I am a big fan of computers, having been thoroughly hooked by the tech back in the days of the almighty TSR-80 and (my personal favorite) the Commodore 64. At the time, it was mostly for gaming purposes – starting with simple DOS games (some of which we had to program ourselves) and moving on to the Dungeons and Dragons “Gold Box” series which totally turned my world upside down and showed me the true connection between imagination and computer code. Since those days, electronic gaming (whether it be personal computers, game consoles or phones and tablets) have become the number one source of digital entertainment in the world (surpassing the number one source – movies and video – over ten years ago).
I still game – at some point I will do a blog post on FarCry 3 and how it fits in with my Philippine dream – but nowadays, a lot of the time I spend on the computer is actually work time, which has taken some of the fun and glamour off the experience. And since part of my work is producing videos (however badly produced they may be), I actually have to have a pretty good system in order to process and encode them.
The system I brought over to the Philippines is an ASUS G73JH Republic of Gamers, a truly massive gaming laptop with an I7 processor, 6 GB of RAM, a 256 GB SSD (gotta LOVE SSD drives), and – most tellingly – an ATI 5870M dedicated video card. It was produced in 2012, and even though it was a bit long in the tooth, it was still an impressively powerful system. The only caveat was the aforementioned 5870 card. Laptops – as a rule – don’t “breathe” very well. To conserve space, all of the components are pretty much stuffed into as little a form factor as possible. As a result, they tend to run hot compared to desktop systems (or even laptops without dedicated graphic cards). To make a long story short (too late), the heat and humidity proved too much for my snazzy ASUS and over the course of the 11 months I’ve been here, the video card bit the dust, making the laptop pretty useless. Alas…
If you are just visiting the Philippines, I would recommend bringing over one of those lightweight little netbooks. They’re small, light and pack what you need in terms of basic computing. They are also cheap, so if it breaks or gets stolen, you’re not out that much cash. I had a netbook, but I found the screen to be too small, so I picked up an older Dell XPS M1330 that has a larger screen, a better processor and an SSD but is still light and easy to travel around with.
If you are moving to the Philippines for a very long stay (or retiring here permanently), I highly recommend forgoing the laptop and going with a desktop system instead. You don’t have to BB one over here, as there are shops in major cities that can actually assemble custom rigs for you at a pretty reasonable price (about 15% more than the cost in the West) and also provide some local support. We just got a desktop system from Ace Logic here in Dumaguete. It’s a pretty decent system (Antec case, I5 4460, 8 GB RAM, 256 GH SDD, 500 GB HD, and an ATI R9 270 video card) and it set us back about 34,000 pesos. Our ASUS laptop used to idle about 65 Celsius (and hit 90 under load) while our well ventilated desktop idles at 25 Celsius and runs about 50 under load. That is a massive difference, and since heat is the enemy of computers, it should (knock, knock) last us a good long time. Being an open system, it’s also a LOT easier to clean out and replace/upgrade components as time goes on. And with all the dust and floating burnt particles in the air here, that’s just another big plus.
So, that’s about it. I hope I was able to provide some insight into computing in the Philippines. We’ll be updating this post with more information as time goes on.
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