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Fastest Windows laptop under $500?

Posted By: Chuck Bower
Date: Sunday, 19 May 2013, at 5:33 p.m.

In Response To: Fastest Windows laptop under $500? (Timothy Chow)

I question the reliability of some of the responses are. You did ruffle some feathers so maybe they are going anti-benefit-of-the-doubt.

1) I can guarantee that I've run 100% CPU rate for hours (days+) in succession on a laptop without "burning it up".

2) $500 is certainly doable but of course don't expect speeds like Neil, KenB, and friends are getting with their liquid-cooled racecar desktops.

3) I'm not fully up-to-date on the technology but from doing some quick web searching I think the major decision you are going to have to make is whether to get a dual core Intel (there are I5 models under $500) or quad core AMD (probably A8 to stay under $500). What you really would like to make your decision is XG and/or GNU-bg benchmarks made with these models. That is where this forum could probably provide the best help. In general AMD is slower, but getting a factor of 2 in CPU's can make up for a lot. So don't accept generalities.

4) In choosing a CPU you also need to account for heat. It doesn't help to have a CPU capable of superfast short-term power if that gets throttled back for long-term usage because things get hot. (That's happened to me in the past on a now 10 year old but still functioning laptop.)

5) I have two laptop cooling pads and those seem to help quite a bit. I'm not sure which is 'best' but you can get them in the $20-25 range. Given that you want to travel with your PC, you might want to include the portability of the cooler as well. I have one small enough to travel easily, so its doable.

6) Of course the choice of rollout settings has a lot to do with things, too. Both GNU-bg and XG give you a wide range of settings. Sometimes XG++ is good enough for checker plays and I doubt that would tax very many laptop CPU's short of those netbook (and pad?) computers.

As far as evidence that this can be done, I have a 3 1/2 year old HP dv3t (13 in.) with a dual core Intel Core 2 duo T6500 running at 2.1 GHz and that's the only computer I've ever used for XG. I've done 4-ply play, XGR+ cube rollouts overnight many times. I've never had a crash and AFAIK never a throttle-back. (I do use a cooling pad.) I've never replaced a single part on this computer; I've taken it on multiple trips (driving and flying). I've had two laptops and a desktop by HP and have had little problems other than having to replace harddrives (pretty typical for spinning HD's no matter whose name is on the computer or on the HD). But I doubt brand name is as important as CPU choice.

As an example of what's out there, I went to Sam's Club website and asked for laptops in the >$400 but <$500 range and they listed 12 (HP, Dell, Toshiba, Asus) with many CPUs (e.g. A8 4500m, i5 submodels 3210m, 3230m 3317m, i3 submodels 2350m, 2370m, 3227u).

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