Coded green.

Monday 4 December 2006

Closed Dell Inspiron 6400 fresh out of the box

Pic of the day: This picture will be taken in ten days' time.

Dell to the people

I wrote last month about dual-core processors and how I wanted to secure one for myself before they came with Windows Vista, which would suck part of the speed advantage out of them before my programs even start. This had to be done before January, from what I read. In retrospect it turns out to be before the end of January rather than the beginning, but I did not know that for sure at first. So I decided to get a new portable, since that is the only machine I would be set to replace anytime soon anyway. (Well, the Monster will have to be replaced if nothing can be done with the fan noise, but it is less than a year old so I am not going to BUY a new. They fix it or give me the money back, or I'll see them in court. But first we need a workday without rain. I have no idea when that will happen, except that it won't be before the 18th at least.)

Normally I buy Hewlett Packard portables, because of the better quality. I have had two of them and they work as if they knew nothing better to do, while my one Toshiba was a disaster from the start, with more and more small problems cropping up after I already depended on it. This won't happen again because I won't have only 1 computer again if it is within my power to avoid it.) Unfortunately for HP, Dell has recently run sales prices on their dual-core portables, of which they have a whole lot. So I decided to give them a chance, after reading a test where they performed better than the HP machines in the same price range. Of course, the advantage may be negated by shorter life span. In my experience, almost anything has shorter lifespan than a Hewlett Packard. The HP laptop I have at work is way past its warranty, and while it sometimes has keyboard troubles, it most of the time runs quite fine... as long as it runs the programs from its own age. Its 248MB of RAM is simply not enough for modern programs, and the processor is only good for office work. (Which is not a bad thing, when I have it at the office. But it would have been a bad thing if I tried to play City of Heroes. I know, because I tried when I had it at home.)

The short of it is, I ordered a DELL Inspiron 6400.


Dell is going all out with dual core machines this season. They even have some with AMD processors. These are cheaper, but according to the test results I saw, they were also slower. Then again, you can afford faster models, so perhaps the performance per dollar is roughly the same? I genuinely like and respect AMD, because without competition the prices would have been much higher and the performance much poorer. But this time I went for the "Intel Core 2 Duo processor T5600" running at 1.83 GHz. This was the second to slowest of the four speeds available, but only slightly more expensive than the slower one. The prices rose rapidly from there on up. Besides, faster processors draw more power and generate more heat. But mostly, it is the price. Since I have to use my credit card, all prices should be multiplied with two. I have to limit myself, using what brain I still have even in the presence of delicious computers.

There is also a limited offer (though it lasts for several weeks now) of 1GB RAM instead of the usual 512, at no extra cost. Of course I went for that. RAM is expensive at Dell, it is recommended to buy as little as possible and put in more by hand from other suppliers. But you don't get less than this these days, and 1GB is the same I have in my desktop computers. It has been enough so far, and probably will for a while since I don't run Vista, which needs more RAM again.

The third important component for us gamers is the video card, and I paid a little extra for a 256MB ATI Mobility Radeon X1400. (The standard was 128MB, but recent games are made for 256.) I probably won't need the extra when I take it to the office, but again the price difference was fairly small.

The 120GB hard disk is large enough, though at 5400 RPM it is on the slow side. (My desktop computers have 7200 rotations per minute, except the Monster which has 10 000.) The upside is that the slower disks draw less power. Also, they are of course cheaper.

I had hoped to pitch back some pennies by choosing a cheaper CD-ROM. After all I already have an external DVD burner, not to mention that I could burn stuff over the network using the Monster when I am home. But there was no cheapie alternative. You get a DVD burner with your machine, and that's final. Oh well. Likewise there was no way to opt out of the useless Works that comes with the machine when you don't buy MS Office. I use the free software, so I don't need it and don't want it. But you can only uninstall it after the machine arrives, you cannot opt out, much less get a refund.


So that's it. The machine also comes with various intrusive software on 90 day trial. Hopefully I will be able to unistall it all. Or I may do like one other user on a Norwegian forum: Restore the machine from the CD, which contains only Windows. But that is all quite a way off. I don't usually think that far ahead. In fact, I'll stop now.

Yesterday <-- This month --> Tomorrow?
One year ago: Fast forward
Two years ago: Saturdawn
Three years ago: Civ3 PtW hotseat
Four years ago: Work again
Five years ago: Al's angels
Six years ago: Negro shopping
Seven years ago: The smell of silence
Eight years ago: Less tired without alarm

Visit the archive page for the older diaries I've put out to pasture.

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