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ProfessorTomoe

The Saga of the New Notebook

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Allow me to start at the beginning, back at the start of October, 2020, as I was checking out of the Skilled Care unit (a.k.a. Nursing Home) after having my left knee replaced with an artificial joint. My only lifeline to the outside world for the whole month of September had been my GIGABYTE P55WV5-SL1 laptop - an i7 with 16GB of RAM. On the day I was checking out, my screen dimmed by half, rendering it nearly unreadable.

Fast forward to April. I finally was able to do an image backup of the system and hand it off to a local repair shop. They were unable to fix it - suggested that I send it back to GIGABYTE. I obtained an out-of-warranty RMA and sent it to GIGABYTE, along with almost $200 up front money for diagnosis fees/labor and return shipping, non-refundable. They determined that the video outputs on the motherboard were defective, and wanted me to pay $770 to get them fixed/replaced/whatever.

After some serious discussion, and being under the misguided notion that a decent replacement would cost less than $2,000, I was advised by my wife to tell GIGABYTE to return the laptop unrepaired and to shop for a new laptop. I issued the return order, got the return shipment notice, and started shopping.

Boy, was *I* ever in for a case of sticker shock!

I started off by trying to match like for like. My GIGABYTE came with the latest generation i7 CPU when I bought it. It had onboard NVIDIA graphics, onboard sound, an NVMe M.2 SSD drive (512 MB), and 16 GB of RAM. The SSD requirement had increased to 1TB, and the RAM requirement had increased to 32GB (due to me doing Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) audio processing on the laptop now).

The first systems I saw with these specs started near the $3,000 range! Good lord. My wife began to regret telling me to have the GIGABYTE laptop returned unrepaired.

After almost a month of constant shopping, of hashing things out with my wife, and of talking things over with my tech-savvy son (taught him what he knows, then got passed by him on lap 53), I was able to piece together the following system that was acceptable to all:

Manufacturer: Sager Notebook (pronounced with a soft g)

  1. CPU: 10th Gen Intel Core i9-10850K Processor ( 10 Cores, 20MB Smart Cache, 3.60GHz Base / 5.20GHz Max )
  2. GPU: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 6GB GDDR6 with 6GB GDDR6 Video Memory
  3. Display: 17.3" Full HD 144Hz, Wide View Angle 72% NTSC Matte Display with G-SYNC Technology (1920 x 1080)
  4. RAM: 32GB DDR4 at 3200MHz
  5. SSD: 1TB Samsung 970 EVO Plus M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD
  6. O/S: Windows 64 Pro

Total price including tax (not charged) and shipping (free UPS ground): $2,844

Still quite a hefty price tag, but not when you consider what I'm getting (ten cores!) and what I'm going to be using it for (Cakewalk by Bandlab). I'll continue this in the next post.

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Now, I haven't had to configure a proper system from scratch in many years. I would like some input on what the modern consensus is on what software should go onto a Win 64 Pro system. I'll be, by default, putting BitDefender, the Vivaldi Browser, my VEDIT Pro 64 text editor, Total Commander, Cakewalk by Bandlab, Keepass, Dropbox, Take Command, Stardock's Object Desktop, and several other basics. What would you recommend?

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While you seem to be on the upper end of computing, I'm on the lower end for my day to day work.  I'm using a Raspberry Pi-400.  Check out it's awesome stats!
 

  • Broadcom BCM2711 quad-core Cortex-A72 (ARM v8) 64-bit SoC @ 1.8GHz
  • 4GB LPDDR4-3200
  • Dual-band (2.4GHz and 5.0GHz) IEEE 802.11b/g/n/ac wireless LAN
  • Bluetooth 5.0, BLE
  • Gigabit Ethernet
  • 2 × USB 3.0 and 1 × USB 2.0 ports
  • Horizontal 40-pin GPIO header
  • 2 × micro HDMI ports (supports up to 4Kp60)
  • H.265 (4Kp60 decode); H.264 (1080p60 decode, 1080p30 encode); OpenGL ES 3.1, Vulkan 1.0
  • MicroSD card slot for operating system and data storage
  • 78- or 79-key compact keyboard (depending on regional variant)
  • 5V DC via USB connector
  • Operating temperature: 0°C to +50°C ambient
  • Maximum dimensions 286 mm × 122 mm × 23 mm
     

I'm using a 1TB (more or less, actually 915 GB) SSD with a USB 3 connection as my drive, instead of the SD card.  I've also got a pair of monitors attached to it and a USB microphone.  The monitors are the expensive part of the set up, being a total of $230.  The SSD was about $70, the microphone was $50 and the computer was $100.

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Heh. I think I bought this laptop - a refurb HP Elitebook, for under $400. Nothing spectacular... the more optimistic benchmarks say the processor runs at a bit under 1/3 the speed of the best available.

Came with a 128GB SSD in the M.2 form factor, and 8G RAM. But it also had a free RAM slot, and a space for a 2.5" hard drive.

My old laptop, which had several minor hardware issues, had an almost-new 2.5" 1-terabyte SSD, and 4G RAM. Guess what got moved over...

