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Tell me which mid-range laptop to buy for EAA

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#1 MarMax

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Posted 20 July 2021 - 04:14 PM

I'm sure there are several folks out there that research things to death like I do before making a purchase. Except I'm so out of touch with computer technology that I'm not even interested in researching this. OS will be Windows. I've attempted to try some EAA with a 5 year old Dell laptop I got for free and it's just not cutting it for me. Camera is the Player One Neptune-CII. I'll be running SharpCap and FireCapture for the most part and will keep doing any post processing on my desktop. 

 

So looking at what's available in the store, which Costco laptop should I buy that's $1,500 or less?

 

Thanks in advance!



#2 Mark Lovik

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Posted 20 July 2021 - 05:08 PM

More than the laptop are some critical items.  This is a bit different than just a remote PC on the telescope

 

- Solid state (SSD) drive:  suggest 256G or better. You could trim this down for stripped software system, but cost advantage is minimal.

- 8G minimum RAM:  suggest 16G

- If an Intel processor:  I5 or better  (have not looked at Ryzen processors for equivalent)

- HD display  (19200x1080) 

 

Most everything else depends.  Some items to consider:

 

- Battery (using it instead of a common power system, then batter life and lifetime are important)

- Environmental range (if you process in the wet, or cold, or hot ... you can buy ruggedized PC's for a price, or do something outside to manage the environment for the PC)

- Display quality can make a difference.  Look at the display first if you have the opportunity.

- Number of ports and types of ports (mainly USB today) so you can connect your equipment.


Edited by Mark Lovik, 20 July 2021 - 05:09 PM.

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#3 alphatripleplus

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Posted 20 July 2021 - 05:10 PM

I use a much older (than 5 years) Dell laptop for EAA with an ASI290MM camera - same pixel size as the Neptune-CII, but slightly smaller sensor, with no problems with either SharpCap or ASILive.

 

If you were doing planetary imaging at fast frame rates, or using  a much bigger sensor for EAA, a faster computer definitely helps, but for typical EAA  DSO exposures of a few seconds with a 1/1.8 sensor camera - like the Neptune -CII - older laptops should work fine.


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#4 nic35

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Posted 20 July 2021 - 08:56 PM

Unless you really want to, there's no need to spend $1500 for what you want to do. 

 

For example, I run my ASI294 with sharpcap, control my mount via CPWI and Cartes du Ciel, do plate solving via ASTAP through SharpCap, run my electronic focuser and can run Slytools 4, all on a intel m3 Stick PC with 4 gb ram and 32 GB memory.  With 64 gb SD card.  I do not do high speed planetary work, but I suspect that it would work fine as long as I reduced the ROI of the chip.

 

I'd suggest you look at an Intel NUC, which can be easily configured almost anyway you want. for under $700.  Get one with windows 10 Pro, and use your free laptop to use windows remote desktop to control the NUC.  The laptop only serves as a dumb terminal.

 

You can connect the NUC and the laptop via ethernet, USB cables or wireless.  I control my system wirelessly, using a stand alone 12v 5 ghz router.  The scope is outside where it can freeze to death, or be consumed by mosquitos.  I stay inside and  enjoy my favorite beverage of the moment. 

 

good luck

 

j


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#5 MarMax

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Posted 20 July 2021 - 09:26 PM

Great responses everyone so thank you. My current old laptop has issues. There is something funky going on with the video card, driver or screen. It's an intermittent problem that is quite annoying. So for my sanity it has to go and something new needs to replace it.

 

I'm in Los Angeles so there is really no weather issue. I'd like to keep it simple and just do what I need at the mount with a laptop running on the battery. I move the mount all around the property so getting power so some locations is not possible. Windows 10 Pro is the intended OS and I'd like to just have the laptop connected to the camera and that's it.

 

Aside from meeting some minimum performance needs it seems like the screen may be the most important consideration. So back to the original question. Which laptop?


Edited by MarMax, 20 July 2021 - 09:31 PM.


#6 GaryShaw

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Posted 21 July 2021 - 12:14 AM

Hi

I think you’ve got a pretty decent spec for the laptop from Mark above. You can also see my signature below for what I use for a laptop. The Lenovo Thinkpad is about 6 years old and all is good. I’m sure your laptop, or similar, could do well with John’s approach using a $5-600 Intel Nuc*. Have the Nuc mount on the tripod leg and use Remote Desktop from your laptop to control everything. Sit at the scope or inside, no wired connection needed. 
Gary

 

* Could go with less expensive Beelink ‘nuc’ as well. Just be aware the quality of build is below that of the Intel. I have a Beelink to use as a backup. 


Edited by GaryShaw, 21 July 2021 - 12:16 AM.

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#7 Noah4x4

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Posted 21 July 2021 - 01:31 AM

Caution, as "EAA" is a broad church.

I use 4/3" sensor, high resolution cameras (ASI294 and Atik Horizon) and output to a 4K UHD graphics display. When pursuing fast frame rate lunar/ planetary, I found I needed at least an 8th generation i7 with 16Gb RAM. My i5 choked. However, if you are live stacking DSOs at slow frame rates, then inevitably much less computing power is necessary. My advice, buy the best available computer you can afford. Who knows what your NEXT camera and demands might be. I now have four mini-computers, two redundant, because over merely five years, my needs out grew them. A NUC is a good option as to some extent they are upgradable and most automatically offer 4k UHD graphics capabilities.
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#8 MarMax

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Posted 21 July 2021 - 10:31 AM

OK, after absorbing your feedback I'm thinking this is a good choice for $1K:

 

Lenovo Flex 15.6" 2-in-1 Touchscreen Laptop
- 11th Gen Intel Core i7-1165G7
- 16GB DDR4 3200MHz RAM
- 1TB TLC NVMe™ Solid State Drive
- 15.6" Touchscreen FHD (1920 x 1080) Display
- NVIDIA® GeForce MX450 Graphics, 2GB
- Intel® Wi-Fi 6 (2x2/160) Gig+ and Bluetooth® 5.0
- Windows 10 Professional

 

I don't think a NUC is my bag at this time.



#9 GaryShaw

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Posted 21 July 2021 - 10:42 AM

16 GB should be more than adequate. The 1T ssd is 8x what I use and mine is at  30%  capacity. 


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#10 Chilihead

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Posted 22 July 2021 - 01:21 PM

Check your local PC repair shops. Last year I picked up a used Dell laptop with I7-5500U and 16Gb of RAM. Only paid $400 for it. Swapped in a 1Tb SSD and it runs like a powerhouse.



#11 SchoolMaster

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Posted 02 August 2021 - 05:24 PM

Backlit keyboard is very useful too.  Touchscreen is of limited value and decreases battery life.  It's hard to accurately use planetarium software with touch.

I recommend using a trackball as a control device.

 

There's some good budget gaming laptops well under your budget.



#12 MarMax

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Posted 03 August 2021 - 11:21 AM

I ended up getting an HP.

 

HP Pavilion 15 Laptop PC 15-eg0073cl
Intel® Core™ i7-1165G7
16 GB DDR4-3200 SDRAM (2 x 8 GB)
Intel® Iris® Xᵉ Graphics
512 GB PCIe® NVMe™ M.2 SSD
15.6" diagonal, FHD (1920 x 1080)

 

The wife wanted a touch screen but other than that it should do well. Is the power requirement for the touch screen fixed to can it be reduced by turning off a feature?

 

I also picked up an external 1TB SSD drive and just move the files to it after each session.




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