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Old 11-16-2017, 03:38 PM   #1
daveT
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Yet Another "what computer(s) should I buy?" thread....

My faithful laptop of 6 years finally took a dive. I know from modding it to my best ability that I like the following:

- A nice keyboard. The Lenovo chiclet keyboards are very satisfying to use.
- SSD at least 500G, though I'm thinking of a TB, more on this later.
- Ports. I had 4 and that was pushing it in normal use, though adapters etc are fine with me.

- I don't really care about screen resolution that much.
- touch pad quality. I'm super uncoordinated with this stuff, so I use a mouse.

My recent setup:

The 6yo laptop came with a rust disk and 6G Ram. I eventually bought a PNY 500G SSD and that's pretty okay.

I run Linux. I make most of my money programming and other stuff like that, but there's a few other things I want to do.

Use Case

- Programming. I like the Linux command prompt. I also do a lot of database work, which can take a lot of gigs.

- Music. I play guitar. I did the whole create a youtube vid on Linux, and to put it lightly, it was a total PITA. I did it truly half-assed, but this is probably because my sound and graphics cards aren't very good.

I also want to use Abelton, and possibly start using Push (that thing with a bunch of light-up buttons).

- ecommerce. This includes all the goodies, like a decent system for munging excel files and using PhotoShop. No, the open source variants aren't very good.

The options (as I'm understanding it now)

Clearly, I have to edge off Linux and either move to an entirely different platform, buy 2 separate computers, or dual-boot on one computer. Of course, music recording takes a ton of memory, so getting that partition right is critical. I'm also okay using an external drive.

For the most part, I'm somewhat open to Windows, but what I've used of Windows 10 has been... just ugh.

On the flip side, Apple has that silly touch bar and dongle hell to deal with. The 2015 looks way under-speced, but I don't know much about this stuff, so I seek the wisdom of you all.

Apple Specs:

2017
- 3.1GHz quad-core 7th-generation Intel Core i7 processor, Turbo Boost up to 4.1GHz
- 16GB 2133MHz LPDDR3 memory
- 1TB SSD storage
- Radeon Pro 560 with 4GB memory
- Four Thunderbolt 3 ports
- Backlit Keyboard - US English
= $3,399

2015
- 2.8GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 processor, Turbo Boost up to 4.0GHz
- 16GB of 1600MHz memory
- 1TB SSD
- Intel Iris Pro Graphics
- Two Thunderbolt 2 ports
- Backlit Keyboard - US English
= $2,899

Air
- 2.2GHz dual-core Intel Core i7 processor, Turbo Boost up to 3.2GHz
- 8GB 1600MHz LPDDR3 memory
- 512GB SSD storage
- Intel HD Graphics 6000
- Backlit Keyboard - US English
= $1,549

Windows

ASUS Zenbook seems to get a lot of love. It doesn't seem like I can do much to customize it, so here's the specs:

- Latest 7th generation Intel i7-7700HQ Quad Core 2.8 GHz Processor (Turbo to 3.8 GHz)
- PCIE NVMe 512GB SSD
- 16GB DDR4 RAM
- NVidia GTX 1050Ti 4GB
- HDMI, 2x USB 3.1 Type-C (Gen2) with Thunderbolt, 2x USB Type 3.0 Type-A, 802.11ac WiFi, and SD Card Reader
= $1,699

****

I'm thinking I'll be making a decision within the next few weeks, but pretty much stuck on this for now. I'm a super slow buyer with things that are going to be a part of my life for the next several years.

My main concerns are compatibility with the various things I'll need (if you need a general list, I'll add that in a later post...), using storage properly, and computer speed. Can't have a freeze-up while recording or editing audio / video.
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Old 11-20-2017, 09:10 AM   #2
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Re: Yet Another "what computer(s) should I buy?" thread....

Hmm, was expecting the usual identikit "want to play poker smoothly, whatever that means" question, this is at least different...

Was just looking at logical increments a little bit earlier today, you're right in that your usage is going to need a fair chunk of RAM - if you can wait a little bit until there's more Coffee Lake CPU's actually available then it might be easier to recommend the best value for money.

I take it you're wanting a laptop given your existing use, or are you open to desktop?
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Old 11-20-2017, 04:03 PM   #3
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Re: Yet Another "what computer(s) should I buy?" thread....

