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Thanks to everyone for the feedback on what errors you encountered at https://www.aaroads.com/forum/index.php?topic=33904.0
Corrected several already and appreciate your patience as we work through the rest.

Author Topic: Laptop vs Desktop vs Small Form Factor  (Read 35337 times)

J N Winkler

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Re: Laptop vs Desktop vs Small Form Factor
« Reply #25 on: September 17, 2023, 04:51:00 PM »

How does one know if a hard drive is about to die?  Slow performance can be caused by any number of variables.

The drive was doing just fine in terms of read/write speed.  However, the computer was BSODing frequently with bugchecks that I could never trace to a specific driver and that are often signs of impending hard disk failure.
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Rothman

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Re: Laptop vs Desktop vs Small Form Factor
« Reply #26 on: September 17, 2023, 05:16:44 PM »

How does one know if a hard drive is about to die?  Slow performance can be caused by any number of variables.

The drive was doing just fine in terms of read/write speed.  However, the computer was BSODing frequently with bugchecks that I could never trace to a specific driver and that are often signs of impending hard disk failure.
Yikes.
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Scott5114

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Re: Laptop vs Desktop vs Small Form Factor
« Reply #27 on: September 17, 2023, 05:46:31 PM »

How does one know if a hard drive is about to die?  Slow performance can be caused by any number of variables.

I had a drive once that would make a loud clacking noise whenever I accessed certain disk sectors. I believe it was formatted ext4, though, so it didn't have any problems so long as I wasn't using the bad sectors. They contained my Firefox preferences, so every time I started Firefox I got the default settings like it was a fresh install, but other than that no unusual software behavior at all. (Had I been on Windows I'm guessing it would have brought down the whole Registry and toasted the system.)
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kalvado

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Re: Laptop vs Desktop vs Small Form Factor
« Reply #28 on: September 17, 2023, 06:04:58 PM »

How does one know if a hard drive is about to die?  Slow performance can be caused by any number of variables.
Drives have some build in diagnostics which sits out a lot of parameters. It's called SMART.
If you're lucky, you may see something going on 8n those parameters
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ZLoth

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Re: Laptop vs Desktop vs Small Form Factor
« Reply #29 on: September 17, 2023, 07:25:59 PM »

I had a hard drive die and be unrecoverable once... I got religion after that as far as backups and buying new drives and not continuing to use them very long after their warranties were up.

Over the years I have had five disk failures, two of which resulted in significant data loss, and have learned the hard way to reject out of hand any data preservation strategy that relies on recovery or reconstruction of data in the event of a disk crash.  Even a near-100% recovery imposes significant time and effort costs in approximating the pre-crash state since the recovered material typically requires quality control and reinsertion into the original folder structure.

From my experience, backups are essential if you have a SSD drive. That's primarily why I built a TrueNAS server which is configured with eight drives in a RAIDZ2 configuration, and those backups are then made in the cloud.

The GPUs that have been included in the CPUs are, in my opinion, pretty good, especially in comparison with the integrated graphics of 20 years ago unless you are into gaming. As an example, I have a dedicated computer for just two things: Displaying weather graphics on a 4K television and the conversion of media discs from my physical library to my media server. This was initially done from my former daily driver, a Intel i7-4790K built in 2014 and then a AMD 7700X. Despite the major performance improvement between the two CPUs (at 5-7ⅹ improved conversion based upon handbrake framerate), both were pretty good at displaying the thunderstorm maps. Yet, I have to say that my AMD processor much more than what the "average" non-gamer person needs.

I really push back against this idea that Core i5 with integrated graphics is enough "unless you game."  We tried this when we were shopping for a new PC for my mother, who was even less likely to game than I am, and she was unhappy with it within six months since she could tell (even while browsing the Web, writing emails, processing words, etc.) that its responsiveness was subpar.

How many years ago was that? I'm told that the i5s have improved, but I can't speak from experience. All I said was...

I feel that the modern-day processor with the built-in GPU is more than powerful enough for everyday users such as browsing the web, playing videos, email, and using office applications.

While I feel that a i9 or the AMD equivalent is overpowered for most people, it's different for the i7 or the AMD equivalent. Again, I'm just looking at "regular" end users, not power users.

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WillWeaverRVA

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Re: Laptop vs Desktop vs Small Form Factor
« Reply #30 on: September 17, 2023, 08:00:09 PM »

How does one know if a hard drive is about to die?  Slow performance can be caused by any number of variables.

HDDs will often become very noisy or start making clicking sounds before they fail. I'm not sure about SSDs since they don't have moving components.
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ZLoth

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Re: Laptop vs Desktop vs Small Form Factor
« Reply #31 on: September 18, 2023, 12:03:53 AM »

How does one know if a hard drive is about to die?  Slow performance can be caused by any number of variables.

HDDs will often become very noisy or start making clicking sounds before they fail. I'm not sure about SSDs since they don't have moving components.

You can use a utility such as CrystalDiskInfo to pull the SMART info. Here is an example screenshot from one of my older drives:



51,077 hours is about 2,128 days, or around 5 year 303 day 5 hours (assuming a year is 8,760 hours).

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I'm an Engineer. That means I solve problems. Not problems like "What is beauty?", because that would fall within the purview of your conundrums of philosophy. I solve practical problems and call them "paychecks".

ZLoth

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Re: Laptop vs Desktop vs Small Form Factor
« Reply #32 on: September 29, 2023, 06:28:31 PM »

From PCWorld:

I switched my $1,000 desktop to a $300 mini PC and regret nothing
Quote
Earlier this year, I impulse-bought a tiny, inexpensive desktop PC for research purposes. I didn’t expect it to change my entire computing setup.

