$600-$700 Laptop Budget: Lenovo Flex 4 vs Dell Inspiron

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bustinya

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Nov 7, 2012
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I'm looking to buy a laptop and my budget is between $600 and $700. I'll be going to college soon and my needs would basically be 'office' work, video streaming (movies and TV series) and a side of casual gaming (simple games like CS:GO on low settings, League of Legends, and any other heavier game on low settings). The characteristics I'm looking for are mainly mobility, reliability (reliable performance) and battery life. The overall specs I've decided to search for are listed below. For each component I also have a few questions that I would be deeply, deeply grateful if someone could answer for me!

1. (Screen/Size) 13.3 or 14 inch, 1080p: I value mobility and a 15.6 inch is just too much to carry around all day. Something around 4 lbs is ideal.

2. (CPU) Intel i5 or i7: Almost all the prospect laptops I've found have an i5-6200U but I've recently found some with the newer Kaby Lake i5-7200U. I've also found laptops near my price range with the Skylake i7-6500U and the newer Kaby Lake i7-7500U. I've been skeptical as to getting an i7 because of battery duration, but after looking at the power consumption stats they seem the same.

2.a) Does a computer with an i5-6200U have a better battery life than the same computer with an i7-6500U? Is it the same case between an i5-7200U and an i7-7500U?
2.b) What is the main difference between the Skylake processors and the Kaby Lake processors?
2.c) What is the main difference between the i5-6200U and the i7-6500U, as well as between the i5-7200U and the i7-7500U?

3. (Graphics) Intel HD 520, 620: 13.3 and 14 inch laptops with graphics cards are rare. I found some with the Radeon R5 M430 2GB and that brings up the question of this component.

3.a) What is the main difference between the Intel HD 520, Intel HD 620 and the Radeon R5 M430? Will having a dedicated graphics card notably affect battery life?

4. (RAM) 8GB: It's really just what I need. I agree 16GB are more necessary each day that goes by, but it would be more future-proofing than being useful for my needs at the moment. However, I have indeed found computers with 16GB RAM and the other components I'm looking for in my budget.

4.a) I've heard 16GB of RAM increases the power consumption and therefore decreases battery duration. How true is this? How much does it really affect battery life?
4.b) I've found computers with DDR3 RAM @1600MHz and others with DDR4 @2133MHz. How much does this difference affect performance? Does it affect battery life? Are there any other differences between DDR3 and DDR4 aside from frequency?

5. (Storage) 256GB SSD: I've experienced what it is to have an SSD and I'm not planning on going back to hard disk drives.

6. (Additional Features) 2-in-1 (Tablet mode): It wasn't in my plans initially, but most of the computers I found were 2-in-1's so I decided to go with it and now I don't have any options that are not 2-in-1's... I also found a few with a fingerprint reader which is not something I'd invest much more for but if they cost the same or a bit more then I'm open to it.

6.a) I'm worried about hinges when it comes to 2-in-1's. What disadvantages to 2-in-1's have? What brands have the best hinges or the best 2-in-1's?

Prospective laptops I've found

I've looked for laptops from Asus, Dell, Lenovo and maaybe considered Acer/HP if the price was right. I ended up with a large list of Dell Inspiron laptops from Amazon that have the exact same components and I don't know what the difference between them is. I ended up making a spreadsheet for each one of them with their details. If someone owns one of these or knows the difference between them please tell me. Most of them have an i5-6200U except for one. The only other large diffence is the date first available (which only indicates which one is the newer model) and that a few have DDR4 @2133MHz instead of DDR3 @1600MHz. The price varies very little.

Amazon Dell Inspiron Spreadsheet

Aside from Amazon, I've looked around Newegg and found a variety of neat Lenovo laptops. One that I found today is this one.

Lenovo Flex 4 1480 (80VD000JUS)

Other Lenovo Laptops from Newegg I've looked at:

Lenovo Flex 4 1480 (80VD000HUS)
Lenovo Flex 4 1480 (80VD0007US)
Lenovo Flex 4 1480 (80VD0007US)

It has everything I need and more. It actually makes me wonder if it has some huge defect and they put it on sale but unfortunately there's none available at the moment. If someone owns this computer or a Flex 4 in general and can give an opinion that'd be great!

The competition has gone down to Dell Inspiron 5000 series, Dell Inspiron 7000 series (which I don't understand the difference from 5000 series) and the Lenovo Flex 4. Between these models, which have the highest quality? I know it's a super close fight between Lenovo, Dell and Asus for the top 3 fight below Apple but these models specifically, which should I go with?


