Solved! Help with a new used laptop

RavinRivie

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EDIT: Okay, I saw the sticky - leaving this here for anyone who wants to read it but please skip to the bottom for the formatted version as per sticky.

EDIT 11/18: Okay guys skip to the last post, have some questions asked there so this stuff up here is no longer relevant.

I received as a gift in late 2007 an HP laptop with a 15" screen, a Pentium D dual core processor and 2 GB of ram along with either a 120 GB or 160 GB hard drive - I forget exactly. I use my laptop on campus to take notes and access my university's online website. The thing is, I'm a gamer when I'm at home on my PC - and it handles it well. My laptop on the other hand is the most pathetic excuse for a gaming device ever. Anything above the built-in games, flash based games, or old games pre-2000 are way too much for it to handle. The best looking game it will run smoothly is Half Life (Not Source, just the vanilla original Half Life). It has Vista installed on it, which I'm sure is not helping, and I have access to Windows 7 32-bit I could install on it - but I feel that's largely a waste with it because it's just so weak. The processor is like a 1.46 GHz dual core.

I've tried cleaning the registry, spyware checks, etc (Not that I use the thing much) and they're all temporary fixes that speed it up slightly and then it gets real slow again. It's so slow that from power on to desktop it takes literally 1 minute 30 seconds or more (I timed it). I have only the minimal amount of software running (Avast anti-virus, Comodo firewall, no extra game or chat programs or anything like that). When I try to open things like the internet it takes it probably 15-20 seconds to fully render the first webpage - the rest come at the normal speed but it's really slow to start. Basically this describes everything it does - it works for basic functions but it just annoys me far too much with how slow it is, and it even does these basic functions slowly. Office is okay once it has loaded but it takes it some time before office is loaded and the document is loaded, hitting save takes some time as well - my PC is a 3.0 GHz C2D with 4 GB of ram and Windows 7 64-bit, I'm used to power and speed not this pokey click something then wait several seconds for it to respond business.

I thought I wanted a gaming laptop some time back, but honestly I'm not one of those "laptop" kind of people. I prefer my big desktop PC with my large display and surround sound - a laptop will never replace that for me. So I don't need top end performance, as cool as it might be to play games maxed out that are relatively new on my laptop. I want respectably good battery life (3 hours or more would be suitable, 2 hours+ could work if it had power to compensate for this lesser battery life), a good sized screen (13" bare minimum, 15" a preferred minimal size though - not opposed to the big 17" laptops). I want to be able to play a modest amount of games (For example, my laptop cannot play Minecraft...ugh...face + keyboard), the ability to play source games like Half Life 2 and TF2, L4D2 and some relatively decent graphic RTS games at decent FPS without being absolute minimum settings would be excellent for me. I wouldn't play games on it a lot, but would like the ability to do so more than I am now (which is basically nil since it can't run even the simplest of games).

I'm an Intel fanboy, so that's pretty much a given for me that it will be Intel processor based. I'm thinking i3 or i5 - but would perhaps a decent older C2D laptop be sufficient? I don't mind buying used, just seems like people overprice stuff a lot in that regard. I hate to spend too much on a laptop because I am not sure how much if I had an expensive one that I'd do any more than I do with my current laptop which is slow. The $400-$500 range would be nice to stay in - I'll sell the old laptop whenever I get a new one which will make the cost lower. I do not want any Dell laptops (Personal issues I have with Dell as a company so I am not going to be buying any of their laptops), other than that I'm open to ideas.

Just to throw out this idea (which goes against what I said above), are any of the netbooks powerful enough to play some games like Minecraft and some Source based games? Their screens are tiny, but perhaps their low cost would negate that and be a more reasonable solution for me. I sincerely doubt that I'll ever become a laptop only kind of person - so a laptop mostly needs to just be fast and not slow at booting up, starting Office, surfing the web - and if it can do some light-moderate gaming I'd be a happy camper. Anyone make it through my wall of text ( :lol: ) to give me suggestions?

EDIT
1. What is your budget?
$400-$500 - can be less obviously, and possibly a little more depending on the difference it would make

2. What is the size of the notebook that you are considering?
Prefer a 15" or larger, but a 13" might be considerable if it has the right features.

