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  • After 6 months I've weeded it down to 2, Tell me which one is the Winner.

    Home Forums AskWoody support PC hardware Questions: What hardware should I get? After 6 months I've weeded it down to 2, Tell me which one is the Winner.

    This topic contains 22 replies, has 9 voices, and was last updated by  Sparky 4 weeks ago.

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    • #1915319 Reply

      Sparky
      AskWoody Lounger

      Laptop # 1
      Acer Aspire E 15 Notebook, 15.6″ FHD Display, Intel Core i3-8130U Upto 3.4GHz, 8GB RAM, 512GB NVMe SSD + 1TB HDD, DVDRW, HDMI, VGA, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Windows 10 Pro
      https://www.newegg.com/p/1TS-000X-014W4

      Laptop # 2
      Dell Precision M4800 Workstation 15.6″ Full HD 1920 x 1080 Resolution Laptop – Intel Quad Core i7-4800MQ 8GB RAM 512 GB SSD WebCam WiFI DVDRW Windows 10 Professional 64bit
      https://www.newegg.com/magnesium-alloy-dell-precision-workstation/p/1TS-000A-043T4?Item=9SIAF0K8SM2163

      #1 has a newer cpu, but no backlit keyboard. Serviceability is unknown.
      #2 is an older Dell with dual fans and many ports, Serviceability is known.

      Tell me which one is the Winner.

      HP W7 Home Premium, SP1, 64-bit, AMD Phenom II, Group A

    • #1915369 Reply

      cyberSAR
      AskWoody Plus

      Given those choices I’d probably go Dell. Don’t count out Dell’s sales on new machines and also their outlet/refurbs. Have gotten some really good deals over the years.

      1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #1915525 Reply

        Sparky
        AskWoody Lounger

        The only thing that bothers me about the Dell Precision M4800 is that it is a older computer and I do not know how long Dell will stock replacement parts for it.  I do wish they still used the Precision M4800 type of chassis for easy serviceability.  I will check out Dells outlet/refurbs to see if something I’m looking for becomes available.

        Thanks for the reply.

        Sparky,

        HP W7 Home Premium, SP1, 64-bit, AMD Phenom II, Group A

    • #1915447 Reply

      anonymous

      Tough choice, the Dell has a discrete power button. Are you planning to use resolutions up to 4096×2304 @ 60Hz ? Does anybody have insights as to how Spectre microcode updates affect a fourth generation i7 CPU?

      1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #1915527 Reply

        Sparky
        AskWoody Lounger

        “The Dell has a discrete power button. Are you planning to use resolutions up to 4096×2304 @ 60Hz ? “

        What do you mean, The Dell has a discrete power button. Is this a important feature?

        No, I’m not planning to use resolutions up to 4096×2304 @ 60Hz ?

        Thanks for the reply.

        Sparky

        HP W7 Home Premium, SP1, 64-bit, AMD Phenom II, Group A

        • #1915603 Reply

          anonymous

          If it is like a certain Lenovo model the Acer computer’s firmware should a short delay built in before putting itself to sleep if a person, pile of things or critter presses that embedded power key.

          What will happen if that power button gets wet? Windows could probably still be commanded to shutdown normally in case of a little ingress of fluid. The fluid might achieve a sufficient ingress to cause the BIOS to interpret it as a request to suddenly power down.

          How is one to turn on the laptop if there a damaged keyboard power button?

          Silly reasons to think about but it is why I prefer a discrete power button.

          1 user thanked author for this post.
          • #1917361 Reply

            Sparky
            AskWoody Lounger

            I see what you mean the Dell has a power button that is separate from the keyboard. Where as the Acer has a power button that is part of the keyboard. I have to say, I would of never noticed that until you mentioned it. My HP has a discrete power button, because of that, I just assumed that all computer were designed with a discrete power button.

            Thanks for the knowledge gain,

            Sparky

            HP W7 Home Premium, SP1, 64-bit, AMD Phenom II, Group A

    • #1915547 Reply

      dg1261
      AskWoody_MVP

      There are significant differences between those two models.

