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What should I be looking for in a new laptop


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Any thoughts for what specification of laptop or recommendations for a new laptop ?

My current Laptop does all I need but is pretty old and has a small screen which with my eyes means without  2nd monitor I really struggle to see my laptop screen, also the keyboard is a bit dodgy and some keys need a really firm press otherwise they do not work (my excuse anyway for bad spelling) 🙂 

So thinking of a new one as I have already had to replace a few components on this one.

The laptop is mainly for processing using PI and also just to remote desktop to the RPI or Linux PC on the mount so obviously does not need to be "Deep Thought" to do either but maybe a fast processor would speed the processing up. Also it is not only for Astro work but a general everyday laptop for emails, browsing etc.

Current laptop spec is:
Windows 10,
Intel(R) Core(TM) i5-3210M CPU @ 2.50GHz   2.50 GHz
16Gb Ram
OS disk SATA 256 GB SSD
2nd Disk 1TB HHD


I really do not want to spend much more than £500 to £700 unless I an getting significant more for a bit more cash then maybe would stretch to around £800.

I have had a look at various top ten laptops of 2021, and all a bit odd as really non of them seem to have any of the same 10 in their recommendations.
Most have at least one Mac book in there and usually near the top. Now I know some people swear by them and I am sure they are very reliable and quick but have always stayed away from them because a lot of programs designed for windows didn't seem to run on them and always saw threads on various forums about certain software being difficult to install on them if not impossible.
Is this still the case ?
Do all Astro software programs work on them ?
Can I still run Microsoft office etc ?

Its been a long while since I bought a laptop new so not sure what is about now.
Are there any that you can attach two full size monitors to and maybe not even use its own monitor as that would be good for processing?

Anyway if anyone has any advice as this is a fairly heft outlay (for me anyway) I would be grateful.

Steve

Edited by teoria_del_big_bang
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If the laptop is working ok & doing everything you need, apart from a dodgy keyboard etc. then why not just use a USB keyboard/mouse, whether wired or wireless e.g. https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/123010051035?epid=14032176994&hash=item1ca3f86bdb:g:acQAAOSw5W9e6TsF  and a larger screen....   

If you really want to go the new device route, have you considered going the Raspberry Pi. Linux etc. route, for control & image gathering, then using the  laptop for processing ??     

 

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1 minute ago, Dr_Ju_ju said:

If the laptop is working ok & doing everything you need, apart from a dodgy keyboard etc. then why not just use a USB keyboard/mouse, whether wired or wireless e.g. https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/123010051035?epid=14032176994&hash=item1ca3f86bdb:g:acQAAOSw5W9e6TsF  and a larger screen....   

Well yes that is probably what I should do and to be honest I have had it apart various times to replace fan, cooler unit and some other issue I cannot remember what now that it would be fairly easy and cheap to replace the keyboard which is what I did consider.
And when I see the cost of replacing if I am not getting anything extra I may still just do that.
So just really want to see what is out there and maybe treat myself for my not so far off 60th BDay 🙂 

5 minutes ago, Dr_Ju_ju said:

f you really want to go the new device route, have you considered going the Raspberry Pi. Linux etc. route, for control & image gathering, then using the  laptop for processing ??     

Maybe I should have stated in my OP the Laptop is mainly for processing using PI and also just to remote desktop to the RPI or Linux PC on the mount so obviously does not need to be "Deep Thought" to do either but maybe a fast processor would speed the processing up.

Current laptop spec is:
Windows 10,
Intel(R) Core(TM) i5-3210M CPU @ 2.50GHz   2.50 GHz
16Gb Ram
OS disk SATA 256 GB SSD
2nd Disk 1TB HHD

Steve

 

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15 minutes ago, teoria_del_big_bang said:

Well yes that is probably what I should do and to be honest I have had it apart various times to replace fan, cooler unit and some other issue I cannot remember what now that it would be fairly easy and cheap to replace the keyboard which is what I did consider.
And when I see the cost of replacing if I am not getting anything extra I may still just do that.
So just really want to see what is out there and maybe treat myself for my not so far off 60th BDay 🙂 

Maybe I should have stated in my OP the Laptop is mainly for processing using PI and also just to remote desktop to the RPI or Linux PC on the mount so obviously does not need to be "Deep Thought" to do either but maybe a fast processor would speed the processing up.

