Hey.

My brother will buy his very first laptop soon. He was saving for a MacBook Pro, but hearing me go on about Apple being PRISM-compliant and about how open source software is awesome, he’s open to new options.

His main argument to buy an M1 is that there is currently no chip nearly as good (in terms of energetic efficiency). And I see that he has a point there.

However, I was also kinda hoping he’d use his savings for a Framework laptop running Linux. Regarding those computers, my biggest hope is that they’ll eventually run good RISC-V chips, chips that can be easily be changed with a simple module change. But that may be a long time from now, maybe decades.

Another option I thought about was him buying the M1 and fighting his way to install a Linux distro that supports all the M1 MacBook hardware. He’ll have a really fast and efficient chip, as well as a good system!

But the main objection for this is that the M1 is not really future proof… like, it is guaranteed that in the next two years the much better M2 will be put into the MacBook Pro. That improvement isn’t trivial; it’ll be a 20% reduction in transistor size. But apart from quick changes, it’s possible that the novelty of the M1 is problematic. For example, I was reading about a vulnerability in the M1s because of not having adopted a particular instruction set in the very basic operations of the chip. It’s almost as if this M1 is an early-adoption technology, if that makes sense.

Anyway, those are the considerations that I have about my brother’s computer… hopefully we’ll have more clarity by the time his classes begin. Do you have anything that could help us achieve that clarity? Or even muddle the waters a bit more in an interesting way 🙃?

Edit:

Thanks for all the comments! They spurred lots of discussion and some changes of hearts!

So, I was really looking forward to getting a Linux-first machine, but two things happened.

One was that there were few options (due to the chip shortage probably?): System76 Pangolin not available, TUXEDO quite expensive (and only integrated or Nvidia graphics), Slimbook Titan quite expensive, Slimbook X15 without dedicated graphics (or Nvidia I forget which).

The other thing that happened was a friend having us consider the possibility of getting a pure-AMD machine. Since AMD has open source drivers (unlike Nvidia), they will probably work with Linux without much of a hassle. He’d also keep having the option of a dual-boot with Windows, to work with non-Linux software (in case he needs that for school). Such computers could be those with the ‘AMD advantage’ (AMD CPU and GPU), though they’re a bit pricey. Yet this is his money and he’s very excited about gaming in them!

This is the most likely route. So, no longer Apple. I would’ve liked to support Linux-first machines, but I guess AMD was the winner here?

@linkert@lemmy.ml
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If soldered on, glued and laminated are words your brother likes go for an M1 or whatever else within the thinness race.

I would go for longevity á Framework/Thinkpad type deal. Really salivating over the Framework with it’s 3:2 display but my repairable Thinkpad X230 just won’t break - which is a good thing ;)

edit: also, don’t push your convictions too hard on the guy. Arm, RISC, Linux are all great but he’ll need to get things done at school, not faff about with incompatibility issues. I’d love to have an expantioncard with nvme drive for the Framework with Windows on it.

@snek_boi@lemmy.ml
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Cool. Some validation for the Framework there! Hahah Thanks!

But also, I see what you mean regarding pushing my convictions onto him. Luckily, with the comments on this thread, we just talked about a possibly simple solution: getting a large hard drive to be able to dual boot with Linux/Windows. This will cover him in case he has to install software that doesn’t play nice with Linux. But in general, yeah… I’m quite aware that people need to solve their immediate problems, and being dogmatic about particular solutions doesn’t help. So yeah, good thing you pointed that out!

Helix
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I hope you didn’t mean HDD with ‘hard drive’, but generally storage. I’d wager 1TB of SSD is plenty enough.

@pingveno@lemmy.ml
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I’m kind of at the same spot with my Thinkpad. It’s been chugging along for six years with just an upgrade to the hard drive. Web sites especially are starting to bump up against its 8GB of RAM, but for development and light gaming I can more than manage. At the same time, these products are so tempting.

Helix
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Buy what you really need now and what is available now for a price you can pay now.

His main argument to buy an M1 is that there is currently no chip nearly as good.

What a load of marketing bullshit. AMD Ryzen 4000/5000 mobile versions are pretty damn awesome and fast. Maybe they’re not better in terms of performance per Watt, but in raw performance there are countless better chips.