      First of all, I could find no machine specs or user manual online for the Acer, so “Serviceability is unknown”, indeed! Advantage: Dell.

      The M4800 user manual says it will take up to 32 GB RAM, which is readily available from Crucial (and elsewhere, I’m sure). There’s no information how much the Acer can take, and Crucial doesn’t even list that model. 8 GB RAM is the minimum I’d consider for a new machine, but I’d rather see 12-16 GB so having the option for an easy upgrade would be important to me. Advantage: Dell.

      The Acer CPU may be newer but the i7 is the better performer. Advantage: Dell.

      As a 4th-gen CPU, the Dell will still take Windows 7 (and drivers are readily available on Dell’s site). That’s important to those of us planning to stay on Win7 after the end of the year, but irrelevant otherwise. Advantage: depends on you.

      The Acer evidently supports two drives — one NVMe and one traditional SATA 2.5″ drive, in addition to an optical drive. The Dell supports only SATA and an optical drive, though this one is at least fitted with a SSD SATA drive, which is preferable to a traditional spinner. If I had to make a seat-of-the-pants guess, I’d think i7-vs-i3 may make a slightly more noticeable difference than NVMe-vs-SATA SSD. Nevertheless, as far as storage flexibility goes, advantage: Acer.

      Dell’s Latitude and Precision model lines have a reputation for good build quality and easy serviceability. Advantage: Dell.

      Lastly, in doing a few brief online searches I happened to notice that the Acer apparently does NOT have a removable battery. SCREECH! That would be a deal killer for me. Winner: Dell.

      I’ll second the suggestion to look at the Dell Outlet, though from a quick look I didn’t notice anything comparable in Newegg’s price range. There are some Latitudes, if you’re open to that, but the Precisions all seem to be pricier.

       

      3 users thanked author for this post.
      • #1915663 Reply

        GoneToPlaid
        AskWoody Plus

        You wrote a very nice comparison about these two laptop models. The only thing which I could add is that I watched a video about this Acer laptop model’s teardown. It it very straightforward, yet like you mentioned, an owner would have to perform a basic teardown in order to replace the battery. I seriously do not like any laptop which has an internal battery. For this reason alone, I would probably choose the Dell laptop. Another up vote for the Dell is its Core I7 CPU. Yet I should note that the I7’s hyperthreading might have to be disabled in BIOS if this particular I7 CPU is affected by a bug in hyperthreading. No big deal as far as disabling hyperthreading since the performance penalty is fairly marginal, and only affects programs which actually support hyperthreading.

        1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #1917372 Reply

        Sparky
        AskWoody Lounger

        Yes, serviceability is what I like about the Dell and I agree about having a detachable battery.  I will check out Dell’s Latitude models also.

        Thanks for the in depth pros & cons description,

        Sparky

        HP W7 Home Premium, SP1, 64-bit, AMD Phenom II, Group A

    • #1915667 Reply

      satrow
      AskWoody MVP

      @GtP: you’re suggesting this i7 H/T ‘bug’ is worse than the i3 H/T ‘bug’?

      Another vote for the Dell.

      @All: the Dell can take up to 3 internal drives, 1x SATA 3, 1x mSATA (@ SATA 2) and a 3rd drive via an optional adapter in the optical drive bay:

      Storage Interface • SATA 1 (1.5 Gb/s)
      • SATA 2 (3.0 Gb/s)
      • SATA 3 (6 Gb/s)
      Drives configurations:
      M4800 one internal 2.5 inch SATA HDD/SSD (SATA3) + one mSATA SSD
      (SATA2)
      M6800 two internal 2.5 inch SATA HDD/SSD (SATA3) + one mSATA SSD
      (SATA2)
      Size 1 TB 5400 rpm, 320/500/750 GB 7200 rpm, 320GB 7200 rpm SED
      FIPS; 128/256/512 GB SATA 3 SSD, 256 GB SATA 3 SSD
      NOTE: The size of the hard drive is bound to change. For
      more information, see dell.com.
      Optical Drive:
      Interface • SATA 1 (1.5 Gb/s)
      • SATA 2 (3.0 Gb/s)
      Configuration supports ODD modules and Air Bay with SATA HDD option

      New original spares and adapters, etc. for the Dell can be found at Ebay, etc. at much reduced prices.

