Help buying laptop (w/ Laptop FAQ) Last time was 7 years ago!

cjw1924

Honorable
Dec 9, 2013
4
0
10,510
0
I've currently got an HP Pavilion dv6000 from back in 2006/7 with Vista. It's treated me well over the years but it's finally dying on me and I'm looking to replace it. I like to pretend I'm tech savvy, but really I'm just good at googling things.

1. What is your budget?
Between 500-1000

2. What is the size of the notebook that you are considering?
I currently have 15.6 which is perfect, so something like that. 17 is too big though.

3. What screen resolution do you want?

I'm not a gamer or designer so not a big deal. Prefer matte to glossy though.

4. Do you need a portable or desktop replacement laptop?

Portable

5. How much battery life do you need?
As much as possible please! (My old one had 6 hours)

6. Do you want to play games with your laptop? If so then please list the games that you want to with the settings that you want for these games. (Low,Medium or High)?

Do bigfish games count? I don't play games but I do stream.

7. What other tasks do you want to do with your laptop? (Photo/Video editing, Etc.)

Streaming! Videos....streaming!

8. How much storage (Hard Drive capacity) do you need?

Whatever's recommended. But preferably at least 8GB or RAM

9. If you are considering specific sites to buy from, please post their links.

Newegg maybe? Wherever I can get a good deal with a good warranty.

10. How long do you want to keep your laptop?

Until it breaks?

11. What kind of Optical drive do you need? DVD ROM/Writer,Bluray ROM/Writer,Etc ?

I like my dvdrw drive. Would prefer to have one.

12. Please tell us about the brands that you prefer to buy from them and the brands that you don't like and explain the reasons.

Anything but Mac. I like mac but not for me.

13. What country do you live in?

USA

14. Please tell us any additional information if needed.

I'm completely overwhelmed by the multitude of choices of laptops and numbers and letters all over the place. Help please?
 

Justin Millard

Estimable
Nov 22, 2014
53
0
4,610
11
It sounds like you know what you want. Just buy on sale if you want the best price for your price range.

CPUs I recommend for laptops are:
For AMD: the A8 series (quad core CPUs).
Has a nice mix of CPU power and in built graphics
I wouldn't go less than an A8 with AMD as their dual cores aren't as strong as intel's, and their A10 range is hard to find at a good price.

For intel: the i5 4300u (dual core) and i7 4500u (dual core), and the new Broadwell i5 5200u (dual core).

Or the i7 4702MQ (quad core) for mix of battery life and performance as well as future proofing for programs that will need a quad core. Video editing will suit this one due to the quad core and higher tdp.

If able to wait until June the i7 5700MQ quad core should be perfect around the highest quarter of your price range.

Intel CPU rundown:
I don't like the lack of power on the pentium and i3 series. Even the i5 4200u is a bit low end for my use.
However the i5 4300u and i7 4500u give a good mix of power and battery life.

i7 4700MQ is much more powerful and not much more expensive, but if four hour battery life is important to you avoid it. However there is a more battery efficient version that might suit your needs in the price range called the i7 4702MQ. Its possible that buying a quad core laptop now like this one will give you a bit more future proofing if you plan to keep it for next six years as more programs are being designed for quad core processors.

However intel Broadwell laptops just released. If battery life is important to you the cheap broadwell i5 5200u CPU comes recommended. Broadwell uses noticeably less power. The other advantage of Broadwell is stronger in built graphics if you like rendering images and editing video. In fact its performance in video tasks is the big performance gain from that series.

The Broadwell version of the quad core i7 (presumably i7 5700MQ) won't be out for a few months if you want that, but should suit your needs perfectly if your old laptop can last the distance.

Graphics:
If you're not a big gamer you don't need a dedicated GPU for these systems I recommend.
The integrated graphics on the CPU are fine for web games, and although you might get slightly faster rendering with a dedicated GPU like the 740m or 840m, its still the CPU that is most important. AMD A8 series and intel Broadwell are shrinking the gap between the graphics performance on a CPU and a cheap laptop video card anyway.

