Best Multimedia laptop for under $500 (USD)

thepsyhicsquid

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Dec 30, 2012
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I'm going to be heading into college soon and figured now would be a good time to buy a new laptop. Of course, as a college student my budget is going to be very tight so I need the best I can get for under $500.

I'll mainly use it for college work, streaming videos and music, making chiptunes, and f'n around with house music, which is my favorite hobby so it'll need to run FL Studio and/or Cubase with minimal clipping.

As for specs:

CPU: Intel i3 or above or any AMD equivalent (Though I prefer Intel)

Screen size: Around 15" but a bit smaller is fine as long as it isn't under 12".

Resolution: Not important

Battery Life: It'll probably stay plugged in at my dorm or apartment until I have enough for a proper desktop, so battery life isn't a major concern. Still, anything that'll last more than an hour is fine.

Sound Card: Kind of important given my hobbies, though as long as it isn't anything by Monster it's fine. Actually, an integrated HD card would be fine. I won't have to run a USB, Firewire, or MIDI interface since most everything will be done on VSTi's.

Storage (HDD): As long as it has more than 128 GB it's perfectly fine.

RAM: 2-4GB

Optical drive: DVD is fine.

Graphics: Anything Nvidia but since most of my gaming will be done on my Xbox (and the only games I'll be interested in playing on the desktop I plan on building later will be Skyrim, Sim City 4, Minecraft, and Spore) graphics performance is none too important.

Brands: Any brand is fine, and as long as it's reputable, I don't care where I buy it from either, though I do prefer Newegg and Amazon.

When do I need it by: I'm in no rush to get one soon but it would be nice to have it sooner rather than later.


 

pfunkmd

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Apr 11, 2012
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Well in your price range you will be getting something like the Intel HD Graphics 4000 or the AMD AMD Radeon HD 7640G neither of witch are very good for gaming.

You could go for a i3 or the i5 model either one will be ok for what you are doing. I will list a few laptops that I would consider for myself. I would also recommend if the notebook comes with 4 gig of ram and you have enough cash left over purchase more ram because the on board graphics shares the ram. You have so many choices really it comes down to personal preference. I would make sure it has a 3rd gen i5 or i3 with the intel 4000 graphics option and 6 to 8 gb of ram. The notebooks and ultrabooks with the ssds would also be a good choice and the ssd really help performance. I have an ssd and it is the best performance upgrade I have made on my pc hands down .
First here is amd offerings from what I read the amd on board Graphics are better then the Intel however the i5 is faster then the AMD A8 I am not sure what the better choice is.

AMD http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=ENE&N=100006740%204020%20600165139&IsNodeId=1&name=AMD%20A-Series


http://www.ebay.com/itm/Kingston-KHX1600C9S3K2-8GX-HyperX-8GB-2-x-4GB-DDR3-1600-SDRAM-Notebook-Memory-/300807366077?pt=US_Memory_RAM_&hash=item46098425bd

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16834310633

This one has a ssd for super fast load times plus the i5 with 6gb of memory only prob is it is small. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16834200729

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Lenovo-IdeaPad-P580-15-6-Laptop-i5-3210M-2-5GHz-6G-RAM-750G-HD-HDMI-3087XF3-/200869666323?pt=Laptops_Nov05&hash=item2ec4c3de13

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16834215958
http://www.ebay.com/itm/Acer-15-6-Aspire-Laptop-6GB-500GB-V5-571-6726-/261147939980?pt=Laptops_Nov05&hash=item3ccda1548c

http://www.ebay.com/sch/Computers-Tablets-Networking-/58058/i.html?_udlo=450&LH_BIN=1&LH_ItemCondition=3&_from=R40&Processor%2520Type=Intel%2520Core%2520i5&_mPrRngCbx=1&_udhi=500&_nkw=laptop&LH_PrefLoc=1&_dmpt=Laptops_Nov05&Graphics%2520Processing%2520Type=Dedicated%2520Graphics&rt=nc

http://www.ebay.com/itm/DELL-i14Z-6679-14-HD-SCREEN-LAPTOP-INTEL-i5-UP-TO-3-0GHZ-8GB-RAM-750GB-HDD-CD-/221171640813?pt=Laptops_Nov05&hash=item337edb69ed

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16834230873

Nice ultra book just 30 over but it only has an i3
http://www.tigerdirect.ca/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=7358178&Sku=A50-11122%20CA

ultra book with a ssd
http://www.ebay.com/itm/Acer-TimelineU-M5-Core-i3-2377M-6GB-500GB-20GBSSD-DVDRW-HDMI-Bluetooth-Ultrabook-/310463163935?pt=Laptops_Nov05&hash=item48490bee1f

ultra book with the 4000 graphics
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16834230599


Here are a bunch of great options you could go for an ultra book with a slower i3 but a faster ssd or you could go for a regular laptop with a better i5 processor without the ssd its your choice. To be completely honest I would save a little more and get one of these listed below the graphics cards are so much better. with the intel or amd on board you wont be playing any new games. Here are the benchmarks for the intel 4000 vs the NVIDIA GeForce GT 635M its night and day
http://community.futuremark.com/hardware/gpu/NVIDIA+GeForce+GT+635M/review
Reviewhttp://community.futuremark.com/hardware/gpu/Intel+HD+Graphics+4000+Mobile/review


http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16834230537

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16834310630

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16834310625
 

thepsyhicsquid

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Dec 30, 2012
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Thanks. All good choices, though gaming capability and graphics don't concern me at all. Like I said most of my gaming would be done on my Xbox and PS3 (or 720 and PS4 if they're out by then). I'll probably make my choice between these three:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16834200729

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16834230873

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Acer-TimelineU-M5-Core-i3-2377M-6GB-500GB-20GBSSD-DVDRW-HDMI-Bluetooth-Ultrabook-/310463163935?pt=Laptops_Nov05&hash=item48490bee1f

Though if you or any one else has something else to add I'm open to it.
 

pfunkmd

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Apr 11, 2012
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If you don't mind the size I would go with the Dell it has the best specs. The solid state really helps boot time my pc totally finishes booting in 13 seconds. Not to mention the dell already has 6gb of ram. But I will say if you are planning on watching a lot of videos on it you may want to get a larger notebook
 
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