Jump to content


Photo

Struggling with Windows based Laptop decision....

  • Please log in to reply
18 replies to this topic

#1 zawijava

zawijava

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 920
  • Joined: 06 Oct 2007
  • Loc: Wells, Maine 04090

Posted 29 January 2013 - 02:38 PM

In many ways, being a Mac person is so easy...until it's time to buy a non-Mac laptop. After doing much reading here about user preferences for a good Astro laptop I'm as confused as ever :confused: New vs Used? OS requirements? Minimum RAM and HD memory? Processor speeds and types. The opinions are varied and often contradictory. Used laptops on AstroMart almost always sell. Are the sellers upgrading to new in order keep pace with the current Astro software that's available :shrug: Are the "used" buyers really able to get good use from these machines in regards to AP :shrug:

I have my AP Traveler as well as my Club's 16" Meade SCT and 8" f/15 Zeiss to work with. Let's say I purchase a ZWO ASI120MM [$250] and the LNIB 2Ti I've been offer for $350. Plus misc adapters [$100] and some software[Backyard EOS, stacking program(s), image processing [$???]....what would you suggest for a laptop [brand & specs] with the remaining $600-$700 I'll have. That's not to say that I want to spend the entire amount remaining on a laptop if I can be fully functional and happy with a unit half that cost. I've been very happy over the years buying preowned MacBook Pro's.

thanks! and the more specific your recommendations the better [I think] :help:

clear skies -Tim

#2 wolfman_4_ever

wolfman_4_ever

    Apollo

  • -----
  • Posts: 1245
  • Joined: 15 Jul 2011
  • Loc: El Segundo, Ca, So. Cal

Posted 29 January 2013 - 02:40 PM

If your a Mac guy, get a MBP and bootcamp it into windows. That's what I do. I use a Early 2011 MBP with a 512gb SSD, 8 gigs of Ram, I7.. It's still going strong. No software has come out yet that even remotely affects it's speed. I still use SL x64 and bootcamp into windows 7 x64..

Just my 2cents

#3 jwheel

jwheel

    Viking 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 825
  • Joined: 23 Jan 2008
  • Loc: Fort Davis TX

Posted 29 January 2013 - 03:01 PM

I have an early 2009 Mac and I can run windows using fusion and have never had a problem.

Joe Wheelock

#4 zawijava

zawijava

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 920
  • Joined: 06 Oct 2007
  • Loc: Wells, Maine 04090

Posted 29 January 2013 - 03:11 PM

Dave and Joe, thanks for the suggestions. I have a 4-5 year old MacBook Pro, 2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo 4G Ram OS 10.5.8 which, to be very honest, I couldn't tell you if it's capable of doing what you suggest.....just my limited computer knowledge shining through :shrug: BUT I'm certainly going to check it out! -Tim

I have an early 2009 Mac and I can run windows using fusion and have never had a problem.

Joe Wheelock



#5 dr.who

dr.who

    Apollo

  • *****
  • Moderators
  • Posts: 1318
  • Joined: 05 Jan 2012

Posted 29 January 2013 - 05:08 PM

Having just had this same "issue" I decided on a $400 laptop from Best Buy that is more than capable of handling all of the front end stuff like telescope control, camera, etc and will do all of the back end stuff like image processing and stacking etc, on the Mac. I would suggest you do the same.

#6 Ron359

Ron359

    Vostok 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 165
  • Joined: 21 Apr 2008
  • Loc: -103 +39

Posted 29 January 2013 - 05:50 PM

Why even consider switching to a PC? You don't mention any software that you can't do with Nebulosity or PHD for Mac, autoguiding, camera ops, stacking, processing etc. I've got a 5 yr. old Macbook Pro and do everything on it, from imaging, processing, PS, several planetarium programs etc. They are using the same Intel processors, ram is ram, as are video cards etc. The only things I don't get are those annoying "its time to run an update" every 5 minutes, or blue screens of death. ;)

#7 CJK

CJK

    Viking 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 555
  • Joined: 05 Dec 2012
  • Loc: Northeast TN

Posted 29 January 2013 - 06:32 PM

Having just had this same "issue" I decided on a $400 laptop from Best Buy that is more than capable of handling all of the front end stuff like telescope control, camera, etc and will do all of the back end stuff like image processing and stacking etc, on the Mac. I would suggest you do the same.