I can't begin to explain how grateful I would be if someone can actually read through all of this and still have the motivation to respond to my questions, doubts and issues. Thank you in advance!
 

jaguarskx

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#2 - The primary difference between the i5 and i7 "u" model CPUs is that i7 CPUs have higher clockspeeds. Generally speaking, newer generation CPUs have lower power consumption than older generation CPUs because lowering power consumption has been Intel's primary goal for the past several years.

Higher clockspeed does increase power draw. Therefore assuming two laptops that are exactly the same except one has a Core i5-7200u and the other has a Core i7-7500u, then the laptop with the Core i5 should technically have slightly lower power draw.

Kaby Lake CPUs should be a little more power efficient than Skylake CPUs. At the same clockspeed, Kaby Lake CPUs are probably about 3% - 4% more powerful on average compared to Skylake. Too low to actually notice any difference. The Intel HD 620 is roughly 15% more powerful than the Intel HD 520.

#3 - Based on game benchmarks I have seen so far the Radeon R5 M430 is actually not as powerful as the Intel HD 620. The M430 may perform better in a specific game, but overall the Intel HD 620 is more powerful and is considered to be equal to or marginally better than the nVidia 920m. So far based on benchmarks, the R5 M430 ranks between the nVidia 910m and 920m.


#4 - Yes adding in more RAM does increase power consumption; that can be said of anything added to the laptop. The difference in performance between DDR3 and DDR4 is not big, but in future Intel CPU the performance can improve as they refine the integrated memory controller. However, when it comes to integrated graphics that is were the performance should be most noticeable. However, since I have not seen any benchmarks of the Intel HD 620 using DDR4 vs DDR3 RAM there is no away to actually guess what the improvement is when using DDR4 RAM.

It should be noted that integrated graphics performance is affected by the speed of the RAM. Therefore, you should always have 2 sticks of RAM so that the RAM can operate at full speed rather than half speed. The performance difference could be anywhere from 10% - 15%. So if the laptop has 1 stick of 8GB RAM, then you should add another stick of RAM; 4GB or 8GB.

=======================


The laptops you have chosen seems fine to me. I generally do not look into 2-in-1 laptops. When it comes to consumer laptops I am a bit more partial to Dell than I am to Lenovo. But when it comes to business laptop, I would take a Lenovo ThinkPad over a Dell Latitude.


Dell i5368-10024GRY
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01F3R99HY/ref=ox_sc_act_title_7?ie=UTF8&psc=1&smid=A7CMODTM6DALV



The 12" Acer Switch Alpha 12 an alternative, but it is more expensive at $735 and may not be exactly what you are looking for. It is basically a less expensive competitor to the Microsoft Surface Pro 4. Adding a digital pen makes it a little more expensive by $30.

https://www.amazon.com/Acer-SA5-271-57QF-i5-6200U-Notebook-NT-LCDAA-005/dp/B01FJT295A/ref=sr_1_1?s=pc&ie=UTF8&qid=1478287499&sr=1-1&keywords=acer+switch+alpha+12+256gb

https://www.amazon.com/Navitech-Digital-Active-Stylus-Compatible/dp/B0187O1720/ref=pd_cp_107_3?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=B0187O1720&pd_rd_r=DK9FKPB5Y0H7V4R3V1BX&pd_rd_w=gQBag&pd_rd_wg=5C4Ak&psc=1&refRID=DK9FKPB5Y0H7V4R3V1BX


With Microsoft's OneNote (download for free if it is not already installed https://www.onenote.com/) you can use it to record lectures and the notes you write during the lectures. You can then play back the lecture. The following video demonstrates OneNote on a Surface 3. Battery life is only 4 - 5 hours of actual use though.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aEb573aGQpA


Here's a video review:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wP404GpoE2Y&t=75s
 

bustinya

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Nov 7, 2012
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Thank you very much for answering all my questions! It was a great help. Knowing that 4GBx2 is better than 8GBx1 is actually really helpful for my search.

As for the Acer Switch Alpha 12, I'm already putting in the extra effort to reach 700. Even though I really liked it and I ended up subscribing to that Tech-Review Lady so thanks for showing me her. She has some really nice content. The problem really is that going for the extra $60 (with the stylus) would be a tad too much and I feel it would be trading the ability to do at least some casual gaming.
 
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