      1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #1916736 Reply

      Ascaris
      AskWoody_MVP

      It coincidentally happens that my two current laptops are an Acer and a Dell.  I like them both a lot, but one thing that really annoys me about the Acer is that it uses Insyde firmware, and I believe the model you mentioned has Insyde also.  Insyde is quite notorious across the web for being, erm, not great.

      I don’t know how much of it is Acer’s doing and how much is Insyde’s, but the legacy boot mode cannot be selected on my Acer.  It’s not capable of doing a legacy boot, and it should be able to.  The option is there, but can’t be selected.

      There are other weird quirks, like how certain options in the firmware are inexplicably grayed out and not available until you set a password, which really ought to be left up to the user.  I’ve never seen that in AMI, Phoenix, or Award BIOS/UEFI, or in my Dell G3, whose UEFI has no branding other than Dell (though I’d hazard a guess it’s AMI underneath).

      Additionally, the password function in Insyde is intentionally bad.  With certain SSDs, you can set the hard drive ATA password and the drive will use that to self-encrypt the data, making it secure if the unit is lost or stolen.

      About those passwords… for any of its password functions, Insyde only allows them to be up to 12 digits, case insensitive.  It limits the password strength by not distinguishing case or allowing greater length.  But wait!  There’s more.

      Insyde is so concerned that the user may lock himself out with the password they force you to set that they present an unlock code if the person enters the wrong password three times, which presumably the OEM would be able to use to reveal the password.  Older Insyde unlock codes can be entered into any one of a bunch of web sites to find the password, but mine has more digits than these sites accept, so it didn’t work… for now.  There is an algorithm somewhere out there to use those codes to get the password, and that makes it untrustworthy.  I don’t know that I can trust Acer or Insyde to not break the password for an attacker claiming to be me.  It would not be an issue if they didn’t backdoor the thing!

      Assisting a potential attacker in getting at my data is just insanely stupid.  There’s no way to weaken passwords just for the rightful user without also making the things more vulnerable to the people they are intended to block.  The Insyde passwords are already weaker than I would prefer by the short length and limited number of characters, but then they go and give the attacker a strong hint!

      My Dell does not do this.  It allows passwords of up to 32 characters, I believe, and it is case sensitive and allows special characters (the Acer does too on that point).  If you enter it wrong three times, it doesn’t offer to help the attacker.  I wouldn’t have thought “doesn’t help attackers get your data” was a feature, but here we are.

      In addition, the Acer firmware releases don’t permit downgrading, and the Dell does, after I select the option to allow downgrades.  There are valid reasons why a person may want to do this, and it’s nice to not have the OEM disallow it across the board “just because.”

      It may be possible to get around the downgrade block on the Acer, but it also may end up bricking the device, requiring it to be sent in for service to restore function.  I don’t recommend trying it.

      I got the Acer on closeout for a great price, and I would buy it again if given the choice, as it has some other great things that were a great deal at the price (IPS display, aluminum case), but the Insyde firmware is a serious negative, in my book (Lenovos often use it too).

      Group "L" (KDE Neon User Edition 5.16.5).

      2 users thanked author for this post.
      • #1916953 Reply

        anonymous

        Any paying OEM can have the capability to configure and build Insyde UEFI BIOS.

        1 user thanked author for this post.
        • #1917455 Reply

          Ascaris
          AskWoody_MVP

          Of course. 

          Any paying OEM can have the capability to configure and build Insyde UEFI BIOS.

