eMachines M6809 in the hizzouse!

Discussion in 'Computers' started by Carlo Medina, Jun 6, 2004.

  1. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Executive Producer

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    I'm now posting via my new acquisition, an eMachines M6809 laptop. I've been in the market for a laptop for a few months now and have done a lot of research. Not being rich I sure can't throw away $1500, I've got to get the most bang for my hard earned buck, cos there ain't that many of 'em! [​IMG]

    Seriously though, I had to get over a major stigma. About 5 years or so ago, eMachines broke into the PC market for, let's face it, some really crappy PCs. Of course, around that time AMD was making some pretty crappy CPUs, and now they're step for step (some would say ahead) of Intel as far as technology, stability and performance [though clearly not in market share].

    After browsing many hardcore and knowledgeable computer bulletin boards, I've learned that eMachines is turning a similar corner. Specifically, these new laptops (the M680x series) is really cutting edge *and* a great value. My M6809 retails for $1649 but I got $250 in mail in rebates and 24 months same as cash from Best Buy. I will also be getting $65 in rewardzone coupons so that helped ease the pain.

    Here are the specs for the M6809:
    CPU: AMD Athlon 64 3200+ (64-bit processor running at 2GHz)
    RAM: 512 MB PC2700 DDR (2 x 256MB, one upgradable)
    VRAM: ATI Mobility Radeon 9600 64MB (dedicated)
    HD: 80GB (4200 RPM)
    Screen: 15.4" WXGA (1280x800)
    Optical Drive: DVD +/- RW
    6-in-1 Digital Media Reader
    Built-in 802.11 b/g wireless LAN
    4 USB 2.0 ports
    1 IEEE 1394
    1 VGA External Connector
    1 S-Video Out, Microphone In
    Headphone/Audio Out
    1 PCMCIA Slot
    7.5 lbs

    Okay, the weaknesses:

    1. Weight - this is not an ultraportable, this is a "desktop replacement" type of laptop. 7.5lbs isn't unreasonable (there are 8+lbs laptops out there) but it certainly isn't one you want to lug while backpacking through the Himalayas.

    2. 4200rpm HD - this is the slowest aspect of the machine and many who've bought this laptop have invested an additional $100-$200 on a 5400 or 7200rpm drive and reported dramatic performance increases.

    3. Only 1 upgradeable stick of RAM, the other is further in and inaccessible. According to tweakers you can get to it if you dig deep enough, and the mobo can support 2GB technically (eMachines claims only 1.2GB on their site) but it will probably invalidate the warranty. Though I suppose you can just put the old stick back in if you ever needed to service the laptop. Still 1.2GB is going to be more than enough for the next 3-4 years, which is about how long people go before upgrading anyway. Unless you work for Pixar. [​IMG]

    4. 800MHz "bug" - apparently when you go unplugged the CPU drops to 800MHz to conserve energy [almost all of the mobile CPUs, Intel's mobile P4s and Centrinos, do this, but by changing the power management setting you can force an override of the dropping of speed]. There are some fixes on the web, apparently it's a problem with AMD's XP driver, because if you use Win2K it doesn't happen if you set Power Management to "Always On". However someone benchmarked the M6809 while at 800MHz and the drop in results wasn't very stark. Along the lines of 15%-20%. Of course this is only a concern for hardcore gamers, who wouldn't be using this for games unplugged anyway. It's more than enough juice to do what you would normally do when unplugged: word processing, net surfing, etc.

    -----------------

    The strengths:

    1. The most powerful laptop at this price range. Actually, I'll go as far as to say under $2000, maybe even up to $2500. Voodoo uses the same OEM model as this and soups it up (more RAM, faster HD, replaces stock speakers w/ better ones) and charges between $3000-$4000 for it.

    2. Great graphics. The only better thing would have been to use the 128MB flavor of the 9600 (or wait for the 9700 to come out) but hey, for $1499 after rebates, I am not complaining.

    3. Nice widescreen LCD. It's not quite 1.78 but the scaling is nice on PowerDVD and looks really sharp. Just watched a bit of Finding Nemo and Underworld, both were spectacular.

    And most importantly, when it's "doing it's thing" I don't feel like I'm on a laptop. By that I mean the inevitable decline in power and performance that has traditionally accompanied using a budget laptop. Sure in the past if you were willing to plunk down $3K+ you could get a nice laptop, but if you paid $1500 or less, you could pretty much expect a marked decline in performance.

    This machine truly is a desktop replacement (and in fact feels a lot faster than the Intel P4 1.5GHz box I built a couple of years ago for my girlfriend). I can't wait until I put a 7200rpm drive in here, as that is where I feel the most slowdown for sure.

