Yesterday, I placed an order for a new Dell laptop after spending a weekend on research and playing around with different custom configurations on a few vendors’ websites. My main requirements for a laptop were powerful performance (for mini development environments, virtual machines), wireless connectivity and a variety of interface ports. I wasn’t  keen on extreme graphics or the latest display LCD, as the laptop won’t be used for gaming or entertainment. And last, but not the least, I wanted to choose a laptop which will still hold its own against the latest out there and meet my requirements for at least a couple of years (future proofing). So, with my requirements defined, I narrowed down my choice to two vendors – Dell and Lenovo (I’m in love with the build quality of ThinkPads). Finally, given my requirements and budget, I selected the Dell Studio XPS 16 and here’s some of the custom configuration which I selected:

  • Intel Core 2 Duo P8600 (2.4 GHz, 3 MB L2, 1067 MHz) 64-bit processor
  • 4 GB DDR3 RAM (upgradeable to a maximum of 8GB)
  • 500 GB 7200 rpm HDD with free-fall sensor
  • Intel WiFi Link 5100  and Dell Wireless 370 Bluetooth PCIe Mini Cards

Visit the Dell Studio XPS 16 Gallery for images and more details (ports, etc.).

Having placed the order, I was satisfied that I had pretty much future proofed my laptop by opting for DDR3 (upgradeable to 8 GB), 7200 rpm HDD, eSATA, HDMI, Display Port, etc. As a matter of fact,  I placed an order for the same laptop on the previous day and later cancelled it. My cancelled order included an SSD instead of a HDD. I decided to replace the 128 GB SSD with a 500 GB 7200 rpm HDD after I read reviews and test results on reputed websites indicating that SSD is still a developing technology and only Intel’s SLC SSDs are good performers. Dell provides a Samsung MLC SSD along with the Studio XPS 16 (I’m annoyed that Dell do not mention this fact on their product configuration webpage). Being an early adopter of a technology can sometimes give you a kick in the teeth and I cannot afford to take such costly risks (SSDs are around 10 times the cost of HDDs for a given capacity).

Regarding connectivity for peripheral devices, the XPS 16 has USB 2.0 (480 Mb/s), IEEE 1394a (400 Mb/s) and eSATA (3 Gb/s). With eSATA, I will have the fastest external peripheral interface out there today on computers, but that won’t last long, as a couple of days ago, USB 3.0 or SuperSpeed USB (5 Gb/s) came closer to getting onto computers, with NEC’s development of the world’s first USB 3.0 controller chip.

Perhaps, a year from now, SSDs and USB 3.0 will be the hot technologies gracing computers and then my XPS 16 will have been left behind (I guess I can still use SSDs on Express cards as the XPS 16 has an Express card slot). Anyway, irrespective of your budget, you cannot future proof the purchase of a laptop/PC (or any gadget) for long due to the rapid advancement in technology – something which is both fascinating and a bit frustrating (unless you win the lottery). Well, I am eagerly awaiting the delivery of my new laptop!

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