Solved! Minimum I should spend on a laptop?


Nov 29, 2012
Looking for something to open PDF's and watch youtube when working out in the shop, so really not wanting to spend so much that I actually have to care about the thing's condition. IDEALLY I'd like Windows 7 on it for old time's sake and because I need nothing more. Good speakers would rock too. Otherwise, if it can stream HD video at length I'm happy.

I know these things are fairly different animals to shop for than gaming desktops. What's the least I can get away with spending? Would manufacturer refurbs somewhere like newegg be worth examining? I like the idea of something cheap, with maybe 1 or 2 superficial issues (broken USB ports, etc), with Win7, that I also know wasn't involved in a crime, unlike anything on craigslist.



Nothing new is going to come with Windows 7. Most of what is new will not SUPPORT Windows 7, because there will be no drivers for most if not all of the hardware.

If you want Windows 7, or 8.1, you are going to have to buy an older unit and I highly recommend against that because laptops, to a greater degree than desktops, definitely tend to have poor longevity compared to laptops from years ago in the past like my old Thinkpad 486 that still runs to this day. Good luck finding any laptop these days that will still be running 20 years from now.

I would revise your thoughts on this. If you simply like the Windows 7 shell, you can just get a Windows 10 laptop and customize it with Classic shell that will make the taskbar, start menu, desktop and many other aspects of the Windows shell look and behave just like Windows 7, or XP, or 8.1, or even way back like the classic Windows 3.1 or 95 interfaces. Plus, it's free. And you still get the newer tech, USB 3.1 or type C ports, fast hardware and driver support for newer hardware keeping things together in the background with Windows 10.

What SIZE of laptop are you looking for? 15.6"? 17"?

Are you wanting a 1920x1080 display or something even higher resolution? Mostly, 1920x1080 is perfectly fine for just about anything including watching HD video. Beyond that, panel prices get expensive fast and you probably won't find a whole lot of online content even now today that is higher than 1080p resolution and if you do you'll eat your bandwidth up pretty quickly if you're on a plan with caps.



This used 17" 1080 laptop looks to have good speakers If you will be using it for watching videos I would assume you want a larger screen. Only issue with used stuff you can't try in person, you are basically gambling the cost savings vs the shape it's in and reliability and no or short warranty.

Really the best used systems for about $150-200 would be the 14" Lenovo T420 and T430 models. Many of them are corporate use, which means sitting on a desk in a dock. Only thing that they would need is maybe a solid state drive swap and they are great systems. Although the screen in most is not 1080 but 900, and it's a 14.1 screen in most, some do have a 15" screen size.

A good option for a smaller setup is the new Surface Go, it's a 10" screen but is a new full computer with Windows and used as a tablet easily for watching videos. Easy to mount on an arm at the shop near your work area. Or any tablet really, depends on the size you want to use. You can find mounts and cases for pretty much any model tablet. I would avoid the mostly generic brands like Nextbook and RCA, a used iPad 4 is good, Samsung Tab models, I think the Tab A is $150 new now. Really depends on your shop layout, but in most I have seen, mounting an arm off a bench or cabinet or on the wall would be good, you can swing it around to your view, and keep it out of the way of equipment. A big bonus to tablets, no worry about vents/fans getting clogged with dust, dirt, sawdust, whatever.

For speakers with any systems you can go with an external set, bluetooth or wired, will be a huge upgrade in sound. Even a cheaper $30 set from Amazon would be OK. I like the Anker Soundcore 2.
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