Choosing a Home Notebook
If your digital home is more of a digital apartment, you might be looking for a heavy-duty (and heavy) notebook that crams in as much desktop tech as possible. Otherwise, think of a notebook as a complement to your desktop.If your digital home is more of a digital apartment, you might be looking for a heavy-duty (and heavy) notebook that crams in as much available desktop tech as possible. Otherwise, think of a notebook as a complement to your desktop, and take into account these considerations. Again, go for the fastest processor you can afford, although judging CPU ratings isnt as easy as it is with desktops. Intel, for instance, offers the battery-efficient Pentium M in speeds up to 2 GHz, but that CPU actually performs on a par with Mobile Pentium 4 processors rated at over 3 GHz. AMD has a Mobile Athlon 64 and an Athlon XP-M. When shopping for a notebook, think Pentium M or Athlon XP-M for lighter computers that will often run on battery power. Save the Mobile Pentium 4 and Mobile Athlon 64 for machines that will mostly move from AC outlet to outlet. As for memory, a notebook pulling media duty should do well with 512MB of DDR SDRAM. Hard drive choices are limited, but 60GB is the magic number. At this size, you can likely get a 7,200-rpm drive, which will perform better than 5,400- or 4,200-rpm models. We even recommend taking slightly lower capacity (say, going from 80GB to 60GB) if it means being able to get a higher-speed drive. Regardless of your drives capacity, you should carry a smaller subset of applications on your laptop than youd install on your desktop. For example, youll likely use a compact video-playback app more often than youll use a pro-level video-editing bundle.
Notebook vendors dont allow a choice of chipset or motherboard, but more of them are letting consumers pick the graphics processor and even the amount of video memory it containsthough many vendors wont let you choose your screen resolution. You will want to max out all these video specs as much as possible within your budget. Luckily for DivX fans, ATI Radeon Mobility cards are appearing in more laptops.