With your work load it makes a lot of sense to wait for coffee lake HQs, which will have 6 cores.

You should expect them early next year, somewhere between Feb and June if Intel's usual launch timelines hold.

Meanwhile, if you want a light weight laptop, the Kaby-Lake-R quad core U chips will do very well, though not quite as well as 7700hq.
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Old 11-21-2017, 10:42 AM   #4
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Re: Yet Another "what computer(s) should I buy?" thread....

Interesting replies. My main priority is getting a development machine, and that doesn't have to be bleeding edge. I'm petty screwed up on the music machine and don't really mind getting a second machine for that.

If waiting for the Coffee Lake is reasonable, getting an Apple is out of the question, right?

Yes, I'm considering a laptop or two at this time. I was thinking of just going with a maxed out MBP for both uses since its industry standard in music and widely used in programming.

Main thing with Windows machines is enough internal space and a good sound card. I know nothing about sound cards or any other component that matters. Today I would tell you that I'm not trying to load 250G of files, but who knows.
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Old 11-21-2017, 09:07 PM   #5
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Re: Yet Another "what computer(s) should I buy?" thread....

Next MacBook Pro 15 is probably coming out early next year. If Apple wants to release early and doesn't want to wait for wide availability, it won't have Coffee Lake. But if Apple waits a little to update in May/June, then it will probably have Coffee Lake's 6 core HQ CPUs.

There is nothing inherently wrong with Macs, especially for your use case. OSX might even be desirable for development work. The 2015 models with 6700HQ is more than powerful enough to handle occasional video/audio work (at 1080p anyway) and I usually would recommend getting it. We just happen to be at an awkward spot where, for the first time in years, waiting for a few months will get you possibly 50+% in CPU performance.
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Old 11-23-2017, 03:30 PM   #6
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Re: Yet Another "what computer(s) should I buy?" thread....

I'm thinking of buying an Apple for now. It seems like I can trade it in or sell it in a few months.

The 13" without touch bar has a slightly weaker spec of processor, but it is 7th Gen. The difference is only $300. Thinking I might want to go to an Apple store and actually try one out.
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Old 11-25-2017, 05:55 PM   #7
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Re: Yet Another "what computer(s) should I buy?" thread....

The 13" uses dual-core U chips. Those chips aren't much faster, if at all, than your 6 year old IBM in all likelihood.

The case for waiting on the 13" MacBook Pros is even stronger because the 8th gen U chips are quad core and already available on other laptops, suggesting Apple should be updating the 13" soon.
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Old 11-28-2017, 09:07 PM   #8
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Re: Yet Another "what computer(s) should I buy?" thread....

I'm leaning towards getting the 2015 version, then sell it or trade it in when the next one comes out. Of course, I probably won't trade it in or sell it, but I'll make that plan.

I'm also not sure if Apple is going to add the faster chips to their next line. They seem to be behind a generation all the time, and even these computers aren't holding anything special, especially for the price. I really don't want a touch bar. I really depend on the F keys.
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Old 11-29-2017, 03:07 PM   #9
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Re: Yet Another "what computer(s) should I buy?" thread....

The jump in performance is too big this time and Apple REALLY pissed off the core "pros" with most recent MacBook Pros. I'll be very surprised if they don't wait for the chips this time.

At any rate the Intel timeline happens to match up pretty well with Apple's typical launch cycle so it won't be much of a wait.

The 2015 MacBook Pro 15s are workhorses. I personally regret selling mine in 2016 in a fit of rage. If I had to do it all over again, I'd have kept the MacBook Pro 15 2014 (basically same as 2015) and run an eGPU 1070 over Thunderbolt 2 in bootcamp.
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Old 11-29-2017, 05:32 PM   #10
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Re: Yet Another "what computer(s) should I buy?" thread....

I don't watch much of him, but Casey Neistat was talking about how the 2015 was a workhorse.

This computer thing is going to be an immediate need, as the used one I bought was damn cheap but available at the right time for the right place.

I really do want to get back into recording and other things. The keyboard on this used one already went bad, so using an external keyboard. I'm shifting back and forth in my head. I could use this current one for dev and try out the recording on a decent Windows machine.
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Old 11-30-2017, 03:18 PM   #11
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Re: Yet Another "what computer(s) should I buy?" thread....

