Any GPD/like device ~$600-1K that can run 4-6+ Linux VMs? (by 24th, or may wait 1-3+ years to buy)

Discussion in 'What Notebook Should I Buy?' started by pianoplayer88key, Sep 11, 2019.

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  1. pianoplayer88key

    pianoplayer88key Notebook Guru

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    Hi ... I'm looking for a pocketable laptop (like a GPD Pocket or similar) that I can carry with me to TwitchCon (end of this month in San Diego - 25-minute drive for me) and other places, without having to carry my full-size Clevo P750DM-G in a backpack or other carrying case. (I had the Clevo + backpack at TwitchCon 2016 and it was quite awkward for me.)


    I'd like to spend no more than $1000 (in San Diego, CA, USA, including a new phone - looking at Pixel 3a which would leave <$600 for this device because tax) on a 7-8" UMPC that would go in my pants pocket, like one of the GPD devices. I doubt an older model (anything with a 12nm or larger CPU) would meet my needs.

    I will primarily be running Linux in several VMs, at least 3 or 4, possibly 8 or 12 or more. (Host OS would either be Windows 10 Pro or Linux.) Most of them will have Discord (I keep hitting the 100 server per account limit), a few browser tabs (keep up with social media, Google sheets, maybe a little Twitch & YouTube, etc), maybe a couple other light apps.

    Playing 1080p video would probably be the most demanding task, and that can be done just fine in Xubuntu on 100% of a single thread of my i7-6700K at 0.8 GHz, but stutters badly when the CPU is set at 4 GHz and the VM is dropped to 80%. (I probably won't game, unless maybe older / casual titles at low settings that run fine on a previous-gen Intel non-Iris iGPU.)

    If I buy this, I will be carrying it with me at TwitchCon (Sept 27-29 in San Diego). It will be in my pants pocket when I'm not using it, I really don't want to carry a backpack or another case with me at the convention. (If I'm not able to get something reasonable by then, I likely won't buy at all. I wanted something in 2017, but I don't even know if the original GPD Pocket was out by then, and that one would definitely NOT have come remotely close to meeting my needs. I'm not even sure I should be posting this topic, since maybe what I'm looking for doesn't exist yet? :/ )

    Either way, I AM getting a phone to replace my Moto G4 Play, likely the Pixel 3a. (I've made posts asking for advice on that on a few other forums.) Ideally I'd get a single device that's a UMPC and a phone all in one. (I have yet to see a traditional smartphone that runs a full desktop x86-compatible OS though.)

    I need it to last all day and well into the night on battery, and would be willing to get (included in the budget) a supplemental battery pack. (I use an Anker for my current phone, for example.)

    I prefer a 1080p non-glossy screen, so I can use it outdoors. (My eyes are probably good enough to handle 1440p or 4K - I can read pcpartpicker in Chrome on my Clevo set at 50% magnification, but that would probably jack the price up too high.)

    I think a 500GB SSD and 16GB of RAM might hopefully be sufficient, with an 8-core SMT or 12-core non-SMT CPU at ~1 GHz.






    I wanted to put the form in a spoiler, as it was getting quite long, but I can't seem to find the function to do that. Anyway, the TS;NMD is below. (Too Short; Need More Detail)


    --------------------------------------------------------


    General Questions

    1) What is your budget?
    TOTAL budget = $1000, including the smartphone I'm also planning to purchase. (About to pull the trigger on the Pixel 3a, so that would leave a bit under $600 accounting for tax.) Or, if I could get a device that's a UMPC and phone in one, I'd spend the $1000 on that.

    2) What size notebook would you prefer?
    UMPC - 7-8" screen - which should fit in pants pocket.

    3) Which country will you buying this notebook?
    USA - San Diego, CA

    4) Are there any brands that you prefer or any you really don't like?
    a. Like: GPD
    b. Dislike: idk yet
    c. Unsure: Xiaomi, One (or whatever it is)? Don't know enough about them.

    5) Would you consider laptops that are refurbished/redistributed?
    I'm not sure there would be any older ones that would meet my needs.

    6) What are the primary tasks will you be performing with this notebook?
    Virtualization of Linux (multiple - at least 3 or 4, possibly more), each with Discord, few browser tabs, Google sheets, twitter, etc. I follow a lot of Twitch Streamers, and have hit the 100-server-per-Discord account multiple times. Since Discord doesn't let me sign into multiple accounts from the same app, I run the other accounts in Linux VMs (Xubuntu - 2.75GB RAM, 100% of 1 thread of 6700K, 20GB storage) on my Clevo laptop.
    I figure that playing 1080p video would probably be about the most demanding thing I would do. Based on my experience with testing on my Clevo laptop, I would likely be better off with many lower-clocked cores rather than fewer-clocked cores. (
    In testing, I was able to play a 1080p Youtube video with my 6700K set at 800 MHz and the VM set for 1 thread at 100%, but it stuttered badly with the host CPU at 4 GHz and the 1 thread at about 80% or so.)


