PCIE for laptops has been announced, and will be shipping in early 4th quarter. Don't be foolish and buy now, because pcie laptops will have upgradeable graphics, which will extend the life of your laptop especially if you're a gamer.
1. what are some of the better GPU's? I notice a lot of the customizable offers have limited choices.
Right now ATI has the top of the line card in the 9800 with 256mb of Ram ... Dell is only company I know of offering this GPU --- Most other sites offer the ATI 9700 128mb Video Card for their gaming machines currently
2. what are the differences in RAM as far as SDRAM, SODIMM, etc.
Ram = machine memory .. SDram is a type of RAM .. SODIMM is just a way to specify that it is laptop ram .. or a laptop DIMM chip which is dual inline memory .. the SO not sure what it stands for but it states its for the laptop
3. is a single stick of RAM better than the dual channel?
Single Stick means your getitng one large stick instead of two smallers it has nothing to do with dual channel .. anything DIMM or DDR will be dual channel
4. any difference in sound cards etc. if I'm going to be using USB headphones for the most part?
Sorry I cant help you with this one Im not a big onen for high end sound
4. and I know I'm getting into some preference here but AMD64 vs. Intel P4 vs. Pentium M?
that is totally prefforance .. the Pentium M is more Mobile than the other two.. it will lead to better battery life.. run cooler and probably weight less... as for the AMD64 vs the P4 thats total preforance ... I prefer AMD over pentium but I ordered a P4 system because Dell doesn't deal with AMD =P
hope I was able to help a little bit
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1. Customizable units have limited selections because the GPU's may not be backwards compatible. Designing a motherboard usually has the GPU soldered onto the board, so, normally, your stuck between 1 or 2 GPU type, usually the same brand. You may be able to get some systems with ATI or Nvidia like in the Compaq R3000 series. In this case, they have 2 different motherboards, one with an Intel & ATI GPU & the other an AMD & Nvidia GPU. The ATI 9800 is the most powerful ATI GPU in the market for notebooks & Dell is currently the only one that has them. I think it was a licensing agreement, but it expired recently so others will probably start using it soon. But, they might pass it up completely and go for the PCI-Xpress cards instead.
2. There's no real need to worry about ram type these days for notebooks, they're pretty much all DDR memory. SODIMM is the type of format (dimensions, pin count). SODIMM stands for Small Outline Dual Inline Memory Module.
3. If the system supports Dual Channel memory, getting 2 modules would be better than only having 1. I think the way it works, is that the memory stores info that needs to be sent to the CPU. With only 1 channel, only 64bits of data can be sent at a time, but with a Dual Channel setup, it will be able to send 128bits of data to the CPU at one time. Therefore doubling overall bandwidth and increasing performance.
Here's a good link the explains this completely:
4. Sound cards shouldn't make a difference if used with USB or regular headphones. Although, using USB headphones may have a compatibility issue. I've read that some mostly work, but have issues playing CD audio through it on the computer. Other headphones actually have a sound chip built into it, therefore allowing you to use it in a system that doesn't even have a sound card.
5. Personally, I like the Pentium M's. Mainly because they offer similar computing power, but require the fraction of the battery power to operate. This will give you a clear advantage if playing games while on the road. A P4 or AMD64 CPU may only give you 1hr or so (while playing games on the go), but a Pentium M will probably give you 2hrs or even more.
Definitely going for a max'd out GPU would be the best thing to do. If a couple years down the line you think the CPU is not fast enough, you can pop a new one in, but you can't do that with a GPU. You're generally stuck with what you buy at the time.
Dual Channel DDR2 400/533 (2 or 4 DIMM required for Dual channel mode)
4MB Flash ROM BIOS
- Hard Disk Drive
PCI Local Bus Interface
2x Detachable 2.5” 9.5mm SATA150 or ATA100 Hard Disk Drive
- Hardware Raid-0 or Raid-1
- Floppy Disk Drive
Ext. USB 3.5” 1.44MB Floppy Disk Drive
- Built-in 7-in-1 Card Reader (MS/MSPro/SD/MMC/CF/MD/SM)
17” WSXGA+ TFT 1680x1050 (Glare-Type)
256MB DDR2 Video Memory
PCI-Express 16x Modular Video Card from ATi or NVIDIA
Dual-View Display Capability
Built-in Mini-PCI TV-Tuner with Multi-Function Remote
DVD or CD-ROM Drive
2x Optical Drive Bay
Interchangeable with DVD/CD-RW Combo drive or DVD±R/RW Combo drive
Built-in 8ch Azalia Sound System (with 8 external speakers output without Ext. decoder)
S/PDIF Digital output
SRS WOW support
Audio DJ Access Front Panel with MP3 playback compatible
1 Built-in Microphone
4 Built-in Speakers
1 Built-in Subwoofer
PCMCIA 3.0 Standard Compliant
1 Type II PCMCIA Slot
Integrated Touchpad With Scroll Up/Down Slider
Full Sized Keyboard with Numeric Keypad
Windows 95 2 Hot keys
Integrated with Hot Keys for LCD Brightness, Suspend, Panel/CRT Display
3 Hot Keys for E-Mail, Web Browser. And AP-Key
Infrared Communication, FIR, SIR and ASK Compliant
1 16c550 Compatible Serial Port
1 Parallel Port, with ECP/EPP Support
1 External Keyboard Port
1 DVI Port
4 USB 2.0 Ports
4 multi-function Audio Jacks
1 RJ-45 LAN (10/100/1000Mbps)
1 RJ-11 Modem
2 IEEE 1394a Fire Wire
1 S-video TV-Out
1 S-video Video-in
1 Lithium-Ion Battery
Full Range Auto-Switching 100V/240V AC Adapter
System Management Mode (SMM)
Suspend to HDD / DRAM
Full features of SMI Power Management, Doze, Sleep, Suspend/Resume Mode
12.5lb with 2x HDD and 2x ODD
15.5”w x 11.75”d x 1.95”h
Internal 802.11g Wireless LAN Mini-PCI interface
Internal 802.11g & Bluetooth combo card Mini-PCI interface
Build-in Digital Video Camera
I wouldn't buy from a company just for the promised video upgrade at the moment, since notebooks are making the switch to pci-E. My recommendation is the inspiron 9100 with its unbeatable price/performance ratio.
Good points. I've been checking the Dells out a bit and they look pretty decent for what I'm looking for. But If these new gpu's are going to be coming out soon, it might be worth it to wait and at least see what's up. I can still go back to the Dell.
Am I understanding correctly that the pcie will cost the same? As what, the 9800 now? Does that mean the 9800 might get cheaper if it's no longer top dog?