How Fast is Fast Enough?
No, I am not talking about a race car or anything, just computers. I often wonder how much portable computing power I need while sitting on my couch, after a long day at work. I am notorious for having the latest and greatest gadgets, and in some cases I still do.
I often have others ask me advice on what laptop they should buy, and my first question is usually, “what are you planning to do with it?”. I decided to ask myself that question.
Most of my “heavy” computer work at home consists of photo editing and management with tools like Adobe Bridge and Photoshop CS4, some home movie editing in iMovie, and sometimes mixing with Logic Studio. All of those things I can do in my office, and don’t need much on the go.
With those tasks off the list, what’s left?
Here is a bullet-ed list that I quickly jotted down:
1: Email (Applications: Apple Mail, Safari)
2: Web browsing (Application: Safari)
3: Tweets (Application: Tweetdeck)
4: Remote Admin (Applications: SSH, CoRD, Apple Remote Desktop, Chicken of the VNC)
5: Instant Messaging (Application: Adium)
6: Word processing (Application: Microsoft Office 2008)
When I look at that list, most things are pretty light when it relates to computing performance. However, I had to look one step lower into this, to really know if that’s the case. When browsing the web, I sometimes see a video I want to watch, or a site that uses a lot of Flash content. Those two things need decent graphic and/or CPU power. Additionally, I tend to run many of these applications concurrently, which takes a toll on memory consumption. In the end, I don’t think I need much of a modern laptop.
I decided to test out a couple different machines to see how they faired. I wanted to know how old of a laptop I could use and still have a good experience. Here are the two machines:
Apple Powerbook G4 Titanium
- 1Ghz G4 Processor
- 768MB RAM
- Radeon 9000 64MB
- 60GB HD
- 802.11B Wifi
- 2.1Ghz Core 2 Duo
- 2GB RAM
- GMA x3100 Video 144MB
- 80GB HD
- 802.11 b/g/n wifi
Obviously, there is not much comparison in performance of these two. The question is, can I get the job done on either? The answer is, almost. When I did my usual tasks on each of these machines, I was surprised how well the old PowerBook held its own. It really only fell down in two areas, video and flash playback. Those two things are just far too resource intensive for the processor to have a chance. If I didn’t really care about video playback, and I wasn’t doing a lot of web surfing, the PowerBook would still be a viable solution today.
Not bad for a laptop more than 8 years old, but I think I’ll stick with the Macbook.