But here I am now, using the $300 Beelink SER5 Mini PC as my daily workhorse, powering an ultrawide 1440p 100Hz monitor and smoothly handling any productivity task I’ve thrown at it. This little computer has been so delightful to use that I’ve relegated my full-sized desktop tower PC to the basement television, where it’s now serving exclusively as a gaming rig.

Consider this a lesson on technological overkill. Outside of some specialized use cases, the required compute power for getting things done might be a lot less than you think.
FULL ARTICLE HERE

This may be the type of computer that I would give to my non-computer savvy mother or hook up to my television as a home theater PC that can also display weather maps. It certainly would not be my main computer.
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I'm an Engineer. That means I solve problems. Not problems like "What is beauty?", because that would fall within the purview of your conundrums of philosophy. I solve practical problems and call them "paychecks".

Road Hog

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Re: Laptop vs Desktop vs Small Form Factor
« Reply #33 on: September 30, 2023, 10:40:05 PM »

If by "Small Form Factor" you mean "Small Phone Factor," you are coming correct. I use my phone as a hotspot for my devices at home and it works great.
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HighwayStar

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Re: Laptop vs Desktop vs Small Form Factor
« Reply #34 on: October 02, 2023, 01:12:13 PM »

Each has its place, although I think people tend to get the wrong tool for the job fairly frequently.

True Desktop: Wins in every category except portability. Easy to service/replace components, optimal cooling, space for optical drives and other accessories, expandable, etc. If portability is not a factor the answer is simply desktop.

Small Form Factor: Kind of a niche device frankly. Makes some sense in institutions like schools, or for use as a secondary computer for servers etc. (mainly because they are so plentiful thanks to institutions). A sub-optimal choice for desktop use in every respect except portability. I did use one as my primary computer for a period where I was moving twice a year and had to fit everything in a compact sedan.

Laptop: Inferior in every respect except portability. Should only be used to go places. No, docks don't really fix this, they just improve it somewhat. Only used a laptop as a primary computer when I lived overseas and flying equipment was not feasible.

The way most people end up with a laptop is by needing portability at least occasionally and only being willing to have one computer. That dictates a laptop.
My approach has been to move to a desktop for 95% of my work and all the heavy lifting tasks, and an UMPC for exceptional portability when I need it. This gives far more power and capability overall and more portability when I need portability. The UMPC is so small it can go in other luggage rather than a dedicated laptop bag or pack.

Some will say that most people don't need desktop power, I tend to agree. Unfortunately most of the population past school age could just use a phone as a computer as they are really only consuming information and doing online activities, most of which are mobile phone oriented anyway.
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ZLoth

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Re: Laptop vs Desktop vs Small Form Factor
« Reply #35 on: January 29, 2024, 12:01:40 AM »

As an update, I'm in process of replacing my mother's 10yo laptop with the MSI Cubi 5 12M-029US Intel Core i5 Mini PC which I ordered for $469+$10 shipping+$40 Texas Sales Tax off Amazon. (The price has gone up slightly). This is an incredibly tiny computer for those of us who grew with big-cased computers, but those computers also held a 3½" hard drive, a 5¼" CD-ROM/DVD-ROM drive, and perhaps a gaming video card. My mother needs none of those, and in fact, it has a VESA mounting bracket for attaching to the back of a monitor. The i5-1235U (processor released 23 February 2022) appears to be a significant performance improvement over my mother's i5-4200M (processor released 4 June 2013) laptop. This tiny computer has two USB-3 ports and a USB-C port in the front, two USB-C ports, a DisplayPort and HDMI port for the monitor, and two ethernet (one 1GB, one 2.5GB) ports in the back. Power is supplied by a separate power brick, and Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are included as well as a installed copy of Windows 11 Home.

If anything, the biggest gripe is that it comes with a single 8GB DDR-4 3200Mhz SO-DIMM chip which I feel is totally inadequate for Windows 11 (16 GB is minimum in my opinion). Additional memory was ordered, and it was super easy to crack open the case, swap out the laptop memory, and screw it back together again. The computer also comes installed with a 512GB Samsung MZVL4512HBLU-00BTW M.2 Drive which should be more than adequate for my mother's needs. In the future, this should also be a pretty good Linux box.
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I'm an Engineer. That means I solve problems. Not problems like "What is beauty?", because that would fall within the purview of your conundrums of philosophy. I solve practical problems and call them "paychecks".

kkt

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Re: Laptop vs Desktop vs Small Form Factor
« Reply #36 on: January 29, 2024, 01:15:31 AM »

Good thing you can put in more memory as it ages!  That's been my main concern with tiny computers.
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ZLoth

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Re: Laptop vs Desktop vs Small Form Factor
« Reply #37 on: January 29, 2024, 09:13:14 AM »

Good thing you can put in more memory as it ages!  That's been my main concern with tiny computers.

More functionality=more code=more memory consumed. In the early 2000s, I remember when it was good if your Windows XP machine had 512MB of memory, and 4GB limitation of 32-bit systems were "unobtainable" due to the cost. Nowadays, I'm looking at the memory kits for DDR4-3200 SO-DIMMs from one manufacturer as follows (as of this writing):
Even a 8GB module is just $19. I ended up maxing out the memory on this computer to 64GB even though the only justifications were "because I can" and "the price was right", not because of any real-world need. I don't think DDR4 memory is even going away in the near future as there are too many machines out there using DDR4 including some new builds even though DDR5 has been out for two years. Heck, you can still readily find DDR3 memory.   
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I'm an Engineer. That means I solve problems. Not problems like "What is beauty?", because that would fall within the purview of your conundrums of philosophy. I solve practical problems and call them "paychecks".

 


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