Okay, just did a bunch of research.

https://ark.intel.com/products/serie...-i7-Processors

There are zero laptops with a i7-8700 or i7-8700K processor as far as I can find. Seems it's all U series now.

I'm going to hold out on this for now. So true, very awkward timing.
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Old 11-30-2017, 09:26 PM   #12
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Re: Yet Another "what computer(s) should I buy?" thread....

H series should be first half of next year. My guess is first wave of HQ chips will arrive in gaming laptops around March then in MacBook Pros a month or two later.

Last edited by grizy; 11-30-2017 at 09:32 PM.
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Old 12-02-2017, 03:43 PM   #13
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Re: Yet Another "what computer(s) should I buy?" thread....

So, been looking at the refurbs on Amazon. Found these:
  • MacBookPro 13.3-Inch Laptop
  • Intel Core i7 2.7 GHz Processor
  • 16 GB SO-DIMM DDR3 RAM
  • 1 TB Solid State Hybrid drive
  • OS X 10.10 Yosemite
  • DVD Burner
  • ThunderBolt

~$750

***
  • Apple MacBook Pro 15.4-Inch Laptop
  • Intel QuadCore i7 2.2GHz
  • 16GB DDR3 Memory
  • 1TB SSHD (Solid State Hybrid) Drive
  • 1.5GB Video Memory
  • OS X 10.10 Yosemite

~$800

***
  • Apple MacBook Pro 15.4-Inch Laptop
  • Quad i7 2.6GHz
  • 16GB DDR3 Memory
  • 1TB SSHD
  • Geforce GT 650M
  • 1GB Video
  • OSX El Capitan

~ $970

Interesting to note that the refurb Windows in these price ranges has much worse specs.
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Old 12-03-2017, 05:54 PM   #14
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Re: Yet Another "what computer(s) should I buy?" thread....

Those are good deals if they are retina
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Old 12-06-2017, 10:57 PM   #15
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Re: Yet Another "what computer(s) should I buy?" thread....

They aren't retinas. Apple is super confusing, man.
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Old 06-24-2018, 04:14 AM   #16
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Re: Yet Another "what computer(s) should I buy?" thread....

Decided to do a quick update to this thread. Life sure took a strange bit of twist and turns so I had to put this on the back burner for a few months.

I ended up buying a 2015 MacBook Air for $750. It's spec'd with an i7 2.2g processor, 8g of RAM, and 250g SSD. It's the cheapest that I could find.

I just got in the mail a few days ago, but I think I'm getting the appeal of this brand to a point. One the one hand, the build quality is up to the hype, which was noticeable from being able to open the lid with one hand, yet on the other hand, it feels like a bit of prison, or rather, like two operating systems piled on top of each other. The face layer is like a strange toy, yet with some searching, you can find all the stuff going on underneath.

I don't do much programming these days, so I'm good there. This machine would be usable for what I normally do, though I'd probably need to use an external keyboard to use Emacs: the CTL and ALT keys are in an odd position, plus there is no CTL key on the right side. Vim wouldn't be so much of a problem.

I have garage band installed. I don't have much to say aside from the fact that the sound cards are top-notch. My guitar feels like it got out of tone-deaf prison. Garage Band itself seems like it's pretty good. I like how the VSTs are installed directly into the program. I'm thinking that recording and using this computer for other music things will be a joy (as much as "joy" is involved in recording and mixing, both which I hate doing).

I'm quite surprised at how clean the OS is, being that there aren't any extraneous programs installed, though I think it may be a little on the "too clean" side. Everything has to be installed from the App Store, which unfortunately is obnoxiously slow. I also have homebrew for a few things I absolutely can't live without, like Thunderbird mail client and Keepass password manager. Homebrew is also obnoxiously slow. I'm running on a 5g internet with 150Mbps down / 20Mbps up. My Linux computer gets 2Mbps down since it can't access 5g, but downloading and installing programs is at least 10x faster.

I think buying this Apple may not have been the best deal on earth, but the computer is reasonably modern, runs extremely fast, and is a relatively cheap way to test out the Apple world. For my use-case, this computer is plenty powerful enough. I think that, really if, I had to compare to the final cost of using a PC, the Apple may well be cheaper, considering the better quality free software.
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