My existing Acer Aspire 5 E5-573G (2016) has a non-IPS display, and the color rendition is muddy and very direction-sensitive. What really pushed me over the edge to get a new laptop was, I returned from a vacation, and when editing and organizing the photos, using the old laptop was out of the question; I had to use the server console, which has an IPS screen. This is ridiculous.
This time around, my selection criteria for the new laptop are (in approximate order of importance):
Display issues are at the top of the list. I now insist on an IPS display, no exceptions. LED backlight is much preferred. (WLED, White Light Emitting Diode, is the current acronym to make the tech sound new.)
The "HD" display size (in pixels) of 1920x1080px is satisfactory. Smaller displays won't be; the 1Mpx displays (866x1154px or thereabout) are rejected out of hand. I'm not interested in steroidal resolutions, 2400x1350px or whatever; I expect they would give more trouble and use more machine resources with not much benefit for my eyeballs.
My eyes are getting worse. Making fonts bigger is of course one excellent way to deal with that, but I'm also looking very seriously at a 44cm (17.3in) diagonal display, upgrading from the existing 40cm (15.6in) one, about a 11% linear expansion or 22% display area expansion.
Power management is a problem. The present laptop has a battery life of about 2.4 hours (on light web surfing or document editing, when new, less now), which is useful but still excludes it from a lot of off-grid use cases like a long wait for car repairs or my wife's doctor appointment. It uses about 0.6W when asleep in S3 (suspend to RAM). I would like the new one to behave like a Chromebook: 10 hours battery life in light operation and with a really low power S3 state.
In customer reviews, the quoted battery life varies wildly, and obviously depends on the workload, power management settings, and user habits.
For communication I would like IEEE 802.11ac Wi-Fi (2.4 and 5 GHz) and IEEE 802.3 wired Ethernet. Bluetooth 2.x at least (latest is Bluetooth-5). No WiMax, cellular data, WiDi (wireless display interface).
About 802.3 (RJ45): I only use it for initial setup and when Wi-Fi is broken. An acceptable alternative is a USB NIC; I already have a spare one in storage.
A civilized touchpad is required, capable of being set up with good stray touch rejection. I don't know good specific criteria to get what I want; I'll have to read reviews and/or try out the hardware at a brick and mortar store. Similarly for the keyboard. I would prefer a backlit keyboard.
Customary wisdom is that Windows is a memory pig. Linux isn't. 8Gb RAM will be plenty for me. But I expect that the available options will be designed for Windows and will have 16Gb RAM. Trying to run Windows 10 in 8Gb causes numerous adverse product reviews by frustrated users.
The CPU should be reasonably fast but its role is not a compute server. An Intel Core i5 is a likely choice. i7 is definitely not justified. i3 is acceptable but I think the extra cost for i5 will be modest and worth it. Celeron, Pentium and Atom are probably too slow for me. The Intel product line is not an official requirement but I'm looking ahead to how the selection campaign will probably play out, and there are issues with ARM (used in many Chromebooks) which probably will be hard to work around, even though power management on ARM is expected to be superior.
The Samsung 850 EVO 250GB SSD (SATA) in my old laptop has been very satisfactory, Current disc usage on the old laptop:
|Role||Used (GiB)||Size (GiB)|
1GiB = 230 bytes. The misc space is mostly for a virtual machine. 35% of the available space is used; I'm rattling around in that disc. My tentative plan is to move this SSD directly to the new machine. They will probably give me (require me to pay for) a 1Tb rotating disc, which I will put in storage, just like the one that came with the old laptop.
I would like these ports:
Miscellaneous features in approximate order of importance:
The old laptop is crow color (black) with a gray deck around the display and keyboard. I hope the new one will be a little more attractive.
Weight: The old laptop is 5.3lb = 2.4kg; 2.5kg is a hard upper limit. My wife would like something lighter, but I worry about fragility.
Reseller: I have a fair amount of confidence in Amazon's competence in handling payments and delivering the product. Thus I'm looking for offers fulfilled by Amazon. Amazon's customer service and return policy are excellent (though I hope fervently to not have to use them), and so I'm looking for products sold by Amazon, ahead of those sold by Amazon affiliates (outside vendors). Amazon is definitely not the low price leader, because you're paying for things like free shipping, web site maintenance, and returnability, but in my experience the additional cost of buying from Amazon is worth it.
Searching on Amazon for
laptop with these criteria: 17in display,
new (not used). 84 hits, starting with steroidal machines that I'm
not going to buy. Sort by price (low to high). 7 hits. Acronyms:
SBSF Amazon means
sold by and ships from Amazon.
SB (vendor) FBA means
Sold by (vendor), fulfilled by Amazon.
This is an old machine, skip it. But there's a reference to another HP machine with an AMD CPU that might be interesting.
This looks like a relative of the one above (2017 HP 17.3 Business Flagship Laptop), an older model.
The 7th generation chipset is discouraging because between generation 7 and 8 a lot of work was done to improve power management. Horrible customer reviews, one person says it's a 5 star machine running Ubuntu but with Win10 it's very slow, takes 10min to boot, and locks up if you have more than 2 apps open. (Sounds to jimc like swapping; 8Gb RAM isn't enough.)
Conclusion from this trial: Machines in this group are dead fish from the previous generation, steroidal machines over $1000, or both. There are no Chromebooks with 17in screens (I saw one or two, six months ago). It looks like I'm going to lose the 17in battle. Reverting to a 15.6in screen and searching again.
laptop, SBSF Amazon, new (not used), 24 hits.
The results and offered filters seem to change every time I do the search.
Laptop Computers in Computers + Tablets. Now I can filter the screen size.
15in and 16in and 17in. And now I can filter by seller: SBSF Amazon.
