Today’s article may be a little dry and technical, so I’m going to take the unusual step of writing a summary upfront of the key points.
One thing that I love about blogging is that it serves as my personal journal. This article serves a dual purpose as an entry in that journal. I can look back at all the laptops I’ve owned and understand what I was thinking at the time I was making that decision. It’s particularly helpful for larger purchases. It’s another great reason for starting a blog.
One of the important points to take away from this article is that if you are looking to buy a new computer, you are going to want the new 8th generation Intel chips. They benchmarks show it to be an incredible leap forward. Perhaps more important (at least readers of this blog) is that such computers are quite affordable… at least they have been around holiday season.
While you may have missed out on the particular deal I (maybe) got, here’s a very powerful Dell for $580. If that deal sells out, there will likely be another coming soon.
Finally the title of “I hope” refers to Lenovo not shipping the product when they said they would. Nearly a week later, it still hasn’t shipped. I called and they are working on it, but we’ll see.
Let’s dig into the “meat” of the article:
So About that New Computer
Less than two weeks ago, I wrote:
“I’m going to try to resist [these laptop deals] and wait for the next cycle. However, if you are in the market for a new laptop, I’d jump on these now. I think prices will only go up after the holiday season before they float back down throughout 2018.”
What’s that they say about best-laid plans? I guess resistance is futile.
At least I can say that I put my money where my mouth is on the last part of the quote, right?
So what changed?
My Love/Hate Relationship with My Current Computer
I have a 13″ Dell XPS from late 2015. I love how small (almost no bezel!) and light it is. I paid $800 for 4GB of memory, 128GB of SSD storage, and a 5th generation Intel Core i5. That was with a deal that saved me a couple hundred dollars. The 4GB of memory was very low, but if I wanted to get 8GB of memory I would have had to pay $1200 or more. The Microsoft Store only stocked a low-end and high-end version. When I bought it, I immediately had some buyers remorse about only getting 4GB of memory. Worse that 4GB of memory can’t be upgraded.
The 128GB SSD storage was bare minimum at the time. The Core i5 was a middle of the road processor. Overall it was a little below average in performance, but it looked good, traveled well, and had tremendous battery life.
Fortunately, one of my very few talents is that I can make computers run a lot faster. I should be good at it due to my computer science degree. Despite this, I tend to have dozens of Firefox tabs open to work on several different articles and other projects at any given time.
Unfortunately, the new Firefox Quantum uses more memory, so my computer has ground to a halt for the last few weeks. If I had to point my finger on one thing, it would be this. Firefox Quantum is great if you aren’t bumping up against memory and disk space limits.
For example, I’ve just lost 15 minutes on a 3-minute task because my computer is simply trying to figure out what to do without memory or disk space. I write my articles in Notepad++ and cut and paste them into the WordPress, because typing on a website is painfully slow.
The easy answer is to just change my ways and keep my Firefox tabs limited. Unfortunately, I can never seem to manage that.
Technology Life Moves Pretty Fast…
… If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it. At least I think that’s what Ferris Bueller would say, right?
I don’t live for CPU benchmarks, but I have a general feel for them. A few months ago, Intel released their 8th generation Core i7 chip. It’s the top of the line chip available for ultra portable computers. As Laptop Mag’s review of the chip noted, “If you’re shopping for a laptop and there’s a model with 8th Gen Core available in your price range, you should definitely prioritize it.”
It seems like Intel is always coming out with new chips. However, this chip is revolutionary because it doubles the number of cores. That may sound like gobbledygook to you, so let me give you two numbers. My current computer’s processor scores a (3497 on Passmark’s test. The 8th generation i7 scores a 8016 on Passmark’s test.
It’s around 2.3 times faster.
That’s great, but I’ve never been able to justify buying an Core i7 chip, much less a new one. Those are the chips that they tend to put in $1500 laptops (for example, this Dell XPS).
I may not need a super-CPU, but as long as it doesn’t cost a lot of extra money, I might as well “future proof” and enjoy the best of the best for once, right? Well fortunately, it doesn’t cost a lot of money…
This Time it’s Different
- Intel’s 8th Generation, Core i7 CPU
- 14″ 1920×1080 IPS Anti-Glare Display
- 8GB DDR4 Memory
- 256GB PCIe Solid State Drive
- NVIDIA GeForce GT MX150 2GB Graphics
I was able to resist this deal because it had a decent graphics card. That’s a great feature if you do some gaming, but I don’t. I didn’t want to pay a premium for something that I wouldn’t take advantage of. I would rather have a cheaper price or more memory to run more programs. Nonetheless, it sold out fairly quickly.
A little later, I saw an ideal laptop at an amazing price. Once again it was an Lenovo (this article is not sponsored by Lenovo in any way). Slickdeals showed this stacked Yoga 720s for $669:
- Intel’s 8th Generation, Core i7 CPU
- 13″ 1920×1080 IPS Anti-Glare Display
- 16GB DDR4 Memory
- 512GB PCIe Solid State Drive
I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. More than twice as fast, four times the memory, and 4 times the size of the hard drive. That’s faster memory and a faster hard drive than what I have too. That’s so much memory that I could run almost any combination of anything. All of this in an ultra-portable computer like my current Dell 13″ XPS.
However, after spending $2000 on a television a couple of days before, I thought my wife would kill me if I made a big impulse purchase. I decided to sleep on it.
By morning it was sold out. It barely lasted a couple of hours. There was tremendous buzz that it was the best deal of the Black Friday weekend.
I kicked myself. I should make up that $700 in productivity in just the first 45 days with it, right?
Alas, there’s no use crying about missed deals. (I’m too busy crying about writing about Bitcoin in 2010 and not actually buying any.)
On December 1st, the same computer was back with another great deal. It wasn’t under $669 plus tax like the last one, but instead it was $800 with 10% back from Ebates. I ended up getting $90 back as I had just signed up for Ebates and they gave me an extra $10. In total it was $765. That’s $855 after tax minus the $90 cash back.
(You can sign up for Ebates here. It’s free. You can save some big money buying through there I as did. If you do sign up, I may get a referal fee, which means I’ll love you a little more.)
Now all I need is for Lenovo to deliver it. By the mid-January (when the holidays are dying down), I should be publishing a lot more with the increased productivity.