Current laptop spec is:
Windows 10,
Intel(R) Core(TM) i5-3210M CPU @ 2.50GHz   2.50 GHz
16Gb Ram
OS disk SATA 256 GB SSD
2nd Disk 1TB HHD

Steve

 

Well I have e to say, you old laptop is still better spec than the one I currently use, it looks plenty good enough to me TBH…👍🏼

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1 minute ago, Stuart1971 said:

Well I have e to say, you old laptop is still better spec than the one I currently use, it looks plenty good enough to me TBH…👍🏼

Yes, it is a good spec, maybe I need to find something else for my Birthday then eh 🙂 

One other thing putting me off a new one is most seem to have ditched the Ethernet which whilst I do not normally use it if I take my gear anywhere and struggle with the RPi hotspot is always real easy to revert to rolling out the ethernet cable and using it, never fails and saves time messing about trying to get a wifi connection.

 

Steve

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3 minutes ago, teoria_del_big_bang said:

Yes, it is a good spec, maybe I need to find something else for my Birthday then eh 🙂 

One other thing putting me off a new one is most seem to have ditched the Ethernet which whilst I do not normally use it if I take my gear anywhere and struggle with the RPi hotspot is always real easy to revert to rolling out the ethernet cable and using it, never fails and saves time messing about trying to get a wifi connection.

 

Steve

Yes, you just use a USB 3 to ethernet adapter…cheap enough…👍🏼

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If you are driving another computer remotely, and only really using the laptop for post processing, it then begs the question is it a laptop you really need ??  as there are plenty of workstation PC's around that will easily accommodate what you require, with added advantages of Gig-Bit ethernet ports, multi monitor support, with added graphics cards, etc.....

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11 minutes ago, Dr_Ju_ju said:

If you are driving another computer remotely, and only really using the laptop for post processing, it then begs the question is it a laptop you really need ??  as there are plenty of workstation PC's around that will easily accommodate what you require, with added advantages of Gig-Bit ethernet ports, multi monitor support, with added graphics cards, etc.....

I think you have convinced me to spend my money elsewhere.

I do actually have a fairly powerful desktop PC with dual monitor and perhaps I should really sit myself down on that and do the processing rather than on the settee with laptop on my lap.
I think I have the opportunity to buy something for a special birthday but maybe I need to look elsewhere, maybe not even Astro related.

Thanks for the advice anyway 🙂 

Steve

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5 minutes ago, Dr_Ju_ju said:

If you are driving another computer remotely, and only really using the laptop for post processing, it then begs the question is it a laptop you really need ??  as there are plenty of workstation PC's around that will easily accommodate what you require, with added advantages of Gig-Bit ethernet ports, multi monitor support, with added graphics cards, etc.....

Have to agree with Julian.  

As mentioned in another thread of similar lines, as my imaging equipment is basic by most peoples (QHY5 mono guide, D400 DSLR main camera, and an HEQ5) the observatory PC is a bit of a dinosaur, but still copes with the job it has been purposed for.  If the weather is nice I will run the imaging session from the warm room, but more often than not I'll remote into the observatory PC form my main PC in the lounge over a 1GB CAT5 cabled network. 

When I come to processing the results, the subs are copied form the observatory PC to the main PC in the lounge (normally over the network, but this could be done via external drives in required).  The stacking and processing is then done on the lounge PC which is a much more capable machine (8 core Ryzen processor, 16GB DDR4 ram, and blindingly fast NVme and SSD drives).  I have twin 24" BenQ monitors running off the main PC, which makes the task of processing, monitoring emails, streaming music via spotify or watching videos at the same time a doddle.

I built my lounge PC form components and it's not difficult,  but you should still be able to have a decent spec machine made and supplied with windows 10 within your budget.  Have a look at CCL for inspiration

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  • 2 weeks later...

A bit late to this topic, but I ended up with a refurbished Lenovo Thinkpad 450S. It came with 8GB ram, an i5 processor and I threw the hard disk away and put in an older SSD I had lying around. The advantage of this is that it was cheap as cheaps to buy, runs Windows and OS X (cough), powerful enough to do evefything in the field and if I do break it, lose it, drop it, its not the end of the world. The advantage over a Raspberry PI is that you don't need to VMC in or use an app to control it. I'm not knocking Raspberry Pi's, I have two running octoprint, another running PiHole, another running Stellarmate (as an exercise) just that a Windows 10 box gives you a lot of flexibility and you don;t need a big one to run SharpCap etc etc.

I have had a Synology box and would never go back to one. They were very slow as they used a very restricted CPU based on an old RISC design. Any rebuilds were a nightmare and it was just too slow. I spent a long time trying to make it faster and just gave up.

Any way, just my 2c worth.

Rob

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I have a laptop in my garage that I use from in the  house remotely. The screen broke so I took it off its now just a keyboard. Its been like that for at least three years. 4gb of ram and an i5. Does what I need it to do and shall be keeping it there. Sometimes times thinking differently is all thats needed. 

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Our cat dropped a lamp on my partners macbook Air, smashed the screen, I simply ran a monitor cable on it and use it headless.

Simple devices work well.

Rob

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