Now it's 9 hits.
In summary, the 9 hits (in alphabetical order) are:
Here are details on some of these machines: non-IPS displays are excluded, as are some that are clearly unsuitable.
Up to7.5hr life sitting idle per product page.
Reviews: 4+5 stars 85%, lower 15%. Beware, the reviews for the 3 machines in the A515 family are mixed together.
no boot device available. They sound clueless; I would check for trashed boot software, and if it's OK, re-flash the BIOS.
I've had good luck in the past with AMD CPUs and Radeon graphics. This machine looks good, and negative issues are not too common in the reviews.
up to3.9GHz, quad core. Except a comment on the cpubenchmark.net page suggests that this is with hyperthread, i.e. 2 physical cores. CPU product page says 4 cores with hyperthread, or 8 threads. Update: the actual machine has 8 threads like the product page says.
Can the BIOS do the CSM boot? Acer rep says
no. CSM =
Compatibility Support Module, which emulates BIOS booting
in the UEFI context. Modern Linux (grub2) and Windows can do native UEFI
Reviews: They are identical to the ones for the A515-43-R19L with AMD Ryzen 3 3200U, q.v., i.e. all reviews for the A515 family are mixed together.
I'm leaning toward choosing this machine. This product family has all the features I want and gets good reviews. Comparing equivalent Core i3 vs. i5 candidates for some of my other machines , I've found that the additional cost of the i5 has been worth it (which is not true, for my use cases, of the i7).
Reviews: 4+5 stars 73%; 27% lower. There is not a lot of quantitative info in the reviews, but there are more very negative reviews for this machine than for the Acer variants. This makes me feel negative about the ASUS product line.
up to3.5GHz. 2 cores.
Answers to questions: No it can't charge from the USB-3.1 type C connector, only the barrel connector.
Reviews: AARGH, William D (2019-08-17, with i3-8145U). says it has a
TFT panel (not IPS). He hates it.
Dragon Eye (2019-08-31, with r5-3500u) says it's
battery life 2-3 hours.
I filed a missing information report saying the screen technology should be
shown for each model.
CPU benchmarks: These are all from CPUBenchmark.net. They use PassMark for their benchmark. Results for relevant CPUs:
|Intel Core i5-8265U @ 1.60GHz||7989||2018-2Q||$297||26.90|
|Intel Core i3-8145U @ 2.10GHz||5551||2018-1Q||$281||19.75|
|AMD Ryzen 3 3200U @2.6GHz||4775||2019-2Q||$79.97*||59.71*|
Dollar-denominated figures marked * are from a current offering on Amazon. Others are from the CPUBenchmark site. The latter are most likely prices reported by people submitting benchmark runs, and/or list prices (MSRP).
Passmark reports the average score (equally weighted) on 8 tests, run in parallel and summed over all cores, including hyperthread multiplicity. The tests are:
Tidbits found in research on some of the customer reviews:
What is Windows in S Mode? For security you can only install apps
from Microsoft's app store, not including Firefox, so you can only use
Edge. You can irrevocably opt out for free; the procedure is simple.
Windows 10 S is an older plan, and opting out is not
PCWorld: NVMe SSDs: Everything you need to know about this insanely
fast storage, by John L. Jacobi (2019-03-10). Read-write is 4 times
faster than recent SATA SSDs, seek time is 10x faster (jimc says, how
could that be?). Sustained reading: 2.9e9 byte/sec for NVMe vs. 0.5e9
by/s for SATA SSD and about 0.2e9 by/s for SATA rotating disc. Seek
times: NVMe 2e-5 sec, SATA SSD 2e-4 sec, rotating 2 to 5e-3 sec, these
are averages over (what). The drives in the photos go in a 80mm M.2
slot. M.2 to
regular PCIe adapters are available for $25. MSATA
is different. Samsung 970 Pro drive model is featured as a good one,
among others, while some are dogs. See the article for a link to their
review of SSDs. On Amazon, Samsung SSD 970 PRO 512GB - NVMe PCIe M.2
2280 SSD (MZ-V7P512BW) $148; Samsung 970 EVO 1TB SSD (MZ-V7E1T0BW) NVMe
M.2 V-NAND Internal Solid State Drive, $170. Wow!
From the bottom:
ASUS VivoBook, Intel Core i5-8250U, F510UA-AH55; $550. (15.6in IPS.) While this machine is broadly competitive with the Acer A515-54-51DJ, the feeling I got from the product reviews was not exactly comforting.
ASUS VivoBook, Intel Core i3-8145U, F512FA-AB34; (15.6in, yes IPS) $379. This one looks not bad, but given the various tradeoffs between risk of getting a general bad design, risk of getting a lemon, CPU power per dollar, reliability of the available information, and general feel, I'm not going to consider this one further.
Acer Aspire 5, 15.6in IPS, AMD Ryzen 3 3200U, A515-43-R19L; $315.
Since the Acer A515 family infrastructure (beyond the processor) is
almost but not quite identical among the 3 family members analysed,
the choice is going to come down to CPU power and how much I want to
pay for it. I probably would not be disappointed with the
A515-43-R19L, but I probably would be more
appointed with the
higher power (and higher cost) family members.
Acer Aspire 5, 15.6in IPS, Intel Core i3-8145U, A515-54-30BQ; $360. Similar comments for this one. The two Intel processors have 4 cores, vs. 2 for the Ryzen. I'm running a virtual machine for development, and the additional cores will help with that.
Acer Aspire 5, 15.6in IPS, Intel Core i5-8265U, A515-54-51DJ; $510. My budget covers the Intel Core i5-8265U, and while I'm not using this machine as a compute server, I expect subjectively that the greater CPU power will be worth the additional cost. This is the machine that I'm going to get.