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Author Topic: Any suggestions... Friend is looking for new laptop with a budget of $700  (Read 2329 times)

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DaveLembke

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A friend of mine contacted me looking for a computer that he will get 5+ years out of with everyday computer use. He is not a gamer so he can get by on integrated video. He e-mailed me with these 2 models that he was looking at when I suggested Toshiba. He doesnt have to buy a Toshiba brand laptop so any other good name brands/make/models that come to mind feel free to share.

His only requirements are that the computer has at least 4GB RAM and is running Windows 7 64-bit or can be easily downgraded to Windows 7 64-bit since he doesnt like Windows 8 from the models he tried out in the stores.

These 2 models below he e-mailed me that he liked and was wondering if they could easily be downgraded to Windows 7 64-bit and stay within budget of $700 or less.


http://us.toshiba.com/computers/laptops/satellite/L50/L55-A5234   Core i7 $650


http://us.toshiba.com/computers/laptops/satellite/C70/C75D-A7213/   AMD Quadcore $480

I was looking to see if he could get a better quality laptop going with a Toshiba Tecra which is a Business Class laptop and found one that is a Core i3 Dual-Core ( i3-3110M ) 2.4Ghz CPU with 3MB L3 Cache. I chose the Start Customizing option and selected these attributes:

CPU Option: Intel® Core™ i3-3110M Processor (2.40GHz, 3MB L3 Cache) 
OS Option  : SAVE $99.99*   Windows® 7 Professional (64-bit) with recovery media for Windows 8 Pro   
RAM Option: SAVE $50.00*   4GB DDR3 1600MHz (4GB X 1)
HDD Option: 500GB HDD (7200rpm, Serial-ATA)
Other Options: Defaults left the same

Computer then is the following:

Quote
Specifications  customized
 
■Intel® Core™ i3-3110M Processor (2.40GHz, 3MB L3 Cache)   
■Windows® 7 Professional (64-bit) with recovery media for Windows 8 Pro   
■4GB DDR3 1600MHz (4GB X 1)   
■500GB HDD (7200rpm, Serial-ATA)   
■Integrated Graphics
■15.6" HD LED Backlit Display (1366x768)
■Integrated 2MP Webcam and Microphone
■Lithium-Ion Battery (6-cell/48Wh)
■Wi-Fi® Wireless networking (802.11b/g/n) with Bluetooth® (v4.0)
■1 month trial for new Office 365 customers
■Norton™ Internet Security 2013 (30-day trial subscription)
■1 Year Standard Limited Warranty (1 Year on Battery)
Accessories
 
Laptop Price as Configured: $639.99
Accessories Total: $0.00
Extended Service Plan Total: $0.00
Your Total: $639.99
plus additional savings in cart
offer expires 7/15/13 
 

The core i3 tecra was configured here: http://www.toshibadirect.com/td/b2c/cdetland.to?poid=2000045900

*There was a Core i3 that was 100Mhz faster for $50 more but that seemed like a waste of $50, and the Core i5 which I would have liked to get him as a CPU puts him over budget with a price tag of $789.99 with the +$150 to add this CPU instead of the default Core i3


Looking at the 2 laptops he sent me asking for suggestions, the AMD quadcore running 1.5Ghz I have this strong feeling that it will act like all other computers that operate below 2Ghz which lag, even though it has 4 cores as well as it will become too slow for multitasking use if not now, definately before 5 years expected use is met.

With the Core i7 which looked like the perfect laptop for him at first, the drawback is that the battery is internal, and not user replaceable! This is the very first laptop I have ever come across in which the battery was not easily removable. Thinking back at the many times in which removing a PC battery and reconnecting the battery fixed a hung laptop, on this model that is not an option without splitting the case open which is a very stupid intended design feature!

Before I try to sell him on the idea to go with the Core i3 Tecra, I figured I'd get input from others. Maybe there are better deals out there for a laptop with good reviews, low tech maintenance to hold up to heavy data entry and multitasking, and one that either comes brand new with Windows 7 64-bit or can be downgraded to Windows 7 64-bit and still be within budget?

