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    Looking for a new laptop...

    Well I think it's time to buy a new laptop and am hopeless at choosing so here I go...

    Hopefully with selling my old laptop I should get around £250-£300 and so my budget will be around the £500-600 mark. Obviously the cheaper the better but I can recognise a good deal if it's more expensive. I'm not too bothered about the hard drive, 250Gb+ is fine, I'd like to have 4Gb of RAM though as I want to get the most out of Windows 7. However, if this means hiking the price up I can stick with 2/3Gb and just upgrade it myself. As a result I'm not too bothered about the OS that comes with it as I have my own 7. And clearly with my budget a Mac is out of the question, though I can't say I'll cry over that. I don't know much about the AMD/Intel war but I guess some of you will so I'll leave it up to you to decide which is best.

    Just general use like Word, Internet, Music, a few films. Hopefully I should be going to Uni doing a Comp Sci degree so obviously having a decent computer will be kind of necessary. As I don't know what programs will be used for this I can't really say how demanding they'll be. Only casual gaming use though like Football Manager and other low-end games, nothing too strenuous.

    However, I would like a dedicated graphics card just so I have the security that I know it will run things, I don't want to get a year down the line and I'm in the same position as now. As I don't really understand graphics card at all ATI or Nvidia are all the same to me. (I got sucked in by PC World... very bad move!!!)

    I'd preferably like a normal sized laptop (~15 inch) as I'd like to move around with it but there will be time it'll be stuck on a desk. Not to bulky or heavy but I know this is difficult for this type of laptop. An odd thing though is to have a nice keyboard to type on.

    I don't really understand all the warranty stuff, terrible I know, but obviously I don't want to drop the thing and find I'm screwed.

    A mainstream brand would be nice, but I want it well made and not to fall apart after 2 months. If something does go wrong then a good customer service would be nice, just in case.

    I've been looking at the Dell Studio 15 which looks decent for the price, but I've had problems with Dell in the past and was wondering if there was anything else out there. If you think I should wait a while for all the new stuff to come out then that's fine. I know prices will inevitably fall once the new models are released, but then I don't know what is coming soon so... also, if you think my budget is a bit optimistic for what I'm asking just say so.

    Cheers for any help, and just ask if you need any more info.

    18 Comments

    Acer aspire 6930g is very good, i have one and have had no problems with it, since i got it in October.

    Original Poster

    Haven't heard very good things about Acer, especially around here. Build quality etc is bad. They have always looked decent spec for the money though.

    im on my 2nd acer and cant fault them, both excellent laptops.

    Banned

    A Macbook.

    Higher initial outlay but they hold their value and offer supreme customer service.

    Have a look at this:

    hotukdeals.com/ite…t-n

    I have DV5 one and its been a great laptop.

    you dont have much requirements then? ..

    Original Poster

    It was copied from my TheStudentRoom post and I followed their template to give as much detail as I could.

    Original Poster

    FilthAndFurry;7570127

    A Macbook.Higher initial outlay but they hold their value and offer … A Macbook.Higher initial outlay but they hold their value and offer supreme customer service.


    I'm looking for a PC preferably, just think you get better spec for you money and my budget won't stretch that far. Good machines though and are very well made.

    martinhb I'll look at that, cheers.

    There are some good deals going on @ Dell. They are a decent laptops and I never had any problems. Have a look at some other deals:

    Acer Aspire 6530G Blu-Ray 16in Laptop from ]Argos for £429.99

    ACER Aspire 5810TG-944G50Mn from ]Pixmania for £ 589 with the discount code PIXSALEUK£10.

    Acer Aspire 3935 - 864G32MN / Core 2 Duo P8600 2.4GHz / 4GB / 320GB / 13.3" / Vista Home Premium / Laptop / Notebook (LX.PAD0X.156) from] Play for £579.99.

    if I had that budget Id get something like this

    ebuyer.com/pro…466

    Acer have improved a lot in the past couple of years

    Original Poster

    Cheers for all the above posts.

    I'm trying to avoid Dell at all costs after previous issues with the company, though I agree their products are usually good quality. As said above though, is Acer's reputation for bad quality fair? There seems to be a wide range of complaints with them, especially from users here.

    The Samsung looks a nice computer and good enough specs but seems expensive for a 13 inch.

    Edit: Compared to other main brands ie: Toshiba, Sony and so on, how would you place Acer for reliability?

    this one is a 15 in about the same price

    ebuyer.com/pro…507

    Original Poster

    Honestly thought I'd checked Ebuyer. Clearly not. Thanks for that.

    A low end business laptop like a Toshiba Tecra A10/M10 or Lenovo Thinkpad R500/R400 would have been ideal if it wasn't for your dedicated graphics requirement as they'll have to build quality, battery life and keyboard quality you want (although of course, the internal specs will be lower than less well built home models).

    A computer science degree isn't likely to require any challenging programs and except if it's got something covering GPGPU (which is upcoming so most won't) seems unlikely to make any use of the graphics card. A faster CPU will be nice in that it'll allow you to run lots of iterations of algorithms but it's unlikely to make much difference. Some of the paperwork for your degree will probably cover the requirements.

