness of the internet.

I love my desktop computers, I love each and every one...Rorschach, Beebe, Theseus and even little my little suckcock (that's what I named the old HP that I frankensteined)

But lately I have been thinking about laptops. Specifically this one.

Granted having a quad core laptop would be nothing shy of silly but it engaged my brain cogs all the same. Plus I have been thinking about Nat's laptop lately and wondered if a cheap linux laptop could make its way into my possession in the next year or so.

However my enthusiasm and cognizance of PC hardware has proven an ill fit for UPOR (Uber Pwnage On the Road) I was looking at Dell's options for the attactive Ubuntu 7.10 Gutsy selection of laptops and found the lightest of them debutued at a modest $649 plus shipping and all that.

That's not bad for starters but the curse of knowing what is out there prevents me from ever accepting default selections. So, just for kicks I specced out the Inspiron 1525N as I would want to purchase it. To my dismay what started as a $649 laptop quickly jumped up to a much more expensive situation.

Here's a screenie to illustrate my point.

It got me to thinking...what if instead of upgrading via dell I just bought better parts from It might work out better this way and I can always offload the other stuff on craigslist.

Now the four salient points for this particular brand of laptop are as follows.

CPU - Default 1.6 Core 2 Duo
RAM 1 Gig DDR2 667mhz
HDD 120 gig drive at 5400 rpm
DVD Burner/software - It's an 80 dollar upgrade for some Roxio software but HELLO this is a Linux laptop. Sheesh. Let's focus on Hardware.

From Dell. Stick with default chip or upgrade to 2.0ghz core 2 duo and pay 250 or go to newegg and spend about 210. Check it out.

So we save 40 bucks (Shipping will be factored in at the end) AND we get the 1.6 and the 2.0 chips.

RAM is so dirt cheap right now it's hard to believe that anyone could settle for a mere gig. However via Dell adding 3 gigs to the total costs 300 even. Or go to newegg and shell out 84 dollars for 4 brand new gigs of Kington Ram. You can go pqi or OCZ as well and stay under the 90 bucks neighborhood.

Plus you get to sell the other gig on craigslist.

Harddrive default is 120 gigs at 5400 rpm. That's pretty cool for a laptop since you can always warehouse collection at home on a fat Sata drive. Upgrading to a 160 gig drive at 7200 rpms adds 155 to your tag. Newegg only costs 150.

I realize that's a pretty modest difference but you aren't just upgrading you get to keep that 120 gig drive and for a measly 19 bucks you can get an enclosure and hey presto your backup situation is resolved as well. That's right, 20 bucks more gets you almost total backup coverage.

Let's review the upgrade/replacement scenario

CPU = 250/210
RAM= 300/84
HDD= 155/150

So we see that the total cost to upgrade from Dell is 705 bucks. Total cost to swap out components is 444. Add 20 for the enclosure and factor in shipping and everything and the grand total only adds up to be about 472. Not a bad deal especially when you consider the RAM CPU resale plus you'll have an easy way to backup data or just carry more around with you.

Shipping turned out to be a lot less than I thought. Still More than 200 bucks cheaper even if you just toss out the surplus hardware.

If you take nothing else away from this post remember this. RAM is just dirt cheap right now. Don't pay 300 bucks when you can shell out only 90 and get the same type and quality. A little research, and a little consumer awareness go a long long way when its time to upgrade or replace your system.

Next up I'm going to look at Alienware and see what a difference I can make there vs newegg.

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