The most powerful CPU GPU combo you will get in your price range if you walk into a store over the next six months will be the intel i7 5700MQ and Nvidia 940m, although they are both mid year products, June at earliest.

Hard drives/SSDs:

I wouldn't go smaller than 600GB on a laptop hard drive. Space fills up way too quick and you always want a third of your hard drive free to keep it zipping along at a good speed.

A 7200RPM hard drive will give you faster loading times and file transfers than a 5400RPM one, but the difference isn't massive and the 5400RPM have the advantage of throwing out less heat.

SSDs will help a lot with loading times and video editing, compared to a hard drive. However I see a lot of people get stressed out by the SSDs with less than 480GB of storage. They fill up fast if you put more than the OS and whatever video you are editing on them. File sizes also tend to become slightly larger when you move them on to an SSD so be aware of that. It is also more difficult to free up space on them once you fill them up so keeping two fifths of the space on a SSD free if you can is very important if you can manage it (it also helps keep speeds quick).

However whether or not you can fit one into your budget is the major issue. They are becoming cheaper, but prices are still high. Still, expect SSDs to be the technology most people are using in a couple of years.
Definitely one to think about.
 

Justin Millard

Estimable
Nov 22, 2014
53
0
4,610
11
It sounds like you know what you want. Just buy on sale if you want the best price for your price range.

CPUs I recommend for laptops are:
For AMD: the A8 series (quad core CPUs).
Has a nice mix of CPU power and in built graphics
I wouldn't go less than an A8 with AMD as their dual cores aren't as strong as intel's, and their A10 range is hard to find at a good price.

For intel: the i5 4300u (dual core) and i7 4500u (dual core), and the new Broadwell i5 5200u (dual core).

Or the i7 4702MQ (quad core) for mix of battery life and performance as well as future proofing for programs that will need a quad core. Video editing will suit this one due to the quad core and higher tdp.

If able to wait until June the i7 5700MQ quad core should be perfect around the highest quarter of your price range.

Intel CPU rundown:
I don't like the lack of power on the pentium and i3 series. Even the i5 4200u is a bit low end for my use.
However the i5 4300u and i7 4500u give a good mix of power and battery life.

i7 4700MQ is much more powerful and not much more expensive, but if four hour battery life is important to you avoid it. However there is a more battery efficient version that might suit your needs in the price range called the i7 4702MQ. Its possible that buying a quad core laptop now like this one will give you a bit more future proofing if you plan to keep it for next six years as more programs are being designed for quad core processors.

However intel Broadwell laptops just released. If battery life is important to you the cheap broadwell i5 5200u CPU comes recommended. Broadwell uses noticeably less power. The other advantage of Broadwell is stronger in built graphics if you like rendering images and editing video. In fact its performance in video tasks is the big performance gain from that series.

The Broadwell version of the quad core i7 (presumably i7 5700MQ) won't be out for a few months if you want that, but should suit your needs perfectly if your old laptop can last the distance.

Graphics:
If you're not a big gamer you don't need a dedicated GPU for these systems I recommend.
The integrated graphics on the CPU are fine for web games, and although you might get slightly faster rendering with a dedicated GPU like the 740m or 840m, its still the CPU that is most important. AMD A8 series and intel Broadwell are shrinking the gap between the graphics performance on a CPU and a cheap laptop video card anyway.

The most powerful CPU GPU combo you will get in your price range if you walk into a store over the next six months will be the intel i7 5700MQ and Nvidia 940m, although they are both mid year products, June at earliest.

Hard drives/SSDs:

I wouldn't go smaller than 600GB on a laptop hard drive. Space fills up way too quick and you always want a third of your hard drive free to keep it zipping along at a good speed.

A 7200RPM hard drive will give you faster loading times and file transfers than a 5400RPM one, but the difference isn't massive and the 5400RPM have the advantage of throwing out less heat.

