Saturday, 6 January 2007

New laptop #1

I am in search of a new laptop and this is difficult.

What I (know I) want:
  • 1 GB of RAM (I am tired of not enough resources issues)
  • battery life, the longer the better (I expect at least 3.5h - real, not advertised - in coding, reading style)
  • at least 100GB storage
  • functional sleep and/or hibernation (I was spoiled by my current PowerBook G4)
  • a video card that is supported in Debian (I'd choose Intel, Nvidia, Ati, in this order) since I want to be able to play the games we package
  • working wlan (open drivers are a plus), bluetooth, and LAN
  • a dual core processor (Intel or AMD)
What I don't know for sure aka "help lazyweb":
  • the video memory should be dedicated (does this affect performance that much these days? even on Intel Centrino sytems?)
  • AMD Turion 64x2 (TL-35), that means amd64 arch (are they worth the money saved in comparison with the Intel Core Duo? 3.5h battery time on AMD compared to 5h on Intel would mean, no)
Dear lazyweb question:
  • Does a 32bit wlan ndiswrapped works on amd64 system running in 64 bits mode?
  • What real battery times do people have on their Turion 64x2 and Intel Core Duo respectively?
  • What brands should I avoid?


Marc Brockschmidt said...

I have just bought a HP nx6325 (Turion 1.6 GHz, 1 GB RAM, 100 GB disk). It matches your criteria and is suprisingly cheap.

Time on battery is a bit over 3 hours, but there are extra battery available from HP. I'm quite happy, after patching my Kernel to fix the ACPI problems making fans don't turn on at the right time.

WLAN works with ndiswrapper. It should also work with bcm43xx, but after using that for my iBook, I had enough of the crappy state of those drivers.

eddyp said...

Hmm, this is odd, the HP nx6325 was the first laptop I considered. I kind of dislike the design.

What is your impression about the video card?

Did you managed to make the card reader work? I don't care that much about it, but I know that previous models had a working card reader. Not sure if is the same one :-/ .

Note: I have the possibility to buy a Zaurus SL 5600 and the card reader would mean faster data exchanges.

Carl said...

ndiswrapper on 64bit Linux requires a 64bit Windows driver. It will not work with mixed drivers. Apart from that, they are fine. So... if you go on to install a 64bit Linux, make sure you read the ndiswrapper instructions & mailing list.

The bcm43xx drivers (i.e., the native Linux driver) work up to a point -- I know that there are still problems with BCM4318, either simply not working (with eventual kernel panics), or being limited to 11Mbits.

Pharao said...

did you thing about a MacBook (Pro)

eddyp said...

Pharao said...

did you thing about a MacBook (Pro)

Yes, is too expensive, at least here.

Wil said...

I've been happy with a thinkpad x60. It's an ultralight, so it might be too small for you, but I do get 5 hours of battery life

Anonymous said...

I bought a Dell XPS M1210... It has all you want and is very cheap. I installed etch amd64 on it, and everything works right out of the box... even the "Suspend".

You can buy it with intel or nvidia. The battery lasts for 3+ hours with the wifi on... I haven't tried it without it.

Marc Brockschmidt said...

The Cardreader works (at least for SD cards, didn't have anything to test it with), without setting anything up. Simply loaded the module and everything worked.

I only use the Video Card for 2d stuff, so I have no idea if and how blingy stuff works.

Erich said...

I'm surprisedly happy with my new Dell Inspiron 640m. Intel Core Duo, 1 GB RAM. I have somewhere between 3-4 hours of battery life, but you could order it with a bigger battery (if you don't buy it used like me).
Graphics is intel, works perfectly. Wireless is intel, needs a closed source daemon, but otherwise works great. Soundcard isn't working perfectly yet, maybe with 2.6.19 (microphone and head jack sense don't work at the same time so far; Sigmatel chip following the Intel-HDA design. Output works fine).
The display reflects a bit too much for my liking, and the viewing angles are much worse than with my previous Thinpad A31p (which had FlexView), but it's still a good display. Design is, well, cheapo...
Card reader is not working so far, likely will work with 2.6.19 or 2.6.20.

Anonymous said...

Me and my friend are quite happy with our ASUS Z71A barebone. This one is old and doesn't satisfy your specs, but ASUS makes a newer barebone that probably satisfies your specs, the M9F at

I don't know what's the battery life. For Z71A, the 4400 mAh battery used to last longer than 3 hours (when it was unused). According to the specs the smallest battery for M9F has 4800 mAh, so it should be close to satisfy your specs. I don't know if sleep or hibernation would work. It's possible but non-trivial on Z71A. 915resolution, probably needed on M9F too, doesn't help.

For WLAN, I'm not sure what ASUS mean by "Intel 3945ABG supported
Integrated 802.11a/b/g"
In Z71A, there was no wifi integrated, so we chose a Ralink. There seems to be an integrated 802.11g card in M9F, but it's not clear which chipset it uses. Anyway, IPW3945 isn't that bad.

My friend's page for Z71A is at

Filipus Klutiero

eddyp said...

For WLAN, I'm not sure what ASUS mean by "Intel 3945ABG supported Integrated 802.11a/b/g"

Well, the product is labeled as Centrino, so that would mean Intel wlan, too. For core 2 duos that means the Intel 3945 is in there.

Thanks for the pointer.