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My new computer

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Peter G. Shaw30/04/2021 22:01:15
1308 forum posts
44 photos

Hello one & all,

Some of you may remember that over the last few months I have been asking questions about the poor performance of my laptops. Essentially, it appeared that they were obsolete, outdated, and generally past it. And so started the great replacement laptop hunt.

Now, over the decades, I have come to realise that in order to make a good decision, I can only rely on my own research. Indeed, I have only ever come across one honest salesman, and a car salesman at that. I have also discovered that names such as “Jolly Green Giant” (apologies if there is such a name) generally signify something with a short life, whereas a recognized long-standing name generally will perform better. No doubt someone will tell me I’m talking rubbish, and I may well be, but names such Advent, Asus don’t do much for me, whereas Toshiba, IBM etc seem to be rather better. Names such as HP I regard as perhaps “middlin” and best avoided if at all possible. Names such as Lenovo are completely unknown to me, whilst Medion I associate with Aldi.

What I found was that Toshiba have sold their laptop division to Sharp who in turn are marketing them as Dynabook, whilst Lenovo owns IBM and, although German in origin, Medion. Not only that but Lenovo is owned by the Chinese. From a purely personal point of view, I don’t wish to support the Chinese especially after Huawei and Covid 19. I’ve no reason for it, just a feeling of disquiet hence Lenovo is out.

Someone suggested re-furbished, and I did indeed look at them, that is, until I discovered that some of the re-furbished items were themselves five or six years old. So they were out. Ultimately, I realised that I was going to have to increase my spend limits and thus I eventually hit upon the Dynabook Satellite Pro C50-H-108, 256 Gb SSD, I5, 8GB RAM, 15.6 in screen. I now have two, one for use as my main computer, with the other for use as a backup computer and for carting around the countryside. Interestingly, there is a sticker on the bottom describing it as a Toshiba! And another one saying "Made in China" - so much for avoiding Chinese stuff.


Peter G. Shaw

Frances IoM30/04/2021 22:22:39
1151 forum posts
28 photos
I think all computers based on Intel chips are chinese made;
John Haine01/05/2021 07:02:15
4099 forum posts
241 photos
Posted by Frances IoM on 30/04/2021 22:22:39:
I think all computers based on Intel chips are chinese made;

Intel being a major US based company and all that...


Mike Poole01/05/2021 07:46:12
3056 forum posts
72 photos

I suspect that avoiding Chinese equipment is going to be futile, even a sticker saying it’s made somewhere else is likely to disguise that many of the components will be made in China. If the Chinese or anybody else is interested in what I am doing then they must be sad people, I think business and government should be very wary about sourcing equipment but the big data abusers are google, Facebook, Amazon etc. Your ISP keeps records of everywhere you go just in case they are asked.


Samsaranda01/05/2021 09:13:38
1191 forum posts
5 photos

If you had chosen Apple then although an American company the product is mainly made in China, I think it is now impossible to avoid “made in China” with anything to do with electronics. Dave W

Frances IoM01/05/2021 10:18:50
1151 forum posts
28 photos
Possibly the new Pi400 is UK made but given that the vast majority if not all laptops are made in China by relatively few companies - the price difference is partly marketing but also components as you need pay more for those with lifetimes longer than the 1 or 2 year warranty period.
In past I would have said choose Lenovo (which acquired IBM's small computer range) as it both had the best reputation as well as an excellent Linux support. There are backdoors inserted owing to US requirements into all laptops built around Intel processors - the only ones that don't have the necessary chip that controls the microcode backdoor are the old Lenovo T61 range tho there are now mods that supposedly turn off this chip.
Peter G. Shaw01/05/2021 14:59:11
1308 forum posts
44 photos


FWIW, there was a very suitable Lenovo laptop which until I discovered they were Chinese owned, I was all lined up to buy, especially as they were being sold with only FreeDOS as an OS.

Obviously it's too late now, but had I realised that Dynabook were made in China, then I might well have thought differently. Anyway, too late now to worry; currently I'm in the process of installing Linux Mint v 20.1 with the Mate desktop on the first of the two machines.

Peter G. Shaw

Bill Dawes01/05/2021 15:08:23
470 forum posts

I have a Dell, looked at sticker underneath, 'Mad in China'

Bill D.

Bazyle01/05/2021 18:24:26
6002 forum posts
220 photos

While doing a factory inspection in China for our 'made in Korea' product before the factory moved to the Philipines I noticed our 'made in America' product going down the adjacent line! The following year another 'made in America' inspection was technically correct as El Paso is in America, just not USA. That was interesting - we were not allowed to stay overnight there or even eat in a restaurant owing to the murder count in the town having reached 2300 and it was only September.