SSDs will help a lot with loading times and video editing, compared to a hard drive. However I see a lot of people get stressed out by the SSDs with less than 480GB of storage. They fill up fast if you put more than the OS and whatever video you are editing on them. File sizes also tend to become slightly larger when you move them on to an SSD so be aware of that. It is also more difficult to free up space on them once you fill them up so keeping two fifths of the space on a SSD free if you can is very important if you can manage it (it also helps keep speeds quick).

However whether or not you can fit one into your budget is the major issue. They are becoming cheaper, but prices are still high. Still, expect SSDs to be the technology most people are using in a couple of years.
Definitely one to think about.
 

Justin Millard

Estimable
Nov 22, 2014
53
0
4,610
11
Gave you as much info as I can. You seem to know what you want so I am certain you can work out what you want for your price range within that. Best of luck to you!
 

jaguarskx

Champion
Moderator
I recommend you consider looking into the 15.6" ThinkPad E550 with a starting price of $579. It is a newly released affordable business oriented laptop that can be configured with Intel's latest Broadwell generation CPU which consumes less power than Haswell generation CPUs for longer battery life; up to 9 hours according to Lenovo. Of course it will vary depending on what you are doing. The E550 is configured by default with the Haswell generation Core i3-4005u @1.7GHz, the Broadwell generation Core i3-5005u @ 2.0GHz is a free upgrade. However, it recommend you spend the extra $100 for the Broadwell generation Core i5-5200u which can reach up to 2.7GHz; a faster CPU means the laptop can last longer before you feel it is slow.

http://shop.lenovo.com/us/en/laptops/thinkpad/e-series/e550/

ThinkPad are generally pretty durable, but the E series is not as durable as the premium ThinkPad T series which goes though a very demanding "MIL SPEC" for military grade durability. However, the current T series that are available is based on the Haswell CPU and the track pad lacks buttons for the trackpoint; that red dot between the "G" and "H" keys used to move the mouse; since it is simply one large track pad. The ThinkPad E550 and the soon to be released new ThinkPad T series does have buttons that can be used with the trackpoint.

From a productivity point of view, I recommend the $80 upgrade for the 1920x1080 resolution screen. It is best to go into a store like Bestbuy and check out 15.6" laptops with 1366x768 and 1920x1080 resolution screens to determine which you like best. However, I personally avoid any laptop with 1366x768 resolution screens. My Lenovo IdeaPad Y470 has a 1366x768 resolution and after awhile, I regretted buying the laptop because of that.

By default the ThinkPad E550 only comes with 4GB of RAM. It can be upgrade to 8GB for $80. However, you can purchase a stick of 4GB DDR3 1600 1.35v RAM for around $37 to $42 and install it yourself.
 

jaguarskx

Champion
Moderator
Because the ThinkPad E550 is a business laptop, it has a matte screen and if you need to deal with customer support, then you will deal with the business side rather than the consumer side which is a big plus.
 

fooball

Estimable
Jun 14, 2014
33
0
4,590
2
I really like lenovo's prices. If you need a dedicated graphics card, the lenovo Y40 ($670USD) would be my best choice by far.

For portable and battery life, this Lenovo U430 looks great. In usa it's $599, and has i5-4210u (power saving) processor, 8gb ram, intel hd integrated graphics and 10 HOURS BATTERY LIFE (holy).
It's an ultrabook. Link here: http://shop.lenovo.com/us/en/laptops/ideapad/u-series/u430-touch/?redir=y&redirsrc=4#tab-customize

Many lenovo's seem to come with hybrid drives (faster than regular hard drive; hybrid= a hard drive with a small solid state drive to boost). After getting a ssd as my boot drive, I can never go back. They are good. Only that it comes with only 500gb hybrid.

It doesn't seem to have matte screen though.

God, I'm so envious of US prices.

 

fooball

Estimable
Jun 14, 2014
33
0
4,590
2
For video streaming, 2014 integrated graphics should be fine.

The intel processors that end with a "u" mean ultra low voltage. This means low power comsumption === good battery life. They aren't as powerful as the power sucking "mq" or "hq" series, which are quad core, super powerful processors.

 
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