Buy a new laptop or dust off the old one?

How did we get here?

This all started when I was getting a bit frustrated with my PC set up in the office and needed a break. I pulled out my Dell Inspiron laptop from 2018 and began working on my blogs, and eventually, slides. I carry it with me occasionally, but almost never use it because of an annoying popping sound from the sound driver, and the bottom cover won’t stay on without some exterior help – tape. Tape is messy.

In any case, I had just gone through testing the new Xeon to compare with the older Optiplex and realized I had another four core, four thread older CPU. You guessed it, the laptop. The Dell Inspiron in my possession is a model 15 7567 from 2018 and comes with a GTX 1050 dedicated graphics card. When it came out it was a decent gaming Laptop. Now, it ranks faster than about 5% of gaming laptops. It’s only five years old. I say only five, but computer years are sort of like dog years.

Still, the Optiplex was only a bit older and it’s a good gamer. I’ve been able to show on the channel that with a little TLC, it performs well even in newer titles. The laptop, coming in with a processor two generations newer should be fine. The Inspiron comes with a 7300HQ processor and although it doesn’t meet the specs for Windows 11, neither does the Optiplex. (Who comes up with these names, by the way?) Inspiron for personal use and Optiplex for business use, I get it, but … different blog. The laptop also has a 1080P IPS screen, so I was able to test at full 1080P resolution.

Testing the laptop

My first thought was to compare it to the Optiplex with the newer RX6400, but that didn’t seem fair. I opted instead to test against the RX560 from that period. The i5 4670 probably did see some pairings with the RX560 4GB video card, and obviously the 7300HQ saw some pairings with the GTX 1050. It’s a match that was likely able to be compared at one point.

I then realized that the data I had from the RX560 was about a year old because I used that GPU in another build. So, even though the laptop needed driver updates, (lack of use), I chose to not to. I want to keep the playing field even. Both had 16GB of memory, but the Optiplex came equipped with DDR3 instead of the laptop’s DDR4. Speeds were 1600 and 2400 respectively, which should be close enough. After all the Xeon handled most every game I tested at more than 60 fps with and older RX480. It did even better with an RX 6600XT.

Both of those were written about in earlier blogs , but as we get deeper into the tech side of these, I will provide more detail. In this case, my results ranged from 17-20 frames per second in more difficult games like CyberPunk, to over sixty frames per second in Forza Horizon 4, all at 1080P, without adding any resolution enhancement. The 1050 is too old for DLSS, but will work with AMD’s FSR. It was not able to use raytracing. Just as well.

If it’s there, why not try it?

I did try a few examples of FSR, although I wasn’t able to compare against the RX560, but the 21 FPS in CyberPunk on 1080 High became 27, and the 28 fps on low worked out to 37 fps. Setting this to 1080P low with performance FSR and frame locked at 30fps, might just be the way to play a game like CPK. It’s ironic that AMD’s tech works on an NVidia card. Ok, funny, too. I have my own opinion on whether the big green machine cares about the consumer, RTX 4070 anyone?

AMD’s resolution tools do help this combo, some, but the problem again is VRAM. More and more games are using more GPU memory and it kills older cards. 8GB isn’t enough anymore, much less 4. Lower settings help, but even with updating all of the drivers, it’s still five years old. Newer budget gaming laptops eat this thing for an afternoon snack, and it doesn’t compare.

What’s next for the laptop?

First things first. I ordered a new bottom cover that will be here this week. No more tape. Second, I will clean up the 1TB drive currently in it and probably actually replace it with an SSD to hold some games and make it quicker. Then I’ll use it, or I won’t. I have Danny DD, my small form factor, but I carry my laptop to many of the same places out of habit. I need to be okay with one or the other. Drivers were updated as well, and that got rid of that annoying popping sound, though it still doesn’t sound great.

Whichever happens, I’ve discovered that I actually still like it. More than likely, I’ll use it a while to see what happens. I don’t know that I’d like a new laptop better, so I’m leery about dropping extra money, but I might end up taking it places more often. We’ll see.

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