My dilemme between desire, necessity, and value in a laptop: Help me choose?


May 14, 2014
Before listing off my purchase specifications, let me explain my situation.

I spend all day long in front of a computer screen at work and it has become very, very tiresome. When I get home, trying to sit at my own computer becomes a chore for more than an hour at a time, and usually not even that long. The problem is that I am in the process of finding a new home in another part of the country and am in the midst of a huge development point of, "I need to research everything I can about the area, the opportunities, the housing, etc." However, I wind up doing most of this during my downtime at work because by the time I get home, I am sick and tired of staring at a desktop computer screen. There is a tablet in my household but I absolutely hate having to use it. I do not navigate as quickly on it as I do with a regular keyboard and mouse, and I know that if I could just find a laptop to take with me out to some wifi cafe or somewhere similar to do some research in a more calming, public setting, I'd feel a lot more comfortable and productive. And so, my original plan was to purchase a cheap Chromebook.

But then I thought to myself, is $200-$300 really worth it to essentially give myself a pick-me-up? What else could the Chromebook do for me? I'm a photographer hobbyist—can't exactly edit photos or video with the software I tend to use without serious processing issues. I enjoy watching movies / shows / streaming twitch and music during my downtime—something I've read the Chromebook is not particularly apt with, either. I enjoy casual gaming here and there—apparently laughable. Well then, perhaps I should give it a few extra hundred dollars and go for something a little more powerful that can dabble in each of these things, no? So, then there's the thought of a $500-$700 purchase for my still-somewhat-lightweight, portable option that can handle a bit of multimedia processing, a bit of gaming, and be an all-rounder.

But then I think... $700... that's a lot of money to buy something that won't be able to handle the heavier-handed processing that I originally planned on spending similar amounts on a desktop to handle (HD video editing / rendering, audio production, some heavier gaming, etc.). And I think to myself, if I'm going to spend a chunk of money on a laptop that could afford me a desktop that's about 5x as powerful as my current, 5 year-old hunk of crap, maybe I should go all-out and just buy the best I can right now which can last me several years on all of those hobbies and passions and replace my desktop entirely.

But then I worry I will have buyer's remorse. And I worry I am getting far away from the lightweight portability and convenience of just heading out somewhere with an easy, fast connection to some simple research and internet browsing.

I'm not sure where to go from here. One minute I'm ready to run out and buy a Chromebook, the next I'm about to hit purchase on a $1500 Clevo/Sager. And all week I was mulling over whether to use the corporateperks discount I have with Lenovo for one of their mid-range models.

I guess I'm just looking for the best options for each of those price ranges in order to see what the best value would be. A lightweight commuter laptop from $200-$400. A mid-range laptop that can process last-gen games like a beast and give me a little taste of current-gen from $500-$700. And a beast of a beast that can do whatever I want whenever I want however I want, up to $1700.

1. What is your budget?
Portable: $200-$400
Mid-range $500-$700
Beast Mode $0 - $1700

2. What is the size of the notebook that you are considering?
15" - 17"+ (I had the dv8t before it was canceled [18 inches] and I liked it)

3. What screen resolution do you want?
For the lightweight option, no requirement.
For the mid-range and high-level options: 1920x1080+

4. Do you need a portable or desktop replacement laptop?
That's the dilemma! Both would be nice. I can't decide.

5. How much battery life do you need?
As much as possible. 4+ hours at a given time, please. Flexible, here.

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)?

I would love to play League of Legends at highest settings with as many frames as my eyes will process to my brain. I would like the same for Starcraft 2. MMOs like World of Warcraft or similar would be nice to have a steady 30+ fps in high populations at medium+ settings.

If I'm going the expensive route, I want everything set as high as possible with as high FPS as possible.

7. What other tasks do you want to do with your laptop? (Photo/Video editing, Etc.)
HD photo/video/audio editing. Video rendering. HD multimedia playing. Broadcasting video through online stream sites.

8. How much storage (Hard Drive capacity) do you need?
500GB+ ideal. No more than 1TB needed. Greatly desire an SSD for booting, or a larger SSD for loading gaming / multimedia softwares.

9. If you are considering specific sites to buy from, please post their links.
No preference.

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

11. What kind of Optical drive do you need? DVD ROM/Writer,Bluray ROM/Writer,Etc ?
DVD ROM for boot disks in case I mess something up. I don't care about bluray or anything else.

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 bought an HP once (dv8t) and it was not compatible with a lot of my editing software. It seemed to have processing issues almost immediately upon use. I don't know why the line was canceled, but it was, and I wasn't disappointed after having returned it. I'd consider HP again, but I'm not a fan currently.

13. What country do you live in?

United States

14. Please tell us any additional information if needed.

I have a tendency to justify going beyond my means. Please don't tempt me with options beyond the $1700 cap ;)