Re: HP Pavilion zd8000 vs. Dell Inspiron 9300
Hey straca, I must say that I'm quite jealous of the specs that you've configured. I actually found myself in the same situation, deciding between these two exact notebooks. In fact, we both seem to have the same needs and uses out of our laptops, so I hope I can help. Though my opinion may be biased, bear with me, I have done a lot of research on this.
First, you need to weigh (literally, because the HP is five pounds heaver than the Dell) whether you want a notebook that delivers performance, or one that is more suitable for on-the-go. It already seems as if the notebook will not be solely a desktop replacement, so unless you are certain that weight will not be a problem, I would ask you to look again at mobility issues. Deciding which processor is "better" depends on your definition, and what you are looking for. Since you've already decided on one of these monstrous notebooks, and since you're looking for pure performance, I would say that the HP wins out in terms of pure performance. After all, it's 3.2GHz HT, I have no doubt that it will deliver greater performance, though that is not to say that the Sonoma is not already plenty powerful for your needs.
Next, because you say that you will be doing travelling, you will need to think about heat issues and battery life. The HP is known to have heat issues due to the amount of power it must suck up to run the processor, and by corollary, battery life no doubt will be a problem. I would say that the Dell outperforms here. I've noted that one of the users who posted a response claimed his HP had one an a half hours. From all the user reviews of the Dell, I have heard an average of about three to three and a half hours. In addition, because it uses less voltage, the Dell will run cooler, and it will be more comfortable to use on the go. Believe me, I speak from experience when I say that a cooler notebook is much more comfortable to work with. I have not done any research on this, so this is a question that I would like answered, that is, if anyone is more knowledgeable than me: Do notebooks like the HP run a risk of overheating? If so, will overheating run the risk of damaging parts of the notebook? Though I don't have the answer, this may be something to consider.
Your question about graphics cards is rather intriguing. I would say that for your purposes, the x300 is fine. Really, if you don't know the difference between the two, then it probably isn't necessary to get the x600. My strongest argument is that because you will do no gaming, there isn't a great necessity for a powerful video card.
Lastly, because you say that you will be primarily doing data processing, no, it is not worth it getting the Windows Media Edition. Though you will be watching dvd's, the Media Edition is generally suited for video editing, which, for you purposes, is not necessary.
If you were to look at final cost, the HP will run you around $2000 after taxes, give or take maybe $20 depending on where you live. The Dell will no doubt run you around $2100 after taxes (shipping may be free), again give or take, if you end up downgrading the NVIDIA. For such a large investment, I would not consider the price difference very significant.
My personal opinion is that if you are trying to decide between the two based on the criteria you've listed, the Dell is plenty powerful for your needs, and because it runs cooler, it will better suit you.
Take your time to think about this, and I'm sure you've read the reviews of the ZD8000 too. The 8000 is not a bad computer, in fact it scores higher than the 9300 according to cnet. User reviews on the 8000 are very good, while the user reviews on the 9300 generally compain of a bright screen or of bad customer service experiences, not of bad performance. Keep in mind though, that these reviews are based off of accessories and specs that you will not necesarily configure for your own computer.
That said, you've probably guessed that I've opted for the Dell. I actually configured my 9300 with very similar specs. It is supposed to arrive around the 22nd of March, so if you are not in a terribly urgent need to get a new computer, and if you would still like to know what I think after I get it, please email me, bruinyahoo AT hotmail DOT com. Apologies for the paranoia about lending out my email address. I would be glad to follow up on this if you will have my opinion.