    Just wanted to post this so if anyone's in the market, these things are a great buy right now with the rebates. And don't just take my word for it, do a web search with eMachines + M6805 or M6809 and read for yourself!

    For my money, this gets: [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Hope this helps those who are in the market for a DTR laptop.
     
  2. Marshall Alsup

    Marshall Alsup Second Unit

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    Man, thats awesome! I've read that that line of laptops are really wonderful. Apparently E-Machines have turned around. I was laptop shopping about 2-3 months ago and almost got a M6805 until I ran into a deal I couldn't pass up on Dell's website. Enjoy the machine!

    One question: Wheres the pics??!?! [​IMG]

    -Marshall
     
  3. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Executive Producer

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    Working on getting a web host. If you know of someone w/ bandwidth I can take pics w/ my digital camera and email the pics. Man it would be beautiful to post pics of this puppy. [​IMG]

    It really is a pleasure to work on. And I work in a place that sees more than its fair share of laptops over the years, and each time I've used them I've left feeling like "eh, these are okay, but they're still laptops."

    This is the first time I've felt like they've put a full fledged PC in an affordable laptop's body.
     
  4. Marshall Alsup

    Marshall Alsup Second Unit

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    Carlo, I can host them on my site if you'd like. Feel free to send me some pics to malsup@scs.wsu.edu and I'll put them up.

    Here's my new lappy if you'd like to compare. Its pretty close to yours.

    PIV 2.8
    512 Ram
    60 GB 7200 disk
    DVD +R/RW
    Radeon 9700 128MB

    Isn't it awesome to be able to compute wherever you want?

    -Marshall
     
  5. SethH

    SethH Cinematographer

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    Sounds like a great machine, but IMO you should swap out the HD asap! That's a major bottleneck in an otherwise very quick system. Look around on Ebay at the IBM/Hitachi laptop drives that run 7200rpm. If they're too expensive at least step up to 5400rpm.

    About the power drop. You should seriously consider not overriding the power management. When you are running on battery how many tasks will you be doing that require more than 800MHz? I doubt too many. If you override the power management your battery life is going to absolutely suck (possibly less than 1 hour).

    Anyway, congrats on the machine and have fun with it.
     
  6. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Executive Producer

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    Marhsall,

    Thanks for the offer, I'll try to take some pics in the next few days and email them to you.

    Seth,

    Yup, I'm just debating whether I want to save cash now and buy a 5400, but I know I'll want something faster in a year or two...or just suck it up now and splurge for the 7200 model.
     
  7. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Executive Producer

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    Battery update: just out of curiousity I ran a fully charged battery out in 2h 24mins (PC went to hibernate) while watching a DVD movie. Not bad, since not only does it take processing power to constantly run PowerDVD but also to keep the DVD drive spinning. Probably can get a bit more if you're just word processing, I should think...
     
  8. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Executive Producer

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    Another quick update:

    1. I was word processing for about 90 minutes today, unplugged at the coffeehouse, and still had 51% of the battery left, so I was going to get over 3 hours of battery time. For a pretty powerful DTR that's not bad at all for the stock battery.

    2. I just bought a DLink DI-524 802.11g wireless router and it's in the other bedroom and I'm getting great signal strength. Just went to 2wire.com and scored an 1100 and 1300 score on the bandwidth meter. My connected desktop scored 1360.

    After a week of ownership, and about 15-20 hours of use (about 1/3 of it unplugged), I have absolutely no regrets over the purchase. Still Highly Recommended! [​IMG]
     
  9. SethH

    SethH Cinematographer

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    Congrats. Sounds like you've got an awesome system. Make sure you enable all the security features with the wireless. If your card is also 802.11g then enable WAP and MAC Address filtering. If it's only 802.11b then enable WEP and MAC Address filtering. Your manauls should help you out with all this.
     
  10. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Executive Producer

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    Yes I've actually not enabled MAC address filtering as I don't have all of my roommates' MAC addresses for their connected PCs, but I'm the only wireless device, so what I have done is made the WAP 64-bit active, with a 10 character hex code--hopefully no one will guess those 10 characters [​IMG]

    When I get a chance in the next few days I'll get everyone's MAC and put them in. I just checked though and I am the only wireless device (and living in a college town, a big apt building filled with hundreds of students, more than a few with wireless laptops) that's probably a good sign.
     
  11. Tekara

    Tekara Supporting Actor

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    Your router should have a connected clients listing with all the MAC addresses listed. I have yet to find a router that doesn't. Save you some time and a lot of effort.

    Congrats on the purchase!
     
  12. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Executive Producer

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    Thanks for the advice, Rob! Yes, Admin account is indeed good for something w/ the router... [​IMG]

    Not all PCs are on, but the two that were and the wireless were indeed in the settings so I can just easily copy-n-paste em that way.
     

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