Monday, October 3, 2022

$100 Computer

Best Buy is selling Lenovo Ideapad 1 for $99.99. This is not a beefy system as you would expect, it has a Celeron processor, 4GB of Ram and a 64 GB solid state hard drive. In spite of the tepid specifications of this machine, I thought, just how bad can this be. The worst case scenario is it becomes a $100 paper weight or I give it away to someone child. For the sake of transparency, I also purchased a 512 GB M.2 card as well for around $80. This is not strictly necessary, but keep in mind Windows 11 is 30 GB by itself, so that 64 GB drive it comes with will not allow for many extra programs to be install or much in the way of music and videos, especially since a chunk of that 64 GB is taken up by a recovery partition.

Oddly enough, I was actually surprised by how well this system actually performed. I was expecting to have to install Linux on it to make it actually usable, but that was not the case. Windows 11 performed well enough that I left it on the system. I am not going to pretend this system will replace anyone's desktop or even a laptop used for anything serious. Programs like GIMP ran extremely slow and choked quickly on the anemic 4 GB of RAM. However the Edge browser worked fine and played YouTube videos fairly well. I also did not have any trouble running VLC, Libre Office or Visual Studio Code. Compiling small programs with GCC went okay, I am sure though I would not be happy if I tried to compile a 10,000 line project.

Some things to note, uninstall Microsoft 365 unless you actually plan to use it. It is also worth while to disable all of the Lenovo software that runs in the background, this frees up some hard drive space and some memory that can be used for more productive things. You will also do well to switch Windows out of S mode so you can install software outside of the Microsoft Store. You should also try to avoid big software packages that are known to be hogs, GIMP and Photoshop being the common ones, as well as almost all virus scanners, just be careful about what you are doing and you should be fine.

So what is this thing good for? Well I think if you have a kid who needs something slightly more useful than a Chromebook, but don't want to drop $500 on a machine for a child, this is a good choice. This is also good as a throw away computer to take traveling. Even if you buy the M.2 like I did, with tax, you are still under $200, so if you loose it, it is stolen or it gets damaged, you are really not out that much, as long as you make sure to back up your data in the cloud like a good and responsible computer user. For light use, this system boots reasonably fast and works just fine. I bought it thinking I might live to regret it, but instead came out thinking that it did not entirely suck.

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