Buying a new laptop in 2015
My son was starting to monopolize my
Asus ROG i3 laptop for games,
and it was his birthday, so... time to buy him a gaming laptop!
Our criteria were:
That's a tough combination. At any one time, there might be one or two
models on sale that meet that, but prices usually shoot up after a few
The one we grabbed was
Aspire E5-573G-59C3 from Newegg for $530. (It's a lot more now.)
- Price under $600
- At least 8GB RAM (as we've learned that Chrome and some games each require more
- i5 cpu (i.e. not Celeron!)
- entry level but not pathetic nvidia graphics (e.g. 940 but not 920)
(because Intel's graphics have not quite caught up yet)
At idle, with no tweaks, the system uses 13 watts.
Running fishgl.com in Chrome on Ubuntu, it uses 33 watts.
The power factor of the power brick is terrible, about 50%. This
won't usually matter, but it's a sign of cut corners.
By default, in Linux, the Intel GPU is used, even if you have Nvidia
After I figured out that one has to actually edit Bumblebee's config
file to point it at the nvidia drivers, and that Chrome doesn't trust
Bumblebee yet, and that you have to add the user to the bumblebee group,
I got opengl working on the nvidia gpu. It wasn't
hard, but you do have to be aware of it. But I still don't have it
working with The Long Dark on Steam on Wine, where I just get a black
screen with a mouse cursor, even though tld.exe's environ has
/usr/$LIB/optimus in LD_LIBRARY_PATH. Shrug.
Feels snappy enough. Cold boots in about 22 seconds to either Ubuntu or
"google-chrome http://fishgl.com" could handle about 90 fish and not fall
below 60 FPS. "optirun google-chrome --ignore-gpu-blacklist" could handle
about three times as many.
Here are some benchmark results for the i5-5200u (vs. the i5-m430 of my
I measured time to build Wine without and with -j4:
$ sudo apt-get build-dep wine
$ apt-get source wine1.6
$ cd wine1.6-1.6.2/
$ time debuild -b -uc -us
$ dh clean
$ time debuild -b -uc -us -j4
So, a bit more than half as fast as a desktop.
Dual Booting Linux and Windows
Both Windows 8 and Ubuntu 15.04 support booting either in legacy
BIOS or with modern UEFI firmware... but dual booting only seems to
work with legacy mode for now. So I didn't even try dual-booting with
UEFI mode. Here are the steps I used:
Windows evidently gets the license key automatically from BIOS, so no
typing in of tediously long keys was required.
- In preinstalled Windows, create recovery discs (both OS and driver)
per vendor instructions
- Prepare vanilla bootable USB install keys for both Windows 8.1 and Ubuntu
15.04 per OS vendor instructions (not per laptop vendor instructions)
- In BIOS, enable legacy boot mode
- insert Windows install disc, boot in legacy mode
- select the expert mode, remove any and all existing partitions,
create a partition smaller than the size of the disk (to leave room
for Ubuntu), and let installer finish
- boot windows and disable fast boot (start / gear / control panel /
power / buttons / disable fast boot)
- insert Ubuntu install disc, boot in legacy mode, select "install
alongside windows", let installer finish