Change or stay the same? The future of very personal computing
July 17, 2011 12:46 PM   Subscribe

I have a well aged Dell e1505. I'm thinking about upgrading to a 11.6"/12.1" sized AMD Fusion based netbook. Performance-wise, will I suffer a setback, be about equal, or ahead of my Dell?

The Dell e1505 15.5" is a 1.83ghz based on the original CoreDuo (not Core2Duo). I've upgraded it to 3gb RAM. It's a bit big, heavy, and the battery no longer holds a charge.

The AMD fusion based netbook/ultra-portables seem like an inexpensive, but decent platform. I've tried searching for a comparison of the AMD Fusion chips to my 1.83ghz CoreDuo, but I can't find any good correlating information. Could be I don't where or what to look for though.

There's an Acer C-50 based machine at Target for $250 after discount. I know the C-50 is the low-end of the platform. But if it bests my Dell by a decent amount, it would be worth it, not only for performance, but for the portability and size as well.

I don't do much in the way of graphics work anymore. Most of my computer time is spent online. I do have a habit of keeping tabs open (often 50+). I also do a little text editing and some light home photo stuff. I might do some heavier photoshop style collage work in the future, but nothing crazy. I am plugged in most of the day, but it would be nice to have the ability to take the machine on the go.

My wife is all for it. Mostly because I think she doesn't want to see the "giant" laptop dominating the living room table anymore.
posted by bionic.junkie to Computers & Internet (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
tl;dr: Yes, it will likely outperform your Dell for what you use it for.

Comparing different processors/architectures isn't really possible on things like clock rate alone (for lots of complicated reasons). One basis for comparison is a benchmark, a suite of tests to use as a basis for comparison. Benchmarking your dell vs the netbook isn't really possible (without buying the netbook), and since you're not going to be using it to compute spaceship trajectories to mars or play video games (mostly), those types of benchmarks won't tell you much about the day-to-day experience of using the netbook. However, given all that, it's probably safe to say that for tasks like web browsing and email (which aren't particularly CPU bound), as long as you have a decent amount of memory, you will perceive the newer machine as outperforming the older one. Which is more important than if it actually does outperform it in some arbitrary stress test.

That said, there are some other factors to consider: (1) Is the smaller size going to bug you? Yes it's more portable, but smaller often means cramped or less usable. (2) What kind of hard drive does it have? Specifically, if you can find a netbook with a solid state drive (SSD), that's the single piece of hardware which will cause the machine to do everything faster. They're pretty expensive (relative to standard hard drives), though. (3) How much do you like your wife? (Half-kidding, but all else being equal, why not replace the "giant" laptop with something that will make her happier too?)
posted by axiom at 1:18 PM on July 17, 2011

Another option: I took the $220 and spent it on an SSD for my e1505. It runs like a beauty now, photoshop, firefox itunes you name it. That said the machine is old and the architecture is old so you may just find the newer stuff not just snappier but also something that's going to last a while from now rather than being on its last legs
posted by the mad poster! at 2:10 PM on July 17, 2011

I recently upgraded my desktop to a ettop eeebox 1501p. I am very pleased with it and it does everything I want it to do. It runs totally silent and uses less energy than a light bulb. I would upgrade to the netbook and I think you will find it works great. I would try to go with something better than the c-50 and try to get the e-350 or an atom d525.
posted by koolkat at 3:07 PM on July 17, 2011

Response by poster: @axiom: I figured with the more modern memory architecture and GPU it would feel faster for basic computing tasks. I don't think the smaller size will bother me. I have an iPad which we got to replace the Dell for web surfing and such, but it's a pain to post in forums using the onscreen keyboard. I fooled around with my brothers 10" netbook, which was too cramped. I think that had to do with the physical size being too small for a keyboard, and the 1024x600 screen not having enough pixels. I did some in-store demo time with an 11.6" Thinkpad and MacBook Air and thought they were comfortable. It has a 5400rpm HD, but so does my Dell. If I get the Acer unit and take a liking to it, I may end up getting an SSD. I'm a bit frugal, so my wife is the impetus behind the "upgrade". The Target ad created a bit more urgency. I suppose it's not often that ones S.O. is behind a gadget purchase, so maybe I best follow opportunity while it's still knocking.