Bob Brown 101/05/2021 18:57:57
1021 forum posts
127 photos

I have no complaints with Lenovo what was IBM for both workstation and laptop.

Peter Greene01/05/2021 20:04:20
265 forum posts
2 photos
Posted by Bazyle on 01/05/2021 18:24:26:

..... El Paso is in America, just not USA.

You mean Texas isn't part of the USA anymore? When did that happen?

Neil Wyatt01/05/2021 22:32:09
18727 forum posts
729 photos
80 articles

After doing a fair bit of research, my new work computer was made to my personal specification by PCSpecialist who came highly recommended.

My dad kindly offered to cover the cost if he could have my old machine to replace his (which is on its last legs).

They said it could take 15-20 days to build and deliver. I ordered it on a Wednesday night and it arrived before 9:00 am the following Tuesday.

It's a medium-spec machine, 6-core i5, but I went for an SSD and 16GB of ram, so ideal for things like GIS, CAD and image processing.

Like my previous machines bought avoiding 'pile high sell cheap' companies, it was free of bloatware, a major advantage.

Unfortunately it will be at least Monday before I can get it fully connected to MTM's servers so the next MEW will be produced on this relatively sluggish machine!

Bob Brown 101/05/2021 23:35:02
1021 forum posts
127 photos

Neil, That's a little under the spec of my 2 year old Lenovo Thinkstation, i5 6 core, 512Gb nvme M.2 primary drive, 1Tb ssd, 32Gb ram, 8gb Radeon graphics card + 3 years on site warranty. Runs Autocad and photo editing software with no problems what so ever. Probably a little over kill but it should last a few more years.

Frances IoM02/05/2021 08:12:27
1151 forum posts
28 photos
bloatware is simply dealt with - install Linux - buying memory & installing a SSD is not exactly difficult. The rest of the machine must be bog standard unless you paid several thousand - and surely a work machine comes off your or the companies tax bill.
Would be interesting if the price was published
pgk pgk02/05/2021 08:51:20
2295 forum posts
293 photos

You can pay more for a high end graphics card than most folk would pay for a whole system assuming one's use justifies it as can 'server quality' components. Back when i could shove stuff like that down as a business deduction it still worked out easier to install a wide desk, office chair on casters and 3 reasonable PC's one with large screen and two normal sized and run my sets of applications individually rather than pageing between them for the quarterly VAT. That and having them networked to cross save important files to each others hard drives as backups. I was a great believer in being paranoid about data so each day a copy was backed up to a different workstation so we always had a whole week seperated plus the hard copy in a fire safe and a remote copy to my home (just in case the whole clinic burned down)


Frances IoM02/05/2021 09:42:55
1151 forum posts
28 photos
pgk - that's basically my approach - currently listening to R4 with two laptops in front of me + an additional monitor arranged portrait mode, databasing on one machine the photos held on the other laptop taken a couple of days ago at UK National archives displayed on the monitor - some photos will soon be moved to another machine to OCR using tesseract.

Edited By Frances IoM on 02/05/2021 09:43:21

Nick Clarke 302/05/2021 09:57:32
1247 forum posts
49 photos
Posted by Bob Brown 1 on 01/05/2021 23:35:02:

Neil, That's a little under the spec of my 2 year old Lenovo Thinkstation, i5 6 core, 512Gb nvme M.2 primary drive, 1Tb ssd, 32Gb ram, 8gb Radeon graphics card + 3 years on site warranty. Runs Autocad and photo editing software with no problems what so ever. Probably a little over kill but it should last a few more years.

Just because a machine is high spec does not mean it will last forever. Here I have 3 computers that will not run modern software - 2 are windows 7 machines where windows 10 drivers were never produced and so cannot run the new OS and the other was a Mac mini that was bought new, and top spec but as it has a G5 processor has never been able to run anything past OsX 10.6 All machines work well and spec wise are all useful, but they are all out of use at present.

Before anyone says Linux - as a Linux user since 1995 I already have a powerful Linux desktop and a useful Linux laptop so do not need any more - and if an old machine uses 32bit Linux this is becoming increasingly hard to find and may disappear totally at some point.

My last purchases for 'everyday' computers have been off the shelf machines, a laptop and a desktop from a major high street retailer, both i5 8Gb machines with a SSD in the laptop and they both run Autocad faster that I can use it. When they are no longer able to do the job they will have more than paid for themselves. I was thinking of buying upgraded machines when I finally retire this summer but there doesn't seem to be any point at present.

SillyOldDuffer02/05/2021 12:46:21
7476 forum posts
1648 photos

Sorry if this comes over as willy-waving, but I recently upgraded my workstation and decided to roll the boat out! May be of interest. Some jobs I do are CPU intensive, and of course it's nice to have a nippy machine, but as my career included a dash of performance tuning, I wanted to see what could be done, budget £1200.

