Well, since my old Dell Inspiron 1200 started having some odd hardware problems (the usual…battery lasts 20 min, can’t find the CD-ROM drive, Windows “delayed write” errors, etc.), I decided to demote it to my main interface to the USRP. However, this presented an opportunity to invest in a slick, new laptop. I needed something small and portable, but it also had to support CUDA. After some research, I grabbed an Alienware m11x R1 off eBay for $590. Not bad (although at the time of this writing, you can get a new m11x R1 from Dell starting at $600, and R2’s starting at $800). The computer I received had already been upgraded to 8GB of RAM, and I decided to spend some extra money on an SSD (I’m really tired of having to treat most mechanical drives in laptops like glass).
CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo SU7300 (1.3 GHz)
HDD :120GB SSD
GPU: NVIDIA GT335M switchable graphics
Screen: 11.6-inch screen with 1280 x 720 display resolution
Battery: Reported up to 6 1/2 hours
Initial Thoughts: It’s a sweet little machine with some wicked power for a 12-inch “netbook.” Haven’t tried gaming on it, but it’s supposed to handle a number of modern games. I don’t like having to manually switch graphics, but supposedly the R2 has NVIDIA’s “Optimus” automatic switching. From what I’ve read, however, the Optimus doesn’t work well in Linux, which is why I specifically chose the R1 model. It has VGA, HDMI, and DisplayPort outputs, but no DVI (important if you need it for some monitors). Additionally, only 2 usable USB ports makes connecting multiple peripherals quite difficult. Since I’m using a wireless mouse and keyboard for my work setup, one USB port is always populated by a Logitech “Unifying Receiver.” Note for those who might be interested: there is no CD/DVD drive in the laptop (hence the small size), so you will have to get an external drive if you want to re-install operating systems.
At my desk in our lab, I setup a 23″ ASUS VH232H monitor with a combination of Logitech wireless keyboard and mouse. Additionally, I’m rocking my old set of Audio-Technica ATH-A500 headphones (5 years ago, they were the best damn closed headphones for under $200 – I don’t know what’s available these days).