I did the same. An added plus is that I worry a bit less about a (relatively) cheap PC than I would about a more expensive Mac. Still do all my processing on my desktop Mac.

-- Chris

#8 CJK

CJK

    Viking 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 555
  • Joined: 05 Dec 2012
  • Loc: Northeast TN

Posted 29 January 2013 - 06:37 PM

The only things I don't get are those annoying "its time to run an update" every 5 minutes, or blue screens of death. ;)


LOL :lol:

Windows certainly has its charms, doesn't it? :smashpc:

-- Chris

#9 rmollise

rmollise

    Hubble

  • *****
  • Posts: 15562
  • Joined: 06 Jul 2007

Posted 29 January 2013 - 06:50 PM

The only things I don't get are those annoying "its time to run an update" every 5 minutes, or blue screens of death. ;)


You're still using Windows ME, aren't you? :lol:

#10 zawijava

zawijava

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 920
  • Joined: 06 Oct 2007
  • Loc: Wells, Maine 04090

Posted 29 January 2013 - 07:31 PM

Could you comment on the Brand/Model/OS and specs of the laptop you decided upon? thanks -Tim

Having just had this same "issue" I decided on a $400 laptop from Best Buy that is more than capable of handling all of the front end stuff like telescope control, camera, etc and will do all of the back end stuff like image processing and stacking etc, on the Mac. I would suggest you do the same.



#11 rockethead26

rockethead26

    Gemini

  • *****
  • Posts: 3309
  • Joined: 21 Oct 2009
  • Loc: Arizona, USA

Posted 29 January 2013 - 08:32 PM

From past experience, I would check out Lenovo Core i5 IdeaPad laptops. Great value.

Oh, and check prices on NewEgg.com

#12 oo_void

oo_void

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 590
  • Joined: 13 Nov 2009
  • Loc: San Francisco, CA

Posted 29 January 2013 - 09:24 PM

Any laptop you can buy today is more than capable of driving a full astrophotography setup. I'm currently using a little MSI Wind 120 netbook with just 2gb or RAM for my rig. The Lenovo mentioned should be fine. The only forward looking, nice to have option would be USB3 support, but even that is pretty ubiquitous now days. If you want to get really fancy, look for something with a red backlit keyboard. I know the HP Pavilion dm4 has one, but I also think there's a Lenovo model too.

#13 jerwin

jerwin

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 955
  • Joined: 16 May 2012
  • Loc: Romeoville IL

Posted 29 January 2013 - 11:15 PM

blue screens of death


what year is it? BSOD as basically went away in 98/ME. If you get a blue screen now you seriously did something to mess the computer up. Deleted part of the registry or have a hardware failure or something pretty major. Windows 7 is a very stable operating system.

A PC laptop is not overly complicated. Buy online but if you plan on doing any typing you might swing by a BestBuy and put your fingers on the keyboard to make sure it feels right. My company demoed a little netbook that shifted the number keys over one key to the left. Dumbest thing ever but it made the keyboard very difficult for me to use.
2 to 4 gb of ram is good, more is better. USB3.0 would let you grow if you get a newer camera. Solid state hard drives are amazingly fast but you have to sacrifice size for speed. I personally would rather have a 120GB SSD over a 500GB 5400 RPM drive. I'd rather use external storage for long term storage and the SSD for stuff in process. The larger cell battery equals longer battery life but also equals a heavier laptop. Some don't have DVD drives which makes them lighter and smaller but can be a pain when you only have the installation CD. Seems like just about everything is downloadable now days so not a huge deal, pluse you can buy a USB DVD\RW drive if you absolutely needed it.

