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navi_jen Sep 10, 19 7:30 am

New Personal Computer...how much is too much
 
So, I'm in IT and it's finally time to upgrade my personal laptop. I want a Lenovo and have used T430s for years (love the heft and the keyboard) but I need faster processing and more storage (I've only scanned 1/2 my music collection and I'm already pushing 1 TB).

I have my eye on a ThinkPad P53, with the following specs:
32 gig RAM
RAID 5 (basicially 3 hard drives with 1 redundant drive....after my last HD failure, I do NOT want to go thru that again)
2 TB harddrive (2 1TB HDs)

But man, it is eyewatering expensive...around $5k.

So, FTers...am I:

1. Not used to new laptop prices?
2. Am I overbuying?
3. Need to wait for a Christmas sale, dummy!

Though I really want to start using a new laptop, required for personal stuff on the horizon. Cannot use work laptop.

Help!

fmastr Sep 10, 19 9:29 am

that's a monster of a machine - I spend less but trade my laptop out for a new one every other year - so I probably spend an equivalent amount over four years. If this will really last you that long I'd say that you aren't overbuying. You could consider less drive space and put your music in the cloud where you could just stream it - that's what I do, so I get by with 1TB.

navi_jen Sep 10, 19 9:35 am


Originally Posted by fmastr (Post 31510338)
that's a monster of a machine - I spend less but trade my laptop out for a new one every other year - so I probably spend an equivalent amount over four years. If this will really last you that long I'd say that you aren't overbuying. You could consider less drive space and put your music in the cloud where you could just stream it - that's what I do, so I get by with 1TB.

Thanks FMA...I'm the opposite, I HATE changing machines, I had my last one for probably 5 to 7 years. Only reason I moved to a newish machine (replaced with a rebuilt T430) is because I dropped it one too many times and killed the disc drive.

I thought about less drive space, but it's my understanding from other forums that it's hard to install aftermarket drives....and I already know 1TB isn't enough. And I hate cloud storage, I much prefer to keep my 'stuff' close to home.

So, it sounds like $2k for a new midlevel laptop is not out of the realm. Wow.

DYKWIA Sep 10, 19 10:38 am

I'd never go back to having a mechanical drive (assuming that's you've specified here). They are just too slow for modern laptops.

If it were me, I'd go for a 1TB SSD, and buy a separate portable 1TB drive for the music. They are very light these days, and I guess you don't need all your music all of the time.

Regarding cloud storage - you've already had one incident where you lost your drive, so surely a cloud backup of some sort is necessary?

Whatever you do, don't rely on Raid-5 saving your ...... I've had 2 Raid-5 systems, and on both I've lost everything (not an issue - as everything was backed up). On the first, the array just wouldn't come up after replacing a drive - so I had to rebuild from scratch. On the second, another drive failed as it was repairing the array after replacing a failed drive.

deniah Sep 10, 19 11:00 am


Originally Posted by navi_jen (Post 31509904)
So, I'm in IT and it's finally time to upgrade my personal laptop. I want a Lenovo and have used T430s for years (love the heft and the keyboard) but I need faster processing and more storage (I've only scanned 1/2 my music collection and I'm already pushing 1 TB).

I have my eye on a ThinkPad P53, with the following specs:
32 gig RAM
RAID 5 (basicially 3 hard drives with 1 redundant drive....after my last HD failure, I do NOT want to go thru that again)
2 TB harddrive (2 1TB HDs)

But man, it is eyewatering expensive...around $5k.

So, FTers...am I:

1. Not used to new laptop prices?
2. Am I overbuying?
3. Need to wait for a Christmas sale, dummy!

Though I really want to start using a new laptop, required for personal stuff on the horizon. Cannot use work laptop.

Help!

Laptops are cheap.

High-capacity, laptop harddrives priced as OEM add-ons are expensive. Not only that, think of the risk of data loss when you lose or damage the laptop itself.

It is also absolutely not difficult to replace internal hard drives, especially on Thinkpad where most components are swappable (rather than soldered).
Through USB-C, Thunderbolt, and even plain old USB-3 (A) interface, combined with SSD drives, you can get really good performance from external drives that are light, portable, AND are bus-powered --- no extra power connections.
The M.2 format is basically the size of a traditional "USB stick" for everyday carry.

As example, a 2TB Samsung T5 drive goes for $300. That can be used as large media storage.
1TB NVMe M.2 drive i about $100 + price for enclosure. This can be used for documents, data, etc.

1. do you truly need 32GB ram? get 16gb now, and upgrade memory when it comes time
2. get enough in-device storage for day to day. then use external storage for the rest. you can also upgrade that as the price drops (which is rapidly).

javabytes Sep 10, 19 11:02 am

I'm sure you're paying close to $2,000-$2,500 for those 3 1TB SSDs alone.

