For purposes of comparison, I run what is now an antique, a 5680, on debian. Everything works, period.
The only reason I do not dump windows entirely is because of streets and trips.
Now, I am not a gamer, although my kids play most everything via cedega.
Depending upon the numbers you have to crunch, and which programmes you need to run, you can then choose between the mobile and the pIV porcessors.
Right now, the dell precision m70 is cheap and good.
ATI gets far less performance in linux than windows, noticeable in x.org immediately after a few mintues in xp. Nvidia have had some issues, noticieably with acpi, but the performance vs convenience issue is a compromise only the buyer can make.
That said, all my subsystem programmer friends still believe that ppc architecture is better. The effect of this on daily life, and the sheer convenience of the mac hardware/software is another trade-off. The downside is that the architchture issues in the ati drivers for ppc are real, and are not going to be solved tomorrow. I am not sure as to how nvdia handles x.org/ppc
, but someone here should know.
All this said, the purchase of an windows OS merely to produce a .ppt file is not rational, as that parameter admits of other solutions.
Thus, the real issue is peformance of the machine with the video card therein, the availability of the programmes the purchaser uses and needs, price, and finally reliability.
In the end, since the price benefit, including all software,
falls to mac when compared to windows, this is a no brainer. On the other hand, compared to an x86 arch with linux, the price advantage falls obviously to the x86. THe next factor is reliability. I am not sure I would try the abuse to a dell precision that I give to my sager, but, looking at total cost of ownership, there is a distinct price advantage to dell, particularly if you cna get business credit, or an instituional price/lease.
I would, however, avoid ubuntu. The actual advatage of the excellent hardware detection drops considerably when one needs complete debian compatibility. libranet, for only $80 or Suse for about the same, will give you that. For free, kanotix or fc4 likewise.
Distros with odd file placement when confonted with the need to run a programme necessarily built from source will create the nasty business of editing makefiles by hand.
My gut feeling is to look at the sager line first, then dell. Partitioning hard drives from the more consumer oriented companies often creates a mess at warranty time. Also, if you are not going to run windows, sager do not charge the "MS tax," you can buy from pctorque with no os.
In other words, you can always write .ppt somehow, so the decision is price/performance/reliabilty among the chips and manufacturers.
All good wishes,