          Of course.  The same’s true of the other firmware providers too.  Unless the hardware OEM is going to reinvent the wheel and write their own, they license one of the existing commercial choices and customize it in whatever way they wish (subject to the agreement with the firmware vendor), then build it for their particular product.  That’s why I am not sure whether it was Acer or Insyde that was responsible for the non-selectable legacy boot option.  If I had to guess, I’d say Acer, but it would be just that… a guess.

          Group "L" (KDE Neon User Edition 5.16.5).

      • #1917404 Reply

        Sparky
        AskWoody Lounger

        The Insyde firmware information is beyond my knowledge base, therefor much of what you wrote is a little over my head. Nevertheless I very much appreciate you to taking the time, to go into an excellent explanation on how one can better protect their computer against unwanted intrusion. I will look further into Insyde firmware to learn more about it.

        I’m curious, what was the model number of the Acer that had the IPS display & aluminum case?

        Thanks for the reply and taking the time,

        Sparky

        HP W7 Home Premium, SP1, 64-bit, AMD Phenom II, Group A

        • #1917498 Reply

          Ascaris
          AskWoody_MVP

          The Acer I have with the IPS display and the aluminum case is the Swift 1 (mine is SF113-31).  It’s a nice laptop for what I use it for, which is to be my out-and-about unit, where battery life and bulk are primary concerns (and the relatively low cost in case of loss/theft is a factor too).  It’s very thin and easy to carry, and while its CPU/SoC  (Intel Apollo Lake “Pentium” N4200, a derivative of the notoriously slow Intel Atom series) is no barn-burner, it at least has 4 cores.  This is not a machine that is particularly swift, its name notwithstanding, but it’s fast enough to not feel painful when doing things like web browsing,  and I use the full KDE Plasma desktop environment on it without any problems.

          While it was sold with a 64GB eMMC drive, my Swift also has a M.2 SSD slot internally (empty initially), which I quickly populated with a not-very-cheap 1 TB SSD, thus partly defeating the purpose of having a cheap laptop in case of loss.  The unit was easy to open to add the SSD, and I could see that the battery would be an uncomplicated replacement when it comes time to do so.  It would have been nice to have an official service manual like I do for my Dell G3, but you can find disassembly walkthroughs for just about anything on the web.  Just in the last week, I repaired my Panasonic microwave and tore down my Corsair K70 keyboard (after a drink spill) using these.

          On the down side, the Swift 1 has only 4GB of RAM, and since it is soldered to the board, it’s not upgradeable– at least in the versions sold in the US.  I did find one variant sold only in Europe (not sure where in Europe) that has 8GB, but they won’t sell that model here.

          One thing I really like about the Swift 1 is that it has no cooling fan or vents in the case to get clogged with dust.   The CPU has a large passive heat sink (a sheet of copper, essentially) to cool the CPU, and the warm air inside the case can cool a lot more easily than if it had a plastic case, as aluminum has excellent heat conductivity compared to a typical plastic computer case (probably ABS).

          My Dell G3 gaming laptop (G3-15-3579) is the computationally heavy duty, desktop-replacement spec unit that I would use when I am out and about, but where I have a place to “set up” and use it while plugged in, like a hotel room or a friend’s house.  While it does have the battery life to be credibly used while using the Intel integrated GPU, it’s quite bulky and heavy compared to the Swift, and its plastic case would seem to be more likely to get chipped or cracked if I just carry it around like I do with the Swift, without a laptop bag/sleeve, so I haven’t tried to use it in that way.  In terms of capability and role, it’s more comparable to the units you specified than my Swift.

          Group "L" (KDE Neon User Edition 5.16.5).

          1 user thanked author for this post.
        • #1919662 Reply

          Sparky
          AskWoody Lounger

          I do like IPS displays. I tried out a Lenovo Flex 5  that has a IPS display and immediately noticed a difference. You don’t have to position the screen to get a clear picture. But it seemed to be dim compared to my HP G62 407DX screen. I don’t know if the Dell or  Acer has an IPS display.

