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Which build/solution is best? Heavy G-Sheet user

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  • Which build/solution is best? Heavy G-Sheet user

    Hi guys,

    I’m after that age old advice on the best processor/build to use for complex and formula heavy linked G-sheets.

    My current laptop is a Dell XPS 15 with an i7-7700HQ processor and 16gb of ram (DDR4 2400ghz) and a 512GB SSD.

    It’s OK, but is getting very noisy and maxing out on CPU usage with a number of gsheets open.

    I have a couple of upgrade options, now driven by the fact that, post lockdown, I will mainly be working from home with maybe 1 journey a week to the office.

    I’m a bit of a Dell fanboy, so one option is to get a high spec Precision - 7740 or 7540 based on a budget of around 1.5k. I was looking to go heavy on RAM, but, checking my usage during load, it looks like it’s the CPU that’s maxing out and not the RAM (probably not helped by poor cooling in the XPS hence now going for function over form!)

    In terms of CPU a couple of options are either the i9-9880h, the i7-9750h or i7-9850h. Based on experiences here, will the i9 make a noticeable difference? They all have similar benchmark scores on CPU tests, albeit the i9 benefits from 8 cores rather than 6.

    A left field alternative is to go for a split solution. Spend around 1.2k on a custom built desktop - currently priced up an AMD Ryzen 5900x with 16gb of 3600mhz RAM and a 512gb M2 SSD - and pair it with a relatively basic Chromebook to use when travelling. Almost everything I do is cloud based so no need for windows on the chrome book or storage. I’ve also read that I can remote into the desktop from the chromebook if needed. Probably paired with an Acer, HP or Google Chromebook, depending on price.

    Obviously the Chromebook will have a much slower CPU but it’s not running windows and if the remoting works then I can access the desktop horsepower from anywhere.

    I would really appreciate any thoughts/advice.

  • #2
    A left field alternative is....
    To move to Excel and see if the performance is better. I suspect it would be.
    Might save you $1000s in a new computer.


    • #3
      Thanks David. Unfortunately we are fully Googled so I’ll be looking for a solution that fits around (mainly) G Sheets use (although I do use Excel a little too).


      • #4
        Just out of interest I went looking for Sheets vs Excel benchmarks. There are surprising few. I think part of the reason is that Sheets only handles very simple spreadsheets.

        Over at this forum thread they had a sample benchmark sheet which was interesting.

        I tried to run it on Google sheets, but it choked and died. So I can't do the comparison.

        Here is the Excel speeds however. Reproduced from the forum post above, but with a few additions from my own machine.

        So using Excel 2019 seems to matter, as does CPU clock speed.
        RAM doesn't matter and number of cores isn't that important for this particular spreadsheet.

        Even if your spreadsheet is different (and it probably is) the AMD Ryzen 5900x is probably a good all round choice.

        Excel Benchmark


        • #5
          Thanks for that David. I think part of my issue is I’m using G sheet to do some quite complex functions which are probably more suited to Excel. I am an excel purist but the company is very G-universe hence I’ve had to adapt.

          So based on clock speed, there’s not too much in the i9 and the i7. I’m gravitating more towards one big laptop rather than the desktop/Chromebook solution. A bit easier to just have one machine to worry about than two...

          Given that G sheets is browser based, do you know if multiple cores help with multiple open browsers? I guess that’s the main difference between excel and Gsheets?

          Theres a c300 cost difference in otherwise identical specs for the i9-9880H precision and the i7-9850H so trying to work out if that’s worth it for me?




          • #6
            I guess that’s the main difference between excel and Gsheets?
            No. G-Sheets is written in Javascript. Which is insanely inefficient on CPU time and memory.
            Excel is native x86 code. Often 10x to 100x faster than Javascript.
            And there are also big differences in almost every other area. Load time, memory use, max spreadsheet size, threading, functions, etc....

            But yes, if you are using multiple active tabs with G-Sheets, then multiple CPU cores should help. I've done no measurements however. I still think this is a dumb approach. To refuse to use the best tool for the job, and then spend 10x more on hardware doesn't make sense.


            • #7
              “I still think this is a dumb approach. To refuse to use the best tool for the job, and then spend 10x more on hardware doesn't make sense.“

              It would be if I was just writing spreadsheets for me. However, I’m writing spreadsheets used through a company, used by dozens of others, all of whom use the Google universe. I’m writing the spreadsheets, linking them, power a number of different pivot and other reports all used by other people too.

              So spending 1/2k on hardware for me to cover the next 3-4 years is a smaller price to pay than paying for Microsoft 365 licences for the whole company so that they can interact with my spreadsheets. Also, all of our other systems interact with the Google universe. Even if the costs for Google and MS user licenses were the same, reprogramming all of our links (as well as our staff!) to switch is a much great opportunity cost than me buying some new kit...

              Yes, they could open spreadsheets in the Google universe but in my experience, excel to Google translations don’t work seamlessly. Also, although I may be wrong here so please correct me if I am, to have proper co-editing in real time, I believe all users would need to be using either Google Sheets or MS Excel 365?

              Anyway, thanks for the advice and the research, I really do appreciate it (and that’s why I joined the forum). I’ve found a custom build gaming laptop option that is a lot cheaper than even a base spec new Dell Precision that seems to fit the bill - i9-10850k with 32GB RAM, M.2 SSD and 17.3” screen for 1.8k - so that should see me through the next few years.