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February 19th, 2014

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04:48 pm - Computer choices ...
So, when I started writing this post (a couple of weeks ago), this was mostly academic, however last night my laptop "died" (blue screen with some message about a "memory parity error"), so it's acquired some urgency.

Short version - I'm trying to decide whether to upgrade my 6-year-old laptop to move into the post-Windows-XP era, or buy/build a desktop to replace it, and/or what to do with the Mac Mini I have.

Long Version

I currently have two computers:
1. Mac Mini (2010 model, I think) - 8Gb RAM, 2.4GHz Core2Duo, 320Gb HD, which is my main e-mail/web browsing/photo storage+editing machine.
2. Windows XP laptop, bought in 2008 - 2Gb RAM, 2.4GHz Core2Duo T8300, 320Gb HD, GeForce GTX8800M. Was bought mainly for gaming, and temporary desktop replacement to cover the move from the UK. Also holds my iTunes library because that's where it started, and a) there isn't room on the Mini to hold it, and b) I believe it can be complicated transferring from Windows iTunes to the Mac version

Issues :
The laptop is on Windows XP. Obviously that needs to be upgraded soon to Win 7 or 8 as XP support ends. In turn, that will require more RAM (8Gb would be nice) and more disk space (the 160Gb is split 100 to XP and 60 to Linux).
It's large (17" screen), heavy, and noisy. On the other hand, I hardly ever move it these days anyway.
It's coming up to 6 years old, which is ancient in laptop-years.
It's at its limit on Skyrim at medium-ish settings, it would be nice to move up a performance level.
Update: And it blue-screened and won't boot now. Also, looks like it can't take more than 4Gb of RAM.

The Mac mostly runs fine, but is often a bit sluggish (partly due to Firefox, which has switched from "memory hog" to "CPU hog" over the last few releases).
It really should have more disk space, though, as the iTunes library is currently on the XP laptop, and there are various files scattered over the laptop and external drive that should be on the Mini's drive.

Options I can see :
1. Consolidate to one computer, probably some kind of Mac (maybe iMac, or MacBook Pro if I forsee any mobile computing requirements that my phone can't deal with). (Mac Pro if I win the lottery :) ).
This would imply either giving up on Windows gaming, or maybe dual-booting (but that's tedious, and I believe Mac gaming performance isn't quite up to PC level, assuming careful component choice on the PC side)

2. Buy/build a desktop Windows machine to replace the laptop. That could either use the spare monitor, or maybe I could look at KVM switches (do they work with DVI & USB keyboards/mice these days ?)

3. Upgrade the laptop as required to run Win 7, keep using it until it's truly "finished".
(would require RAM and HD upgrades)

4. Other ?

So, any thoughts ? What should I do ?

Original post on Dreamwidth - there are comment count unavailable comments there.
Current Mood: curiouscurious

(5 touches | En garde !)


[User Picture]
Date:February 19th, 2014 11:03 am (UTC)
My advice is to get a Windows 7 (not 8) desktop for gaming and keep your Mac mini or get one of those lightweight laptops that double as tablets for internet etc. I find I am increasingly leaving my laptop behind and doing mobile internet on my phone (mind you I have a very large screen phone) and I have to play Skyrim on the X Box because my laptop is not up to it. Decent gaming laptops are so heavy I don't know why people bother with them (unless they travel a lot and want to play Skyrim in their hotel rooms).
[User Picture]
Date:February 19th, 2014 11:53 am (UTC)
Oddly enough, I did take the laptop to a few conventions (UK and here) and play games (possibly including Oblivion) in the hotel room (or some other random spot). But in recent times it hasn't really moved outside my office, and my phone is sufficiently entertaining when I'm out at conventions and things and have an idle moment anyway that I don't really need it.

Whee ... desktop shopping ... haven't done that for a while !
(I've always bought separate components and built myself, wonder if that's still a viable option to end up with a quiet but reasonably-performing system).

[User Picture]
Date:February 19th, 2014 12:46 pm (UTC)
If gaming's one of your primary things, getting a Mac probably isn't the best choice (much as it pains me to say that). It's not just the performance issue, it's availability of games, which remains significantly smaller on Mac platforms (though not as bad as it used to be).

[User Picture]
Date:February 19th, 2014 07:24 pm (UTC)
Bootcamp into Win7 and your laptop Windows gaming experience will be pretty good. Not gaming-rig good, and not Alienware good, but pretty good.
[User Picture]
Date:March 9th, 2014 04:05 pm (UTC)
I don't see why you care about XP support ending. SP3 has been out almost 6 years and they've done bugger all to it since. A few security patches, but not much recently. XP's still on 29.5% of desktops, so it's not like anything is going to change in the real world in a hurry. If it's like Win98, the previous Windows anyone cared out, things will probably be fine for a good 5 years after MS pulls support.

At least, that's what I'm hoping for my laptop (similar spec to yours -- 2GB RAM, 2.2GHz C2D) but, admittedly, it's not chucking a BSoD either.

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