    Original Poster

    Because right now I have an Advent (damn those PC World "advisors") I just wanted a complete upgrade if you get me and wanted to buy something that was enough of an upgrade to bother buying it. Right now I have 4GB of RAM and a 320GB hard drive but it's just the general quality of the laptop that leaves a bit to be desired.

    I don't really get graphics memory and processor benchmarks and all of that so don't really know what would compensate for not having a dedicated graphics.

    I want the laptop to last 4/5 years and figured for it to be "futureproof"-enough a graphics card would be ideal to cover new games/software etc and having a dedicated graphics gives a sense of security if you get me. I understand though that not as a hardcore gamer, the graphics card probably isn't as essential as I first thought. If a graphics card isn't necessary, what would compensate in so much that I would notice a negligible difference?

    James_B;7575310

    Because right now I have an Advent (damn those PC World "advisors") I … Because right now I have an Advent (damn those PC World "advisors") I just wanted a complete upgrade if you get me and wanted to buy something that was enough of an upgrade to bother buying it. Right now I have 4GB of RAM and a 320GB hard drive but it's just the general quality of the laptop that leaves a bit to be desired. I don't really get graphics memory and processor benchmarks and all of that so don't really know what would compensate for not having a dedicated graphics. I want the laptop to last 4/5 years and figured for it to be "futureproof"-enough a graphics card would be ideal to cover new games/software etc and having a dedicated graphics gives a sense of security if you get me. I understand though that not as a hardcore gamer, the graphics card probably isn't as essential as I first thought. If a graphics card isn't necessary, what would compensate in so much that I would notice a negligible difference?



    Unfortunately game developers drop hardware support rather quickly at the moment. A high-end desktop card will have trouble playing all games five years after it was released, a low-end laptop card with 10-20% of it's performance stands no chance. There are some games that will work, but a lot won't. I'd imagine it's a similar story for any other demanding type of software. Computers are still advancing at a tremendous rate but a lot of areas now have enough computing power so there isn't the need to upgrade as there would have been in the past. Any laptop should easily last 4-5 years for 'normal' use though.

    As for graphics cards in general, it sounds like you're under the common misapprehension that they do more than they actually do. Apart from the basic outputting of the picture graphics cards are generally only used for calculating 3d. Playing a video, flash animation or slideshow are all tasks handled by the CPU with generally no graphics card involvement and as such the speed of your graphics card has no effect. There are a couple of exceptions like the translucent window effects in Windows and certain software players that can use the graphics card for video playback of certain codecs. I'd imagine both of those run fairly well on the basic intel X4500MHD though (the X4500M won't do the latter, but seems to be used less often).

    Basically for your use the graphics card is just for gaming and may give you longer battery life when watching films depending on the source and player. For gaming a discrete graphics card is going to make a lot of difference so you're right to look for one, but if you can't get one without compromising on the other stuff I think it's unlikely that it'll make a difference to most things.

    Graphics memory is easy, it's a case of the higher number is better and GDDR is better than DDR. It's generally a secondary thing after getting a good GPU (the 'Radeon Mobility 4570' bit) though.


    Don't be too worried about the specs in general, the differences generally aren't that large. I'd think between the slowest and fastest processors you'd reasonable consider under £600 there's only a ~20% difference. And that'll only get smaller over time, Compared to a processor that's three times as fast in four and a half years time the slower processor will be 30% of it's speed while the faster one 35% of it's speed.

    The things that will make a big difference are:

    1. Hard Drive. It's probably not that much of a problem at your price range but some of the cheaper laptops have very slow hard drives and it does make a big impact on general system responsiveness. We've also got SSDs coming soon but unless you fancy paying £300 for 160GB now you'll probably to upgrade to one in a couple of years when they're cheaper.

    2. Graphics card. Although it's not used for much the difference between intel's integrated ones and a semi-decent discrete one is rather large, you can easily double the performance or possibly even triple it for your gaming.

    3. Ports. USB2 is showing it's age and while you'll be lucky to find a USB3 laptop I would at least make sure you've got either eSATA or an ExpressCard slot. Ideally you also want a DVI output so you can connect to both analogue projectors via a VGA adapter and LCD TVs via an HDMI adapter. A laptop with both VGA and HDMI is almost as good, although won't output quite as high a resolution as DVI.

    Blu-ray would be nice to have, but you can upgrade later for blu-ray data disks. I don't know if you could play blu-ray films from an upgrade, being nasty proprietary laptops there's no guarantee they'll support HDCP (DVD films would still play in the blu-ray drive and doubtless there'd still be software to get around any HDCP limitations if you don't mind using it).

    Anyway, that's enough rambling for now :roll:

    Original Poster

    Thanks for that post. I think you were right with the graphics card thing, it seems I did think they did more than they actually do. What graphics card would you look to get with the budget I have? The most common seems to be the Radeon 4550/around that number. Would this suffice for casual gaming ie: Football Manager? Also, what GC, if you saw in a £500-600 laptop, that you'd quickly get?

    I understand with processors that the higher the better etc just not what difference 200Mhz would actually make in the real world.

    Finally (yes another question :P) would it be wise to wait in order for the new things like USB3 etc to come out in the summer?
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