          Dust does get clog into the fan heat fins on my HP also, so I know what you mean. Its to bad they didn’t design it with removable filter, to take out and clean it, when it get clogged.

          I will check out the Dell G3 gaming laptop (G3-15-3579.

          Thanks for the in depth reply,

          Sparky

          HP W7 Home Premium, SP1, 64-bit, AMD Phenom II, Group A

    • #1916816 Reply

      MrJimPhelps
      AskWoody_MVP

      I’ve had such good results from Dell, both in the quality of the equipment and in the superior customer service, as well as the abundance of support you get on their website for your computer, that I always go with Dell over anyone else, unless I have a very good reason not to.

      The only problem I have had with Dell laptops is that in the past the batteries weren’t good – they would soon develop a memory. In one case, my battery ended up having about 10 minutes of capacity, which meant that it would last about long enough for me to log into Windows, and then it would die.

      I recently bought a new Dell battery for an old Dell laptop, and so far, the battery is holding up well. It is a Dell Latitude E5510 running Linux Mint Cinnamon 18.3, which may have some impact on the battery, but I’m not aware of any difference between Mint and Windows in terms of battery life or capacity.

      Group "L" (Linux Mint)
      with Windows 8.1 running in a VM
      1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #1917447 Reply

        Sparky
        AskWoody Lounger

        MrJimPhelps,

        I have agree with you about Dell’s website, the documentation you find on their website on how to disassemble and repair a Dell computer, far surpasses any other computer hardware companies website. It really is unbelievable, the detail and ease, on how they show you to disassemble a Dell computer. I don’t know of any computer company that does this. And the documentation is easy to find.

        Good to know that the batteries are getting better.

        Thanks for the reply,

        Sparky

        HP W7 Home Premium, SP1, 64-bit, AMD Phenom II, Group A

        • #1918160 Reply

          MrJimPhelps
          AskWoody_MVP

          HP also gives very excellent information on their website about how to uninstall and reinstall the various parts in their computers.

          Group "L" (Linux Mint)
          with Windows 8.1 running in a VM
          2 users thanked author for this post.
          • #1919663 Reply

            Sparky
            AskWoody Lounger

            Yes, HP has good info on their website for repairing computer. Dell’s website repair info just seems to be easier to find.

            Thanks for the  reply,

            Sparky

            HP W7 Home Premium, SP1, 64-bit, AMD Phenom II, Group A

    • #1918180 Reply

      MrJimPhelps
      AskWoody_MVP

      The Dell has VGA, HDMI, and DisplayPort video ports, while the Acer has only VGA and HDMI video ports.

      You won’t need VGA unless your monitor has only a VGA port and you don’t want to spend the money for another monitor, or unless you are somewhere that has only a VGA monitor available. I always advise getting a computer with a VGA port, because in an emergency at least you can plug in a monitor.

      I believe that DisplayPort is better for text, while HDMI is better for video streaming (this has been my experience). I have an old HDMI monitor. The text shows up much more sharp when I connect it to the Mini DisplayPort video port using a Mini-DisplayPort-to-HDMI adapter, than when I plug it into the built in HDMI port. The inclusion of a DisplayPort video port is something that would cause me to go with the Dell over the Acer.

      Group "L" (Linux Mint)
      with Windows 8.1 running in a VM
      1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #1918194 Reply

      OscarCP
      AskWoody Plus

      MrJimPhelps: “HDMI is better for video streaming

      And for watching movies and favorite older TV shows on DVD or Blu Ray. I use it quite frequently that way with a large external monitor when playing the disks on my old Windows 7 laptop (from HP), or my Mac laptop (that can only play DVDs).

      Windows 7 Professional, SP1, x64 Group B & macOS + Linux (Mint) => Win7 Group W + Mac&Lx

      1 user thanked author for this post.

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    Reply To: After 6 months I've weeded it down to 2, Tell me which one is the Winner.

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