    7) Will you be taking the notebook with you to different places, leaving it on your desk or both?
    It will probably almost never be on my desk, but would be carried with me.

    8) Will you be playing games on your notebook? (If so, please state which games or types of games?)
    Probably not, but if I do, they would be casual / light / older games at lower settings, basically things that would run fine on an APU. If at all possible though, I would really like to be able to split the GPU's resources among the VMs. (For example, I would like gaming in a VM to be a possibility, even if it's like 30 fps at 640x480 low in something like TF2 or older.)

    9) How many hours of battery life do you need?
    I'm hoping for at least 16+ hours, and would be fine with supplementing it with an external battery pack (like the Anker pack I have for my current phone).

    10) Would you prefer to see the notebooks you're considering before purchasing it or buying a notebook on-line without seeing it is OK?
    I think I don't really have any choice here - would probably have to purchase online. It'd be nice to see it in person, but I don't think any local stores stock GPD or similar devices.

    11) What OS do you prefer? Windows, Mac OS, Linux, Chrome OS, etc.
    Windows 10 (Pro) or Linux.

    Screen Specifics

    12) What screen resolution(s) would you prefer? (See further below for explanations.)
    1920x1080 or similar. (1920x1200 would be fine too.)

    13) Do you want a glossy/reflective screen or a matte/non-glossy screen? (See further below for explanations.)
    Preferably a matte / non-glossy screen. There's a very good chance I would be using this outdoors.

    Build Quality and Design

    14) Are the notebook's looks and stylishness important to you?
    No.

    Notebook Components

    15) How much hard drive space do you need?
    Probably around 500GB, or would it be possible to squeeze several VMs into 250GB? An M.2 slot would be really nice.

    15b) Other components?
    Based on my experience with testing (video playback in VM, mentioned earlier) on my Clevo laptop, I would likely be better off with many lower-clocked cores rather than fewer-clocked cores. (In testing, I was able to play a 1080p Youtube video with my 6700K set at 800 MHz and the VM set for 1 thread at 100%, but it stuttered badly with the host CPU at 4 GHz and the 1 thread at about 80% or so.)

    For example, I would probaby be okay with single-threaded benchmark scores of about 40 in Cinebench R15, 100 in Cinebench R20, 600 in Passmark or 35 in UserBenchmark. If at all possible, I'd like the multi-threaded score to at least come close to half of a 4790K or 6700K or so.
    A 2-core, 4-thread APU (like the m3-8100Y) would definitely NOT cut it for me! I hear rumors of a 4-core / 8-thread Ryzen Embedded APU in a device, but idk if that's available yet. I was really hoping for a 7nm based APU or something like that, like Ryzen or Epyc embedded, but Epyc would probably push it way out of my price range.
    I might would even go for something with an AM4 socket and put a heavily-undervolted / underclocked 2600/X/2700/X in it, but idk of anything in that small form factor that has an AM4 socket - I think the ASRock A300M-STX might still be a bit big but idk.
    As for RAM, I'm hoping for a minimum of 16 GB. Having a SO/DIMM slot or 2 would be really nice (or required if the RAM is less than 16GB).


    Timing, Warranty and Longevity


    16) When are you buying this laptop?
    I will either be buying this in time to take it to TwitchCon (so by Sept 24 or earlier to give me a couple days to set up), or I might not buy it at all.

    17) How long do you expect to use this laptop?
    I don't know. Could be as short as a couple years, or as long as 15 or 20.

    18) How long could you afford to do without your laptop if it were to fail?
    This isn't going to be my daily driver (although I thought that about my Clevo laptop when I bought it and it's now my daily driver), so I'll just use my phone or my Clevo laptop or my desktop if I'm without this one.

    19) Would you be willing to pay significantly extra for on-site warranty, or would it be acceptable to you to have to ship the laptop to the vendor for repair with perhaps a week or more outage?
    I would like to be able to repair / replace things myself on it, but would also consider shipping it to a facility.

    ==========
    END COPY

    Please state any additional features you need. It's also helpful if you can indicate how experienced you are with computers. If you're a novice and don't know much, that's alright. Everyone's a novice at some point.

