Unshackle me from my desktop - Laptop opinions wanted

darkfa8

Distinguished
Nov 25, 2007
6
0
18,510
0
I've been a PC desktop owner since the mid-90s. Prior to that, well, mobile computing wasn't exactly mobile and I had a Atari 800. I've built every computer I've owned since then and stayed away from laptops and the like due to the comparably higher cost/performance and limited upgrade path. My PCs tend to hold me over for 5-8 years on average until a major component like the main board goes and I then build a fresh computer with maybe some carry-over parts.

The only intensive software I use, if you could call it that these days is Adobe Creative Suite CS4 (photo editing, Dreamweaver), and Phoenix Flight Simulator. I play GOW 1 infrequently. Otherwise, the mainstay of my other computing tasks are just surfing the web, checking cloud-based email and using Google Docs/Drive. Other than the email, Adobe, sim and twice a gear messing with GOW, I don't really do too much else with computers these days.

My wife won a iPad2 a few years ago and that has fulfilled my usage needs to surfing the web (except for Flash enable pages - uggghh, damn you Apple!) and checking email, ebay and other web searching stuff.

My current PC (see my sig) isn't wi-fi enabled. I just bought a Samsung 840 EVO 250gb SSD to replace the main drive to speed it up a bit. I paid ~$126 for the drive new. I also bought a SUGO 09 case to try and slightly shrink it's overall profile and maybe make it a bit more "portable". I haven't installed these parts yet, so depending on the guidance here I might resell them and put the funds towards a new device.

Ultimately what I want is a device, maybe it's a laptop, maybe it's a tablet thingy that can perform what my current desktop does, but allow me to be mobile, connect easily to my HDMI Samsung TV for picture showing and/or playing my simulator, and maybe have some room for scale-ability to hold me over for a few years?

I'm not sure what to budget, but I feel like I obviously don't need a Dell XPS or Alienware level of machine. I would like to try and keep the overall cost down, but satisfy my needs. If I can find something that fits the bill, then I'll try to part out my old computer for whatever it's worth.

I also have a 6 year old, WinXP laptop that I got for free, but it's limited in performance, no HDMI connectivity, no real upgrade path. It is one of those old MSI OEM units that are sold to businesses through IT consultants. I use it occasionally when I need to look at stuff on the web that the iPad can't and also necessitates the need for a regular keyboard.

Battery life isn't too critical. Several hours is fine. I don't mind plugging in.
 

jaguarskx

Champion
Moderator
The first thing to determine is if you prefer a screen with 1366x768 or 1920x1080. 1600x900 is less common nowadays. If you used laptops before then chances are they probably had the lower resolution.

I assume you have a 16:9 aspect ratio monitor at home or at work. 1080p resolution (1920x1080) is pretty popular these days. You can set the desktop resolution to 1366x768 and just try to do the things you normally do to find out if that resolution is okay. Just be aware that text and graphics will not look as sharp compared to the resolution those desktop monitors are currently set to.

Images and text look the sharpest on a LCD monitor when using the monitor's native / max resolution. Lowering the resolution makes things look a bit fuzzy because of something called "interpolation" which takes a bit of time to explain. No need to really worry though, 1366x768 resolution on a 1366x768 resolution screen will look sharp.

If you can get around just fine with 1366x768, then you can opt to get a laptop with 1366x768 screen to cut down on cost. Me, I prefer 1080p so I can see a lot of information on the screen at a single time. The downside is that text and icons will look smaller on a 1080p screen. Not a problem if you have decent eye sight.

The hardware nuances are not much different from their desktop counterparts. Mobile CPUs generally run at lower clockspeeds than desktop CPUs to reduce heat and power consumption. They also tend to have fewer cores as well.

On the desktop from is is pretty cut and dry. All Core i3 are dual core CPUs with Hyper Threading (HT). All Core i5 CPUs are quad core CPUs, but lacks HT. Core i7 CPUs are quad core CPUs with HT.

Laptops is slightly more confusing, all Core i3/i5/i7 CPUs are dual core CPUs with HT. The exception will be Core i7 CPUs with the "MQ", "HQ", and "MX" designations. Those are quad core CPUs with HT. All CPUs with "M" designations are considered "normal" dual core mobile CPUs with HT. All CPUs with the "U" designation are "ultra low power" dual core CPUs with HT.

Less expensive laptops generally uses the "U" model CPUs like the i5-4200U that is in my Dell Latitude 3540 laptop. This is a "vague" general statement because there are many very expensive laptops that also have "U" model CPUs. The low power consumption helps prolong battery life and the performance it provides is fine. It will be a massive increase in performance compared to whatever CPU is in your current laptop.

Regarding graphics, this is a pretty complex topic because of the various makes and models. But let's just say that based on the programs and games you run, you do not need anything very powerful so an integrated Intel HD 4400 / HD 4600 should suffice. Purchasing a laptop without a dedicated graphics card / chip also reduces the cost. The Intel HD 4400 comes with all current generation Intel laptops with the "U" designation. The more powerful Intel HD 4600 (probably by around 20% - 25%) comes in all other current generation Intel mobile laptop CPU models of the

If you know the programs you use get better performance with a dedicated graphics card / chip, then that would be something you need to consider. Additionally, if you would like to play more current games which are generally more graphics intensive than the two games you listed, buying a laptop with a dedicate graphics chip is more ideal and more expensive.
 

