High Speed, Low Drag

I’m in a fairly buoyant mood this week, since The Firm’s deskside IT fellas replaced my old and busted laptop with the new hotness.  It wasn’t literally old and busted, of course—just approaching the end of its lease.  After a year of lugging around the 13-inch, 5.7-pound Stinkpad T43 five days a week, I was hoping for something with equivalent performance in a smaller, lighter package.

Unfortunately, the Firm had recently elected to stop leasing IBM-Lenovo laptops entirely, and selected Dell as the replacement vendor.  Checking out The Firm’s lease-end website, my choices were either a full-sized D630 or the ultra-portable D430.  The D630 is slightly wider and five ounces lighter than the T43 it’s replacing.  No thank you.  The D430 is smaller (12.1″ wide) and lighter (3.5lbs) but much, much slower.

Now you may say hold on a sec, Chris—the Stinkpad T43 has a single-core 1.8 GHz processor, while the Dell D430 has a 1.2 GHz dual-core processor.  And you’re correct.  The caveat is that the vast majority of today’s applications are not coded to take advantage of the dual-core architecture.  The operating system might, but your basic bread-and-butter apps are not—they will be optimized to use a single core in that dual-core processor.  With the Firm’s current application loadout, the 1.2 GHz dual-core D430 will lose the speed contest to the 1.8 GHz single-core T43.  Still, I didn’t want the extra three pounds on my shoulder every day, so I selected the D430.

A few days later, I got a call from our deskside IT people, who argued against selection of the D430 for the reasons I’ve just given above.  I explained that while I understood it was a slower laptop, I was done lugging around fullsized laptops with 14″ and 15″ screens.  They are way too big and way too heavy.  And let’s not even consider why the deskside IT department is arguing against laptop replacements selected by another IT department.  If it’s not the right choice, why are we leasing it?

Ideally I would have liked something along the lines of the Stinkpad X60s that were current-issue to The Firm’s execs.   No sooner were the words out of my mouth than the deskside guys agreed to give me an X60s—on the understanding that I’d have to lease-end it next year and select one of the Dells.  Sold.  The X60 is a nice dual-core model in a compact 10.5″ frame and weighs in at a featherweight 2.7 pounds—and its processor speed is the same as the old T43.

The icing on the cake is that I’m on pretty good terms with the deskside crew, so they bumped up my laptop replacement appointment from this week to last Friday afternoon.  The swap usually takes 2 hours, so this gave me a legit 2-hour window to relax in the TD Centre courtyard.  Plus a long weekend to familiarise myself with the new gear.

So now I’m quite naturally pleased that I’ve held off the inevitable downgrade to a faster and larger (D630) or smaller and slower (D430) Dell laptop.  The only downside is I’ll have to blow some coin on a smaller, lighter laptop bag.  My current case has room for three or four X60’s and it too needs to be downsized.

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2 Responses
  1. Sean Liddle says:

    I love my Dell laptop. It sits so nicely on my lap as I write my screenplay and book while my wife watches Airwolf. However Vista.. well, vista is for lack of a better word, f*&^&ng annoying.
    Hate it.
    Death to Vista.
    Where are my old Win 2000 cds.

  2. Chris Taylor says:

    Dell cranks out many lovely products, including the D630. I used to own a Dell Inspiron laptop many moons ago, and I liked it just fine. If I were to look at something for home use, I’d have no objections to the D630’s larger form factor; I’d be moving it around the house, but not outside the house too often. But since it’s going to be wearing a groove in my shoulder twice a day, five days a week, I want the smallest, lightest, fastest notebook I can get. And that ain’t the small-but-slow D430, unfortunately. To make matters worse, the D430 is the ONLY Dell ultraportable (12.1″ screen) product. It’s that or nothing.
    I have a fondness for the Stinkpads, but I’d happily accept a Dell D430 with a duo-core 1.8GHz processor — if they ever bothered to manufacture one. My big beef is really with The Firm’s IT asset management — there’s a whole stable of exec-types who are going to be a wee bit disappointed that their spanky new D430 performs a lot slower than their old beat-up X60s.