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signmeuptoo
Bless you Howie
Premium
join:2001-11-22
NanoParticle
kudos:5

Laptop: Chipset, processor, features, prices: What to do?

I'm hoping for a tax refund in the coming month or so. I will have around 500 to work with, but I'm tempted to just get a refurb off of tigerdirect for around 3-4 hundred.

I haven't bought a laptop in 18 years, so I have no experience and don't know all that I should know of what to look for, what brands are bad, what service contracts to get, which processor, which chipset, how much RAM, etcetera.

Ok, uses:

Hopefully will be studying computer science (probably programming/app dev, but possibly IT), need a system that will let me take notes in class (I'm thinking 3 hours battery life?).

Want win7 or win8 (any reason that I need win8?)

How much RAM do I need, do I need more than 4 gig? If so, will 6 gig be fine? I don't yet know what software I'll be running, but it will probably be community college stuff, C++, Java, and the like.

Help me understand the Intel processors, there are these Pentium chips, why are they still selling chips as "pentium" and how much worse is such a chip from an i3? What things should I know about them, and other processors?

What chipset should I favor?

Want webcam, for sure.

Want USB 3.0.

Want medium screen 14-15+ inch ?

Want keyboard that will type easily, I have poor coorodination and have difficulty with some laptop keyboards, what do I look for? What things should the keyboard have, what keys? How do they differ these days?

Touchpad questions: I've worked at laptops where wresting my palms down meant the touchpad would make the cursor jump making typing a nightmare, how do I avoid such a headache?

What is lojack, and what can I do to protect myself from computer theft?

Want Wireless N support.

Want speakers to be loud enough to be audible.

Prefer LED backlight, I think, am I right?

Is it correct that ACER/ALI laptops and service is to be avoided?

Is ASUS preferable? Dell? HP? Sony? Lenovo? Other?

Are there outlet sites?

Student discounts (do I have to be already enrolled in classes or how do I get student discounts?)

Battery, is 6 cell a must?

Don't need or want to game.

How do I avoid a system that will fail because of solder joints getting hot and separating?

What companies are best for warranty service?

What other questions should I ask?

Now:

I know I'm asking a TON of questions, and being a typical PITA, but for me, spending money like this is a gargantuan thing where I will have no recourse if I fail to make a safe choice. Over the last 3 months, buying food has even been a problem on my income. I'm not complaining, just trying to help people understand that this is a huge purchase for me.

Please forgive my ignorance and nervousness, and if you're willing to hand hold an old timer who hasn't had a budget that would let him keep up as he should have, it will mean a great deal to me.

Oh, hard drive: I'm sure 500 gig is more than enough, right? I will also be looking at an external storage solution soon, hopefully.

Thank you so much in advance. Please don't hesitate to throw lots of info my way, and I don't mind suggestions for google searches.
--
Join Teams Helix and Discovery. Rest in Peace, Leonard David Smith, my best friend, you are missed badly! Rest in peace, Pop, glad our last years were good. Please pray for Colin, he has ependymoma, a brain cancer, donate to a children's Hospital.


St0ney

join:2001-02-25
uranus

1 edit
i bought a laptop 6 months ago, having no previous knowledge of what was good.

I used notebookcheck.net to find reviews . probably the best site for laptop and tablet reviews, hands down. this website helped me a lot. their reviews are nice and detailed. to help you narrow down, click on reviews and at the center click on their top ten links

i bought a close to high end powerful gaming laptop (which also works well as desktop replacement for me) in a small package, it has 11.6 inch screen. sager np6110 - i5 3210M (ivy bridge - the most current intel chip designation at the time), 8gb ddr3 1600 (upgraded to 16gb last month cost $45), nvidia gt650m ddr3 2gb (mid range mobile graphics at the time), 500 gb 7200 rpm.


signmeuptoo
Bless you Howie
Premium
join:2001-11-22
NanoParticle
kudos:5
Thanks for that tip, St0ney, checking it out, bookmarked it.


St0ney

join:2001-02-25
uranus

2 edits
i think if i didnt do any gaming, i would have gone for the ultrabooks.

they look sleek, are ultrathin and powerful (in terms of CPU, mem, SSD harddrive - i think they can be customized to be top of the line) but most only have integrated graphics. so no gaming or graphics intensive stuff, but i believe they are powerful enough play HD movies

also i would max out the ram , 16 gb if possible. it is a cheap upgrade.

I would go SSD - sata 3. still a bit pricey 256 gb is still around 180 on the low end. Since you dont do gaming ( cuz many mdern games take up at least 10 gb of disk space), perhaps 120 gb would suffice. In which case i think those are around $100 or less.

consensus seems to be Asus, samsung, lenovo or macbook air for ultrabooks


signmeuptoo
Bless you Howie
Premium
join:2001-11-22
NanoParticle
kudos:5
Uhm, remember, I'm talking about no more than 500 hopefully. I'm not getting an SSD notebook for that, and getting more RAM isn't always an option of sale priced items. Personally, I figure 8 gig is more than enough, I'm not gaming, I'm not processing videos or anything intensive, just running things like Office and Visual Studio.

I can't afford a laptop like your advocating.

And ultrabooks don't have optical burner drives, and I have to have that.
--
Join Teams Helix and Discovery. Rest in Peace, Leonard David Smith, my best friend, you are missed badly! Rest in peace, Pop, glad our last years were good. Please pray for Colin, he has ependymoma, a brain cancer, donate to a children's Hospital.

aguen
Premium
join:2003-07-16
Grants Pass, OR
kudos:2
reply to signmeuptoo
While you're waiting for your refund, check out the current laptops available from the Dell refurb, off lease products. »www.dfsdirectsales.com/

Might give you some ideas of what you can expect for about $500 if nothing else.


signmeuptoo
Bless you Howie
Premium
join:2001-11-22
NanoParticle
kudos:5
Thanks for that. Seems all of them only run 32 bit OS versions. But maybe I'm better off with that?


St0ney

join:2001-02-25
uranus
also check out xoticpc.com. they have laptops less than 500$

thats where i got my laptop.

however it may take 3-4 weeks to get to your door, due to their payment options.


SysOp

join:2001-04-18
Douglasville, GA
Reviews:
·MetroPCS
reply to signmeuptoo
you can get what you want or you get get what you can afford so what's it going to be?

suggested:

fresh win7
new battery
new hdd/ssd
led
any x64 cpu dual core 2ghz
any ddr3 ram 4gb
dedicated GPU preferred or h264 igp
hdmi out
wifi
bluetooth

check out the used lenovo ibm thinkpads on ebay