    I don't know what to put here, other than I do have a current CompTIA A+ certification (as of Oct 2018 - 900 series), and I've been using computers since the late 1980s when my dad bought a 286 when I was about 8, and smartphones since at least fall 2008 with my T-Mobile G1, or possible earlier with a Moto Ming A1200 and before that a MPx220. (Had 2 feature phones before that - V300 and V188, and had a TI-92+ calculator (still have it) in high school and college.)
     
  2. Charles P. Jefferies

    Charles P. Jefferies TG Lead Moderator Super Moderator

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    What you're looking for did exist at one time; it was called the UMPC, but that class of device has been out of production since about 2009. (Yes, that long. See our Sony VAIO P First Look for a flashback.) The modern smartphone made UMPCs extinct.

    A few years ago, there were some 8-inch Windows-based tablets with Intel Y-class processors, like the Dell Venue 8 Pro, but those are outdated now. Even with today's hardware, I'm not sure enough performance/hardware expansion could be packed into a device that size to meet your needs.

    Why can't you get a server going in AWS or elsewhere, run what you want on that, then access it remotely via [oversize] smartphone? There is no shortage of apps that let you remotely control/access a server.

    Charles
     
  3. pianoplayer88key

    pianoplayer88key Notebook Guru

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    I guess you haven't heard of the GPD Pocket / Win series of UMPCs? I was looking at of those, but wondering if someone else (like their competition) had come up with something with better price to performance, better specs at a similar / slightly lower price, etc.
    Google search brings up the One Mix Yoga & 2S, Chuwi Minibook, I thought there was another one or two but I can't remember, but almost all of them have only a 4-thread CPU when I'd really like 12 or 16 or more, and would be willing to take a significant hit in turbo clockspeed. (Some hit 3 GHz, I really only need about 1 GHz I think.)
    I have yet to see a modern smartphone that has a full desktop OS. (I know you can hook some up to an external display to get a desktop UI, but that doesn't count - for me it has to be self-contained.)

    I really don't want to remote into a server to do it - for one thing, that would introduce a lot of lag based on past experience trying it (it was unusable), and I don't want to have to rely on a network connection to at least run it. As I said, I want it entirely self-contained. (Yes, I know I will need an internet connection for Discord, etc, but running the OS or offline apps shouldn't require any type of network connection.)
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2019
  4. Charles P. Jefferies

    Charles P. Jefferies TG Lead Moderator Super Moderator

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    There's no battery-powered device as compact as you want with the kind of power you're looking for. GPD's devices (which I forgot about, thanks for the reminder) have barely enough power for basic computing. Even if you were willing to go with a 12-inch notebook, you'll be stuck with - at best - a 4-core/8-thread 15-watt chip.

    The most compact PC I know of that has substantial power is this Intel NUC mini-PC with a Core i7 chip and onboard Radeon graphics. But it's not battery powered and it doesn't have a screen.

    To put things in perspective, only recently has Intel made 8-core/16-thread chips available in mobile form factors. The Core i9-9880H is $556 for just the chip, and it's only suitable for bigger notebooks with proper cooling.

    Charles
     
  5. mujtaba

    mujtaba ZzzZzz Super Moderator

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    The strongest Y-class CPUs have a Passmark score of low 4000s (you can check for yourself here: https://www.cpubenchmark.net/mid_range_cpus.html). These processors have few watts of power consumption which is probably the most powerful thing you can find in a pocket form-factor. To get a feel for the device performance, a low 4000s Passmark score equals to Intel Core i3-3240, a 2-Core 4-Threaded CPU from 2012 (!). Needless to say a Core i3 laptop has infinitely better cooling. A pocket device will also likely get pretty hot under maximum load and in the worst case start throttling causing you to get even worst performance. And sustained 5 watts is a lot of load for the battery of a pocket device.

    Funnily enough though, some of these Y-class processor DO support vt-x and vt-d virtualization instructions which is somewhat odd given Intel's ruthless market segmentation.
     
  6. rlk

    rlk Notebook Evangelist

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    Have you measured 2.75 GB per VM? Given what you're talking about doing (essentially running a full featured desktop in each, including browser with what sounds like fairly complex content), that sounds awfully tight, and if you're planning to run half a dozen of them, even at that size it won't all fit in 16GB; you're not going to get any sharing between the VMs. Using containerized browser instances might save you a good bit of memory, but browsers tend to be memory hogs. I found that running more than maybe 4-5 VMs on 32 GB bogged down badly (it was on an i7-6820K, but it was memory, not CPU). These were, IIRC, using 6 GB.