I agree with others that RAID 5 is not a comprehensive data protection solution here. It might guard against a single drive failure, but there are still plenty of ways to lose your data - array becomes corrupted, more than one drive fails, virus (especially one that encrypts data), loss/theft, damage. Protect the data by getting it off your laptop.

Since you're in IT, I'd actually suggest verifying that the components are upgradeable, buying it with the cheapest RAM/storage options available, then upgrading the SSD and RAM yourself for a fraction of the price of what you'd pay Lenovo.

cblaisd Sep 10, 19 12:23 pm

Have you looked at the Lenovo Outlet page?

Sometimes there are unexpectedly good bargains there, and sometimes the computers are essentially new.

navi_jen Sep 10, 19 1:24 pm

Thanks all. Good to know about the RAID, that's a big driver of the cost. I do not want my crap scattered all over different drives (hate that beyond belief). But I can probably live with backing up my crap every blue moon....and build a system with 3 drive bays..but only totaling 2T in storage size.

Deniah, challege is that on these new Lenovos, replacement SSDs have not been built yet that will fit (the bays have a reverse seating, so standard drives are facing the wrong way and the cords aren't long enough) So I don't want to go in thinking I can hot swap to different sized drives. I want to have enough drive space to finish my music collection, which is looking close to 2T. And, they put 2 of the 4 RAM slots behind the motherboard, so it's a PITA to swap them in.

Cblaisd, Nothing in the outlet yet, too new. Already checked ;)

KRSW Sep 10, 19 4:28 pm

In my office, we use Lenovo Thinkpads and use a calculated expected life cycle of 6 years, with a mid-cycle refresh in year 3-4. BUT we usually buy the best screen, best WiFi/networking, 2nd-best CPU option (we look for the price break), and cheapest RAM/HDD possible as Lenovo charges a fortune. We budget $3k per machine (new), but usually come in around $2200-$2700. Looking over the current fleet, youngest laptop is 4 years old, oldest are 10. Planning on replacing the 10 year olds by year-end. Surprisingly, performance on the 10 year old systems with maxed out RAM and Samsung SSDs is quite decent, better than some of the new consumer-grade stuff for sale at Best Buy & such.

As soon as the computer arrives, we power it up, abusestress-test it in an oven (seriously), and once it passes/survives, then we immediately upgrade the RAM & HDD to something reasonable we bought from a 3rd party. At the refresh, we usually max out the RAM and upgrade to faster/larger drives. By that point prices have dropped substantially and the bloat of modern OSs and programs has risen.

Look for discounts. NEVER pay retail with Lenovo. Not sure what type of business you work for, but there are discounts for almost every sector. If worse comes to worse, talk with some friends and see what discounts they can get. Off the top of my head, Lenovo offers discounts for finance, travel, legal, medical, education, etc. 30% off is typical. Also, the business-sector salesmen are pretty good at coming up with slightly alternative configs for much less. We saved $600 on a laptop by changing the color of the case. If you can wait for a holiday, take a look at their sales then too.

I'm with @Javabits -- RAID is *NOT* a valid method of backing up a system! The only thing RAID protects you against is hardware failure of a single drive. It doesn't protect you from software failures, failure of the RAID controller, or damage/theft of the computer. Good luck recovering data from system without an identical RAID controller; good luck finding one for a laptop-based RAID controller. SSDs are rather rugged. There are a lot of things I worry about with data/electronics/computers -- SSDs suddenly dying isn't one of them.

If you insist on something like RAID, take a look at StableBit's DrivePool. No proprietary hardware RAID controller.

Also, drives from the laptop manufacturer are often going to be from the same batch. If one dies, especially in the first year, the other one may well have the exact same flaw. A local business (not ours!) found this out the hard way with a brand new Dell server and Seagate drives from Dell. RAID6 array of 8 drives... 3 failed within days of each other, before the RAID could fully rebuild. Complete loss there, but fortunately the backups were good.

Let me further dissuade you from this laptop configuration. Your profile shows that you travel...a lot. The P53 comes with a 170 watt power brick. That brick alone weighs 2.23 lbs, 6"x3"x1". That's on top of the laptop's 6 lb weight, so you'll be carrying the equivalent of a bowling ball wherever you go. Furthermore, forget plugging it into the plane's 110v outlets -- those trip out at 75 watts. Yes, the FAA and EASA now allow up to 200 watts per outlet, but most of the 110v systems currently installed in aircraft were under the old 100 Watts Per Seat guidelines, which means effectively 75 watts installed.