Now if I could figure out why this machine won't boot off a Win7/32 install disk or thumb drive... Linux install media work just fine... I have an old game I'd like to run, and emulators and virtual machines aren't working...

-- edit: figured that out, but all my hard drives have UEFI/gpt partition tables and Win7 won't install on that. Or on a thumb drive.

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I see what you guys are talking about. Neither machine would run an audio processing DAW with the kind of set-it-and-forget-it flawlessness I need. I want the software to almost be too frightened to slow down or to throw errors, if you know what I mean. That's why I went for the high end when I had the chance.

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Pinkie, my Pi-400, has trouble rendering Facebook.  And I don't think that audio processing software exists for ARM Linux.

 

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IT HAS ARRIVED!!! 

Of course, it didn't arrive anywhere near the announced window (it got here close to 9pm), but it did get here. Lord, is it heavy! It's got two (2) external power bricks running this thing - I'm going to need a bigger backpack in order to lug this monster around! I'll try and post pics if I can figure out how to link from my web directories. Preliminary impressions: it's fast and colorful, as well as stable and up-to-date. Sager didn't just load an old bulk Win10 boot disk onto it. They ran Windows Update and installed all of the drivers it needed, with no bloatware.

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4 hours ago, ProfessorTomoe said:

 

They ran Windows Update and installed all of the drivers it needed, with no bloatware.

I wish more computer makers did that.

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I am slowly getting things back to normal on my laptop. Thanks to a clone of my old laptop's NVMe drive to an SSD drive in an external USB enclosure, I was able to restore my Thunderbird e-mail profile without having to edit anything. My e-mail is back up and running like it was never down. All of my pictures and documents are back as well, but I did have a shock when Google Drive almost overloaded due to too many backup files in one of my literary folders. That got fixed quickly.

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One source of annoyance with the new laptop is the power brick, or should I say bricks. Yes, there are two of them. They even came with a little stack tower of their own. I wouldn't mind the fact that there are two of them, but the cords that run from them to the laptop are too short. I have to put them up on top of a box and two books in order to create enough slack for the fold-out table I have in the living room. The interface is non-standard, so I can't go out and get an extension for it at Monoprice or somewhere else. Don't know what I'm going to do about it.

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I'm not 100% sure, but I have a clue. The enclosure that came with them has "280W" written on the side. I don't know if that means that both bricks total 280 watts, or if each brick is a 280 watt power source. I'm guessing the latter.

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Update: I've managed to transfer almost all of my programs from the mirrored SSD of my old system to the NVMe in my new laptop with minimal muss and fuss. I'm still having angst over the short power cables, though. I've written up a support ticket with Sager, asking them how I can go about getting extensions for the cables. I'm hoping the reply won't be, "You can't."

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Not unless you're prepared to splice electrical cables yourself. It isn't hard...

... but if you aren't comfortable with the idea, then don't.

 

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32 minutes ago, Don Edwards said:

Not unless you're prepared to splice electrical cables yourself. It isn't hard...

... but if you aren't comfortable with the idea, then don't.

 

I'm afraid splicing wouldn't do me any good. Here's the explanation Sager gave me:

"The AC adapter outputs 20V and 14A. Due to resistance, long wires will reduce the current. Therefore, the power sent to the computer is reduced."

In other words, I can't have longer wires due to the resistance created by the extra length.

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That's near bunk.  The difference in resistance between 3 foot and 6 foot of copper wire is next to unmeasurable.   Don't know why the don't sell longer cables, but it's not due to resistance of longer wires.

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44 minutes ago, mlooney said:

That's near bunk.  The difference in resistance between 3 foot and 6 foot of copper wire is next to unmeasurable.   Don't know why the don't sell longer cables, but it's not due to resistance of longer wires.

The problem still stands. I've approached it from the other end - I ordered a pair of extension cables from Monoprice for the wall socket-to-brick length. I'm hoping I ordered enough length to let me put the brick on my coffee table. You see, the laptop sits on top of a coffee table that has a top that folds upward and extends toward my sofa. (It looks like the rear wing of a Formula One car when extended.) If I can get enough slack for the cord when the tabletop when extended, everything will be okay.

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Yeah, I was going to suggest doing it from the AC end, but not knowing how your house is laid out I wasn't sure that would be an option.  

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10 hours ago, ProfessorTomoe said:

I can't have longer wires due to the resistance created by the extra length.

The solution is obvious

More-Power.png

10 hours ago, Don Edwards said:

Not unless you're prepared to splice electrical cables yourself. It isn't hard...

It's been a while since I've watched that Ausie PSA, but wasn't doing your own electrical work one of the "Dumb Ways to Die"?

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53 minutes ago, Pharaoh RutinTutin said:

It's been a while since I've watched that Ausie PSA, but wasn't doing your own electrical work one of the "Dumb Ways to Die"?

Yeah, if you aren't really careful.  It's been more than 30 years since I did any electrical work, not sure I would trust my self to do it now.

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On 6/15/2021 at 11:33 AM, Pharaoh RutinTutin said:

The solution is obvious

More-Power.png

Wish I could help, but I'm a PC person, not an electrician Captain!

;)

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52 minutes ago, Scotty said:

I'm a PC person, not an electrician

That's McCoy's line, not Scotty's

 

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