Laptop upgrade - SSD or more RAM?


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I need to replace my Samsung laptop (Intel i5, 6GB RAM 600GB HD and Win 7 64 bit) with a new one. The battery has gone (only works on mains) ; it overheats; and is generally acting very slow despite all attempts to clean it up/defrag etc I am looking to upgrade as many aspects of the specification as money allows but I am unsure about where to compromise. I would like an i7 and I would also like >500GB storage as I have a large MP3 collection and lots of JPEGs etc and I am contemplating a SSHD option as I have heard that SSDs are helpful. I have looked at a number of laptops in the £500-£800 category but I am having difficulty knowing which aspect of my specification requirements to compromise on. For example, which would be better for overall performance (a) a i7 with 16GB RAM , 1TB HD and no SSD or (b) a i7 with 8GB RAM and 1TB HD/8GB SSD ? Do SSDs improve speed of processing applications eg loading or running Office apps or is the primary reason for faster boot up/shut down? I dont need my laptop for games (it is mainly Internet, Email , Office and Web development/Graphics editing) but do often need good performance for video editing.

Looking at my Windows folder this appears to be c 30GB. I'm not quite sure how a 8GB SSD would therefore help - surely I would need a much bigger SSD to have Windows 8.1 on it?

Thanks!
 
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Ian

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SSDs provide a HUGE performance boost to any system, it gave my old laptop a new lease of life when I replaced the mechanical drive with one. SSHD's seem to be pretty good too (judging from this thread), but it won't be as fast as a pure SSD.

If you are able to store your music and photos on an external device (for example a NAS), then you could offload a huge amount of storage and go for a pure SSD. I'd probably sacrifice RAM/CPU to improve the drive - especially on a laptop as an SSD will improve battery life too. SSDs make virtually everything faster, but you'll notice it mainly when you're opening apps, booting up or performing disc intensive activities.

My only hesitation is when you say video editing, as this is intensive on all fronts and may need huge amounts of space. Are we talking pro-level high-definition videos that take up 100's of GBs, or is it shorter videos?
 
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Thanks for the info Ian. Re:video editing - I dont do this regularly but it is mainly for editing camcorder footage and making DVDs so clips tend to be only in the 50-200MB range. There are 3 or 4 laptops I'm currently researching and they all have different combinations of features - hence my dilemma! A lot of my HD storage is taken up with music files (>100GB !) and photos/videos and, yes I could offload to an external HD - it is just convenient to have everything directly accessible rather than having to dig out drives and attach cables when I want to play something etc. I read somewhere that the search order to load a file is CPU cache->RAM->SSD cache->HD which suggests that if I have more RAM then after the initial load of Windows and subsequently an Office app like Excel then SSD wouldn't help (or have I misunderstood how SSD works?). The three I am looking at all have an i7 processor and onboard graphics but the differences (other than cost!) are : (a) 1TB HD/8GB SSD and 8GB RAM (b) 1TB HD and 16GB RAM (c) No HD 256 GB SSD and 16GB RAM . Obviously if I went for (c) - which is £200 more expensive than the others - I have to offload lots of storage as I am using c 450GB of my HD ! However only (c) has a DVD drive so I would need an external DVD drive for the others. Option (b) whilst not having SSD does not only have more RAM but has better wireless features (supports wireless ac) . Suppose there isn't an easy answer!
 

Ian

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Having lots of memory is great, but it'll only improve things up to a point - 16GB of RAM is quite at bit. FWIW, I'm running 8GB and that handles anything I throw at it. An SSD will make 100x the difference that going from 8 > 16GB RAM would make under most circumstances. Your system does look for info in the order that you posted, but the majority of the time it still needs to hit the hard drive to load info - don't forget it has to read from the drive to get the info into the RAM in the first place, so boot speed and first application launches aren't faster with extra RAM (beyond an optimum point).

If you're editing videos in the 50-200MB range, I wouldn't worry about having 16GB RAM for e-mail/office/web apps. 8GB will be plenty, even 4 would probably still be fine.

An SSHD will be far better than a normal HDD, and the 8GB of SSD storage is used in a clever way so that it works better than it sounds.

I have an SSD in my laptop (and i5 CPU, 4GB Ram) and it flies - I just offload all of the bulky stuff like media, documents and backups to the NAS over Wifi. I can still access them all as if they were on the same machine when I'm in the house - but accessing them when I'm out and about is a little more complicated.

Posts some links to the laptops you're looking at and we may be able to help a little more :).
 
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Thanks Ian. Sorry to trouble you - but it is really helpful to get some guidance on what is turning out to be a difficult choice (and given the cost I want to make sure I make the right one!). The three I was considering are:

http://www.johnlewis.com/compare-pr...-8gb-ram-1tb-8gb-ssd-15-6-touch-screen-silver

I have a feeling, although I wasn't sure, that 16GB RAM may indeed be overkill in which case I am tending to think the 1TB with 8GB RAM/8GB SSD may offer the best compromise. The other complication is that the one without SSD (j144na) does have better wireless features as it offers wireless ac (although , once again, I'm not sure how much a benefit this is).
 

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I wouldn't worry too much about 802.11ac - it is faster, but unless you've got a real need for it then you may not be maxing out the 802.11n connection anyway. Going from the estimated "real world" speeds here (http://www.speedguide.net/faq/what-is-the-actual-real-life-speed-of-wireless-374) then you'd need to have either very fast fibre broadband (operating at 50Mbps+) or transferring huge files over a local network to see any difference.

Based on what you said about needing around 500GB+ of space, it sounds like an SSHD is the way to go, as an SSD is going to push this over budget.

This one is very similar to the ones you've posted, but much cheaper and the CPU is only very slightly slower than the 5500U:
http://www.johnlewis.com/lenovo-z50...ram-1tb-8gb-sshd-15-6-/p1603672?colour=Silver

You can always replace the SSHD with an SSD further down the road if needed, as the prices are dropping all the time.
 
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