    What you're asking to do would tax any contemporary mobile device short of a high end workstation/desktop replacement laptop, much less what amounts to a tablet-size device at $600 or even $1K.
     
  7. pianoplayer88key

    pianoplayer88key Notebook Guru

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    Well, I ended up not getting anything for now. Took my phone to TwitchCon, hoping I could just log out and log back in to different discord accounts with the app, but it kept saying new login detected, check your email, and I wasn't getting the emails. (I'll probably have to check with discord support on that, I've had the issue before and had it resolved.) Anyway I didn't get anything close to what I was hoping to have done at the convention due to having issues with not being able to use Discord as much as I would have liked, Twitter notifications not working, etc, but it still was a big improvement over the other 2 times I've been to that convention. (One of them was in Long Beach where I had *NO* signal at all inside the convention center, so having a laptop with a wireless connection and VMs wouldn't have helped.)


    Ahh @Charles P. Jefferies ... although I was hoping that for what I'd be doing, a low-TDP, many-core, low-clock chip might be sufficient. (Or, can multiple VMs be run on a single higher-clocked core? For example, 6 cores at 0.8 GHz each vs 2 cores at 2.4 GHz or whatever the turbo of the -Y chips is.) One of my criteria would be to be able to smoothly play 1080p video from youtube (and H.264 1080p locally stored on disk), as well as run Discord reasonably well. (I was doing some testing on my desktop PC with several Linux VMs, but have for now set that testing on a back shelf somewhere, it's not completed.)
    Yeah, the NUC wouldn't work for me. As for the 9880H ... if there was a lower-clocked / TDP version of that (same core/thread count) ...


    yeah @mujtaba ... for something like this, power efficiency would be pretty important. I decided to skip getting one for now, but I'm hoping that maybe AMD will have some 7nm/7+nm EUV 8+-core/16+-thread mobile APUs out by next summer or so (2020), as there's an event I'm tentatively going to Sept 25-27 that I'd like to have something like this there.
    I may consider a bit larger laptop, however I really DON'T want to carry a backpack or shoulder-sling laptop bag at a convention I'd be taking it to. (That was the original reason for wanting one of these. I wanted one 2 years ago too but they weren't up to the task yet, and idk if the first-generation GPD devices were out in summer 2017.) BTW right now I usually wear jeans (similar to Levi's but not that brand, but the pockets are similar), although I'm starting to consider getting cargo pants. Maybe a pocket on one of those might fit like a 10" laptop?


    @rlk - Well, 2.75 GB is the amount of RAM I have assigned to the VMs. Right now I have 3 running Discord, plus Discord running in my main host OS. Based on RAM usage, I might be able to get away with 1.5 or 2 GB per VM, I just used 2.75 GB to give me a bit more breathing room on my current laptop that I use at home.

    Screenshot (69).png


    That's on my Clevo laptop. Each VM is assigned 100% of one CPU thread, host CPU is an i7-6700K. Just now I played a youtube video in one of the VMs (the one with Chrome open that's using 1.4 GB RAM), and even when I temporarily throttled the CPU to 1.6 GHz (via the Windows power management settings; for some reason XTU won't let me clock below 3.5 GHz unless I reboot then I could go to 0.8 GHz; I wonder if it's related to originally having an i3-6100 in this laptop and never reinstalled XTU when I upgraded to the 6700K...), the video still played fine for the most part, minus 1 or 2 brief skips. (I think I was having a lot of trouble with the VMs on the 4790K desktop though, throttling even a little to like 3.2 GHz caused massive skippage, if they played at all.)


    As for how many VMs I might eventually run .... I follow around 1550 or so streamers on Twitch right now. (I hear they maybe have a 2000 follow limit but I haven't hit it yet.) Discord has a 100-server limit per account, and it won't run multiple instances simultaneously in the same OS, hence needing to run it in VMs. So far I've joined almost 400 Discord servers, maybe 370 or 380 or so I've lost count. If I was to join every streamer's Discord server (those I follow that is), and set up the necessary Discord accounts for that .... (hmm... I wonder if even a Threadripper might not keep up with that, much less my 6700K AND 4790K, even if I could get away with only like 1.6 GB RAM and 0.8 GHz single-thread CPU per VM, also I wonder if many non-SMT cores would be better than fewer cores with SMT in a situation like that so each VM gets its own fully dedicated core...) Then there's the issue of notifications from multiple VMs, how to filter it so that only if I'm directly mentioned, or the server owner posts in an announcements channel or something, would they get pushed to me. (Among other issues, but my brain is starting to become like what might happen if you tried to to overclock a Netburst-based Pentium 4 (non-HT) to match an Epyc 7742, with no CPU cooler, delidded, overvolted like crazy and all thermal protections disabled. For now though, I turn off notifications entirely otherwise I'd get thousands an hour cause it by default sends everything to me.)