3. What screen resolution do you want?
The highest possible given the screen size - but I expect most have the 1280 x 800 which is meh at best to me.

4. Do you need a portable or desktop replacement laptop?
Portable, I'll never be a laptop only kind of guy.

5. How much battery life do you need?
2 hours+ is minimum 3 hours+ is preferred

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)?
Minecraft (High), HL2/TF2/L4D2/Gmod/CSS (Medium/High), Fallout 3 (Medium), Company of Heroes (Medium)

7. What other tasks do you want to do with your laptop? (Photo/Video editing, Etc.)
First and foremost is note taking, using the entire suite of Office. Will not ever do video or photo editing on it - would do that on my desktop. Internet surfing a given as well, like YouTube and such.

8. How much storage (Hard Drive capacity) do you need?
160 GB+ - larger is better of course but I don't need lots

9. If you are considering specific sites to buy from, please post their links.
I always like www.Newegg.com but they seem a bit high, would also consider www.TigerDirect.com. Not opposed to other websites per se, just don't know of many others.

10. How long do you want to keep your laptop?
Ideally for several years - it doesn't need to keep up with the latest games, but as long as it can keep playing my old games I'll be happy with it. I'd say around 4-5 years if not longer.

11. What kind of Optical drive do you need? DVD ROM/Writer,Bluray ROM/Writer,Etc ?
DVD-ROM is basically it, Blu-ray drive would be cool but totally not needed (Don't even have one on my desktop). I expect most laptops have DVD-RW drives minimum anymore though.

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.
I don't have any decided brand preferences - I never buy pre-built PCs, have always built my own so I don't really know what brands actually make decent PCs. My current laptop is an HP, albeit an older one - I'm disappointed with how slow it is but functionally it's just fine and hasn't really crashed or done stupid things to me. I will not buy Dell laptops however, too many people complain about Dell's poor service and I recently experienced it through a pre-order of something on their website - which they screwed me over on and now I get nothing and lost pre-order bonuses thanks to their incompetence. Dell is the only big no that I have.

13. What country do you live in?
United States

14. Please tell us any additional information if needed.
For this, see above paragraphs. Will add that I hate glossy screens if they're avoidable I would prefer a matte finish screen all day long - but don't expect this to be very likely since every laptop it seems is glossy finish anymore.
 
Solution
Almost 2 years of N61. Comes with driver disc, W7 64 HP disc and disc containing bloat-ware.

Problem with HDD soon after I bought it which I organised a swap. The courier picked it up next morning and the HDD was swapped overnight and shipped back to me on the same day and I received it on the next day (3 days in total).

The replacement HDD is still in use but it is on its way out. For other component, I spilled water on it, open it up to dry it and still working.

OC 17% on GPU system stable around 85-88c gaming, haven't seen over 90c yet, SSD in, DVD drive out, RAM upgrade with no problem.

Use it everyday on works days on battery for about 1.5 hours during the bus journey home since around March or April of this year.

I didn't use...

RavinRivie

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I know that's true, however I know they tend to be less resource demanding given the smaller screen and whatnot - I never really followed netbooks much so didn't know if they ever got much better video capabilities. It just seems like I see people using them and they kinda zip around doing stuff - my laptop pokes at everything I ask from it, which is embarrassing when I turn it on and it sits at a black screen for a long time because it's loading...makes it look like my laptop is broken or ancient.

Sorry about the original formatting, I noticed the FAQ after I typed the post and was editing it as you posted - hopefully will make my post more readable!
 

RavinRivie

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Yeah, I just was looking on there - quite impressive scores it got for L4D and Lost Coast. Source based games could easily tide me over if I couldn't get the other games to work as well. This one seems quite nice - even has a bluray drive and a 17.3" screen with above average resolution (I would give up some battery life for a large high res screen)

HP Pavilion g7-1156nr Notebook Intel Core i3 370M(2.40GHz) 17.3" 4GB Memory DDR3 500GB HDD 5400rpm BD Combo Intel HD Graphics

Just says Intel HD graphics though, why they don't mention which one I have to wonder.

HP ProBook 4530s (XU015UT#ABA) Notebook Intel Core i3 2310M(2.10GHz) 15.6" 4GB Memory DDR3 1333 320GB HDD 7200rpm DVD Super Multi Intel HD Graphics 3000

This also seems nicely loaded for the money, but again I'm unfamiliar with newer models so models with issues I will be oblivious to.
 