The gaming and multi-media community are always pushing for faster computers, graphics, networking and sound. They want photo-realistic animation - jitter-free high-frame rates on multiple screens. It's highly competitive pushing prices down and performance up. Workstations deliver a lot more oomph for considerably less cash than laptops because the electronics and cooling don't have to be squeezed in and power isn't constrained by batteries. The downside is workstations aren't portable.

I took advice from my nephew who is into the gaming market: knows best buy, costs, reliability etc. Together we prepared a specification and budget. He built the hardware and installed Windows 10. I paid for it, added dual boot Linux, configured the discs and file system, and did the applications software and data migration.

To improve Input Output performance the computer has two 512Gb M2 SSDs and a 7200rpm 1Tb Hard Disc. The SSDs are partitioned so that one contains both operating systems (Windows & Linux), while the other is partitioned for Windows user data, and a ext4 filesystem for Linux data. The hard drive has 3 partitions for backing up the SSDs, plus an EXT4 for linux slow high-volume user data. Multi-disc multi-partitioning lets both operating systems read/write the mix of system and user data concurrently, a simple form of load balancing.

Gaming and multimedia suit parallel computation, i.e. jobs distributed between several processors each doing part of the work without slowing down anything else. Operating systems also benefit from multi-processing, for example a CPU can be allocated to network activity, while another does disc I/O, a third runs the scheduler, a fourth does printing, a fifth does virus checking and so on. More load balancing. The speed advantage comes from less queuing: when a network packet arrives, the operating system doesn't have to suspend a running program, switch context, service the network, and then restart the other program. So my computer is generously specified with an i9-10950K CPU (3.6GHz, 5.2GHz burst), with 10 CPU's each of which can run two threads, giving up to 20 core performance. The processor is on a Z490 board and water cooled; although the i9 can run at 5.2GHz in bursts, it's limited by how long it takes the CPU to overheat - water cooling means more cores can run flat-out longer before thermal throttling cuts in.

Although 16GB is plenty for most domestic computing (as is 8Gb), I went for 32Gb of DDR4. The advantage of having excess fast RAM is modern operating systems use all the spare RAM available to buffer the file system, and anything already in RAM runs faster than data retrieved from the best SSD.

Didn't fit gaming graphics because Intel graphics are fine for the CAD I do. Might be worth upgrading for large complex models, but I rarely do more than 8 parts per assembly.

Main concern was Linux compatibility with up to date hardware and this did cause bother. Ethernet is 2.5Gbe, which isn't supported by Ubuntu until April. It doesn't work. May also be a problem with Windows limiting the interface to 1Gb/s, don't care - my network is slower than that! Although wifi fired up the Linux configuration doesn't cope well with a dual 2.4 and 5GHz network it gets confused. Also a known bug with a fix on the way, or I could separate my WIFI networks. Actually using a USB to Ethernet converter & ethernet over mains, because it's faster.

Finally the Z490 has extra Gen 1 and 2 USB3 sockets (5Gb/s & 10Gb/s). The BIOS doesn't recognise a USB keyboard plugged into high-speed USB, making it impossible to interrupt the boot, and also hiding the dual-boot menu. Very confusing!

Is this go-faster box worth the money? A resounding maybe. For most ordinary stuff I don't notice an obviuus improvement, though it sure shows up compared the old machine. It seemed OK at the time, but now I've seen real speed going back reveals a tiresome old banger! The big difference is with any job that can use several cores. Loading photographs into a database and creating thumbnails is amazing fast - 12 cores running flat-out, and all 32Gb of RAM in use - at least 10 times faster than before. Not sure why, but copying podcasts to an MP3 player is about 5x faster. Small 'make' compiles are about 20% faster, big 'make -j', ie parallel, are wonderful, except I hardly ever need them.


pgk pgk02/05/2021 12:54:29
2295 forum posts
293 photos
Posted by SillyOldDuffer on 02/05/2021 12:46:21:

Sorry if this comes over as willy-waving, but ...

I just pushed some viagra into the USB port but it didn't help ...


Raymond Anderson02/05/2021 14:10:30
785 forum posts
152 photos

Neil mentions PC Specialist and I can also vouch for them Have 3 custom built workstations 1 built by the aforementioned 1 built by Scan Computers and the 3rd one built by Utopia Computers all are for different tasks as there is no "one size fits all " especially with the various software I use. Any of the above companies are top notch.

as a aside the oldest WS [ about 5 years old now ] will be retired and a new one built to replace it Will be built by Utopia Computers but am holding off until Nvidia RTX 3090 supply woes improve.

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