    And yeah, with all the other stuff I run on my laptop (which wouldn't be run on the small device I was thinking about getting but am delaying for now), I do use maybe juust a weee little tiny bit of RAM. :) (One of the four SSDs is absolutely cranked because I was in the process of saving & closing a 4th VM that is used for other purposes.)
    Screenshot (60).png
    (Hoping that my next platform upgrade would support at least a TB or so of RAM, before considering registered / LRDIMMs, HEDT (8 DIMMs), etc. Basically went from 4 GB DDR2 (3GB usable due to 32-bit Windows XP) -> 2 GB DDR2 (4GB RAM PC died) -> 32 GB DDR3 (desktop) -> laptop with 8 -> 40 -> 64 GB DDR4, next step (for a platform / motherboard upgrade) would be 1 or 2 TB I'd think on a standard LGA1xxx / AMx platform. Then on top of that I'd maybe consider a dual or quad socket board with 8 or more DIMMs per socket, pending funds / affordability, but at minimum that's still about 1.5 to 2 years off or so.)


    Speaking of that Clevo, I'm needing to do a few parts replacements really soon (battery, AC adapter maybe, keyboard) and maybe considering possible future upgrades in a couple years or so (don't want to get a new laptop until DDR6 or DDR7 or whatever is out, I'd like to skip a generation or two of RAM if I possibly can; my desktop will be what I upgrade from DDR3 to DDR5 this time around). On the battery, it's showing 0 mWh in HWInfo64 now, whereas it was at about 62% wear level / 30k mWh a month or two ago; also it died about 2 seconds after unplugging the AC adapter when the laptop was in power saver mode and idle yesterday.

    Also a 4K screen would be nice in a year or 3 so I can fit more text / apps on the screen (and make it easier to see forum posts at a glance so I can better see if I already said something without having to scroll all over the place; also maybe I need to learn to add explanatory notes at the bottom as footnotes instead of in-line with the main text in the same font differentiated only by nested parentheses, not trying to say so much in one "breath", reply collectively to multiple posters instead of each individually even if there's redundancy, etc), as well as a GPU powerful enough to drive it in the then-newest AAA games at the display's refresh rate or higher and the highest settings (even beyond ultra, even including cranking up frame scaling, etc - for example GTA V when maxed out on my 1080p / 6GB 970M current Clevo setup gets about 6 fps, using 9 GB VRAM; with the same settings on my desktop's i7-4790K's HD 4600 it gets 1.8 fps and with the 3GB GTX 1060 it gets 0.3 fps, if it even launches at all).

    That and a 10nm 8+ (or even 12?) core CPU. I was hoping Intel would continue their past several sockets pattern of doing the die shrink THEN changing sockets, even if they had to wait multiple generations to do the shrink - (for example 1156 went 45 -> 32, 1155 = 32 -> 22, 1150 = 22 -> 14, was hoping 1151 might go 14 -> 14+ -> 14++ -> 14+++ (or whatever's necessary) -> 10 WITHOUT breaking compatibility...)

    I should probably put more detailed discussion on that in its own thread. Main thing on that would be the battery replacement being the most important, followed by either the AC adapter upgrade (the 230W still works but I wonder if 330W might be better for my setup) or the keyboard. (I'm using a Logitech K270 with it right now.)
     
  8. senso

    senso Notebook Deity

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    Serious question, how do you even keep up with 10 open discords let alone near 400?

    Your best bet seems to be running an R720XD maxed out running a lot of VM's and then just doing remote access to each VM.

    What about docker?
    Can't you just run a lot of them in parallel in a single base Linux OS instead of having to use lots of VM's, that would cut cpu and RAM usage a LOT.
     
  9. kingofswag187

    kingofswag187 Notebook Deity

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    Why not have someone else run the VM's, on a AWS or similar type of cloud server, or just remote into your desktop/home server such as from Parsec/Teamviewer?

    Edit: As others have said, I'm insanely curious as to how the logistics of following 1550 streamers works out, how do you even have the time to watch that many?
     
  10. ALLurGroceries

    ALLurGroceries   Super Moderator

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    I'm wondering not only why you follow that many channels simultaneously, but also why VMs are in the mix. Why not just use different browser profiles? Are you doing some sort of bot work where you need completely isolated environments and browser signatures?
     
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