I already know that trying to tell him to go with the Core i3 over the Core i7 laptop is going to feel like reverse logic to him, but the way I see it, it looks like they are trying to use the Core i7 CPU to sell low quality guts that surround that better performing CPU....  ::)

I dont want to suggest a laptop that will be a lemon, so I am trying to get him the best performance and quality for his money hardware wise as well as Windows 7 downgrade option at the get go. I want this laptop to be one that gives him 5 years or more of good use and is not one that I will have to fix frequently due to poor quality, as for he insists on paying me to maintain his computers and while most people would love to have a high maintenance computer to tap into someones wallet, I can not tap into a friends wallet like that!

Calum

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I will have a look around tomorrow when I have a little more time, posting here to subscribe and remind myself.
Off the top of my head, it might be worth looking into HP's Probook or Elitebook lines, they're well built machines but off the top of my head I have no idea how they compare in terms of specification, I don't keep a close eye on the laptop market and I don't closely follow US pricing either.  I'll familiarise myself with them tomorrow though and hopefully post something a little more useful :)
I agree with your direction though, build quality should be the first priority as it doesn't matter how fast the machine is, if it dies or falls to bits after say 2 years it's a false economy and a waste of money.  I'd rather have something a little slower (and let's face it, most people will not notice the difference between a modern i3 and an i7 in normal usage) that will last longer.  Sometimes, you really do get what you pay for, just not in the ways that you may expect.

Calum

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Alright, I'm just looking around at the minute, here's a few ideas.
Dell Latitude E5430 - good build quality, a little expensive if you spec it up with the i5 (which I would recommend) a screen upgrade, better warranty, etc, but could be a good contender.  Don't for the love of [insert deity] buy the RAM upgrade, Dell charges the earth for that, just do it yourself.  14", not the lightest but it's never going to be, because it's not made of paper like most lightweight laptops.
The Toshiba R940 (14") and R950 (15") seem OK, but to me they are too pricy for what you get in terms of the CPU, and I wouldn't suggest replacing that yourself to save money on a brand new laptop whereas memory upgrades are usually fine.
HP Probook 4540s could be worth a look, that actually happens to be our standard laptop at work right now so I can testify as to their build quality.  Comes in right around your budget, too.  The 6475 could be worth a look, as could the 4545.

I think as a minimum you should ideally look for a quad core, 4GB of RAM, a decent screen, and I was going to say an SSD but they don't even seem to offer that as an option on most laptops, which makes me sad inside.  Planning for a laptop to keep for 5 years is a fairly difficult spec, think back to 5 years ago and even the high end systems then are massively outdated, bested by systems costing a fraction of that price.  A business class laptop, as I said above, is really a must, for the better build quality, and I would be inclined to look for something with at least a 2 year NBD warranty, otherwise that just says to me they don't have faith in their product.  I would certainly not want a laptop the manufacturer only wants to support and guarantee working for a single year.

DaveLembke

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Thanks for all the info...

And yes the costs for the adding memory to the custom build options are quite costly at the get go. I told my friend that 4GB is plenty for now and we can always upgrade the memory later when the price on memory is cheaper and you will get more memory for your money.

I agree with quadcores generally being betterwhen comparing processors of like time period of release dates, but have seen online through benchmark results that its not necessarily how many cores you have, but how powerful the cores are when comparing processors. I seen for example that a Core i3 dual-core outperforms my Athlon II x4 620 2.6Ghz quadcore. While this is Apples and Oranges in comparison whereas the Athlon II x4 620 is already like 4 years old and the Core i3 is much newer as well as there are drastic differenced between the Core i3 and Athlon II x4 620 core design/features etc, I just wanted to specify this in case anyone else reads this and think that all quadcores are better than dual-core CPUs.

Going to check out the Dell and HP you suggested. And as far as the Toshibas, I was hoping that the Tecra's would come with Core i5's for the same price tag of the Core i3 models they have, when other manufacturers are offering Core i5 and Core i7's for equal or less price tag to their slower end Core i3.


Calum

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Of course, I should have been clearer - I meant an equivalent quad core, not just any old quad core.  I just feel that a quad will be more future proof, if there is such a thing, than a dual, especially as software is really starting to take advantage of more cores nowadays.
Memory prices are likely to rise for the foreseeable future, they have already hit a low and are rising pretty quickly.  I don't think they will drop substantially until DDR4 is released and that will only be a temporary drop.  That's just my opinion though and I am lacking in the gift of foresight so don't take it as gospel!