Intel Celeron

Estimable
Mar 15, 2014
13
0
4,570
3
some of the things I stumbled upon in finding budget laptops. Try it:http://www.shopping.hp.com/laptops%20&%20hybrids/pavilion?HP-Pavilion-TouchSmart-11z-e000-Notebook-PC
 

iceblitzed

Estimable
May 12, 2014
694
0
5,960
138
if you dont mind ebay bidding you can get a refurbished lenovo thinkpad t420 for $250 average (200-300$ range). Then you can swap the HDD with the evo you have so total cost is like 375$ for a decent machine. This machine has the necessary specs to fulfill your needs.
 

jaguarskx

Champion
Moderator
Are you looking for a laptop with low resolution (1366x768) or high resolution (1080p)? Laptops with low resolution screens tends to be less expensive than laptops with high resolution screens. Personally, I prefer laptops with high resolutions so that I can have multiple windows open and basically see a lot of information on the screen at one time.

I picked up a refurbished 15.6" Dell Latitude 3540 from ebay for around $475 - $500. A new one cost about $850 - $900 at the time. But it now currently sells for $720.

http://www.dell.com/us/business/p/latitude-3540-laptop/pd

I basically bought it because my 14" Lenovo Y470 was and still is slowly dying. The nVidia GPU died, laptop started to run hotter than normal (need to replace thermal paste) and the 1366x768 screen was getting to be a pain.

I primarily bought the refurbished Dell Latitude 3540 for the 1080p anti-glare screen. The Radeon 8850m (Venus Pro) was simply a bonus. A backlit keyboard would have been nice, but it's not offered in this laptop model. The Radeon 8850m is pretty a pretty capable GPU. It is about equivalent to a nVidia GT 755m / 845m and would be more than enough for your needs.

Phoenix Flight Sim seems to have very low system requirements by today's standards and GOW 1 is a pretty old game. Both should be playable on a laptop relying on Intel's HD 4400 or HD 4600 integrated graphics at 1600x900 resolution or lower for good performance. The only game I play with my Dell 3540 is Star Trek Online (STO; free to play MMO). I normally play using the Radeon HD 8850m, but I have used the Intel HD 4400 graphics core and found it to be capable enough to play STO with a mix of low / medium settings at 1600x900 resolution.

If you are open to the idea of relying on the Intel HD 4400 graphics core then many options are open to you like the Lenovo Yoga 2 / Yoga Pro laptops where the hing allows you flip the screen / keyboard all the way around so that you can use the laptop like a tablet. The 11" Yogas use less powerful Intel CPUs with weaker integrated graphics, but they start at $500. The 13.3" Yogas have better hardware, but starts at $900.

http://shop.lenovo.com/us/en/laptops/lenovo/yoga-laptop-series/

 

darkfa8

Distinguished
Nov 25, 2007
6
0
18,510
0
Jag,

The Dell is quite a nice machine. I use a Dell desktop at work and have a few Latitudes in the past that my Dad had for work - all pretty nice.

It's just very overwhelming to select a machine given all of the varieties, and not being as intimately familiar with the hardware nuances as I am with desktop hardware.
 

jaguarskx

Champion
Moderator
The first thing to determine is if you prefer a screen with 1366x768 or 1920x1080. 1600x900 is less common nowadays. If you used laptops before then chances are they probably had the lower resolution.

I assume you have a 16:9 aspect ratio monitor at home or at work. 1080p resolution (1920x1080) is pretty popular these days. You can set the desktop resolution to 1366x768 and just try to do the things you normally do to find out if that resolution is okay. Just be aware that text and graphics will not look as sharp compared to the resolution those desktop monitors are currently set to.

Images and text look the sharpest on a LCD monitor when using the monitor's native / max resolution. Lowering the resolution makes things look a bit fuzzy because of something called "interpolation" which takes a bit of time to explain. No need to really worry though, 1366x768 resolution on a 1366x768 resolution screen will look sharp.

If you can get around just fine with 1366x768, then you can opt to get a laptop with 1366x768 screen to cut down on cost. Me, I prefer 1080p so I can see a lot of information on the screen at a single time. The downside is that text and icons will look smaller on a 1080p screen. Not a problem if you have decent eye sight.

The hardware nuances are not much different from their desktop counterparts. Mobile CPUs generally run at lower clockspeeds than desktop CPUs to reduce heat and power consumption. They also tend to have fewer cores as well.

On the desktop from is is pretty cut and dry. All Core i3 are dual core CPUs with Hyper Threading (HT). All Core i5 CPUs are quad core CPUs, but lacks HT. Core i7 CPUs are quad core CPUs with HT.

Laptops is slightly more confusing, all Core i3/i5/i7 CPUs are dual core CPUs with HT. The exception will be Core i7 CPUs with the "MQ", "HQ", and "MX" designations. Those are quad core CPUs with HT. All CPUs with "M" designations are considered "normal" dual core mobile CPUs with HT. All CPUs with the "U" designation are "ultra low power" dual core CPUs with HT.

Less expensive laptops generally uses the "U" model CPUs like the i5-4200U that is in my Dell Latitude 3540 laptop. This is a "vague" general statement because there are many very expensive laptops that also have "U" model CPUs. The low power consumption helps prolong battery life and the performance it provides is fine. It will be a massive increase in performance compared to whatever CPU is in your current laptop.

Regarding graphics, this is a pretty complex topic because of the various makes and models. But let's just say that based on the programs and games you run, you do not need anything very powerful so an integrated Intel HD 4400 / HD 4600 should suffice. Purchasing a laptop without a dedicated graphics card / chip also reduces the cost. The Intel HD 4400 comes with all current generation Intel laptops with the "U" designation. The more powerful Intel HD 4600 (probably by around 20% - 25%) comes in all other current generation Intel mobile laptop CPU models of the

If you know the programs you use get better performance with a dedicated graphics card / chip, then that would be something you need to consider. Additionally, if you would like to play more current games which are generally more graphics intensive than the two games you listed, buying a laptop with a dedicate graphics chip is more ideal and more expensive.
 
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