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What to focus on- need $550 laptop

post #1 of 2
Thread Starter 
Ive been asked to purchase a laptop for a family member. The max they are willing to go is $550 Canadian. I know nothing about these devices and would like some input.
This person is going to use the computer for fairly basic stuff like web surfing, word, some business software, watching movies and perhaps the ability to plug into a larger hdtv- not as important. I would guess some or all of these things at the same time is expected. I would assume that they would also like to use this laptop for several years before looking for a replacement. They have indicated that photo editing is not expected to be done on this computer.

For this type of usage where would the money best spent. The laptop will be bought online (ncix,newegg,tigerdirect) i would think.

If i were to guess the order id say something like this

1) dependibility
2) cpu (amd?/intel?/onchip graphics?
3) ram (as in lots)
4) screen size (15" requested)
5) Hdd (hdd can be switched out pretty easy DIY)
6) batt life (be close to powersorces or on desk)

Am i far off.............

Thanks thumb.gif
post #2 of 2
How serious are they about video quality? An Intel system would be best for general performance, but Intel HD 3000 can't properly play back "24 FPS" video (it's actually 23.976FPS and HD 3000 can only do 24.000 - resulting in a dropped frame every ~40 seconds). One "pro" of HD 3000 is it's video encoding speed, but if you want high-quality encoding you're stuck with CPU-based, and A6 or i5 both encode at a similar speed with CPU-only.

For the highest-quality video I'd go with an AMD A6 system, or something with Intel + low-end discrete graphics. AMD quads are still reasonably fast for basic use. Just for casual movies here/there, Intel integrated is fine, not HTPC quality IMO.

Anyways, performance seems like it's not a huge deal. My typical criteria in this situation is ranked like this:

-Ergonomics - keyboard, touchpad, screen. Most 1366x768 screens are the same at lower prices, but matte vs. glossy is a pretty important decision for some.

-Battery life - 5 hours is about typical, at the price there's probably a range of 4.5-5.5 hours of battery life depending on the laptop, I'd see what actual reviews say (and try to get them all from the same site)

-Weight - not a huge issue, probably 5.7 +/- 0.3 pounds at the price range.

-Performance - Pretty big deal, get something that fits your needs in terms of graphics quality (if that's important), then CPU performance. It's not like typical users actually need an i5 dual-core, nor would they notice the difference over an i3.

-HDD: HDD prices are ridiculous. If at all possible, get one with a size that's "big enough" for you, otherwise it's another $60-70 for a 640+ GB HDD. But, consider everything else first, don't get a cheap Acer with a Celeron because it has a 1TB HDD.

-RAM, not a huge deal - 4+ GB is standard. Even if it came with only 2GB - it's another $20 to add a 4GB stick. If you can get a laptop with tons of RAM for $550 (ie 6+), it's probably cutting corners, or just an insane deal.

-Icing on the cake - some laptops have mSATA SSD slot, 1.3 - 2.0MP webcam, Intel Wireless Display, USB 3.0, etc. Backlit keyboard is hard to find at the price, although some Dells are reasonably priced with backlit keyboard options.

-Dependability, yes the very last one. Warranty service and quality is important, but you're much worse off with an Asus (let's pretend they're reliable) out of warranty in year 2, than you are with an HP (pretend they're horribly un-reliable) covered under a 2-year warranty, in year 2. Asus' reliability is negated if it dies out of warranty, and you're really just gambling on a 3% more reliable system, using 2-year trailing data (which, funny enough, isn't a reliable indicator). Personally I'd get a 2-3 year warranty if you need something reliable, counting on your nerd friend as tech support isn't fun for anybody.
 
Lanbox Lite
(16 items)
 
 
CPUGraphicsRAMHard Drive
i3-2310M Intel HD 3000 8GB DDR3 Samsung 830 64GB SSD 
Hard DriveOSMonitorCase
640GB Hitachi HDD Windows 7 13.3" LCD Magnesium Alloy, 3.2lbs 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
Phenom II X4 955 BE Gigabyte GA-MA78GPM-UD2H MSI Hawk R5770 3x2GB G.Skill DDR2 800 4-4-4-12 
Hard DriveHard DriveOptical DriveCooling
1TB Samsung Spinpoint F3 250 GB WD Caviar Black Samsung 20X DVD-R/RW Thermaltake MaxOrb 
CoolingOSMonitorPower
Noctua NF-B9-1600 Windows 7 Pro 64-bit BenQ E2420HD, 24" 1920x1080 TT Purepower 500W 
Case
TT Lanbox Lite 
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Lanbox Lite
(16 items)
 
 
CPUGraphicsRAMHard Drive
i3-2310M Intel HD 3000 8GB DDR3 Samsung 830 64GB SSD 
Hard DriveOSMonitorCase
640GB Hitachi HDD Windows 7 13.3" LCD Magnesium Alloy, 3.2lbs 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
Phenom II X4 955 BE Gigabyte GA-MA78GPM-UD2H MSI Hawk R5770 3x2GB G.Skill DDR2 800 4-4-4-12 
Hard DriveHard DriveOptical DriveCooling
1TB Samsung Spinpoint F3 250 GB WD Caviar Black Samsung 20X DVD-R/RW Thermaltake MaxOrb 
CoolingOSMonitorPower
Noctua NF-B9-1600 Windows 7 Pro 64-bit BenQ E2420HD, 24" 1920x1080 TT Purepower 500W 
Case
TT Lanbox Lite 
  hide details  
Reply
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