RavinRivie

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Well, the HP ProBook I linked to above had an i3 with the HD 3000 for $484 with free shipping (Also included a free USB to HDMI adapter) It says the regular price is $549. It seems to be mostly what I'm looking for, but still open to ideas.

Another consideration I need to make, what is my laptop honestly worth? It's a model HP dv6628us - here's the link to HP's site with the specs. I was honestly thinking around $200-$250 on Craigslist - it has a restore partition I haven't used because it will wipe all my data but I'd do that along with some other drastic cleaning measures to restore it to its original modest speeds (It wasn't always this painfully slow). It's in perfect shape except a tiny scratch on the outer cover. Still have the box and the other accessories it came with in the bag.
 
HP ProBook 4530s covers all the essentials.
And it has Bluetooth 3.0 which is a nice touch in a business class laptop.
Has a matte, anti glare screen. Handy in awkward lighting schemes in lecture halls and library, and outdoor in the shade.
 

RavinRivie

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Matte screen you say? This is starting to sound pre-decided for me! I figured I was doomed to glossy glare screens since everything has them these days - I can attest to glossy screens being bad in any moderate amount of light. My HP gets glared out badly when the sun is anywhere within my eyesight and I'm using the laptop. I'm sure the ProBook has to have some cons, any typical complaints people have about it?

EDIT: Found that same HP ProBook for $450 at TigerDirect. I checked out Best Buy's website and spotted this:
Asus - Laptop / Intel® Core™ i5 Processor / 15.6" Display / 4GB Memory - Matte Brown Suit

The i5 is a 2xxx series so that means it would have the same HD 3000 video capabilities. It has a 500 GB hard drive over the HP's 320 GB but bumps down from 7,200 RPM to 5,400 RPM :\. Comparative difference there, you think the i5 makes up for the slower hard drive or would the faster drive on the i3 be better?

I also found this Toshiba for $399 with an i3 with HD 3000, much similar to the Asus above but with an i3 instead of i5
Toshiba - Satellite Laptop / Intel® Core™ i3 Processor / 15.6" Display - Matrix Graphite

These specials got me wondering, do you think it's worthwhile to wait until Black Friday or closer until/after then for some possibly even better deals? This isn't so urgent that I need to buy right away so I can stand to wait if there's benefit in it. But I'm not going to go out and fight people on Black Friday, I'd be ordering online.
 
Not many - the business class notebooks have a rep for being a bit more robust and sturdy vs the consumer models.

HP ProBook 4530s Review review
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RavinRivie

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Hmm, I do have to agree the ProBook looks well built and not cheap and junky like so many laptops I see. The name's similarity to MacBook Pro seems intentional and similar build quality in a PC laptop would be nice. So that kinda overrules the Toshiba I listed above's low price. It still leaves the Asus however - I know i5 is quad core and i3 is dual core, so comparatively the Asus would outperform even my desktop PC. I don't think the ProBook would perform poorly, but for gaming performance wouldn't the i5's extra power help the HD 3000 perform some of the games a little better than the i3 could?

On Black Friday deals, do you think it's possible we'd see something like an i7 laptop discounted to $500 or something crazy like such? I'm somewhat torn here between the two, I was considering an older MacBook Pro in part for the high quality build of the laptop and had figured I'd give up PC gaming mostly since it wouldn't do it as well running through boot camp (But have had no luck finding one). The high build quality is appealing to me...but the Asus and the i5 is immensely appealing on a power level. I have to wonder which laptop will be powerful and still adequate in 3-4 years so I don't need to buy another one. I imagine the HP wouldn't fall apart, but just because the Asus is plastic I don't think that instantly means it's cheap and will fall apart - my HP is all plastic and it's in perfect shape, I'm a gentle person with my laptops and take great care not to bang them around.
 

RavinRivie

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Hmm, shame that - so what advantage is i5 supposed to hold over i3 in a laptop? Does that mean the i7 is a quad core only? I know on PC's it shows up as 8 threads despite being quad core. I know what you mean about the sales, I'm capable of sitting around on the PC until the stuff hits sale and buying it though. The people waiting outside the stores all night are crazy though, don't even want to get into that.
 

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