dell inspiron 5100 vs. latitude d600

I am going off to school in the fall (about a month actually) and I have the option of either a Dell Inspiron 5100 laptop or a Latitude D600. I can’t decide which to take, so I was wondering if any of yous guys have an opinion about either of them. Here are the specs:

Inspiron 5100:
P4 2.6 GHz
40 GB HD
32 MB Radeon Mobility
Win XP Home

Latitude D600:
Pentium M 1.6 GHz
40 GB HD
32 MB Radeon Mobility 9000
Win XP Pro

I do some gaming, but nothing extremely graphic-intensive (a la BF2)… the most intensive thing I play is CS: Source and DoD: Source. It looks to me like they are pretty much equivalent, but do any of you guys have any experiences with either of these? Any input is greatly appreciated. Thanks.

I’d go with the Latitude, if only because a P4 in a laptop is a sure-fire way to get miserable battery life and a toasted lap - that CPU runs hot. The Pentium M will give you substantially more battery life, and for most everyday things, it’s more than adequate. XP Pro is an additional bonus, but not a deal-breaker. If you plan to keep music on this computer, might I suggest a larger hard drive? I have a 40GB (OK, I admit I have a *lot *of music) and I’m running short on space. 1GB of RAM is plenty for most thing.

Concur on the M processor for battery life and such. Also despite all of the hate they often engender, laptops are one of those things I highly reccomend warranties for, including accidental damage. Laptops with anything but RAM and hard disk failures tend to be ungodly expensive to get fixed. Along the same lines you should probably look into an external storage option so in the event your notebook unit is stolen or damaged you still have copies of any valuable data on an external hard drive or something similar.

Drach, PC repair service owner, who has heard way too many sob stories.

Thanks alot guys, I was leaning towards the Latitude too, but wanted to hear some secondary opinions. I bought a USB flash drive the other day (512 MB), and I was considering upgrading the hard drive anyway. Thanks alot!

I’ll second this one. Get an external hard drive and a USB key; keep the drive in your dorm room (in a locked drawer if possible) and keep your papers and assignments on the USB drive and the thumb drive. Don’t put anything other than applications that you know you can re-install on the internal hard drive.

Also, if your flash drive doesn’t have a write-protect switch, take it back. You’ll want to be sure your thumb drive is write-protected when you plug it into any of the university’s computers. Think of all the non-computer-savvy users who have used the computer before you: sorority girls, entrepreneurial exchange students using lab computers to bulk mail spam via Nigeria, CompSci freshmen writing virii… you don’t know where they’ve been!

Thanks for all the advice. How much would an external hard drive for the purposes you’re talking about cost me?

Depending on just how big your “purposes” are, starting around $85 (120GB).