What’s the best PC for star-gazing programs?
QMy eight-year old Pentium PC is fine for general use, but I can’t run astronomy programs such as Gaia and NASA’S Eyes. I feel it’s time for an upgrade to a Windows 10 laptop. Can you advise on suitable processor and graphics specifications? John Fraser
ANASA’S Eyes doesn’t require a very powerful PC, just Windows 7 or higher. Some astronomy programs may need a faster processor, while others may benefit from a graphics card supporting Opengl. Intel’s top-end i7 U-series laptop processors, with their built-in graphics, could be ideal. Dell’s well-made XPS 13 ( www.snipca.com/ 25963, see our review, Issue 496) costs £1,299 with a brand new i7 chip. This has a Full HD screen, giving a clear display that accommodates detailed interfaces.
More affordable options are available from manufacturers like Asus: the UX310UA ( www.snipca.com/25965, see Issue 503) is £776 with an even sharper 3200x1800 screen and a decent i5-7200u processor. An i3 system such as Acer’s Swift 3 laptop (£650 from Argos www.snipca.com/25966) would get you Windows 10 and acceptable performance, but has a duller screen. Note that most laptops now have limited SSD storage, so you may need an external hard drive for photos and other data.
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