It’s almost as if this M1 is an early-adoption technology, if that makes sense.

Of course it is. It’s the first CPU from a vendor which previously didn’t sell CPUs and which it only sells in a single line of computers.

hopefully we’ll have more clarity by the time his classes begin.

Don’t buy non-x86_64 computers when you have to use them at Uni. You don’t want to run into any incompatibilities which can cause you to fail a paper or something like that.

Sandro Linux
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True I have a x86-64 Mac but look to get a Linux pc

@snek_boi@lemmy.ml
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Buy what you really need now and what is available now for a price you can pay now.

Yeah, I guess my future-proofing can paralyze my analysis…

AMD Ryzen 4000/5000 mobile versions are pretty damn awesome and fast. Maybe they’re not better in terms of performance per Watt, but in raw performance there are countless better chips.

And indeed, I talked about the M1 as if it was the best processor. That’s not what I meant. You rightly pointed out the qualities of the M1 are specifically around power consumption (and transistor size! The AMD Ryzen uses 7nm while the next generation M2s will have 4nm).

Don’t buy non-x86_64 computers when you have to use them at Uni. You don’t want to run into any incompatibilities which can cause you to fail a paper or something like that.

Such a critical consideration that we had overlooked!!! Thanks to your and @linkert@lemmy.ml’s we are now considering either a full-blown Windows laptop or a laptop with a large hard drive, large enough to dual-boot Windows and Linux :)

@blank_sl8@lemmy.ml
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Don’t buy non-x86_64 computers when you have to use them at Uni. You don’t want to run into any incompatibilities which can cause you to fail a paper or something like that.

Any decent university will have a computer lab and perhaps x86 remote desktops, in case you need to run a certain piece of x86-only software.

Helix
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and transistor size! The AMD Ryzen uses 7nm while the next generation M2s will have 4nm

The structural width is measured differently across manufacturers and architectures, so that’s not really a valid benchmark at all.

poVoq
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Try to buy a Linux first device:

https://system76.com/

https://www.tuxedocomputers.com/en/

https://slimbook.es/en/

All of them offer thin notebooks with fast AMD chips.

Honorable mention goes to Pine64’s PineBookPro ;)

@snek_boi@lemmy.ml
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Thanks! This is so enlightening. Every single one of those companies and their laptops look amazing!!! It just sucks that many of those aren’t available because of the chip shortage…

Tmpod
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+1 for Tuxedo, they are great!

Tmpod
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What are his needs exactly? Just work (and what kind of work), or gaming too? Maybe media production?

@snek_boi@lemmy.ml
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As to intensive stuff, he might edit videos here and there, something he’s done sporadically throughout his life.

I wouldn’t say he’s a gamer, because we’ve never had good enough computers for that (a console aside). But now that we’re looking into computers, and we’ve been talking about the possibilities, he’s getting excited about it! He would like a computer with a dedicated GPU…

He’s still choosing a major, but so far it could be computer science or economics, most likely. So in the most demanding case, AI-training and big-data analysis? But this is a scenario that may not become true?

@ree@lemmy.ml
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You don’t need a beast to learn ai/data science and many universities have clusters available to students.

@Zerush@lemmy.ml
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I’ve a nice Lenovo 15AST AMD Radeon 8Gb GPU 2+1Gb AMD, 5 core, 256SSD, DVDmulti, cost 350€ and works very fine and fast.

@vegai@lemmy.ml
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Another option I thought about was him buying the M1 and fighting his way to install a Linux distro that supports all the M1 MacBook hardware. He’ll have a really fast and efficient chip, as well as a good system!

This option is a pipe dream. I don’t think there’s any indication that Linux can run on M1 as a desktop. They have initial support, yes, but a full desktop would require so much more.

For example, I was reading about a vulnerability in the M1s because of not having adopted a particular instruction set in the very basic operations of the chip.

X86s are riddled with security faults and legacy.

It’s almost as if this M1 is an early-adoption technology, if that makes sense.

Apple has been making CPUs for a long time, for their phones and pads. So no, it’s not early-adoption at all.

Generally speaking, you seem to be having some misconceptions about compatibility issues and support out there. Apple beats Linux in that area very easily. It’s a mainstream product whereas putting Linux on something is still very much a fringe thing.

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