When I started consulting independently back in 2003, I gave myself a general rule of thumb: I would allow myself to buy a new laptop every 3 years. That’s held generally true since then, up until now.
In 2006 I bought a beautiful Dell Inspiron with a great big screen and 2 GB of RAM, which was more than enough when I was doing custom ASP.NET and MCMS development. The laptop was great in every way, except that it didn’t have enough horsepower to run a SharePoint 2007 guest OS in a virtual environment. So, 15 months ago I bought my 3rd Dell: an XPS M1530. I was totally geeked about its 4 GB of RAM and dual core processor.
Buying a laptop should be a fun thing, right? Well, there’s nothing like finding out that right after you bought (what you thought was) the top of the line laptop that you just missed the boat. Shortly after I bought mine last August, I started hearing about people who had just bought laptops with 8 GB of RAM and quad core processors. Talk about taking the wind out of my sales!
So, here I am, having to buy yet another laptop less than a year and a half later so I can run SharePoint 2010 on it. This time, I’ve tried to invest some cash in what, hopefully, will be a better investment (and last me my standard 3 years!)
I took a queue from Andrew Connell’s post regarding his “portable rig“. He talked about having two solid state drives in his laptop. I’ve never had solid state drives, and have decided to bite the (rather expensive) bullet to get two of these put into my new laptop. I decided I didn’t want to shell out a lot of money on a nice processor and lots of RAM if there was a chance the drive speed would serve as a bottleneck. And as a small perk, I’m excited about having two internal drives. I’m sick of toting external drives around with me everywhere. (Perhaps I won’t have to velcro an external drive to my laptop anymore! Woohoo!)
Although I found a number of laptops that could hold 8 MB of RAM, I didn’t want to be in the same boat I was in 15 months ago and find myself in again now. So, I found a laptop with expansion slots for 16GB of RAM. (I’m only going to purchase 2 4GB cards, and shell out money for the additional RAM when I need it. This laptop has 4 slots.)
So, what did I buy? After having used Dell laptops exclusively for a decade, I went out on a limb and just bought an HP ENVY 15. The critical specs are as follows:
Processor: Intel(R) Core(TM) i7-720QM Processor (1.6GHz, 6MB L2 Cache, 1333MHz FSB)
RAM: 8GB DDR3 with expansion to 16GB
Drives: 320GB Dual Solid State Drive Flash Modules (SSD 160GB + SSD 160GB)
Display: 15.6″ diagonal Full High Definition LED HP Ultra Brightview Widescreen Display (1920×1080)
I shopped around, looking also at Dell and Lenovo models, but was unable to find something for a comparable price. The base price for my model was $2,778.99. (My goal was to get the price under $3,000.) The thing is going to be built and shipped to me in early December. Right now, they’re running a special that provides free shipping.
My only concern is that I just saw a blog article today reporting that HP laptops have the worst track record in terms of hardware issues. Hopefully that’s not the case. And, if it is, I’ve learned the hard way that investing a couple hundred bucks in a good warranty is worth it’s weight in gold when buying a laptop. (Especially when things like your motherboard go out on your 1 week old latpop, like happened with my XPS!)
Hopefully in a few weeks I’ll be done slogging through the mollases when running my SP2010 VM and I’ll be running with the big dogs instead!