Odds are anything you buy (with windows 7) would suit your needs. The difference between a $400 laptop and a $1500 laptop will be an upgrade here or there. An SSD will load Windows in maybe 15-30 seconds vs 1 minute on a normal drive. Will you notice that? If you have used an SSD it's hard to go back, if you've never used one, it seems pretty normal that the computer takes a minute to two to startup.

If you're stacking a bunch of images together and it takes you 8 minutes, but takes someone with a $1500 laptop 5 minutes, would you ever know?

#14 zawijava

zawijava

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 920
  • Joined: 06 Oct 2007
  • Loc: Wells, Maine 04090

Posted 30 January 2013 - 08:21 PM

THANK YOU all for your insights!!! I made a purchase today that should suite my needs nicely. A friend [and fellow amateur astronomer] is going to Mentor me regarding Windows 7 Pro. I have used Windows based OS before, though years ago. I believe I'll catch up quickly. -Tim

#15 CJK

CJK

    Viking 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 555
  • Joined: 05 Dec 2012
  • Loc: Northeast TN

Posted 31 January 2013 - 07:59 AM

Great! Win 7 is a good OS and quite stable (though the BSOD is alive and well, despite what was posted above). Because most OEMs load up new laptops with a bunch of software you don't need or want, I'd advise you to remove any of this junk you don't plan on using -- especially as some of those programs run at startup and waste processor cycles and RAM.

Unfortunately, the laptop I bought had Win 8 installed, and it's certainly a different animal. I've mostly tamed it with StartIsBack and by disabling all of the annoying gestures on the trackpad, but I much prefer Win 7.

-- Chris

#16 psandelle

psandelle

    Viking 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 660
  • Joined: 18 Jun 2008
  • Loc: Los Angeles

Posted 31 January 2013 - 10:35 AM

Yeah, the key for me is my laptop ONLY has astro stuff on it. No email, no extra browsers (just one for updates and things, and it ONLY goes to astro sites I know about). Backup/clone the main drive every week (in case something goes wrong). Voila - runs great every time.

#17 CJK

CJK

    Viking 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 555
  • Joined: 05 Dec 2012
  • Loc: Northeast TN

Posted 31 January 2013 - 11:25 AM

Yeah, the key for me is my laptop ONLY has astro stuff on it. No email, no extra browsers (just one for updates and things, and it ONLY goes to astro sites I know about). Backup/clone the main drive every week (in case something goes wrong). Voila - runs great every time.


:waytogo:

-- Chris

#18 zawijava

zawijava

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 920
  • Joined: 06 Oct 2007
  • Loc: Wells, Maine 04090

Posted 31 January 2013 - 03:10 PM

exactly...that's my plan as well :fingerscrossed:

Yeah, the key for me is my laptop ONLY has astro stuff on it. No email, no extra browsers (just one for updates and things, and it ONLY goes to astro sites I know about). Backup/clone the main drive every week (in case something goes wrong). Voila - runs great every time.


:waytogo:

-- Chris



#19 rmollise

rmollise

    Hubble

  • *****
  • Posts: 15562
  • Joined: 06 Jul 2007

Posted 01 February 2013 - 09:56 AM

Yeah, the key for me is my laptop ONLY has astro stuff on it. No email, no extra browsers (just one for updates and things, and it ONLY goes to astro sites I know about). Backup/clone the main drive every week (in case something goes wrong). Voila - runs great every time.


That's not a bad idea, I reckon. Leastways if you don't go to a site with Internet access to observe, or stay at a motel with Internet on your expeditions.

I do both, so mine (Win 7 64) is used for email and general web browsing/Facebook/looking at funny pictures of cats. :lol:

"Web browsing" includes those rare occasions when neither I nor SkyTools 3 know exactly what I need to know about a particular object. ;)

I have never had a problem despite only adhering to two strictures:

No games/game downloads.

Backup SkyTools 3 after every run (easy).

Course I do keep the machine updated and have an anti-virus program running (Microsoft) despite its status as the astro-puter that only gets used every few weeks. ;)






Cloudy Nights LLC
Cloudy Nights Sponsor: Astronomics