Electronics > Beginners

Desktop for EE student

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How much power do i need?? right now im using a macbook pro with 8gb of ram and 2 SSD in raid 0.. Pretty fast for me.. And im getting ready to buy a desktop to put it in my workbench, to do specific electronics jobs like arduino/avr programming, eagle, signal generator, etc.. I was thinking to get a nettop, like http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16856173001 or should i get something powerful???

why would you want to use anything other than your MBP? you can run arduino & eclipse natively, and boot windows via emulation or bootcamp when necessary. i would buy a extra magsafe brick for your desk and maybe a copy of parallels.

Unless space was a requirement I would build a "real" computer. You can build a complete standard computer for well under $500 that will have several times the performance of that mini system. It will also be next to be impossible to upgrade that system especially to the next generation hardware. I am not very familiar with those Atom systems but driver support might be an issue with development systems. Plus, if you get standard computer you can still easily use it for everything else.

I'm kind of in the same boat, building up a new shop and bench. For the computer I am (and recommend) building up a full conventional PC for the reasons mentioned above.  The little bricks like you linked scare me for the same reason I'll try to never buy a laptop PC again : I have a stack of a half dozen of them, several brands, all expensive at the time, and all of which died due to insufficient cooling of the CPU and video processors. Under my bench, I want a big(ish) metal box with a full size (easily replaceable) cooling fan.

Beyond serviceability, it can be expanded and/or augmented at will. There are I/O boards for just about any physical interface on the planet, and the hardware is wildly less expensive.

As an aside, I'm not completely anti-portable. I recently bought an HP Netbook, and am absolutely in love with it. But then I bought it for very specific and limited applications; wifi access to the web, email while traveling, and playing poker untethered on my back deck.  :)  As it turns out it's great on the workbench as well for pulling up PDFs of component datasheets, or looking at schematics on my local server.

i'm a bench desktop "geek" just as fslee and John mentioned. but mainly not because reasons they proposed about upgradability, performance etc, but because my 1st computer is bench type, so switching to laptop type is unpleasent to me for 2 main reasons.... small keyboard, and... small screen.... other minor issue, usually no mouse, hassle to plug the charger etc.

upgradability: i found out once i bought a system, i'll tend to stick to it, upgrade for me, means upgrading the memory or CPU, but by the time i want to make an upgrade, the newer ram or cpu currently on market are not supported by my older motherboard, so i'll ended up buying the whole new thing. unless you are type of my guru fren (a person who taught me everything on computer hardware installation) who upgrade his system every 3-6 months.

performance: its true, bench type can crack and designed for more power and performance lust. but unless you are "crazy" gamers, "benchmark peeper", or specialist in animation movie maker or scientist to do scientific computational intencive simulation, the performance difference is hardly noticed... practically, mostly for "normal people" who just like to watch movie, listen to musics and surf "facebook".

i start to own a computer (bench) during 2002 until now 2010, so 8 years, IIRC i've made 3-4 "major" "bench" upgrades. i still love bench type and never will for lap/netbook i think. for me, my M912 netbook is only meant for presenting something to others, or in emergency of mobility reason, and... lastly.. bought meant for my wife to learn facebook :D but for serious work... its far from it. i also own Atom (which is fine even for some serious work), and other variety of Pentium system at My shop (currently closed), and at my work. The Atom is meant for my "embedded system" :P my serious real workhorse workstation is at my home Pentium Quad Core 2.6GHz, 3GB RAM, TBytes of combined storage/backup/scratch disk (internal+external), WinXP. (note the 3GB RAM is due to WinXP limitation, i dont have time to find tweak/hack for it to enable higher ram and never care). 3GB is fine for me 99.999999% of the time, but if the OS and MB will let me, i'll opt for maximum RAM that i can afford probably like 4-8GB ram.

most younger people nowadays is using laptop/netbooks, thats the trend i see. i think its fine as long as they are comfortable and can produce some usefull outcome, thats all the real matter after all... what actually we can get out of the tools we have. but the trend for younger people is more toward socializing and play facebook, sadly. the older guy i am, but... they never have a chance to taste the real "taste" :D of bench PC computing.

so long rumble short.... you have to weight the balance between...
bench pc = performance (for number crunching software)
laptop = mobility

adios!... office rumble.


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