If you can 'suffer' with a T480, you'll be carrying around a lot less weight and have a much longer battery life. The T480 also uses USB-C for charging instead of the proprietary Lenovo connector the P series uses, and will work on an airline 110v outlet.

Personally, I'm still using a 2009 Macbook Pro, 1TB SSD on-board, external 5TB SSD in the laptop bag. I back up to the 5TB drive, a drive at my main office, and a drive at one of my homes. Additionally, I have a cloud backup which runs 2x a day, with versioning. When work takes me out in the bush / away from areas that can get overnight deliveries, I'll travel with 2 laptops for redundancy. Like you, I hate changing out laptops, but this one's getting replaced soon due to performance issues.

And while you're spec'ing out systems, you might as well take a look at the Lenovo Bible -- PSRef.

CPRich Sep 10, 19 6:30 pm

Big SSD, one system SSD and one HD, or two SSDs and use a backup solution to both a home mechanical HD and a cloud solution. SSD will be a lot faster/cheaper and two backups outside the machine will help in a lot more situations than a RAID drive inside the machine

WSTC Sep 10, 19 6:38 pm

I am not an IT professional, but own a small professional services company which relies on PC enterprise software. Every computer in my office (and in my home office) is a Mac (with SSD) laptop or desktop running Parallels. I can't even fathom purchasing a mechanical drive nowadays -- there is zero upside. Zilch. Daily backup is to secure cloud, with weekly backup to physical SSD drives stored in vault. On the road, I only backup to cloud -- why chance someone stealup a separate SSD drive?

All that to say that I treat my personal computer exactly the same. I use a Mac, and it is locked down like Fort Knox. No one who knicks my bag is getting anything off that machine before it gets wiped.

In other words, I'm that annoying idjit in every thread who exclaims, "Get a Mac!" :)

navi_jen Sep 10, 19 7:05 pm

Thanks all, but I'm not doing cloud backups or external hard drives for daily work. And I'm not getting a Mac. Just not my thing. But I do appreciate the reassurance on not having redundency in the laptop. Point taken.

And I want this computer to be a portable brick. I have a Lenovo T450s for work and it's too lightweight (It's fallen apart in less than 2 years of on the road useage....I am very hard on my laptops). So basically, I don't need to worry about daily portability, since that's what my work computer is for. On those rare occasions (like a holiday week) that I need to bring a work and personal laptop, I'll suffer thru it.

So I would be concerned about a T480 for my personal computer, I'll beat it to shreds and not be able to upgrade it in 2 years like I do my work computers.

If I could have the build quality of my T430 (which I adore), with the right RAM speed and 2T storage I would do that. But I don't think the T430 can hold that big of a hard drive. Hence the P53...I think they are in the same league, build wise with both around 5 1/2 lbs without the battery. Heft, build quality, and internal drive capacity are MUCH more important to me than portability. But I need it be portable enough that I can take it with me, hence avoiding desktops.

Now, I just realized that the P52 has an external battery (and the P53 does not). I MUCH prefer an external battery for long trips. Hmm.

The problem is I have to pay thru the nose for it. I don't think I can buy a Lenovo thru work anymore, our US firm switched to Dells (which I hate)...but it's a good reminder to check.

nerd Sep 10, 19 7:26 pm


Originally Posted by javabytes (Post 31510749)
I'm sure you're paying close to $2,000-$2,500 for those 3 1TB SSDs alone.

I agree with others that RAID 5 is not a comprehensive data protection solution here. It might guard against a single drive failure, but there are still plenty of ways to lose your data - array becomes corrupted, more than one drive fails, virus (especially one that encrypts data), loss/theft, damage. Protect the data by getting it off your laptop.

Since you're in IT, I'd actually suggest verifying that the components are upgradeable, buying it with the cheapest RAM/storage options available, then upgrading the SSD and RAM yourself for a fraction of the price of what you'd pay Lenovo.

How are you getting $2,000+ for the 3 SSD's?

javabytes Sep 10, 19 7:27 pm


Originally Posted by nerd (Post 31512242)
How are you getting $2,000+ for the 3 SSD's?

Because I'm sure what's pretty close to what Lenovo is going to charge for 3x 1TB SSDs. Paying for SSDs from a laptop manufacturer is always absurdly expensive. Try configuring a system and I suspect you'll see I'm not far off.

nerd Sep 10, 19 7:32 pm


Originally Posted by javabytes (Post 31512244)
Because I'm sure what's pretty close to what Lenovo is going to charge for 3x 1TB SSDs. Paying for SSDs from a laptop manufacturer is always absurdly expensive. Try configuring a system and I suspect you'll see I'm not far off.

My mistake. I didn't realize the 3 SSD's were going in a laptop... whether that's even possible or that was being (absurdly) suggested as a backup solution.


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