@the mad poster!: I thought about upgrading with an SSD, but at the price for a whole new netbook, and all its perks, I figured I should be some serious thought into moving on. And like you said, it probably will have more life than upgrading my Dell.

@koolkat: I had been mulling this over for a couple weeks now. I'd been looking into the Thinkpad X120e, which has a really nice keyboard and has the E-350. The sale on the Acer, @$250 really caught my attention, but maybe spending a little more would future proof it for a little longer.
posted by bionic.junkie at 3:16 PM on July 17, 2011

Response by poster: Found a CPU ranking site via a deal/coupon site.

Here are the pages that rank the CPU in my Dell vs. Fusion C-50 (in the Acer) and Fusion E-350 in the Thinkpad:

Looking at the raw scores, it seems my six year old Dell is still keeping up CPU wise. There are certainly other considerations than just raw CPU, such as RAM speed and graphics power. I know that 1080p on my Dell is a slideshow, but seems to be great on these little netbooks (due to the ATI graphics chip).

posted by bionic.junkie at 4:32 PM on July 17, 2011

I do have a habit of keeping tabs open (often 50+)

Then memory will likely be a concern. Your present machine is, I am pretty sure, a 32-bit machine, which means it can only support up to 3GB of RAM. The AMD processor you mention is, I am pretty sure, 64-bit, which means it can support far more RAM.
posted by tumid dahlia at 8:39 PM on July 17, 2011

Response by poster: @tumid dahlia: I agree. I think RAM is going to be the most important part of the equation for what I'm now doing computer-wise.

Funny development came this evening. My wife went shopping for some clothes and came back with the Acer netbook. Turns out it was on sale for $250 w/ a $50 gift card, so net of $200. I'm currently typing on it now. It gets a bit warm near the vent, but otherwise seems fairly capable machine. I've got about 15 open tabs firefox right now, while streaming music. Scrolling and switching about seems very responsive. I guess we'll see how it goes with more tabs and Firefox having been open for a few days.

So, it does feel faster than my old Dell, even though the AMD C-50 ranks way under the CoreDuo of the Dell. I imagine it's the combination of faster RAM, better graphics, and Windows 7. I was going to try installing Ubuntu, but after 1+ hours of uninstalling bloatware, I caved and just started USING the computer. (GASP!)

I'm going to mark this as resolved, as I guess I don't really need to decide anymore if I'm going to get a netbook or not, since I now have one. If anyone has questions about the Acer Aspire One 722, I'll check back and answer what I know so far.

If you're like me and want to see where your current CPU ranks against a computer your checking out, was the best site I could find for that kind of info.
posted by bionic.junkie at 12:12 AM on July 18, 2011

My wife went shopping for some clothes and came back with the Acer netbook.

That's a good woman you've got there.

Enjoy your new machine!
posted by tumid dahlia at 1:55 AM on July 18, 2011

Oh and as for bloatware, though I guess it's a little late now, I have used Pc Decrapifier in the past and found it generally did the trick.
posted by tumid dahlia at 1:57 AM on July 18, 2011

Glad it is working out. It might already be too late but use to setup your new computer with everything you want. no I don't work for them I just think they're amazing
posted by koolkat at 8:17 AM on July 18, 2011

Response by poster: That's a good woman you've got there. Enjoy your new machine!

Surprised me! Still in the honeymoon phase, but it seems cool so far.

Oh and as for bloatware, though I guess it's a little late now, I have used Pc Decrapifier in the past and found it generally did the trick.

Thanks for the suggestion. I tried PC Decrapifier in the past, but I found using Revo Uninstaller Portable and CCleaner seems to work best for getting rid of the programs and all the associated registry entries and startup files.

Glad it is working out. It might already be too late but use to setup your new computer with everything you want. no I don't work for them I just think they're amazing

I haven't tried that. Looks interesting.
posted by bionic.junkie at 11:24 AM on July 18, 2011

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