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I'm getting a new dev laptop, mostly on Apache/PHP/Oracle/Eclipse and VirtualBox doing web dev stuff. I've googled around and basically most people agree that i7 would be too much just for that. So I was thinking whether i5 with 7200 RPM HDD is better than i7 with less RPM. As I've read that most of the time, the processor is actually twiddling its thumb waiting for the HDD to finish whatever operation the HDD is doing.

Everything else are the same, just the processors and HDD.

Any suggestion?

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What are real performance characteristics of these HDDs? – liori Aug 2 '10 at 11:02
up vote 1 down vote accepted

It's a LOT easier to replace hard drives in the future than processors in a laptop... So, I'd consider how long you'd like to keep it too.

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i7 now and purchase an SSD in 6+ months is another way to go. You won't upgrade the processor most likely, but SSD costs will continue to drop and when you get the SSD it will seem like a new computer again. – ridogi Aug 2 '10 at 16:10

Battery run time with a i7 processor will be short (its really a desktop processor), go with the i5 and faster hard drive (its always the bottleneck on PC's now)

i3 would even be better on battery run time.

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Nowadays, the hard disk is definitely the bottle neck in a computer. The processor it´s only important if you are going to do a lot of math, like encryption, or rendering, but not for apache/php/oracle.

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Consider this: the i7 just came out this year, but they were already selling 7200rpm hard drives at least as far back as 1999. Hard drives have gotten a little faster since then (better transfer rates, seek time per platter size), but they haven't seen the same kind of rapid growth that memory and processors have.

So, in my opinion, if you really want a fast machine for the same money, go with a simple Core 2 and use the money saved to get an SSD if you can or more RAM if you can't.

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